We’ve often heard from founders that running a business can be a 24-hour experience. Still, recently, many of us are denouncing hustle culture for a balance of our own. As women who wear multiple hats, how we spend each moment of the day matters.
For Black women, time is precious, but often we forget that the time we spend outside of building our empires is just as important. In this ESSENCE.com series, we’ll get the scoop on how some of your favorite entrepreneurs and executives are spending time off the clock to refuel, recenter and remember their north stars.
Meet Nichole Barnes Marshall, Global Head of Inclusion & Diversity at Pinterest, Columbus, OH, 49
Having just started this role in January 2022, Nichole Barnes Marshall has stepped into the Global Head of Inclusion & Diversity position at Pinterest. She and her remote team that sits across multiple time zones have made major moves towards her vision for I&D at the company in 2022 and beyond with their annual Inclusion & Diversity report. The report highlights the company’s progress toward its publicly committed 2025 goals and its latest initiatives for building and advancing an inclusive culture, platform and community for its employees and users.
With more than 20 years of experience in DE&I and recruitment at iconic brands like L Brands, Aon and IBM, Barnes Marshall has spent years championing a better workplace for all. Although that work can be challenging, the wife and mother of three ensure each day has the potential to work out in her favor by setting intentions, boundaries and a little music for the soul. Discover how she finds inspiration to regenerate her energy so that she continues to show up as her best self in the different roles that she is proud to own.
Community involvement is in her DNA.
“My hobby is sharing my time and talents with organizations that support the community,” Barnes Marshall shared. The Chicago native grew up with a mother and grandparents who were very active in community organizations, and she kept the tradition going as she developed in her career. “With the very small resources that they had, they dedicated their lives to making life better for other young people,” she said. “It just really helped to shape me into who I am, and that desire to contribute and give back what I have is just kind of in the DNA.” Today, Barnes Marshall serves on several boards, including the National Urban League Diversity Advisory Board, Columbus Urban League, African American Leadership Academy and United Way of Central Ohio.
Although her work life is demanding, she prioritizes staying engaged by dedicating an hour during the day for board meetings and using time after work and on weekends that allow her to get her family involved. “There are ways to integrate and converge all of the worlds instead of having them so compartmentalize,” Barnes Marshall said.
With six different team members sitting across the U.S., Barnes Marshall sets work boundaries to ensure you have time with her family. “I have to make sure to try to hit the pause button at six, so I can engage with the family,” she added. It’s this time when the family eats dinner; she can check in on her children’s homework process and catch up on everyone’s day. “We also like to watch Family Feud. We always have a blast with Steve Harvey every night,” she said.
Daily gratitude sets up the day.
There is a tree right outside Barnes Marshall’s bedroom window. It is the first thing she sees when she wakes up each morning, so she turns it into her gratitude tree. “Every time I look at that tree, it’s always a trigger for me to remember what I’m grateful for,” she said. “I start to think immediately what I’m grateful for, what I’m grateful for in the day before, and what I’m looking for in the day ahead.” She continues to set her heart and mind with intentions with daily readings and affirmations. By doing this every day, Barnes Marshall shared that it helps her remember her “why” and helps to anchor herself spiritually.
She fills up her cup with music.
Being responsible for an organization’s inclusion and diversity efforts can pour a lot from your cup. Barnes Marshall turns to music to decompress by spending an hour a day discovering new music or listening to some of her favorite jams. Her family also makes sweet music together as each member is musically talented, and she adds to it with what she calls a karaoke singing voice. Her husband is a former musician and a current DJ, while one of her daughters is a violinist, the other a singer and her son is a percussionist. “I’m just a lover of music, and with all of our music together, we’ve got terabytes of files and thousands of tracks digitally and on wax and CD,” she shared. She travels back to Windy City for the Chosen Few Festival most summers to celebrate Chicago House Music and its DJs. “That day is like a pilgrimage. I don’t care what’s happening. I’m going to be in Jackson Park in Chicago. No doubt,” she said.
Why is being off the clock important?
“We’re often the first responders in our families and our communities. Black women often carry the burden of being the one there to fix things and to make things go right,” Barnes Marshall admitted. She believes that we must take time off for recovery from the load that many of us carry. She also believes that giving our spiritual well-being the energy it deserves requires us to be present, and we can’t do that if we don’t spend time off the clock. “It requires time for self-reflection so that you have that opportunity to regenerate yourself from within. Dedicating that time or just taking the time doesn’t require a whole lot of time,” she said.
Marshall Barnes encourages Black women to find time to be inspired, and we need time off to be inspired by other people and the world around us. “When I think about Black women, we are often the giver of that inspiration, but not often taking that time to receive that inspiration,” she explained. Marshall Barnes uses the unlimited PTO and participates in the learning opportunities at Pinterest, like their annual internal Knit Con, to explore and learn about something new and use newness to inspire different things within herself. “Making ourselves enough of a priority to learn and seek out new things and, more inspiration, I think would just be more fuel, more pouring inside the cup, so we can put goodness out into the world,” she said.