Mixtape podcast: Building a structural DEI response to a systemic issue with Y-Vonne Hutchinson

It’s time for another episode of Mixtape, where we take a look at diversity, inclusion, equity and the human labor that powers tech. This week we spoke to Y-Vonne Hutchinson, the CEO of ReadySet, a consulting firm that works with companies to create more inclusive and equitable work environments.

Hutchinson tells us that the work she did for 10 years in international human rights, labor rights law and advocacy helped prepare her for the work she does today.

“My last job was in Nicaragua where I was working with sugarcane workers who were dying of occupational illness,” she says. “And it was generational…that’s the power of structural violence. And work is like an incredible vector for that.”

She tells us she began to research international labor protection and pursue doctorate work, but instead decided to move to Silicon Valley in 2015 and pursue the future of work with ReadySet.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion was the future of work issue — who gets access to high opportunity employment and how people are treated at work and what that means for their own personal outcomes.”

Five years on from the launch of ReadySet, Hutchinson says she sees companies change the way they approach equitable workplaces. And it’s hard to avoid the fact that the pandemic, having locked us all in place to watch the video of police killing George Floyd, has had an impact on the way people navigate society’s structures of racism and policing.

“In terms of how our companies are responding, I definitely do see more of an emphasis on having a structural response, and thinking about their complicity and structurally exclusionary systems. What does that mean for them?” she says. “I think now there are some positive indications that companies are looking at that. They’re looking beyond just ‘let’s do an unconscious bias training,’ which is what they were asking for in 2015. And asking for more structural work — more work exclusively focused on anti-racism and really unpacking harm. But is that sustainable? Is that something that’s going to be continuing to the long term? You know, at this stage? I don’t know.”

More on this as well as an examination of what we can expect under a Biden administration. Click play above and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.