In this episode of The Forum Podcast, Patricia Jesperson, (EmployeeEXP) dives into what she feels is missing from the workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion conversation: Succession Planning.
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If you subscribe to Ms. Verna Myers quote, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance,” missing for me from many inclusive organization conversations are the economics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Succession Planning.
Individual success in an organization equals career, income and ultimately wealth growth. To an organization it is net-new revenue growth–often generated through new products and services. Neither of these can occur without systemic adoption of the skills that develops inclusive leaders. Using the Inclusion Matrix this podcast explores those five critical skills: IQ, EQ, CQ, Intellectual Humility and Vulnerability. Mastering these skills makes for leaders and managers capable of the needed coaching and development required to advance any individual within their organization.
- Define, learn & explore what each of the skills look like in reality
- Put the skills into practice–what manager/leader as coach looks like
- The courage to step into inclusion–these skills help to navigate uncomfortable conversations
>> The forum on workplace inclusion’s 2021 podcast series is sponsored by Best Buy. More diversity in tech means more ideas that can change the world. Learn more at bestbuy.com/moreofthis.
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Ben Rue>> Hello, and thank you for tuning in for today’s podcast, the economics of DEIs in succession planning with Patricia Jesperson of EmployeeEXP. I’m Ben Rue, Program Associate here at the forum. This podcast is brought to you by Best Buy. If you subscribe to Ms. Verna Myers’ quote, “diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance,” missing from many inclusive organizations’ conversations are the economics of diversity equity inclusion and succession planning. Individual success in an organization equals career, income, and ultimately wealth growth. To an organization, it is new revenue growth often generated through new products and services. Neither of these can occur without the systemic adoption of skills that develop inclusive leaders. Using the inclusion matrix, succession explores those five critical skills; IQ, EQ, CQ, intellectual humility, and vulnerability. Mastering these skills makes for leaders and managers capable of the needed coaching and development required to advance any individual within their organization. This podcast will help you define, learn, and explore what each of these skills looks like in reality, put the skills into practice what manager slash leader as coach looks like, and develop the courage to step into inclusion. These skills help navigate uncomfortable conversations. Patricia M. Jesperson is Chief Curiosity Officer of EmployeeEXP and co author of the newly re released book Reversing the Ostrich Approach to Diversity: Pulling your head out of the sand. With more than 25 years working on the people side of business, which includes leading pro groups, now [inaudible] communication division, Connectco [phonetic], and delivering business leadership solutions through her work with the International Firm of Arthur J. Gallagher. She specializes in working with employers to create better employee experience outcomes. Patricia can also be found leading classes at Augsburg University, fulfilling her long time desire to teach. She also has significant board experience, including human resource executive forum board, Augsburg University alumni board, chair of workforce development and education, policy committee for the Minnesota chamber, and SHRM State Council, chair of diversity and inclusion. Without further ado, I would like to go ahead and hand things over to you, Patricia.
Patricia Jesperson>> Thank you, Ben. I really appreciate the very thoughtful introduction. And welcome all to the economics of diversity equity and inclusion in succession planning. And you’ll hear me referring to that now going forward as DEI. First, I want to recognize that not only history is being made today, but it’s actually being made as I record this session with the election of Kamala Harris, the first woman, black, and South Asian vice president of the United States. It is said that what we see from our country’s leadership strongly influences what happens throughout U.S. organizations. After nearly 30 years of being in the DEI space, struggling with organizational leaders to understand the business case for diversity and inclusion wasn’t even a word that existed in the space at that time. This historic team will continue the, that this historic team will continue the exponential changes we now see in DEI work. And, of course, that I look forward to seeing the first woman president in my lifetime. So, we’ll see when that’s going to happen. Now onto the presentation and what I hope will be your takeaways from our session today. First is understanding the total organizational value of inclusion and succession planning. Next is understand the potential impediments or barriers to succession planning and the need to upskill your leaders in order to remove barriers and develop a broader array of talent. So, if we look at truly how succession planning is defined, it is a strategy for identifying and dyeing future leaders at your company. Not just at the top, but for the major roles at all levels. It really helps your business to prepare for all contingencies by preparing high potential workers for advancement. And so consider what we face today with regard to workforce contingencies that impact organizations in real time, such as social unrest, polarization, changing demographics, socioeconomic disparities, and much more. Organizations need the best and brightest people from across a broad spectrum to address the worldwide reality of constant change. And this was recently shared in December by the Institute of Business Ethics, and it’s a piece titled The Ethics of Diversity. And what they came to the conclusion of is diverse teams make better decisions. Why is this? Because they looked at the three elements of diversity, first being cognitive or the differences in how we interpret, reason and solve. Next being identity diversity or the differences in race, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, physical qualities, and sexual orientation. And then experiential diversity, socioeconomic backgrounds, skill experiences, et cetera. Diversity is identified as a talent. It’s a mathematical fact. And it’s an empirical fact. Diversity is a form of ability and produces a bonus. In simple terms, if you put it in the simplest terms, 1 plus 1 can equal 3, but only if the two 1s are different, which is what results in the bonus. I also cite an equation that I really like. And this comes from Scott Page, who is the author of The Diversity Bonus. His equation is this, actually two equations, is group ability equals average ability plus diversity. And then thus organizational success equals average success plus diversity. So, in our conversation today, what we are going to look at is three assumptions; that innovation drives growth, that integrating DEI into succession planning drives innovation, and that it takes inclusive leadership to drive DEI in succession planning. So, we’re going to start with the place where all things seem to me to start, and that is with the business piece. And I have to share, again, back 30 years ago, it was very challenging to determine and help to share what the metrics were for business leaders. Today, there are metrics all over the place. Some of the leading organizations that present those, the data on the impact of diversity within business, would be MacKenzie and Deloitte. So, if we look at MacKenzie’s most recent study out of March this past year is companies in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity are 12% more likely to outform, outperform all other companies in the data set. So, clearly diversity leading organizations are in front of other organizations that would be referred to or assumed to be [inaudible]. If we look at it a little bit differently, Deloitte looks at the value of inclusive cultures. One of the key pieces that they bring forward is that 71% of respondents prefer an organization that demonstrates inclusive behaviors with inconsistent inclusion programs as opposed to high quality inclusion programming, but inconsistent inclusive behaviors. I refer to this as walking the talk. Where I see this play out, and I see it especially more common today as CEO action has continued to I think it’s up over well a thousand CEOs that have signed off on that, which is terrific. And I embrace the initiative. I think a potential challenge in embracing the initiative ahead of having the culture ready is that you can get out in front of it. So, you can engage in one of the key elements or components of the CEO action pledge, which is unconscious bias training. But if you do that in advance of the culture being ready, it’s the training will not have lasting impact. So, you really have to think about that. And I think that this really leads and tells us that it’s okay to be imperfect, as long as leadership and authenticity around the desire for an inclusive culture is there and people recognize that. And another key piece of information from this study was that 30% of millennials will choose more inclusive organizations. Putting an exclamation point on the discussion of the business case, I have to mention the newest organization out there, and it’s referred to as OneTen, or OneTen.org, which just launched in December. And it’s a coalition of leading CEOs and organizations, and they describe themselves as a committed, committed American companies who want to actively upskill, hire, and promote one million black Americans over the next 10 years into family sustaining jobs. And this is key with opportunities for advancement. So, their role will be to focused on reducing exclusionary hiring practices, which one of the leaders is kicking this us is IBM. And they have already done some significant work around that with regard to their hiring processes. They want to identify robust and new talent sources. And they want to ensure that adequate and equitable career pathways for advancement exists. So, the objective really is to better develop, retain, and advance diverse and underrepresented talent with an explicit commitment to hire or promote black Americans without four year degrees. I am also, as a sidenote, somebody that spends a lot of time in workforce development. I spend a lot of time in apprenticeship models. And fully embrace that there are so many different ways for somebody to pursue their professional and educational career. And they oftentimes it’s not linear. So, this, to me, is a really important piece. And it really focuses on skills based versus credential based hiring. So, this is terrific work that’s being done by organizations now at a much broader scale than we had seen years and decades ago. But while the work of corporate coalitions, such as OneTen and CEO action are fabulous, there are some realities that still exist today. And one of the most corrosive to cultures is the presence of microaggressions. In fact, you’re seeing a lot of training, a lot of webinars, a lot of education around microaggressions today. We are not going to really address them in depth. They are so pervasive because they’re often perceived as [inaudible] by the sender. But the recipient hears them loud and clear. It’s really just defined in its basic sense a subtle comment or action. It can be intentional, it can be unintentional. But it’s often considered and is considered offensive and reinforcing stereotypes. It has mental health impacts, engagement impacts. What I think about when I think about that is I think about any relationship that we’re in. And I think, like, and there’s been comparisons say to a bank account. You want to have more deposits than you have withdrawals. Regardless of any relationship, if you don’t feel good and you’re not being reinforced and you feel like you’re growing and developing and there’s mutual respect in that relationship, you’re not going to want to be in it. So, and you think about your culture, does it, is it a culture of more deposits, or is it a culture of more withdrawals? And so when we see some of these common microaggressions, we can see being excluded from events, being encouraged to take less demanding roles or joining less demanding parts of the organization, not receiving credit for something. And then the other, and a key one, is tokenism. And tokenism has really gained a lot of discussion, and this is actually going back to a term that was first introduced in the 70s referred to as weathering in which tokenism can have both mental and physical impacts on individuals. And it’s in its most basic form, whether it’s with intention, with intention or without intention or perception, tokenism involves the symbolic involvement of a person in an organization due only to a specified characteristic. Could be gender, race, ethnicity, disability, age. But it generally leads to just limited inclusion. It also can lead to somebody being expected to be the expert on diversity issues. And quite frankly, even bringing this up is something that I would have thought would have been gone by the wayside 20 years ago. And I know to this day individuals that have left organizations, very competent organizations, and organizations that may perceive themselves as diversity leaders, because they felt tokenized within the organization. So, it’s something we really have to be cognizant of as we are looking at our organizations. And where this all comes down to me is for the leadership piece. And we’re going to take a hard look at where leadership lies with regard to succession planning. What is key? So, I want you to think about this, and I want you to picture this. Picture a road stretched out in front of you. It’s protected on either side by a steel hard guardrail. And you know what those guardrails look like. Those guardrails are there, they’re designed to keep you on the road. And in the context of today, those guardrails can also keep others off the road. So, I think of the many, many times, I’ll put this in analogy together, of when I’ve heard an organization say they’re looking for say an innovator. And as we know, what often happens with innovators is that innovators do what innovators do. They innovate. And what happens is their ideas will bump up against organizational traditions and norms that will result in their premature departure from the organization, whether it’s by their own or by the organization’s perspective. So, that can be a significant issue. Thus, we also explore, as we explore embracing the expansion of quote unquote difference in the full sense of the word, the potential for a collision of ideas and actions against those guardrails is even greater. And, again, those guardrails are traditions and norms. Think of it this way. If an individual is quote unquote different in any way shame or form from a quote cultural fit employee, how is that difference embraced or rebuked? How does it show up in performance reviews? What is necessary to adjust organizational guardrails so that new ideas and perspectives help to drive the business forward versus the individual becoming a performance problem because they can’t navigate within those existing structures, within those guardrails? Come into greater light especially recently is the concept of the broken [inaudible]. We often hear it related to women, but it can be expanded to really represent individuals of underrepresented populations across the board within a particular setting. And so the biggest obstacle faced is that of being promoted from an entry level to a manager role. And as organizational leaders, it’s incredibly important to consider that if you don’t expand your organization’s guardrails, what is the cost to the organization of lost ideas, employer brand, and ultimately innovation to the organization? What is that cost? So, to bring this point to a close, I’m going to share a Yiddish proverb. And it goes like this. A group of people were traveling in a boat. One of them took a drill and began to drill a hole beneath himself. His companion said to him, why are you doing this? Replied the man, well, what concern is it of yours? Am I not drilling under my own place? Said they to him, but you will flood the boat for all of us. Why I chose that proverb is because just by rule of law, however you want to look at it, human beings are generally less likely to shoot holes in a boat they’re actually in. If I feel like I’m a part of it, I want to keep that boat afloat. To the extent people get the opportunity to participate in a process, they’re going to be more supportive of it. And process can include everything across the board. Solving client problems, solving organizational problems, creatively strategizing, working together to expand the talent pool. All of those pieces are so critical. But if somebody is sitting on the sideline and not feeling like they’re a part of it, it can be a neutral or potentially even in the case of the individual drilling the hole can be a negative impact on the organization. So, when we talk about leadership, I like to use the familiar 70/20/10 model to start the discussion. Seventy percent of a manager or leader’s time is developing people through goals and stretch goals. To be successful in that effort, one needs to ensure work distribution is devoid of bias. Another 20% is coaching and mentoring. And that’s around both tasks and behaviors. And to be successful, one needs the ability to mentor, coach others that are different from themselves. And then lastly, the 10% is ensuring that employees receive the needed training to be effective in their job or growing their knowledge through learning and development. To be successful, to ensure, is to ensure access, encouragement, time, and support to all. And as we look at what’s happening today, as workforce demographics are changing at an exponential pace, leaders and managers need to skill up. They need to proactively support, encourage, and ensure access for all employees. So, what this all brought us to was designing what we refer to as the inclusion matrix. And really it’s at its basic core a shift or a pivot from the idea of teaching diversity and inclusion, to specifically operating from a premise that one, if one masters five critical and proven leadership skills, one increases their capacity for inclusive leadership. And that by embracing these skills, they’ll be able to then develop and increase level of self awareness and individual accountability, they’ll have greater awareness and appreciation for the difference they find in others. And they’ll increase their capacity to understand their role in creating and eventually driving inclusive cultures. As Mark Twain quipped, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness.” Really what I believe we’re talking about today, and in most conversations related to DEI, is that our travels are about education. While we can choose to disregard what we learn, we cannot unlearn it. So, the five critical skills within the inclusion matrix are IQ, or the capacity to learn, EQ, consciousness, CQ, adaptability, intellectual humility, or IH, which is fallibility, and vulnerability, or resilience. And that makes up the five critical skills. I refer to the first three as the quotient partners or intelligence factors. That’s the IQ, EQ, and CQ. Because these tend to be talked about and discussed a bit more when we’re talking about diversity and inclusion, emotional intelligence is certainly one that’s been talked about a lot. I’m going to spend more time on the other two skills for our purposes today. But just to make sure that we don’t disregard them, and that we just talk about them briefly, IQ is, I’m referring specifically to crystallized IQ versus fluid intelligence, which is the capacity to acquire knowledge. And this is knowledge that’s acquired through education and experience. This is where we see the unconscious bias education. All of us grew up with biases. And we all grew up with different environments, different cultures. And so we have the capacity to learn and understand where those fit within today. And they can have an impact on helping an individual identify and understand their own biases. EQ, or emotional intelligence, is you’re aware of your emotional state, you have the ability to manage your emotions. I consider this, I consider this as a, you are a temperate individual, you know how to navigate around, and you know how to just walk and work within different situations and environments in which you’re not going to blow, you’re able to manage yourself. Cultural intelligence is the capability to relate and work effectively across cultures. And you’re looking and you’re demonstrating that you’re interested, that you want to understand. You’re thinking of where you need to adapt and what you might need to think about as you’re working within perhaps a different culture. And you’re thinking about, hey, let’s develop some awareness and a plan for interaction as we cannot to grow and go forward. And, again, these three tend to be talked about at more length, so I’m going to focus a little bit more on both intellectual humility and vulnerability. To open intellectual humility, I really like the quote, “the whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” And that’s Bertrand Russell. As well, Mark Leary, who’s a professor at Duke, defines intellectual humility as the recognition that the things you believe in might, in fact, be wrong. And unlike the simple definition of humility, which is characterized by honesty, sincerity, and selflessness, intellectual humility is about being obsessively curious. You challenge everything, even when you believe that you are right. And this is something, as a sidenote, I teach ethics class, is we’d often talk about being able to hold opposing ideas in different hands and being able to navigate those. And then that is where you’re going to see intellectual humility. It’s so incredibly important to acknowledge that often our own ignorance is invisible to us and not to others. And we’ve spent decades of conversation around this, around not knowing what you don’t even know. And that’s where you can get yourself in trouble. We tend to overestimate how much we know, especially when it comes to something that’s close to our reputation. If I even take this conversation today, you’ve heard me reference a couple of times that I’ve been doing this for quite a while, that is actually not necessarily significant in different situations. I find myself in a constant learning. If I look at myself as a member of the LGBTQ community, I am constantly learning about how my community has changed since when I first came out in the 1980s. Things have changed dramatically. So, things are constantly changing. We constantly need to learn. So, consider that we don’t make wrong decisions because a lack of facts, but lack of self awareness. So, intellectual humility really is about recognizing our beliefs and our opinions can be incorrect. And humility has been defined as a powerful leadership trait. Research has shown that humble leaders inspire close teamwork, more rapid learning, and hiring, and higher performance. If you boil it all down, being smart is not enough. Leaders need and cannot be blinded by their ego. They must be wise. And as Socrates wrote, and these days I talk a lot about the ancient philosophers, but as Socrates wrote, the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. So, if we look at the two extremes of intellectual humility, it’s going to be intellectual servility and intellectual arrogance. On intellectual servility, or it’s one who values their beliefs too little and arrogance is one who values their beliefs too much. Ultimately, it is pursuing intellectual good for one’s own sake, seeking the possibility as we’ve shared of being wrong and being open to learning, being actively curious about one’s blind spots. What am I missing here? In my own personal opinion, again, I reference that we hear a lot about emotional intelligence, which I believe is incredibly important to DEI work. I actually think it might be humility that is even greater. Because I think it’s that fear of being wrong that often prevents us from engaging in a conversation that we perceive may be difficult, because we don’t want to say the wrong thing, we don’t want to do the wrong thing. So, humility, to me, is really key and central. So, as we look at the last of the five skills, and we look at vulnerability, I turn to this quote, “and that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength,” Audre Lorde. And certainly it’s talking about uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. So, vulnerability is really that ability and the courage to be vulnerable. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome, the courage to be imperfect, making sure you’re authentic to being who you are, and compassion to be kind to yourself and to others. And certainly one of the leaders in the vulnerability space is Brene Brown. And her quote is, “the birthplace of creativity is innovation and change.” I would translate that as this is stepping into darkness in search of your own light, or taking that proverbial leap, even when you don’t know what’s on the other side. In either case, you are accepting of the mistakes you are sure to make, and perhaps the success you could never have imagined. You know, there’s been a quote that has been going around LinkedIn. It may still be circulating. It was circulating maybe six months ago. An and I think it summarizes what we’re talking about really well when we think about the vulnerability place. And that is to be brave enough to suck at something new. And so when we look at intellectual humility and we look at vulnerability, certainly there is overlap. There’s overlap in all of the five skills. But I look at specifically the last two as so critical as we look at the DNI work and specifically as we think about its role in succession planning. As we continue to bring on a broader array of talent to our organizations, we need leaders that are going to be able to step into those places of discomfort, to be vulnerable, to have humility, as the whole organization continues to grow together. And it doesn’t happen overnight. I was actually just on a webinar last night when an organization that I work with, and the CEO in this particular instance, and the HR team were on, and they were excited because they wanted the change to happen very quickly. In fact, they originally set about a five year, five to seven year expectation around the culture change. And the CEO doesn’t feel that’s fast enough, wants it faster. And as we talk so much about diversity and inclusion and we think about bringing in new individuals is it does take time. And cultures do not change overnight. And it’s certainly not a linear process. It will ebb and flow. There will be mistakes that are made. So, this brings me to nearly the conclusion of this podcast. And it basically says that once leaders can embrace and master these skills, the final step is to develop what I refer to as an I am in or I am inclusive statement, statements that can really only get wings with the internalization of the five skills and learning them. And what do those look like? So, with regard to IQ, or capacity, the I am in statement is I have the capacity to learn. If we look at EQ and consciousness, we look at I am in and I am, I am measured and caring. CQ, or adaptability, we look at I work to understand others. When it comes to intellectual humility or fallibility, I grow through my mistakes. And then lastly, vulnerability and resilience is I am best when I am open. So, what honestly is what I generally ask after any presentation, including my own. So, what? The so, what for this and for this presentation for me in a nutshell is as follows. When I think of first looking at the numbers, we know the diversity and inclusion drive revenue, and they drive innovation. There are studies that show that organizations that have greater diversity and embrace it to a greater extent have more revenue from new products and services than their counterparts or their competitors. Their representation of underrepresented populations is the beginning versus the end. It takes people and culture equipped to ensure opportunity for success within the organization and ensuring that the organization is accessible to all. So, I think, and we talk quite a bit with diversity being about representation, that if you have the numbers, where are those numbers? Do they have an opportunity for growth? Are they receiving mentors? Do they have access to mentors? Do they have access to sponsors? All of that has to be part of the equation. It is necessary to amp up inclusionary skills for all organizational leaders at all levels in order to successfully drive access for all employees. I would throw out there that, and I could probably cite a number of egregious errors around diversity and inclusion made by organizations that have had a long history of commitment to diversity. What we see often in those situations can be senior leadership gets it, and gets somewhere lost in the middle management, and gets lost in the day to day this has to get done today. And so it’s not enough to have it at the top. You have to have that leadership and really embracing understanding inclusive leadership all the way throughout. And finally, I see it as the opportunity to bring together universally valued skills, and already wide in practice when you want to upskill your organizational leaders. And this would be referring to the five critical things that I mentioned. And this is upskilling leaders to work towards more inclusive, productive, productive, innovative, and ultimately successful cultures. These are leaders that can then continue to lead the organization forward in building that necessary framework to have an inclusive culture. So, if you haven’t guessed by now, I love my quotes. And I will close with one from one of my favorite individuals, Maya Angelou, is “do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better do better.” So, this really puts out there a challenge for organizations and their leaders to say, what is it that we can do, and we can embrace, to do better in the economics around succession planning for both the individuals that we want to continue to actually attract, retain and engage, develop, and for the organizations themselves? So, with that, enjoy the rest of your day.
Ben Rue>> Thank you so much, Patricia, for that wonderful podcast. Thank you to our listeners for joining. And a special thank you to our sponsor, Best Buy. To learn more about economics with diversity, equity and inclusion and succession planning, visit employeeexp.com. New episodes of the forum podcast are available at workplaceforum.org/podcast. You can also find our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, and [inaudible]. Thank you again for listening, and have a great day.
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