Listen to Janaye Ingram’s episode of UnBossed Podcast here:

When it comes to our careers, gone are the days of our parents where we worked for 40 years at the same company. In the modern era, uncommon career paths are the new norm—but you’ve got to have a bigger purpose in mind. Just ask Janaye Ingram, director of 21st Century Communities Initiatives for Airbnb.

Long before Airbnb, Ingram cut her teeth as a co-founder and board member for the Women’s March and worked for organizations like the National Action Network. She was also a Miss New Jersey 2004. While her time spent representing the Garden State may seem like a role that was wildly different from the rest, she never shied from her love of civic engagement.

“I think for me, that experience was very much about finding a way to be visible and bringing visibility to the community work that I wanted to do,” Ingram shares with UnBossed Podcast host, Marquita Harris.

“At the time that I competed, I had been doing a lot of community service. I had been working with different organizations. I just really felt like in order for me to have the visibility and connection that I need, I need something behind my name. No one’s going to say, “Oh, this girl wants to come in and start a literacy campaign,” they’re going to be like, “Who are you?” I didn’t have an organization or anything like that. For me, having that title allowed me to really create different opportunities.”

Her year as Miss New Jersey gave Ingram the traction she needed to influence law and literacy in the state of New Jersey. Her career path has also maintained a deep curve toward advocacy: from AmeriCorps to the National Action Network, and now to Airbnb. Ingram is all about altruism anywhere she goes.

Janaye Ingram

Listen to her full episode of UnBossed to hear Janaye weigh in on…

…WHAT MAKES A GOOD COMPANY

“I think what makes a good company is when companies are willing to allow people to have a say and have a stake in the approach that the company is taking. That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone gets to make the decision because that’s not possible. But I do think that it’s important to have dialogue around important decisions, and making sure that people feel like they have a voice, feel like they have a say, even if the decision is made in a different direction, that they feel that they’re contributing to the overall culture of the company.”

…HOW AIRBNB HANDLES DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS

“People will come to me and say, “I had this negative experience. What can I do?” I want everyone who is listening to this to know, if you have an experience where you think you are discriminated against, please use our help feature and let them know that you feel like it’s a case of discrimination. We will investigate. It allows us to have more tracking to be able to consistently measure and see, if there is an instance of discrimination, we can remedy it. We will get you rebooked immediately, so you don’t have to wait for us to figure out if it was discrimination or not.”

…HOW JANAYE DECIDED TO TAKE ON HER CURRENT POSITION

“I was confronted with this decision of, do I do the thing that I’m comfortable doing, that I know I can go in and wake up every day and I can do this job with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back? Or do I do this thing which I kind of know what I’m doing, but there’s a part of me that has no clue what I’m doing? And it’s a challenge and it’s scary. At the time, it felt like a bigger job than maybe I was even comfortable with. I decided to go with that.”

Hear Janaye’s full episode on Apple, Spotify or anywhere you listen to podcasts. And follow @essencepodcasts to get to know the ESSENCE Podcast Network!

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