Zach sits down with DEI consultant Jillian Hubbard to talk about the current landscape of corporate D&I and the systemic ways organizations and institutions need to shift to create equitable and inclusive cultures. Check the links in the show notes to connect with Jillian and to find out more about the organizations she shouted out!
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Check out Jillian Hubbard Consulting’s website by clicking here.
Zach: What’s up, y’all, it’s Zach with Living Corporate here. Thankful, you know, thankful that we’re coming up on the holiday season. I can’t be the only person–in fact, I know for a fact I’m not the only person who needs a break, who is tired, who is exhausted, and frankly, you know, anxious about the rest of this year and 2021. I’m really excited. You know, every single week, we come to y’all with some content that centers and amplifies Black and brown people at work, and we’re having conversations with all types of individuals, right? We’re talking to activists and entrepreneurs and executives and influencers and writers and professors, civil servants, right, like, the list goes on and on and on, and I’m thankful for the person we’re going to talk to today. Before I get to that, I want to talk a little bit about human resources. And it’s relevant, right, to the guest that we have today. Human resources is supposed to be, right, an organization that helps to advocate for employees who need it. Unfortunately, often times human resources becomes, like, the enforcement arm of the the folks who have the power, right? And so, you know, when you think about the future of this work, and scarily how things I felt were trending for a while under Trump’s administration, it seemed as if more and more power was going to be indexed to those who are in charge, right? So the people who have the power getting more power, and those on the margins continuing to be further marginalized. And there’s been an over-arching critique of the role that human resources should play in this era, where sycophancy seems to be the ever-growing trend. And frankly, that’s still a question, right? I mean, like, you hear it all the time. People talk about “Look, HR is not your friend. HR there for the company.” You know, “They’re not there for you. They’re there to protect the company, protect the company from lawsuits. They’re not there to, you know, right wrongs.” And I would say I still in large part believe that, but there has to be some examination and interrogation as to the future of human resources and what human resources as a party, right, as a player on the board, what role they’re going to play, and it raises a lot of really interesting questions even, like, psychologically, because human resources, their employees are like everybody else, and we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. There’s still pressure, right, to keep your job and to justify your value, and if you’re in a role that is supposed to be advocating for business ethics and doing the right thing and protecting employees but you’re also sticking your head up in a time where you really need your job… Which of those things went out, right? I think we know the answer. This is a really interesting dichotomy and challenge, I think, for any human being, and at the same time, that’s the job. Right? So all of that to say, really excited about the guest that we have on this week, Jillian Hubbard. So Jillian and I, we actually connected several months ago before the pandemic, right? Before there was this collective call to consciousness, before a Black man was murdered on camera, which we’ve already forgotten about–before the election, right, before the results of that election. And even now, like, you know, before the things that have already happened in just the past week. Like, we connected, like, at the top of the year, and so then we re-recorded later in the year after the birth of my daughter, after the murder of Breonna Taylor, after the murder of George Floyd. We connected well after that, and yet this interview is still a little dated because so much has continued to happen in this very, very long year, but what I’m thankful for is that this conversation is still relevant. Right? Jillian Hubbard is a consultant specializing in DEI, diversity, equity and inclusion, talent development, organizational development. Through her work, she supports leaders and organizations to create more more inclusive environments increase their effectiveness by empowering the human capital. And so she’s been able to work across education, nonprofit, corporate and government sectors. We talk a lot about her background in human resources before she got into the DEI consulting. We talked about how her work has continued to shift and change in light of the social climate and the pressures that she feels as a Black woman in white-majority spaces talking to white people about their own whiteness. So I’m really excited about this conversation, and I’m excited for us to get into it. Before we do that, I want us to go ahead and TAP In with Tristan. See y’all in a minute.
Tristan: What’s going on, Living Corporate? It’s Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. This week let’s talk about how to stand out while working remotely. Some of us have been working remotely for a while, and some of us are just settling into working from home due to COVID-19. Either way, it can be challenging to figure out how to stand out and advance in your career when you’re not actually in the office. I have over 7 years of experience working remotely for Fortune 500 companies. When I first started, I had to learn how to adapt to ensure I could still get recognition and promotions to continue advancing my career. Here are my top 3 recommendations to continue making forward progress in your career. First, show up and be present. While I know it can be easier only to use audio for meetings, I’d suggest turning your camera on. You want your boss, your team, and others you work with to get as much face to face interaction with you as possible to mimic how it would be in the office. This helps people attach a face to the name and allow you to develop better connections. Also, make sure to pay attention to how you are presenting on screen. From staging your work area and getting dressed to being mindful of facial expressions and body language, it all plays into your professional brand as a remote employee. Second, take the time to reach out to your team, boss, and peers. When working remotely, building personal relationships is incredibly important. The goal is to develop fans, advocates, and sponsors, people who will sing your praises in rooms and meetings you’re not in. They can help raise your profile and even help you get to the next level in your career. Lastly, you have to become your own biggest advocate by mastering the art of self-promotion. Most of us have been taught not to talk about ourselves but promoting yourself at work is essential to career growth and recognition. Make sure you’re documenting and sharing wins to boost visibility and your professional brand. You can also utilize that information during your performance reviews to make a case for raises and promotions. Thanks for tapping in with me this week. I look forward to speaking with you next week! This tip was brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @LayfieldResume or connect with me, Tristan Layfield, on LinkedIn.
Zach: Jillian, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Jillian: It’s funny, I was like, “I’m doing well.” but, like, that’s also very relative. In this exact moment, I’m doing well. I’m excited to be here with you and super grateful to be recording this.
Zach: You know, I’m super, super thankful and grateful for you as well. So I gave a quick introduction, but for those of us who don’t know you, like, what else can you tell us about yourself?
Jillian: Yeah, absolutely. So I have been doing work around diversity, equity and inclusion for about 10 years or so in a number of different capacities. In some cases that is within organizations, external to organizations. I’ve been an advisor to others doing this work. I’ve also been a builder of programs and initiatives around this work. I primarily work with education organizations and nonprofit organizations, though I will say in the last few months, as things have been picking up, I’ve also been working with startups, tech companies, all kinds of organizations. And yeah, the work that I’ve done around talent development and organization development informs a lot of what I do. So quick, additional info about me, but happy to share more.
Zach: I know that you started off in HR, but then, like, you transitioned into independent consulting, and I’m curious about that. It seems like I’m seeing a pattern of high-performing Black women who also have just a low tolerance for–I shouldn’t say a low tolerance. I mean, who are just–they get exhausted, right, by the trappings of the corporate space and just end up, like, building their own things. And I’m curious about, like, is what that journey looked like for you.
Jillian: Yeah, it’s funny because you said a low tolerance for nonsense. I was like, “Yes!” But at the same time, you know, for me, the shift was over really around knowing that this was a passion of mine to do work in diversity, equity and inclusion. I mean, the spark of it for me and really being able to concretize for me was actually in grade school. I was in high school and I had a class that really started to solidify for me, “Wow, all the things that I’m experiencing as a Black woman, a light-skinned Black woman in a suburban high school that’s primarily white, but being, you know, bused out from the inner city in Boston through the METCO program,” for those of you who are familiar with it, but through that program to the suburban white school and having all of the different dynamics that show up with that, you know, this has been an interest of mine for quite some time. And so being in a space where I knew that this was work that I really wanted to do in organizations, and not necessarily being able to do that despite the number of projects that I worked on, the number of things that I did off the side of my desk that were not part of my job description, the number of different ways that I helped people advance their thinking around it. And, you know, years later, being able to look and see that some of the work that I did was foundational to how organizations, some of the organizations I worked with, carry that forward. Essentially, it was just a number of different reasons why I left, but part of it is just recognizing that the system wasn’t built for people like me and feeling like you don’t fit into that system, and no matter how hard you try to configure yourself to fit into it it’s not built for you. So I was actually just having a conversation with someone else yesterday about this, that the largest growing demographic of entrepreneurs is women of color, particularly Black women. So it’s fascinating. I mean, I don’t think that it’s a mistake that those are the people who are leaving corporations to do their own thing and create their own work, but it’s kind of shocking to see those kinds of numbers.
Zach: You know, when you say–’cause that’s a common phrase that Black folks use is, like, “built for us.” When you say it’s not built for us, what do you what do you mean by that?
Jillian: Yeah. There’s so many different ways. I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is just in how you show up. You know, I think back to one of the last teams that I worked on, and I think for myself, you know, I know this isn’t speaking for everybody, but for me, people of color in particular I think are more kind of communal and collaborative. Like, if we have problems, “Oh, let me go ask my friend, let me go ask my girl,” like, whoever about, you know, what their input is, how we can collaborate together as a group. And one of the last teams I was in, we were tasked with innovating on some of the products and responsible for delivering to our clients, and I had some ideas around different ways we could innovate, but knowing that there was [?] on my team I asked my manager and other teammates about their input, and the feedback that I ended up getting from them was that I wasn’t being proactive, which, essentially, they were asking me to come up with the idea, pitch it, say why it was the best idea, and then they would say it’s a go or it’s not a go. And that was much more, frankly, of a white-dominant way of looking at ways to be innovative and to think about how we support and enhance our products that we do. But the way that I was showing up, and what was valued for me and what was valued in the cultures that I grew up in, was something that was more collaborative, and you have more people giving input. So, I mean, that’s just an example of that, but there’s so many other structural ways that speak into it as well.
Zach: It reminds me of, like, a discussion that we had with Dr. Tema Okun, you know, a couple months ago about white supremacy culture and, like, the subtle but, like, at the same time very well–like, strongly felt ways that white supremacy shows up, right? And so, you know, like, just this idea of perfectionism, this weird sense of urgency, hyper-individualism, right, almost in a way that like–that almost looks at community as a weakness, right, in terms of, you know, if I ask you for something or if I ask for input, that must be a sign of incompetence on my part, where it’s like, “Uh, I’d just like to talk about it,” right? Also just kind of operating from, like, the scarcity mindset of taking, which is–so I get that, I get that. I’m curious, you know, you talked about your transition and the work that you’ve been doing in diversity and inclusion. I’d like to talk about what does that shift look like since the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and this, like, revitalized or renewed interest in Black equity? You know, I feel like this question even would look different if I asked you this in June. And I’m curious about, you know, what you’ve seen since George Floyd and then if that has changed at all. I’d love to get your perspective on that.
Jillian: Yeah. So one of the questions that I get a lot– it’s a corollary to what you’re asking. You know, “Jillian, you’ve been in this space for a while and talked to a lot of people who are thinking about this work. Do you think that this is where we’re actually going to make significant change and this is going to be the turning point for racial equity in our country?” And I tend to be more on the pessimistic side of that, but at the same time, I also think of it as more of a [?]. I’m kind of holding my hands up, six inches of space between it. If people are on a spectrum of, you know, somewhere between my hands, basically, everybody can kind of I think–after what’s happened in the last few months, I think everyone has kind of moved forward on that spectrum a little bit. So the people who might be on, you know, the left hand end of the spectrum, and they’re not as into this work, they’re not as aware of it, and they’re not as aware of themselves in this work. You know, I think they shifted and moved forward. I think some of the people who are probably further along in this work have become more aware of how they can create change and just more committed to this work. So, you know, I say that as a beginning answer to your question, because I think that, you know, I’ve gotten, oh, my gosh, an inordinate amount of requests for work, which I’m grateful and blessed for because I know many people do not have work during this time, but it’s been an extreme surge in the number of people asking for work. Now, there are some people who are asking for support around diversity and equity and inclusion in a way that is really holistic, and they’re taking into account, you know, how do we show up? How does [?] play into it? How does my bodily response to the way that my own person shows up in the space play into it, and how does that impact internally the staff and our leaders? And how does it impact our customers and our stakeholders, our funders?” So there’s some people thinking about it in that way, but I’ve also gotten a lot of requests about “Well, can you do this training for us?” And, you know, “That’ll kind of be the thing that we do to express diversity, equity and inclusion in our organization.” And so, you know, I definitely think that people are more aware of this work, and wherever you were on that spectrum, before everything that happened in June took place, I think people have moved forward a bit. But at the same time, I think there’s work to do on all aspects of that. What I’m seeing in my work is that there are just more people who are trying to engage in it from a new level of understanding or a new–possibly a new level of curiosity around this.
Zach: You talked a little bit about your skin tone. I’m curious about, you know, how would you say that your experience, as you show up in these spaces, as a light-skinned Black woman differ than if you were a darker-skinned Black woman?
Jillian: Yeah. I mean, first, colorism is real. You know, I–speaking with a number of colleagues who are in this space, who are Black women who have darker skin than I do, I find that I have a different experience. So, you know, part of it–and I’ve been kind of reflecting on this with a number of different people in my space–is that the assumption I’m making from the feedback that I get is that I come off as a little bit more tolerable. People will talk to me and share things with me about what’s going on in their organization, or leaders will share things about how they’re really feeling about, you know, how they’re showing up and how their team is performing, and I’ve shared that with some of my other colleagues who have darker skin than me and they’re like, “I’ve never heard a leader say something like that before.” And so, you know, it’s interesting, because in some ways, I think that people will look to me as the person that they feel very comfortable with talking about this work, and it’s also a bit of a shame because, you know, when it comes to this work, everybody’s got their own qualifications around who can really talk about this and what experiences they have to lend, but in the spectrum of privilege, like, I acknowledge the privilege that I have around having light skin and doing this work and showing up in corporate spaces, or whatever number of sites that I work in, but the people who are the most marginalized, the people who, you know, are on the edge of how societies designed and not the ones who are considered, are also the ones who can offer an extreme amount of value when it comes to thinking about this work. And so when people either have discomfort around working with people who are different from them, look different from them, have different experiences than them, and they’re not really taking the time to examine those but, you know, feel very comfortable with me as the light-skinned woman is [?]. So, you know, there’s so much that can be missed out on and so many opportunities that can be lost.
Zach: And so, you know, because of the color of your skin and the approximation that you have to whiteness, do you ever have moments where you end up kind of, like, surprising the white people that open up to you or say certain things? They’re like, “Oh, actually, I can’t just say, “Oh, you’re not some acceptable Negro.” Like, do those moments ever happen?
Jillian: Yeah, they definitely do. You know, if anything, one of the coaches that I work with, we’ve kind of been talking about that is one of the benefits that I bring to this work, where it’s like, they kind of bring me in and I seem like this–I have a very young looking face, so I also look very young, super approachable for the most part, and so people will kind of, you know, bring me and think, “Oh, this sweet little person is just going to talk about bias, and we’re all gonna feel really comfortable and great once she’s left,” and then I’m like, “Let’s talk about the thing.” Like, “I know you don’t want to name racism. You don’t want to name anti-Blackness. You don’t want to name all of these things. Let’s just talk about it.” And, you know, people will walk away feeling a number of different things. I think some of it is the discomfort around it. Some of it is a little bit of shock, and for the people who I think were probably further along on that spectrum that I was describing, some people are actually more appreciative. They’re like, “Oh, wow, you know, yes, she came in,” and one of the things that I really try to do when I work with people is to meet people where they’re at. I don’t think that approaching this work from a place of, you know, condemnation or shame is helpful in any way. So, you know, I do try and meet people in a place where they’re in their learning zone and not kind of the, you know, fear zone or danger zone. But, you know, I think the people who are willing to dive into this work will say, “Oh, [?]. We started to talk about the things that in our organization and our normal ways of going about things we can’t actually talk about on our own,” or we just don’t, you know? People are capable of many things. But yeah, people aren’t always talking about this, so a little surprise factor behind the young, light-skinned face.
Zach: Well, it’s interesting because, like, there are times that–well, we’re not even talking about, like, this newer context of, like, talking and working through webcam, and sometimes webcam is–often people presume certain things about you, about the way that you speak and things that they’ll slip up and say or presume that you would [?]. It’s interesting as well. So anyway, you know, you have a background in human capital, human resources. I do want to talk more about your transition from HR to diversity and inclusion, and then I’d like to really get your perspective on, like, the relationship you believe that those two spaces should have with one another.
Jillian: Yeah, I will, again, name my privilege in that space. So one of the first jobs that I had, I worked in an organization, it’s an organization in New York, they’re phenomenal. They do work around mentoring, and I met a consultant there who–she and I, on my way out, when I was like, “This isn’t the place for me. This isn’t the work that I want to be doing. It’s not how I want to grow.” You know, she and I kind of started talking, and she ran her own consulting organization. She’s a brown woman as well. And so she, you know, she offered me some opportunities to do some work around a project that she was working on that was actually around freelancers, which is something that I was looking to do. And so it was my first time stepping into the freelance space. She gave me some opportunities to do some work on the [side?] for her and I got to do some research around, you know, what does that space really look like, what are the demographics of the people who are doing it? What are the topics that people who are just stepping into the space really care about? So, you know, I was really privileged to be able to start practicing my own kind of contract work and what it looked like for me to be independent in this work while also simultaneously working on a project that also provided me with education around this and [mentorship?] and support. So, after [?] I actually did go back to work for a while. You know, jumping into a contract role after full time work, when you’re not entirely convinced that you want to do freelancing full time, was a big leap, and so I kind of went back for some stability, but continued to do freelance work on the side. I eventually got to the point at that second organization I was working with where I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do the work that I cared the most about around diversity, equity and inclusion without doing it on my own. Just at that point I think I had talked to enough people, made enough connections, that I felt comfortable breaking out. And then at the same time that I decided to quit my full time job, make freelancing a full time gig instead of a part time thing I did on the side or moonlighting, I also started grad school in a program that was also very much geared towards organization development and also geared toward external consultants and practitioners. So, you know, I talk to people all the time who are questioning their own careers and thinking about their next steps and might have some interest in freelancing or doing their own work, and I try really hard to hold back because I don’t want to prescribe for anybody what the best work situation is for them. But, you know, I do believe that there are ways that, no matter what situation you’re in, you can find a way to make a work life that works for you. And I also acknowledge the number of privileges I had in my own journey, getting into a space where I started working for myself. So yeah.
Zach: So considering your background, I’d love to get your perspective on the relationship you believe diversity and inclusion efforts should have with corporate human resources.
Jillian: A lot of times I will see diversity, equity and inclusion kind of seated underneath HR, and I’m a big proponent of having diversity, equity, inclusion, whatever you want to call it, DNI, DEI, being something that actually reports directly to the CEO. Because essentially, yes, in order to have, you know, someone giving some oversight, you want to have some role or department or someone who’s responsible for doing that work, but the closer that it can get to the people or person who is running the organization, the more likely you are to be able to have this work actually integrated. So that’s kind of my first thing, and if you are in a situation where you are able to have those two separated out, the partnership between your DEI department and your department is one that I feel needs to be really strong. You know, I think, you know, with HR, it serves a number of purposes, and on some level, people break it up as, like, you know, there’s the talent things that you do, and the work to help people, and so being able to team up both of those with the work that people are doing in the DEI department is essential. I mean, everything from how we think about how we compensate people to, you know, what are the trainings and resources that we offer? I mean, ultimately, I think that the way that HR needs to look at this kind of work, and hopefully it can be from a more radical space, I think it’s really easy for HR to kind of fall into a place [of] recruit, retain, hire people without really thinking about, “Wait a minute, how is our organization structured?” You know, we’re the leaders who are pushing this work forward. Are they themsealves embodying the changes that we want to see in order to create a space where people can really show up as themselves? How can we, as an HR department, really support that? And I think the more that HR can start to look at itself more holistically, which in part is about looking at your systems and things that you do, but also HR professionals looking at themselves and seeing the ways that they may perpetuate dynamics of white supremacy or oppression, really helps to start to examine the ways that you can be more radical and more progressive and thinking about how you actually create these spaces where people can can be their full selves.
Zach: When we initially talked some time ago, we talked about data, and we talked about that still being a genuine weak spot, weak area within DEI, amongst many other things. But I’m curious, like, in this time, have you seen an increased demand or expectation around data, sharing critical thought around data? I think about, like, just the various changes that we’re seeing in these organizations, like people getting fired, people resigning, you know, Black employees writing, you know, open letters, things of that nature, and like, where, if at all, does a demand or expectation around data play?
Jillian: Yeah, definitely. I mean, in terms of the demand piece, one thing that happened and I’m really grateful to see is that a lot of the requests that I’m seeing come in are, rather than starting with a training, which, you know, everybody kind of starts where they need to start, but rather than starting with the training they’re saying, “Okay, before we start to diagnose the situation, let’s actually get some more information about what it is in our organization that we want to start addressing. Where are the pain points, you know, where are people who are more marginalized, not feeling included? Where is the system not benefiting them in the way that it’s benefiting people in the majority?” White people, men and so forth. So that’s been really heartening just to see, and there’s some organizations as well where they started off thinking that they wanted the training and the more people that they talked to and conversations that they had around, you know, who to engage around that work as a consultant, the more that they started to see, “Oh, we actually need to figure out what’s going on in our organization before we start diagnosing the problem and solving it with trainings and so forth.” So, first, that’s been really heartening.
Zach: So it’s interesting, you know, we talk about training, you know, so again–I mention him from time to time, Chris Moreland, and, you know, he came on some time ago, and we talked about basically how pointless training is in this space, and then Dr. Pamela Newkirk said the same thing in her book Diversity, Inc., and she came on the show and said–she said something similar, and I’m curious of, like, your position on training as a solution. And then also, like, if you agree that training is a solution, like, what should that training look like? What should it be trying to achieve?
Jillian: As a solution? I disagree. I do not think that. Anyway–I’m sorry for laughing. I don’t think the training is a solution in any way for diversity, equity and inclusion, and I’m laughing because I think that, you know, when we really holistically think about this issue, I mean, I’ve heard everything from “It’s a 400 to 500 year problem,” but in any event, it’s a multi-hundred year problem, depending on where you put your starting points, and having a training about something like this, it is beneficial in the sense that it could give the people in your organization a starting point. If you’ve never had those conversations with your staff, this can be a great place to start building that language into your vocabulary and how you think about your own work. I mean, that’s what I really think of trainings as. I think of them as education. I think it’s foundational education that you can then decide to do something with or not. I mean, how many of us have gotten our undergraduate degrees and it relates in no way to what we’re actually doing in our jobs? So, you know, as long as you’re finding ways to apply it, which I think is kind of the second piece of, you know, what are other ways that we can start to use that training to then start to mobilize around the work that we want to do? How do we apply this concept of anti-bias to our recruiting systems and our promotion systems, retention systems? How do we look at it when people are exiting our organization? And how do we think about how we can, you know, better structure our everything, from performance management to manager training to everything really, so that we actually keep these people. So it’s a great starting point for some folks if that’s where you’re at. And in terms of structuring the training, I’ll start by talking about how I structure some of mine. I’m actually a very light facilitator. I don’t do a whole lot of talking, I wouldn’t consider myself a trainer. I’m definitely more of a facilitator or workshop leader. So when people have an opportunity to really play around with it, dig into it, and apply it to their own organization, and then at the end of all, I always have some kind of opportunity for people to think about next steps. I may have some recommendations for general thinking around this, but otherwise, the two hours you spent with me can just be a really nice two hours that you spent. And so I’m trying to make this something where people actually take it forward and do something with it.
Zach: I think about the fact that, like, a lot of these organizations, they still treat training as the solution, even in this moment, right? Like, I’ve had people reach out and ask, “Hey, can you come in? Can you do a talk?” You know, “Can you come in and kind of, like, help us understand the value of D&I and give us awareness on D&I.” Or, like, “Can you do unconscious bias training?” Like, why do you think that that’s the solution in this moment? Still? Like, George Floyd wasn’t unconsciously murdered. Like, what are you talking about? I don’t understand. I don’t understand, or rather I do understand, but, like, my analysis is gonna be so sharp, because my take–my take is that you do know, but you’re still seeking to hedge your bets and not engage the reality of white supremacy, and you’re still looking to, like, really reaffirm and protect your own interests, which is conscienceless. Like, it makes me question if you have a conscience. I’m taken aback by that. Like even now, right, like, people can–I’m not gonna speak for you, I’ll speak for myself, but, like, I’m getting to the point where I’m numb. I’m growing increasingly numb to the murder and, like, the brutality and the dehumanization of Black and brown bodies that we see on social media every day. You know what I’m saying? But I don’t know how much of any of this is internalized or even, like, processed by, like, the average white executive, you know?
Jillian: It’s so easy to remove yourself from that. I mean, it’s so easy when–I was gonna say, “It’s so easy when it’s not in your face,” but I think people are also very good at not seeing something when it is in your face. So, you know, I think it’s really easy when you see this happening over and over, and I definitely have a conflict about putting these murders like this out for the public to see on one level, because I think there’s a population of people who really don’t believe this is a thing that’s happening. But on another level, if you keep seeing this over and over, it almost becomes a norm. It’s like, “Oh, yeah, another one. That stinks.” And that’s not–we’re talking about people. I think in this work, sometimes we miss our own humanity around this. Like, we, especially organizations, it’s like we are so focused on our goals for this year, our bottom line, you know, the meeting that we have in two hours, that we miss the bigger picture of, like, we’re all people showing up, and our shared humanity needs to be valued in our organizations just as much as it’s valued when we go back home and we hang out with our families and spend time together. And so, you know, I just think that when it comes to this type of brutality, I encourage people to be more comfortable sitting in their own discomfort around what it feels like to really think about what this means and the impact that it has on people. And it might be painful. It should be, and that’s okay.
Zach: I mean, again, like, there’s a lot of stuff is still happening. Protests, a White House that continues to, you know, undermine the spirit and rule of law. Like, if you were to give, like, five tips for executives in terms of what they should be doing in this moment, what they should be thinking about and how they can really be proactive, like, what would they be?
Jillian: So particularly for leaders and for people who are wanting to embark on this work and someone who’s in a leadership position to do it, the first one that I really stand by is for leaders who are doing this work to really connect to why you personally want to do this work. There are so many feel good reasons, you know, whether it’s the right thing to do, or there’s also “Well, you know, our staff has been asking for it, and so we really want to make sure that they’re feeling heard.” There’s a lot of good reasons, but the first one is just why do you want to engage in this work. I mean, as someone who is a leader in this work, even if you have a chief diversity officer or a diversity and inclusion working group, you’re really the person who sets the vision and the direction for an organization, so your own personal commitment to this work is going to come through no matter what. And that’s what this hinges on, because when you’re actually committed to doing this work, that’s when you’re willing to dedicate the time, the resources, the energy, to actually invest in what needs to take place. So that is my first one. My second one is to really include the voices of those who are most marginalized in your organization. And when I say in I mean in and outside of. Who is my organization not serving, is still in community with us, you know? Who do we hear from the least? You know, who are the voices that we listen to the most and that have the most weight, and who are the ones that have the least weight in the decisions that we make about how our organization runs? You know, when we design for the people who are at the margins of our organization and of our society, we actually design an organization that is great for everyone. I’m kind of pulling that from my colleague, [Caroline Hill?] at 228 Accelerator. She does amazing work, so I’m plugging her. Yes, and also The Equity Lab and Michelle [?]. I’m plugging all of them. My third one, I would say, is to slow down. For people who are [?], I would say that there was a sense of urgency around it for the people who were starting it in advance of this. It’s just significantly increased, and while there is urgency around this work–don’t get me wrong, we are talking about life and death when it comes to this work, so, you know, don’t mistake what I’m trying to say here, but at the same time, doing this in a way that you think that this is going to be a six month project that you’re able to wipe your hands, say that it’s done, you know, I’m sorry to inform you that that’s probably not going to happen. So, you know, I think really taking the time to acknowledge that this work takes time, that you want to be thoughtful and intentional while also acknowledging the urgency around doing this work is important. And I guess this kind of plays into number four. How you go about your work and how you go about DEI work informs the work that you actually do. And, you know, I think for some folks that concept is a little hard to translate, because it can seem that as if, you know, if you’re really focusing on how you do the thing, it feels like you’re not actually getting a lot done. And frankly, the more that you focus on the “how,” the more you get clarity on the “what,” and you do the “what” in a way that actually benefits others.
Zach: This has been a super dope conversation. And I know you already gave some shout-outs, but before we let you go, is there anybody else? Anything else you want to shout-out?
Jillian: Yeah, I will shout-out the person who I referenced at the beginning who was kind of the mentor that I worked with in the beginning of my transition from internal organization work to external, and her name is Nita Baum. She is the founder of b*free. She’s doing incredible work both around–essentially the phrase she uses is “how to create a workplace as healing space,” and she’s been doing some incredible work around diversity, equity and inclusion as well. So yeah, 228 Accelerator, Equity Lab, b*free. I plug all of those folks as being some really incredible people to work with.
Zach: Well, first of all, we’re going to make sure we put all that in the show notes so folks can catch up with b*free, with The Equity Lab, and with you. Thanks so much, y’all. Look, we have these conversations every single week, centering and amplifying Black and brown voices. Hopefully–to the aspirational allies or just curious white folks out there who maybe stumbled across this on your your morning walk–you know, you’re listening to this, man. Take some of this to heart. Take the information and do something with it, okay?
Jillian: Oh, Zach, that should be number five – to take this and do something with it.
Jillian: I feel like we can get so caught up in learning and listening and having conversations. Number five, please take action. Do something. Do not get caught up in being afraid that you’re going to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing. I say and do the wrong thing all the time. We all do, and that’s the way that we learn something. I’m gonna make that number five.
Zach: I love that you gave it to me on the outro. So y’all heard that. Y’all heard that, okay? Look, we’re all over Beyonce’s internet, all over Serena Williams’ internet, all over Michelle Obama’s internet. Just type in Living Corporate, okay? Shout-out to Jillian, educator, leader, speaker, consultant, overall dope person. Peace.
Zach: So look, y’all. You know, before I let y’all go, I do want to talk a little bit about this fall and what Living Corporate has going on and what you can expect from us. So the good news–I don’t have bad news, right? I just have good news and I have better news slash interesting news, okay? So the good news is that we’re gonna be continuing airing content throughout the holiday season, right? So, like, every Tuesday and Saturday you can expect Real Talk Tuesdays and See It to Be It with Amy C. Waninger. You can expect that. The better news is that we’re going to do something a little different, right? So starting in December, from December 1 to Christmas, we’re going to being airing a podcast every single day. What? Every single day, okay? This is a big deal, because there’s a few reasons for this. First of all, we have a huge back catalogue, and frankly, like, we’ve talked to some incredible people, but, like, the world has just been so crazy this year it doesn’t fit, right? So instead of, like, just sitting on it forever and vaulting it, out of respect to the individuals that we’ve interviewed, and, frankly, out of excitement to still share the content with you, we want to go ahead and still get it out, but we’re going to drop it in like a bonanza, right? And my hope is that it helps continue to get the word out about Living Corporate and that folks really can learn something new, because these are fairly–we continue to push the envelope in terms of, like, the types of content that we’re engaging in, we’re talking about, and so it’ll be things like racialized trauma in the workplace, burnout, rebranding in the middle of a pandemic, the future of DEI, right? So, like, these are not off-brand conversations at all, not whatsoever. If anything, we’re continuing to, like, really push and create content that aligns with our brand and our strategy as a media network. I also hope that it helps to propel us to 2021 when we’re going to be creating and dropping even more content, more fire that, frankly, like, I’m a little nervous about. I want to make myself nervous about the content that we drop, right? You know, not controversial for controversy’s sake, but really driving to hold systems and institutions accountable by speaking to the reality of white supremacy and patriarchy and capitalism, and having the audacity to humanize marginalized people by centering their experiences and their perspectives in a corporate context. And so, you know, that’s the news I have. I want to make sure that, you know, if you haven’t done so already, please tell a friend or three about Living Corporate. Another way you can really support us and help get the word out about Living Corporate is giving us five stars on iTunes, okay? So if you haven’t given us five stars already, I want you to go ahead and give us five stars, right? Just scroll on down on your iTunes. Right? You’ll see the little stars, they’re gonna be empty. Just press five. That’s all you gotta do. Just press five, and then put a review there also, right? There’s nothing to it but to do it. And, you know, I appreciate y’all. Until next time, this has been Zach and we’ll catch you soon. All right, peace.