Can't Touch This

How do you turn a company with 13% female engineers to one with 27%?

Straight outta Oaktown, the boys invite head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Airtable, Albrey Brown, on the show and chat diversity recruiting, what a typical day in the life of a DE&I director looks like and even find time for MC Hammer jokes.

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Transcription sponsored by:

Disability Solutions helps companies find talent in the largest minority community in the world – people with disabilities.

Chad (1s):

Hide your kids lock the doors. You're listening to HRS most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark buckle up boys and girls.

Joel (25s):

Oh yeah. You know what time it is everybody. This is Joel Cheeseman of the Chad and Cheese podcast joined as always by my cohost Chad Sowash and today.

Chad (37s):

Yes! I'm excited.

Joel (38s):

You're blessed to have Albrey Brown, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Air Table. Albery how's it going, man?

Albrey (48s):

It's going well. It's a sunny day here in Oakland, California. Yeah.

Chad (53s):

Oaktown, three, five, seven, baby.

Joel (55s):

Does everyone know MC hammer in Oakland or is that a myth?

Albrey (58s):

No, everyone knows MC Hammer

Joel (60s):

Yes! I knew it.

Albrey (1m 1s):

And when you move to Oakland as a gentrifier, you have to meet with him for 45 min. They watch you do the hammer time dance. And if you can't do it, you're done. You can't buy a house.

Chad (1m 13s):

You're kicked out!

Joel (1m 14s):

Do you have to wear the pants when you meet with them? Or does that, is that optional? Nice.

Chad (1m 18s):

Yes! Of course you do!

Albrey (1m 19s):

You got to wear the pants. You got to wear the shades.

Chad (1m 22s):

The suspenders?

Albrey (1m 26s):

Can't touch this.

Chad (1m 27s):

Yeah, Albury. So a lot of our listeners obviously don't know who you are. So give them the Twitter, Twitter intro, and maybe a little bit about Air Table for those who don't know.

Albrey (1m 36s):

Yeah. So I want to first say that everyone knows me. So I'm sorry to tell you why, but my name is Albrey. I lead Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Air Table. I've been leading D&I at several companies for about seven years now. And Air Table is a cloud correct collaboration company, really in the what's called the no-code, low-code space. So what we specialize in is we have a product that makes it really easy for folks who've never programmed before to build their own applications and workflows. So what we say is that we are democratizing software creation by allowing anyone to build what they want.

Albrey (2m 16s):

And we truly believe that, which is why diversity, equity and inclusion is at the core of our mission. So that's what we do. Any other questions?

Chad (2m 24s):

Would you count Twilio as a competitor?

Albrey (2m 26s):

I'd say Twilio, not so much a competitor because they focus more on how you like do outreach to folks. So like SendGrid and text messages, messaging, et cetera, et cetera. But we do like integrate with platforms like Twilio. So for example, if you want to, if you two had a form request, when people wanted to like apply to be on the show, there, we have a database system that when people apply through an Air Table form, it hits the database and you can create an, that automatically uses Twilio to text them to say, Hey, we got your, got your application to be on the show.

Albrey (3m 7s):

We'll get back to you within 48 hours. So we're kind of like the layer between actions and like human actions and triggering other tools to do the things that you all want to do.

Chad (3m 21s):

So we had Madison Butler on the show and like all break came out of the woodwork on Twitter. It was like, it was like Lee and I noticed his Twitter handle. Right. And it says angry black man. I'm like, okay, that's a dude. I want to talk to!

Albrey (3m 37s):


Joel (3m 37s):

His LinkedIn about is I'm rooting for everybody black. So you make, no, you don't camouflage it at all.

Albrey (3m 44s):


Chad (3m 45s):

I dig it. So what kind of flack do you get from that shit? I mean, seriously, because it's, it's interesting. We've talked to Torin Ellis before and he's like, nobody calls you angry white dudes and you are what the fuck. Right. So from your standpoint, I mean, you gotta catch flack from that shit?

Albrey (4m 1s):

Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, the reason why I made it, my handle is because one, it's a little bit ironic and I'm an ironic dude. I feel like, you know, there's the angry black man trope, you know, that, you know, black folks are angry at the way the society has treated them and just continuously kind of reproduce that anger and their actions, which let's all just say that's totally warranted. I mean, I can't go past, if you gave me a time machine, I wouldn't go back to pass like the 1980s, because life wouldn't be all that easy for me, before then. But you know, the reason that first and foremost to your question, I actually don't catch any flack.

Albrey (4m 44s):

I think that the, the reason why I put those things first and foremost on my LinkedIn and my Twitter is because it's kind of like the Eminem Effect, you know, Eminem and eight mile the, in the last rap battle, he's trying to figure out how to beat this guy who just way more gangster than him. And he just decides I'm going to lay it out all on the table, so that you know, my brand. And then what are you going to say? So it actually ends up being the opposite effect because I've, I've owned it and I've already kind of put that on the table. It's somewhat disarming and it's worked out in my favor.

Joel (5m 16s):

Was there any conversation with your employer about this or was it just sort of like we know we're getting and we're going to roll with it.

Albrey (5m 22s):

There was a conversation at the beginning when I was interviewing at Air Table about who I am and about what they are buying when they decide to provide my salary every two weeks. And I think part of the luxury that D&I people don't talk about is that I'm actually paid partially to be black in the workplace. Like my job as a diversity leader, is to be black so that I can then translate what it's like to bring your full self to work, to both executives and to individual contributors. Yeah. So I think if I was a salesperson, it might be a different conversation. If I was an engineer, it definitely would be a different conversation because the culture is a little bit different, but the privilege of being in diversity, equity and inclusion i