Our Ethos: Karyn Oates

Our Ethos
Minute Read

To celebrate how much the team has grown since its beginning, we’ve been spotlighting all of the talented and hardworking individuals who make up our team! Through Our Ethos, you will discover what each team member enjoys most about working in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging and what their personal ethos is.

Meet our Consulting Manager, Karyn Oates!

Describe your role at Ethos.

As Ethos’ Consulting Manager, I manage processes and products across all our consulting offerings. On a day-to-day basis, that includes ensuring our clients receive excellent customer service, developing and scaling new product offerings, and crafting research-informed strategic recommendations that close opportunity gaps for underrepresented and under-resourced groups in organizations.

What made you want to work at Ethos?

In 2020, as I was completing my master’s thesis on disability inclusion and hiring practices in the technology sector, my employer (the Chicago Public Library Foundation) asked me to identify and select a DEI consulting firm with which to partner. From my first conversation with Alida and the Ethos team, I knew I wanted to work with them. The Ethos team listened empathetically, asked challenging questions, and produced rigorous and well-researched deliverables throughout our engagement. When the opportunity to pursue a full-time DEIB role and apply for the Consulting Manager position arose, I jumped at it!

What has been your favorite aspect of working at Ethos?

My colleagues are so intelligent and generous! It has been a real privilege to get to know them through our client work (and our very active Slack channels).

What has been your favorite project you have worked on?

I’m currently developing a DEIB content style guide for an organization that began its DEIB journey before its engagement with Ethos started. Sustainable DEIB initiatives nearly always involve aligning an organization’s systems, processes, and problem-solving resources to reflect the organization’s values. I get pretty excited about working with clients in the middle of their DEIB transformation process to develop the tools their employees will need to take ownership of DEIB, and enact it on a day-to-day basis.

What do diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging mean to you?

Diversity refers to the variety of identities present within a group. Equity is the process of ensuring that every person can make their needs known and access what they need to succeed. Inclusion involves ensuring that everyone within a group understands the role they play within the greater whole and can contribute fully to the group’s goals. Belonging is the sense of acceptance and interconnectedness within a group.

What does the word “ethos” mean to you?

An ethos is a community or individual’s character, encompassing its defining beliefs, traditions, norms, and ethics.

What is your personal ethos? How does it show up in your everyday life?

I am very familiar with the experience of being the “first” or “only” person who looks like me within organizations. I’ve been either the first person or the first Black person to hold every single job I’ve had throughout my career. Integrating institutions can be a profoundly isolating and traumatic experience. That experience strongly informs my ethos. I have dedicated my career to helping organizations develop the tools and competencies needed to support, coach, and develop employees who belong to marginalized groups. Even if I’m the first Black woman to walk through a door, I want to ensure that, through my work, I’m holding the door open behind me.

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