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Meet Thela Thatch of MRS HR & Inclusionomics in Greater LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thela Thatch.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Thela. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in East Orange, NJ and Newark, NJ right on the edge of “Little City” and “Prince Street” projects. I came from a place where the odds were you would be pregnant, on welfare, addicted to drugs, join the military, or be killed. Those were the options I saw around me. In my last year of high school, I was invited to attend an Exceptional Educational Opportunity (EEO) program from high-risk youth and I received full funding to attend Kean University. Despite numerous obstacles, including homelessness and my father’s death, I graduated from college in three years with a BA in Communications and gained an internship at Fox WNYC New York working for the 7 pm & 10 pm News and The McCreary Report. I always want to share this early part of my life because I will never forget where I come from and it is those early challenges that motivate me today. I can relate to people young and old whose lives are negatively affected by one wrong choice. I want to uplift people to show them how they can overcome challenges using resources that have been put in place. This is my strongest motivation for doing Human Resources and Equity work. Fast forwarding, I now have over two decades of experience in human resources, talent management, organizational development, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

When I moved from New Jersey to South Carolina, I started MRS HR Consulting while I was on a semi-sabbatical from Corporate America. It originally began as an “Ask MRS HR” Blog to answer questions anonymously that you couldn’t typically get answered by a corporate HR person. Unfortunately, when working in HR in Corporate America, we can’t always represent the employee due to our responsibility to protect the employer. I was at a place where I wanted to protect the employee’s rights by providing and directing them to information. As I shared the Ask MRS HR Blog, I had various small businesses asking if I could support them with HR needs, and that is how MRS HR was born! While I was working MRS HR from my kitchen table, I received a call from a former boss offering a Regional HR Manager role at a large entertainment company located in Los Angeles. I couldn’t resist and so I took on the next challenge. It is from this step of faith that I later initiated and led the very first diversity and inclusion initiative and department within this entertainment organization of over 10,000 employees globally. My experiences and encounters in that role sparked an interest in Public Policy and Law that has changed my life.

I am currently finishing my Ph.D. in Public Policy & Law while continuing to rebrand and regrow MRS HR. One of the many public policies that I am passionate about is the “ban-the-box” law. Although there is no federal law or policy on ban the box, many states, and several cities, have passed these types of laws to help the estimated 33% of adults with a criminal past get a fair shot at finding work, by encouraging employers to assess their qualifications and skills before denying employment. I was inspired, of course, by President Obama’s commitment in 2016 to the Fair Chance Business Pledge and with homelessness and the other human crisis we face, I wanted to create a place where applicants can find jobs from employers that hire people who need a fair chance into full-time jobs that pay more than minimum wage. So, I started In addition, my partners Stacey Gordon and Lisa Gates and I do a bi-weekly podcast called Inclusionomics were we offer skills and best practices for our listeners to navigate everyday challenges at work and beyond. I am truly having the time of my life!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been a rough and risky road. One of the biggest struggles for me was getting past the negative noise in my head. Growing up on the “other side” of the tracks (or down the hill as we called it in my hood), I often felt that I had to ask permission to sit at the table or that I just didn’t belong. It took me years to stop second-guessing myself. Once I confronted those negative voices, I met other obstacles that a lot of professional women of color encounter; people consistently pressing me to stay in my lane while I watched others skyrocket to the top for doing less. I’ve been told to my face that I was “too big for my britches” and that “I needed to stay in my lane.” These comments were hurtful but also fueled a fire that I had suppressed for too long. I feel like those negative responses, struggles and “No’s” made me stronger. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” Now that I am walking in my purpose, regardless of what struggles, there’s no turning back!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
MRS HR is a one-stop-shop for all things human resources. From hire to retire, we provide small businesses with solutions that they normally do not have the bandwidth to accomplish. My clients typically do not have a human resources person or department in place and they are seeking to build a solid HR foundation for their organization. My specialty is developing company policies and programs but I would say I am known for my employee relations skills and my ability to place a diversity and equity lens on a businesses’ approach to human resources, talent management, benefits initiatives, and more. I am very proud of the level of integrity and creativity I bring to an organization. I believe what sets MRS HR apart from others is the amount of diverse experience across industries that I and my team bring to an organization. We are all about real solutions, for real people, from real people. I’m proud and excited about our job board for candidates who need a second chance and I am also very proud of what we are accomplishing with our trademarked Inclusionomics think-tank by creating a platform for people to have honest, intelligent, and impactful conversations around diversity, equity, and belonging.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I loved to read! I started reading when I was about two and my family often bragged how I would never ask for anything but books. I loved to write stories and I drew graphic novels for my friends. I ran the streets with the boys, riding bikes, running around the train tracks on Davis Ave in East Orange or just running around the streets, getting into all types of adventures. I had a very strong imagination as a child, which I still have to this day. I was interested in music, so I played the clarinet and saxophone for over ten years and for most of my time in high school. I was in the marching band and the jazz band. I was in every choir and every single talent show performing. I rapped in a hip hop group called the Playgirl Sensations that was the opening act for other hip hop groups that came into our town. I had a lot of friends and typically would stand up for those who were being bullied, but I was very streetwise too. My playfulness and childhood often took a back seat to knowing how to navigate my environment the hood.

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1 Comment

  1. Lisa

    August 13, 2019 at 16:12

    What a great success story!

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