How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace with Taryell Simmons

5 Minutes Read

Episode 63

Taryell Simmons, a workplace diversity and inclusion champion, and is the host of the RISEPreneurs Podcast.  

During today’s show, you’ll discover how Taryell became involved in diversity and inclusion efforts to bring more resources to Black entrepreneurs.

Curious to know what his pivotal MindShift was? Tune in to this episode. 

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full Episode:

  1. Competition with TechStars and Google.
  2. His involvement with diversity and inclusion efforts.
  3. The mind shift he had that pivoted his career.

Episode Highlights

Tech Stars and Google 

    • Community development work while in transition between jobs. 
    • TechStars reached out to Taryell because of his community work. 
    • He held events to help people do their taxes, why Black Lives Matter, and professional development courses. 
    • They asked him to help bring communities and participation to the Startup Weekend and be a participant. 

Bridging gaps between multiple diverse teams of experts

    • When you listen, listen to understand. 
    • If you listen, to truly understand, you could be a better risk mitigator. 
    • An argument triggers you, and you responded instead of listening to understand.

Startup Competition Project 

    • Their project is still in the development stage.
    • EVO Grant is the name of the project.  
    • A SaS software to help people find grants faster using artificial intelligence. 

The path to where Taryell is today

    • He got his first job and started his time in the corporate world.  
    • Then he received his Masters. 
    • Searching to move up the corporate ladder
    • That search helped him realize, the company’s values did not align with his true values. 
    • The shift that leads up to leaving this career. 

San Diego Workforce Partnership

    • He built the Workforce Development Program for the opportunity youth.
    • Connect2Careers and work with the Mayor’s office. 
    • Those opportunities expanded into new opportunities. 
    • Taryell worked with people with disabilities and refugee communities to advance workforce initiatives.

Core Values that contributed to the pivot

    • He worked for a for-profit education company. 
    • Taryell is a relationship builder instead of focusing on calling more people for referrals. 
    • His manager liked that he would get referrals, but they didn’t like that he wasn’t making more calls.
    • The pivotal moment that changed his direction and what he did about it. 

Stepping into Diversity and Inclusion Leadership

    • The workforce development arena was losing funding sources, and they needed to diversify their portfolio. 
    • Organizations that Taryell worked for were heavy on top of white leadership.
    • When the time came to create programs for specific communities, these leaders would not consult the people in the trenches doing the work. 
    • The programs would roll out, fail, and the damage would be done because they didn’t talk first. 
    • Taryell helped them bridge the gap. 
    • There’s enough pie for everyone.

How do we continue this dialogue of diversity and inclusion

    • We have to allow space for healing. 
    • For each community, the space for healing will look different. 
    • Recognize how we got to this point. 
    • Looking back at history that started with the indigenous people. 
    • Having a mindset of curiosity and an open heart.

Amazing people, building amazing things, and not having acknowledgment 

    • Dr. Pamela Jolly – “We as African Americans are the only people in America who were first capital before we made capital. And when we look at business, it can’t help but be personal. And that we came over here on the balance sheet and that we are wealth, and we’ve been creators of wealth from the moment we got here. And the goal for us needs to become wealth creators for ourselves.”
    • He feels that we need to be creating wealth for ourselves and working on limiting beliefs. 
    • Taryell wanted to shift the mindset to bring as many stories as he can of amazing black inventors, entrepreneurs, community activists, and artists. 

Responsibility and investing in underserved communities 

    • If we invested 10% of all billionaires and corporations into the communities and underserved communities, we could end hunger, homelessness, and poverty. 
    • If someone says it’s not their responsibility, Taryell says he would question their humanity. 
    • Nobody succeeds alone. 
    • Think about every person that has contributed to your existence. 
    • How many ancestors had to meet and connect for you to be born? You stand on the shoulders of all those people. 

RISEPreneurs Podcast 

    • Taryell wants to normalize black excellence.
    • Showing others that they could create something and be inspired.
    • He started connecting with more unique, brilliant, beautiful black people and realized the need to connect blacks and Africans, connect generations, and cross connect cultures.  
    • He soon thought about how blacks and Africans could connect and support each other. 
    • He realized that he was limiting his thinking, that blacks and Africans could literally create a network. 

A common thread among those Taryell has interviewed 

    • Once they were consciously awoken, they worked on themselves.
    •  They continuously worked on themselves in some sort of fashion. 
    • They never quit; they kept going, kept working on themselves.

Building better communities

    • Most communities are pseudo communities.
    • When you go to work, you’re in a pseudo community. 
    • Chaos comes from not everyone wants everybody treated with fairness, respect, humanity. 
    • The stage after the chaos is letting go. 
    • Be honest in what you’re good at, where your shortcomings are, where your biases are, and put it all on the table. 
    • By putting all our ish on the table, we can truly listen, understand, support, and help one another grow and be in a place of abundance and healing. 

How does Taryell want to be remembered?

    • That people understand that he was a family man first. 
    • Loving dad, father, brother, husband.
    • He wanted his life’s work to focus on building community and building bridges, community development, and bridging the gap to bring people together.

3 Powerful Quotes from this Episode


36:40 - “And then so I shifted my mindset to like, what would it be like, if we could start creating wealth for ourselves as we create for the societies we live in? Right? If we did it for ourselves? And what would that look like? Right? But first, what we need to do is we need to have a change in mindset because so many of us have many limiting beliefs on who we are and what we could be, and what we could do. So I was like, how am I going to start shifting the mindset? I must start shifting the mindset by I’m gonna interview all these amazing, black inventors, entrepreneurs, community activists, and artists, even if they didn’t see themselves and are spurred on by highlight their stories.”

Scarcity Mindset

25:32 - “We got to create spaces where we can have tough conversation and dialogue. And it was always the conversation like, this is the pie. And there’s only enough pie for this, this, this, if we give space for this. And I’m like, Look, that’s a scarcity mindset bake a new pie like this. There’s enough for everybody like, why are we having this rhetoric that there’s only enough or if I give you something, I’m going to lose something that’s not the case.”

Building Community

22:34 - “Instead of us trying to build back trust, listen to the community and build the relationships all over again because we’ve done damage. Why don’t we talk first and put those things we know will need to be in there and bring the community or the people who operate in this community? Enter the conversation at the table, and then roll it out so that it’s an easier transition to get people into these programs. And it could be more successful.” 


About Taryell Simmons

Taryell Simmons is an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Champion and host of the RISEpreneurs Podcast. 
After winning a startup weekend pitch competition hosted by Google and Techstars, he became more involved in D&I efforts to bring Black entrepreneurs business resources.  

He is a RISE Urban Leadership graduate and a 2020 Rockwood Leadership Institute fellow. 

With an obsession with lifelong learning, he has had the privilege of working with thousands of students, employees, entrepreneurs, and startups, supporting them by workforce development, employee training, strategic business coaching, execution of workforce program development, and vital alliance-building.

Black people are assets! Our goal is to support and help increase sustainable equity and financial literacy within the Black and African communities in light of current world events and growing support for Black economic development. This knowledge and resource sharing will allow Blacks and Africans to actualize the true potential of the assets we are to ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world.

We will work together in collaboration and corroboration with Blacks and Africans across the diaspora to create wealth in our communities. We have a team of entrepreneurs from the UK, Nigeria, and the US striving to elevate and advance Black and African entrepreneurship. 

Connect with Taryell Simmons

RISEPreneurs Podcast


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Darrell Evans

Darrell Evans is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and Co-founder/CEO of Yokel Local Digital Marketing Agency. He and his teams have helped businesses generate over $300M+ in revenue online. Every month, he leads virtual workshops teaching actionable strategies and tips from his experience helping companies market, grow, and scale.