Welcome to Speakfully Insider, a weekly series featuring thought leaders on important topics surrounding workplace mistreatment, company culture, workplace safety, social justice, and more.
Please introduce yourself.
As an executive advisor, diversity strategist, keynote speaker and author, I coach and counsel executive leaders on DEI strategies for the business, while offering a no-nonsense approach to education for the broader employee population. I wrote a book that provides a guide for starting a DEI strategy called UNBIAS: Addressing Unconscious Bias at Work. I also designed a course on unconscious bias which is the second most viewed course across the LinkedIn learning platform. Across the platform, my courses have surpassed more than 1 million unique learners. I enjoy working with people managers and executive leaders to support their DEI efforts and have had the opportunity to work with companies such as American Express, ADP, Kia Motors, Hewlett Packard, Walmart, GE and many others.
How did you become interested in helping companies ‘Rework’ the way they think when it comes to recruiting, hiring and engaging for the inclusion and belonging of all?
I have been frustrated by the inequity I see in the workplace and by the ripple effect that it has on communities. I’ve personally been impacted by it when I think about the discrimination my dad faced as he worked towards earning an engineering degree. Had he been able to complete his schooling we would have had a very different upbringing. And I see this over and over again. According to the United Nations, when women work, they invest 90 percent of their income back into their families, compared with 35 percent for men. That means just by fixing the gender pay gap, we would vastly improve the lives of everyone.
What are you seeing in the workplace as it relates to diversity and inclusion that positively affect workplace culture?
I’m seeing there is a desire to assess the workplace and begin the work of truly making it a culture where everyone will feel included.
What are some of the general suggestions you make to your clients as it relates to diversity and inclusion?
Keep it simple, ask the employees for input, and tackle things one step at a time rather than getting overwhelmed trying to do everything and instead nothing gets done.
How does your role create a more positive work environment?
I’m able to come into a company and say the things employees have been muttering under their breath, whispering to each other in the halls or staying silent about because they were too scared to bring it up. I get the tough conversations started and demonstrate that those conversations are not actually that tough or scary.
How might we create an environment where employees feel confident to express uncomfortable work experiences?
We have to create trust and psychologically safe spaces. That doesn’t mean spaces where no one discusses the tough topics, it means crating spaces where an expectation has been set that we will discuss the tough topics and then we will do something about them.
What is your opinion of HR Tech platforms like Speakfully that give employees a way to track mistreatment anonymously while leadership receives valuable analytics to decipher important conversations they may have to improve culture?
I think platforms like this are needed but they won’t work without trust, authenticity and commitment to action. Employees have to trust their information will be kept confidential, they have to believe leaders actually want to do something about it and they have to see that action will be taken that will lead to positive change.