Last month, Dyversifi turned 1 year old and my co-founder, and brother, Toby Egbuna wrote a reflection piece, in which he detailed all that he’s learned and ways that he’s grown within the last year. As I read through his reflection, I felt compelled to do the same.
I echo Toby’s sentiment that the last 12 months haven’t always been easy; we’ve had our fair share of challenges. Trying to navigate our working and familial relationship and attempting to scale this business in a timely manner has been tough, but we’ve definitely grown for the better. I want to use this blog post as a candid reflection on the business and life lessons I’ve come away with in the last year.
Intersectionality is a term that has been thrown around a lot in the last couple of months, especially within the context of the Black Lives Matter and #SayHerName movements. And while it may be common knowledge for some, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to define the term for those who are curious.
It may seem like intersectionality is a fairly new concept, but it was actually coined during the civil rights era by activist Kimberle Crenshaw. It means the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group. When companies think about diversity, they often think about gender representation or recruiting more women. However, those goals are frequently centered around white women, leaving behind women of color, women in the LGBTQ+ community, etc.
So why is this important? While having programs and initiatives in place to empower women and limit bias are important, these efforts often don’t take into account the other subset of women who are also dealing with racism, anti-blackness, homophobia, disability accommodations, and other disadvantages.
Throughout the last year of working on Dyversifi, I’ve learned the importance of looking at individuals or groups on a wholistic level and taking all of their identities into consideration when creating programs that are meant to benefit them. The nuances of our identities play out in every part of our experiences in corporate America and should be assessed when you implement diversity efforts.
When we first started Dyversifi, I had a clear vision for our platform. I looked at competitors like Glassdoor and Indeed and saw how we could improve upon these ideas and business models to better benefit our target audience and align with our mission.
However, throughout the last year, that vision has blurred – and not in a bad way. Since Toby and I are both first-time entrepreneurs, we’ve sought out advice from subject matter experts – HR professionals, serial entrepreneurs, growth marketing gurus, etc. – and with each conversation, we are given a new piece of feedback or advice that we’ve applied to our offering and/or strategy to better serve our customers. Some of these are minor tweaks, like putting a sign-up form on the homepage or switching up of social media schedule. However, we’ll occasionally get a piece of feedback that eats at us until we decide to pivot.
“Pivoting” is a familiar word in the startup world, and when we embarked on this journey, that was something that was always brought up in our research. Now that we’ve been going at this for a year, I totally understand why. In order to reach our goals while continuing to best serve our users, it’s imperative that we re-imagine our offering from time to time.
As first-generation immigrants, Toby and I have both experienced imposter syndrome in the workplace, but also while working on Dyversifi. It’s truly ironic that while we are building a platform to help minorities find workplaces where they can be their true selves, we often find ourselves feeling like we don’t belong.
I’ve always been fairly open about my struggles with anxiety. I overthink everything and worry about other people’s perception of me way too often, and when trying to build and scale a business, that can be truly damaging. In the context of my work with Dyversifi, I often question if I’m qualified to take on such a huge issue, what others would think about me if this venture failed, how my managers or co-workers would react if they knew I was working on something outside of my full-time gig. The doubts are endless.
However, what has gotten me through is the support of family, friends, and strangers who continuously affirm my work in the space and the ideas that we’ve put forth. I owe so much to the people who have reached out via LinkedIn and offered to help in some way, to friends and family who have opened doors for sales opportunities at their respective companies, and to those who have been there to help me process and work through some of my own internal battles.
Like Toby, my biggest takeaway from the last year is that I am never on my own. From our informal mentors who have offered us invaluable feedback, to family and friends who have been by our side from day one, I’m overwhelmed by the support we’ve received thus far.
We still have a long way to go with Dyversifi, but with you all by our side, I know that anything is possible!