Staff Spotlight: Talia Alongi

Staff Spotlight: Talia Alongi

Our Staff Spotlight Series highlights members of the Talent Rewire staff. 

Name: Talia Alongi
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Place: Seattle, Washington

Current Job: Associate Director of Research– Talent Rewire

1. As a form of introduction, please share with us a time when one or more of your identities played a role in your career. 

As a white cisgender woman, my identities have been more of an asset (privilege) in my career than a challenge – particularly working in women-dominant sectors of nonprofits and HR. Thanks in large part to FSG/Talent Rewire for training that supported my equity learning journey, this has meant coming to understand my privileges, seeing how they manifest in the workplace, and practicing allyship.

I firmly believe that “ally” is not a title that one can give themself, rather it is an ongoing practice of continuous improvement. As one who tends to overthink things, building awareness of my privilege initially drove me to take up less space or be less vocal in conversations of equity and justice. I remember discussing this in a conversation with my boss at the time, who was a person of color, and he provided some much needed accountability for this overcorrection. He helped me realize that I was so afraid of taking up too much space as a white person, I was failing to be a vocal advocate for the issues and communities I cared about that needed my voice and could leverage my positions of power.

2. Can you share an experience where you felt respected and valued? How did that affect your relationship to the job and the employer?

I lead the research function of Talent Rewire and it can be hard to know how the research is actually being used by companies. It has been such an incredible experience to work with my colleagues on the Programs team and bring our research to life through their work. Seeing how our research supports employers in shifting practices and systems is so fulfilling and makes me feel like my research contributions really do have value. This motivates me to continue providing good quality research and coming up with new ideas to meet the needs of our employer community.

3. What builds Trust for you as an employee? What needs to be true in a workplace for you to feel comfortable giving input? 

You need to create a culture in which it’s okay to 1) not be articulate all the time, and 2) raise a challenge without having the solution. Sharing feedback imperfectly is better than not sharing it at all! We need to trust that we can share feedback without repercussions and then work towards a solution together.

4. What have you taken away by working at Talent Rewire? 

Our team is committed to practicing what we preach and willing to admit when we get it wrong or fall short. That vulnerability is so powerful, and it gives us a tangible sense of the kinds of change we’re supporting employers through in our work.  

5. What are the biggest misconceptions you think employers have about frontline employees?

Businesses undervalue the importance of the frontline in keeping their business afloat and often shortcut them on pay, benefits, and opportunity because of this. In talking about our work at Talent Rewire, I’ve received responses such as “sure, businesses can invest in their frontline when things are going well, but that’s not always the case.” If a business model is dependent on low quality jobs to succeed, then it’s fundamentally not a feasible or responsible business model. Frontline employees are one of your most important stakeholders, so treat them like it!

6. What are ways in which employers show you that they value you as a human and as an employee?

I appreciate when my colleagues take the time to connect on a personal level. This is particularly important in a remote work setting, where we don’t get the opportunity for water cooler chats or sharing meals. When 100% of your time together is tactical, you don’t build a foundation of trust and mutual understanding for when things get challenging. I love to hear about my colleagues’ families and pets, share pictures of my nephew or what I cooked last weekend, and connect as whole human beings.

7. What’s one thing you would encourage employers to do for their frontline talent?

Listen empathetically – for the purpose of understanding their needs and their ideas, not controlling them as a line item in your budget – and pay them a living wage.