Thursday, October 6, 2022

Female Founders: Sacha Thompson, On “Why It’s Important to Have Workspace Diversity”

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As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about empowering women who are encouraging and doing incredible things with their ideas in society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sacha Thompson.

Sacha Thompson is the founder of The Equity Equation, LLC, a diversity coaching and consulting firm based in the Washington, DC area. With 20+ years of experience within the education, non-profit, and tech industries, Sacha’swork is about removing barriers or providing support in order to get to a place of equality. She helps executives and leaders have that important dialogue, and coach them to the necessary, long-term changes that develop institutional cultures of DEI.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Sure! I was born on the Caribbean island of Barbados and moved to a small town in Virginia with my parents a little before I was 2 years old. I spent summers in St. Vincent with my grandparents or visiting family in Barbados throughout my childhood, so I was keenly aware that my family was different from my friends. So, I knew how to function in two worlds at an early age.  

Since then, I’ve worked in higher education, educational testing, and the tech industries. In nearly all of those roles (except for 3 years), I developed and managed diversity outreach programs and maintained relationships with diversity-focused organizations. I am now the founder and CEO of The Equity Equation, a boutique consulting and coaching firm that focuses on providing resources and removing barriers for those from marginalized communities by impacting organizational cultural change.

What do you specialize in, and why should someone choose you over your competitors in your field?

As a Certified Professional Diversity Coach, I focus on supporting the growth of DEI practitioners working in organizations. I have worked in the DEI space most of my professional career and understand the nuances of this ever-evolving industry. So I can lean into my past experiences and partner with practitioners by using the tools I’ve developed as a coach to help them reach their professional goals. 

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As a consultant, I am able to not only lean into my past experience as a practitioner; I tap into the information I gather from my coaching clients and organizational culture education to help organizations move from education and awareness to make the first and continuous steps towards action and change. 

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started my company was saying ‘yes’ all of the time. Though I had established myself in the industry years ago, I was not clear on the type of work that best aligned with my strengths. Within the first 6 months, I was able to hone in on the work that inspired the best in me and the types of clients that drained me. Now, I’m able to quickly assess both in an initial conversation and make better decisions on where I want to put my energy.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Self-care is such a critical aspect of my work, and I believe that everyone should have some type of self-care and wellness routine. I started “Fill My Cup Fridays” a few months ago as an extension of my podcast conversations, DEI After 5. During my show, I ask each of my guests, “How do you fill your cup?” as a way to intentionally focus on the need for self-care for everyone. “Fill My Cup Fridays” continues the conversation. I provide my social media followers with tips or ways they can focus on self-care every day. I also created a “30 Days to Discovering Your Path to Self-Care” download that provides a self-care tip each day with coaching questions to help guide the process. 

What’s your piece of advice for people who want to quit their 9-5 job and start a business?

Depending on the type of business, you may want to have multiple streams of income so you are not dependent on one product or service funding your life and business. I was fortunate to work as a facilitator for another company as I built my foundation of mine. That provided me with a fairly steady income for the first year as I continued to hone in on my business’s most impactful and profitable areas. 

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? What would you tell yourself ten to twenty years ago that you wish you knew then?

  1. You know more than you think you know.
  2. You don’t have to be an expert in every aspect of your business – just know enough to understand what someone else is doing.
  3. Your first hire should be an assistant.
  4. You determine your workday and workweek.
  5. Rest when you need to rest and have fun when you need to have fun.

What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?

I have a ton of notebooks that I’ve used through the years to jot down ideas/thoughts that cross my mind or come to me during conversations.

Occasionally, I will pull one of those out. By revisiting some of those ideas, I begin to look at them through a different lens and determine a new approach or pair it with another idea from another notebook. When I looked back a few months ago, the idea of DEI After 5 was the first few pages of the notebook I started in 2019, and now we are about to conclude Season 2!

Lastly, what do you think this world needs the most? 

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The world could use more compassion and empathy. I strive to build bridges and forge new relationships across differences every day. The conversation these days is that diversity, equity, and inclusion work is the opposite of that, which is far from the truth. It’s about getting to the point where everyone feels valued, seen, heard, and respected regardless of their background. We’ve all been in situations where we’ve felt disrespected. My job is to have people tap into that emotion, and that feeling, and do the work within an organization, so no one else ever has to feel that way. It’s these little steps and changes that can have a global impact. 

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