It can be safe to state that truly great leaders recognize the existing problems in society and come up with innovative solutions to resolve those, making a real difference. In our quest to find such leaders for our upcoming edition, Top 10 Influential Business Leaders Making a Difference 2022, at Insights Success, we crossed paths with one such prominent leader, Netta Jenkins, the Co-founder of Dipper.
In the following interview, Netta sheds light on her inspiring journey in the corporate world and the challenges that she faced on the way to becoming the leader that she is today.
Please brief our audience about your journey as the Co-founder of Dipper.
My journey as Co-founder of Dipper has been a gift. I met my business partner Jacinta Mathis at our former company. We were among the few Black female leaders at the organization and quickly became sisters. She shared her idea about Dipper in a coffee shop, and it gave me chills. The idea of creating a platform that guides professionals to better workplaces and helps companies improve was intriguing. She shared her vision, and I told her I was all in.
My partner, Jacinta, knew pretty well what it was like to be Black in corporate settings. Her late father, Sam Mathis, was promoted to a leadership role in diversity and inclusion at Darden Restaurants, a Fortune 500 company, in the 1990s.
I, however, grew up in a racist affluent neighborhood located in Rhode Island, where our neighbors could not stand the sight of a Black family on that block and looked at us with disgust due to the melanin of our skin. I recall neighbors telling their children not to play with us and pulling them into the house when we got close.
I remember my mom being pulled over in our driveway, and the officer said, “ma’am, are you lost”? My mom said, “no, I just parked, and I’m on my land.” One day, while helping my mother clean the leaves in our front yard, unprovoked, a Caucasian woman walked up to my mother with rage, cursing, spit in my face, and said, “Blacks don’t belong in this neighborhood!” Stunned as a seven-year-old, I vowed to use my voice to protect and empower marginalized people and especially my family from that day forward.
Enlighten us on how Dipper functions and what its goals are.
Dipper, a technology platform aimed at reviewing and rating diversity and inclusivity for employers by people of color, is flipping the script and shifting our workplace cultures for the better. A solutions platform connects all people of color and helps employers and employees navigate diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace.
Dipper guides professionals of color to a better workplace one review at a time, whether good, bad or indifferent. Dipper is a safe community for people to gain real insight into the most inclusive-equitable places that actively break down systemic gaps, offer growth opportunities, and have zero tolerance for micro-aggressions, discrimination, and oppression.
Companies are investing in Diversity and Inclusion, but we don’t see the needle moving.
Dipper is revolutionizing the $8 billion companies spend on Diversity and Inclusion by offering data-driven solutions. We believe that our solutions will scale and disrupt the work culture globally.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on how social interaction for working professionals has changed over time and what more could be expected shortly?
We have a golden rule of “do not speak negatively about an employer.” This leads to many systemically overlooked employees not feeling comfortable speaking up about the harm taking place in the workplace. They fear that it will impact their future opportunities. Dipper is safe to have honest conversations, whether positive or negative.
Dipper also qualifies experiences to get an overall sense of how the company feels about diversity. Without Dipper, job seekers would ask different systemically overlooked professionals in their social network or use a social platform like LinkedIn in hopes that someone would tell you something fruitful and be honest about their experiences.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, what initial challenges did you face?
During the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic, I had a baby girl. Let me tell you, I was so nervous. My husband could not stay with me overnight. I was alone with my baby and paranoid.
I had a cesarean section, and you typically need to keep at least four days+ in the hospital, but I was out of the hospital the day after. I had a one-year-old at home who became ill with the virus. He was admitted to the hospital for a week. Oh, he became sick two days after returning home with my newborn. Let’s just say it was a tough time during the pandemic.
What is your opinion on teaching gender egalitarianism within the company culture from a leadership perspective?
We should be changing the attitudes of humans to increase equality amongst both in the workplace. At this point, that means that we increase opportunities for women in executive roles. This means that all of us in executive positions should be offering sponsorship to women leaders.
We need to be taking a critical look at our executive teams and ask ourselves, “does our executive team represent our clientele, our workforce, and our society?” If so, then we should be asking, “do we have processes in place to ensure that we continue to value diversity?” If not, then we need to ask, “why would systematically overlooked candidates want to work and stay here?”
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs and professionals?
Find your tribe, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t do this work alone. Think about folks you cross paths with and reach out to.
How do you plan on scaling Dipper and its offerings in 2022 and beyond?
Dipper is blossoming, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. We started solely focused on B2C, and our audience requested we have our platform exclusively in their organizations. As a result, we hired a business development leader, Rahdiah Barnes, President of NAMIC organization that now focuses on Dippers B2B advancement.