Empowered — RV’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for women — strives to foster a community that inspires, supports, empowers, and educates all women-identifying folks and allies of all gender identities. And one of our favorite ways to inspire and empower our community is simply by sharing the wisdom of the amazing RV women we get to work with every day.
On this month’s Empowered leaders feature, we spoke with Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Program Manager and Empowered ERG Co-Chair Tiarra Chambliss about showing up for herself and building the world she wants to see. Check out her conversation with RV Education Editor Giselle Cancio below.
Giselle Cancio: Walk us through a day-in-the-life of a Program Manager on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team and co-chair for the Empowered ERG.
Tiarra Chambliss: Ha, depends on the day! One thing that is consistent for me is starting each day with mediation and 45 minutes of movement. A lot of my day is spent pouring into and advocating for others. Starting my day this way is how I am able to show up for myself before showing up for others.
My wheelhouse on the DEI team is education and training, so my day-to-day typically looks something like consulting with folks across RV on what they can do to contribute to a more inclusive culture. If it is a Monday or Friday, I am probably mapping out curriculum, creating learning recommendations, researching, or sending stakeholder updates. The middle of the week is spent hopping from meeting to meeting and collaborating with RVers who want this to be a place where everyone can bring their full self to work.
GC: Is the DEI space something you’ve always had a passion for? If so, where did it stem from? If not, what led you down this career path?
TC: Are you familiar with the Enneagram or zodiac big three? I am an Enneagram type eight and my big three are Leo Rising, Gemini Sun, and Cancer Moon. Let’s just say I was always the outspoken kid who questioned norms and rules… a lot.
Fast forward about 20 years to when I worked at a large predominantly white public university in Southwest, VA. I was able to get really familiar with the disparities that exist in higher education and the school-to-prison pipeline. I spent a lot of my time in higher education advocating for students that look like me, building curriculum around self-advocacy, and keeping a pulse for senior leadership on the racial climate of the university. Ultimately I decided I could make more of a difference by pivoting to the corporate space. And now I’m here.
GC: What’s something you’ve learned throughout your tenure at Red Ventures?
TC: I have had the guidance and coaching of amazing leaders at RV. I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without a push from my manager, who happens to also be the Chief Diversity Officer, Khemari Cook. There are three key lessons I have learned during my tenure at RV:
- Don’t underestimate yourself. You have a seat at the table for a reason.
- Stop playing small, you deserve to take up space.
- Just go for it. You will either succeed or fail and use this as a learning opportunity.
GC: What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the DEI space?
- Get really, really, really clear on your why. This work is so rewarding but it also can be extremely challenging. I am committed to doing the work because I truly want RV to be a place where folks who look like me — or don’t look like me — feel like they belong.
- Start developing really strong self and community care practices. There is a great deal of emotional labor that goes into this work. You can’t show up for others if you are not nourishing yourself first.
GC: What are some of your favorite ways to recharge or favorite forms of self-care?
TC: There are a few things I like to do in my off-time that recharge me. One, I love exploring nature with my 65lb lap dog, Ivy girl (named after Blue Ivy Carter). Two, every Friday I have a ritual of exploring a different coffee shop around Charlotte. Shout out to the hybrid approach and my Friday coffee squad. If anyone wants to join on this train – Slack me. 🙂
GC: What does being “empowered” in the workplace mean to you?
TC: Being empowered in the workplace means having an environment where you can show up as your authentic self, without having to water down parts of who you are. One of my favorite quotes is by Audre Lorde: “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” I aim to embody this quote in every aspect of my life. Being empowered in the workplace for me looks like wearing my nose piercing, bamboo hoop earrings (shout out to the 90s babies), natural hair, and tattooed arms out without fear of how it will be received by my co-workers.
Now some fun…
- GC: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
- TC: Cape Coast, Ghana. It is my favorite place in the world. I spent time back in the day studying abroad in Ghana and have missed it ever since. I would move if my dog could stand the temperature.
- GC: If you could share a meal with anyone (living or departed), who would it be and why?
- TC: Easy: Audre Lorde. I am so inspired by all the work she did to combat classism, racism, sexism, and homophobia.
- GC: If you could switch lives with an animal, which animal would you choose and why?
- TC: My dog, she truly lives the best life. She sleeps in until about 8:00am on her Tempur-pedic mattress. When she rises in the morning she is waited on hand and foot by me. She goes on long walks, has her breakfast and dinner waiting for her, and only gets the best toys and treats. The life!
THIS OR THAT
- Physical books or digital books?
- Team audiobooks
- Salty or sweet?
- Coffee or tea?
- Television or music?
- What’s worse: Laundry or dishes?
Loved getting to know Tiarra? Meet another RV leading lady by checking out last month’s Empowered Feature right here!