When I think about my #LifeAtATT, I often attribute it to seasons. Being from Chicago, there are 5 seasons, fall, winter, spring, summer, and construction. If you are from Chicago, you know what I’m talking about. Also, being a church girl from the southside, I must without a doubt add an additional season called “due season,” the appropriate or appointed time. Today I am supporting the female, disability, LGBTQ+, and generational segments on the Talent Attraction team, and it all makes sense. What I have endured during the seasons of my life has led me to this very spot.
To reflect on my seasons, I must start with where it all began. I come from a hard-working, rich legacy. Both of my parents are from Mississippi. They met after relocating from the south up north to a better way of life. My dad was a mechanic for the Chicago Transit Authority. He also had an auto mechanic shop and towing service of his own. This was back when having multiple streams of income was extremely popular. My mother was a private duty nurse who also owned her own restaurant and multiple homes. She was the first house flipper I knew. She also started her own private nursing service providing in-home care to some of Chicago’s most affluent families. Both were in the business of helping people.
Their union blended a family of five, and then came me and my younger twin brothers. Eight was beyond ENOUGH, seriously! We had a truly diverse family makeup. My oldest stepbrother is a United States Army Veteran who identifies with the LGBTQ+ community. This was something my parents accepted but were not willing to discuss openly. My younger twin brothers are both Autistic. If my parents were here today, I am 100% sure they would say the baby girl of the family was the one that challenged all they thought they were doing right. I was smart but hardheaded. I think in my teenage years I did the total opposite of everything they desired me to do. Nevertheless, in due season the lightbulb came on, shortly after my fall.
I ended up a teenage mother. I missed the opportunity to go away to my dream school. I was devastated. After an epic failure during my attempt at beauty school and then medical assistant training, I fell off my square and lost my focus. In my mind not only did I fail my parents, but I failed myself. My leaves fell off my branches. I was a young mother trying to find my way.
After fall, comes winter. The season where it is usually cold and lifeless. That winter, almost 28 years ago, was my lifeline. I sat in front of my counselor at the unemployment office. Yes, people were assigned to help you find employment. Hard to believe, right? She had just received a job announcement from the phone company called Ameritech. She asked if I could go downtown that afternoon to apply and take a test. I said “Yes!” After I interviewed and went home, I received THE CALL, “I got the job!” I will never forget the warm and welcoming voice on the other end of the line, Ms. Toni. She will never know how that entry-level opportunity as a 411 Operator so many years ago, saved me. I was down on myself for years and never thought I would have the chance to make my family proud again. That day in 1994, changed my narrative. She led me to my spring.
I was a single mother with a golden ticket in my hand. Finally, I had hope. Every step from that day was more intentional than the next. My goal was to learn a role and challenge myself. I had sprung forward in my spring. I was able to work full time, be a parent, all the while paying my way through community college. I went from an Operator to a Customer Service Advocate, then to a Market Support Specialist. In 2001, I was promoted to Sales Support Manager. It was then that I was blessed to learn about our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), another saving grace. I began to volunteer and give back to my community through our ERGs. I met so many people, just like me, who have made long-lasting impacts in my life. Those who consistently remind me of how far I have come personally and professionally. That is when I finally reached summer, the height of my construction season.
“You don’t create your path you walk it,” words from my amazing husband of 5 years, I call him the Great Philosopher, Toy Slaughter Sr. (Keep those wife cool points coming)
During my summer, I was fully involved in my local ERGs, engrossed in my community, volunteered whenever, wherever I could, participated in AT&T Believe events, helped feed the homeless, and mentored youth in domestic violence shelters. It was from the encouragement of other women in The Network – the African American Employee Resource Group at AT&T that I ran for officer roles within the ERG and won! Our Employee Resource Groups gave me the confidence and leadership skills that have impacted who I am today in so many ways. With continued support I was able to take night classes to complete my degree. All the while continuing to make movement in my career.
As a Talent Acquisition Manager, I saw where my purpose came full circle. At an ERG conference, I was challenged with some of the best advice, “To meet a moment, you may have to disrupt the program.” In 2019, my husband and I moved to Dallas, Texas, for yet another promotion as the Lead Executive Referral Manager. Leaving behind our family and friends, our church, everything we knew, to drive off to the unknown. Talk about disrupting the program.
28 years later, I am now living in my due season, where my passion and purpose have met my profession. I have won the Pinnacle Award, ERG Leadership awards, Leadership Team Impact awards, and several Service Excellence awards. I continue to volunteer regularly within my community. I am an active member of my church. After my parents passed, my husband and I became caregivers of my younger brothers. Every day, I continue to learn something new about people with different abilities. They are both loving young men and can often be found volunteering with me in the community.
My seasons made my career. Now, I support our ERG’s on a higher level as Lead Diversity Marketing Manager. I have taken the time to survey the landscape, and I have built many bridges.
AT&T Employee Resource Groups not only connect you with others across the globe to make a difference, but they can also help elevate your career.
This is Mz. Dari, your Diversity Diva, challenging you to “Be Better, Not Bitter.”
This is my #LifeAtATT.Start yours