By Jared Karol
In today’s Diversity & Inclusion Spotlight, we hear from Hajj Flemings. Hajj is a Human Brand Designer and his work aims to humanize people, brands, and cities. He is the founder of Rebrand Cities; his latest project, Rebrand Detroit, is innovating Detroit neighborhoods to make the city a place for all people. Hajj is a key figure in the Detroit tech scene, and will be one of the featured speakers at the Tech Inclusion Forum in Detroit on May 11, 2017.
Change Catalyst: What are you currently working on to improve diversity and inclusion in tech?
Hajj: I am focused on making cities a place for all people. 46% of the small businesses in America operate without a website, and 81% of people research a business online before making a purchase. While small business is the engine that drives US economy, these statistics are disappointing. However, Rebrand Cities aims to solve that problem by helping diverse small businesses across America get online.
Change Catalyst: What motivates you to work towards an inclusive tech ecosystem?
Hajj: Detroit is transforming like many other urban cities, and underrepresented communities are being marginalized. My goal is to help close the digital divide so that diverse neighborhoods in Detroit and cities across America are on the grid.
Change Catalyst: What will be the biggest story around diversity and inclusion in 2017?
Hajj: The Pepsi Ad with Kendall Jenner showed how tone deaf a multinational company can be about inclusion when they are trying to discuss a very important topic.
Change Catalyst: What one key solution would make a huge difference in creating a more inclusive tech ecosystem?
Hajj: Identify and highlighting a more diverse view of leadership would be a game changer. There are great leaders and role models that currently exist amongst women and people of color. Sharing their stories would inspire people to pursue tech-enabled careers, launch startups, and make it easier for organizations to bring in diverse leaders as keynote and conference speakers.
Change Catalyst: What is the best example of leadership in inclusion you’ve seen recently?
Hajj: The San Antonio Spurs hiring Becky Hammon to be the first female assistant basketball coach in the NBA. They have paved the way for a team in the NBA to hire a woman as the head basketball coach of an organization which will more than likely be Becky. The Spurs are one of the most respected and well run organizations in sports and Becky Hammon is qualified and has proven she can win by coaching the Spurs summer league team to the championship.
Change Catalyst: Describe the impact you’re having in your role.
Hajj: There are 12.9M businesses without websites. We are currently working with WordPress to address .08% of the target available market over the next two years.
Change Catalyst: Just for fun, what unique or unusual talent/skill do you have?
Hajj: Thinking creativity and being able to come up with creative solutions when there is a lack of resources.