When you listen to Maia Ervin speak, you hear a hearty and lively voice. It illuminates our company events, and truly brings joy to our virtual gatherings. As our Chief People Officer, Maia oversees the hiring and thriving of our immense Gen Z talent, and as a cusper, she’s the total Mom of the company.
Maia needs no lengthy introduction from me – featured in Refinery29 and WWD and profiled by InTheKnow – her unique voice and thoughts are clearly in high demand. Most recently, Yahoo featured her as a top Black Gen Z creative. Her podcast Big Fish: Sink or Swim, a collaboration with fellow JUV-er Carmen Carroll, has the Big Gen Z Energy that you’ll crave after just one listen. It really was in my top 5 podcasts in 2020, according to my Spotify Wrapped.
I was excited to profile her for our blog. We chatted about Black joy, her favorite thing about working at JUV and what she’s doing as Chief People Officer to create a company culture that’s open, diverse and gives space for people to thrive. Here’s Maia Ervin in her own words.
Q: So, Maia, tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Maia and I’m a 25 year old (Aquarius), Queer, Black womxn currently living in Brooklyn, NY.
Q: We’ve been talking about how celebrating Black joy for this Black History Month is important, tell me what does Black joy mean to you?
Black joy means Black liberation. It means Black people being able to be seen, heard, and hold space.
Q: What hope do you have for the future for Black people in America?
My hope for all Black people is international liberation.
Q: As Chief People Officer, what’s one thing you bring to work every day?
One thing I bring to work every day is my identity. My favorite thing about working at JUV is being able to show up everyday fully in my identity.
Q: How do you feel being a Black woman in leadership at a global Gen Z agency?
Being a Black woman in leadership has made me hyper-aware. I am extra critical of myself and my work in the People Operations space to ensure that everything I do isn’t working against my people’s path to liberation. I think that people in leadership positions can sometimes forget that impact is greater than intent.
Q: Have you faced any struggles in your approach?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is not believing in the typical corporate taboos. I often get dismissed with assumptions that I’ve probably never had to hold a job with such standards. But in reality, the standards are just racist.
Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your role?
One lesson that I’ve learned in my role is that there are so many ways that we have to unlearn “corporate standards” that are just masks for inhumane, racist, and sexist treatment.
Q: What’s JUV doing to make sure Black people feel a sense of belonging at the company?
JUV is working to cultivate a culture that allows folks to show up as their full selves. Showing up in all of your identity, the good times and the trauma, without judgement is a privilege that often is not awarded to Black folks. We hope the community at JUV feels comfortable enough to hold the space they deserve.
Jawwad Mustafa is the Director of The Screenshot Newsletter. He’s always got a drink in hand - either peppermint tea, peach iced tea or a vanilla latte. If you see him with anything else, you’ll really need to vote for him as The Imposter. You can find his creativity on Instagram at @JawwadTheCreator.