Meet the Black, Female Entrepreneurs Making a Safe Space for Minority Professionals
Dipper co-founders Jacinta C. Mathis and Netta Jenkins have discovered new purpose amid growing economic unease.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When you think about the "American Dream," what probably comes to mind is getting a quality education and pursuing a successful career. As children, most minorities were encouraged to get a degree so they can land their dream jobs. However, achieving those goals didn't prepare us for substandard workplace environments, bad leadership, lack of equal pay and overall pervasive discrimination. Now, amid the COVID-19 crisis, we have to cope with the added challenge of toxic remote-work experiences.
However, there are many minority professionals making major strides in giving a voice to the voiceless. Take black, female tech innovators Jacinta C. Mathis and Netta Jenkins, who have created solutions platform Dipper, a digital safe place and community for minorities to share their workplace experiences — whether good, bad or in between — and navigate diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
I had the chance to speak with Jenkins about how minority workers are feeling as unemployment rises, and how they can be the best advocate for themselves now and in the future.
Related: Considering a Career Change? Here's the Truth About the Messy Middle
That Sinking Feeling
"The possibility of being laid off and not having a consistent income is giving many of us an unsettling feeling in our stomachs right now," Jenkins acknolwedges. "Professionals have many questions, including: Who's getting let go first? What are our options? Since the coronavirus outbreak, [we] have received a significant increase in positive and negative workplace reviews from minority professionals, and they are happy that professionals are sharing their workplace experiences to help guide others."
"During these times of uncertainty, with millions filing for unemployment, professionals should document their bad work experiences," advises Jenkins. "Minority professionals should keep an accurate track record of situations where they feel like their employer is committing acts that go against workforce regulations, discrimination laws and compensation laws. When professionals keep a good track record, it enhances the distribution process when they have to escalate this information to their leadership, the human resources department and the EEO department."
Communicate Early and Often
"When you have properly documented your bad work experiences, you can expedite communication to the right officials early," Jenkins explains. "The Dipper community strongly encourages minority professionals to communicate their bad work experiences during COVID-19 as early as possible, because if professionals wait too long, they may be unlawfully laid off, receive unequal pay and may be mistreated for long durations. The world is already suffering from increased depression and anxiety. It's unhealthy to take on additional bad work experiences for long durations. Professionals can email documented information or properly file a complaint with the human resources department and the EEO department."
Related: 3 Tips for Making the Career Change You've Always Wanted
"[We] are encouraging minority professionals to share their experiences anonymously," Jenkins says. "The more professionals that share their bad work experiences during COVID-19, the faster everyone can access information on how to navigate these challenges during this crisis. This pandemic is unveiling employers who actually believe that talent is their greatest asset [versus] those who just say it."
As Jenkins and Mathis would surely agree, it takes courage for minority professionals to document bad remote work experiences and share them with their leadership teams, but it's essential so that they don't suffer in silence. The fear of job loss and having to home school for the foreseeable is already causing professionals anxiety and stress, and no one should compromise their mental health even more by working a toxic job and not informing their organizations of what they need to be successful. Everyone deserves to benefit from a positive company culture experience, no matter their background or where they're working from.