Teresa Barnhill (she/her) is the Founder and CEO of ATB Consulting. In this episode, Teresa breaks down how having a growth mindset can help advance Diversity & Inclusion efforts for organizations, as well as help individuals advance in their careers.
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Including You Interview with Teresa Barnhill
e045. Growth Mindset with Teresa Barnhill
[00:00:48] Amy: Welcome back to Including You. I’m Amy C. Waninger, the Inclusion Catalyst. With me today is Teresa Barnhill. Teresa is the founder and CEO of ATB Consulting, where she works [00:01:00] with small to medium size businesses that want to increase diversity and equity in their organizations. And she’s been a global DEI leader for a number of years.
I am so excited. Theresa, welcome to the show.
[00:01:12] Teresa: Thank you. Thank you, Amy, for having me.
[00:01:14] Amy: I’m excited to talk to you because the last time we spoke, we talked about this two-sided coin of women in tech and how women can advance themselves in their careers. But then also the flip side of that, which is
Getting hiring managers and sponsors and mentors in the right head space to receive and promote and hire these women. And so what I really wanna talk to you about today is those two facets of women in technology because as we know, technology is number one and here to stay. It’s the fastest-growing sector in terms of jobs and employment.
It’s really the biggest, widest path to a long, middle-class [00:02:00] income at this point. And so the more women we can get into this field, the more financially independent, strong women will have and the more we’ll be welcomed later. So talk to me a little bit about why is the Women in Tech pipeline so important to you.
[00:02:15] Teresa: It’s important to me because of exactly what you just mentioned. Technology is a wide-open industry. It is an industry that provides several benefits for women and people of color, including flexible work hours, flexible work arrangements, as well as working from home. Getting women and people of color into more tech and tech leadership opportunities could help, close the wage gaps for women as well as close the way gaps for people of color. I feel like there’s tons of potential in the technology industry for women and people of color.
[00:02:56] Amy: I think it’s fantastic that you focus so much on this and you’ve done [00:03:00] some real groundbreaking but also needle-moving work in this space.
Can you talk a little bit about why is it why does there need to be a focus on getting more women and people in? People of color in tech, what’s been keeping them out?
[00:03:14] Teresa: I think the number one thing that’s keeping women and people of color out are relationships. It, it is difficult to break into a space when the space is closed.
Meaning men have always been the leaders within technology. Cisgendered, heterosexual, Caucasian men, but also Asian men have been taking the lead in technology. Their networks are made up of the same types of people as they are, and that’s just by human nature.
It’s of no one, it’s no one’s fault that it’s that way, but when you are purposeful about expanding your circles, you can bring in new perspectives, new experiences to help us push innovation forward.
That is what is crucial about technology. [00:04:00] We’re in a great space, but there’s so much that still needs to be explored. There are a lot of ethics that need to be explored. If you have more people around the table with different
Experiences, they could help us explore those different opportunities. So there’s, that’s where women, people of color, people with disabilities come to play because of their perspectives. They could see things that people who don’t have their experiences wouldn’t necessarily see. But I think what’s keeping women, people of color, and persons with disabilities out of technology are relationships.
So tho those people who. In power who’ve been in that space for a while. They need to be intentional about all of their relationships to include more in-depth perspectives.
[00:04:47] Amy: I could not agree with you more. And in fact, I wrote a book on exactly this topic a few years ago called Network Beyond Bias, and it’s all about how when we’re more intentional about who we connect with and the relationships that we [00:05:00] build,
opportunity flows different ways. It flows to us differently. It flows from us differently in different, different groups and different people get, get different opportunities than they’ve had in the past. So this is a topic that is so important to me, and I don’t know if you knew this, but I actually worked in tech for about 20 years.
Yeah. So you
[00:05:20] Teresa: Yeah. You told me. Yep.
[00:05:22] Amy: So being a young woman in tech was a much different experience than being an I’ll say more tenured woman in tech, but. But I can remember how hard it was and how many obstacles I had to overcome and how many myths I had to dispel and Right. How many comments I just had to endure.
Along the way and it. It gets easier with time, but it’s not something that people should have to endure at all.
[00:05:43] Teresa: Exactly. And when you talk about, you talk about being a tenured woman in tech, we have different generations entering the workforce. Millennials have been here, gen Zers are coming into the workforce.
They’re not going to endure comments. They weren’t raised that way. [00:06:00] So they’re going to start pushing a red button. Sending off some alarms to say, “This is not the way we’re going to work.” So organizations need to be prepared for that. Prepare for new and different perspectives.
Yes, but also different ways of working and culture because these younger groups of people, they’re not going to endure a lot. So you’re gonna have to be able to embrace what they’re bringing to the table in terms of their perspectives, but also their work styles and what they are going to be able to endure and put up with or not.
So be prepared for that. And no one should have to endure those things in the workplace. Boos and Gen Xers, we, we were working our way in and gradually, giving each other grace, et cetera, and just plain-old ignoring things and millennials and Gen Zers were not raised to do so they’re like, you should know better.
Let’s not play these games. Before organizations find themselves in hot water, they need to be able to adapt and evolve their cultures for those new generations [00:07:00] of the workforce.
[00:07:02] Amy: Absolutely. When you said they’re gonna hit the red button, I was thinking they’re gonna hit the eject seat ‘cause they’re gonna be outta there.
[00:07:07] Teresa: Yeah. Yeah. They’re definitely gonna let you know about it. And if you don’t fix it, they’re out. Yeah. And you don’t wanna lose that talent. These folks come with various skill sets. Yes. But their perspectives are so unique. We- they were raised in a time where, we grew up with learning about it and, oh, what is this gonna do and how do we leverage this?
There was not a time for them where there wasn’t the internet or cell phones or any of those, any of that great technology. So their very existence in this time and space is something that we could. To push our organizations forward, especially from a problem-solving standpoint and advancing tech.
So, we don’t wanna lose that talent to other companies, so we need to create organizations where they want to be there. They’re invested in the organization’s success and they wanna stay. So we need to make sure that we’re able to do that as employers.
[00:07:57] Amy: Yes ma’am, I am. I’m all in. [00:08:00] I wanna talk to you a little bit about this notion of growth mindset and how that comes into play for people who are trying to break into technology or move up in the technology space, but also for leaders who are already there.
Can you talk a little bit about that and how you approach that?
[00:08:14] Teresa: Growth mindset is something again that we need to be intentional about cultivating. Especially those of us who are boomers and Gen Xers, where we are very achievement-oriented. And if you don’t achieve something, it is a failure. Growth mindset is the opposite of that, where if you fail, it’s learning.
It’s, oh, great that’s awesome. I learned something new. How can I apply that to the next thing? So it’s very similar to testing and learning technology. You know when you have a test and it fails, what did you learn from that? Let’s apply that to the next test and let’s move forward. But it’s easier with things than it is with people and with, especially with ourselves.
So we need to cultivate a mindset. We’re not hypercritical[00:09:00] of ourselves or others when there are failures and we take those failures as learning opportunities to apply to the future. In addition to that, it’s just being more open to different ways of working and ways of being even.
There’s not one right way to be, a one right way of doing things. Instead, it’s how can we or should we, could- we’re asking ourselves these questions to get to better, more inclusive solutions. And that’s what a, a growth mindset is. It’s just thinking about the possibilities instead of the limitations.
But it does require practice and in order to be successful in tech, that’s the mindset that we need to. Just like we are testing and learning equipment or programs, et cetera. It’s the same way that we test and learn with ourselves, but it does require, again, intentionality and focus. In order to do that, it shifting the, your mind is a [00:10:00] very hard thing to do and not all of us can do that well, but we just have to practice.
[00:10:05] Amy: As you were talking, it reminded me, my son is 14 years old this year. He’s a freshman in high school, and he took his first coding class- like introduction to Computer Science as a freshman in high school. It just blows me away because I was well into my second degree before I got to take a coding class.
And he was working on something. He said, mom, can you help me with this? And I was like, yes, this is my moment, this is my time. And what I had him do was debug his own code. He hadn’t been taught how to debug code, and I said, no. Whenever you have a new section of code, you put in a little comment print string, and it goes out and it shows you exactly where it is in the code.
And then you can find if that code’s getting hit, what’s happening, where is it going, and you can trace it all the way through. And so we were doing that, and as you were talking, it reminded me that this growth mindset is really about putting those same break points in our own thought [00:11:00] processes.
So we can find out what’s getting triggered, what happens when we get triggered, how do we work around that? How do we rewrite? Our then statement, if this happens, how do we rewrite that different statement so that then we get a different outcome? And it’s just this process of constantly going through and debugging our own thought processes.
[00:11:21] Teresa: Indeed. And that’s the same way with diversity, equity, inclusion, bias training, unconscious bias. Even conscious inclusion. When I feel a certain way, then I recognize that, then I must respond this way. So you really have to be honest with yourself, number one, about what it is that you’re feeling and really take any emotion out of it, which is very hard for us as human beings because all of us are wired for bias and it helps protect us in the world.
When you see something red, especially something that’s handmade or manmade, [00:12:00] you automatically think that might be dangerous. It might be hot. Maybe I shouldn’t touch that. Your mind is wired to do that, so you don’t even have to think about it. Red, you don’t touch it, you move on.
Same with when you’re driving, you see someone who’s hit their brake lights in front of you. Red lights caution. You know what you do, you put your brakes on. We are wired that way. So it helps us to not spend time trying to decide what to do. But when you apply bias to people, that’s when we start to get into trouble.
So that’s when you have this growth mindset, kinds of debugging systems where “When I feel enter the, when I see a person who (fill in the blank) and I feel, (fill in the blank), then I should (fill in the blank).” How do you work around that bias? How do you identify it? And then, rewire your brain to not feel that way and not be triggered, and how to act accordingly.
[00:12:58] Amy: Lots of practice required. [00:13:00] This is the work, and I always tell people when I’m training or doing any kind of consulting work… Look, if you brought me in to teach you to play the piano, you wouldn’t have me come in one day on a Tuesday over lunch, play the piano in front of you for an hour and leave.
And you would expect to have mastered it. There’s a whole process and you have to practice and you have to keep going and going, and until you get to where you wanna be, and it has very little to do with, The quality of an hour of instruction, it’s about you applying these principles over time.
And, breaking it down for yourself. Now, when we talk about bias especially in tech, when we’re talking about hiring, one of the things that I’ve noticed is that we know a little bit about somebody, we tend to fill in the rest based on assumptions, we meet somebody and they shake our hand the way we expect them to shake our hand.
They look us in the eye the way we think they should look us in the eye. They use all the right words and they follow the script of meeting somebody. They walk away and we say, wow, they’re really nice. We don’t know [00:14:00] anything about them except their name and their handshake, and you know how they walk toward us and away from us, and we assume they’re really nice.
But if somebody maybe is not neurotypical and there’s something, different with the way that they make eye contact or just anything different about anything that deviates from that script, we might tell ourselves a different story about whether or not we like that person or whether that person’s nice and.
There are all sorts of differences that come up in these everyday dialogues, and especially when we’re interviewing candidates for jobs that they may say something that we don’t expect them to say, or they don’t follow a prescribed script that we have in our head, or they don’t fit a template that we have for who this person should be when they walk in the door and,
It occurs to me that as hiring managers are looking at candidates, they’re filling in the rest of the story. Based on a snippet or based on an assumption. What are some tips that you have for hiring managers that will help them get out of their own way when they’re hiring so they really can get the best person for the [00:15:00] job? Not maybe the person that looks like the last person they hired.
[00:15:04] Teresa: Often the person doesn’t even get to the interview stage because of the, we’ve all seen the studies about someone with a maybe a longer name with more continents than what Americans are used to. Their application or resume gets put in a different file. Someone who has a Hispanic-sounding name their resume gets put in a different, the round file, if you will, because of that name.
We need to look at what is the person saying. How confident are they in their delivery? The content of what they of what they’re sharing with you, their experiences, whether they came in a wheelchair or using a cane, or whether they are black or they are Hispanic, or they are Indian or Asian. What, whatever the circumstance, think about what the person is sharing.
Don’t think about an accent. We all have one. I am a Southern girl. My draw l[00:16:00] is very prominent. Instead of thinking about those things, think about what is being said, what is being shared, what types of experiences that does that person bring? Think about the team you’re hiring for and whether or not that person,
Can help fill in the gaps on the team. That is another thing that we sometimes forget about, is that when you have an opening on your team, that is an opportunity for you to fill a need. Fill what is missing from your team. Not sameness. Same. Will get you exactly what it’s always gotten you new, something different, something that is missing.
It could certainly push your team to deliver the next for your client and for the organization. So think about the content, the experience, and hire for the gap that’s on the team, not for the sameness.
[00:16:51] Amy: Yes. I think that so much is put on culture fit. When Culture fit is a euphemism for,
Just like everyone [00:17:00] else, and culture is really about values, not about skills. Not about demographics. Culture is about values and if we can get people with values that are aligned, they’re aligned to our mission. Mission alignment, but they’re bringing something new in. They’re bringing a different perspective.
They went to a different school. They grew up in a different country. They, they have a different skillset or a different professional background, or even a different kind of degree than everybody else on the team. Those are the things that can really round out a team and make it better and more innovative.
Teresa: Most certainly.
Amy: So Teresa, I wanna thank you so much for being a guest on my show today. Thank you for all of your insights around the tech talent pipeline and how we can get more qualified people into this role, into these roles, and into some good, maybe not always stable, but sustainable jobs. We’ve seen a lot of turmoil and tech lately, this is really important and I wish you every bit of success with the launch [00:18:00] of ABT consulting.
I can’t wait to see the amazing things you’re gonna do for your clients.
[00:18:05] Teresa: Thank you so much, Amy. This has been a lot of fun. I’m very passionate about this topic, so thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Amy: Of course.
[00:19:02] Amy: That’s it for this week’s edition of including You. Join me next week when my guest will be Joy Turner from Ingenovis Health.