Happy New Year : 2020 In Review (w/ Zach Nunn)

Living Corporate founder and host Zach Nunn celebrates the start of 2021 with a special New Year’s Day episode. He reflects on the growth Living Corporate experienced in 2020, talks about what’s to come, and thanks all of the incredible guests and fans. Happy New Year!

Check out the MarketWatch.com article Zach mentioned in the show, “There’s A Diversity Grift Right Now.”


SPEAKER 1 0:10

What’s up y’all this is Zach live in corporate and warm. Happy New Year. Happy New Year. I’m thinking about dropping this on New Year’s Eve, but I don’t want to jinx anything because who I don’t know, wait. 2020 is gone. So I was like now let’s go ahead and record and drop this on New Year’s Day. So Happy New Year, if you’re hearing this, hey, congratulations for making it through a hellacious year. I know that 2020 has been a year for everybody. And I know that some folks say hey, I’ve had a great year. But you know, I’ve had I’ve had a challenging year. Year was challenging, before COVID. And so you know, I don’t do this often, but a little bit of story time. Alright, so I’ll share a little bit about, you know, what my year consisted of the highs and the lows, and then also what I’m excited about as we look at 2021. So look, I’ve shared this before, in other conversations, if you listen throughout the year, but in January, I actually took some leave. From my job for my mental health, I was so exhausted, so burnt out, and frankly, so discouraged and disillusioned by some racialized trauma, at my job, I knew that if I didn’t take a step back, I wouldn’t be any good to my friends, I wouldn’t be any good to my family, I wouldn’t be any good. My wife, Candace, or my daughter, who was pending the talk. And of course, I wouldn’t be any good to myself. Um, so I took this time to continue to build living corporate, go to therapy, reset, and prepare for the birth of my first child as much as I could prepare. Because I mean, come on, you can’t really be fully ready for any of that. It kind of worked out since my leave was a couple of months. And then I had paternity leave. So it put me back to work at my nine to five, you know, in early summer, so fast forward, before we get to summer, we’re going to fast forward to march. And we’re slow forward, we’re going to move forward to march. And look, apparently, this COVID-19 thing is real, right? So in March is kind of like, okay, but it again, steam. It was so real, in fact that my wife and I arrived to the hospital one day later, I wouldn’t have been allowed to be in the building. Right. So we get there. My wife is a superhero. She gives birth to our first child, Emory. And she’s here. And honestly, this is where I have my first gut check moment, like, you know, and it’s just a different way for parents to know what it’s like to see your heart outside of your body. Let’s look into this little black baby, it just reinforces where at the time and reinforced why live and corporate must continue must grow, and must stay central to its mission, right of centering and amplifying black and brown folks work because I got this person, I had this whole person that I want the world to be different for, that she can feel fully free and respected and safe at work. And, you know, I felt even more so focused and affirmed in that amongst a bunch of other feelings that, you know, we don’t have enough time on this podcast to fully unpack let parents know what I’m what I’m saying. All right, so now we’re going to move forward to June, right? So as I’m getting ready to get back to work, so I’m going to turn it from my maternity leave. George Florida’s murdered, and there’s this overwhelming push around diversity, equity inclusion, and I look, I don’t drop t like that, because, you know, of where I sit. But there were a bunch of brands and keeping 100 job. I know for a fact we’re about to cut their DNI programs, had already covered in our programs had asked me slash living corporate to do some work for free. Or and I reached out for collabs. They shaded me they dismissed me. All of a sudden, they’re hiring out the Woodworks they’re trying to reach back out they’re trying to I’m seeing they’re, you know, they’re putting out all these feelers are hiring all these new diversity directors and posting black squares and donating to the NAACP and you know, handing out free packets of kool aid you know, whenever it’s just ridiculous, like all again, just complete 180 of those around the same time though, that our growth shot up we got on Westwood ones radar, shout out to y’all. And we exceeded our Kickstarter goal by 400%. This empowered us to build some web shows, to launch a new podcast under the living corporate umbrella, and to really build some other things that we’re excited to share with y’all later this year. These winds are bittersweet, though, like to be honest, because I honestly have to ask myself, would we be in the same position without George Floyd’s bullet? And is this all his blood gets us? Like, is this the combination? Is this what its worth? Right? It’s a weird cocktail of emotions to navigate, to be honest, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t feel conflicted by that. Right?

SPEAKER 1 5:02

Like unprecedented growth for our company. Incredible reach. We’ve been able to do some really cool things, spoken out some dope events like seriously incredible year, incredible year. But the means how we got here is, yeah, one thing I’m not conflicted about, though, is my general anxious and exhaustion with like this corporate DEI hustle. Like one of my mentors whom I love, he shared this article with me, and I’m going to put it in the show notes. It’s from market watch. And it’s titled, there’s a diversity grift right now, employees at center of racial controversies at tech companies speak out. For real, it’s worth the read. Okay. Here’s the excerpt I want to focus on, and I’m going to unpack it from there. Tech has been seeing the diversity tune for nearly a decade. But its workforce demographics, numbers have barely budged. Companies have invested in diversity programs, rolled out initiatives and set specific goals. But as examples of discrimination, harassment, and wage gaps persist, significant change from within seems as far away, as ever. So the article continues to then spotlight a few tech companies that exemplify this stall progression. But I’m not going to get into all of that read those on you. Because they highlight like four big names, big brands, that many people would think are kind of like the vanguard of diversity, equity and inclusion, when they just talk about just the hypocrisy within those brands, right. What this clearly illustrated for me is that not one major company, not one is really out here looking to make systemic change. So much time and money this year was spent on companies trying to look like they want us to do better, none of them. And I mean, not a single one, did anything to tangibly make themselves better. Now, the reason why companies don’t want to do that, is because they don’t want to cede any power or control. Right. So it goes back to patriarchy, white supremacy, of course, the third strain in that court capitalism, right. So look, inclusion, diversity is more profitable over time. Like, if I’m having to make the case for diversity at this point, in 2021. You’re racist, right? Like, if I’m having to have a conversation with you to try to convince you why this is not a proper thing to do, you’re a racist, and you’re incompetent. We don’t have to have that conversation anymore. It’s proven that more diverse and inclusive organizations are more profitable over time. But here’s the issue, truly inclusive environments that are diverse, and, again, diversity of thought, is as real as diversity of lived experience and ethnicity. Okay? We know because of the way that America is set up, that you’re not going to have wildly diverse thoughts. If the group is monolithic, you have a whole group of white people, their thoughts are not going to be as diverse if you had a group of white, black, brown, black female, black, gay, female, black trans women, brown, first generation professionals, brown, first generation Americans like it’s not going to be as diverse so we can stop all of that the diversity of thought needs to stop if I hear diversity of thought again, in 2021, Yama, come on here. I’m a rant. I’m a rant. I’m alright, we will talk about that in a minute. Sudo. So check this out. We know that it’s more profitable for your organization to be inclusive and diverse. But here’s the thing if your organization is truly inclusive, of diverse thoughts, because again, diverse thoughts tying directly and correlating with diverse lived experiences, there’s going to be some relinquishment of power. And the folks in charge, are happy to continue to like black and brown talent out the door before they give up any of that power.

SPEAKER 1 9:09

Howard Bryant, he’s been on the show twice a shout out to our ESPN, NPR. He said early this year, look, if companies wanted to change, if they cared enough to change, they change. They don’t care. They don’t care about you. So let me say it again. These companies do not care about you. They’re about looking like they are doing the right thing. So they want to look like they’re doing the right thing. You know, like cloud chasing doesn’t, you know, people that Yeah, cloud chasing, or the look like cloud chasing this, like really the new look? Right? People just be doing stuff for the look. And that’s why you really you rarely see in these companies rolling out any type of real accountability for their toxic leaders, right? They fire people in the cover of darkness. And really, it’s not a firing. I mean, I guess that you, you slide them a ton of money. So you give them an early retirement. There’s no real training that addresses Non inclusive leadership and no real accountability measures to hold folks accountable when they’re not leading inclusively. There aren’t a lot of targeted sponsorship programs that really say, hey, look, you’re responsible for the success and progression of this many black and brown people in your organization. Those things don’t exist, right. And there aren’t development programs that look to make sure black and brown employees are being promoted and retained. You rarely see black folks in leadership. And when they are, they’re rarely kinfolk. They’re mostly male colonists. You know what I’m talking about. They’re there to kind of as a figurehead, to parrot the things that those in power tell them to say, right, they’re not really in a position to lead. And shift anything like that’s not what they’re there for. They’re tokens. You never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever see organizations be fully transparent with the DEA data? Like, they’re not intersectional? With how they speak to their employee groups by org level, and by org position. You’ll see them often like couple people of color, quote, unquote, with women, in general, to bolster their numbers and make themselves seem more inclusive or diverse. And then they actually are, they shuffle around a bit when it comes to their talking points. And it’s gross. It’s gross, you know, like, it’s gross to me. For real. It’s gross. I don’t know what else to say. Like, it just it makes me sick to my stomach. Because I’ve just seen the grip so clear this year. And it’s hard not to see the growth when you’re at home, right? You’re sitting here, like, you know, I’m with my daughter every day, with my wife every day, I’m less distracted. Because I’m not traveling, like I used to. I’m not, you know, juggling a bunch of different things and having to sit in traffic like I used to, I’m able to be more focused and more present, I’m able to see things clearly. And I think a lot of people are able to see things. Clearly. That’s why you have this piece. That’s great. And I hope you read it. You know, I just let me talk about this a bit more, though, because I’m genuinely over it. Right. I saw a chief diversity officers are featured in a publication about ally ship, where they referenced the words of black employees and those dumb candid conversations. These hearts articles I’ve been telling y’all are trash, right? When I get a bunch of black folks together in a room, and they ask black people how they feel. Black people share how do they feel? They’re crying, they’re upset. And then they go, they pat you on the head? Its okay, Jamal, I see you. I’m with you. I hear you right. And nothing changes. This stuff is for the birds. It’s trash. Like it’s not working. Check this out. In this piece. I read though, right? This person, they referenced what the black employee said, out of context, to mark it some warped view of ally ship. And see that’s been the play. Like I see the play these black employees, they put their hearts on the line. Any brown employees, they put their hearts on the line to share real pain. And White leadership just kind of lets them put all out there. And then they come in with their signals. And they just they just reap it, they just take it. And then they morph it and they mold it into something they can use for marketing. Right? So we’re giving them the marketing copy. And then they’re able to say, hey, look, look at how we listen to all our black and brown employees. Look at how inclusive we are. And then some major professional publication picks that up and their stock price goes up and their brand reputation goes up. And they’ve done nothing. They’ve done nothing but manipulate. Black pain is exploitative, and it’s white supremacist. It’s infuriating. And it’s wrong. It’s wrong. Now, why am I saying all this? I’m not saying all this to say all is lost?

SPEAKER 1 14:09

You know, I share this on the first day of a new year. Because I want to be very clear with like the tone and the tambor and the focus of living corporate moving forward, like we haven’t changed. It changed at all. But we continue to grow. And every episode is someone’s first episode. So I want to be super, super clear with like, what we’re on and what we’re not on. I keep pushing and asking my guests if this season was a movement or a moment, and honestly, I think it’s a moment in time that peaked around the summer. But listen to me, I don’t think that folks would sense. I don’t think that they believe we’re going to go back to pre-summer 2020. So I don’t think we’re ever going to like read Set in that way, or people are going to even try to push that, like, against certain organizations will. But those would sense in good vision won’t. Right. And a good example of that, and this is not an ad, check out my interview with Zander Lurie, of Survey Monkey, CEO Survey Monkey, we had a whole conversation about this, because I asked him about this very thing, he was like, this isn’t going anywhere. He’s like, at Survey Monkey, we’re doing this right over here. This is what it’s going to be. Right. So, you know, there are going to be a very small minority of organizations who recognize that things have fundamentally shifted, right. And honestly, that compounded by this new generation of black and brown employees coming in, who are even less patient than my generational cohort, like we will still put up with stuff, because a lot of us still want to be white. But that’s a conversation for another time, these Gen Z professionals. I mean, of course, everyone, because we are in this capitalistic patriarchal system. So a lot of us don’t want equality, we or we don’t want liberation, we just we do want whiteness, but there’s a large proportion of Gen Z, just people who really want true equity, and truly want people to be included. And that’s exciting. That’s exciting, because we’re going to need that we’re going to need folks internally creating new expectations and pushing internally, within their organizations, for things to shift and change. And what I’m also excited about is I do believe that that push and that that desire, and that low tolerance for nonsense. I don’t think it transcends race. But I do believe there’s also a good swath of white folks out there to have the younger generation who are conscious, right, more than their millennial Gen X and baby boomer counterparts. So I’m excited about this new generation of workers coming in to the corporate space. I’m just that that gives me hope. You know, I do believe there is hope to change systems, right. So like, everything I talked about, about like this grift. And like this hustle, this white supremacists, exploitation of black pain, those things are because of systems. Right? Those things are because of systems. You know, so many of these folks, you see on the stages, they’re there, because the systems placed in there. And they’re using this Chief Diversity Officer role, or this culture officer, or this VP of talent or VP of belonging, it’s a career play for them, it’s a money play for them. That’s because the system is built for it to be that I do believe there’s hope and changing those systems. I just believe that that change is going to come by outside agitation, right. So many people in this year, got promotions, a bunch of white folks who don’t give to about black people got moved into these Chief Diversity Officer roles or gotten more power in their existing role. And they got that power, because black lives matter, protested and created change and pressure for organizations to do something. Now again, because of systems, some of them just decided to give more power to people who don’t care about us. But my point still is, is that some of us also people who actually we do care, and we try and do the right thing. We got a promotion or we train we were able to get a new role, are we able to do something? Why is that because Black Lives Matter created enough pressure, and created enough?

SPEAKER 1 18:50

I’m going to say this lovingly, good trouble and good chaos, to get us on the news, to make sure that these things were front and center. That’s why you see these promotions. That’s why you saw those programs, because of outside agitation. My hope and my dream is that live in corporate can be an outside agitator to create pressure and call folks two points of accountability, to create and pressure and mobilize internal change, right. And so I’m really thankful for all of the guests that we had for 2020. If you’re listening to this, and you want your organization to change, you want to create impact. You’re passionate about centering and amplifying black and brown voices. You know, we want to have you on live in corporate, right. I can’t shout out all the people that were on our platform. This year from our web shows to our new podcast, the leadership range to our flagship show live in corporate, to our blogs, right to the cobranded things that we did with Survey Monkey and fishbowl and, like I can’t shout out all the things. But I know. And I’m passionate. And I’m confident that we’re in a place to be even more unapologetic, to be even more direct and intentional with the content we create here. Because our goal and our dream is to create enough pressure for these organizations that otherwise would never change. Look, you can support us in a lot of different ways, right? It’s a brand new year. Maybe it’s your first time listening live in corporate. Share this episode with a friend or not a friend, a co-worker, supervisor, family member, give us five stars on iTunes, Apple podcasts. I’m old y’all Apple podcasts, and write a review. If you can’t. I appreciate your words cannot express how thankful I am to have made it through this year, to still be here. to still be here on living corporate, creating content that I believe continues to bless a lot of people based on the emails and notes and phone calls I get. I can’t thank y’all enough. Again, shout out to all the guests that we had in 2020 if you’re listening to this, and you want to be on foot to be a guest, this email is a live in corporate podcast@gmail.com This has been Zach we’ll catch you later. Peace.

SPEAKER 2 21:28

Living corporate is a podcast living corporate LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Burns. Additional music production by Anton Franklin from musical elevation. Post production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion. Email us at living corporate podcast@gmail.com. You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and living dash corporate.com. Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.

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