Equity Has No Descriptor, It Stands Alone
PublicInput Director of Customer Success, Mike Lee Talks Being All-In Around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
With a focus on value-driven relationships, Mike brings 28 years’ worth of knowledge and experience to PublicInput, including his active public service as a North Carolina School District Board Member and fierce advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
In addition to being a seasoned Customer Success professional, Mike provides PublicInput and its customers with an expanded worldview that includes a working knowledge of local government, participatory budgeting, and public engagement.
When we sat down to talk to Mike about how he leverages his passion for DEI and public service at PublicInput, here is what he had to say.
As a society, we are in a crucial time where equality is a central point in laws, regulations, and policy. It is essential to know that those around us deserve the same opportunities we see every day; however, equality doesn’t necessarily check the box when looking at ways to balance the scales.
As a child, I learned early on that the concept of equity can apply to many different situations and circumstances. Like every other parent, my parents balanced the support they offered my siblings and I based on need. This need resulted in a high level of their support going to my brother, who needed extra support to achieve, when compared to the support needs of my sister and I. As I think back over my life, I realize that this was my first introduction to what EQUITY represents.
Equity is balancing the scales of whatever is needed by providing more, or less, depending on the requirements of those receiving the provisions. What is exciting about working at PublicInput is as employees we are in the unique position to help enable this balance through our product on an international scale.
As I’m finishing my eighth year on the Durham Public Schools Board and reflecting on my present-day circumstances; father of three amazing kids, the Director of Customer Success at PublicInput, and a leader in the Customer Success Community, I realize all areas of my life intersect around one centralized theme . . . Equity . . . let me explain.
As you can imagine, being an elected official for a majority-minority school district, inequality takes a center stage when we think about resourcing and need.
For the school district, equity is not just a hot topic or a trending interest, it is ingrained into everything we do. Like many of our customers, we use innovative ways to incorporate equity into the decision-making process, whether it be budgeting or policymaking.
Exploring innovative methods and technology that supports a public system to advance DEI allows decision-makers like me the luxury of making decisions that are reflective of communities most vulnerable and impacted.
During the four years, I was the Chairman of the Board, I am proud to have been part of the strategic implementation of innovation that helped our district more effectively and EQUITABLY distribute scarce resources among the students and schools that needed them the most.
This passion for Equity led me to work at PublicInput, the leading public engagement platform whose focus is on equitable public decision-making; I was inspired. . When I first learned about the PublicInput platform, I remember saying in my interview,
If only I had this tool in my eight years on the board, my life would have been much different.
As an African American male leader in Customer Success, I am a rarity. I know thousands of Customer Success leaders and professionals, and I can count maybe fifteen black leaders in this space. Over the last year, I’ve dedicated my speeches, conferences, and articles to focus on the inequities of opportunities afforded to people who look like me in the Customer Success community. In my role as Customer Success Director, I am passionate about my commitment to hiring practices that include diverse talent that is reflective of our PublicInput customers and the communities they serve.
We as leaders hold the unique opportunity to stop the cyclical curse of only hiring a specific type of person, from certain types of schools, with a particular kind of background. When we continue to do so, we all lose. Fighting for Equity is not about taking away anything from any group; it is about opening that resource to all groups.
As a leader in Customer Success and an Executive at PublicInput, my equity work continues. My professional focus has extended to my team and the customers we serve, who are working to advance DEI across the nation.
Although PublicInput customers use our platform for many different projects and programs, the one centralized theme they all have is the need to engage more people and encourage the underrepresented voices to participate in their governments.
Working at PublicInput encourages my passion and belief that we all are better when we hear from everyone and when everyone contributes. When we hear from all walks of our communities, the funds available can be distributed where the real need is, but we can’t even start down that path until we genuinely commit to Equity.
Here is a quick exercise for anyone reading this: When you are at your next team meeting or all-hands meeting, in person or on zoom, take a look to your left and to your right, take a look at all of the boxes on the screen; if everyone looks like you, then there might be a need to ask about Equity in your hiring processes, diversity in your policies, and get to work to try to break the cycle of inequity in your space.
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