215 : Creating a Great Place to Work (w/ Michael C. Bush)

Zach has the honor of speaking with Great Place to Work CEO Michael C. Bush about GPTW itself and the process of creating a great place to work. Michael generously shares what he believes executives should be thinking about when it comes to building better trust within organizations and talks about where he sees Great Place to Work continuing to grow and expand to capture more marginalized voices and experiences.

Connect with Michael on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Check out Great Place to Work’s website. You can review their most recent lists by clicking here.

Follow GPTW on social media. They’re on LinkedInTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Interested in Michael’s book? Find out more about it on Amazon.

Find out how the CDC suggests you wash your hands by clicking here.

Help food banks respond to COVID-19. Learn more at FeedingAmerica.org.


Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate, and man, you know what we do. We center and amplify underrepresented voices in the workplace by having authentic, available, and frankly incredible conversations with some incredible guests, and, you know, today is no different, right? Like, we’ve had who, we’ve had Robin DiAngelo on, we’ve had Ruchika Tulshyan, we’ve had–we’ve had professors, we’ve had executives, we’ve had activists–we’ve had DeRay Mckesson–we’ve had all types of folks on the podcast, on the platform, and today is just incredible because we have Michael C. Bush. Michael C. Bush is the CEO of Great Place to Work, the global research and analytics firm that produces the annual Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For lists. So you know when y’all, you know, see companies and they have, like, the little badge and it’ll say, “Oh, we’re, like, #5 great place to work,” this person we’re speaking to is the CEO of Great Place to Work, y’all. This is a big deal. I’m not trying to overhype it. I don’t think I can overhype it. I’m just trying to give proper context to who we have on the show. You know, the 100 Best Workplaces for Women list, the Best Workplaces for Diversity list, and dozens of other distinguished workplace rankings around the world. Since 2015, Michael Bush has expanded Great Place to Work’s global mission to build a better world by helping organizations create Great Places to Work not just for the some, but For All. Under his leadership, the firm has developed a higher standard of excellence that accounts for fair and equitable treatment of employees across demographic groups, as well as executive leader effectiveness, innovation, and financial sustainability. His book, A Great Place to Work For All, outlines the compelling business and social benefits that come from these efforts. Michael, first of all, how are you doing?

Michael: I’m doing great. Thank you, and honored to be with you today.

Zach: It’s a pleasure. Now, I’m asking–you know, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, and I would be remiss if I didn’t ask how are you doing with your family. Is everyone safe and well? Friends and family, loved ones?

Michael: Thanks for asking. Yeah, the world has really changed in the past 45 days, but I’m doing well. I’m sheltering in place here in Oakland, California, with family nearby, so everything’s good, and I hope the same for you.

Zach: You know, everything is good. It’s interesting. It’s an interesting time. My wife and I just welcomed our first child into the world just a handful of weeks ago, and it’s just an interesting time to be new parents, right, with so much chaos, you know, seemingly all around us, or uncertainty around us, but life is beautiful nonetheless.

Michael: Well, congratulations to you and your wife, and yeah, you couldn’t have brought, you know, a baby into the world at a crazier time, you know, but things are always a little bit crazy, and what a story you’re gonna be able to share with your baby, you know, and we’re just gonna do what we’re always gonna do, which is make the world a lot better from here.

Zach: I love it, absolutely. So let’s get into it, right? We talked about it a little bit in the bio that I read. You’ve been the CEO of Great Place to Work for over 5 years, going on 5 years. Can we talk about your first 100 days as the CEO and, like, what did that look like, you just kind of stepping into that role. And then, you know, in these past five years–I guess Part B to the question is what have you been most proud of since taking the helm?

Michael: Yeah. Well, when I stepped into the role in 2015, I got into the role in a strange way. I was actually hired by the founder of Great Place to Work to sell the company, and I had done a lot of turnaround work in the past, and so I came in and worked to do that, and to make a long story short I ended up getting an investment partner and buying the business. So that’s how I got into it, and then one of the things that I knew is that I felt like having the analytics of what really was going on for working people all around the world and knowing that there are a lot of working people who never really get a fair shot at being developed, never get a fair shot at being promoted, never get a fair shot at being recognized and rewarded, that I could use–I hoped–the data and the analytics to use recognition to get organizations to change, and so that’s really when we made the change, almost instantly, to Great Place to Work for All. I thought that we’d have a platform, and at that time, you know, you never know how things are gonna work out. The business was technically bankrupt, so the first 100 days were what you have to do when you’re turning around a company that’s bankrupt, which is you have to stop all the money flowing out of the company. So a lot of tough decisions, a lot of tough days where you’re just pruning the rose bush so that you can grow, and those times are very difficult, but that’s really what the first 100 days were about. Not too much about the future. A lot of pain in trying to cut costs, but we got through it.

Zach: When you talk about, like, Great Place to Work for All, like, clearly that’s a point of pride for you and, like, kind of continuing to shift and expand the platform or the position that you stepped into. Can we talk a little bit about what it was about that particular–like, why you took that angle, and, like, why was that your point of determined growth for Great Place to Work?

Michael: Yeah. Zach, I think the thing that helped me was having a lot of business experience and having been a CEO before as well as working with CEOs. One of the things I knew is that most CEOs, while they talk articulately and clearly and passionately about diversity and inclusion, it’s not something they think about that much, you know? They think about it during Black History Month, you know, or other things like that, but beyond that they really don’t think about it that much, so it’s kind of a head fake because you can hear these things that are very optimistic and passionate, but in fact they just don’t think about them that much, and so–they’re CEOs, which means they’re thinking about other things like shareholder value, stakeholder value, but this one isn’t one of ’em. They delegate it, and so they typically delegate it to a chief of diversity and inclusion or maybe a chief of people or a CHRO, but it’s delegated, you know? It’s not something that they lose a lot of time thinking about, and so I knew that and knew a lot of people, you know, doing diversity and inclusion work, and the common experience was “If you get to a CEO and you say, “Hey, I’d like to talk to you about diversity and inclusion,” and they go, “Oh, talk to my chief of diversity and inclusion and I’ll see you later.” And so they’re gone. So I was trying to find a way of keeping them in the conversation by not bringing up diversity and inclusion, and we did that. So when you talk about Great Place to Work for All, they don’t leave the room because they’re like, “Hey, I’m into that because, you know, that includes me,” and also Great Place to Work for All has superior financial business performance. We’ve got all the data on that, so now they hang in the room, and now they’re there and they’re present, and now you have an opportunity to share data and information with them to get them into the conversation and hopefully leading the conversation. So it’s really–for me it was a Trojan horse. It was how to get into the castle walls and not have somebody come out the castle walls, you know, that was delegated to talk about diversity and inclusion. I felt that the CEO needed to be in that conversation just like they’re in the conversation when they’re buying the company. They have a head of M&A, but they’re in that conversation, so I thought that we could make that happen, and so far so good.

Zach: Well, no, it’s a great point, and something that you just said rung true with me. I think another example is, like, HSC, right? Like, you talk about health and safety environments, like, the CEO is going to be involved in that conversation by some degree because they recognize the business value and just, like, the imperative of safety for their workplace. Like, they may not be in every single part of the conversation, but they’re going to be engaged. If there are other parts of the organization that executive leaders, that CEOs want to be plugged into, I think it’s interesting. As much growth as diversity and inclusion has seen, I think that certain language and buzzwords kind of, like, trigger disengagement from the senior-most people. So I find that really interesting and powerful that you were able to figure out kind of, like, I don’t want to say the cheat code, but, like, the way to kind of mitigate that a bit.

Michael: Yeah, yeah. Cheat code. I hadn’t thought about it like that, but that’s kind of what it is, and whatever works, you know? Kind of by any means necessary, and so we found that this works, and it not only works in the U.S. When I first did for the for All and started moving it around the world, the first thing we got was resistance because, first of all you’re coming from the U.S., and the racial issues are–in the U.S. they are on display for everyone to see and the rest of the world looks at it, but the rest of the world doesn’t look at themselves, and so the very resistance was “Well, you’re coming from the U.S. We don’t have racial issues,” which is crazy, because it doesn’t matter which country you go to, there’s racial issues. But they’re not seen the same way. They don’t–people don’t really self-reflect in the same way. And then, you know, so I was bumping into that, and then what began to happen was people in Sweden started talking about, “Well, really, you know, women aren’t treated family,” and so for them for All meant that. And so wherever you were in the world – Japan, you know, women, and so there was always some group of people in every country that was treated differently in terms of opportunity and promotion and getting into the C-Suite for example than others. So then it just took off. Then it just took off and really, outside the U.S., it’s been embraced more strongly than inside the U.S., ’cause in the U.S., you know, people do say, “Are you using a cheat code?” You know? They’re kind of more suspicious, but around the world the thing has really just taken off, and, you know, the book is now in I think 11 different languages and so on just because of that, and CEOs now want to be linked a message that gets them a lot of brand value, and so Great Place to Work for All gets them a lot of brand value. If they talk too much about diversity and inclusion, you know, they actually get blowback from the dominant group in the workforce, and so this is a way that they can get out in front and be totally, totally inclusive without saying inclusive.

Zach: It’s interesting too that, like, you know, the amount of work that goes into that, right? How can we be inclusive while at the same time not oversignaling to the point where we actually lose the folks in the room who we need to be engaged to create, you know, systemic change and a sense of belonging for everybody? That really kind of leads me to my next question. You know, you’re the first–yes, you’re the first black male CEO of, like, a major organization or company that we’ve had on Living Corporate, right? So we’ve had, like, different senior leaders and executives and directors, but you’re the first CEO that we’ve had. Can we talk a little bit about the role that your previous experience–’cause you talked about it before, about you were a CEO before this, you had industry experience before coming to Great Place to Work–and how your identity plays a role in some of the things that you do and the relationships that you have to make and maintain in your current position?

Michael: Yeah. A lot of times people will ask, you know, “How do you get to a CEO?” And the answer is I started, you know, my own company in 1994, and so it really began by breaking out of corporate America. So it wasn’t being within it, it was breaking outside of it. There are other journeys. I’m familiar with them. I have, you know, close friends who have done the corporate journey and been able to get to the CEO role. That’s one path. It’s a very different path than the one that I know the most about, which is the entrepreneurial path. And being an entrepreneur isn’t for everybody, just like being a corporate CEO isn’t for everybody. It takes two different personalities and two different skill sets really. But for me, on the entrepreneurial path, it was getting a feeling that I was never gonna really be comfortable in the corporate environment. I was never gonna be comfortable. I was always gonna be doing some shapeshifting in that environment, and so once I broke out, okay, then it was great, because I was able to break out and do the things that I needed to do to be successful, and the thing about, you know, so then how do you grow and how do you get to do more, what you gotta do is make rich people more money. So it’s–the key is that, you know? It’s you better be delivering that value. And so if you create value for people, you have friends for life, and so then you can start to be able to use that momentum. So all of the things that I’ve done, just like Great Place to Work, what I talk about is profitability. What I talk about is cash flow. So I talk to CEOs about the things that matter to them most. It’s all about that. Now, this is the way you do it, but I always go through that door, and I’ve always gone through that door so people know it’s about profitability, it’s about EBITA, it’s about cash flow, it’s about growing market share, and this is the way you do it. You know, this is a way to do it, but it’s a business helping another business do a lot more business. I have the data to prove if you make it a Great Place to Work for All you’re gonna crush your competitors, you know? The companies that are on our list that are Great Places to Work for All outperform the S&P 500, the Russell 2000 and 3000 by a factor of 3:1, including today, you know, as the market drops. Our companies don’t drop as much and they rebound quicker during recovery. So having the data and the analytics, always leading with those numbers, never going to the morally right thing to do but always being about the business enables the CEO to stay there so I can actually–the CEO doesn’t leave the room because there aren’t a lot of D&I people talking about EBITA, earnings and cash flow. They’re talking about other things. So, you know, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just saying–

Zach: It’s just the reality of the environment, right?

Michael: It’s just the reality of the environment, and if you’re talking to a CEO about the things they care about, which are those financial metrics, you can begin to talk to them about a lot of things, because they know they’re talking to somebody that everything I say is gonna be about enhancing those metrics.

Zach: You know, that leads me–Michael, it’s almost like you do this a lot, right? It’s almost like you talk to folks and you do meetings, interviews, quite a bit, ’cause you’re just–you’re helping me out. Without getting too much into the secret sauce, like, we understand that Great Place to Work, like, y’all’s list is not something that’s, like, qualitative, but it’s a variety of quantitative analytics, points of measurement. Can you talk a little bit about how the data analytics behind the Great Place to Work rankings has evolved over time and what influenced, if anything, the way that Great Place to Work determines if a company is indeed a Great Place to Work.

Michael: Yeah. So we ask the same 60 questions of every company we do business with in 98 countries around the world, so that’s one thing that makes us different. Other companies kind of tailor the question set. We’re like, “No. We know people. We’ve got 30 years of data on people.” People, you know, the norms might be different, the willingness of a worker to say what they think and what they want might be–they might be more willing and open to it in one country versus another due to social norms, but at the bottom people want the same thing, and so we measure those things. People want to be respected by the people that they work for, so we ask 11 questions that let us know whether you feel respected or not. People want to work for somebody who they feel is transparent with them, so we ask about 9 questions about that. And people want to be treated fairly more important than anything else, so we ask 14 questions about that. And then people want to enjoy the people that they work with and people want to be proud of their work, which means they feel cared for and they care for the people around them, that’s what really drives high-performing work, people caring about one another. It’s not stock options. Those things don’t have the stamina of people. They have to feel like they’re doing something they couldn’t do on their own and be connected by some sense of purpose. So we measure those things. We ask these questions. We’re an analytics company. It’s all about the numbers, and we do this with 10 million employees and 10,000 companies every year, so across every single industry. There’s not an industry that we don’t survey in. So therefore we’ve got a huge data set to let people know when your people are feeling that in this part of the world things aren’t fair, we tell you what that’s gonna do to EBITA and profitability and earnings and revenue in that part of the world. We can go straight to the correlation between the employee experience and revenue and these financial metrics, and in some metrics we can go to some causation. We can actually tell you if people aren’t feeling emotionally or psychologically or physically safe, those, what I just said, safety defined with those other three attributes drives earnings, you know? It drives earnings is how safe people feel, so we measure those things and therefore can let you know, “Hey, when we see this set of data, we know these people are updating their LinkedIn profiles. They may still be working for you, but they are looking for the next thing to do. So we call it presenteeism. They’re present, but they are looking for a way out. So now the data can be used with artificial intelligence to predict what’s gonna happen with people. You can see that a person pulls on their–the economy is going good and a person pulls on their 401K and then doesn’t return in time not to pay a penalty on that. This person’s undergoing some financial pressure, and the financial pressure they’re going through affects through employee experience, so we can alert a company that “Hey, you’ve got a problem here because we can see in this data.” So it’s all about the data, it’s all about the 60 questions, and we measure the employee experience, how they feel about the people they work with, whether they feel like management involves them in decisions that affect them, whether they trust management, whether they have confidence in management. So we ask a set of questions where we can let a leader know exactly what’s going on and then compare that so we can–if you’re a tech company and you get the data and you don’t really know what to think, well, we have a benchmark against other tech companies, and then you go “Whoa, okay, these companies are actually outperforming me in these areas. I want to do something about it.” So benchmarking is very important. You can see how Latin America is doing versus South America versus North America or men versus women or people of color versus majority or members of the LGBTQ community versus the majority. You can do all the demographic cuts. The biggest change we made in our methodology since I got involved were these demographic comparisons to see if it was a great place to work for all versus a great place to work for some. That’s the revolutionary breakthrough that we’ve made, and so our lists today are different from the lists in the past because we reward companies that treat everyone the same, where employees are having the same experience and the same in an equitable way, which we’re able to measure.

Zach: You know, you talked a bit about–you mentioned, like, predictive analytics there, and I’m curious, how far away–and if we’re already here, then let me know, but how far away are we from predicting, like, lawsuits or, like, legal action by employees who feel, like, psychologically, emotionally, physically unsafe, who feel, like, discriminated against and things of that nature and then, like, present that to organizations and say, “Hey, look, you have a serious problem, and here’s the likelihood of X happening, and then here’s the amount of damages that would cost to your brand over X amount of time.” Do you think we’re anywhere close to that? Do you think that’s anything that would be relevant or pertinent for organizations to have?

Michael: Well, for some companies they’re able to do it right now, and you’re talking about where we’re heading, absolutely where we’re heading. So if you’ve got an HR system of record on Oracle or a [?] or an SAP or Ultimate software, if you’ve got an HR system of record–which is a platform that has the payroll information on the employee, the use of benefits on the employee, something around the performance management of the employee, and you have an employee engagement tool that’s doing the measuring, and those two are nested and the data can flow between them, you have what you need. And so there are other companies who have what they need and others are heading there now. This is the movement to be able to ask an employee a set of questions and predict what’s going on with them and what you need to create a better experience for that employee, which is usually around development and opportunities and promotions and feedback. That’s mainly what most people need. Sometimes tailored benefits around things that are going on in their life, like everybody’s kind of living through right now. So this is happening at companies now. I’m very much aware of it. We’re involved in it by nesting our tool on top of these other platforms, but I would say big companies, Fortune 500 companies, will be totally in this game in 5 years, you know, 100%, and then products will be developed for medium-sized companies and will be in the marketplace–you know, start to enter in about 3 years.

Zach: I just find that so intriguing, right? Like, I think about the fact that there’s already tools out there that are being mobilized within the next, like, half–within this decade, right? We’re gonna start seeing–

Micheal: Easily, yeah. At the end of the decade this will–we won’t be talking about this.

Zach: It won’t even be a point of discussion. It’s gonna be “Hey, look, no. Your data says this. There’s an X percent chance of this happening, and we need to make some adjustments now.”

Michael: It’s absolutely gonna happen, and so machines are already now–at Amazon machines are recommending people for promotion. Machines are recommending people for termination. Machines are doing that. So they’re kind of on the cutting edge. Not saying that they’re doing that in a great way, I’m just saying–

Zach: The technology is out there and it’s happening.

Michael: It’s out there. They’re using machine learning tools to make those decisions. Others are going to move on that, and the key is how do you do those things in a way that employees can trust it? Which is a big difference between machine learning and artificial intelligence when there is no trust and a big difference between machine learning and artificial intelligence when there is trust, and if you think about the 60 questions we answer, what are we really, really measuring? It’s trust. That’s really what we’re measuring. Now, we can define it in all its dimensions, but it’s trust. Respect is a part of trust. Credibility, transparency is a part of trust. Fairness is a part of trust. So trust is really what we’re measuring. We could just double-click all over it to get you additional information, but it’s all about trust.

Zach: You know, I think–and for me, I’m always curious about when it comes to these lists–and I say this as somebody, of course I love what y’all are doing. I love Great Place to Work. It’s the definitive listing space, right? I think it’s also interesting because as a black man who has a network of a ton of black and brown people, right, like, we’ll look at some of these lists and like, “Dang, okay.” I recognize that the overall maybe brand of a company may be really strong, and it’s ranked or whatever, but then I wonder like, “Okay, how do I reconcile that with, like, stories that I’m hearing from marginalized people who have had, like, real challenges at these companies?” And I’m curious to know, like, where do you see Great Place to Work continuing to grow and expand to capture, like, marginalized voices and experiences?

Michael: Yeah. So Zachary, that’s where I was in 2015, exactly where you were, meaning looking at a company–at that time thinking about buying it, looking at the list of the places that were ranked as Great Places to Work, and I knew people of color having horrible experiences in those companies. That’s why I bought it, because I’m like, “I think we can do something about this. We can reorder it.” And if you look at, you know, 2014, 2013, the companies at the top of that list, they’re not at the top now, okay? They’re not at the top now, so that’s really what happened, but I was exactly where you were and definitely driven to do that. So what it has enabled is, you know, I’m not satisfied by any means. I’m satisfied by the progress, but not by where we are. You know, the thing I talk about it, the bullseye all the time for me is 2030, that that’s when we need to get this right, which means–you know, our analytics are driven by algorithms, and so you’ve got to continually modify the algorithms, and when you modify the algorithm, you’ve got to live with that algorithm and its output for a year, then you modify it and you’ve got to live with it for a year. So it’s frustrating because it takes a long time, but, you know, we’re at the place now where we can say to a company that “Hey, we’ve measured the experience of different demographic groups, people of color, and we can double-click on it and so on, and their experience is very different from these other groups, therefore you’re falling down or off the list.” We can do it on that basis now, which that wasn’t happening in 2015. There was no way of doing it. We do it now. So we call it maximizing human potential. That’s another cheat code, but what it is is we compare one demographic group to another. We reward companies where the gap is small and we penalize companies where the gap is huge. So you can no longer be “80% of our people are having a great time.” We go into the people who have given a one or a two response on the Likert scale, you know, that are saying, “My manager involves me in the decisions that affect me? Never or almost never.” Okay, well, we grab that group and compare it and put–we give weight to that, a group that it was never done. Another thing is–you know, in terms of there’s other lists out there that are recognizing companies, none of them are surveying employees. So really those are marketing-driven exercises.

Zach: Right. Those are smiley faces, right?

Michael: They are. You know, they’re just doing something very different, and so for us, we can let you know–like our diversity lists. You know, there’s a few diversity lists, you know, kind of out in the world that are well-known. There’s only one that measures and scores the experience of under-represented people. That’s Great Place to Work. Our list is driven by their experience, so it doesn’t matter, you know, frankly, what white males think about their work experience. We don’t measure it for those lists. You know, we don’t measure it for those lists. We look at underrepresented people. That’s what drives that list. We look at their experience, because that’s what it is. For the 100 Best we look at everybody, but we don’t for that. So it took us a while, because if I had done that immediately I’d be out of business. So, you know, you’ve got to build some brand strength and get people to, you know, understand what you’re doing and that you’re a rational person who wants to grow their business. So it took some time, but we’re almost there. I don’t feel like we’re there right now. We’re almost there where we are just pulling in representation into our final ranking criterion. So I feel like we’re just about there, and it’s enabling us to have some great CEOs who loved being on our list, but now we’re able to say, “Hey, guess what?” Even though, you know, we have some companies that, you know, 60, 70% of their workforce are people of color, and they’re having a great experience, which is great, but then we look at the top team and we’re like, “That doesn’t look like them.” But the good news is you can have that disconnect and a group of people having a great experience. So that’s wonderful, but just think how much better they could be if they could look up and say, “Hey, if I keep working real hard, it’s possible for me to get there.” “I feel respected now, but I’d really feel respected if that’s true.” So we’re able to talk to CEOs and say, “I know you’re happy now.” Nobody in hospitality is happy today, but [?] they were happy, 90 days ago they were happy, and you could say, “I know this is great, and I know you’re providing a great experience for these people, all these people. That’s incredible. We think, you know, the world of you, but you need to do something about this because you’ll really unlock them,” and the kind of CEOs we deal with, which are the ones who get how this drives their profitability and earnings–and most of these have some moral connection as well in the way that they want to be seen and the way that they want their families to see them. That’s kind of another lens that affects a CEO’s mindset. So then they go, “Okay, look, I got it,” and they don’t have to do it, but they choose to do it. So that’s when I know, “Okay, this is working now,” that this is enabling them to be who they want to be. And a lot of CEOs, I’ve done a lot of work on the following where you have a CEO moving through their career and just having a great career, a lot of power, a lot of influence, they’re happy and satisfied, and then they have a daughter. It changes ’em forever, because then they’re like, “I want my daughter to get paid equal pay,” but at the company they’re running, it’s not happening. All of a sudden they start to look at equal pay differently because they had a daughter. I’ve seen this time and time again, a CEO with a daughter, a CEO with a kid with autism, a CEO with a kid with mental health issues. It modifies the behavior of that CEO and how they–which is great, but that shape-shifting move blows the door open for being a great place to work for all. Now it becomes their thing. They start saying it because they have this new desire to do something and to change the way that others view them and the way that they view themselves.

Zach: So first of all this has been an incredible conversation, and, you know, we’re coming up on time, Michael, but what I want to do is I want to go back to a word that you used earlier, trust, and really that a lot of these questions go back to–the rankings and the analytics go back to–quantifying trust, and I’m curious to know if you could give us, like, three points of thought that executives should be thinking about when it comes to building better trust within organizations? What would those three points be?

Michael: I think that fairness is the most important. So the way you treat a group of people, whether they be analytics versus non-analytics, accountants versus engineers, you need to treat people the same. People read when you’re not doing that. They are paying attention to whether you’re doing that or not. So being consistent in the way you talk to people, respond to people, what you tweet and what you don’t, it matters. So fairness is what’s most important, and then making sure your actions–if you say that, you know, diversity drives innovation, people are gonna look and see if you really think that’s true. So if you’re saying diversity drives innovation and your executive team is not diverse, then now you lose credibility and you’re not being transparent and people think it’s not fair. The whole pyramid collapses based on you saying one thing and you’re actually doing another, and then you want to take a look at your board of directors. You want to take a look at your executive team. You want to take a look at your pipeline and make sure that in 2023 things are going to be different. You want to make sure companies now are restructuring or laying people off. Well, look at the pool that you’re laying off. Look at the pool you’re restructuring. If you’re not careful you’re gonna erase ten years of gains is what you’re doing right now. So these are the things that build trust. These are the things, fairness more important than anything else. The reason there’s resistance to D&I efforts is somehow white men–some–feel like money’s being taken out of their pockets.

Zach: Right, this scarcity mindset, right?

Michael: Yeah, the zero sum game, so you have to–if you have an ERG for African-American professionals, Asian-American professionals, you need to have one that a white male says, “I identify with this one. I identify with this one.” They gotta have one too. You can’t ignore anyone. It has to be for all.

Zach: Michael, this has been great. I just gotta thank you again. Before we go, I’ll give you a chance – any shout-outs or parting words, man?

Michael: I think that entrepreneurism is a journey that’s not for everybody. If you’re thinking about it explore it, you know? Talk to some entrepreneurs and see what it’s like, but do an honest check with you as to whether or not it’s good for you. And then if you’re in the corporate environment, lead with the data. You know, the data is what you’re gonna need. And know that even if you have all the data, if there are people who aren’t interested in diversity and inclusion, you know, the data’s not gonna get it done. So, you know, get the data, use the data, make your case with the data, and if you find things are still slow, that’s because the leader you’re talking to just doesn’t want to make a difference. You know, they don’t want to change, and so then I’d update my LinkedIn profile and try to find some place where people are using data in the way that they use it for every other decision, whether it be M&A or anything else. You don’t want anything different in the D&I area. You just want the consistent behavior, but don’t bang your head too long or you’re gonna find yourself with a headache.

Zach: Michael, thank you so much, man. Look, we’re gonna talk to you soon. We consider you a friend of the show. Honored, pleasure to have you. All right, y’all, so that does it for us. This has been Zach with Living Corporate. You know what we do. We’re having these authentic conversations even during the rona. I pray that everyone is staying safe out there. You know where to check us out. You can just Google us. We’re all over the place, okay? Living Corporate. You type that in and we’re gonna pop up on something. You make sure you check us out on our website, living-corporate–please say the dash–dot com, or livingcorporate.co, livingcorporate.org, livingcorporate.net, livingcorporate.tv, livingcorporate.us, okay? Livingcorporate dot… shoot, all the livingcorporates except for livingcorporate.com. We’ve already talked about this. So if you type in livingcorporate.com it’s gonna take you to some Australian website. [?] Australia, but we don’t have that domain, okay? So livingcorporate.co, .us, .tv, or living-corporate.com. ‘Til next time, y’all. This has been Zach. You’ve been listening to Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. Catch y’all next time. Peace.

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