Presenters: Eric Ellis, President and CEO of Integrity Development Corp. & Melanie Courtright, CEO, Insights Association
Transcript Courtesy of Focus Forward & FF Transcription
Melanie Courtright: Hello, everyone. Thank you all for spending an hour with us today on such an important topic, and thank you for the many emails and notes we've gotten of enthusiastic support and interest and passion for what we'll be talking about today and what we'll be committing to over the next few months and years. So, again, today is a diversity and inclusion virtual town hall. I would like to just cover a few housekeeping items before I make our introduction. A reminder that the information we share today is not intended to substitute for any legal or HR or financial advice that you may need. If you need actual advice based on your company or your circumstances or your situations, you may need to work with your own attorney, accountant, HR advisor, or financial advisor. If you don't have one and you need us to help you make an introduction, we're happy to do that too. And if you would like to have some specific conversation, just reach out to us and we'll be happy to support you how we can and make introductions. This session, this town hall, will be recorded. Thank you again to Focus Forward for the transcriptions that they've been providing, we'll be transcribing this. We would absolutely love to hear from you today. This session will be a little bit different than some of our other virtual town halls. You still have the chat and the QA pod, but when we get to the Q&A session, we'd love for you to consider unmuting yourself and asking your question live. When you do so, just give us your name. I'll be working – put in the chat box that you'd like to go and I'll call your name, and then – or into the QA pod, actually, that you'd like to go. And I'll call your name out, and then unmute yourself and ask your question. That would be wonderful. We'd really like this to be a little bit more interactive. We'd like you to ask any question you'd like to ask. This is a comfortable space to ask any kind of questions you want. And Eric wants you to feel completely free to ask your questions live and have a real dialog, so thank you for that. Next, I would like to go ahead and introduce our guest speaker, Eric Ellis, President and CEO of Integrity Development Corp. Eric heads Integrity Development Corporation, a firm that helps build organizational cultures with diversity, inclusion, and respect. He was selected by the Society for Human Resources Management as one of the top 100 diversity and inclusion experts in the world. And he's worked with Toyota, Procter & Gamble, Scripps, Huntington Bank, and many other leading companies. He also has a book, Diversity Conversations, which is also the name of his weekly radio broadcast, so thank you very, very much, Eric, for your willingness to work with us and speak with us today. I am going to hand it off to you for you to share your slides. And thank you very much. Your turn.
Eric Ellis: Awesome. Thank you, Melanie. I am so delighted to have the opportunity to speak with you all today. I want to thank my friend Damon Jones with Burke for recommending me to Melanie. And Melanie, I really appreciate this opportunity to talk about something that I have a great deal of passion for. And that is this notion of developing inclusive workplaces. I've been doing this work for 30 years, I'm the President and CEO of Integrity Development. We're a management consulting firm that specializes in inclusion and diversity consulting, training, coaching, and assessments. I'm a second-generation consultant. So my father was born and raised a farmer, but then sports took him to college. And eventually, he went to Cincinnati with five children and went back to school to get his PhD in psychology. He worked as an internal consultant for Procter & Gamble, and then left there in the early '70s to start his own business and to help start the industry. So, believe it or not, I've been working in this field for 30 years full-time running my own business, but before me was my father. And many people even credit their firm for coining the term diversity, that's how far back we go. And so, my father was a consultant, my mother was a preacher. You're going to kind of hear a combination of both of those in my passion, if you will. When I started doing diversity work full-time 30 years ago, the first place I ever did this work was the CIA. And so, I trained spies. And I actually thought that my job was to be like a diversity ghostbuster. To go into organizations and gun down the racist, sexist, bigoted homophobes. And I was off to the races doing that in the early '90s. And I had almost calculated that I was going to lose a third of the class because I might call them a racist or a sexist, and then a third of the class was going to be on the fence, like I'm not sure if this guy is crazy or sane, but the third of the people that I won over, I thought that we might change the world. And I did that for a couple of years, and then I began to think, I don't think that's a good strategy and it's not working very effectively. So I looked in the mirror and I decided that I wanted to do something disruptive to my industry at that time. I wanted to come into a workshop and really create a psychologically safe environment, where people could say whatever they felt, whatever they believed, and an environment where I might even begin by admitting my own biases. Because I think that what you'll learn in this short talk that we're going to have is that bias is a human condition, that all of us have biases, the majority of them are unconscious. What I discovered – and this, you may not have heard this anywhere else, breaking news, here's what I want to tell you from 30 years of doing this work, is that people don't hate talking about diversity. They love it. We have been doing training for Toyota for 24 years. We've trained over 150,000 team members, and we're usually doing that training out in the middle of some little town across the country. And what I have discovered is that people don't hate talking about diversity, they love it. What they hate is you trying to tell them what to think or you trying to tell them what to believe or you criticizing them too much when they honestly tell you what they believe. And so, I believe that what we're in need of is an international, honest conversation around human differences. And I believe that it's really important, if you're going to develop a sustainable inclusion initiative, it has to equal maximize business success. I thought we'd start by just taking a moment to take a look at this video. I was looking across YouTube and I found this video that really showed the global and expansive impact of protests against systemic racism and injustice. And I think the question that we have to ask ourselves is, are we ready to meet this moment with transformative action? Let's take a look. About two minutes.
Eric Ellis: And so, as each of us has had the opportunity to take a look at this, we're probably all over the place in terms of our thinking. One of the things that it brings to mind to me, because I believe that people have to have an opportunity to see some things in order to understand what exists and what's real. In this country, in 1964 I think it was, 45% of adults in this country were smokers. And then, the Surgeon General came out with the report on the effects that smoking has on our lungs and our heart, things like that. And then we went on a public service campaign after that, sort of educating people. And what we see is that today probably 13% of adults smoke because people were educated. I think what happened with the George Floyd death, it wasn't the first time an unarmed African American male was killed in police custody, but it was the first time that we had a chance to see the police officer's face and the victim's face in the same picture. And we saw that for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. And I think that there was just sort of a sense around this country and around the world that something's just not right about that. And so now we're trying to take a look at what does that mean for organizations? And so, I've given some thought to, what do we do as organizations? SHRM wrote an article on some of the recommendations that I've offered organizations. And the first thing I say is, don't be silent. And here's some tips for things that you can think about, practical things that you might be able to do within your organization right away. First, I would say decide if you want to become engaged. I think it's so important – everybody might not agree with this – but I think it's so important for you to first of all take inventory on, is this an issue that I want to become involved in? If the answer is yes, that's awesome. If it's no, sit it out, and then just kind of see how that works for you. Two and three are, I think it's important to establish listening conversations, listening events. There was a 40-year meta-study done of diversity training that had been done over 40 years. And they identified two things that they said they – that were able to move the needle, if you will. And the first was perspective taking. In other words, when we take time to try to gain the perspective of somebody that's different than us, it does a number of things. Number one, it brings down our inflated self-perception. Number two, it takes up our empathy towards others. And not just the target people, but across a number of people. And then, number three, it brings down our conscious and unconscious biases. So I think that that's something that's real valuable as a tool, no matter where you are in the world. Three, I really believe it's important for us to do what I call destigmatize bias. Now, I'm not suggesting that bias is not something that we need to work on, but I believe it's something we need to recognize. It's a human condition. It's the way that our brain works. It's much of the way that we're socialized. We need to destigmatize bias so that each of us can identify it within ourselves, we can begin to own it, and we can begin to work to reduce it. Four and five are embrace empathic listening and other implicit bias skills. So a lot of people are going through implicit bias training, but if you're not identifying some specific techniques that will help you to bring those down, then that's not going to be as helpful. And I think empathic listening is so important that we take time to sort of listen to people, sort of begin with a tentative opening, if you will. Paraphrase back to them the content of their message and maybe the feeling. And then sort of check for accuracy. I think that's a great way to start, especially if you're thinking about a listening conversation in your organization, you don't want to be quizzing people and sort of interrogating them about their experience. You actually want to seek to learn. And then, strengthen your inclusion efforts versus pausing them. Many organizations have come out of COVID-19 thinking, well, we probably ought to just set inclusion to the side until we get through COVID-19. I think that we are seeing disruption that's the new normal for us. We know that 30% of businesses are projected to not be returning. I would submit to you that, as we begin to welcome and become inclusive, of not just diverse people, but diverse thinking and diverse ideas, it increases the probability that we can pivot in ways that are necessary to sort of be successful in this new world. And I think that diversity issues have had a great impact on people based upon their diversity. We've seen that ethnically and also in terms of people that are considered essential workers and the kind of treatment that they're receiving. All of those things revolve around, in many ways, inclusion. And I say number six, recognize your diverse constituents, and then work to be inclusive. In the article, I identify that there are four general types of people that exist within your organization, certainly there's more than that, but these are four. What I want you to think about in particular. First there are protest advocates. There are people who believe that justice requires immediate and systemic action. We cannot delay. We need to march in the streets. The second group is non-violent protest supporters. Those are people that believe that protest is the right thing, they just don't really support the looting and some of the other activities that happen around that. And then C, there are people who believe don't protest a few bad apples. They look at law enforcement and believe that there's just a few bad apples. I would challenge the thinking if you look at for example the police department in Philadelphia. I think in a year they had 3,000 posts that police officers had made on social media that were either racist or offensive. If 3,000 – if they're making 3,000 posts that's not just one or two bad apples, so I think there's some work there but there are people who believe that you don't protest a few bad apples. And then D, some people are just loyal to the system and they really believe that we are providing more support to the system. No matter where you stand, I think it's so important to create the kind of culture that everybody is welcome. I certainly would suggest that we lean more towards A and B because I think the world has spoken that there is systemic racism and bias and it's something that we need to address. And then finally number seven says develop a strong challenging strategy and turn this moment into a fairness, justice, and equity movement. So when I said to you that there were two things that they identified in that 40-year meta-study, the first was perspective taking. The second was developing strong, challenging action plans. In other words, those organizations that committed to really digging in on this and putting together not just sort of a ‘what one thing can we do’ or ‘what are a couple of neat things that we can do’, but they really began to develop strong challenging action plans that makes a difference. So those are some recommendations and all of these slides will be made available for you, those of you that may be fearing, hey, I can't keep up with everything that's been said. Here's one of the things that I believe. I believe that certainly every time you listen to somebody like myself that has a perspective, there's going to be some information and insights that are helpful for you. But I really believe that what I want to encourage people to take away from this, the one thing that I would say take away from this is to become – have a willingness to become and embrace disruptive curiosity. And what I mean by that, most of you are probably familiar with the concepts around disruptive thinking, disruptive innovation, and it suggests that what if we had the hypothesis that everything that I'm doing today is wrong. Everything I think about inclusion. Everything I think about racism, prejudice, bias, what if everything were wrong? How might I utilize my personal curiosity to help me take advantage of the people around me and my organization, my customers and others so that they may help to educate me? And I really believe that's one of the things that's necessary is that we have to start by stop making assumptions that everything we are doing, everything we know is right. Let's assume that maybe I don't have this right and then utilize personal curiosity to help me to become more informed. The justice group did a survey of U.S. support and they found that 84% of people across this country show support for CEO statements. It's been shocking to me that I was looking at my phone one day and I got a text message from DSW Black Lives Matter, TJ Maxx Black Lives Matter. What? A year ago, Black Lives Matter was a four-letter word and today I'm getting texts from everybody who's beginning to embrace this. I think the world has spoken that injustice is real. We've got to get beyond our denial and really begin to embrace it. 84% of people support peaceful protest and 78% believe that we need to elevate our I&D efforts. There are these four definitions that you can look over later but what I believe is that all people are unique and what we want is to bring our authentic selves to work and we want to be able to bring our talents, skills, and ability and for those to be welcomed and included by the organization. We want a sense of belonging, and then we want sort of equity to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities. And at the end of the day I believe that all people are looking for respect and if you think about respect as sort of expressing admiration and deep regard for an individual, that's going to be a challenge. That might even be a high bar and the reason why I say that is because I was looking at a study a couple of years ago that Gallup had done of full-time workers around the globe, and what they said was that in that survey, that 85% of people don't like their jobs and 75% don't like their bosses. When I first read that I was like, oh my goodness, this can't be true. And then I started thinking about it and I've been doing this work for 30 years, and what I've seen is that oftentimes organizations spend their time and energy and their priorities on their products and their services and they assume that the people side of their work should be on auto-pilot and I think that's a mistake. The two greatest learnings that I've gained over the last 30 years of doing this work, number one, hold on, this is not breakthrough, people are an organization's greatest asset. But number two is that they have the answers. And so that's why I'm pushing people and encouraging you to engage in this disruptive curiosity, because a lot of solutions and insights exist from your people. I'm going to share some of those. As we look at diversity, some of you in your pre-questions asked, we want to make sure is diversity broad or is it not? We're in this moment where racial injustice, racism, systemic racism is really what people are talking about on a regular basis. If I were to give you a sort of history lesson on where we've come at least in this country, in the '60s we had the Civil Rights Movement that tried to deal with racial inequities, and then we moved to race and gender and then we moved a little bit more. And so then we went through the diversity sort of years and the diversity inclusion years. I would almost call those for a decade almost the silent years of race. In other words, any time you would raise race people would say hey, hey, hey diversity, remember it's broad, it's beyond race and gender. Beyond Race and Gender, when Roosevelt Thomas wrote that book, I know that on the positive side what he wanted us to understand and appreciate is that diversity is broad. I agree with that totally. But in some ways, it began to say to people that we can now sort of say beyond race and gender almost to scold people for raising those issues. And I think that's a problem for us and now we've swung back to trying to deal with racism. This wheel that I developed some years, maybe 15 years ago, says that there are three dimensions of diversity – forgive me, I need water. There's the sort of personal dimensions of diversity. Things that are immutable differences; our race, our age, our gender, our sexual orientation. There's the social dimension of diversity, sort of a second ring, then the third ring is there's the organizational dimensions of diversity. And what I believe is that the way that we look at the world and the way that the world looks at us is impacted by these three dimensions of diversity. I believe that you could take this wheel and literally map out yourself. I believe and the court says that there are dominant culture and non-dominant culture traits so in each one of these little boxes there are dominant culture traits, those are traits that have more power and privilege. There are non-dominant culture traits, those that have less power and privilege and so I think that we could probably sit down and map out ourselves. Eric Ellis, I'm middle aged. I am 6'1", I'm a male, that's dominant culture traits. My personality is an extrovert, that's dominant culture. My race is black, that's non-dominant culture. So I can literally map myself out on this. You also could map out your organization to understand where people have dominant culture and non-dominant culture traits. We know that dominant culture traits give us more power and privilege. Non-dominant culture traits have the potential for us to be lost and maybe even discriminated against. If you look at bias, implicit bias here as the beliefs or attitudes that are activated automatically, they operate outside of our conscious awareness, understanding, and actions and decisions in ways that often contradict our stated values and beliefs. Now this was – when I learned – when I began to understand implicit bias, it shifted the way that I did the work that I do. I remember in the early days if I was teaching a class and a gentleman would say to me, well, Eric, I don't have anything against people based on their sexual orientation as long as they get the work done. That's fine. That's all I'm looking for. And when they would say that, honestly every time I would be saying to myself, c'mon now liar, liar, pants on fire and here's what this insight says to us. So our brain can operate in ways that may differ from our stated values and beliefs. In other words our brain sometimes is freestylin'. It's doing whatever it wants and so what that means is that sometimes when people have said to me that, Eric, I don't have any biases against people based upon their sexual orientation. What this insight says is that when they say that, they could be telling the truth. They can take and pass a lie detector test that says that they're telling the truth and still discriminate against people based upon their sexual orientation. Isn't it crazy? And so in many ways, implicit bias is what happens – so our brain is looking to sort of – for some efficiencies. If you look at this first reason why we have these implicit biases, too much information. Every moment our brain receives 11 million bits of information. It can only deal with 40 bits of information each moment, so what do we do with the rest? It goes into our subconscious, if you will. Oftentimes, implicit bias happens because it's an instinct. There's a need to act fast. So when you see a lot of these issues that are happening around the world with police and the community, sometimes it's because of an instinct. It's because their brain was moving fast. The faster we move, the more likely we are to operate in reflexive ways which then reflect what are our mental models. What's the information that we've received from the world around us that creates stereotypical beliefs about certain groups of people. So when we're operating fast, our adrenaline is running, then there's a possibility of making greater mistakes and biases. So wherever we can slow things down, it gives us the opportunity to move out of our system two thinking. So system one thinking is our reflexive brain. System two thinking is more of our inclusive brain and so that's something to think about. Number three, sometimes we have implicit biases because there's not enough meaning, and so when there's not we fill in the blanks and then our brain's always trying to consider, what should I remember? And so it establishes priorities oftentimes based upon what can keep us safe and that's where biases and stereotypes sometimes can kick in. What we see in the media, for example, is that in this country, here's what I've said, that we are seeing now what I would define as the weaknesses of capitalism and freedom and so let me tell you what I mean. So I watch all the different news stations, whether it's Fox, CNN, MSNBC but here's what that means that – so news outlets are in business to make money and so they make money when viewers are watching. So they show us a lot of tornadoes, storms, hurricanes because they know when we see a hurricane, we're going to stop and we're going to watch that. And so if there's not a hurricane in my city, they're going to show me a hurricane in another city next to mine or a hurricane that happened last year, but they're going to show me a hurricane because they want me to keep watching. So when you look at our politics today and the reason why it's become so much more tribal, it's because it gets people's attention. I don't believe, I want you to hear this breaking news, I don't believe that we are as divided as we are told we are, but what I do believe is if you tell us we hate each other enough we might kill each other in the streets. And so there's a need for us, and I want you to think about this in your work, there's a need for us to in many ways do an ad campaign for positive. How do we get people more interested and how do we make positive things interesting? And I'm also going to challenge you that, I'm not saying that we should whitewash or try to wash away some of the real challenges that exist around us. For many of the communities that I worked with, whenever they find themselves in the midst of community turmoil, civil unrest, one of the temptations that they have is to market their way out of those situations. And so I say oftentimes if a firm had their last $10,000 or their last $100,000, they would spend that on marketing versus real change. So I think we need to be focused on real change, but then we have to have a good campaign to sort of tell the world about that. And then I said again this notion of de-stigmatizing bias. I believe that is something that I want to encourage you to do. It's one of the things that I do it in every one of the training classes that I do since the early '90s. We literally don't lose a person. We don't lose people. At Toyota we trained, like I said, over 150,000 team members. Our 24-year average evaluation has been a 4.6 on a 5-point scale, and that's in little towns all around the country, because I believe that people really respect open honesty and an opportunity to share and an opportunity to learn. Here's some just critical data that I think is good for you. I shared the 85/75. Also there's that 10% number in the first block. Here's what it says. Gallup also put out an article that said that Why Great Managers are so Rare. So what they suggested is that in a typical organization only 10% of managers are great, 20% are good, and then 70% are mediocre to poor. Oh my goodness. And then they said that 82%, I want you to read this article Why Great Managers are So Rare. 82% of decisions that a company makes to place people in management are wrong. And then 72% of the decisions that the average employee makes to become engaged is based upon the effectiveness of their manager. Oh my goodness. Breaking news again. So if we have a situation where just in general 85% of people don't like their jobs, 75% don't like their bosses, and only 10% of their bosses are great, we haven't even started talking about inclusion yet. We have a people problem. And so what I would say to you as a starting place is that we have to focus on how do we create people-centered workplaces, and I think that when we do that we'll find ourselves more successful. 70% of people who quit their jobs say they left for a lack of appreciation, and so that's important. You see that companies with more cultural, ethnic, gender diversity among their executives are more likely to see a better than average profits, 33% for companies that have better than average racial/ethnic diversity, 21% greater profits for companies that have greater gender diversity. And then this last one, oh my goodness, I just think this is just crazy, that 50% of people say they have more trust in strangers than they do their own bosses. We've got some work to do. At the bottom, the line says adding diversity to a team doubles the probability of finding the right solutions. So I want to say to you that inclusion is one of the answers for your organization trying to be successful. There's this article, I don't know how many of you had a chance to see it but it was an article that identified 600 black advertising professionals made demands for meaningful action and change on June 6 of this year. What I did with that list, I certainly recommend the article, but what I did was I looked at that and I said invest in ads. That's one way to think about it. Ads being action, action taken. They asked for specific measurable public commitments. They're saying let's get serious about this. Let's make them specific, measurable public commitments to D&I. They believe that senior leadership needs to be accountable and that that accountability should sometimes be tied to their salaries and their funds. They want to ensure diverse representation, especially at the senior levels. I can tell you that if you had one strategy that you had to engage in in order to ensure diversity, we know that when you increase the diversity of your panels, your hiring panels, when you increase the diversity of your boards, you get more diversity in terms of your CEOs and others, and so that's so important. And then increase early diverse pipeline development and go to nontraditional places in order to find talent. I'm going to say to you I think that's so huge. In your industry, you're looking for good ideas all the time. This is in your best interest as you diversify your talent, especially at the top, you diversify the kind of insights that you get. I want you to think about something. We know that sports, professional sports were all white at one point in this country; professional baseball and basketball and football and golf. And I'll tell you look at all – so all the fighting we had to do to get people to welcome in inclusion only to make the owners richer. Isn't that crazy? So a lot of times when we make diversity and inclusion political, we actually miss out on its value to our own business, and so that's what I want you to also think about, is that this is not about tokenism. This is not about just looking at the wall and say, OK, we've got a white guy, we've got a black guy, Hispanics, I think we're good. We're covered. It's not really about that. It's about meaningfully engaging the voices, the minds, the talent of people that might be different and when we do that well we succeed more. The D, discrimination, identify and reduce the potential discrimination. So do audits around policies and practices for equity. Develop an I&D competency for educating HR and executives, and then managers at all levels. Now, there's an interesting reason why they recommended I believe HR and executives go through implicit bias training and I&D training. So I think that's important. Introduce a wage, a sort of equity plan to ensure that black women, black men, and people of color are being compensated fairly. I think that's so important for you not to just make an assumption that you think we got this right, but literally take a look at that. And then the final area and sort of the S on ADS is "systemic." Greater investment in employee resource groups, management development, mentorship, sponsorship programs for black employees and others. And then D&I councils, including black employees and people of color to help shape diversity/inclusion policies and monitor progress. I love the things that they've recommended. I think that you'll find that that maps in with best practices. This slide right here is an adaptation from sort of a global D&I best practices report that basically said this, that you cannot be successful at developing an effective inclusion initiative by just piecemealing, feeling your way through. Saying, "Well, let's try a little bit of that and a little bit of that." No, you actually have to be more strategic. And I'm reminded of – when I was growing up, I would watch these clowns that would be in variety shows. And a clown would stand around and they'd have four poles. And then they would have to keep the plates spinning on the tops of those four poles all at the same time. That's what this strategy says, that you actually have to deal with all four strategic pillars. Establishing a strong foundation with what are our executives doing. How are they engaged in this? What people know is what our organization values, our senior leadership is taking ownership for. Establish a strong foundation. Look at the structure. Number two, developing the internal structure. What are we doing around recruitment? What are we doing around education at all levels? What are we doing around mentoring and sponsorship? And then three, strengthen the external structure to make sure who are our suppliers. Who are we working with? Who are we making better? And then fourthly, measurable business results. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that we are developing strong business results. I believe that you all are an area that offers some real potential for helping this growing number of MBEs, minority business enterprises, WBEs, women-owned business enterprises. Because I think that if they could take advantage of the skill-set that you have, that we literally can drive up the wealth of diverse companies in ways that would give benefit and strengthen their ability to hire people within their communities. So there is a natural talent that you have to develop strategic alliances with people, that you can have this symbiotic sort of co-mutual beneficial relationships. And then here's the model that I've developed as a result of 30 years of doing this work. And what the model says is that sustainable inclusion has to equal maximized business success. I don't believe that you can be successful at inclusion over time if you're not focused on your business and how you make sure that it is successful. I think that inclusion gives us the potential to maximize our effectiveness in three core categories. And those three categories are looking at our people, or culture and wellbeing. The more inclusive, the more diverse we are, the better people we have. The richer culture that we have. The higher sort of level of wellbeing we have for our employees. Products and services, I think they get better as we increase inclusion. Our ability to innovate gets stronger. And then finally, our customers and the communities that – the needs that exist within our communities. Those are better served when we have diversity in terms of our leadership and our organization helping us to identify what we should be focused on. So I believe that there's this need to connect inclusion to business success. Now, I think that on the left side you have to analyze and plan. So current-state analysis. You really need to look at what are the drivers to be more inclusive. What are the derailers? What are the things that make it difficult for us? I think you have to understand and look at what are the best practices, next practice. We have to do an analysis there. I think that we have to celebrate the things that we're doing today that are working well, but we also need to be borrowing from others. And then the third one I've talked about early, design challenging inclusion strategic plans. The keys to success are we have to enroll, engage, educate our C-level leadership. I think that we have to connect this work around inclusion to business needs. And then finally we have to establish accountability and measurement. And so I want to land here and say that I'm going to encourage you again to embrace disruptive curiosity. And in doing so, I think that you strengthen your own knowledge and ability and your own organization's ability to be successful.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you very much, Eric. So we do have quite a few questions coming in. And remember, if you'd be willing to just unmute yourself and ask your question live, that would be great. I'm going to start though with a question from Pamela Harrison. And so she said 30 years doing this work is so impressive. Congratulations on that. But also makes her sad that it's been a need for that long and longer. How can we make sure a real, meaningful, tangible change starts to happen now so that we don't have to pass this baton to our sons and daughters?
Eric Ellis: Well, I'll tell you that I think that businesses have been in business forever. Thank you for your heartfelt question. I really appreciate that. But I don't think that we will ever consider not continuing to think about product profits. Sort of our people, our ability to succeed, our quality, I think those are things that we're going to talk about forever. And I believe that inclusion is the same. As I think about my relationship with my own wife, we've been married over 30 years. And we never will get to the place where we no longer need assistance and help building better relationships. But I think that when we delay, when we fear engaging in meaningful conversations and then moving to actionable strategies, I think we delay the success that we can experience. And our young people are showing us that the millennials were not sleeping. When they were Instagramming their friends, they literally were connecting the world to say that, "Enough's enough. We're not going to continue to tolerate things the way they are." Thank you.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Cassandra Beals, I've just pressed a button to allow you to talk. If you could go ahead and ask your question.
Cassandra Beals: Hi, Eric and Melanie. Again, thank you, Eric, for the fantastic presentation. It's brought a lot of insight to what I plan to start implementing at our company. Unfortunately the ethnicity and diversity is slim-to-none. And I was just wondering how – I'm an HR administrator, and I just want to see how I can start implementing this with our not only executive board, but senior management, management in general as unfortunately it being not so diverse, and how I can start from the top and have it be a trickle-down effect, given all of the tips and tricks that you've given us in this presentation.
Eric Ellis: I think that first of all, we absolutely have to collect data so that we can understand the story. Because there's a study that was done by the University of Wisconsin that looked at "how do you reduce implicit bias over time in measurable ways?" And there's some real strategies and steps that you have to take. The first one is people have to understand what the problem is. And I think that's what George Floyd did for many people, many people that have never experienced police brutality or seen that. They just didn't even believe that that existed, so it just blew people away. I think within our organizations, we have to understand how we operated. Where have we not tapped in to people? What business have we lost as a result of not having enough diversity? I think we got to paint the picture so that people understand the impact that it has on us. And then we have to be really serious about putting together measurable strategies. We have to take some chances. Because what happens is birds of a feather flock together. All people are more comfortable with people like themselves. We have to begin to increase our comfort with people that may not be exactly like we are. Thank you for the question.
Cassandra Beals: Thank you.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Lisa, you're up next.
Lisa Courtade: I really, really enjoyed your presentation. There are a bunch of slides I can't wait to share with others.
Eric Ellis: Awesome.
Lisa Courtade: I ran a diversity session with my entire team this past week. And it's not the first time I've done it. This time was more difficult because we had several team members share their personal stories about racism and bias. And one of the team asked a question. And he said, "Why do we have to put a business case on diversity?"
Eric Ellis: Good question.
Lisa Courtade: "Shouldn't it be enough to just do it because it's the right thing to do?" And I gave him an answer, but I would love to hear your answer on this.
Eric Ellis: Well, I love doing things because they're the right thing to do. Unfortunately, business doesn't operate that way. And so if we don't really – so a business is in business to make money and to meet needs. And so I believe that the thing that is most sustainable is establishing a strong business case. If we want to ensure that we have the attention, that we have some metrics, that we can literally know when we've moved the needle, it is the business case that will help us to do that. In Cincinnati, I've been working on trying to establish a nonprofit called the Business of Urban Transformation, where I'm literally trying to recruit drug dealers, gang leaders, and killers to partner with me to bring down violence in exchange for partnering them with traditional business-owners. I think it's a mistake for us to constantly be protesting and saying "get out of our neighborhoods." We need to establish partnerships that might encourage them to make different decisions. There's a business case for that. But I would say to you that when I try to work with them, it cannot be a one-way relationship. It's not about me going out in a paternalistic way and say, "Hey, I'm here to save you." No, I can learn some things from people that are currently maybe making bad choices. And that relationship, if it's a win-win, then it's sustainable. And I've got two gangsters that I'm literally mentoring, and they're almost like sons of mine. And they're very interesting. Here's what they said to me. Eric, what you're working with us on, if it brings me out of the game, not only will you bring me out of that lifestyle. You're going to bring the whole gang that I'm with. We need innovative thinking around some of the problems that we're facing. Thank you for the work you're doing.
Lisa Courtade: That is fantastic, Eric. Thank you.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Ryan, you're up next.
Ryan Johnson: Hi, Eric. Thank you so much for the amazing presentation.
Eric Ellis: Thank you.
Ryan Johnson: My question is I admittedly come from very white privilege. And something I've been struggling with is what things I can do. I'm not in upper management or anything like that. But being more of a, for lack of a better word, lower employee, what type of things can I and my colleagues do within the workplace, but then also outside of that to really contribute to the cause, to better make ourselves aware and get ourselves better understanding?
Eric Ellis: Ryan, I love the question. Thank you for that. I'll tell you, I think that it's so important for us to get a real clear sense of this moment that we're in. I don't know about you, but I've shed a lot of tears over the last month. I've shed tears as I watched in Minneapolis. The chief of police there, when he was on CNN, every time they would say that the Floyd family was on the phone, he would take off his hat in respect and honor of them. I've watched as police officers have laid down their hats and their batons and gone down on one knee to say to their citizens that "we stand with you." I've watched as protesters have formed a circle around a police officer that got detached from the rest of their unit, and they were protecting them from people that would do harm. I've watched as white people in little all-white towns are protesting with signs that say "Black Lives Matter." Sometimes it's not really – they don't have to do anything other than be, than partner with me, say that my life matters. Because when black lives matter, then all lives will matter. So keep being a friend. Keep listening. And I think that – and keep being willing to take a risk sometimes to stand with people who are fighting for equity. Thank you.
Ryan Johnson: Thank you. Powerful.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Bruce, you're up next.
Bruce Olson: Hey, thanks. Been really interesting. Actually, my question or comment is going to be directed as much to Melanie, at you and the Insights Association as Ellis. My company is – we've grown from – in the last 15 years from being five or six people to being 33 people, and volume going up multiple of three or four times. And Ellis, this has been a – that growth process is its own experience in learning how do you maintain a culture while you're growing rapidly. It takes a lot more deliberate effort than I think of. And we've directly experienced – you source really competent additional people from your current relationships. It's one of the unintentional reasons why you don't get the kind of diversity that I certainly would like to get in our organization, because its referrals, the recommendations is the number-one source of acquiring people. So it feels to me like if we're going to make progress in this industry, that we've got to do better. And I'm going to do it myself a little bit where I can. We've got to do better about getting to really back even out of the black colleges to getting, recruiting these students into the master's programs so that they're feeding the pipeline. Because it's really hard. Interviewing somebody is a really terrible way to determine whether they're a good fit for your organization. So I'm interested in if the Insights Association, I guess, is going to do more, and maybe how to expand the network. It's difficult to do.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you for that. Eric, if it's OK, I'll talk for a second and then you can come on the back of it. I was going to share this slide in just a couple minutes. But it's very important to me and to the Insights Association that this be more than a single-event town hall and some words of support. So we're building a diversity and inclusion committee. We are almost done, and when we announce the participants you're going to be really excited, because I know I am. Some really amazing people are going to help us with a long-term diversity and inclusion action plan. That committee is going to then build a measurement plan. We measure what we care about, and we need to measure this more in our industry and really understand where we are so that we can track progress. On the other side of a measurement plan, we're going to put feet to the plan. We're going to actually have actions that will effect real change. And one of those action plans will include better partnerships with universities including HBCUs and other universities that focus on marginalized and minority communities, and build those relationships with universities, so that we can give those students free memberships into the association and begin to get them on our boards and aware of our industry and applying for jobs. And then also our unemployed program of membership as well. Even if you're not a student but you're out there and you're searching, free membership for them. And other real action plans. And then a coalition of associations and partners. We've had a lot of associations. Wire, ARF, SampleCon, MRS, TRS. They're all excited about partnering, so that we all do this together. Instead of each of us trying to do everything, each association will bring what their strength is to the relationship and work as a global community on changing the diversity makeup of our industry. And then finally to Eric's point earlier about advertising for the positive, we're going to build a recognition plan to promote progress. So we have plans and the committee is almost done. We're going to have our first meeting on around July 9th, and then just really put feet to action. Eric, anything you want to add there?
Eric Ellis: Yes. I would say – thank you for the question. And I would say embrace becoming more inclusive. You're absolutely right. So often we pick from our employees and who they're connected to. We have to become desperate around gaining diversity, whether it's employees, it's staff, it's consultants to help us, because that will give us access to greater diversity. I'll give you an example. So for me coming out of COVID-19, believe it or not, it shut down businesses like mine. If your business is to bring people together, and now all of a sudden we're sheltering in place, there's disruption that's happened for you. My wife has been saying to me for at least 15 years, "Eric, you need to go further and harder into the virtual space." And I really fought that because I had paradigms. Oh my goodness. I pivoted because of COVID-19, and I cannot believe what took me so long to get here. It's just opened up the world for me, and that's what I'm saying to you, that there's a world of possibilities that's open to you as you begin to become desperate to become an inclusive organization and make that happen. I really appreciate this opportunity to talk to you all, and I want to wish you the best as you move forward.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. There are a couple more questions, and Obianuju had one about the concept of sameness isn't necessarily a solution in a workforce full of mainly white people who provide services. How do you address that? The concept of sameness isn't necessarily a solution.
Eric Ellis: Right, it's not. And I'll tell you that – so there's this delicate balance that we have to strike. Everybody that you talk to is not going to understand that. We were not Toyota's first pick. They picked a firm out of on the coast, and they came in and sort of blew back the hair of these little small-town people and telling them how wrong their values were. That's a mistake. I really have developed a model that looks at how do you minimize backlash, and I think that true inclusion does that. But you have to be able to understand the needs of dominant-culture people and non-dominant-culture people. Sameness is not the answer. Diversity is the answer. We have to make sure that everybody does know that that includes them.
Melanie Courtright: There are so many more great questions, and unfortunately we're out of time. But I will commit that we'll have another opportunity to ask questions like this. Eric, I'll send you some of these questions, and maybe you can help me provide specific answers to people off the town hall. But let me just wrap up by saying thank you so much to Eric. Our next town hall is scheduled for July 10th tentatively, and it's going to be a research brief on all the research that we've been conducting. We may pivot as we do these town halls. We are being real-time. We may end up having a conversation about this again, especially given the amount of questions that we weren't able to get to today. But I want to thank you all very much for your participation, for your passion, for your commitment to change and action. And if there is – Eric, any last thoughts for everyone?
Eric Ellis: No. I just think that the time is right. And here's the thing: do not get caught up in the tribalism and the political aspect of this. This is all about people. It's all about moving forward. When we do the right things, it will pay dividends for us. So good luck. If we can help let us know.
Melanie Courtright: I love that. Great advice. Thank you. Thank you to everyone. Have a great rest of your day, and we'll be back in touch.