In this episode of The Remote Show Live, we were fortunate enough to chat with Dr. Tolonda M. Tolbert about the realities of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in remote work environments.
We covered many different components of DE&I in remote teams, and companies more generally. This was a very important conversation, and we were happy to have hosted it. Dr T gave many important insights including practical teams and actionable projects for improving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Some key highlights included:
• How an action based approach is needed, using analytics and metrics.
• How remote work influences progress in corporate DE&I
• Does diversity in the work place help spark innovation? Hint: Yes, it does.
• How can remote companies improve their hiring and onboarding that optimize DE&I?
• How can managers best support their underrepresented employees - especially during this time?
And much more! There were also some really great questions from our community. Thank you to all who took part!
We're aiming to help keep the momentum going with the recent spike in conversations about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion -- if you're a remote manager/leader/hiring manager, this one's for you!
Interested in continuing this conversation within your organization? Check out https://eskalera.com/ for more information!
Tolonda M. Tolbert, Ph.D., is the Co-Founder, and Head of Strategy and Culture at Eskalera, Inc. She comes to the role with almost two decades of hands-on experience in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and culture change. Prior to that, she served as Senior Director of the Inclusive Leadership Initiative for Catalyst, partnering with global organizations to build their capacity to create and sustain inclusive workplaces, specializing in DEI strategy, curriculum design, and implementation.
She also led the Employee Resource Leadership Initiative (ERLI) with a mission to engage and connect ERG leaders to share ideas and best practices while learning how to amplify inclusion. Previously she led special anti-bias projects at the Anti-Defamation League’s A World of Difference Institute and GLSEN(Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network).
She was also a staff developer at Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility and a faculty member at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work teaching graduate and faculty courses on Inclusive Pedagogy. She holds a BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers University, she is a published writer, independent scholar and community activist.
Connect with Tolonda here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tolonda-tolbert-phd/
Matt H (00:00:00):
So, thanks everybody for those who have already joined. Appreciate you all being here for this important and timely discussion. I'm here with my guests, we're going to get this started now. So dr. T is here with us. We're super excited to have her, so thank you for your time, dr. T. Thanks for being here.
Dr. T (00:00:20):
It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Matt H (00:00:22):
So, Dr. T for those who of you who don't know is the co-founder and head of strategy and culture at Eskalera inc. And there's quite a longer description of what Eskalera does, but why don't in your own words, if that's okay with you, dr. T why don't you tell us a little bit about your company, what you do there?
Dr. T (00:00:41):
Yes. Eskalera, that word, just so that you all know just means, ladder in Spanish. And our goal is as a mission-based organization is really to elevate and empower people in the workforce and organizations. And so we have an employee engagement platform that teaches diversity, equity and inclusion through interactive micro learning that's iterative and staged and sustained. And so instead of drinking out of a fire hose, it's more, very small chunks. And we do a lot of skill building and evidence-based skills that can help change your culture, your organizational culture, to be more inclusive.
Dr. T (00:01:41):
And then we have a huge analytics component to our platform, that basically puts an inclusive layer over your traditional HR information, such as pay and performance management systems and so forth, so that we can help organizations see the areas of their organization that really are hot spots culturally, or that there might be inequity in how people are being treated and those patterns and insights. And so we have just been around for about two years and we are a startup, located in San Francisco, and I am one of the co-founders and I'm head of strategy and culture at Eskalera. That's spelt with a K. That would be misspelled in the Spanish. That's a Silicon Valley thing, I believe.
Matt H (00:02:41):
Yeah, I will make a comment there, but I think that is the case. The misspellings are definitely a trend. Well, we really appreciate you being here and we'll link to all of your company links and all of your personal links as well in the show notes, after the recording is done. Just a little bit of a logistics update here for people. This is going to be about a half hour conversation between myself and dr. T. And full transparency, of course, from my perspective, at least I'm here to ask questions and to learn, and that's going to be sort of the framework for this discussion. And then we will open it up to questions as well. So if you have any questions for dr. T and what she does, then we'll open that up and about half an hour or so.
Matt H (00:03:27):
So please do. You can also put it in right now, but we won't get to it until about midway through the show, but yeah, we're really happy that you're here and this is a really important discussion. So happy to help facilitate and through our platform, try to promote these sort of conversations and I'm excited to get into it with you. So my first question is around remote work specifically, and how you see the role of remote work and the shifts that have been happening recently change the ability for companies to be more diverse and more inclusive. Is that something that you've been able to work into your framework for your company, just the remote work aspect of where we are with diversity and inclusion?
Dr. T (00:04:14):
Yeah. Our company definitely has always thought about remote work as one of the ways to diversify organizations. In fact, the work of diversity, equity, inclusion, I've been in this space for over 20 years, and we have been advocating for more flexible work arrangements for over a decade. So definitely way, way pre-COVID. And there's really a few different factors for that first was women in the workforce, right? So oftentimes women are underrepresented in organizations, even though they're over half of the population and have less positions of power in the workforce. And so this is a position that we've always took. If you can't get it right for half the population, how are you going to get it right for like black people are 13% or 35% of the population for Latinx people or 15%. And so really needing to get that right.
Dr. T (00:05:29):
And so, regardless of kind of how long women have really been in the workplace, the fact of the matter is that the research even proves that they still do the majority of work at home. And because of having children and so forth, there is a real need to have flexible work arrangements, which of course always includes remote work. And so, diversity, equity and inclusion work has always included remote work. Also, this has been a real topic for over 10 years, because of the global economy. And really to meet the needs of global clients and teams. It has just really become an imperative that organizations have an agile and remote workforce. And so I know myself, I have worked with multinational corporations. And if you have a client or a team in China, you're up at night doing presentations and having meetings and providing services. You are expected to be responsive and accessible.
Dr. T (00:06:51):
And if I have a meeting at 10 o'clock at night, it's not something that an organization should expect me to really go into the office in the middle of the night to have a call. So remote work has really been a priority, I would say for multinational corporations. And then, as the different generations have come into the workforce, the millennials and generation Z, the younger generations had really expected some kind of flexible work arrangements to be part of their work life. And so that is regardless of gender, both men and women and everybody in between, this is a key factor in really attracting them and retaining them in the workforce culture. So companies have had depth figure it out and learn how to integrate it into their work culture. And for us at Eskalera, we wanted to have something. If we were going to be teaching people and giving people skills around diversity, equity and inclusion, we wanted to have something that really worked in the flow of work for people. And it wasn't based on people all being in the same place, because that is not scalable. I've done a lot of work and workshops and things like that, that are very, very difficult to scale. And so coming up with a scalable solution that would work with a distributed workforce is something that Eskalera really thought of right from the beginning. And so our platform is set up so that individuals do it on their own time, in little five, 10 minute burst and things like that. But you're also getting data and all of things from it, so that you can tell how these things are kind of improving in your company. And so it's not just kind of remote work and flexibility without accountability. There's a lot of kind of accountability baked in.
Matt H (00:09:12):
Yeah. It's so interesting. I'm always with the conversation that's been happening right now and for organizations like yours, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on, or how you approach companies themselves. Are you doing a lot of convincing of, let's say management of the pros of having a specific process here for diversity and inclusion and equity? Or is it just more about transparency and saying, "Hey, in your company. This is where you need to get better in terms of this as part of your hiring process." Or is that-
Dr. T (00:09:49):
As somebody who's been in the space for over two decades, we went from having to kind of really give people the business case of why you need to do this work. And I have not had to do that thankfully, in definitely at least six, seven years. People understand that this is a kind of business imperative. Again, unless you are creating products for just one type of person, this becomes really important. The research is there about how diversity really impacts innovation. And so not just because it brings in all of these new ideas with people from different backgrounds. But it impacts innovation also because when you have people who are coming from different backgrounds, they can't make the same assumptions that they can when you're coming from the exact same background. And so if I have to explain something to you, and I know that I can't make the same assumptions, I have to actually work a little bit harder.
Dr. T (00:11:14):
And so ideas are more rigorously reviewed, more ideas are reviewed. The business case, there is literally 25 years of research on why diverse teams are able to problem solve, do more innovative work and are more productive in the long term. So I'm happy to say that, no, we don't have to show people why they need to do it. It's really more of an argument nowadays around sustainability. A lot of people are interested and window dressing. In particular right now in with the social unrest and not everybody is looking for sustainable cultural change. And not everyone is willing to kind of look at the data and look where the inequities are and do something different. And so those people are pretty easy to spot from far away. So, it has to be more than a statement that people make on their website and put out around something.
Dr. T (00:12:42):
And I think that what I've noticed that's different about this moment in history is that not only can people like myself who are practitioners in the space tell that that is not authentic and not committed and not moving towards sustainable change, but the employees internally are saying, "Hey, you're saying this thing, but when we look at all of our leadership, there are no women or underrepresented people there." And so, the talking is definitely being questioned and people are really wanting some walking of the walk that goes along with it. And so those are some of the trends that I do see. People know that they need to do something. They really need to know what to do. And that's why we founded Eskalera is that you have to go beyond saying, "Hey, this is the problem." You have to, "Hey, these are the solutions." And so we really wanted to try to give people a holistic solution to this really global issue.
Matt H (00:14:00):
Yeah, it's great to be able to talk to you because I have heard that as a ... and again, I am fully aware of my perspective on this as the author of the room is I'm a straight white male in a tech company. It's one perspective. And so, that's kind of from the outside looking in, I've seen a lot of people say, "Look, this is the right thing to do, but then what should I be doing? Or what should my company be doing?" And of course, this is where you fill that void. And it seems like ... and I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it seems like the part of the solution here is for people to demand from their own company that they work in, "This is what I need from you." Do you see that being, like you said, really important trend?
Dr. T (00:14:51):
Yes. Absolutely. I think that as we move towards the future of the workplace, employees are having more and more voice in what their companies are doing. There are employee walkouts, there are all kinds of ways that employees have demanded they do better. And when there is something that's out of alignment between what a company is saying and what a company is doing, I think that there is an impetus for the employees to hold them accountable and no less, there's an impetus on the public to vote with their wallets, and people do now. And so it's really something that is tied directly to the bottom line, because I know that myself and perhaps other people in your audience or yourself, if I know that a company is not doing things right by their employees internally, I'm not-
PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:16:04]
Dr. T (00:16:03):
... their employees internally. I'm not giving them my money period.
Matt H (00:16:07):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Yeah. That's unfortunately, in the system that we have, it seems like that's where a lot of the power comes from is consumers and people who choose to work at certain companies. Definitely. [crosstalk 00:16:19]
Dr. T (00:16:19):
Absolutely. That brand, it impacts your brand and the brands that have been known to kind of take a stand on things, attract more talent.
Matt H (00:16:33):
Yeah. It's, as you said before, the business case is there as well. So it's hard to argue with each of the things that you're saying here. I would be curious just on that note, is there a very common pushback that you hear from people, whether they're in management or people in companies that you've worked with and is there, maybe a pushback is the wrong word, maybe a misconception about this as a trend that you've heard a lot?
Dr. T (00:17:07):
I would say a misconception is that you would do this work in isolation. So I find that organizations that are starting the work of diversity, equity and inclusion often will start and think it's just a recruitment issue. So they work really hard and put a lot of resources into kind of getting a more diverse talent pool into their organizations, but they are not looking at it in a holistic and integrative way. When the talent gets there, if you don't have an inclusive culture and if people don't feel like they can be successful in that culture and if you haven't looked at equity and how their employee life cycle was going and they're getting development and they're getting paid fair and all of these things, then that talent just becomes a revolving door.
Dr. T (00:18:17):
So they can't keep diverse talent. So it's not something where there is a single solution. Diversity, equity and inclusion affects every part of the employee life cycle from where you look for talent, to who you hire, how you onboard them, how you develop people, how you advance people, succession plans, all of these things. This is a real vertical in a world of horizontals. So because of that, there is not a silver bullet. It is a lot of little things that you have to do, and you have to look at all of your company from the top down and from the bottom up and really make it a holistic way that you're approaching it.
Matt H (00:19:15):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). So how would, outside of using a company like yours, how would a company approach that? What have you seen as potentially successful strategies here for doing a better job in a more holistic way that you've seen?
Dr. T (00:19:33):
So you want me to list off the 101 things we do? That's the whole point is that there's not the one thing, right? So I would say on the hiring side, you can definitely do a lot of things around hiring. Of course, there's a ton of bias in hiring. People tend to operate with affinity bias where they hire an advanced people who are like themselves. So you got to make sure that your practices and processes are making sure that that's not happening and that you're training people, and instead of having something where people are tapping their friends on their shoulders, you're having a formalized process and that oftentimes, you'll find organizations, I know that this is the truth in the startup world, where it's just friends of friends. Nobody went through a formal interview, or if they did, everybody's asking different questions.
Dr. T (00:20:50):
It's really like, "I'm just bringing other people that I know on." So in those kinds of situations, if those people don't have diverse networks, you will end up with a homogeneous workforce. So it's really important for organizations not to just look in different places than they traditionally have, but they also really need to kind of expand their network in order to kind of look at spaces in places where underrepresented professionals gather and people are constantly, as somebody who works in San Francisco, my company's is in San Francisco, it's just like, "Okay. So the majority of people in tech are from Stanford..." and it's just like, "Okay, you got to go someplace else..." not leading to a diverse talent pool. So considering other kind of nontraditional talent pools, recruiting from historically Black colleges, partnering with different associations like the Association of Latino Professionals, the executive leadership council, Leadership Education for Asian Pacific. There's a lot of organizations that work with underrepresented professionals. So I think that that's something that people can do internally. That's a shift once people get on board and so forth.
Dr. T (00:22:34):
So really connecting people to the larger organization in efficient ways is really important to get people kind of up to speed as fast as they can be, and realizing that you have a company culture and making sure that women and underrepresented people are networked in the same ways because again, because of affinity bias, people tend to have these networks that they're outside of. Those people that you have an affinity with, you also have just more trust with automatically. Therefore, you tend to give more accountability to people that you naturally trust.
Dr. T (00:23:25):
So it's really important that you are making sure that the underrepresented and the women are being networked in the same way, that you are addressing your larger culture and really making sure that managers are inclusive leaders, that they have the skills, they are having transparency. Again, people share information, but a lot of times, that information goes in circles that we're on the outside of. So making sure that people are being transparent, that you're creating ways that people can kind of arrive as themselves and really be themselves at work, and that you are asking people questions and that people are being seen as a value for their unique self, but also belonging to the team no matter what.
Matt H (00:24:33):
Yeah. Yeah. To your point before where you said that, especially right now, there is some window dressing going on, especially in companies that feel that they have to address the issue. Is there a good, outside of the transparency on the representation itself within the company, which is obviously in a lot of ways, you can see that as an outsider, but from somebody who's coming from, I'm looking for a job in a company and I want to make sure that the company itself aligns with what I believe in and what I believe is important, is there a good way in your mind to really make sure that they're actioning and you're joining the company that you really align with outside of just the window dressing, there's a real substance to their change and their process? How would you go about, as a job seeker, trying to accomplish that?
Dr. T (00:25:28):
Well, I know that a lot of job seekers go through platforms like Glassdoor to really see what the culture is. If you look at Glassdoor, you will see that most of the comments that people make around organizations are about the culture. They also have a lot of research that they do based on that kind of feedback. Also, people strive to make a connection. I know that people connect with people on LinkedIn just to have these kinds of informal conversations with somebody who already works in an organization to ask critical questions around what kind of culture is this, so that you know that they're not just doing lip service to the culture piece.
Dr. T (00:26:25):
I would also say that this is a space where you want to have some questions specifically about how their values play out in how people actually treat each other on teams and so forth. So you really want to have ready questions for people around what is the kind of unwritten rules around their culture and how do they live out those cultural values in how work gets done, not just, "These are our culture values," and then people are treating each other totally different. Organizations who have this integrated in how they treat each other, those are the ones that you're going to be looking out for that are really walking the talk.
Matt H (00:27:21):
Yeah. That's helpful. I think the questions, and I think to your point, companies should have answers to those. If they're just trying to come up with an answer just because they feel like they should, it probably is never a good sign. They should have some actual answers to questions like that. So I think that's a really good point. This is sort of... We're going to trail into the Q&A period as well, but just one more question about remote work specifically.
Matt H (00:27:48):
How do you feel like remote teams can action on being in the unique position they are? Is there anything, again, I don't want to point to, I know it's a lot more a nuanced issue than just saying one thing, but I saw the other day that, Automatic, for example, which is a tech company, I'm sure that you've seen, is they actually don't pay... They don't go on video calls as part of their onboarding process because they want to have that bias not be a part of their hiring.
Dr. T (00:28:17):
Matt H (00:28:18):
Is there something like that that you see in quite a lot of that has been effective for companies that are specifically remote teams?
Dr. T (00:28:30):
Yeah. That definitely is a practice. Something that's specific to remote teams? I have not seen something that's specific to remote teams. That has been a practice that people have done that was before people were all remote. So I think that regardless of remote or not, you always have to make sure that inclusion is a priority. It doesn't happen by accident. There has to be intentionality behind it. I think that virtual teams do have some advantages that they are... I think that they know that they have to be more purposeful about developing team culture. So when you're not face to face with people in the same room, people tend to have a little bit more mindfulness around things like people's body language and silence. When you don't hear people's voices, silence is really loud sometimes. I think that virtual teams, it's a little bit easier to identify when only a few voices are dominating the conversations.
Dr. T (00:29:51):
Because people are in virtual platforms and you don't have that convenience of chatting at the water cooler about something or going out that evening for dinner or drinks, team-building activities tend to be a little bit more structured and therefore, a little bit more inclusive. Regardless, I think that even virtual teams really need to be careful about cliques so that if you're in the same time zone, people can tend to be in a clique. So if two people are in the same space and do meet physically and then there's one person and/or other people who are spread out, there can be a really unequal power dynamic and a challenge to kind of build relationships with the people who are remote. So I think that with virtual teams, because they have that challenge of getting to know each other, it's really just kind of important to promote low risk ways to learn more about each other and to have that kind of human to human connection.
Dr. T (00:31:05):
So whether that is greeting every person as they come on and ask them about their weekend, or doing small chat at the beginning of a meeting, or asking icebreaker questions, or having virtual happy hour if you're not completely burned out on that yet. Or in my organization, we have social Slack channels where people can share funny stories or articles or videos and things like that, so that you can just build those kind of relationship connections. As an individual worker, you need to see, do I know this person more or this person more? Why do I know that person more? Because when you have these gaps in knowledge about people, that's where your bias and assumptions start happening and stereotypes start happening. So you really have to be very intentional about building those relationships across different...
PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:32:04]
Dr. T (00:32:03):
... very intentional about building those relationships across different, whether it's virtual or in person.
Matt H (00:32:09):
Yeah, I completely agree that the culture piece is such an interesting thing to solve for in remote teams. And I don't think that obviously, and speaking in general terms, I think that it's really is only going to get more interesting, I think as things move along and more teams have to contend with having positive culture and because ultimately it's so competitive, so that a great person with a lot of experience can go somewhere where the culture is better and more aligned.
Dr. T (00:32:41):
Absolutely. And because you're in a virtual situation, the talent pool is global and the jobs are global. So the fact that you can, it's not like it used to be, and you're just going to go down the street and work for the company down the block. You are up against a lot of things and culture becomes a critical factor and both people's retention in an organization and how happy they are there. So, I mean, you're not going to stay around for some toxic culture. The best talent has choices and they're going to get up and get out pretty quick if that's not happening in your organization. And so I would say, as everybody has kind of been forced into a virtual work, thinking about culture is a really important thing.
Dr. T (00:33:42):
And one of the trends that I've seen happening is really that people really, they have to invest in communication skills more, and I think that they're doing it a little bit more now than they were prior. And I think that that's important because everything comes down to communication. As it's hard on these platforms to know what everybody is thinking or see their body language, or get eye contact, or be able to have a back and forth conversation that's more seamless. You really have to make sure that your communication is on spot in order to make sure it's communicating the thing that you're trying to communicate to other people. And so I'm hopeful that culture will rise to the important level that it is as we kind of work through the COVID things.
Matt H (00:34:49):
Yeah, there's a lot there to unpack. And again, we'll link to any other resources. Well, actually, just before we get into this Q&A session, is there any other really important resources that we should be sending people to, as part of this conversation, that you think are really helpful in terms of the working with different universities or different organizations that have been really helpful?
Dr. T (00:35:14):
On our website at eskalera.com, we have lists of resources around these things, we have blogs on inclusive etiquette for remote working, key factors that you need to think about like communication skills in remote working, how to deal with performance issues, how to build trust with people and so forth. And so I would just say, go to our blog and go to our website and those resources are all there.
Matt H (00:35:55):
Great. Yeah, we'll definitely link to that as well, so really highly recommend everybody do that. Okay, so let's get into this Q&A chat here. If anybody has some questions they want answered, please feel free to post those questions in the chat here as well. I do have one question here at the bottom that we'll start with Dr. T if that's okay. So let's start with, how do you recommend a company engages employees to learn how they feel and what they want, et cetera?
Dr. T (00:36:31):
How should companies engage them to learn how the employee themselves feel?
Matt H (00:36:35):
Yes, exactly. I believe that's what they meant, yes.
Dr. T (00:36:40):
Yeah. So one of the things that we do at Eskalera around this, is just really teach people social and emotional skills and emotional intelligence. And that's really around managing your emotions, identifying your emotions, being able to build empathy and connect with people, understanding what triggers you in all of these kinds of things. And so I would really recommend always kind of building more emotional intelligence in your organization. This is important skill because, as skills have a shorter and shorter kind of life on the shelf, skills change every year and a half, you have to change your skills, you got to re- upskill yourself. These things like emotional intelligence are the key to kind of advancing in organizations and also, a critical part of having emotional intelligence is really having that growth mindset where you're willing to see yourself as somebody that's in process and constantly trying to improve yourself and constantly trying to learn more about yourself and others and how you work with others.
Dr. T (00:38:04):
And so we also have things on learning your, you know, learning style, your conflict style, all of these things, all of those things teach you so much about how you operate. So you have to know those things in order to change them, if they're not right, and they don't work in the workplace. And so, I think building skills and self-awareness around EQ skills is really important and having a growth mindset so you're always kind of looking for that opportunity to be more of yourself.
Matt H (00:38:42):
Right. Yeah, that's a great answer, I think. Yeah, and that will help you in more than just your professional life I hope.
Dr. T (00:38:49):
Yes, it does. I can attest.
Matt H (00:38:52):
Me too. All right. So thank you, Melissa, for that question. The next question is from Kim, how do you recommend a company structure D&I leadership? A lot of organizations recommend having a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer in C-suite. But many claim they often don't have the resources to do their job effectively. Any best practices for D&I governance?
Dr. T (00:39:22):
Matt H (00:39:22):
Dr. T (00:39:23):
I couldn't agree more with that person. So, I think that what we really see is that organizations, in a knee jerk approach, to kind of wanting to look busy, they do two things. They often will hire a Chief Diversity Officer at the C-suite level, but give them no resources, no staff, and things like that, or they will hire a kind of diversity manager at the lower levels and expect them to impact the higher levels from a lower level. And so diversity, equity and inclusion is one of the very few aspects of a business where you would never have a sales part of your company and somebody leading sales and say, "Well, we're not going to give you any staff and we're not going to give you any budget and we're not going to give you any power." And so I think that it really needs to be a fully resourced part of the culture and that we really need to have it be something where accountability is built in to the whole organization.
Dr. T (00:41:03):
One person should not be accountable for if a culture that's... Let's say a company that's been around for 20 years will change or not, people need to be held accountable for inclusive behaviors throughout the organization. And so some of the best practices that I really like is that people cannot become people managers unless they have good reviews on inclusion, right? Oftentimes, organizations will put rainmakers in a position of a manager and they have no training in managing people and it is a skillset.
Dr. T (00:41:52):
And so it's important to make it... You can be really good tactically and so forth, but if how you work with people does not work, that should be measured and that should be something that is part of the competencies in order to move into leadership. And so I think that that is really important, and then to have multiple ways of kind of getting feedback around inclusion in your organization. A lot of organizations will do a once a year, if, kind of employee survey and be like, "Okay, we asked them two questions on inclusion and everything is good," and there's no actionable things around that, and so just setting up multiple ways to have feedback from people.
Dr. T (00:42:52):
It's not, I can feel included one day and excluded another day by a whole different person, right? And so you want to keep that feedback loop consistent and make sure that it is a loop, it's not just the organization telling people what they want to do. At Eskalera we definitely believe that culture happens through people, not to people and so you have to involve them in what's happening and the change that you'd like to see.
Matt H (00:43:24):
Yeah. That's a really good question. Thank you for that, Kim, and I appreciate you getting to that, Dr. T. Kind of a follow-up question to that actually as well. How important, or what have you seen recently as a shift? Because I imagine a lot of this is the learning and about how to manage people and this component of people management. Is that now being more trained in schools? So if somebody comes out of the business school, for example, how much of that is trained in business school now and how do you feel about that?
Dr. T (00:44:00):
Unfortunately, I have not seen it being, that happening in business school, and it really should be. I thought, where it is happening, it's happening in K through 12 education, they are doing much more managing your emotions, building empathy, across difference, seeing other people's, taking other people's perspective and so forth. And so maybe it will get up into the business school space, but it reminds me just, it is a gap in education as far as I see in MBA programs and so forth. And it's something that is, when you go out into the workforce, your ability to work with different kinds of people is the number one skill. So it should be one of the number one things on top of people's list. I would hope that the university is start taking their cues from secondary education.
Matt H (00:45:19):
Yeah, I completely agree. I have some primary school teachers in my family and it's been really interesting and cool to see the initiatives being promoted there. And it's not where it needs to be, but it's been really interesting and great to watch.
Dr. T (00:45:35):
Matt H (00:45:36):
Yeah. Okay. So thank you for that question again, Kim. And so let's move on to this next question here at the bottom. We often see BIPOC leading initiatives in the workplace to incorporate more diversity, equity, and inclusion. In remote workspaces specifically, what are your thoughts about that in relation to emotional labor and how can non-BIPOC co-workers, leaders be more cognizant of this?
Dr. T (00:46:09):
Yeah, I really appreciate that question because right now this is a really difficult moment for your coworkers of color. And I think that it's something that we all just need to be mindful of. One, that when something happens in society, that we don't act like business as usual. When these tragedies happen, we are all being impacted for... But for those communities that are targeted, these are not theoretical things, they don't have to imagine what it's like. These are the harsh realities that they navigate every day, these are the fears that they live with every day for their children, for their partners, for themselves. And so to, I think, something that could be very valuable is just not acting like nothing happened. And then just in terms of kind of responding to that question, another thing I would recommend is not leaning on black, Indigenous and people of color at this time of racial unrest to educate you or educate the organization on racial issues. I myself have had many of my peers and colleagues leading town hall meetings around this issue. This has a super high emotional tax on the underrepresented-
PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [00:48:04]
Dr. T (00:48:02):
Super high emotional tax on the underrepresented employees. And so there is this interesting expectation that those people most affected have almost the responsibility for educating other people. And this responsibility is an individual responsibility. And so people taking accountability for their own education is important. And as leadership is concerned, getting a third party to kind of facilitate conversations around this, I think is critical. And I think that we have to also just give a little grace and realize that people need time and space to deal with these issues.
Dr. T (00:48:54):
And so I've seen some great practices of organizations allowing more mental health days so that people can take care of themselves and just really giving people the time and space that just because the dominant culture, this is maybe their first time having this conversation, we've been having this conversation since we could walk. And so it's like where we're coming at this conversation is completely different. And so if some employees of color opt out of those conversations because they might be triggering, just realize that the new found knowledge about this stuff happening, even that can be something that can hurt people.
Dr. T (00:49:53):
To know that you live in a world that nobody else realizes and that people are just realizing for the first time when this has been a weight that you've carried your whole life is challenging. And so I think the most important thing that you can do is really just kind of let people know that you're there for them to listen and not give advice, but just listen if they need somebody to listen.
Matt H (00:50:25):
Yeah. I'm really happy that that question was asked because I think it's one that you bring up a really good point and a number of different of your viewpoints there just about expectation because I think it's, like you said, everybody is coming at this differently. And being open to the conversation and having it probably is good, but again, there shouldn't be an expectation. Just because you're aware of it doesn't mean that the other person hasn't been carrying it their whole life. So I think that's-
Dr. T (00:50:56):
Exactly. And just take accountability. Go and educate yourself. There's huge parts of the population that are living with these realities. And if you are just realizing it today, there is some work and self-awareness that you need to do prior to coming into some of these conversations just so that you have the broadest understanding that you can have. And so that if the goal is to connect, so that you can understand what people are going through. And so I think that work around diversity, equity, and inclusion is a very personal thing for everyone.
Dr. T (00:51:38):
And to just realize that and take accountability for doing that work, it should not be somebody else's job to drag you through or educate you to all of these things. It's as easy as Googling. So I think I Google everything else, please Google this. There are resources everywhere.
Matt H (00:52:01):
Yeah. There's no excuse. And there's-
Dr. T (00:52:04):
There really isn't. There really isn't. There's just so many things to help you learn about the history, help you learn how to be a good ally, help you learn how to be supportive of people. They shouldn't lay on your colleagues that are next or your friends or whoever.
Matt H (00:52:24):
Yeah. Great question. Thank you for that. So this is actually a good segue to the next question here, which is, how do you become a good ally?
Dr. T (00:52:37):
Well, not to kind of repeat myself or anything, but being a good ally first and foremost is knowledge. You must educate yourself around what the issues are so that you know what those things are. I think that one of the challenges with dealing with these issues is really that people can be in the same room and have two whole different experiences and not notice that somebody else is having a different experience than you are. And so even just... At [inaudible 00:05:26], we teach the skills of panning. Looking at the social dynamics of what's happening, looking for where people are, who's talking most, who's being interrupted, who's being greeted, who is not, who is being praised in public, who is not being praised in public, all of those things.
Dr. T (00:53:53):
So you can even see that you have been witness these things is an important step. And that step, I'm not going to underestimate it. That step takes a long time to get through. And so I think that having that self-awareness not only about the things happening around you, but around what are your own privileges, privilege is this weird thing that is invisible kind of on purpose. It is normalized. And so realizing that other people don't share those same privileges. The other day I was just... My partner is white and I ride my bike everywhere. I live in Colorado. I ride my bike everywhere and I accidentally had left my house without my ID just to run to the store. And I started almost having a panic attack around it.
Dr. T (00:55:03):
And he was just like, "Baby, you're going to be fine. You're just going to the store." And it's just like, that's something, the fact that you can just ride your bike to places and nobody messes with you, that's not something that I get to live with. I don't get to live with that thing of like, it's in the middle of the day, of course nothing would happen to me. That's not an assumption that your colleagues of color have, an assumption that I won't be stopped. The preparation to have something negative happen is real. And so realizing how privilege works and how the things that you expect for everybody doesn't happen for everyone is also a really great way to start your allyship.
Dr. T (00:56:02):
And then really understanding how these things work beyond just the things that you know, and understanding these kinds of systems and how they work together, and how they're overlapping. And how things with education overlap with things about class, and overlap with where you live, and red lining and all of these things create a system where it is not an isolated event of something happening. It is really a pattern that happens. And then working on just confronting your own biases, I think that that accountability of understanding your privilege, using that privilege to open more doors is important rather than using that privilege just to think about what's next for yourself and seeking those critical ways to empower people around you and see that people don't have the same kind of power as you.
Dr. T (00:57:17):
All of those things and so much more. And this whole thing, there is no clear roadmap. We are all going to make mistakes and knowing that mistakes are part and parcel of trying to understand something that you have not experienced directly is a way to seek the path through things instead of kind of getting defensive when somebody says that you've made a mistake. And so you really want to work with people and not speak for people, and realize that accountability that you have throughout both for your own education, for your own privilege, for confronting your own biases, for working with people.
Matt H (00:58:18):
Yeah. No, thank you so much for sharing that story. It was really important. And again, thank you for doing this. I think this is... I learned a lot myself and I'm hoping that everybody out there did as well. And I'm cognizant of your time here, Dr. T., I know we're running up on it as well. But before we wrap up, is there anything of course, willing to your website, anything else that we should be sending people to learn more about you and what you do?
Dr. T (00:58:47):
Both our website and our LinkedIn page is great. They'll give you all the information that you need. What I would say is if your company is not actively doing something around diversity, and equity, and inclusion, these are things that are going to impact everything. And as we come into this world of the election season and all of this stuff, businesses are microcosm of the world. So to act like people are not being affected by these things that are happening every day is to put your head in the sand. And so you want to push your organization to make the culture just inclusive for everybody because that benefits everyone. It's not just about the brown people and the women, it is about everyone feeling included.
Dr. T (00:59:40):
And so I would just invite you to make sure that your company is doing something very intentionally and something that's sustained, that this is not a check the box kind of activity.
Matt H (00:59:55):
That's great. No, I completely agree. And I'm really happy to have done this with you. Thank you so much again, and I'm sure there's much more we could chat about for another hour or so based on those questions which are really great ones. Thank you for everybody who joined us here today and for those questions, willing to everything that we've talked about here. And hopefully talk to you all soon, and thank you so much.
Dr. T (01:00:19):
Thank you. Everybody have a lovely day.
Matt H (01:00:23):
Dr. T (01:00:23):
Thank you so much for having me.
Matt H (01:00:24):