Meet Ashley Jordan, the Director of Operations and Strategy at Re:Work Training, an organization that is helping create diverse workspaces.
An alumnus of the University of Chicago, Ashley works to help people of color from Chicago’s untapped communities. She has brought the concept of intersectionality into the conversation while applying special focus to the women of color in the same communities.
Growing up, Ashley’s parents were determined on educating their children and providing them with the opportunities they never had. Thus, there was a great emphasis on good education and a successful career in Ashley’s life. She had always been driven to fulfill her parents’ vision for their kids, but she often felt out of place in her environment.
Ashley had decided that she wanted to make an impact and create opportunities for people with less access when she was still in college, but she was unaware and subsequently overwhelmed with the numerous things she could help people with. With the intent to find a more permanent home and begin a career in social impact, Ashley worked in digital marketing at a few companies, joining various nonprofit Associate Boards to lend her services pro bono. Eventually, she connected with Re:Work to help them build a more robust online presence. Talking about her decision to join her present organization, Ashley says, “Their mission to reshape hiring trends and create opportunity for people of color was exactly what I was looking for. After a few months working with the CEO, Shelton Banks, on a contract basis, he asked me to come on board full-time to oversee Operations and Strategy. Saying yes was one the best decisions I’ve ever made, and we’ve grown tremendously in the last year. It has been a great learning experience”.
Re:Work, the organization Ashley works with, is a diverse talent development network that helps people through comprehensive programming. They identify and help with the 6 components of the opportunity gap that keep job candidates of color from being optimally competitive. Through their free 8-week program, they prepare candidates for full-time jobs in tech sales with average starting salaries of $55K, thus providing a big jump for the people of color and their families. The 6 components that this program addresses include training and education, interviewing skills, personal brand, cultural capital, non-cognitive ability, and social capital. In addition to this, they also work on the corporate side of the opportunity gap to help companies create diverse and inclusive environments.
On her journey to success, Ashley had to face several challenges which included fighting sexism and racism, understanding her value, and knowing where and how to speak up. She elaborates, “I worked in legal marketing and digital marketing for commercial real estate companies early in my career: careers that were dominated by men. I was never treated as badly as some of the women of color I’ve spoken to who were harassed, but I certainly wasn’t given the respect or platform that my male counterparts were given, even if they were junior to me, and were not good enough for the job. I was not given any clear pathway to progress in the companies I worked for and was always pushed to the sidelines.” Even today, Ashley has to deal with her imposter syndrome and self-uncertainty, but she is working hard to grow personally and professionally.
With her help, Re:Work has received phenomenal response and has a growing network of over 110 corporate partners and 250+ volunteers, who represent leaders and professionals in tech sales, HR, and career development. It has also been recognized as one of LinkedIn’s top social impact companies!
The idea of ‘following the fear and embracing failure when it comes’ has worked tremendously in Ashley’s favor. She says, “Following the fear, being comfortable creating my own path, not being intimidated by a grand vision, and viewing failure as triangulation is scary, but it has led to high-growth and success that wouldn’t have been possible – or possible as quickly – for both me and our organization. My life has changed because I took a risk to join a young company in a capacity I was completely unfamiliar with, and I still continue to take risks to scale our impact.” She advocates every woman reading her story to do the same – “follow their hearts, and face their fears.”