About Jesselle Hedman

How did you find out about PDX WIT and what keeps you coming back?

I learned about PDXWIT through a coworker who was volunteering for the organization as I was planning to attend an event. I appreciated the commitment to understanding intersectional feminism and the desire to grow in understanding of others and anyone who is facing oppressive forces in tech.

Can you give us some more information about your career in tech? For example, did you tend to embark on this career path?

I think it was never intentional, but was subconsciously always the environment I would enjoy being part of. I like challenging environments, and places where innovation is rewarded, and that essentially defines the growth mindset present in tech today. I was introduced to tech by consulting and advising on Diversity & Inclusion programming in a variety of tech companies in the area, and naturally fell into Human Resources at one of Portland’s fastest growing startups.

Anything else you’d like to share with the community? What are you most passionate about?

As an HR Professional I am incredibly interested in how certain workplace cultures support and anticipate the changes in their workforce. Often times corporations find themselves behind the innovation curve on employee initiatives, and as of late, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion programming. This is where my passion has always been, mostly because of how blind I was to these forces, circa 10 years ago, and how much learning I’ve done alongside my professional and educational career growth. But it seems to happen so quickly, that companies rush to try to support certain communities without asking them how they want to be supported in a workplace environment. Or the organization comes out with a solution for adding representation that tokenizes the folks they’re attempting to be more welcoming to. Personally, I hope to see more people, in all levels of all organizations, being empowered to expect conversations about increasing all representation in workplace environments. Focusing on folks that are historically and currently underserved by society and systemic injustice will be part of the expected measures taken for future success in those job roles. I believe this will begin to tip the scale, not only in workplace environments, but will permeate the way we all treat each other outside of those settings.

One of the most important conversations you can have with your leader, and leaders above them is how your experience differs from the ones they’ve had and what makes your experiences unique. For example, I’ve personally had fears about lacking the ability to grow, when I know I have the capacity to exceed expectations and innovate in unknown and often ambiguous spaces. When taking a new job, and being asked about how I could contribute to the company’s D&I Initiatives, I was happy to know they wanted my contribution knowing it was something I was passionate about. I was even more sure of my choice to join that organization when I saw that my manager was utilizing their time and position as a leader to educate themselves on the historic education required to understand why the practice of equity or creating equity has to be a top priority in every social setting we exist in.

I’ve loved to see how advising people to consider inclusion and equity as job roles has positively influenced their growth and potential in the roles they serve. I had an experience where I supported a member of the business in a conversation about a difficult coworker, and turned it into an opportunity to support and aim to grow that other person, and in turn themselves for the benefit of the team at large. I’ve also been a strong force in tying metrics to D&I initiatives like you would a KPI or OKR. I think it is important that these initiatives sit with the other business aims and focuses to signify a level of importance to the participants of the organization. I want employees to know that treating others with respect and speaking up for and including voices that often are left out it is expected of them, and is part of how you meet the goals set out for you by the leadership teams. Adding metrics to the equation allows it to be tied all the way down to personal KPI or Development Goals, and fosters an understanding of how to practice diversity, equity and inclusion, within the already existing Values and practices of the business you work with.

Find Jesselle on LinkedIn