#10 AW 18 Running Through Brick Walls

Although we're definitely in SS19, this article has inspired an extension of AW 18, in which I will compare and analyse changes in law in pre- and post-Brexit Britain and how they'll impact the tech industry.

I’m proud to share, therefore, with the blessing of the very individual that perpetrated one of the most blatant and shocking acts of racism I’m experienced in my entire life, an inspiring example of how a Series A tech start-up made space for us to make amends and start working towards a healthy working relationship, which I think is remarkable. This start-up has numerous other shortcomings, but in this respect, we certainly “ran toward and through a brick wall”, as the company used to say, successfully. Introducing a cross-Atlantic intelligent digital marketing software company, that uses natural language processing to enable personalised content management and digital marketing more generally. This happened on the first Friday in the London office of my new job.

Friday 4th January 2019 undercoverscrib

New job, New York. The new job started within a month of leaving the insurance company; I was flown out to New York within two weeks of my first interview. It was thrilling but unsurprising. By this point, I knew exactly what I wanted – to work in the US and London, to work for a SAAS startup, to work in sales – and applied for a very specific profile of jobs as a result, methodically, prolifically, confidently. I liked my manager and the team that interviewed me, a lot. Job done. I did think it strange that neither the founder, the co-founder or anyone in senior management aside from my manager was part of the recruitment process. The tense conversations, hushed tones, pointed looks and in-jokes both in New York and once back in London, indicated that not only were they realising the shortcomings of their recruitment process, but that they’d been making their own covert inquiries into why I left a senior Account Management in the City role three months in. I wish people felt as comfortable as I do confronting issues head on – I would have told them as much as they wanted to know if they had asked me in earnestness and faith that I would tell the truth.

On this fated evening at The Hack and Hop, London, I learned why there was a particular sensitivity to me joining the company. They’d experienced financial theft, conducted by another black woman employed by the company in the past. My colleagues told me on the Friday evening of my first full week in London, sharing the tale with a combination of comedic lightheartedness and superbole that betrayed the sting and they still felt – in this moment we bonded. Honesty is always appreciated and the foundation of a healthy relationship, working or otherwise. Then the more technologically inclined member of the three of us (“A”, a computer scientist) initiated a conversation the likes of which I’ve never experienced before. It brings to mind the recent discovery from the ongoing Facebook Cambridge Analytica/ data scandal, that there were concerted and deliberate Russian efforts to hijack and manipulate African American politics in order to influence the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Perhaps you can see why, too.

Nonetheless, I find it wholly inspiring that as corporate as the company is becoming, gaining increasing traction in the B2B finance/asset management, technology and information services sectors, we were each given room to express ourselves, and to resolve the dispute as we – and particularly I – saw fit. This was partly because there was no formal policy in place to deal with such a scenario, yet. It was burdensome at times, feedback I gave to the HR/CMO – I’ve lost pipeline and OTE as a result of the time and emotional burden directed towards managing my own harassment case a few weeks into a new job – but all’s well that ends well. “A” and I both agreed on this version of events between ourselves and that we’re happy to share the story with whomsoever wishes to hear it. So here it is. I hope this serves as proof to those that need it, that this sort of thing still happens, but also, as proof that it can be overcome.

*It is worth saying that aside from these agreements, “A”, the employee concerned apologised profusely and has demonstrated contrition and remorse since, the aforementioned contract included and critically,  is on a formal warning and liable to be fired should anything similar happen again. Also, we understand one another better now, there’s a mutual respect.

**I have edited the section about the moment my colleagues shared the story of financial theft for the sake of clarity. I appreciated and respected – and still do – my colleagues opening up to me and being honest. What I find regrettable is how this past experience of the Company came to bear on my life, illustrated by the above incident (25/02/19).



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