February is Black History Month in the United States and Canada. A time to honor and celebrate the past achievements that Black people have made throughout history. It’s also a time to shine a light on the Black leaders, creators, artists, and role models of today who are continuing to pave the way for generations to come.
To celebrate Black History Month at Cohesity, our Black Cohesity Network curated thoughtful and engaging sessions to educate and spark conversations with their fellow Cohesians about Black culture. Some of the sessions included a Lunch and Learn with John Graham, author of Plantation Theory: The Black Professional’s Struggle Between Freedom & Security, and a cooking class with Chef D. Arthur, in addition to two giving opportunities with Code2040 and Blacks in Technology Foundation. As Black History Month 2022 comes to an end, we wanted to continue the celebration of the achievements of the Black community beyond the month of February, and inspire others to do the same.
In this article, two new Talent Acquisition leaders at Cohesity – Dolph Augustus and Lamar Martinez-Daniels – share their experiences as Black leaders in the tech industry, what Black History Month means to them, and how we can (and should!) continue the conversation beyond the month of February.
I just joined Cohesity about four weeks ago. I am excited to be here and help grow and scale teams and organizations from a talent perspective. I really love being a part of people’s journeys and giving them the opportunity to be their best selves.
Art is a deep passion of mine. I used to draw and paint growing up so I thought I was going to be an architect or furniture designer. That changed when Google first launched internet search. I went down a rabbit hole because I wanted to understand how the internet worked from an HTTP perspective and then I used Google to teach me everything I could learn about software programming. So because of that, I got into engineering.
When I was thinking about moving out of the engineering role I was in at the time, I found that a lot of recruiters I was talking to couldn’t really articulate the technical aspects of the roles they were trying to fill. I’ve always had a passion for communication and being able to explain complex things to people in a simple way so that everyone can understand them. So, I figured that technical recruiting would be a great fit for me, and now here I am at Cohesity leading the technical recruiting function all these years later.
For me, Black History Month is every month and every day. It’s a celebration and learning moment of diversity and also a reminder about the importance of inclusion. It’s important to remember that we are all humans and should be inclusive to all groups — Blacks, LGBTQIA+, Veterans, people with disabilities — so we can thrive together as a community.
I’ve never had a manager or leader who looked like me. At the beginning of my career, I always felt uncomfortable asking certain questions that I should have been able to ask. Even going into simple conversations, I felt like I was constantly preparing to have two conversations. One was me having to beat any stereotype the person might have in their head due to my race, and the other was to talk about the actual topic of the meeting. Even in my work outputs, I felt like I had to double down on the quality to negate any stereotype.
Having that representation in leadership is important because it shows the younger Black generation that there’s the opportunity for them to achieve that and beyond. It shows them that they have a place to be versus when you don’t see that representation you second guess your ability to progress.
I’m involved in a non-profit called City of Youth. My role is to help at-risk youth in the area prepare for college and give guidance on career opportunities, such as helping with resumes and other classes to augment their professional development.
If there’s anyone reading this, who wished they had someone who looked like them to talk to, they can reach out to me. My door is always open to anyone seeking advice or who wants to talk about their experiences.
I recently joined Cohesity about three weeks ago. The reason I joined, and why I am excited to be here, is to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and build again.
Even outside of work, building and creating things is something that I really enjoy. I have a passion for interior design and home renovations, even though they can be a challenge. I’m not the best at reading instructions, so the process can be frustrating; however, now I am learning to be patient with myself.
Growing up, I thought that I wanted to be an accountant. When I began my career, I was building spreadsheets for a printing company. As the team was growing, I was beginning to realize that we were not hiring the right people for the job so I asked to be a part of the interview process. I then discovered this passion for helping teams advance with the best-fit talent. When the recession hit, I was offered a job as a contract recruiter for a tech company that I had no idea about. On day three of that job, I had a realization that this is the industry for me and I stayed for almost nine years at GoDaddy.
It’s the celebration of a fragmented group of people who have made contributions — big or small — to the movement of equality. We still have a ways to go, but Black History Month is a time for not just Black people or underrepresented groups but all people to celebrate and educate others on these contributions. The more we celebrate, I hope the more it will penetrate and show the struggles and how many people have sacrificed, even died just for us to have this conversation today.
Being black and gay, I’ve felt like I’ve had two swords in my back, and conversations around Black History Month can be painful. By continuing to have these uncomfortable conversations and using them as an opportunity to educate … My hope is that we can help pave the road ahead. So kids growing up in the future are more accepted at an early age for their sexuality, the color of their skin, and that it’s okay to date and marry interracially.
As a recruiting leader, I think it’s important to continue to showcase the diversity of all things — thought, background, cultures, genders, and skin color — makes a meaningful impact on the business. It’s like we’re creating a stew, adding lots of flavors. And then adding the secret sauce, diversity of thought, that really makes it great.
While I’ve always been comfortable with who I am, I empathize with people struggling to feel comfortable and want to champion them. I work with an organization called One In Ten to help LGBTQ+ youth be able to embrace who they are and have a community of role models that represent themselves to build leadership skills and confidence.
As we continue to create more Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) such as the Black Cohesity Network, it’s a great way to all support one another while continuing to feel safe. It also creates so many opportunities for Cohesians to learn, understand, and empathize with one another regardless of race or identity. There’s no greater gift than learning, which helps us as individuals and as an organization evolve, build, and scale for the future.