We’ve created a new internal series called What’s It Like? to explore the diverse experiences of those working at Billtrust. In recognition of Black History Month, our first panel in the series was titled What's It Like? Being Black in Corporate America. It took place on Monday, February 14th.
The event was conceived by Tyrese Harris, Vice President of Talent Development at Billtrust in order to celebrate some of the Black voices at Billtrust and provide them with a platform to share their authentic experiences.
VP of Talent Development
SVP of Technology Operations
Implementations Business Analyst
So, what did the panelists share?
Tyrese Harris outlined how being Black in an organization that is majority white can feel isolating, especially when there are few other Black people on her teams or in leadership.
“I feel like sometimes it [being Black in the workplace] can be isolating. And by that I mean there’s not often someone else that’s like you. Particularly I feel like the higher up I’ve gone, that’s been more and more the case, and as I look upwards, typically, I don’t see anyone reflective of who I am in senior leadership that’s been every place that I’ve gone.”Tyrese Harris, Vice President of Talent Development
Themes of isolation or feeling out of place despite personal competencies and achievements were affirmed by Farai Alleyne, SVP of Technology Operations at Billtrust.
“Imposter syndrome — should I be here? I had that earlier, as I moved up into more management and had to trust my own skills and my own experience to really allow me to flourish and not feel like I didn’t deserve to be here.”Farai Alleyne, SVP of Technology Operations
Tyrese added that being Black in the workplace can often mean needing to endure discomfort and push through it in order to effect positive change in organizations.
“You have to be very willing to be open to that and persevere through it and not shrink back into comfort because that’s how we get further to diversity in organizations — by having a couple of people step up and be the first people to join, and then having other people continue to join.”Tyrese Harris, Vice President of Talent Development
Billtrust President Steve Pinado has spoken openly about the racism that he has experienced throughout his life and career. During the panel discussion, he related the desensitization that can occur when enduring offensive and ill-informed views over the course of a long career.
“For a long time in my career, I felt like I had this obligation to correct people who were being offensive, or ignorant. I think I’m a bit desensitized to that now. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it certainly impacts me less, so I’m able to be more productive and more successful. I definitely am not as active as I have been in my life about “no, you really don’t understand what you’re saying.”Steve Pinado, President
Nevertheless, President Pinado has been a leading voice in guiding Billtrust towards a more equitable and diversity-valuing culture.
The What’s It Like: Being Black in Corporate America panel was first conceived by Tyrese Harris as a one-time event to highlight Black voices within Billtrust. But once we saw the power of creating a dedicated space for Black employees to safely and honestly share their experiences — we decided we couldn’t stop there.
So, our What’s It Like series will continue as we further explore the nature of our current company culture and work towards a greater inclusivity and understanding.
We have planned panels to recognize the concerns of women in March for Women's History Month, of our AAPI employees in May, of our LGTBQIA+ staff for Pride Month in June and of our Hispanic colleagues for Hispanic Heritage Month in September-October.
As we progress through the year, we look forward to exploring how diversity makes us stronger as a whole. As our CEO and Founder, Flint A. Lane, explains it:
“At Billtrust, we're committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. An important part of that is to promote a real understanding of the actual, lived-in experiences of others in today's world, whether that's at work or in other areas of life. By helping to promote that empathy, we create a stronger, more compassionate Billtrust family.”Flint Lane, Ceo and Founder