Dropbox & The Future of Work (w/ Danny Guillory)

Zach welcomes Dropbox VP & Chief Diversity Officer Danny Guillory back to the show to talk returning to work and the future of DE&I and tech. Check the links in the show notes to connect with Danny and more!

You can connect with Danny on LinkedIn.

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Zach (02:20): What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach from Living Corporate. And I’m really honored to say that we have developed authentic relationships with people who happen to work at some of the biggest companies in the world. That’s really cool to me. Like it’s not on like some Hollywood stuff. It’s not even on like some transactional. You give me this, I give you that. I have authentic relationships and Living Corporate has authentic relationships with some cool people, and that’s not me. So that’s why I said, I, then I said Living Corporate because yes, I have some relationships that I’ve been able to develop through Living Corporate, but so does Amy, So does Neal, so does Brittany, so does Mike and BG, right? So does The Break Room team, Dr. Coleman, Dr. Davis, Dr. B, like plenty of people that we’ve been able to build these really great relationships with.

(03:19): I love it when people come back to Living Corporate and we have more than one conversation. That lets me know that the love is real. That’s an indicator that the love is real. So shout out to all of our guests that have been on more than once. Like Howard Brian, Minda Harts I see you, shout out on the book that’s coming. Much love. Make sure y’all cop that. Minda, you’ve got to come back so we can talk about the book. All right, you hear me. I know you listen, you hear this, we’re gonna talk. We gotta plug your book. Yo, but for real, like we’ve had some incredible guests.

(03:49): And so, today is special because we have Danny Guillory who is the Lead, the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Dropbox. A great conversation, really talking about the future of this space as we become more politically charged, sensitive, and aware. You’re seeing brands out there, companies out there that are really like, just trying to sidestep all of it by being ‹apolitical’, but not being political is a political choice. And no one is not political. So like, this is great conversation that we had there.

(04:25): And Danny, what I appreciate about Danny is he always comes with like fairly thoughtful answers. You can tell, like he has the swag of like someone who really knows the space, but he’s not like chump about it. Because some of y’all, I’ll be honest. Like some of y’all be in the DEI space, and it’s like, when you’ve been here so long, you’re pessimistic or you’re really corporatized. You don’t really know how to keep it real. And I’m not gonna blast anybody, but you know who you are. All right. Because I’ll be trying to hit you up and you’d be nervous. You don’t really want to mess with Living Dorporate like that, because we’re too authentic. It makes you nervous. It doesn’t really align with messing up any type of baggage you may get by making white folks comfortable. Anyway, let me calm down before I start, actually get mad.

(05:11): My point is, I do appreciate Danny’s ability to be in this the game so long, while also understanding and really pushing for systemic impact and change. And that’s just a rare combination for real, like you see people cycle out of these roles or they’ll cycle out company to company because it’s just tiring. It’s toxic. It’s not their fault. It’s just the nature of white supremacy, patriarchy capitalism that burns people out. And so, the fact that he has this level of endurance or stamina, as well as the courage to continue to innovate and challenge, it’s a rare combination. Y’all it really is. I say this as someone who talks to a lot of different people. And I’m just thankful for it. So look, we’re going to have this dope conversation with Danny. You’re going to hear that a little bit. Before we do that. We’re going to tap in with Tristan. See y’all in a sec.

Zach (09:38): Danny, what’s going on man. Long time.

Danny (09:40): Hi Zach. It’s good to be back.

Zach (09:42): Hey. Look, it’s always a pleasure to have you. I feel like it’s wild because it hasn’t been that long since we’ve had a conversation, but a lot of stuff has changed. Like you think about from like just the world political landscape. Then from a health perspective, we got the world kind of open to back up. I think the last time we spoke, I was not vaccinated. I got both of my shots, Pfizer fam, this is not an ad, but I am vaxed. And, I also think that we’re starting to see like this, we’re starting to just see some camps set up, between just where organizations are going to stand on DEI. I’m curious, like, as we look at the landscape today and we just kind of look at the field, talk to me about what you’re seeing in the space. And where you see, let’s not even talk about the next few years. Let’s just talk about the rest of this year. What are you seeing?

Danny (10:37): So I think there’s a range of kind of approaches to diversity, equity and inclusion. I think everybody realizes that they have to pay attention to it. So I think there’s no question about that, that it’s on everybody’s radar. I think some, and I think everybody where, I feel like most groups acknowledge that they need to, most organizations acknowledge they need to do something is internally. I think, where things might vary, where you have kind of a spectrum of approaches. You have a wide range of companies that are maybe different in terms of their voice externally, and what they want to share and what they want to talk about externally.

(11:19): For Dropbox specifically, we’ve made the choice that we still do want to engage externally. But I’ll tell you one of the things that it does is that, it makes things more challenging in some ways, because each kind of situation, each challenge presents its own new nuances that are different than what it was before. And so, it’s a more challenging path, but, I think the mindset of our executives at Dropbox has been that we want to obviously, engage internally, but also, have a desire to still have that connection externally to what’s going on in the world.

Zach (12:01): And let me ask you this right. Talking about Dropbox, why? And I ask, because I’m reading, you read blogs, you read blogs. Folks, first of all I don’t know man, I don’t feel like everybody has to have a blog, just like everyone doesn’t have a podcast, but whatever. You have people writing blogs like very long pieces about why they’re not going to talk about what they’re deeming as sensitive matters, or whatever the case may be. And I guess what I’m trying to figure out is, why has Dropbox made a decision to not avoid those conversations in house?

Danny (12:37): That’s a really good question. You know where I think it comes from predominantly, is the sensibility of our executive team and how they choose to engage in the world. So there are two, there are really different types of motivations for diversity. Some can be business motivations, and a lot of times practitioners like myself and others spend a lot of time talking about the business case for diversity. And I think that’s an important element. It’s an essential element. I think at the same time, there is also, in my years of working in this space, the organizations at least that I’ve seen be most successful with diversity. And I’m talking more generally, also have I think, a true core belief that diversity is the right thing to do from a moral perspective.

(13:29): And I think if you have both of those as your core beliefs it makes it more challenging to not want to engage when you see something going on externally that you want to share about, that you want to participate in in some way. And so, like I said, it makes things more challenging because, just because our executives feel that way doesn’t mean that necessarily everyone in the organization agrees with that. Nor does everybody in the organization always agree with what we say.

(13:59): And so that poses challenges, but we try to be thoughtful about it. We try to be consistent in terms of the types of ways that we engage, and the types of issues that we engage in, and continue to move in that direction. But I’d say for me, what I’ve seen is that it’s that combination of knowing that yes, it’s a business imperative. But I think there’s a desire to engage in the world that comes from that belief that it’s the right thing to do also. I think those two together are what make for the most powerful diversity and inclusion efforts.

Zach (14:46): And it’s interesting, like, I think we talked about this last time we connected. The power dynamic is undeniable, so it’s challenging to consider that, or just the implications of disagreeing with your executive leadership, because we both can’t stay. If you feel some way about X and I don’t feel that way. Okay. So then, where do we go from here? And I recognize that that’s uncomfortable, but shout out to y’all, you know what I mean?

(15:14): Because how it feels when you look at, and this is Living Corporate, so you ain’t gotta say nothing to any, I’m gonna say it, you got it. When you look at platforms like Coinbase or Basecamp, and they make these statements around like, okay, well, these are uncomfortable dialogues. I’m gonna pick up my ball and go home. It’s kind of like, okay, well, where does that leave folks? And where does that leave your talent? Now we saw that, we saw where I left folks, because I want to say, like, based on just counting the resignations on social media, it was like, what is it like 30% of their workforce dipped in a fairly short period of time. But, what I’m really curious about, is just the sustainability of that.

(15:59): And there’s commentary, even Danny, I’m curious to get your perspective on this. It’s like when you exclude or bar certain conversations around ‹politics’, as nebulous as that term is. You end up really taking a certain, your organization ends up kind of shifting in a certain political way. I’m curious, like how does Dropbox see continuing conversations that may be deemed uncomfortable as supporting or impacting its culture?

Danny (16:36): So I think for us, a lot of it though, we talked about the values beforehand in terms of believing diversity, equity and inclusion are the right thing to do, as one of the drivers, for some of the ways that we do things. I think the other thing, the other kind of element that we have now is we are a virtual first company. So as I mentioned the last time, what that means is roughly about 85% of people’s time will be spent working at home, and about 15% will be in the office. So you’ll go into the office to collaborate. You wouldn’t go in for you and I to have a one-on-one, but we would go in with our team for an offsite or something like that.

(17:12): And so that starts to create a different dynamic. What that means is that, for us, I think we have to recognize that if somebody is working out of the home, without that kind of physical, that regular physical distinction, that we have to account for the whole person in a much different kind of way. So for example, we’ve brought on, and this was pre-pandemic. We actually brought on a service called, Modern Health, to give people resources and outlets to work through different types of issues on a regular basis. And what’s nice is that with the changing landscape of the world, Modern Health continues to bring up different offerings for our employees. That’s an example of kind how you integrate discussion with the whole person.

(17:56): Same with these types of discussions. I think we recognize that in a virtual first environment, we have to create an environment where you can account for the whole person, yet still focused strategically on our work. So just like anybody else, we have to be a profitable company to stay in existence. So it’s not as if work is still not the primary. Our deliverables and our results are still not the primary reason why we’re all here. That’s still is there, just as it is for any organization, but I think there’s a recognition that people are going to be more than just their work. Now, what this does create is that we’re working through things in terms of how to navigate that sometimes.

(18:39): Sometimes people might might speak in ways that they wouldn’t normally in a workplace. And so that becomes kind of a dynamic that you sometimes have to kind of work through. And to challenge people to say, okay, we’ve spent some time kind of thinking through this and addressing this, to what extent are you balancing that with what you need to deliver on, to keep us all having food, shelter, and clothing? So I’m not saying that it’s not a balancing act for all of us. Again, we are a software company, first and foremost. We are a SAS company just like anybody else. But I think what it comes from, is this desire that really comes from virtual first, that we have to account for the whole person in a way that we didn’t before. But again, I’ll emphasize that it doesn’t come without its challenges on a regular basis. Anytime something new comes up, we have to think through it. Kind of poke at the poke at the challenge in different ways, and then see how we want to address or approach something.

Zach (19:48): So you made a few statements there, around, especially when it comes to where Dropbox sits. And the software as a service company. And the fact that, again, because your work is not, so y’all are not a brick and mortar. And I think I really do want to kind of keep it to tech, for the sake of this conversation. I don’t believe that the future requires people to go in the office for like 85 to 90% of their jobs. Do you believe that, and I have theories as to why we still are like pushing for that. And I recognize there are different organizations that are, I think Facebook was talking about three days a week, and then there’s some clients, there’s some employees that are pushing back on that.

(20:41): And, but as we think about this new world, and really what work is going to look like, coming out of this global pandemic. Where do you see DEI organizations internally having to pivot or shift, if at all, considering that maybe some of the challenges may change, are going to be changing, or shifting, with context being more [over talk 00:21:04] oriented?

Danny (21:08): That’s a great question. And the first thing I’ll say by the way, is that, I think we’re all making strategic guesses. So all of us as organizations, whether it’s Dropbox or any other organization are making strategic guesses right now, and the data will bear out over time. I think as things open up, people are going to vote with their feet for what they want in different places. So our discussion might be different 12 months from now, once the returns are in than they are today, but there are a few guesses, that at least, I know we’re making right now.

(21:34): One is that we’re making a bet, that being virtual first will allow us to recruit a more diverse workforce, because we’re not limited anymore to at least within the United States. We’re not limited anymore to New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Austin. We can hire somebody from Chattanooga. We can hire somebody from Atlanta. We can hire somebody from Chicago. And so that, I can tell you the number of applications we’re getting now for roles, has skyrocketed since we’ve gone virtual first. And for a lot of us in diversity, equity and inclusion work, the first barrier that a lot of underrepresented groups experience is just access. I’m not there. I don’t have a chance to be a part of the organization. So, I’m excited about that. I think what that’s also going to do, though, for us, as well as other organizations that are doing this is it’s going to push on what we see as kind of our talent profile.

(22:34): So does our talent profile have to be somebody that comes from Amazon, or that comes from Facebook, or that comes from Google? Or can they be from, let’s say the tech stack of Coca-Cola, or Delta Airlines, or American Airlines. I’m just picking companies that are based in other cities and locations. Can we broaden kind of our perspective on who can be successful? Can it be a financial organization? Because every company is a tech company nowadays, they may not be a SAS company, but every company is a tech company in one form or another. And so, I think that’s the first opportunity.

(23:16): The second thing to think about will be the experience people have, and that’s a tougher one. That’s something actually that myself, and some other people at the company have been charged with in terms of trying to create community and culture in a virtual environment.

(23:32): There’s a study that, I go to people analytics conferences, and I’m really into that. And there’s this one that I went to probably about four years ago. And there was a study that Microsoft did on their workforce. And they talked about people’s success in the organization based on who they reported to. And what they looked at was the managers, if I reported to you, and you had a lot of strong ties in the organization, meaning a lot of strong relationships, I was more likely to be successful, than when I worked with another manager who didn’t have a lot of strong ties. And my performance actually, I was the same human being, but when I moved from one team to another, my performance calibrated based on that. So if I was not a great performer, but under a manager with few strong ties, and then I went to work for you, suddenly I became this great worker.

(24:31): So what that to me is going to is first of all, just the productivity side and the importance of having a lot of relationships throughout the organization. And then also, from a fun perspective, I think a lot of people join organizations to create relationships. So what I’m getting at here is that, in a virtual first organization, a big challenge, I think and a big problem that we’re trying to work on is how to create relationship deliberately? Because the problem is that the challenge is that I can’t do it running into somebody in the cafeteria anymore, it’s not going to happen organically. It has to be deliberate. And so, there are a few different things that we’re experimenting with.

(25:14): One is that we’re doubling down on mentoring and actually bringing in a product to help manage our relationships. There are a number of products out there. There is one that we work with, hat I’ve worked with before in previous organizations. That’s really good. And now we can manage, mentor, whether it’s group mentoring relationships, or individual mentoring relationships on a global level.

(25:37): A second thing that we’ve started to do is we’ve recognized, and I mentioned this before, when we talked Zach, that in a virtual environment, I firmly believe that the manager and team are more essential than ever, because that’s going to be my anchor point. I’m not going in, I don’t have a chance to run into other people. And so, but I meet with my team on a regular basis. And so we’re also, really emphasizing the development of our managers. We’ve started doing quarterly manager summits, and we’re doubling down on coaching managers on effectiveness going forward, because we know that their role is now outsized important.

(26:13): It was always important, but in a virtual environment, it’s even more important. And then we’re trying to get creative. We’re looking at launching our first employe-wide internal conference. We’ve never done one worldwide. And we’re actually looking at doing it a hundred percent virtual, and having a lot of different activities. We also have launched different, what we call, vibe committees in different parts of the world. That actually create on their own and come up with different activities and connection activities that take place regionally. So what we’re trying to do is get really deliberate about how we create culture. There are lots of toolkits that we’ve put out and guidance that we’ve put out for people. And again, the thing that I’ll say is that we’re doing a lot of preparation, we’re putting a lot of thought into this.

(27:00): This is a big experiment. We’re going to see what happens and we’re going to there’ll be some things that I think will be wildly successful. Some that won’t work out well and we’re going to have to go back and revisit, and improve upon. But, we do know and recognize that manager and relationships are going to be vital, not only to just my productivity, but for me being included and wanting to be a part of an organization.

Zach (27:32): To your point around it being an experiment. It is, but it’s not like, I don’t know. I don’t know Danny. I don’t think it’s like a huge unknown. And the things that you’re stating are a hundred percent spot on. I actually think this season has kind of stripped away a lot of the veneers of like the full community that some organizations make. Like, it’s like, look, we’re coming here to do a job. We’re doing the work. And these relationships that we have at the grassroots level are the most important. And really, Danny, that’s what we’ve been talking about for awhile. Like, we’ve always known people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers. Like we know. It’s just now, there’s less fluff to kind of like, those things are just stripped bare now. Like now we just know how you have to have a really relationship with your manager.

(28:25): If you’re not going in to your point, to grab the coffee, or sit at a desk, or chat with so-and-so, or go out, walk out to lunch, you just have the work and your supervisor. I’m curious, as we talk about like DEI and the future of the space, you said something and I’ve been bragging. I’m going to keep an eye. I’ve been bragging. I’ve been bragging on you, but I’ve really been bragging on Living Corporate, like we really got this man say this, on the record. You said, that needs to be some fundamental re-imagining of these structures, for equity, over time. So, as you look at where we are today, and again, I recognize Danny that I experienced this world as a cis-gender black man, from the south, with a wife and a daughter.

(29:25): And so, my life experience, maybe everyone doesn’t feel the tension the same way I feel the tension. But for me, as I look at voting rights legislation being up for debates. The fact that again, politically, where we’re not really investigating the insurrection. You have legislation passing in Texas around, essentially outlawing even talking about racism. And that, some of the legislation is being passed around the United States. You have attacks on Nicole, Hannah Jones ramping up. Like CRT becomes more and more of a buzz word. It feels like this moment that we’re in is not sustainable. It feels like something’s going to have to give. And I bring all these things up because as our world’s become less and less divided between personal, political, and work, it’s hard for me to imagine DEI not being impacted by that. And so I’m curious, do you feel similar tensions? Do you feel as if this is sustainable, or [over talk 00:30:40]?

Danny (30:41): Yes, absolutely. I think the last four years have uncovered some, I think the genie’s out of the bottle and let me put it that way. I don’t think we can go back to how things were. Now, what role does that mean that we play, as organizations and as individuals working in diversity, equity and inclusion I think for us, it’s to be able to take kind of what we see. Actually, when I say us, I’m going to speak to DEI professionals specifically right now. It’s to take what we see happening externally, and see what we can do to bring that to life and translate it into our environments.

(31:36): So when the tragic events of last summer took place with George Ford, last spring and summer with George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and others. What that did was that gave us an opportunity to to bring something to light that hadn’t been brought to light in that way before, and to do some things at that moment.

(32:03): And actually, I think in a number of cases have some longer term impact. I know that there’s back and forth right now in the industry about whether or not the promises of last summer were kept. But I think again, if I look at what’s moved and what’s changed and the dialogue that’s changed, at least in business, it’s not the same as it was before. And I think what this goes to is, yes, businesses are profit making entities. There’s no question about that, but they also do have an ability to influence in kind of outsized ways, in different ways than they did in the past. I think some of that comes from, a lot of it actually comes from the talent coming into the workforce. Because I think the talent coming into the workforce has different expectations than when I came up.

(33:02): When I came up, if you get a decent salary, have a boss who treats you relatively nice, have some health care and a retirement plan, that should be your expectation. Okay. And that’s good. And, I don’t think it’s cliche to say that people are opting in and opting out in different ways than they did in the past. Particularly in technology companies where people have the chance to choose. Often, they can go back and forth and typically they can go across the street and make 20% more tomorrow if they want to.

(33:40): And so, what are the other things that keep me somewhere? And that’s where this kind of unique, I think engagement offers opportunities. So I actually think that these discussions and these challenges are moving things, but we also have to remember that it will be hard sometimes, it will be painful. Not everyone will agree and will have to be brought along. And there may be precipitating events at times. And what we’re talking about, when we talk about diversity, and it’s fundamental levels, Zach, what we’re talking about is personal transformation around the concept of ethnocentrism. And ethnocentrism is really around the fact that I believe my way of doing things is superior to yours at the core. And so, for me to have transformation around that requires usually two or three things. Either one, I can be someone who is really into personal growth and engages proactively in personal transformation. And that’s great. I tend to be a little bit skeptical and not believe that most people are like that. I think most people tend to be pretty happy with who they are.

(34:51): And so, the other way transformation happens is by what my father always referred to, who I learned everything about diversity from. My father always referred to it as, ‹the burning platform’ where you have no choice anymore. And so the burning platform can be kind of cataclysmic external events like we’ve seen, or it can be things internally. It can be okay, I hear this company talking about diversity all the time. Do I really buy in? And if I’m going to stay here, now that I have these diversity goals as a manager, can I maintain my belief system with these goals that I now have? And now, I have kind of a catalysing event that forces me to experience personal transformation.

(35:40): So I tend to be a little bit more optimistic about it, but I think sometimes what we’re underselling in this work is that more, the parallel comes with the outside world. Is that what we’re talking about, our personal beliefs and attitudes and transforming those. And that’s going to be a significant thing for people. It’s not something that is light or that I necessarily am able to do after a two hour unconscious bias course. It’s something that will take time and interaction in ways that I haven’t had with groups that I haven’t interacted with in the past.

Zach (36:23): So Danny, like we could talk forever, man. I’m trying to figure out like, what we did not talk about last time, but I do believe it’s like an ongoing question. And there’s tension to this as well is, just where does DEI sit in the future? Some folks have asked me this, I’m going to give you my take. So barring a really super dope relationship between DEI and HR. I really believe either DEI should sit separate from HR and report to the CEO, or then work literally as peers with HR, or that DEI should be the umbrella that HR sits in. I think we still have these challenges where the DEI ultimately still reports to HR or reports to legal. I’ve even seen that in certain contexts. And, I don’t think that’s set up for long-term success. But I’m curious to get your perspective on just like from a [over talk 00:37:40] structure perspective, is the most effective.

Danny (37:42): I don’t think there’s one way for it. That’s the first thing that I want to mention. And I had an interesting discussion with somebody recently, they asked me, that’ll help kind of frame it, whether diversity, equity and inclusion, whether it’s something that should be a department or whether it’s something that’s a discipline. And I think ultimately it’s a discipline. So ultimately, it’s something that should be embedded within every function. That is the ultimate maturity model for diversity. And so that’s where I kind of start with this is, I think there’s a maturity model with diversity where, I think the first fundamental question before we even get to where it sits is whether or not there should be a separate department for it?

(38:29): I was speaking with somebody in recruiting the other day, for example, and is somebody who’s a significant, she’s high up in recruiting in one of the large technology companies. And she was talking about how they had tried and experiment with having diversity recruiters. And what happened was that all the other recruiters basically ‘ghettoized’ it and said, okay, well, I’m not recruiting for diversity because that’s their job. So that’s why the importance of it overall before we get to even who it reports to, is that the ultimate place you want to get is where everybody sees it as their job, and it’s a part of the discipline.

(39:10): So that’s the first fundamental question, but I do think in the early stages, in the beginning stages, and even in the medium stages that you have to have a department, because they’re teaching people the discipline. People don’t know the discipline necessarily and are asking those questions. So if we aren’t, nobody is. So the first thing is that I think you do need a group to focus on it exclusively. But with a goal that eventually if you hit the maturity model right you’re embedded in the different parts of the organization.

(39:46): Now to get to your question initially, which was, where does something like this sit? I would say to some extent, again, it depends. So from a practical standpoint, a lot of the partners that we have worked with in the HR function. So a lot of the core functions that at least I interact with, to begin with, are, and I’m not going in order necessarily, in priority order. But ones that we work with a lot are obviously recruiting. So who we’re bringing into the organization and how we’re bringing them in. We work with learning and organizational development. So what does our training look like? What do our talent management processes look like? Things like calibrations and performance reviews and are those equitable? That’s again, in-learning and organizational development. We also have total rewards. So our comp and benefits are we equitably paying people who come into the organization? All of these functions, and then workforce planning is another one. All of these functions sit within the people team at Dropbox. So, for me, having them as peers is actually very helpful because I can see the full integration of everything. Now, where I think, where I believe it can be very powerful also to report to a CEO is where you start to have very clear product impact on a regular basis.

(41:18): So, to me, where it’s a priority is something that is a more of, I don’t know how to describe it, but more of traditional consumer-based companies. So if I’m Coca-Cola, if I’m McDonald’s, I’m somebody like that, I think reporting to the CEO is absolutely vital, because there are implications for what we’re doing on the business side, on a regular basis. If I’m a hedge fund, pension funds that invest in us are now asking questions about who, about what we look like, about what we’re doing about diversity, about where we invest our money? So, depending upon what the stakes are on the business side of the diversity proposition, I think it could be more or less urgent to report to the CEO. For some, I think it’s really urgent, for others that may be maybe less urgent.

(42:14): Now, of course, with all of this, the reason why I have an embedded assumption here. I’m really fortunate in that I have a set of partners within the people function that have an appetite for diversity. So I didn’t have to go and convince anybody that was important. I don’t have to. Usually, when I’m working with them, when I pose to them different ideas. And when I say me, I mean myself or my team members, when we pose to them different ideas or different thoughts, they’re always receptive. So I’m in a fortunate situation where I think that relationship where I’m reporting to the CEO, could also be more urgent is if that’s mixed. Because then, we’re talking about a kind of power dynamic. I don’t want to be somebody’s peer. I may need to have more authority.

(43:03): So if I don’t have peers that have an appetite for it, then I think that becomes more important. If I’m trying to move something for the first time. All that’s to say is, I think you kind of have to evaluate the situation a little bit and see how important it is to you. For you, if you’re a diversity, equity, inclusion professional, and at least from my point of view, it’s not all created equal. It depends a little bit on, on where you are, where the organization is, where the peers are and their appetite for diversity, equity, inclusion and what the business does. What the business does, that also starts to create the urgency that I actually report to the CEO. And I’m sitting around with the sales person, with the manufacturing person, with these people where diversity is honestly a question front and center.

Zach (43:59): I love it. You know what, Danny Mel you come on. I know you said, you’re a lawyer by trade, but like you’re talking but it’s authentic though. You know what I mean? I really appreciate that, because some folks have come on and I’m like, man, you laying it on, you know what I mean? We’ve gotta back up, man, I could smell it from here. You’ve got a bag of… But no, I love it. And I appreciate you coming by. Now, look Danny, you’re a friend of the show. We appreciate you. I hope that you feel comfortable coming by again, because you talked about this experiment and I do think, again, early this whole thing, as we transitioned to this new way of living and being, and working. And we’re gonna just have to see where folks are. I wonder what’s a good model structure?

Danny (44:44): That’s a really great question. I think as things open up…

Zach (44:47): I wonder what things are going to be next spring?

Danny (44:48): So the first thing is us hitting kind of thresholds with the vaccine. I think the second threshold will be people coming into the office. And I think with different companies, you’re probably going to see people coming to the office. Starting, I mean, it’s happening now in some places, but in a large part really July through September is I think you’ll see return to work. And then we’ll start to see how things shake out. The thing that I’m excited about also, is that you’re going to have people opt in and opt out. And that was one of the things that I wanted to mention about virtual first. Is that there are going to be some people; so there employees that I’ve interviewed, who have said, “Boy, we can’t wait to come in to Dropbox because it’s virtual first. And I can go and I can spend one month in Spain. I can spend one month in, in park city, Utah, and I can spend one other month in Dallas, in addition to living at my home.” And they’re really excited about that lifestyle, how they can do things.

(45:45): I’ve also had other people who work at Dropbox who have decided to leave because they said, one person said to me, you know I’m in my early twenties, I’m in my mid twenties. I really, really, really want an office social life. And so that’s something that’s important to me. And so, she decided to move to another organization where she felt like she could have more of that. So I think what you’re going to see over the next over the next few months is a lot of what I refer to as trade volume. So you’re going to see a lot of people moving in and out and choosing with their feet. And then probably things starting to settle out towards the end of the year. And by the time you get to spring.

(46:23): The other thing that I think is important, is people are revisiting what I refer to as pathways. We all had a set of pathways, Zach that existed pre-pandemic. Where I went to the grocery store, where I hung out with my friends, the hobbies that I had ,everything else. The way I connected with my family, we had all of that. And then, all of that abruptly stopped. And we had a huge kind of reset where we created a whole set of pathways to adjust to the pandemic. And now, everybody’s going to be creating a new set of pathways. And as they create those new set of pathways, what they’re looking for in the workplace may be different. And we’re making a bet that the virtual first workplace will be an attractor for people.

(47:11): That’s our bet. We decided to be really specific about that. And you can see, even though, like you said, a lot of companies initially said, everybody’s coming back into the office. Now they’re starting to say, well, maybe three days a week or maybe two days a week, or you can be flexible. Because all the surveys are coming back saying, I don’t want to commute three hours a day anymore. I’m done with that. And, I would rather spend that time working out, seeing my infant, doing something else than being on in San Francisco, being on Bart. That’s our public transportation system, Bay Area wide.

(47:47): So, you’re going to see a lot of people choosing different things. And we decided to really take kind of a specific position on that. And I think we’ll start to see what kind of grows out of that, towards the end of the year and certainly by spring. But Zach, I always enjoy coming and joining you, so anytime. Anytime you want, as long as the people don’t get bored with you and I talking, I’m happy. I’m happy to join anytime you want.

Zach (48:19): Oh, no, it’s never that. Look, numbers just popping out here, with your last interview. So, we appeciate you.

Danny (48:24): Thanks Zach.

Zach (48:24): Danny, we’re going to have you back, and shout out to everything you’re doing. And we’ll talk soon man. Peace.

(49:11): And we’re back. Yo, shout out to Danny Guillory, shout to Dropbox, all the dope stuff they’re doing. I want to make sure that y’all click the links in the show notes. Make sure y’all connect with Danny. Learn about what Dropbox has going on. It’s not even an ad. You know what I’m saying? It’s just off the love man. Like tech is the future black folks and different industries right now. I’m coming from consulting, so I tell people all the time, and I know a lot of black consultants listen to Living Corporate. 


(49:36): Listen, if you were ever to exit and go to industry, now is the time, the market’s on fire. You need to make sure that you’re exiting now. All right, take advantage. There’s plenty of really cool opportunities out there to do some work that you actually want to do, and get a bag. Make sure you check out some merch, livingcorporate.shop and give us five stars on Apple podcasts, if you haven’t. All right, catch you next time. Peace.

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