Our Founder

The story of how Caged Bird HR came to be is a deeply personal one for me. As a career HR professional, I began my HR career as many HR professionals do. Eager to make a difference and help others. As a highly intelligent, ambitious woman, I had the goal of being a CHRO one day. Most would say my career was upwardly mobile, having never had to look for a job companies like ExxonMobil and Google highly recruited me. I achieved some incredible feats during my career, like creating ExxonMobil's first union prevention drill, launched globally, and successfully negotiating restrictive contract language out of contracts as the HR manager for ExxonMobil's most profitable upstream asset. I went on to develop and implement Google's Executive onboarding program for all of Latin America. A program that is still used to this day.

Cierra Gross Founder of Caged Bird HR
Cierra Gross

However, despite these accomplishments, it became clear that I would never get my just do. HR is a white female-dominated industry, and I was not white. No matter how many circles I performed around my colleagues, I got the same old excuses for not being promoted. Or why I wouldn't get the highest performance rating. So instead of fighting the machine, I went with it. I decided to get the most money in the least amount of time. Then I would do something else. I had no idea what that "something else" would be at the time. So in 6 years, I managed to advocate and negotiate myself to over $200k a year in total comp.

None of my accomplishments or high income would prepare or save me from my own experience with workplace trauma. I knew racism existed within the walls of my job, but honestly, I was so smart I started to believe that my intelligence was shielding me. Like it was the thing that was protecting me from outright racism. However, I learned that was not the case when I was called an angry black woman in a meeting one day at work, not once, but twice, by two white women. Having never been called that directly, I was stunned. This, combined with failing to promote or recognize my accomplishments, sent me over the edge. I decided enough was enough and chose to fight for accountability for how I had been treated. That fight sent me into clinical depression for nearly a year. To be honest, I'm still healing. But in that darkness of depression, I said to God and the universe that if I survived this, I would help others. Others might be in the same situation but do not have the Technical HR understanding to survive it.

Caged Bird HR started as a side hustle to keep me from being bored in the one-year sabbatical I planned. With just a couple hundred bucks and a booking link, I posted on my Instagram that I would be making myself available for anyone who wanted to talk to an independent HR professional. One hour after the launch, someone booked an appointment. Today, Caged Bird HR supports employees across the country, we employ a small but mighty team of HR experts who help employees daily. This company is a love letter to myself and black women having the worst experiences in Corporate America. Above all, Caged Bird HR reminds us that we are worthy of the support we deserve but rarely receive.

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