How We Work: Jordan Mitchell
I want to fight for freedom, equality, and inclusion for all. I hadn’t realized this until recently, but I’ve spent my entire adult life pushing for these principles.
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, and as protests have swept across the country, I made myself available for anyone at Dynamic Signal – to talk about how they’re feeling and maybe answer any questions. It started with some one-on-one conversations. Then we had a Zoom meeting with our Sales Development Representative team. That turned into another session. Then more discussions with others around the company. And a town hall hosted by our CEO.
But the most difficult conversation I’ve had is with my 8-year-old daughter.
Title: Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Role: Designing, developing, and directing a company culture where everyone feels valued, safe, and has a voice that’s heard.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Marketing/Marketing Management from DePaul University
She asked me how this could happen to someone just because other people didn’t like the color of his skin. She added: “Dad, I just think about if that happened to you. I would be really sad.”
That was a hard moment.
I know these first-person stories about how we’re coping during the pandemic typically focus on the challenges that come with working from home. But this time isn’t typical.
As if the coronavirus (COVID-19) weren’t enough already, we have witnessed a series of barbaric incidents – culminating in Floyd’s death – that vividly show the continuing inequity of our society. It revealed the deep-rooted frustration that so many of us feel as we look to find some semblance of justice.
We’re all struggling to focus on our day-to-day jobs while processing what’s going on in the world. However, the reality is work and the social injustice cannot – and should not – be segregated. For me, that’s the real change we’re all experiencing in how we work.
In January, when the world was a much different place, Eric Brown joined the company as our CEO. At his very first all-hands meeting, my ears perked up when he said diversity and inclusion would be an essential value at Dynamic Signal.
I’ve always looked for ways to fight for freedom. It’s why I enlisted in the Army in 2009. It’s why I started a nonprofit to combat human trafficking. It’s why I walked 200 miles to the Illinois State Capitol Building to talk with over 40 different state representatives to push for legislation that could help rid our state of modern-day slavery.
So, when Eric asked me to lead our diversity and inclusion efforts, I felt like I was at the right place at the right time to make a difference. The Dynamic Signal platform creates conversations within organizations. Well, starting a dialogue also is the first step to creating effective and sustainable change within society.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve balanced my work as an SDR with helping to build a diverse company culture through training, mentoring, and ambassador programs.
But in a way, COVID-19 also was doing something insidious in our culture. It set the stage for the eruption of another festering crisis. People were already angry in our communities. The economy shutdown impacts everyone. But people of color are disproportionally affected. Why were people losing their lives when it didn’t have to happen? We felt helpless to fight an unseen enemy.
I see COVID-19 as just another tank of gasoline poured on an already soaked rag of systemic and institutional racism. What happened to George Floyd was the spark to ignite an explosion. I would never condone damage or violence, But I also don’t know how this could be unexpected. At least not if you had been paying attention to the drumbeat of recent travesties, including the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. All the ingredients were there for this national expression of outrage.
But I also know that the goal now for everyone, collectively, is to be better. We can’t be just not racist. We need to be anti-racist. Each of us needs to find a way to be part of the solution.
That’s what I’ve been sharing with my colleagues. I’ve been listening to their stories. There have been some hard, raw conversations filled with tears. But if these discussions at our company are emblematic of something happening around the country, we’ll be in a better position than ever before in creating real, lasting, and peaceful change.
I feel like I’m doing the right thing. Now, I need to do more of it. I’m thankful to be in a place where others feel the same way.
Five Questions with Jordan
What social distancing technology are you using?
Slack. The phone. LinkedIn. But mostly Zoom. If I’m Slacking or emailing with someone, I’ll often say, ‘Can we set up a Zoom?’ I hate typing through a conversation. I would much rather have a real dialogue on Zoom. I also use our internal Dynamic Signal platform.
What’s something that keeps you sane?
Building furniture is one of my random hobbies. I work a lot with my hands and wood. If I have to think through something, I’ll start a new project. I recently built an 8-by-14-foot trellis for ivy to grow on our gardens. My team has seen the evolution of my office during COVID-19. I’ve redone it with custom shelving.
What’s your new work attire?
I am a massive Eddie Bauer guy.
What are you missing most because of the pandemic?
I miss being in a group setting. I’m very much a social person, and I feed off the energy of other people. I would love to get back to where we’re all together again.
What makes you hopeful about this moment?
The conversations I’m having make me optimistic because so many people want to be part of the change. That makes me extremely hopeful. I’m just one guy. I’m just one black man in America. But I’m getting so much support right now. If we can figure out how to channel that into support for everyone of color, we’re going to be in a far better place.