TEKsystems Account Manager Raven Jones shares her story about facing racism, learning to live authentically and sparking initiatives for change.
Nov. 9, 2021 | By Raven Jones
At TEKsystems, we’re committed to nurturing an inclusive employee culture. We welcome diversity into every part of our business. In this series of personal essays, we’re highlighting the unique perspectives and reflections of our employees. We aim to not only see and recognize the diversity of our teams but also to better understand how we all play a part in fostering an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.
I grew up in a small, primarily white, Louisiana town. I faced many forms of racism, including programs I had access to, academic scholarships I could apply for and voting restrictions for school groups. I accepted them at face value because it was the way things had “always been.” But as I got older and experienced life beyond those barriers, I realized how detrimental they were and how those experiences shaped how I viewed myself as a Black woman in the world. I’ve always feared the "angry Black woman” label, so I often kept quiet when I wanted to speak up.
My Preconceived Notions Were Accurate
I had no prior knowledge of the tech industry—TEKsystems was my intro into that world. I expected it to be white and male-dominated, based on how I grew up. I also realized my office team didn’t accurately reflect our community, even though it sat in a melting pot of cultures. For a long period of time, I was the only person of color in my office and was often put in scenarios to share my perspective for the entire culture, which felt uncomfortable. As a result, I piloted our Multicultural Employee Resource Group (MERG) to help create a team environment that was more diverse and inclusive. MERG encourages equitable efforts in hiring, education, awareness, appreciation and community service. It has been an excellent vehicle for my team to discuss cultural biases, race, identity, mental health and world issues.
I feel it’s important to live in your truth, especially when it's challenging, because it’s in those moments I’ve learned the most.
Live Your Truth, Especially When It’s Difficult
Being authentic is the best gift I can give to myself and everyone else. I feel it’s important to live in your truth, especially when it’s challenging, because it’s in those moments I’ve learned the most. Both my personal and professional relationships are stronger because I choose to be genuine in my approach.
I’m currently an account manager supporting our government sector, specifically state/local government and higher education for Louisiana and Mississippi. I’ve been with TEKsystems for eight years, and I’m excited about our current inclusion and diversity efforts. There’s an intentional push at TEKsystems to encourage conversations that drive the needle forward.
My experiences with ONYX, Emerge and the Black Women’s IAP have empowered me to be my most authentic self at work. I’ve been able to build relationships with executive leaders and other Black women across the nation who share similar backgrounds and who are supportive of one another.
I’ve Learned the Significance of Authenticity
The key takeaway from my story? Don’t play it safe. Show up, be your authentic self and unapologetically live in your truth. No one has your story. Own your background and everything else that makes you unique!
Conversations That Matter (CTM) has been a great avenue to explore deeper talks among my team. Because these discussions created such positive dialogue, we started a monthly CTM discussion to continue those efforts.
I've realized that I have a responsibility to my identity as a Black woman to show up as my authentic self in every interaction. The younger version of me would not command attention for fear of making others uncomfortable. But I no longer choose to play it safe.
About the Author
Based in Baton Rouge, Raven is an account manager supporting state and local governments as well as higher education for Louisiana and Mississippi. Passionate about inclusion and diversity, she piloted TEKsystems’ Multicultural Employee Resource Group (MERG).