On effective mentorship, navigating tech as a member of underrepresented groups, and increasing diversity and inclusion in tech. A conversation with Kamala Avila-Salmon, marketing inclusion strategy lead at Facebook.Featured
I spoke with Kamala Avila-Salmon, marketing inclusion strategy lead at Facebook. Prior to Facebook, Kamala was a partner marketing lead at YouTube, consumer marketing manager at Google, and marketing strategy manager at NBC. Kamala shared her advice on effective mentorship, navigating tech as a member of underrepresented groups, and increasing diversity and inclusion in tech. On mentorship, Kamala recommends having mentors, sponsors, and advisors. Mentors should be aligned with and invested in your mission. Authentically enroll your mentor in your vision and take them on your journey, both the big picture goals and the day to day. Check in with them regularly with updates and questions. If you are a mentor, know that the journey is more important than the destination in your relationship with your mentee. They are relying on you less to get them to a very specific end state but more for you to be there with them throughout the process, including critical decisions and some of their formative moments. Have and express genuine, authentic interest in your mentee’s personal and professional growth. Sponsors are generally within your company or industry. They will keep their eyes and ears open for new opportunities and use their political capital to advocate for you in literal and figurative rooms you are not in. Sell yourself to engage your sponsor in helping you and make the relationship explicit (e.g. I really value your guidance and would love for you to recommend me for opportunities that you think would fit my career vision and expertise). Advisors can be peers or more senior to you and command a generally casual relationship. You can have many advisors and reach out to different ones with quick questions depending on their respective areas of expertise. On supporting underrepresented groups in tech, Kamala highlights the power and potential of media. She decided to work in media to impact the stories and narratives that are shared with the public to elevate the voices of diverse groups. The unfortunate reality is that underrepresented minorities have to work 10X harder to get half as far in tech and other fields. They take on additional unpaid work to clear barriers and level the playing field for themselves and others. Companies should recognize and compensate this unpaid labor. While as a country, we have recently become more aware of the racial injustices in the US, awareness, sympathy, empathy, and reflection are not enough. We must move from empathy to action and adopt a proactive stance of antiracism. Kamala shared more on actionable steps we can take for greater allyship in her Medium article here.