Going.Ahead.With Gage: Interview with Angela Shaw

“Anyone talking about their culture right now as a way to get through #COVID19 should also be talking about #DEI as a part of that conversation.” Angela Shaw in Going.Ahead.With Gage #GAWG #HR

Hello my people! It’s been a weird, emotional, and reflecting time for everyone and I’ve been in my own glass case of emotion pretty much every single day. I’m thankful that I have a job and a place to live, but this alone time is making me face a lot of things during the COVID-19 period. I’ve had many friends lose or have their jobs put on hold, I’ve seen companies put their best or worst foot forward, communication and trust is being tested, and so much more.

But, while there is a lot to worry about, there’s also a lot to be positive about. The world is healing, people are coming together, people are seeing that the old ways weren’t working and are focusing on what a new normal looks like, and technology is being pushed forward. But I digress šŸ™‚

I like to throw myself into work when I get stressed out and my Going.Ahead.With Gage interview series is one of my favorite passion projects, especially during this time, because it helps me bring light to necessary topics, promote amazing people, and just share the knowledge wealth. My next guest is the one and only Angela Shaw, VP of Human Resources at Campus Advantage, D&I advocate, TEDx speaker, and all around wonderful human.

How has COVID-19 impacted the hiring process?

You know, I really think it depends on the industry. It has slowed down in my particular industry, but I know other industries like retail, healthcare and other “essential” entities are hiring more than ever.  Also, companies are working through how to hire remotely with video interviews and other virtual tools.  I feel like a positive outcome from all of this madness will be innovation in both hiring and how we work. I’ve heard multiple people say the future of work that we used to talk about is now, and I think that is definitely true.  My hope is that technology continues to improve and that we will continue to learn more ways on to take the bias out of our hiring and truly start leveling the playing field.

“Organizations should always respond to a crisis with a people-first mindset.” Angela Shaw in Going.Ahead.With Gage #GAWG #COVID19 #leadership #employeeexperience

What should companies take away from this pandemic when planning for the future?

Companies should definitely learn how to plan and respond to not just pandemics, but wide spread emergencies in general. This should be related to how they treat their people when it comes employee communications, remote work, and personal/family/sick leave. Organizations should always respond with a people-first mindset. I’ve found that when companies do this it fares much better.

They don’t want to be one of those companies in the news laying off employees with pre-recorded zoom calls. They don’t want to be the ones trying to get employees to sign documents acknowledging their company is going to deduct stimulus payments from their paychecks. And they don’t want to be the companies firing employees for speaking up about their safety in the workplace during this pandemic.  People need the same things during a pandemic, and probably need it even more, which is to feel like they are valued, cared for, appreciated, and respected.

“Now more than ever, people want to feel valued, cared for, appreciated, and respected.” Angela Shaw in Going.Ahead.With Gage #GAWG #COVID19 #leadership #employeeexperience

You’re a mega DEI advocate and an inspiring speaker on the topic. What are steps companies should be making during this time to make sure DEI is not forgotten or an afterthought?

Thank you for saying I’m a mega DEI advocate and inspiring speaker ā€” I love that I have acquired that persona. I don’t just talk about either ā€” I’m about it! Whatever was normal before Coronavirus wasn’t equitable, therefore, neither is it in crisis. In fact, the inequity is magnified. So companies should be increasing their efforts around DEI. 

Anyone who is talking about their culture right now as a way to get through this should also be talking about DEI as a part of that conversation.  If you do not include it, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to be an ally.  As we navigate the new culture norms of working remote and increased stress dealing with the aftermath of the effects, our underprivileged are still being left out, forgotten, or even worse, mistreated during this time. Here are 5 easy ways for an organization to promote DEI during this time:

  • Conduct simple outreach efforts to check on all staff, not just your friends at work to foster togetherness.
  • Invest in the DEI practitioner that you have been meaning to engage with and host a webinar.
  • Stop counting PTO to give working parents with kids at home more flexibility.
  • Share information with your staff on bias and racism given the increase in anti-asian bias.
  • Start a mental health ERG.


What’s your secret passion?

To write a book, but with a ghostwriter because I hate writing. But I do think I have a good story to tell. I’d like to air out some of the painful stories about my career experiences that I have been holding onto. It’s my hope that writing my story would heal some of the thousands of paper cuts I have endured over the years being an ambitious woman of color in the workplace, and maybe help some others along the way.

What’s something you’ve learned in your career that you’ve held on to inspire you to keep pushing forward?

That I have control over my destiny. While bad things that could stop me do exist, my ability to stay in control and write the narrative that is my life keeps pushing me forward.  

How do you encourage people to keep pushing forward when they feel like they aren’t getting anywhere?

I tell them to think about what control they have and how best to use it.  Everyone controls their goals and ability to work towards those goals. Once a person harnesses the power of the control that they have over themselves, all bets are off and no one can stop you. It clears up a path for you and all you need to do is follow where the path leads you. The path won’t be straight but if you just keep on it, you will get somewhere. Honestly, my path has lead me to so many places I never knew I wanted to go to and I’m so glad that I just kept going and never gave up.

“Give before you get, respect where you are on your journey, and be grateful.” Angela Shaw in Going.Ahead.With Gage #GAWG #COVID19 #leadership #career

What advice do you have for younger generations that are early in their careers and trying to work their way up?

My advice is centered around how you treat people on your way up.  Give before you get, respect where you are on your journey, and be grateful. I will admit that the younger generations are smarter, but for the most part people stay the same. Even as you work your way up and you know you are destined for greatness, everyone that you encounter or pass on the way wants to feel valued, appreciated, and not taken for granted. If you can master that or at least practice it as much as you can, you will not only get to the top, but you will capture a whole bunch of friends along the way who want nothing but to help you be successful.

“Be unapologetically awesome.” Angela Shaw in Going.Ahead.With Gage #GAWG #career #leadership

What is one of the most difficult decisions you’ve made in your career and what did you learn from it?

Really it’s always the same decision and question ā€” is it time for me to move on from this job? I’ve had this very non-traditional career path that has been challenging because I am a woman of color. I’ve struggled to grow my career, move into higher positions, and network with the right people.  Earlier in my career, every time I have wanted to move on from a job because I felt I wasn’t making the money I was worth, I didn’t get the opportunities to move up, or I wasn’t being respected for the professional that I am. Each time I went through this whole self-deprecating, imposter syndrome, and what will people think exercise.

As I have continued growing myself and my career, what I have learned is that if I am able to continue getting more then I must be doing something right. Instead of questioning myself or worrying about what other people think, I should take what I am working so hard for because I’ve earned it. I’m unapologetically awesome, so now I know how amazing I am without anyone else’s validation, congratulations, or celebration.

I love book recommendations to help me grow in my career and challenge my thinking – What books would you recommend as a must-read for career growth and/or just fictional fun?

Instead of read a book, my recommendation would be for you to write a book that helps others. What is your best career advice? What challenges would you give the world to think about? 

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next Going.Ahead.With Gage!

ā€” Gage Grammer

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