Verizon Chief Marketing Officer Diego Scotti kicked off Black History Month by inviting V teamers to celebrate the contributions the black community has made throughout history. Among the many activities planned, our BRAVE (Black Resource Association of Verizon Employees) Employee Resource Group recently hosted an impactful screening of a new documentary from MAKERS, our media brand that exists to accelerate the women’s movement, through stories of real-life experiences that ignite passion and action. The documentary highlights five influential black men and women and how they make a difference in their communities.
The screening featured:
- Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Groundbreaking Scholar & first female president of Spelman College
- Anne-Marie Imafidon, STEM Advocate, CEO and founder of Stemettes
- John Legend, Musician and EGOT winner (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony)
- Majora Carter, Community Developer and Peabody Award winner
- Russell Wilson, NFL Quarterback and Super Bowl Champion for the Seattle Seahawks
We had a chance to speak with Verizon HR Director Harnet Tsehaye and BRAVE leader Karna Crawford for their reactions to the documentary and their experiences with diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Here’s what they had to say.
“I would say that Verizon invests significantly in promoting diversity in the workplace,” shared Harnet. “I like that our conversations are shifting from talking merely about diversity numbers to talking about creating the right kind of inclusive environment. We have some work to do but it feels directionally right.” Employee resource groups like BRAVE assist in guiding us in the right direction. “It’s a great opportunity to network and meet leaders outside of your usual network.”
Karna recalls one of her first relationships built at Verizon. “To this day, he regularly offers guidance, support and feedback that can help me be my best. This is an individual seeing an opportunity to help one another succeed. It’s about connecting and supporting each other no matter how busy things are. There’s never a good time, but it makes all the difference,” she affirms. “I look to have partners who can help guide me. I don’t try to get the same thing from one person, I create a cabinet of voices.”
“I think we are a product of our environment,” Harnet starts. “It doesn’t define who I am, but I am particularly interested in things that affect asylum seekers and refugees because that is what I was.” Harnet deeply related to Dr. Johnetta Cole as she reflected on the expectations others have on you and how that impacts your life. “My parents had very high expectations of me even though we were not able to live in the country that was our own, we still had a home, culture and an environment that shaped who I am.”
“One thing I got from Annemarie is to think bigger than you can see. Think beyond what the boundaries of society may say about you and leap higher and farther,” Karna states. While Karna works in marketing at Verizon, she found STEM advocate Anne-Marie Imafidon closely relatable due to her background in biomedical engineering. “Another takeaway for me was creating the opportunity to be the leader in your own life. We, as employees and people, talk about all of the reasons the world, community or company isn’t what we want it to be. I’ve spent my career trying to weave this thread into conversations - this may not be perfect, but I can impact it and I’m taking the strides to do that.”
“Your mindset affects the kind of relationships you develop and maintain,” Harnet advises. When it comes to work, relationships matter. Work hard and deliver results and use Verizon’s programs to build a cabinet of sponsors, advisors and mentors.
Verizon has many programs and employee resource groups (ERGs) that allow employees to create connections essential in our workplace. Our nine ERGs connect V Teamers through mentoring, networking, training and more.