Meet a Nasty Woman - 5 Questions with Dr. Cheryl Ingram

Meet Cheryl Ingram, PhD and Malbec lover. She’s a Nasty Woman and the CEO and Founder of Diverse City LLC, a diversity and inclusion consulting company. Her transformative leadership, vision, and passion has created pathways for companies to build sustainable diversity and inclusion strategies and practices.  We asked her our five favorite questions that we want to know about every Nasty Woman. Read the full interview and learn more about Dr. Ingram’s work below.

What makes you a Nasty Woman?

When I think of the origin of the word nasty woman it was used to address female identified persons who are willing to challenge the status quo. I live for the opportunity to disrupt inequitable systems constructed by privileged and dominant populations. Historically stigmatized identities deserve the right to equitable and equal opportunities and I will forever be a nasty woman challenging and fighting systems where discrimination manifest and prevent that from happening. 

Share an experience that shaped your views or helped get you involved in activism.

There are sooooo many examples to pick from here.  I remember working in nonprofit and witnessing systems that were meant to empower youth have gaps and inequity built into them. It was like we were serving "the least marginalized of the marginalized" and somehow justifying it through symbolic diversity. I remember sitting in my Executive Director's office and having a conversation with this person about diversity. I remember discussing the trends of inequity for People of Color, in particular among our staff and issues of retention. Later in the day in our staff meeting, this person addressed the issue by stating that they didn't know what to do to address the issue. I was thinking to myself, listen to your staff and pay attention to your data; they are both telling you an important story. I knew at that moment that if I wanted to change systems I would have to work harder from the outside because being in the system, one that wouldn't listen to my voice, I was perpetuating it, instead of solving the issues of inequity.    

What advice do you have for people who want to help enact change and push progress but don’t know how to get involved?

The first step is to become informed. Read, network, learn, and enact. Most people have to step out of their comfort zones. Many times we are afraid to challenge systems because we don't want to lose our jobs, our safety nets. I recommend getting involved by going to talks, starting employee resource groups, getting active in and outside of your communities. I would be doing a disservice if I didn't tell people that the first step is to examine their own biases first. If you want to dismantle a system you must first develop a consciousness of how you might be perpetuating it and get training or an education that teaches you this process. If you don't, you'll go into a system fighting only a fight that is relevant to you and your identity and when you do this you can simultaneously oppress others. The same systems oppress us all, especially those of us who come from historically and presently stigmatized backgrounds. We need each other as well as our allies to address the problem.   

If you could look into the future, 10 years from now, and see that real progress has been made, what does that look like to you?

To me this looks like college being free for everyone and the dismantling of student loans. People being paid equally and equitably for the same amount of work and proportionate representation in every sector. I would like to see more jobs that pay livable wages doing away with educational requirements and developing internal training programs as well as equivocating experience and willingness and capacity to learn to an equitable hiring process. I'd like to see a proportionate discipline rate for students in K-12, especially among Black and Latino/Hispanic/Mexican students in our school system. I'd like to see our country develop a system that has better and affordable for everyone healthcare, especially those who suffer from mental health issues. I'd like for us to develop a process that erases homelessness from our economy and sustains including affordable and quality housing for everyone. I'd like for diversity and inclusion to be embedded in every practice that we have from our institutions such as media, religion, education etc. 

Want to learn more about diversity and inclusion and meet Dr. Ingram?

She is hosting a diversity and inclusion engagement series at Uber Seattle on June 22. It will be a scenario based diversity and inclusion event and the NASTY WOMAN WINES community is welcome to join. Get details on the event here.