Jul 19, 2018
More Than A Job
To be honest, whenever I was previously asked about my job responsibilities, my first thoughts were day-to-day tasks to accomplish, a great attitude, doing great work and being great to work with, etc. And all of that is true…extraordinarily true, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that I had a much larger responsibility. Simply put, being a black man and an employee in corporate America carries a larger responsibility and weight than I previously understood not only for myself, but for others as well.
There is a very small percentage of people of color holding substantial decision making positions working in major corporations across the country. And it can be incredibly difficult at times not seeing yourself or your experiences reflected and represented by the executive teams in these corporate settings that employ you.
It wasn’t until I worked at Nike, in of all places Portland, Oregon, that I realized things could be slightly different and I had much more of a responsibility and role to play. Nike was great in that they understood their client and consumer. For Nike, in order to work with the LeBron’s, Serena’s and Kobe’s but also the Neymar’s, Allyson Felix’s etc, they needed have a diverse leadership team in order to represent diverse athletes and consumers from all over the world. The former president was a black man, the president of Jordan is a black man and at its core, that made me feel proud, represented and excited to work for a company that saw value in placing a person of color in such an esteemed position. There is something to be said for seeing yourself and to some degree your experiences represented at the highest levels.
What I soon realized is that I had a personal and cultural responsibility to bring my experiences and insight to the table. Work was no longer simply about accomplishing a task, but about making an impact, adding influence, providing insight that may not have been brought to the conversation otherwise. It was part of my role to give a unique perspective that only I could give.
That is something that has carried over and is amazingly accentuated even more in my current role on the Product Creative team at Netflix. I am constantly encouraged to express my point of view and thoughts on any and every topic. And what is beautiful about that is the producer team is by far the most diverse group that I have ever been a part of in a work environment, so we have so many different points of view to absorb and draw upon. I try to soak it up like a sponge. Interacting with these people on a daily basis is more rewarding and enlightening that I can say. At any given moment, I’ll hear someone speaking Spanish, French, Japanese or Korean along with English, sit in meetings where each person is from a completely different background, upbringing, a different sexual orientation and someone that has recently moved from another country, etc.
There is no way to describe or measure how much I have learned from people that are different and gather insights and ideas about what makes them individually unique and special. What you quickly realize when you work hours and hours with these amazing, brilliant, smart, fun and loving group is that there is far, far more about all of us that is more alike than is different. And I truly believe that at Netflix, if our content and programming reflects diverse ideas, people, places and settings from all walks of life, then hands down our people should reflect the same.