By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN — LaTonya Pegues has held many titles— she’s been a satellite and missions researcher, a low-temperature physics researcher, an account executive, has worked in the entertainment industry and she’s the founder and CEO of a communications and marketing company, Boaz Enterprises, but perhaps most importantly she’s a trainer.
It may sound simple compared to her other occupations, but the work she does has the power to change entire companies from the ground up.
Pegues, a graduate of Howard University, specializes in unconscious bias training for business employees, teaching them to recognize and combat different types of biases in various workplace situations from the hiring process to leadership.
Her work has been recognized for its transformative success. Pegues was the keynote
speaker on unconscious bias at South by Southwest (SXSW) in 2018 and also appeared on the top ten most searched sessions of the interactive festival. She was also a panelist at National Diversity Council’s conference with notable figures such as President Barack Obama and Colin Powell. She’s now a member of the SXSW Advisory Board and the University of Texas Club Ambassador’s Council.
She got into unconscious bias training “as a result of SXSW inviting me to keynote on the topic, and even more so the demand on that topic was just really mind-blowing,” she said. “As a trainer I had to really think about that there are a lot of people who want to know about this, and being a scientist and engineer and an African American woman I certainly have experienced my share of unconscious bias towards me.”
Pegues noted examples, such as the “like me” and “fear of the unknown” bias bubbles–spheres of influence that people get stuck in because they’re used to a certain environment.
“When people are interested in hiring someone new sometimes they’ll hire someone who’s just like them. And that’s a problem because we’ve already got one of ‘them’ working there,” she stated. “So if they’re always looking for people who are like them, then the organization’s really not going to have any diverse spots.”
“‘Fear of the unknown’ bias is one where people just are very comfortable in their own space, and because they may not be aware of something new that might be better or just kind of afraid of change, then ‘fear of the unknown’ bias is also one that can cripple an organization as well as keep people from becoming their best selves,” she continued.
She recently conducted a training session, “How to Lead Like a Coach” at the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) conference Oct. 19 in Nashville, Tenn.
Her company, based in Los Angeles and Austin, has helped clients such as NASA and BET and operates internationally, its mission providing “the opportunity to maximize their exposure and to interact professionally with influential people from various backgrounds.”
Her various experiences allow her to do this precisely because of their differing and distinct nature.
“Sometimes it’s just a different question to ask to get people to think differently and to have the courage to try something new,” she said, adding that “bringing a different perspective in an inclusive way and being careful to not have a lot of bias in the creation of new technology” can take a business a long way in terms of success.
She’s been operating Boaz for almost two decades, providing consulting, communications and marketing services with non-traditional solutions to clients, domestic and international,that are involved in private, non-profit and entertainment industries.
You can find more information on Pegues and unconscious bias at her site www.theubtrainer.com or find her on social media @theubtrainer. To request Pegues for events or interviews, or to hire Boaz for your company email email@example.com or go to https://www.theubtrainer.com.