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Marc Hedlund on sponsorship

Lead Time Chats: Season 1, Episode 12 Takeaways

May 12, 2021

In Episode 12 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, talks to Marc Hedlund about the topic of sponsorship, and how to do it in a way that actually makes a difference.

Marc has been an engineering leader at companies such as Mailchimp, Skyliner, and Stripe. He also is a Director for Code2040, a non-profit that works to bring under-represented minorities into engineering and entrepreneurial roles in tech.

Jean and Marc discuss:

  • Ways to actually learn from and support under-indexed folks in tech that isn’t just performative.
  • Not falling in the trap of basking in the attention of getting credit for diversity-related work, as a white man.
  • As a member of a majority group, how and why to give away opportunities that come your way.
  • Measuring your success by your outcomes, whether the actions are small (making an intro, writing a testimonial) or large (revamping a hiring process).

Takeaways from Marc

We have a responsibility to fix the tech industry

“I did this program at Etsy where I got a ton of acclaim for it, and my professional reputation went up..It made me feel like that was the reason to keep investing in it. Wow. I had this success. We should keep doing it. And that's not the reason. That's not the reason.

The reason is because our industry produces racist, sexist, transphobic, abelist outcomes. And if you do not actively fight against those things, those will continue to be the default. And so the reason to do it is because our industry that we have created, especially people my age, who are older, we have created this industry, and it's bad, and we need to fix it, and we need to take responsibility for fixing it.”

Many companies run programs that are mostly performative or damage control

“So many of these programs wind up being, we would like to create a PR splash. We would like to not be embarrassed by this number. We would like to do something to counteract the bad stories that are going around about us.

They're not, wow, these people are awesome, these people are great, I would love to learn from them and work with them and have them benefit the places where I work.”

Find experts to help with your diversity needs

“Speaking as a white man. It, people are eager to give credit to white men for diversity programs. They're like a hundred percent excited about finding white men who are doing something that they are appreciative of, and it's bad.

It takes a ton of attention and energy from those people who first of all, have no choice but to do that work, if they are going to have a career, and if they're going to uplift people who look like them, they have to do that work. And second, that probably know the programs far better and probably know the needs dramatically better than I will ever.”

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About Lead Time Chats

Listen in on unscripted conversations between Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range and engineering leadership coach, and engineering leaders and other influential folks in tech.

Lead Time Chats is brought to you by Range. Range helps hybrid teams check-in asynchronously about what matters most. Know what's happening through status updates that pull from tools like Github and JIRA without scheduling yet another meeting.

Checking-in with Range creates more focus time for heads-down work, all while feeling a deeper sense of connection and belonging with your team. To learn more about Range, you can check it out here.

S1 E12: Marc Hedlund on sponsorship
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