Conversations of Hope, Heart, and the Human Spirit

with Chelsea C. Williams


Hummingbird Humanity videos now with captioning.

In this episode, Brian and Chelsea cover. . .

  • How the class of 2020 Bachelors graduates can respond to Covid-19’s effect on the workplace
  • The intersectionality of first-generation college students & first-generation white-collar professionals
  • Company leadership’s responsibility to show up as allies for Black employees in times of societal racial unrest

      Leaning Into Humanity

      The workforce has flipped on its head

            The workforce has flipped on its head. Higher education is under unstable operation, companies have furloughed and moved remote, and industries are disappearing and emerging. How should the class of 2020 college graduates integrate into this ever-evolving workforce?

            Before 2020, Chelsea would advise young persons working with College Code to use the one option that has been pushed for education and career which is college and then full-time employment. However, there is now a new opportunity to reimagine our concepts of education and career. Young people can utilize options outside of in-person college such as remote learning, traveling, apprenticeship, or more. This generation can break the 9 to 5 norm and have a work-life balance that is holistic to their needs as a human. There has never been a better time to explore different pathways to a career.

        Leaning Into Humanity

        My company is struggling to retain diverse talent, what should we do?

        1. Talent development and retention go hand in hand. Companies must give diverse talent access to training, coaching, mentorship, etc. Are your employees able to grow their technical and interpersonal skills at your organization?
        2. Before implementing talent development tools, use focus groups with existing employees to learn their needs as opposed to assuming. This goes for every training, especially diversity training. 
        3. On development, there is no one size fits all for diverse talent. Telling people to “figure it out” is not the best tactic when they have unique identity needs. The perceptions and obstacles that a woman of color and a white woman face at work are different. These differences in identity should be respected by customizing training and coaching for an individual, allowing the individual to create a realistic pathway. 

          Chelsea’s insights around Gen-Z’s responses to resources are:

          “That is what I love about Gen-Z, I will say, from my work with them, if they have the information up front, the vast majority are taking it, grabbing it, and they’re moving things forward.”

          Do not ignore first-generation students and professionals!

          Race and gender are not the only spheres of diversity. First-generation students and professionals should always be a part of the diversity conversation. First-generation students and professionals span across every identity. Companies invested in creating socio-economic equity need to acknowledge the first-generation identity and meet the unique job-readiness needs of this population.

          Leaning Into Humanity

          As a colleague or manager of Black employees, after incidents like the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, how do I show up as an ally?

          Chelsea’s best advice is to “seek to understand.”  Leadership and DEI advocates have a responsibility when these things happen to not assume that “Black employees will be okay” and to talk about the things you do not want to talk about as a community. 


          “I do not know what you are going through, but I care enough to ask you what can I do? And by the way, I am also going to speak up.”

          For those who are afraid to say or do the wrong thing:

          “Don’t overthink it. Just check-in. Because that’s the humanity piece. That’s the piece that I see you. That’s the piece, even if I’m wrong and you’re upset that I checked in, I did it from a place of love, I did it from a place of sincerity, I did it from a place of caring for you enough where I can put my personal feelings to the side to simply be present and check-in with you.”

          If you are interested in pushing your own learning in equity you can . . . 

          • Read Diversity Inc. by Pamela Newkirk about how the good intentions of workplace diversity initiatives can result in ineffective outcomes.
          • Tune in weekly into the Jennifer Brown’s DEI community calls through zoom. The leading theme of these calls is How to Lead Inclusively Through Times of Crisis, and brings together hundreds of DEI practitioners across the globe to inspire and information share during uncertain times.
          • Listen to the NATAL podcast to learn of the family planning experiences of Black parents, particularly, pregnancy and childbirth care.
          • Peruse Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz to increase relationship building and leadership skills.



                 Chelsea C. Williams took the daring and precarious step of leaving her finance career of nearly a decade on Wall Street to place her energies to a mission near and dear to her heart- early career development for the diverse next generation of professionals. Chelsea is the Founder & CEO of College Code, an organization dedicated to the job-readiness training & retention of diverse students. College Code enacts its mission through coaching Gen-Z persons, along with coaching partnering companies that wish to foster this talent. A few of these partnering companies include the University of Chicago, Girls Who Code, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, and the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 

          Such efforts reimagine the pipeline of diverse humans entering the workplace. As a Spelman graduate, Chelsea follows the spirit of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) community opening doors for those who are underrepresented and marginalized. Outside of her leadership at College Code, Chelsea is also a DEI consultant on the Jennifer Brown Consulting team.