Leadership Activation Ep5 – Learning Diversity
Yeah, that’s not a compliance event where you say, don’t do these three things, do these three things. You really need to be able to engage people in behavioral change.
Hi, welcome to another episode of Leadership Activation. And I am so excited today to be able to introduce you to my guests, Vince Brown events. Nice to have you on the program. Oh actually I can’t believe I’m here. I’m so excited. This has been like my whole life wanting to be on this program. So I’m flattered to say the least debt. Just to give you a little background is probably one of the country’s foremost subject matter experts when it comes to diversity and inclusion. He’s been involved in this industry and this work for some 35 plus years and a has been a part of the largest firm in the country, uh, kind of leading that whole effort. And I’m so very happy to say that he is awesome and relatively new partner with Jubi, which is so exciting. Yes. So before we get going too far down into the subject, I really wish you would just take a moment and share with people a little bit about your journey into, into this diversity and inclusion thing.
Okay, great. And again, I, I couldn’t be more excited to be here. I think my journey actually started when I was born and I say that because I am the son of a navy chief petty officer. And so long story short, I was actually, grew up in Great Lakes, Illinois. That’s where I was born at the naval station. And as a result of that, my father, our family travel every two, three years. So when people say, where are you from? I say, I really don’t know, two years and out. And so I grew up between the west coast, San Diego, Great Lakes, Chicago Long Beach. I say all that to say what that taught me there was the importance of making connections with people. And so my whole life I always had to make friends with people who were very, very, very different than who I am. And that became called frankly, a passion.
And the joy and I think the value in my life. So with that said, um, fast forwarding, I’m working in human resources with a financial services company. I’m seeing the power or not so much power when an organization’s environment was inclusive and engaging. And so watching that work, um, you know, as a practitioner in HR back in the days when it was actually called personnel, so that’s how far you got to go. I’m really realizing that while people are the most valuable asset of any organization, oftentimes they’re not treated that way. And so that led on the path of, you know, what can we do to make a difference? What can I do? And I was fortunate enough to join, uh, two other partners who had a similar vision, different stories, but the same vision. And in that we started a company called global lead in a very small storefront.
And over 30 years we grew it to be the largest diversity inclusion consultancy in the country. Worked primarily with fortune 500 companies all around the world. Um, ultimately had the great pleasure of MMM. Taking that company, um, and having an invested into by Goldman Sachs and then ultimately sold it to Korn Ferry International. Um, so with all of that said, um, have really been a student of this work, um, have been researched in this word, but most importantly I’ve been privileged by many clients who enabled us to partner with them. But I’m a believer, quite frankly, I’m a zealot that people are the most valuable asset and I truly believe Versiti inclusion is a leverage that’s important. I just truly believe that.
Yeah, I can tell you, eat, you breathe it
absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. Shows,
I’m going to say no, that you, you have been in and around the country for a long time. With this subject matter, I’m really curious as basically in the time, the age that we live in, do you see any positive trends these days or diversity and inclusion in the corporate culture?
You know, so in a way, yes, short answer is yes, but I will tell you, I still think it’s the tale of two cities. Um, I think there are so many companies and organizations and people who truly do not understand value of diversity and inclusion and they may be caught up in thinking about it and, and in an affirmative action language or polarization kind of languages a lot of different ways I think people are at. Yeah. What is optimistic to me is that there are so many companies more enough, okay. Then really are seeing the value of creating an inclusive workforce that are really truly integrating Dni. Not a nice to do, but as a core business strategy. Um, and they’re not only seeing results, but it created an environment where people can do their best work, which is what most of us want to do is to contribute.
And they’re not leaving any of their assets out. And people are assets. And then so when you look around and you think about people in that way, and I don’t like to think about it when people say, oh, it’s about talent. No, it’s about people with talent. And the question is how do we create environment where all people who are in our organizations can contribute to their fullest potential? And that’s what most people want to do. So I think the good news is yes, there are companies want, when we started this work, my goodness, you are pressed to find organizations and even knew what diversity was. Um, now many, many organizations are fluent in it, a few are thriving and they’re really having a competitive advantage.
Yeah, that’s pretty exciting.
So, um, I know there’s no magic pill or, or, or juice that you can give a culture that would be awesome that, that were good happen, you know, that makes all things right. Um, but I, but I am really curious to know that when you have a successful engagement with a client, what have you seen as some of the outcomes from that engagement?
Yeah, I was hoping you’d ask that question only because I just got off the phone with a client that we had engaged, I’d say about four and a half years ago. And this is a health care organization, part of a major healthcare subsidiary who quite frankly if you went in, they were having all types of grievances. They were having all types of issue, morale, productivity, all was an all time low. Um, we’re losing money as a result of grievances and time and effort. And they had a leader, and this is one of the keys, critical success factors, I believe is a leader who really was committed to creating a workforce where everybody was value. Everybody was included, but they were a long way from that and putting together a strategy, putting together a team, engaging individuals within the organization, all up and down the organization, created this amazing guiding coalition.
And I will tell you the call I had a couple of days ago just was so wonderful, um, because actually we had left the organization for about a year. Our job was not to be there forever. They were calling to say that they had just gotten their evaluation and review and that one of the largest bodies of evaluators had said they had never seen an organization moves so much in terms of their engagement stores as to care on the productivity. We tension, they had gone from hundreds of grievances to none. Wow years. Unbelievable. Um, and, and I couldn’t be more proud, but that’s what happens. Um, and, and, and, and, and they have a theme that I thought was really powerful for inclusion and it was taken care of the people who take care of the people and that was the message and that’s what they’ve achieved. And so, um, time and time I can tell you stories about new products that amend, develop. I can talk to about innovations that have happened when individuals are creating these environments. Uh, at the end of the day, the business benefits. But again, the people benefit and you know, when people are happy, engaged and productive, good things happen.
Yeah, that is, that is an awesome story.
Yes. In fact, I’ll just say one of the things so you can see how I’m excited about it. They shared that they told them and they read and they were calling is that they said we need for you to help us document our history cause we know you kept all the records that they now want us to create a best practice and go out and tell our story across the country. So that was the reason for the call and I’m like, we were right on it. So then the other thing is that yeah, they were empowered to do the work. And part of our philosophy was that we didn’t have to be there forever. We could teach the tools and provide the resources so that they could do it themselves because at the end of the day, they own their culture and not a consultant.
Wow. That sounds like you started quite a movement. That’s amazing. Well, I, um, you know, I know that you’ve got the plethora of content on this subject, but when you were presenting to a group, what would you say would be some of the most resonating themes or principles that you share from your content?
Yeah, so I think again, many people still see diversity and inclusion. Even in the root word, diverse. I think sometimes people think it’s all about the differences and let’s be clear, the differences matter. The differences are important, the differences are critical. But there should be an old in there. And it’s also, there are similarities and connections. So one of the things that often resonates that we’ve actually talked about for many, many years. In fact, my partner, doctor Gannon, read nine, Sam Lynch, when we first started the company, we had this idea, we call it, we could net and then we talk about let’s celebrate the differences, but us also look for the connections. And so that theme of connections, um, is really does resonate. I mean a lot with organizations. Um, I think the other thing, and, and, and, and we approached the work from understanding our biases, but not staying on that side of the ledger.
It’s great. We got to know what our biases are. We need to understand their impact. But at the same time, there’s an opportunity to look at individuals who are actually doing work differently. Um, so we talked a lot about head, heart, hands, leadership as it relates to this, how you think about your people and are you inclusive in your thinking, um, how you feel about the people, um, which is really that hard work and what are some of the things that you are actually doing that demonstrate day to day behaviors of being inclusive. So those are the kinds of things that we find that really resonate. And quite frankly, they might seem to be simple things that we should’ve learned a long time ago,
but maybe we forget. Well, there’s nothing like a turning the volume up on those things in an environment that is absolutely open to change like that. So absolutely. Yeah. MMM. So I also noticed when I look at some of your clients, you got some pretty awesome client and some of them would thousands, some of them with tens of thousands of employees. So in order to have an impact on that many people as a consultancy, what is your approach to trying to read an entire employee population of that size? And then how do you, how do you work towards sustaining that effort?
Yeah. So, you know, those are some of the most profound questions of mankind
specifically as it relates to this work.
So, so I’ll share with you, you know, just being in this work for so many years. Um, I actually remember, and I’ll get to the question, but I actually remember when you used to do diversity training and it was a three day event, I mean, literally you would take people off and you take them for three days. I mean, believe that there was some sessions that were a week law and then, you know, time and time it started getting shorter and shorter and shorter. So, um, the question is, would this work? It’s not just about telling people. And that’s not a compliance event where you say, don’t do these three things, do these three things, you really need to be able to engage people in behavioral change. So the challenge with the work, quite frankly, is finding a platform that enables individuals to not only learn the content, but to demonstrate the learning. Hmm. So we actually established and founded and completed the first e-learning on diversity. It was called dialogue on diversity. Um, it was an axiom award winning program. It was an hour long. See the, you put it in at boy, was it terrible? Both were great. But when I looked back in the technology, it was like, what were we doing?
But one of the things that hit me, um, because I’m an old facilitator at heart and you got old trainer and I still like flip charts and things of that nature. I never will forget when we started to get the feedback and what blew me away was, um, several, some of the feedback started to come in. They’d said, you know, this e-learning was actually better than some of the facilitation I’ve seen. Huh. And I went, oh, I hope I didn’t train it that place first. But what did land on me? And this was, you know, what 20 some years ago it dawned on me is that the way learners are learning is changing. And it was really this transition that you could go from classroom too. This technology we’re using right now. So I say all that to say that’s one of the reasons that I can’t be more excited about the Juby platform.
I, I gotta tell you the reason is because it’s the first platform I have seen. It has the ability to scale, it has the ability to have people learn. It has the ability for them to actually do actions. And in diversity, inclusion work, it’s all about an inspiration. And so to be able to do all three of those within the context of a platform coupled with the tools is exciting to me. And as you’re aware, we are just completed a prototype that is about the roll out and it is amazing. I just couldn’t be more excited. I only wish I was 27 years old. It’s going to change the world. I’ve been trying to change the world all my life, but I think we might’ve found the way to do it. But it’s global. You’ll be able to do the kinds of things in terms of reporting. You got a great back in the house, you can target those areas that need the most support and help. Um, but most importantly, you can give people behavioral kinds of things that they can do and apply that learning, which is different than just telling people do this, we’ll do that and never knowing if they did or not. Yeah. Wow.
That is exciting. I mean, my last question may be a repeat what you just said, but I have to ask because you’ve got so much going on.
MMM. When you look at the horizon in front of you, what are you, what are you most excited about? So, um, one of the things that, um, mm, my partner, Janet, we and I, we were, um, I would say innovators in a lot of the work that we did. Um, we innovated in terms of creating new training programs. We created different simulations. Uh, we, okay. You had a lot of research and in fact, um, we wrote a couple books when I’m very excited about is the research that we are, we have completed, um, on, uh, unconscious bias most recently, and we’re going to be talking about diversity inclusion in a different way now, which is based on data and research. We’re calling it intrinsic inclusion, which is basically there are some people we don’t know why yet that just get it naturally.
They are naturally inclusive and they do certain things naturally and even though they have biases like we all have, somehow
they figured it out. So we’re studying those people. And so the whole idea that we are going to be sharing starting in June, July when our book comes out is talking about intrinsic inclusion, rebooting abayas brain. And so I’m really excited about what I hope is a new conversation and a new challenge. Yes, we’ve got to continue to talk about biases, but we also think there’s a place just talk about and study those who do get it and let’s figure that out as well. And so we’ve been doing a ton of research on that. Um, and, and that’s one particular area I’m excited about. The other is cognitive diversity. There’s a lot of conversation out there about the power of differences in thoughts and thinking. And so cognitive diversity is something that has me very excited, but Lassen and not least, I will still say there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and all of the, what I would call the core basics of Bni, uh, and sexual orientation, uh, Lgbq, those issues still need to be addressed. Race, gender, class, all of those still need to be worked on. Um, but I do think it’s an, and it can be done with some of the other things and the same.
Awesome. Hey Vince, what a joy to have you on the program. I love your heart, your passion and I’m pretty there, aren’t excited about the legacy that you’re creating that you’re going to leave with this, with this generation. That’s pretty awesome.
Well, I thank you for that. I think legacy is another word for you. Sure. Old.
I’ll join you in that rank and file. Anyway, thank you so much for being on the program the day and look forward to seeing you face to face and I in, in between now and then. I just hope that you will make it a great, wonderful day and God bless you, my friend.
Yeah, bless you, my friend. Thank you so much.