Seattle HR startup creates virtual program to meet surge in demand for diversity training – GeekWire


Cheryl Ingram, left, a DEI expert and author, and Mikaela Kiner, founder of the digital HR startup Reverb.

After the death of George Floyd, tech leaders came together last spring and summer to condemn police brutality and vowed to do more to support racial equity and diversity. In the Pacific Northwest that included corporations such as Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow and T-Mobile as well as startups and newer businesses like Convoy, Leg Up, Remitly, DreamBox Learning, Moz and Outreach. They pledged allyship, anti-racism and action.

Now many companies are figuring out how they’re going to make good on these commitments. So many companies, in fact, that there’s overwhelming demand for experts in diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI.

“These people got hammered with business. They got booked well into 2021,” said Mikaela Kiner, founder of the digital HR startup Reverb. “We had clients in need who can’t find practitioners.”

Kiner is teaming up with DEI expert and author Cheryl Ingram to create a virtual program of webinars and online coaching to help diversity and HR leaders create or strengthen their efforts.

The program includes 7.5 hours of workshops and breakouts sessions and 4.5 hours of one-on-one coaching with one of five DEI experts.

Participants should come away with a DEI strategy, statement and hiring plan for their company. The program will provide resources for supporting diversity and inclusion efforts, training and education tools, and offer strategies for removing barriers to this work.

Kiner is eager to recognize positive steps that people can take. For example, while there is justified concern about microaggressions — subtle acts of discrimination — she likes the idea of promoting “micro inclusions” or small gestures that make people feel welcome and accepted.

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There are many others in the Seattle region working to address DEI issues. That includes Moving Beyond, a business launched by Future for Us co-founder Aparna Rae; Diversity Window; Epiphanies of Equity; and Diversity Center of Washington. Academic institutions such as the University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University also have training in this space.

Reverb, which is based in Seattle and has six employees, is receiving support from Madrona Venture Group to pay for the effort. The first session starts March 30 and has space for 20 people. It costs $5,000 per participant.

“I’m hearing people saying [DEI] is our number one priority in HR in our organization,” Kiner said. “It’s great news.”





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