Podcast Ep 22: What is DEIA + Belonging TRANSCRIPT

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Chanté Thurmond 0:00
Hi, I’m Chanté Thurmond, co-host

Rada Yovovich 0:22
and this is Rada Yovovich, your other co-host.

Chanté Thurmond 0:24
This week we are talking about our favorite thing

Rada Yovovich 0:27
It is our favorite thing

Chanté Thurmond 0:28
We’re talking about diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging.

Rada Yovovich 0:34
Yeah, this is the stuff that anybody who has ever been to one of our events has ever attended one of our trainings for sure has probably heard us really talk about, we’re going to start by sharing some of the definitions, you know anybody’s listening this podcast probably has heard these words, has in their head what each of the means, but you know, Chante and I don’t do anything just regular so we want to make sure that we are really clear about our framework, our approach and how we sort of use these core concepts and so when we say each of those words, what we really mean by them.

Chanté Thurmond 1:05
Kick it off!

Rada Yovovich 1:06
Cool, so I’m going to start with just sort of the definitions here so when we say diversity, we talk about examining and questioning the makeup of a group. So who is in the room, what are the different kind of demographics identities etc that are actually here in this room around the table or whatever.

Equity is the fair and just treatment of all those members of that group. And this is where I always pause and I always distinguish between equity and equality, where equality is everybody gets the same thing, and equity is everybody gets what they need. Many people have heard this fence metaphor, right. So you imagine there’s a six foot tall fence, and you have people on your team that range from like four feet tall to seven feet tall, you know, everyone from six foot to seven foot. If the goal of success is being able to see over the fence. The people who are six feet and up, can do it no problem. Everybody else needs some help if they’re going to be successful as a part of the team. So it’s a question of like okay if we’re going to give them all stools, the equality route would be giving everybody the same stool maybe figure, average stool needed, and you just distribute that to everybody. And you know these people are seven feet tall, have absolutely no use for that stool, the people who have four feet tall, are like, Thanks for this it almost helps. And then there’s like a whole range in between and there’s some people that are actually helped with that average tool but equity would be giving each person exactly the height stool they need so they can successfully see over the fence. And so that difference is really important because the difference between equality and equity is important because people are different, right people have different needs people have different circumstances. And so there’s no sort of one size fits all for this stuff.

Inclusion is the intentional ongoing effort to ensure that diverse individuals are valued and fully participate and Shantae and I actually take this a step further, we talk about radical inclusion. And when we say that we sort of a challenging this old school definition of inclusion, that’s like this company is an umbrella, and we’re trying to bring as many different kinds of folks under that umbrella, you know, and saying like we still want a culture fit inside of that umbrella, but we want to be a lot of different kinds of people that can culture fit in. And our sort of radical inclusion approaches saying like, Well, what about a culture-add instead of a culture-fit, right? What about somebody who’s just outside the umbrella that because they come into the team the umbrella gets bigger, right, and now we have this thing that there’s one person or company that has something nobody else in our company has ever had. And that makes a new asset, rather than sort of a challenge to our norm. So instead of trying to get them to like assimilate and break in. We’re trying to say, oh cool what’s now possible for us, because we have this person and so like really radical inclusion is celebrating, not just like accepting or tolerating difference but celebrating exactly what is unique about each person on the team specifically because that’s sort of how they are contributing to the innovation, creativity, and collective genius of the community.

And so last is access. Access is giving equitable opportunity to everyone along the continuum of human ability and experience making space for the characteristics that each person brings, right? Can they actually show up like can they actually get there and kind of typical a classic experience that’s physical space, right, so we think a lot about like ADA accessibility, but really when you think about using your products when you think about the technology when you think about what languages you’re using, and not just like what languages but what language, like what jargon and stuff like those are all accessibility things too. So those are kind of our like D, E, I, and A terms that we use so much.

Chanté Thurmond 4:45
Yes, and I like to throw in just one more. So we mentioned belonging. And we know this is a newer buzzword, but folks are certainly using it sometimes we have folks who call themselves the Director of Diversity and Inclusion and belonging, your

Rada Yovovich 5:00
Chante loves belonging, I mean I love belonging too but Chante’s our belonging cheerleader, so Chante I would love to hear sort of what is it about belonging that you love so much.

Chanté Thurmond 5:08
I think the way we kind of landed on this Rada, we described it as the consequence of inclusion, I think you actually said this. You said inclusion is like what you Rada might be doing, and belonging might be how I am experiencing it. For example, it’s like you can go through great lengths to make somebody feel included, you can do all these certain things, asking them, but what kind of foods they like what kind of music they want to listen to. Do they want to have parties, but you can’t necessarily determine how they’re going to interpret that and part of it is actually their lived experience and how they’re showing up so, belonging can change from day to day, your technology and your inclusion, and the acts that you’re doing that can change too but a lot of times it’s like we’re doing things to make people feel welcome, but you can’t always guarantee, they’re gonna feel that way.

Rada Yovovich 5:10
I hear it as like inclusion as this like intentional ongoing effort and belonging as if you’re doing it right, That it’s what all these folks that you’re trying to include actually perceive the space right they’re like, okay, because you are including me I feel like I belong. Does that sound right.

Chanté Thurmond 6:09

Rada Yovovich 6:10
Yeah? Cool. And so the next step we was talking about when we’re talking about these things is, y’all got the order wrong people start with diversity, they’re like okay we got to get diversity and so like titles of people or diversity councils or things like that, it’s like, people start with diversity and more and more forward thinking organizations are starting with inclusion, and say, we’re gonna talk less about diversity, we’re gonna talk about inclusion, and we think that’s correct, but we actually even go a step further, and so the order that we talked about it, is start with accessibility. We would put “A” first and say, you know folks can’t access you, it’s a non starter, right? If they can’t even get to you, whether that’s because of the ways that you accept applications. If we’re in a 3D space if it’s because you have to own a car, or take an Uber or something to get to your office, that’s a whole bunch of people that can’t access you and no matter what inclusion you do, they will never get there because they can’t even get over that first hurdle.

Then we talk about inclusion and equity together. So it’s accessibility and then inclusion and equity because once they show up. They need to know that they’re going to be treated fairly, and they’re going to not only be sort of tolerated but celebrated a chance to feel like they belong, because the perspectives and skills that they bring, what we argue is that the combination of those things, leads to diversity as an outcome. I’m gonna say that again. If you get accessibility, inclusion, and equity right, then the consequences are belonging and diversity, because if you’re actually creating access and equity and inclusion for all these types of people, then those types of people are going to find your jobs, they’re going to be able to find it, they’re going to be able to access it, they’re going to be treated right and they’re going to show up because the best talent. Look sounds and needs a whole lot of different types of ways. And if you actually make space for them and build the systems that treat them right, then you get diversity as a consequences.

Chanté Thurmond 8:00
Yes, being go. Which brings me to my next point, we often joke about this rather that we want to ban the D word at work, we want to just get rid of it, it’s a bad word. And sometimes we’re very serious like we know that our biggest advice to these leaders, especially the CEO and the Chief Talent Officer or the Head of Diversity and Inclusion. We want you to understand that you have to stop using diversity as your leading metric. Okay. And it almost always leads you down this pathway of focusing on vanity metrics, and it kind of deters you or allows you to escape the root cause of why your company is experiencing a lack of diversity in the first place.

Rada Yovovich 8:45
Yeah, that’s a beautiful point because whenever we ask companies like why do you care about diversity, they say all the right things right, they’re like we know that our solutions will be better. Right and we know that our people will get more creative and our people will feel more supported and diversity in terms of those numbers does not actually get to those things, right, it’s the inclusion, it’s the equity, it’s like them actually being treated correctly. And seeing that they belong, that creates those consequences so aiming for the numbers actually doesn’t get you to where you’re trying to go to.

Chanté Thurmond 9:17
Right. And if we can just get you to sort of change your framework and the way you think about it. And if I just said for the day you can’t use the word diversity, when you’re talking about these things. It forces you to recalibrate and just think like, oh okay, you’re right, I actually was just conflating them I was mushing everything that you’re just describing in terms of inclusion and accessibility and equity and belonging, under the term diversity and conflating it which makes it really kind of complicated and this is why I think we have an issue with some companies for Google, right, I’ll use them as example they were the first ones to highlight and popularize a diversity report, and people were rushing to do the same thing and they were like, oh I need to go do a diversity report, but what that didn’t allow you to explain was how your company actually is working in terms of Inclusion Accessibility equity belonging like what things are you doing to create that environment that would allow for diversity to actually occur and to be celebrated, so you can’t necessarily articulate that and highlight that in an empirical data report, you can moreso do that in a narrative. So this is just something we’re trying to really get leaders to think about and to be cautious not to follow the Google trend. Okay, this is where we want you to think radically and outside the box, and for any of you listeners out there, if you feel strongly that inclusion is not a veneer, you don’t want to Window dress it. This is your opportunity to start rethinking the order of diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging at your company.

Rada Yovovich 10:53
Chante I love this stuff because that’s the right thing to do. It brings greater peace and love, and community, but we also love it because of the business consequences. We’re also here because we’re trying to help these organizations succeed, right, and so this brings us to one of our favorite obsessions, the future of work. We spent a lot of time thinking like, what’s going to happen down the road, what’s already happening a little bit faster than we meant. And, you know, we’re already seeing for so many business roles that geographic location is mattering less and less as we shift more and more of our jobs to remote and virtual work. And what that actually means is that organizations are competing for their literal world of talent. When you don’t have to be constrained to a five mile radius around a physical office, then you’re opening up the field to the whole world, and it becomes more obvious that the very talent will like I said, look, sound, and work a lot of different ways. And if you’re not figuring out how to attract, retain and fully activate that talent, your competition will and the limitations of your workforce will directly inform your ability to thrive in that marketplace because it’s pretty it’s not just because you’re trying to make good stock photos that have a lot of different type of folks, it’s because, like, other people are gonna figure it out. Yeah, and then they’re gonna womp ya.

Chanté Thurmond 12:15
That’s right. You heard it here first. Hopefully, last time. So let’s take accessibility then as an example to show what we actually mean let’s kind of walk through. So traditionally, people think about the ADA accessibility guidelines and things like that, when we’re talking about like physical office space, things such as like entrance ramps and parking spaces and, you know, do you have an elevator, but in the future of work we’re talking about digital accessibility, right, we want to know virtually what that means for folks to show up, and to use the same kind of technology, regardless if they can manipulate a mouse, or if they have vision, and we also make a lot of assumptions around people’s ability to hear and to have things like WiFi, to not have children running and roaming and fighting in the background, or that they’re in like a safe physical domestic environment, all of these things we’re making lots of assumptions on, And those all fall under the umbrella of accessibility.

Rada Yovovich 13:16
Yeah we have a collaborator named fahad punjwani, who is brilliant and does a lot of really cool design work. I remember that he once explained to us this idea of accessibility, he used the example of designing a product for someone who only has the use of one arm, and he was talking about how there’s actually a lot of different ways to only have the use of one arm right there’s like the super temporary that’s like I right now can only use one arm because my other arm is holding my child, right, or maybe keeping my two twin five year old boys from fighting. In Chante’s case, so I’ve only got one arm in a very temporary sense to a little bit less temporary where it’s like you know I pulled a muscle this morning, and so for today, I can’t really use my left arm, to a little bit longer term where you know I broke a bone. And so for the next six to eight weeks, I can’t use my left arm to a very permanent sense where I may only have one arm, right, and in that case, that’s another instance where I only have the use of one arm, right, and so I bring that up because when you solve one of those, you solve for all of them, right, and you know we think about like neuro diversity and hearing and when you solve for those kinds of challenges you actually are also creating accessibility for a bunch of other folks who need the same solution but for different reasons,

Chanté Thurmond 14:36
I’m like snapping. That was some great wisdom that you know fahad passed on to us that we’d love to talk about and just a shameless plug here, we actually have a workshop that we lead with fahad on that, though, inquiring minds, please hit us up.

Rada Yovovich 14:55
It’s called signing for inclusion, and it’s pretty awesome.

Chanté Thurmond 14:58
Yeah, we did not plan that but I just had to say. Sorry, Rada.

Rada Yovovich 15:04
Absolutely. So where does that leave us as we kind of move toward wrapping up maybe we give some wisdom about good metrics to use

Chanté Thurmond 15:11
Yeah, so I’ll shift a little bit I want to think about a few that have come immediately to my mind, and that first one is like employee engagement, or employee sentiment. One particular that like a lot of companies should be familiar with is your net promoter score or your NPS score. A lot of times we’re doing that for our clients and like the services or the products and technologies that we provide, but if you’re not doing that for your employees, which I know a lot of companies, for example, HR and benefit solution companies might offer this to you already, they might, but if you’re not doing this, there’s tons of free templates right now that will allow you to just download an NPS survey, or a questionnaire, and start to do this regularly with your employees. It’s simple, easy worth it.

Rada Yovovich 15:59
Yeah well that engagement, shows us so much right like it shows, not just satisfaction and stuff like that but like how folks are showing up right like it’s such a direct tie to absenteeism presenteeism, productivity, and like capacity for creativity right this is how you actually kind of assess whether people are going to show up with their full selves to work is like what is their engagement, it’s also like the closest you get to like a belonging metric.

Chanté Thurmond 16:25
Yeah I was gonna say that for those who have access, depending on the size everything, which you should, but if you’re providing insurance, you know, it’s worth it to find out what the common ailments are and like how often people are using your health and wellness benefits. We have a healthy workforce, that’s another metric that we don’t necessarily talk about that might uncover what’s really going on in terms of Inclusion Accessibility equity and belongingness,

Rada Yovovich 16:49
yeah I think there’s a tendency to start making decisions about what causes absenteeism, and you never know what’s going on, like if they’re a caretaker, or, you know if they have a chronic illness, there’s a bunch of different things that can go on there but I agree that there’s a lot that can be learned if you are managing your own risk population in your health care coverage that you can get a lot of information about like what kinds of support from that perspective, your population needs.

Chanté Thurmond 17:13
And that if you don’t know why people are actually not coming to work, you might want to start asking them.

Rada Yovovich 17:20

Chanté Thurmond 17:21
Another one I want to mention right now is in terms of attrition versus retention, you know, are you paying attention to how long people actually stay at your company. And I would also challenge you to really think about the putting in air quotes here “minority” identifying employees, if this is truly of interest to you and you want to make sure that you’re focusing on black, indigenous people of color, women, trans folks you want to make sure that you’re paying attention to the attrition versus the retention rate at your company.

Rada Yovovich 17:54
Yeah and I think along the very similar lines, is performance assessment compensation. Career advancements, again, across those demographics and identities and saying, Okay, is there a difference like we’ve got partners that are people analytics platforms that actually create your ability to easily track these metrics and say how do we rate people across different demographics, is there’s any kind of correlation. Can we do an equity audit for compensation, I know that if you don’t have a good people analytics platform, then maybe you only have gender on a binary and maybe racial identities documented, you know, those tend to be the first ones, start there.

Chanté Thurmond 18:32
Can you also give him an example like how we say gender on a binary?

Rada Yovovich 18:37
Yeah, super quick, you know, a lot of these organizations will tie into your sex assigned at birth, or whatever, sex or gender marker is legally assigned to you which many of us recognize now that in this year 2020 There’s more than just a binary of either male or female right there can be folks that are trans that are still on the binary, but have transitioned and therefore like their marker might not be the same. There’s also folks who are non binary right, so don’t necessarily identify as male or female, so that kind of traditional metric can be a little misleading in that context.

Chanté Thurmond 19:13
Yes, just worth mentioning since we’re on the accessibility right like that’s yeah, I feel like a low hanging fruit indication number one for Rada and I usually if I look at your forums and like you’re generally only asking if somebody is male or female, I’m like, Okay, you failed,

Rada Yovovich 19:32
and a fun fact that male female and other is a step in the right direction but it’s literally very othering so that’s a whole other conversation that we got a great length but looking at the performance assessment like how you’re rating people, how you’re compensating people and how people are getting promoted across various demographics is some good metrics also be looking at.

Chanté Thurmond 19:51
Yeah, a few for those who are in the talent and or recruitment field you might appreciate this. I think it’s worth mentioning that we think about the candidate pipeline demographic and trying to figure out how diverse and putting that again in your boats that pipeline is also it’s really important to think about the interviewer demographics like Do you have any diversity there. If not, think about expanding and diversifying your interviewer panel, and then also thinking about the source of hire. Are you using diverse channels to help you attract and retain that talent.

Rada Yovovich 20:25
Yeah, I think there’s a couple different ways we talk about diverse channels to write this like one piece is the sort of obvious one where it’s like, I’m going to go to like National Black right which is like a black professional conference, or to Latinx sources or to LGBTQIA+ et cetera you know like, you can kind of go to these populations and go together, or it’s also this other piece of like, are you just diversifying right meaning like you are going to a number of different sources you’re not just getting all of them from one channel, but different folks again could be gathering in different places so there’s sort of two different ways to cut that idea of using diverse channels to attract talent,

Chanté Thurmond 21:07
Yeah it’s a good point. Thank you, Rada.

Rada Yovovich 21:09
Yeah. And I would say there’s also some really interesting equity related items in the recruiting cycle that also inform the candidate experience right because you got to keep in mind that this is their first taste of how your organization works, and I’ve been a part of so many organizations where it’s like HR just runs a totally different way than the rest of the company. And in a lot of those instances, the rest of the company is really fast and HR is really slow or vice versa, you know, and so really trying to be thoughtful about how are we representing the employee experience through the process of recruiting, interviewing getting hired in the team right because that’s going to have a huge impact from the start, on whether people feel like they belong or whether it’s the right place for them to come, whether they actually want to come on board.

Chanté Thurmond 21:57
Yeah, that’s a good point. So a couple that like immediately kind of my mind as you’re saying that, for example might be the interview to offer time but that window, how long is it also the offer acceptance rate is interesting, and the onboarding, how long are people like kind of hanging out in this limbo phase onboarding I think is really important

Rada Yovovich 22:17
Awesome yeah, so this has been a taste of how we challenge organizations to think beyond just the old school diversity approach to address the sort of upstream leading metrics that contribute to the downstream diversity and consequential business results, and innovation that that diversity drives. So hopefully this has piqued your interest a little bit. Got your brain working, thinking about like, what would be the right metrics for us, instead of just looking at the numbers of people that we have in a room, and how can we be actually getting to those objectives in a little bit more meaningful and intelligent strategic ways,

Chanté Thurmond 22:57
and we’d love to get people’s opinions and commentary. So, please, we definitely want to open up the floodgates if you will.

Rada Yovovich 23:05
Absolutely yeah for questions, comments, feedback about all these ideas about this podcast about working with us, whatever it is, please send us a note at hello@thedarkesthorse.com

Chanté Thurmond 23:20
And this is Chante, if you want to contact me directly, please feel free, email me at chante@thedarkesthorse.com or drop me a line on Twitter @namastechante

Rada Yovovich 23:31
and I’m Rada, and you can call me directly at rada@thedarkesthorse.com or hit me up on Twitter @rada_why. You can also find more on Twitter, Instagram, with the handle @TDHcast or TheDarkestHorseCast on Facebook.

Chanté Thurmond 23:50
One last party favor. If you haven’t done so already, please please please please take some time to rate us like our show, and by all means share this podcast episode with folks in your network folks you work with friends. We want people to understand and learn more about our framework and interesting work that we get to do every day.

Rada Yovovich 24:10
Yeah, spread the word have some conversations.

Chanté Thurmond 24:13
Yes, well, that’s us The Darkest Horse podcast we’re signing out.


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This content was a collaborative effort across the TDH team