The Happy Engineer Podcast

098: Create Belonging and Inclusion with Genesis Amaris Kemp | Author and DEI Advocate

In this episode, meet the host of GEMS Podcast, Genesis Amaris Kemp.  She is a Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging enthusiast who is known as a Firecracker and a force to be reckoned with.

Genesis is a woman of color who said, “Enough is enough,” and is now bolder than ever. During her career in the oil and gas industry, she remained silent.  Now she is stepping outside of her comfort zone by speaking up and authored her challenging book, “Chocolate Drop in Corporate America: From The Pit To The Palace.” 

Today you will learn from the experiences of a minority and how you can apply these lessons to create a culture at work of greater belonging.

And, I will challenge you to overcome 3 things that keep you confined to your comfort zone.

Genesis has been featured on four dozen-plus podcasts and multiple magazine publications and has released over 750 episodes of her show GEMS… including episode 744 where I was honored to be a guest and share the Blueprint to Happiness we talk about here on the Happy Engineer Podcast.

So press play and let’s chat…because changing the culture of your workplace will lead to greater happiness!

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The Happy Engineer Podcast




Previous Episode 097: Why Happy People are More Productive with Thanh Pham | CEO at Asian Efficiency




Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone: 3 Things Holding You Back

Getting out of your comfort zone is essential for personal and professional growth, but it’s not always easy. Here are three things that can keep you stuck in your comfort zone:

Habits: While habits can be beneficial for creating positive results in your life, they can also keep you stuck in a comfort zone that no longer serves you. The subconscious part of your mind is wired for survival, not success, so it’s essential to become conscious and intentional about your habits.

Fear: Facing fear is crucial for achieving your goals, but it’s not something that disappears entirely. Fear presents itself in small ways throughout the day, and it’s up to you to push through it and find your edge. Most people turn back when confronted with fear, but it’s important to keep moving forward.

Comfort: Finally, the very thing that keeps you in your comfort zone is comfort itself. It’s easy to get complacent and settle for what’s familiar, but true growth and success come from taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone.

To break out of your comfort zone, it’s essential to identify the specific habits, fears, and comfort zones that are holding you back. Take action to create new habits, face your fears, and push yourself beyond what feels comfortable. It may be scary at first, but the rewards are worth it.



Genesis is a woman of color who said, “Enough is enough,” and is now bolder than ever. During her career in the oil and gas industry, she remained silent.  Now she is stepping outside of her comfort zone by speaking up and authored her challenging book, “Chocolate Drop in Corporate America: From The Pit To The Palace.” 

Genesis has been featured on four dozen-plus podcasts and multiple magazine publications and has released over 750 episodes of her show GEMS… including episode 744 where I was honored to be a guest and share the Blueprint to Happiness we talk about here on the Happy Engineer Podcast.





Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: Genesis, welcome to The Happy Engineer Podcast. So glad you’re here today.

[00:00:05] Genesis Kemp: Hey Zach, thanks so much for having me. 

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:08] Zach White: Yeah, and it’s great to see you again. I should say, I am super excited about our interview on your Podcast and so shameless plug, GEM’s podcast, G E M S, episode 744, already live an amazing conversation on your show.

[00:00:26] And honestly, 700 plus episodes. Genesis, I have to hand it to you like that is an extraordinary amount. thanks for having me on and everybody go listen to that and, follow Genesis’s podcast. But I wanted to ask you first before we get into your story and some of the things we talked about for today, out of 700 and what 50 now episodes that you’ve recorded.

[00:00:50] Is there anything from the podcast that really surprised you? So like an interview that was nothing like you expected or a memory from your show Having done it this long, that really stands out because I’m just now creeping up on a hundred episodes and it’s been an amazing journey. Building the happy engineer.

[00:01:08] But on Gems 700 plus conversations, what stands out to you as the most surprising or unexpected? So 

[00:01:19] Genesis Kemp: there are a few, so I interviewed Janae Lincoln’s yesterday and I had no idea how we connected or how we met, and I just boldly asked her, I was like, how did you find out about GEM’S podcast?

[00:01:33] Cuz I didn’t send her the podcast guest form. Oh, interesting. And she. Actually my old resident coordinator last year podcast everywhere, and I was like, who is she or who is he? And she told me the name. I was like, I’ve never met that person. So this person just found my podcast. Fell in love with it, started sharing it.

[00:01:54] She picked up on it and then somehow got a hold of my podcast guest form. And it was just a fluke. And I was like, Hey, um, I’m actually gonna be closing my books and going on a month long hiatus, so if you wanna do something, we need to do it today. And she’s like, let’s do three o’clock. And it was just like, bam, bam.

[00:02:12] So that was just like crazy in a fluke.

[00:02:15] Zach White: I like one thing for engineers and I’m thinking of myself, is. Just the resistance to cold connecting with people. And not to say everyone needs to start a podcast, but one of the greatest things about having one is you can make these amazing human to human connections that.

[00:02:35] That you would otherwise never have an open door to connect and you attract people who would otherwise never reach out to you just by having one. And I have several clients who are building their careers and this is not something they want to start a business around, but they’re launching podcasts just for that opportunity to reach out to executives or you know, CTOs and people who they would love to talk.

[00:02:59] About engineering and having a podcast opens the door to having that conversation when, if you called that person, LinkedIn messaged them and said, do you wanna have coffee? They would always say no. But if you say, would you be open to being a guest on my podcast? People will consider it and oftentimes say yes.

[00:03:17] So, really interesting. But thanks for sharing those stories. Genesis, 

[00:03:22] Genesis Kemp: so

[00:03:22] another thing for the audience, like what also gave me the courage and the confidence is before I really launched my show full fledged, I was actually a podcast host for three different CEOs simultaneously.

[00:03:35] So they sent me their questions and I ran their show. So I was the interviewer of all their six figures, seven figure guests, and it was really cool because I got to meet all of these different people. And that also boosts my confidence because then I took my background coming from corporate America to partnering it with, you know, CEOs that are in different industries than mine.

[00:03:57] And a lot of the feedback I got was, oh, it seemed like you knew about this industry. Where I had no idea about the industry that they were in, but I just knew how to connect with. Different individuals and how to like drive a conversation and really make that individual feel seen and heard. And from those conversations, they started, coming over into my ecosystem and et cetera.

[00:04:20] And it was a natural thing, not something that was forced or et cetera. 

[00:04:24] Zach White: I love that. I love that. And honestly, that skill of connecting with somebody who’s completely different than you, different industry, maybe they’re not in engineering at all, they work in sales or they’re an entrepreneur and you work in the Fortune 500 or whatever to help them feel seen and heard and understood.

[00:04:41] There’s a skill a lot of engineers need. You know, I get asked all the time, Zach, what should I say? I hear you that I need to network with people more, but what should I say? And sometimes, You kinda like, okay, hold on. If I give you the script, that’s not the point, you know, that’s not the point. So, okay. I love this genesis.

[00:05:00] Let’s segue then. You mentioned your corporate America experience why don’t you back up for us and, and tell us about where it began for you and a little bit of your story and what led to ultimately, you know, your book and now your incredible platform that you’ve created through your podcast. But where did that all?

[00:05:20] Genesis Kemp: So actually in high school I did a co-op program. So my first job was actually working for Remax Preferred Homes. I was a personal assistant to a brokerage, and that was really cool. And I tell people, you know, I was young and dumb back then. I wish I would’ve known. Knew what I know now and got a real estate license because the market totally boomed.

[00:05:42] And then after, what happened in 2008, 2009, I was jobless and I needed to maintain a job for, you know, school requirements. So that’s whenever I switched over to the medical industry and I was working at the cancer center and that was amazing. Fast forwarding to year to. I’m actually still friends with one of the clients there, and she said one of the reasons that, kept her motivated to keep on going with her.

[00:06:12] Her treatment was the fact that every time she would come in and I would be at the front desk and checking her in, I always had a smiling face. I always had her snacks ready And I would just really listen to her, what she was going on, and not feel like I was demeaning her or making her feel less than given the circumstances.

[00:06:30] Wow. And then, After, um, a new hospital opened up in our area, they stole all our patients. So y’all, they literally hijacked our patients cuz they had more equipment and it was state of the art, which, you know, from a medical standpoint, you always want the best of the best, especially as technology advances.

[00:06:47] So then that left me jobless again. networking is key. So I went back to. Teacher at the time, and she found me a job in oil and gas, and it was a smaller corrosion company. I entered there as an imaging clerk, left there as a HSC manager, which is health, safety, and environmental. So worked my way up.

[00:07:07] Then I transitioned into a Fortune 500 company after staying with that small company for four and a half years. Then I was at this big name Fortune 500 Oil and Gas Company up until February 15th, 2021, and I was laid off in the pandemic. During these experiences, I’ve learned a lot about myself because a lot of the times I may have been the only person that looked like me in the room.

[00:07:32] A lot of times I was the youngest. Oil and gas is a very male dominated feel, ran by older Caucasian male. So it’s either like you get in line, but I tell people I got to where I was in my career, not by doing strange things for a piece of change, but by my education, networking. And just really building those connections and rapport and doing a lot of step out activities, meaning I would do my base job, but I would also see, okay.

[00:07:59] What other organizations are they partnering with, like United Way, junior Achievement, the Red Cross, and et cetera. And I would find ways to volunteer with those organizations so I can get to know other people throughout the company that were volunteering at that organization too. And those rapport were built.

[00:08:19] Outside of work while doing something for work. Yeah. Yeah. While also benefiting the community. And that’s another way, like if you know that you’re an introvert and you may not necessarily wanna engage in certain extrovert activities, find something that ties to your heartstring, but it also ties to the heartstring of your company and other people within that company.

[00:08:38] And then use that as a link to connect. So that’s kind of how I got to where I. Where I am now. And then the book came out of a Day of Frustration in Corporate America, and I had no idea I was gonna write a book, but it wasn’t until I just got my thoughts out of my head onto paper. And then the Lord connected me with a lady who was an author at a local church here in Houston.

[00:09:01] And she told me about what she did. I was like, Ooh, her lifestyle’s kind of sexy, And I invited her to coffee like a week later, she hooked me up with her publish. And then um, the birth of chocolate drop in corporate America from the pit to the palace came into fruition.

[00:09:16] And I wrote the entire thing on my cell phone, cuz all I had at the time was a company issue, laptop. And that’s a big no-no to mix business and 

[00:09:23] Zach White: pleasure. Wow. Wow. That’s amazing. You wrote the whole book on a phone. So let me jump in here. This is such an important part of the story and again, the title of your book.

[00:09:34] Chocolate drop in corporate America from the pit to the palace. And for anyone who’s simply listening to the audio version of the podcast, you go check us out on YouTube and you’ve got Zach White, the Caucasian male engineer here, and Genesis Kemp, the African-American female totally different skin color, totally different gender, probably different height.

[00:09:55] We couldn’t be more different, and it really sets the stage. For the conversation and I want to play in a way, genesis, some, some ignorant, uh, posture here. And, and I wanna ask for your help and understanding around what you’re so passionate about and what your book is around and help to this conversation into a character and a light of what’s really happening in the workplace.

[00:10:21] And how can a Zack White engineer, who is a Caucasian male, Understand better and be an advocate and take action in a way that supports amazing leaders like yourself in their careers. And it’s a difficult conversation for a lot of folks, and that’s why I’m excited to hear your perspective because you have that, I love the heartstrings.

[00:10:43] Like you have such a big heart for this and it’s such a powerful topic. So take us to the moments or the kinds of places in your career that would help us understand. where it is different for Zach versus Genesis and how that showed up for you in your career. 

[00:11:03] Genesis Kemp: when I started with this Fortune 500 oil and gas company, mind you, I left being a HSE manager at a smaller company.

[00:11:11] When they brought me in, they told me that I was gonna be slotted as an administrative assistant. And I’m like, what? Have you not seen my resume or checked my credentials or, My interview skills and all of that other stuff because I knew all about their, a lot about their proprietary. rigs and et cetera because I was the one on the other side of the table working on their top side level one inspection reports, doing their R FQs request for quotes, request for bids. So I knew a lot about their assets over in eg, which is equatorial gnet. And they’re like, how do you know so much?

[00:11:45] And I was like, well, I was a chick on the other side writing these reports for y’all and bidding them out to like the big companies, like the Shells, the Chevrons, the bps, and all of those things. So I had that knowledge. I was privy to it. And I was like, it was kinda a slap in the face, but then I kept hearing, like a still small voice inside of me, said, sometimes you have to take a step back.

[00:12:06] Not saying that you’re not worthy, but you have to take a lesser role in order to get your foot in the door to move up. And it was a, Hmm, you know, the salary was more, but then I felt like the workload was beneath me. But fast forwarding. Not only did I take that administrative assistant role, the company ended up paying for part of my degree whenever I switched my major.

[00:12:30] So when I started, I was a psychology major, So I switched my major to supply chain and logistics and technology. And I have double minors in purchasing and O L S, which is organizational leadership and supervision.

[00:12:43] So while I was in my admin role, I was still working on my work, but also going to school at night and then also seeing what is it that I want to do that is going to be a win for me, but a win for the company to really have synergies there because I knew time is equivalent to money and I didn’t wanna waste time because I’m young, I’m thriving.

[00:13:04] I wanna be a go-getter. So then fast forwarding, I graduat. And I was like, I went to school to be a supply chain person. I didn’t go to school to be an admin, so you’re either gonna find me something or else. But then of course, that’s where a caveat came in cuz if you left the company, you would have to pay back all the money that they spent.

[00:13:21] So I was like, okay, I’ll wait out this one year to two year. So I ended up getting my first stent as a R M C, a raw material coordinator for pp, which is polypropylene. So I was in charge of sourcing all of the raw materials that went into making that chemical component. It was a stretch opportunity, but around the time, you know, life circumstances happened, I got engaged to my.

[00:13:43] Now husband, wasn’t even able to plan my entire wedding. My husband did all the stuff except my hair, makeup, and dress, and I was like, this dude is going to totally leave me because I can never make it to a meeting. 

[00:13:54] Zach White: And that’s because you were working so many hours at the time? Yes. 

[00:13:58] Genesis Kemp: In the chemical plant 

[00:14:00] I had bought my first wedding dress for $200 from someone in the chemical plant who her daughter got pregnant, couldn’t wear her wedding dress. I was like, I’ll take it. I don’t have time to go look for a wedding dress. Everyone told me that looks like a hot mess. You’re not gonna wear that. You need to go to David’s bridal or a bridal sh door.

[00:14:14] And I literally was trying to fit into the dress and like get a paperclip and try to close the back of it because the back was like 

[00:14:20] Zach White: so tough. Oh my goodness. So, so well tell me really quick though. What, when did the long. Hours begin and, and what do you think caused that? Did you feel like if I don’t put in this time, I’m not gonna get these opportunities or this, you know, like there’s an expectation that I’m gonna be here all the time, or everyone else is doing it.

[00:14:41] Like, tell us about that, that culture. What led you to being so busy you couldn’t even plan your own wedding? 

[00:14:48] Genesis Kemp: So one, the commute time, I was commuting like two hours, one way to work and two hours back. And then the fact that I was the youngest person in the group and there was a lot of sin, seniority in the group.

[00:15:00] I didn’t wanna be the new girl coming in you know, also leaving early and et cetera. So of course there are spoken as well as unspoken agendas and you know, rules there to follow. And then also being Black and brown. You don’t necessarily want to do something that someone else is not doing because of course they may be looking at you a certain way or et cetera.

[00:15:24] And so I felt the pressure to just go in, work. stayed long hours I knew that was going to be my first entry assignment in the professional world with this company, but I didn’t want it to be my only assignment, and I didn’t want it to be like whenever I saw other people that looked like me that were in.

[00:15:45] Either the paraprofessional bucket or they were just getting in their managerial, professional technical, which, um, is m p t to just be slotted there because my goals and aspirations were so much bigger. So I was like, okay, what can I do to, show that I could compete with the big dogs, but also not really make them look at me any different because I was the only one on my.

[00:16:12] Yeah, if that makes sense. 

[00:16:13] Zach White: Yeah. So I think this is a really important point, and I’d love for you to extrapolate on it before we go back and figure out what happened in your wedding here. and again, I’m gonna play, you know, ignorant Zack for a moment. It’s easy for me to say, well, if, nobody did something, Mean or hurtful or outright discriminatory towards you in that role, then why would you feel like you need to, outpace or outmatch every single person in order for them to not look at you in a different way?

[00:16:44] Like, but I think what I’m hearing you say is like, look, maybe there are some of those outright things that do happen, but just being the only one like me in the. Is enough to create this pressure and it’s like, there doesn’t have to be z Zack’s a complete jerk as a boss who’s a racist, horrible person.

[00:17:05] this is just an existing baseline of pressure that you feel when you step into that environment. Is that a fair way to describe it or how, put it in your own words, what would that look like? No. 

[00:17:16] Genesis Kemp: Partial way to describe it. So I’ll give you that there. The other part, was whenever I got into this role, there was another lady who was African American.

[00:17:25] She was in the role for nine years, the way that the supervisor at the time treated her Everyone said, oh my gosh. The way this lady was treated by the supervisor was just not acceptable or whatnot. Yeah, to where at first I was like, well, I don’t know what I’m walking into, and who’s to say that they haven’t had other clashes outside of what we know.

[00:17:44] So I didn’t wanna make any assumptions or pass any judgments. But then whenever I was slotted in there, I started to see her treat me, differently. it got so bad till one day where her and I were supposed to do a one-on-one meeting. I’m in my office, I’m having breakfast. I’m a big breakfast eater, y’all.

[00:18:01] So when I’m in my office, like I have the lights off, the blinds, were open cuz I’m setting the T, the tone, I have my essential oils going and all of that. And sometimes music in the background and it’s my office. So it’s my space. So respect my space as if I were to respect your space if I’m going into your office.

[00:18:17] So she comes into the. I think five to 10 minutes before our meeting time, and I’m like, oh, you’re a little bit early, like, can you come back so I can finish my breakfast? And I knew she was pregnant at the time, so you know, it could be her background, it could be hormones. And she was also polish too.

[00:18:31] So different cultural too. And also a woman in a male dominated field, And she’s like, no, put your breakfast away. I’m ready to start now. And I’m like, excuse me, I just told you I am eating my breakfast. You could come back in five to 10 minutes and I’ll be more than happy to start the meeting with you.

[00:18:47] So she begins to raise her voice. At first I’m there sitting there, and I was like, you know what? I’m adult. She’s an adult. You give respect where respect is due and vice versa. And that’s whenever I raised my voice, it got to the point where, The team’s like, oh my gosh, I didn’t know Genesis could be like that.

[00:19:06] So people are coming out, their offices looking, they’re like, are you okay? I was like, yeah, I’m fine. And they’re like, is she okay? And then she just storms off because of the clashes. And after that I got on my computer and I was sent a note to her manager who was the one that talked me into going into that role.

[00:19:24] I was like, one, I will not be talked to a certain. At the end of the day, I’m a human being just like she is. You will not talk to me in a condescending or demeaning manner, you also need to respect my space and my boundaries just as much as I respect your space and boundaries and we need to act like civilized adults or whatnot.

[00:19:42] And then she would mumble like different slide remarks or whatnot. And it got to the point where it wasn’t just me, it was also our whole hallway. So when people would see her coming, they would, you would hear doors start closing. And I was like, what is this? And I was like 

[00:19:57] What is going on here? And it wasn’t until she left on maternity leave that I got a new manager and he was like, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the feedback that she gave me about you because your ranking would have severely dropped.

[00:20:11] She tried to sync my ranking to a C because of just me interactions that her and I had or whatnot. And sometimes the guys, cuz like I had more guy friends than girlfriends at the time and you know, sometimes I would go to lunch with the guys. I don’t know what it was, but like sometimes she would treat the males better than the females, and I would hear sly remarks like, oh, she’s going to lunch with so-and-so, or whatnot.

[00:20:35] Does her fiance know? At the end of the day, I’m an individual. I know like what I have at home. I know who I am, I know what my worth is, so just because I’m going to a lunch with a male figure does not mean that we’re doing anything. Inappropriate 

[00:20:50] Zach White: Genesis, there’s a lot here and thank you for your candor. And so maybe back to where I led in. This is both an existing pressure without action and there are outright displays of inappropriate mistreat. Of you and, and I know that engineering leaders all around the world are gonna hear this story relate to parts of it in their own experience, whether it’s because of age, because of gender, because of race or skin color.

[00:21:19] And, you know, there’s a thousand versions of this exact moment that you’ve experienced. And, it just breaks your heart that it happens. But it happens all the time. And so I, I want to hear your perspective on the people who. On the offensive, the ones creating that situation for you. So in this case, your boss.

[00:21:39] As you’ve been a voice and an advocate in this space. Now after the fact, having gone through it, Mm-hmm. Do you believe that people are consciously aware of how abusive or hurtful or inappropriate the actions are in the moment and they are doing it anyway? Or is your perspective that most of this is completely unconscious and completely blind to how much it’s hurtful or inappropriate towards, you in this case?


[00:22:08] Genesis Kemp: I think it’s actually a mixture of both. And the reason why I think it’s a mixture of, conscious versus unconscious is, let me just add some context here. So whenever I moved out of that role into my compliance, coordination role where I was managing pe, which is polyethylene, I got to travel with a tier two manager.

[00:22:26] Meaning he didn’t have any direct reports. we were flying into, I think it was Florida at the time. And I already had my hotel slotted and et cetera, and I remember he called me on the phone. I was like, hello? And he’s like, do you think that you could switch my hotel to yours? And I’m like, no, but you could call your admin and she could do it.

[00:22:46] And he’s like, well, well, I’m staying here. I was like, I’m sorry. I’m not staying at there. I’m only staying. And at the approved hotels that t and e approves that hotel looks a little sketchy. And I was like, I’m only doing Hilton or whatever. they app and I think it was the Hilton. 

[00:23:00] Then fast forward, he ends up changing his hotel to mine. we land and I was like, okay, I’m gonna go check in. We’ll meet back down here so we could decipher how we’re gonna, handle this business meeting with our client or whatnot. So then we get to dinner. And he’s like, what do you think people are saying about a a young, nice looking African American girl sitting with an older Caucasian male?

[00:23:21] And I was like, well, number one, I don’t care what people are, saying. Number two, we’re sitting across the table from each other for a reason. Number three, you are married. I’m married this is business. At the end of this work trip, you’re going home to your wife. I’m going home till my husband and I was like, what?

[00:23:40] People’s assumptions or Whatever their thoughts are, et cetera, is not my business and should not be your business at all. We have a goal here, and it is to make sure that we’re talking about these KPIs. We make sure that we’re, doing the appropriate thing to be branded by association. We’re not tainting our brand whenever we’re.

[00:23:59] Going out and representing ourselves because even though we’re not in our home base, we are still representatives of this company that we work for. And you never know who’s who, and you never know who’s watching. And so the mere fact that he. Mentioned that, that’s the question. Yeah. Slide remark made me think, what else is he thinking in the back of his mind, and so it did make me feel a bit uncomfortable.

[00:24:22] So I handle myself with poise. I think I handled myself with Cat, and when I got home I was like, should I talk to another woman about this? Because who’s to say if he’s done this with another woman or not?

[00:24:33] And how did that woman feel, whether she was young in her career or maybe seen her in her career? Hmm. So that’s why I think there’s conscious and unconscious biases. And not only did I have it from a Caucasian supervisor who was a female that was Polish, I’ve had it from a Caucasian male supervisor that was indirectly working with me at the time.

[00:24:58] And then there were other things that happened with ics, individual contributors who told me, what gives you the authority to, you know, sit at this table or whatnot? Well, maybe my education, the same amount of education or. You got here because of some people you know, or your daddy pulls strings or whatnot.

[00:25:15] Cuz there’s a lot of nepotism as well as sexism, racism, and all of the isms in corporate America that people may or may not talk about. 

[00:25:24] Zach White: Hmm. Genesis one of the hardest things about this whole dialogue and if’s so many places we can go with it. But again, putting myself back in Zack, the Caucasian male guy who wants to try to get this right.

[00:25:39] what can happen is now I end up a little bit afraid of entering into any of these conversations or dynamics because I don’t know how to do it without accidentally offending someone or getting it wrong. And it’s like, yikes. I don’t ever wanna be at the dinner table across from the, the young African American woman cuz what if I end.

[00:26:00] Accidentally screwing this up or doing something appropriate. Now I will say, asking that question makes me feel gross like that he said. So I’m pretty confident that wouldn’t happen, but. Just to help engineers out there, regardless of which side of the table that they’re sitting on. And you know, I know in your book you talk about these things, but if you were gonna break it down and just help me understand what are the mindsets or the actions that are most important that I can take to show, caring and equality and respect and inclusion to everyone who I work with in a professional way, what are the most important things if you’re gonna say, here’s the two or three, or.

[00:26:39] Things. Zack, if you can just focus on these, you, you’re gonna get 90% of the way there. What would you recommend us to focus on to really create a powerful and collaborative and safe workplace for everyone? So 

[00:26:52] Genesis Kemp: number one, transparency. Like, don’t act like you know everything and don’t ever try to, push your judgment or preconceived notions on somebody else because you may make it seem like you’re assuming what their reality is when you’ve never really set foot in that individual’s reality, so you can’t possibly understand what he or she may be going through unless you.

[00:27:17] Have walked in their shoes or you have, listened to them and not listen to correct them. Listen to understand and find some clarity where this male or female is coming from. Number two. Put humanity back into conversations. Show that individual that even though you are different on the outside, you are still a human being just like he or she is.

[00:27:43] And you may have other things in common commonalities, whether it’s food, music. A book and let that commonality drive the conversation versus making outward appearances and, you know, socioeconomic statuses drive a wedge. You need to think about what ways can you come together as a.

[00:28:04] Unified front. You don’t have to like each other or be best friends or chitter chatter like girlfriends or guy friends, but just show them respect. Respect that you say, Hey, I see that you and I connect on this commonality. Let’s talk about this. And then you could genuinely build a rapport with that individual and then it makes it easier to ease.

[00:28:25] Hard conversations. 

[00:28:27] Another thing I’ll share here if I 

[00:28:29] Zach White: can’t, Zach, please no, 

[00:28:31] Genesis Kemp: go. Don’t see it as a mere metric to check the box and say, yeah, yeah, I did diversity, equity, inclusion belong.

[00:28:38] Let, let’s move on. No, because you’re just scratching the surface. You have to go beyond the surface. And whenever you are having these conversations, put a disclaimer up there and say, Hey, I’m not saying that I underst. Where you’re coming from, because I could never be a black woman, a black man. Right, right.

[00:28:56] Or however that person choose to identify. And don’t make it seem like, you know how that person identifies, because some people said, oh, you’re African American. And you know, people may get offended like, no, I’m not from Africa, or I’m not African American. I’m, you know, Caribbean and South American descent.

[00:29:12] So don’t assume what you think that individual is. Ask them how do you wanna be? tell them, I don’t know what you’re going through, but I want to learn a little bit more. Yeah. Yeah. So I can see how I can engage in a conversation or how can I be an ally or how can I help? Don’t just say, oh, I can help in this manner, because to you it may be helping, but to them it may be detrimental 

[00:29:36] Zach White: Genesis, the theme that I’m hearing you say, and it’s been true in all of these, dialogues I’ve had around tough topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion and belonging is the word conversation and, and the willingness to have a courageous conversation with someone, to, to be open, to be vulnerable, to tell the truth, to ask hard questions, to not make assumptions.

[00:30:02] And the power of this really is in the conversation. and I think that’s where, as engineers, we. Stumble at times because we’re so systematic. We’re so focused on the actions and the how-tos, and you know, we really want to just go solve the problem and move on to the next problem. And this is not one of those kinds of things.

[00:30:26] It’s not that you just check the box to your point, or if you just do this or wear these clothes or say this thing, then you’re done. It really is. The humanity, the relationship building, and a courageous conversation. And I think there’s so much fear about saying the wrong thing. Mm-hmm. Or offending someone or triggering someone.

[00:30:47] But if at least this has been my experience, if you’ll truly posture your heart in a sense of. Desire to just know the other person, to care for them, to share love with them. You know, brotherly love, phileo love with that person and get to know their story. ignoring your story for a minute, leave your story at the door and go get curious about their story.

[00:31:10] You can say almost anything if it comes from a pure, genuine. Longing and desire to just know the person and to be curious. And if it’s the wrong thing, but it’s from that heart and that energy, they’ll correct you. I. identified you as African American at the beginning of our conversation, and I hadn’t even remembered to ask, and it’s just such a great example.

[00:31:32] Or like, we make these assumptions and so, you know, if you just come in and say, Hey, hey Genesis, is it appropriate or correct to call you African American? Or what, what do you like to be referred to as? if it’s a genuine question, you’re gonna. Respond with such care and you know, appreciate it. But if it comes from an attitude of like, I just need to go check my freaking d e I B box and, and get this done, like, so are you African American or black?

[00:31:55] Like, what are you, you know, like, that’s a whole different energy, right? And somebody could be completely offended by that. And so that’s my encouragement, for myself to remember this. And for, for every engineering leader who I work with, who’s on any side of this table is like, look, first step, let’s just check your.

[00:32:12] Where are you coming from? What is your actual intention and mindset around this topic? And if we can get that in line, then the specific mechanics of what to say and how to say it. Honestly, you can miss by a pretty long margin and be just fine, but if your heart’s in the wrong place or you really don’t care about the person, then you can say it just right and still piss them off.

[00:32:36] And so yeah. Would you agree with that? I mean, is that your experie. 

[00:32:39] Genesis Kemp: I would definitely agree with that, statement. And one thing I would say here is if you’re having a conversation, and this is how you could know if you’re having a genuine conversation and if you’re being true to yourself and transparent and also being fair to the other person is if you can’t talk about something that you would talk about with your family.

[00:33:00] Person, and if you say certain things or lingos around your family that you wouldn’t say in front of this individual, it’s deemed inappropriate, and that means that you have some inner things to work through because there’s still some residues or remnants there within your upbringing and your lifestyle that has you putting up a wall when it comes to this individual and this individual.

[00:33:23] Should not be categorized based on experiences that you may have had with someone else within that racial group or sector because this individual is totally different and you can’t say you people or you all are just alike because then you’re marginalizing that individual and putting them in a bucket that that individual may not fit that bucket or that.

[00:33:47] So you have to think about that there, because then you think that you’re having a conversation to break down the walls, when in actuality you’re building up the walls because of your tone of voice, your body language and what’s coming out of your mouth is, cutting off the conversation versus making it a conversation that can go from just a survival conversation to really thriving and getting to really know that individual and see.

[00:34:14] Can me and this individual work together? Can we really collaborate? Can we create some synergies But if you’re just talking to them like they’re beneath you, and if you’re knowing, oh man, you know these people, and you have these thoughts in your head, yeah, before you know it, you’re gonna have those faux pauses and it’s gonna slip outta your mouth and that individual’s gonna be, Hmm.

[00:34:36] I knew they were just coming over here to check the box, to just kind of show they care. I knew they didn’t really. 

[00:34:43] Zach White: I love this word, individual, just your intention to use it, and that’s a great place for us to keep the focus. Every single person has their own story. Let’s not paste all of our past experiences with other folks who match them in these different categories.

[00:35:02] Go get curious about that unique individual’s story. Genesis. Thanks for your courage to just put this out here and and share with me and let me ask awkward questions and get into it with you. I really do appreciate it and I know it’s super helpful for every engineering leader to just be able to. Get into this space in a safe way.

[00:35:22] And so if someone wants to, grab a copy of your book or get to know you and your amazing work more, where can people connect with Genesis and take this further? 

[00:35:33] Genesis Kemp: So you can find me on my website, genesis amaras It’s my full you’ll also grab a copy of the book there that I’m giving the first chapter away for free.

[00:35:45] And for those of you, who are listening via audio, you may not see the cover of the book, but there’s actually a world on the cover of the book to let people know these issues don’t just happen here in America, but they happen worldwide. There’s all types of people from various backgrounds and ethnicities on the cover of the book, letting people know we all face issues no matter what industry that you’re in, whether it’s racism, sexism, nepotism, or whatever the case may be.

[00:36:12] And those are challenges that we each go through, which makes us an individual and have our own individual stories to work. 

[00:36:19] each one of us has our trials and tribulations, but once you get over those trials and tribulations, it becomes your testimony. So when I stand here and talk to y’all today, I wanna ask you, what is your pit to Paula’s story?

[00:36:33] Because you may have had those downfalls in your life, but how did you work through those To have your up balls and your upswing moments, and that is part of your character. It’s part of your story. It gives you that unique experience and. And also shows who you are individually, and it gives you that resilience to persevere and help other people.

[00:36:56] That’s why it’s called breakthrough. It broke you, but you made it through to the other side. 

[00:37:01] Zach White: Genesis. Thank you so much for this and excited about it. I will make sure all those links are in our show notes and encourage every engineering leader to go check it out if these topics are a passion and of a great importance to you.

[00:37:13] Genesis. I’m excited. To finish with you today, and I always end in the same place. And you’re gonna be especially appreciative of this as a life coach yourself with your amazing podcast, all the work that you’ve done in these spaces around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. And it’s that as a coach or a great engineer, the questions lead.

[00:37:36] The answers follow. And if we want better answers in our lives, then we need to ask better question. So for the happy engineer who’s been listening to this conversation today, who wants to take their career to the next level, who wants to do it in a way that honors and respects everybody that they work with in the world, what would be the best question that you would lead them with today?

[00:38:02] Genesis Kemp: What is keeping you personally, professionally, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritu? Bound and confined to your comfort zone.

[00:38:16] Zach White: Ooh, my heart is excited about that question because the comfort zone, I’m a big fan of crushing comfort. I love that. I love that. So what is holding you back or keeping you in the comfort zone in all of these different domains? And can, can you repeat those one more time for us? 

[00:38:35] Genesis Kemp: Yes. I’ll say the question again.

[00:38:38] What is keeping you confined and in bondage to your comfort zone personally, professionally, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, where you are just locked to your comfort zone and you don’t want to break out of that. 

[00:39:02] Zach White: Hmm. So, so good. Genesis. Thank you again for being with me today. This has been awesome, and we’ll have to catch up again and do another round of conversations.

[00:39:12] There’s a lot more to dig into, but it’s been super fun. Thanks again.