Culture, Sponsorship, and Inclusive Leadership (w/ Dr. Lonnie Morris)

Zach welcomes Dr. Lonnie Morris, an expert in the areas of leadership development, ethics and organizational culture to discuss ways organizations can be more inclusive for Black and brown folks.

You can connect with Dr. Morris on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Zach (00:00): Living Corporate is brought to you by The Access Point. The reality is, this is the largest influx of black and brown talent corporate America has ever had. And as a result, a variety of talent entering the workforce are first-generation professionals. The other reality? Most of these folks aren’t learning what it means to navigate a majority white workplace in their college classes, enter The Access Point. A live weekly web show within The Living Corporate Network that gives black and brown college students the real talk they need and likely haven’t heard elsewhere. Every week, our hosts and special guests are dropping gems. So, dont miss out. Check out The Access Point, airing every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Central Standard, on [Music]

(00:55): What’s up you all? This is Zach, with Living Corporate and happy Black History Month. Yet again, I’m very thankful again. I know we’ve been using the word thankful a lot because I am. I’m just in a really reflective mood. Fatherhood, Emory turns one next month and this year just been, you know? I know I’m not the only person to say this, but like this year has just been a lot when I look back over this past year. About a year ago, the pandemic was really, I don’t want to say picking up steam because it just seemed so minimalistic to the 500,000 folks who have passed, because of COVID-19. But thats where we were. I remember really folks kind of questioning like really what was this? And questioning the validity of the actual disease and all the other talk tracks that we were hearing at that time. And now we look back a year later, after all these different protests, after an election, just a lot has happened. And so, Im just thankful to be here, right? Im going to talk a little bit more about my CBS feature over the next couple of weeks. And also, I want to shout out Victoria at LinkedIn, who featured me on her newsletter, her LinkedIn newsletter. Im just really thankful for the LinkedIn senior editing team and just the love that you all showed Living Corporate. Im thankful that my words are able to get out there. Im not going to hold you all, I was very surprised at what they let get out there in terms of the fact, they didnt really edit me much and I stand by the things that I said. But you shoot a lot thinking that everything wont go in, but Im thankful man. They gave me the green light and I took the shots.

(02:32): So, look today, we’re having conversations, as weve been having conversations all black history month, about the reality of systems and how systems create disinclusion, inequity and harm for black and brown people. I think its really easy to get into the theatre of individual behavior. Im not saying that individual behavior isnt important, because individual behavior in mass, informs how systems move. But, we have to also talk about structures. Like the way that structures are set up to foster inequity, to foster disinclusion, to foster and create harm. And this whole DEI space, theres a lot of smoke and mirrors you all and I had some conversation with some friends of mine who are looking for diversity and inclusion consulting and things of that nature. And theyre learning like man, this is a lot. Theres a lot of smoke and mirrors on here, right? Theres a lot of it out here. And its hard to find people who really know what theyre talking about and go beyond the same, very surface-level talk tracks. But, Im thankful for the guest that we have today, Dr. Lonnie Morris. Dr. Lonnie Morris is a sociologist. Hes a consultant, hes a public speaker, hes an educator, hes professor and incredible mind, with background in psychology and leadership development. Im just thankful that we were to have him on, because were talking about the psychology of inclusive leadership, how organizations are structured to then create, again, all the things Ive already named. Its kind of depressing, I’m not going to hold you. 

(04:30): But you hear some of the things that he stated and I laughed, but I laughed so I wouldn’t cry, right? But, heres the thing. We, as a people, as a collective, can impact change, can create change, if we organize. I just finished watching Judas and the Black Messiah, beautiful film. You know, there are critiques, you have everything, but beautifully shot, beautifully done. And whats interesting about the title compared to the actual movement of Fred Hampton is that there is no one messiah with this space. There is no one person whos going to lead us out of disinclusion, inequity, and injustice. The people, the collective, we have to come together to create pressure and hold systems accountable and hold those who control these systems accountable, if we really want to see the change that were looking for. And frankly, its that type of work and that mentality, that really makes the powers that be uncomfortable. And frankly, has led to the death of all of our civil rights heroes. When you look at Black History Month, you look at the people that we hail, those folks were assassinated by the state because of their ability to galvanize the common man across bunch of different identities and groups and priorities and intentions and goals. They were able to connect all these different types of people. And its going to take that same spirit and attitude to really see the impact that were looking for. Now, again, were going to talk to Dr. Morris here in a bit, but before we do that, were going to tap in with Tristan.

Tristan (06:26): What’s going on Living Corporate? Its Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me, as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. Today, lets talk about how to write a good bullet point for your resume. If youve listened to any resume tips from a resume writer or a career coach, we often talk about moving from task-based bullet points to more results or value-based bullet points. Oftentimes, youre not giving much detail beyond that and youre left to interpret what that means. Today, were going to discuss three things I think every good resume bullet point has, to help you take your resume from just telling what you did, to show what you did through examples. 

Tristan (07:01): When writing bullet points, I like to think of them as mini stories. No one likes a story that’s boring or has a missing plot, which is often the case with task-based points. I like to make sure each bullet has the action you took, the reason you took it and the value it provided. Incorporating your action allows you to explain what you did and provides the reader with a sense of your role in the situation. Do you lead a team of six or collaborate on a team of six? Did you establish a process or did you revamp the process? Did you launch a new service or streamline service delivery? Help the recruiter or hiring manager understand how you contributed. Including the reason you took action and your bullet point, helps provide the recruiter or hiring manager with a clear picture of the situation you were in, and what prompted you to do what you did. Value is one of the most crucial, yet often left out parts of your resume bullet point. Conveying the value your action provided the organization, gives the recruiter or hiring manager a sense of what type of return on investment they may receive if they hire you. Showcase the results you provided and if you can, make sure to quantify them. While Ive given you these three things in a particular order, that doesnt mean they have to show up in that exact order in your sentence. Often, when I write bullet points, I like to leave with the action and immediately follow with value or results to capture the reader. Thanks for tapping in with me today. Dont forget, Im now taking submissions from you all on career questions, issues, concerns, or advice you think may help others. So, make sure to submit yours at This tip is brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at Layfield Resume or connect with me, Tristan Layfield on LinkedIn.

Zach (08:50): Living Corporate is brought to you by The Group Chat, a bi-weekly web show on The Living Corporate Network, that tackles diversity, equity and inclusion topics, your jobs, legal and HR departments would never let fly. With topics like white supremacy at work, finding out that I’m a Karen, de-colonizing DENI, racial gaslighting at work and imposter syndrome while black, you may be able to see why. But you may also be able to see why so many folks love it. Between our incredible host and our guests, which ranged from fortune 500 executives to academics, to activist, to entrepreneurs, every other Saturday at 10:00a.m. Central Standard is something special. So, make sure you check out The Group Chat on

Zach (9:36): Dr. Lonnie Morris. What’s going on man? How you doing?

Dr. Lonnie Morris (09:38): I’m great man. How are you?

Zach (09:41): You know, I’m good man. Happy New Year. Its a blessing to have you here. I want to shout you out and thank you again for being on The Group Chat last year.

Dr. Morris (09:49): No problem. I appreciate the invitations. I had a lot of fun, particularly on The Group Chat. I didnt expect it to be as exhilarating as it was. That was a really good group of folks and I enjoyed that immensely.

Zach (10:03): Well, we had a good time having you and I remember Nubianna afterwards, she was like, Oh, that was like, they all were having a really good time. They were cracking on each other and everybody was laughing and blah, blah, blah. So, it was dope. Youre on the show and Im always passionate to talk to folks, especially black academics who are in the space in this field, about just the concept of inclusive leadership. And I think that its funny because, I was talking to a colleague, several months ago, about this idea of culture. A lot of folks use culture and they say workplace culture, especially white folks. They say it, in my experience, Im curious to get your perspective on this, is like they say it very agnostic to race, right? Its like the culture of like, Oh, we drink tea on Wednesdays” or Oh, well, most people dont speak very loudly in the office” or We typically like to meet standing upor whatever the case is. But its not necessarily about the psychology of real workplace culture. And again, it sidesteps any dimensions around lived experience or identity. And so, Im curious to get your perspective on that. On culture, like as a concept, and then Im curious to get just your perspective on inclusive leadership as a concept.

Dr. Morris (11:30): All right. So, were going to start with the big guns huh? So, lets start with culture. And thats really interesting, because I think that where you have an overall mantra that can exist as an organizational culture, right? Where heres how we do things. We know what the traditions are, and we know peoples rituals and beliefs, but also not just from research, but also from my experience in workplaces, know that you can have micro-cultures and climates in particular areas, that might be quite different from the larger, greater space. They might share sort of the overall organizational values, but they function differently. And you might see that particularly when you have diverse leaders in those spaces. So, think of an organization, I think about all the universities where Ive worked, where youve got president, executive cabinet and those things, then youve got directors or vice presidents, who run smaller units, and they might operate a little bit differently in this space. And you might see it because of all the things you talked about, like all the intersectionality that comes into play around how people were raised, what their values are, what their heritage is, what their ethnicity, all those things that they bring to a space on how we work, how we work together, how we get along, how we communicate, what we value in the transactions of doing business. And that shows up differently in there. I remember just from before becoming an academic, I was an administrator for many, many years. And even though I grew up in the enrolment space, so managing admissions and financial aid and all those things, with how to get people into college and to get them to pay the most money for college right? I always remember talking to younger professionals who were coming up, who wanted to do be directors of admissions, directors of these offices, and would always say to them, Im a much better manager of people than I am an enrolment manager, because I get those things.

(13:42): Those things are important to me, how people engage in the space, what we believe about how we work. Simple things like if you live in the mid-Atlantic region and there’s a snow storm coming, what do you say to people who need to get home? Right? Are we waiting until the university dismisses everyone to go home at 4:15? Or do you know because you got people in your space that you need to pick up elderly, need to pick up children, just want to not want to be on the road because its going to be bad weather? You say, all right, at one 1:00, everybody goes. All those things are about, just like you mentioned, the lived experience that inform how we work. Thats what culture is about to me. And I will say from a practitioner space, Ive probably often had a micro-culture in every organization where Ive been. A different climate than what was traditional across the organization, because I believe in that. The second piece about inclusion, now, this is funny and I know you saw a tweet that I made yesterday, but I have to tell this example because I think this is really critical I think, and really contextualizing what it means to think about inclusion from a leadership perspective and what we need to consider right now and how we need to go forward. So, give me a moment for this story. 

(15:12): I like talent based, competitive shows, right? So, things like project runway, all the stuff that comes on, the food network, all those cooking competitions. So, I watched two consecutive episodes of this cooking competition show. The premise is there are two people that cook the same dish, and they are judged by two additional people who taste the food blindly. So, they dont know who made which right? So, in the first episode, there were two Anglo-Saxon, European descent men cooking. One was British. One is American with Irish heritage. The dish that they made was fish and chips. Easy, simple, not a lot of layers of flavors. A simple thing to do. If youve been over to the UK, youve had fish and chips. The judges were both also of European descent, selected, and remember, its a blind taste test. They both made their plates and then the judges judge them without knowing who made which. The judges selected the British guy as making the better fish and chips. Sounds pretty reasonable. The immediate episode that followed was the same Irish heritage guy, going against a black man. The black man is of Jamaican descent who was an executive chef and the challenge was to make jerk snapper. So, youve got a Jamaican black man, 

Zach (16:58): He has this in the bag. This is over.

Dr. Morris (16:59): And an Irish white man. Now remember in the first example, they all had sort of the same lineage in culinary. It was the same type of culinary schools, they were classically trained, and cooked in fine dining. So, you take that and now you apply it to this Irish American man against the Jamaican, who is an executive chef, against somebody whos a restauranteur, who specializes in Southwest cuisine. The two judges are of European descent and they select the Irish man as making the better jerk snapper. 

Zach (17:40): Now, how does that work here? 

Dr. Morris (17:41): Exactly! I couldnt believe it. Heres why this is important to think about in terms of inclusion and leadership. Because what you see here, is the judges and the main competitor all share the same training, or they have the same understanding and pedigree when it comes to culinary. They went to the same type of schools, they worked in the same type of restaurants, they came up being trained by the same type of people, they were mentored by the same types of chefs and restauranteurs, right? Not the Jamaican guy, right? The Jamaican guy came up in the Caribbean, came to the States as an immigrant, worked his way up, did some things, went to a different style of culinary school, so he kind of cut his teeth in a different way. So, the palette of the Irish American competitor and the European judges, is pretty much the same. They understand the same nuances in food. They taste things the same way, right? So, all the things that they understand about what should be on a plate are very similar. Now you put that against someone who is from the space, trained in the space, an executive in the space and you put them against three people who understand food the exact same way? And he can’t win.

(19:08): Thats what happens to us in organizations, right? You bring someone who looks like you, who looks like me, into an organization to lead a space, but everybody who is around you that youre competing with, and that controls resources like in this competition, who controls, who says who wins, they all have the same pedigree. They dont understand your lived experience. They dont understand how you cut your teeth. They dont understand how you view problems. They dont understand the traditions of how you make things work. So how they judge what you do is aligned with their own values in the organization and how they came to be in their own careers, which is different than ours. So, theyll never see what we do as meritus right? You cant win the competition because you dont think like us. You dont view the problems like us. You dont solve the issues like us. You dont raise money like us. You dont lead people like us. You dont make transactions happen like us. So we always lose.

Zach (20:24): Man. That’s so depressing.

Dr. Morris (20:31): It is right? I said I was never going to watch that show again.

Zach (20:35): Oh yes. No, I might’ve broken my TV. So, okay. So then lets talk about this though. So, like, I know many black folks in the people leadership work space, that folks were emailing you, blowing you up, trying to get your time, oftentimes for nothing. An institution, especially one that can afford you. But let me not rant on your behalf, or use you as a point to rant. Anyway, point is, is that Im curious to get your perspective on when you think about the leadership profile of the white corporate executive or the white middle manager, male, female, how would you describe that profile? And as we think about the aftermath of George Floyd, we talk about were in the season of racial reckoning, that has been a common phrase, thats been reiterated over the last several months. Like, what do you think are some of the core elements and things that need to shift and change?

Dr. Morris (21:48): That’s a great question. Whats the common leadership profile, right? So, lets take this same example when sort of applying going forward. We know that they will most likely come from the same breed and this isnt necessarily problematic in and of itself, but its about how the system is designed, right? So, you go to a particular type of school where youre trained a certain type of way, and thats the space where the people that were in your community go, the people from your school, the people who played golf with your parents went to a school like that or that same school. Youre part of the alumni association, right? And your family gives. And so, youre brought through that entire culture. And here are the types of jobs that we get and the types of organizations that we work. And so, you come into a space as a white person with privilege, being exposed to a different caliber of how things work and how we get things done. And this is interesting because over my career, having mentored multiple people of color who were coming up in the ranks, who have worked in spaces where weve dealt with primarily people of color who had been our clients, people of color who had been our co-workers and our peers and organizations run by people of color and when Ive had people leave those spaces and go into predominantly white spaces, they say its different over here. Its different because they work differently. They may work in a different style of efficiency, where someone who looks like me might be in a role where Im expected in my singular role, to manage their responsibilities of three or four different positions, particularly if Im working in a minority-based company, right? And then someone who Im mentoring leaves and takes a directors job in their space and now they have, and I have people who call me and say this, right? The new place where I work has a separate office for every function I used to do in my old role. So, our white counterparts come into these places, not having to work as hard, not that they arent smart, not that they arent talented, not that they dont have lots to bring and share, but they havent worked as hard right? Back to that lived experience. 

(24:29): Their lived experience of being in the workplace, is very different. So, you dont understand someone like me who works and grinds all the time on multiple projects all the time, because my background is that you were always multitasking. Thats how you not just get ahead, thats how you stay afloat. You have to show where I can put my hands, that I can keep multiple pots burning on the stove and everything still floats. Whereas, someone who doesnt look like me, who comes from a different pedigree of doing this, they may have only had one role and one responsibility in each organization where theyve been. So, they dont understand the grind. I actually had a supervisor once telling me you are working too hard. Because my lived experience was multitasking all the time. Get it done. That persons experience wasnt that. It was, hey, you got this little piece that we carve out, you just do this. Im like no. Theres no way Im going to get ahead with that. Youll get ahead with that, I won’t.

Zach (25:37): You’ll get ahead with that. Exactly.

Dr. Morris (25:38): You do one thing. You’ll be fine. I wont be able to do that. In fact, not only do I have to do all the other things, but when these issues of race come up and this reckoning comes up and when I raise it as a concern, whats going to happen is youre also going to ask me to do that work too. 

Zach (25:55): Exactly. 

Dr. Morris (25:56): Because your lived experiences, I don’t know what that is. I dont know what theyre talking about. I can be empathetic and hear it and I can listen and I can see that youre troubled, but I dont have a lived experience that identifies with what that means. So, youve got to do the work because its comfortable for you. Its normal for you. Theres a different way, we just show up at work differently all the time. So, what needs to happen going forward, is acknowledging that you dont have to share the same lived experience, but do the work to understand what that experience is. And you may have this experience too, Im always in meetings, where theres lots of pontificating going. People are talking about theres a plan, they talk about what were planning and then what the next plan is going to be on top of that and then the plan from that, and then the plan were going to write, and you guys are going to fund this plan, were going to have this initiative, where nobody really understands what Im going through while youre planning. And this is true of what weve been doing with all year, right? As all these organizations were scrambling to increase their diversity, to be more inclusive, and to write these statements about how were going to be better in the workplace. What were going to do, how are we going to change our HR policies, how were going to hire new people to be directors of DEI, all those things, they were doing that without living through the trauma, that all of us were going through. Sitting saying, I cant work today because I cant listen to this anymore. Because I cant focus, because I know that this is happening to multiple people that look like me, multiple people that I know, while you’re planning. That we are expected to, even in the midst of our trauma, still do the work, while they just get to talk about it.

Zach (28:03): Man… You know, transparently, what has been digging at me is that I’m looking at this work year, this year at my 9 to 5 job and Ive been killing it man. Lonnie, no cap. I have been killing it. To your point, all over the place and doing more than many, more than most, while also carrying this trauma, right? Carrying this exhaustion, carrying this frustration and carrying the compounded frustration of seeing other people talk about it and acting as if them talking about it is the same as me living it and doing the work. And not only are they not doing the work, theyre also of course, not living. 

Dr. Morris (28:57): Yes. 

Zach (28:59): Let’s talk about this. Lets talk about the intersection or the relationship between inclusive leadership, power, and sponsorship. I want to talk about this because, I think right now, at least in the spaces that I inhabit or that I frequent, its in vogue to say, to have a little token black person that you say that youre helping, right? Its in vogue for white folks, white leaders to say, Oh, I helped. I forwarded an email to so-and-so” or I padded so-and-so on the head for a presentation that they did, or, I gave so-and-so at a nice little performance reviewand thats me stepping up”, thats me being whatever. And it was interesting. I had a conversation with somebody who tried to pat me on the head for some work that I was doing and I emailed them back and I said, Hey, are you willing to sponsor me to get promoted?And it was interesting how they responded to all my other emails, but they mysteriously still havent responded to that email. And so, Im curious to get your perspective on that. If weve had folks on the platform before, and theyve shared things, like black folks are over mentored and under sponsored. Im curious to get your perspective on just on that, the intersection of power sponsorship and inclusive leadership. 

Dr. Morris (30:29): Oh yes. I agree, 100%. So, I got a few things on this. I think from a researchers perspective, as an academic, there is a data collection method that I like to use, cant use a lot in leadership stuff, because its hard to get people to agree to it, but I like to see it and its good for both the research and the practical stuff. I like to see people with power shadow those of us without it. So, think about what thats like. Remember if youve got somebody who typically, its the other way around, right? You want to shadow someone with power because you want to understand whats happening, how they’re living. I’ve had multiple people over my career shadow me because they want to get to where I am the way. And thats how you learn what the experiences. So, I would like to see people with power shadow the people without power. Think of it ike, whats the show, Undercover Boss. Pretty much like that, right? Where you get to go in and hear what they get to talk about what they hear, read the email. So, look at the emails when people send messages to me saying your opinions are irrelevant. Shadow the people without power to understand whats happening, to get a better perspective of their lived experience. So, you come out on the other end. That that will be a powerful, powerful thing for people across organizations. Thats something I think that we could do. We could model that pretty easily. You could throw it together pretty easily and look at some of these emails where your peers have responded to my questions. When then they dont respond to my request for sponsorship, do that. The other thing thats important and it just happened pretty recently with the power structure is that for people of color, so many times it is just so lopsided. And I say this here, because this is not even a secret and so power structure isnt even a secret. Because we know who are in the positions and Id say from where I sit. And I work like you. Im a multi-tasker, kill it all the time and from an academic space where I sit in a university, and I had this conversation with our senior staff, there are nine people above me in positions of power. Theyre all white. Nine. All the way up. 

Zach (33:14): Yes.

Dr. Morris (33:14): Nobody in my upline is a person of color, none. So, imagine, thats what is different for me, from where I am in my career and in the academic space, but imagine what thats like for a new person, just entering an organization early in their career, whos looking for somewhere to go, looking for a path to follow looking for inspiration. And its not again, that the people who were in the upline cant provide that type of guidance, cant volunteer to sponsor, cant help shape someone to grow into their own space of power, but its pretty intimidating to look at that when theres no one that looks like you, who controls who manages resources, who doesnt manage any people and doesnt manage any money. Thats really, really hard. And when you have that in an organization and those lines are drawn and theyre all white, they dont always recognize it. They might come up in your diversity reports, but it doesnt mean that, back to what you started out with, it doesnt mean you understand the lived experiences of the people who are along all those branches within the organization. And so, if you dont come to understand how we experienced the organization, how people talk to us, how people dismiss us, how people shoot down our ideas, how people take credit for some of our initiatives, all of those things. And to your point, how in the space, I am doing the work of multiple people so that I stay on the radar, where my colleague and peer who has the exact same credentials and exact same tenure is doing one-third of that. Right? One-third would be fair? And sometimes less. One-third of that is always recognized.

Zach (35:31): Yes. And to that end, it’s like, its just frustrating, man. Its frustrating because I think, and I brought this up, earlier this season, no, this was the wrap-up for season three. We posted it on new years, but it was the wrap-up for 2020. I said ultimately, a lot of these things arent going to change in this system because it requires a relinquishment of power. They dont want, they, white folks in general, I dont believe want significant representation of black and brown folks who are not going to tow the line, because they recognize, theres some recognition, even at a visceral level and Im not a Ph.D, so you correct me. I believe theres some recognition, even subconsciously, that theres a desire to have a scarcity mindset around protecting their position. And I think that theres a recognition that if we put, and you said theres nine people above you, If half of them, if two of them were,  West Indian,  one was [inaudible] another was East Asian and they were all genuinely, like theyre actively focused on representation and equity and all the things, the power dynamic would change. And I think theres an acknowledgment. I dont think its as unconscious as we frame it out to be, you know what I mean?

Dr. Morris (37:17): Oh, no. This is not something that people are not aware of, but it’s scary. You think of any dynamics with any group of people when you have to, if you were faced with giving up power, that is frightening. And its frightening in all context for us. It is frightening in our interpersonal relationships, right? When you think about when a couple comes together, if youve been living single, independent on your own for however many years, and now you are at a wedding, youre giving up some of your power over your own life, right? Because now you have to make concessions. And now you have to have discussions about how our resources spent. All of that is particularly challenging. Its just human nature for us to feel challenged by that. I dont think that it is a black versus white thing. Its not white against people of color. It really is about the vulnerability that comes with relinquishing power. And thats part of how weve been conditioned to think of power up until this point. If we thought of power how indigenous communities think of it, that very much comes from a very inclusive and shared model, right? If we thought of it, as everyone brings something that is significant to the table, everyone contributes based on their gifts and talents. We reward everyone based on those gifts and talents. Our organization flourishes because of those collective gifts and talents and we see those as unique unto each person, and we recognize that the collective is better than any individual. Thats the inclusive mindset around leadership. If we were all trained that way, if we were conditioned that way, if we were mentored that way, if we were sponsored that way, this issue of the power dynamic wouldnt exist, but thats not how people come into the workplace, right? It is very much about competition, it is very much about who gets ahead, very much about who controls resources, all those things. So, we need to not just unpack, but you sort of need to wipe the slate clean and deprogram people around it. Otherwise, you are, were creating this fight that people have to step into as they battle with their own personal feelings around this. Who am I without power? Who am I, if I dont run this division? Who am I, if Im not the director of this office? Who am I, if Im not the partner in this consulting firm? Who am I, if Im not the senior vice president? Who am I, if I dont have a $3.3 million budget to do these things? All those are the things that people associate with power. But what we understand about leadership, is that leadership is behavior not necessarily position. So, if we recognize and appreciate all the people who were on that ladder to get to that senior executive the same way we recognize and appreciate the senior executive, then wed have more inclusive environments, that wouldnt suffer from these ills of power struggles. Thats in utopia.

Zach (41:30): Do you think that for that to be the case that we need to also dismantle the systems that we have today though? Do you think what you’re describing happens in this capitalistic, white supremacist and patriarchal context?

Dr. Morris (41:43): Absolutely not. It doesn’t happen. Because thats embedded, thats innate in how our country was established. I mean, all of that stems back to colonialism, right? So, all of that was about power. All the dynasties were about power. So, that is embedded in all of our DNA, from that perspective. So right. You have to dismantle. So I would say everybody who that theyre making these space trips up to Mars, so when we start the new planet and create new organizations, you can plant those seeds there.

Zach (42:23): So, it’s a wrap rest down here, huh?

Dr. Morris (42:25): Its a wrap. Now, like everything, were going to have some people, some spaces where we see it flourish, because of the lived experiences that are shared and that come together to make those. But thats going to be far and few in between. Some people will get it and will get it right. But even in the most inclusive spaces, in the places that are led by the most inclusive professionals, we still have this doctrine of power that people have carried with them for all of their lives that everybodys not going to be let go of. And sometimes even when they want to, they wont be able to go off. Theres some fear associated with that. Its the fear of identity associated with it. So, its a really hard thing. It doesnt mean we shouldnt try. Thats what we see. We need people who are disruptors. We need organizations that are disruptors. We need those micro-cultures and small climates within organizations, those office climates that are different than the larger organization. We need those disruptors to say, it doesnt have to be that way. We need spaces like this act like the platforms that you create to have the conversations about it, to begin to build knowledge, and to curate information around, what does it mean and how do we think, to inform how people practice. We need that. All thats necessary. Now, you put all that in a capsule, shoot it up to the moon on that Space X trip and there we go.

Zach (44:05): Oh man, Lonnie. And I know you said, don’t call you Dr. Morris, so I just want to make sure that people do know though it’s Dr. Morris over here. 

Dr. Morris (44:11): Indeed, it is.

Zach (44:12): All right, cool. Look, we appreciate having you on the show, always. This has been a dope conversation. We have to have you back soon. Man, I pray you take care of yourself this year. Im praying for you. I dont know, 2020 was so crazy. A lot of people making a bunch of morbid jokes that 2021 is going to be just as bad. Im just like, please.

Dr. Morris (44:34): You cant take anymore. 

Zach (44:35): Please, I just need a little break. Let’s catch up soon man and I appreciate you.

Dr. Morris (44:40): All right, man, you take it easy.

Zach (44:41): Peace.

Living Corporate is brought to you by The Break Room. Have you ever felt burnt out, depressed or otherwise exhausted by being one of the only ones that work? You know what Im talking about. Hosted by black psychologist, psychiatrist and PhDs, The Break Room is a live weekly web show in The Living Corporate Network, that discusses mental health, wellness, and healing for black folks at work. Name another weekly show explicitly focused on mental health, wellness, and healing for black folks at work. I’ll wait. This is why you got to check out the break room airing every Thursday at 7:00p.m. Central Time on

Zach (45:27): And we’re back. Look, I want to shout out Dr. Lonnie Morris again. Cant thank him enough. I really want to make sure you all that were doing what we need to do to honor and respect black thought leaders. Its interesting, I was talking to a colleague about some culture work, and about the theories around organizational culture. And then they showed me their paperwork and their methodology and I said, Im curious, how many black professionals and thought leaders have you spoke to about this? And they were like, you mean like diversity equity and inclusion people? And I said, okay, no. Black people do more than just diversity, equity, inclusion. Im talking about, have you spoken to any psychologists? Have you spoke to any, like PhD folks who have background and ethical and cultural considerations, or group and team leadership, or organizational effectiveness? Have you talked to any like IO psych people? Who have you spoken to?  And I think we forget that black academics, I think about the disrespect that Dr. West has just endured from his tenure being rejected by Harvard, its important that we seek out and really get the perspective and opinion of black folks in the ivory. Especially that subset of black folks who really care and are passionate about organizational justice and black liberation. They exist and theres a whole population of these people. And we have an opportunity to join them and stand with them in this. In this tradition of speaking truth to power in spaces that are extremely, extremely white patriarchal and harmful. And yet these folks like Dr. Morris, are in the trenches doing this work that doesnt get the headlines, right? Like theyre not the ones with the high Twitter followers or a bunch of likes on LinkedIn, but theyre doing the work. Theyre doing the thought leadership that gets kind of glossed over by the folks who we gravitate to. And so, I just want to say again, thank you Dr. Morris. Shout out to you, shout out to black academics and thought leaders. And listen, if youre hearing this, I appreciate you. If youre looking around and youre not a part of a good fight, you should start one. Who said that? Who said that? Email me at, with where I got that quote from. I got a surprise for you. Anyway, till next time you all, five stars review on Apple podcast, shares with your friends, do what you need to do. Peace.

Support Our Mission of Amplifying Underrepresented Voices...

Living Corporate’s mission is singular in purpose, but diversified in approach. From our podcasting, to live events around the US, to our giveaways. 

Through Our Podcasts

Our podcast garners over 10K downloads a week and reaches black and brown executives, millennials, college students, creatives and influencers. 

Through Our Visual Media

We host a variety live, interactive web series for Black and brown early, mid, and late careerists that have a global reach. 

Through Our Resources

We connect our audience with valuable resources from resume services, certification prep materials, conference,  attendance sponsorship, and Living Corporate merchandise. Join our newsletter to learn more.


Select Payment Method
Personal Info


Donation Total: $10.00 One Time


Join Our Community

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Living Corporate will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.