Back in March before the Coronavirus pandemic, we welcomed Yemi Penn - author of ‘Did you get the memo’, entrepreneur, and mother of 2, into The Pay Off Podcast studio.
Alongside our previous guest Hayley from Code Camp, we saw Yemi speak on a Women in Tech panel, and we were immediately blown away by her gravitas, authenticity, and approach to life. We had to get her on the podcast!
Yemi has experienced a lot of adversity throughout her life. Experiencing homelessness at age 24 while pregnant with her first child, and later going through two divorces, Yemi knew that she hadn’t lived her life to society’s expectation and definition of ‘success’.
Continuously doing the work to ensure that her past experiences don’t define her future, Yemi followed a career path that on paper, was extremely successful. She moved to Sydney with her family to work on her career as a consultant in 2014. Although she was doing very well in her job and had recently been given the pay rise she deserved, she realised that what was important to her was freedom: freedom to work on the projects she wanted, in the way she wanted to approach them. She had always been taught in school and university to find a job with an employer, but realised that this conventional route wasn’t for her. This was when she decided to start afresh, and take the risk to start her own consulting business.
We spoke to Yemi about the traditional hiring process and unconscious biases that can exist when recruiting. As humans we tend to stick to what we know and what we’re familiar with, and this can be reflected in the recruitment process. People are more likely to hire people that are similar to them, whether that’s the candidate’s race, where they went to university, or their specific skill set. Yemi stresses the importance of seeking a team that is diverse in background, ethnicity and thought. Just like the world thrives with an ecosystem diverse in plants and animals, we need to create this in the workplace. Hiring people who challenge us to think differently and see things with a different lens will create a much stronger outcome. We just need to be comfortable that there’s always more than one way to get things done.
Yemi told us how her past experiences reduced her confidence in the workplace, and prevented her from being heard, taking risks or trying new ideas. Her one piece of advice was to say your idea out loud to make it a reality - express it to your colleagues, ensure you have a goal and an outcome for the idea, and begin planning to make it happen. The first step towards change is talking about it.
Yemi’s journey has proven to us that success doesn’t have to come from one bucket. By making decisions for yourself rather than to meet expectations of others, you can define your own story of what success means for you.
Yemi’s book ‘Did you get the memo’ is available on Amazon. Yemi is currently filming a documentary on trauma; more information will be available on her instagram @yemi.penn and at www.yemipenn.com very soon.
Note: This episode was recorded in March before the recent coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement in the media, so this topic hasn’t been addressed in this episode. In support of BLM, we wanted to share some local Australian organisations that support First Nation Australians. If you want to spread the word or show your support in any way, please click this resource link.