Zeno For Everyone: I'm a Person Too
By Nirmala Singh
At Zeno, ensuring all employees have a sense of belonging is essential to our diversity, equity and inclusion. In this new content series “Zeno for Everyone,” we’ll share personal stories from Zenoids and learn about how different backgrounds and histories shape perspectives and enrich our experiences. #ZenoForEveryone
Maya Angelou once said, "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." As a POC, I think about this quote often because of how people make me feel due to the color of my skin. And this feeling travels with you everywhere – the grocery store, the airport, a restaurant and even in your own neighborhood. Why do people of color have to be treated differently? Aren't we all the same? Aren't we just as human as everyone else?
"Go back to your country," is a phrase that every brown person has grown up hearing. From the first time you hear it to the most recent time you hear it, it makes you feel the same exact way: anger, hurt and discomfort. You keep thinking when will it change? When does it get better? When will people see you as a person?
When I started interviewing for public relations jobs five years ago, not one person of color interviewed me. Every interview I came home from I thought, is this the right career for me? Why did I think this was a good idea? Am I not getting the job because I'm not the 'typical' PR fit? Then, I opened the doors to a fearless agency – Zeno Group. I'm forever grateful for the two powerful women who interviewed me that day, because if it weren't for their confidence in me as a person, then there wouldn't be a "Nirmala" at Zeno.
Zeno from day one has made me feel like a person and one who matters. One who comes with perspective, creativity, connection, truth, and impact.
Zeno has given me the opportunity to grow, explore and educate. Over the years, I've had the chance to learn from smart and strategic leaders and adapted to my own mentoring techniques pinpointed in how I make people feel. Did I create a safe and open environment for you to ask questions? Did I equip you with all the tools you need to succeed? Did I train you to the best of my ability? All of these teaching methods are skills that I share with interns and junior level staff that join Zeno. Zeno is already an open and collaborative agency and to maintain that, we continue to bring in those who see everyone as a person.
With America's 2020 rally for change, Zeno is evolving too. We've taken new steps in mandating implicit training and removing identifying information from resumes to ensure hiring teams focus on skills and experience to find the best candidate for our needs. We've also started hosting more career fairs at diverse universities nationwide and I've had the opportunity to join those throughout the year, sharing my experience as BIPOC. Moving forward, Zeno is also observing Juneteenth to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. As I mentioned, we're evolving, and this isn't where our book ends. We still have a far way to go, but these are all steps toward a newer path that will help to make this industry even more powerful in what we do best, communicate.
Now, the decision is on you. How will you make people feel? Are they a person in your eyes?