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How companies can create an equitable ecosystem

An equity advocate reminds us that where you work, the way you work, the language you use, and how you spend your time are the beginning of equity.
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Written by Vala Afshar, Contributor on
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Growing businesses are focused on creating a culture that is equitable for all stakeholders. 

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Problems are possibilities. Just ask Joshua Hoskins, a self-titled Digital Nomad and professional problem solver for over 11 years. Hoskins's journey has taken him around the world to live and work in India, Dublin, London, and Singapore. Now he's back in Orlando applying what he's discovered to help solve the seemingly unsolvable. The challenge that's top of mind in boardrooms, backrooms, and back porches around the world: equity -- the quality of being fair and impartial. 

The definition of equitable is something that is fair to all parties.

What sounds like a daunting task to many is merely a day in the life for this perpetually curious entrepreneur. "You have to start somewhere," he begins. "Speaking in terms of what's possible gets me energized and excited to start solving."

"Where you work, the way you work, your language, and how you spend your time is the beginning of equity," he adds.

Beyond deep cultural immersion, Hoskins is conscious of creating an ecosystem of ecosystems and a network of networks. As an entrepreneur, his engagements expose him to new ideas. As an equity champion, his engagements expand his awareness of how to do the doable. Of the small actions that can lead to big results.

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Joshua Hoskins, Technical Product & Delivery Architect + Salesforce MVP 

Image: Karen Mangia

"Language matters," Hoskins coaches. "And what I learned about language from living in India, for example, is that the word offshore is off-putting. That term -- that label -- instantly erodes equity. Because it reduces human beings with capabilities and feelings to nameless, faceless resources to be counted and accounted for on timesheets and in accounting systems. The first step toward equity is to be human and to speak human. That begins with removing words like offshore and resources from our vocabulary when we refer to human beings."

Accelerate equity by learning, sharing, connecting, and co-creating value

To achieve equitable speaking opportunities, you must consciously consider who's speaking, particularly at large gatherings and conferences. "Being conscious of equitable speaking opportunities onstage is a great first step," Hoskins reveals. "The next best step is to be conscious of who is in the audience. Is your audience diverse? How are you making it possible for diverse people in your audience to find each other and to build deep meaningful connections?"

And Hoskins is taking his own advice as he considers the next equitable event he's helping to plan. "The Salesforce Dreamin' events are near and dear to my heart," he shares. 

These events are planned and designed to help bring Salesforce administrators and developers together for inspiration, information, and networking. "I helped create Dreamforce to You, Florida's 1st Dreamin' Event. That became the prototype for the numerous Dreamin' events that now take place each year," he says. "My new passion project is Dreamin' in Color, an impact event to create connection and community among people of color."

The event will begin by surveying the audience about what's on the top of their minds. The output will result in a tailored Q&A session designed to answer questions everyone has and no one wants to ask. The event will also offer job-specific "a day in the life" discovery opportunities to make exploring new career interests easier.

The importance of connecting with mentors and work sponsors

In pursuit of his passion project, Hoskins connected with a seemingly unlikely ally: Bruce Richardson, Chief Enterprise Strategist at Salesforce. The two connected through the Salesforce Black-Owned Business Mentor Program, an extension program of the Salesforce Racial Equality & Justice Taskforce. They quickly discovered they share a passion for asking great questions to intentionally solve challenging problems.

"Bruce is the ultimate connector," Hoskins explains. "He has introduced me to innovators, investors, and inventors. He seems to know everyone. His generosity reminds me of one resource everyone can contribute to build equitable communities: access. Bruce doesn't just connect me with people, he connects me with quality people. And that kind of access is a game changer. Plus, he helps me focus. Founders need focus in order to survive; that's how we get things done."

For anyone looking to create a greater impact, Hoskins offers some advice:

  • Show up and listen to what's not being said in the room
  • Speak into the room about what's on the top of their minds that's not being verbalized
  • Ask what is missing
  • Create collaboration
  • Choose your words wisely

Karen Mangia is a WSJ Best Selling author, thought leader, and strategist. A prolific blogger and sought-after media interview, she has been featured in Forbes and regularly contributes to Thrive GlobalAuthority Magazine, and ZDNet. Thinkers 360 named her #9 on their List of Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Health & Wellness, #12 for Mental Health and one of the top 150 Women B2B Thought Leaders to Follow.

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