Leading With Empathy & Allyship Show

Why Empathy & Allyship Matter In The Workplace With Melinda Briana Epler

Episode 49 kicks off Season 4 with “Why Empathy & Allyship Matter In The Workplace.” Melinda Briana Epler, Founder & CEO of Change Catalyst, shares some key learnings from a few chapters of her book, How to Be an Ally (McGraw-Hill 2021). She talks about what people with underrepresented identities need from allies; why empathy is the foundation of allyship work; and the business case for allyship. Valuable Q&A is incorporated from the live broadcast.

You can order your copy of How to Be an Ally: Actions You Can Take for a Stronger, Happier Workplace at ally.cc/book!

Additional Resources

Special thanks to First Tech Federal Credit Union, sponsor of Episodes 49 & 50. First Tech Federal Credit Union is the nation’s premier credit union serving employees & family members of the world’s leading technology companies. 

The live show is made accessible thanks to Interpreter-Now and White Coat Captioning.

 

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Quotes

  • “Allyship requires self-awareness. Self-awareness of your own presence and perspective, your biases, microaggressions, as well as curiosity, and openness to somebody else’s perspective. Really seeing them, appreciating them for their uniqueness. And having the courage to respond and show your empathy for them and their experience and to really take action.”
  • “Allyship is learning by reading, observing, listening, and hearing other people’s lived experiences. Stepping in, stepping up, and sometimes stepping back so that our colleagues can thrive. And it’s also leading the change; really taking action to correct the unfairness and injustice and removing the barriers so everyone can rise.”

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Transcript

MELINDA: Welcome to Leading With Empathy & Allyship where we have deep, real conversations about allyship, about how we can be more inclusive leaders in our workplaces and communities. I’m Melinda Briana Epler the founder and CEO of Change Catalyst where we build inclusive innovation through training, consulting and events. This is a place to learn, to build empathy and to understand the tangible actions that we can all take because allyship is about action. So, this is a special summer season where we talk about some of our most requested topics and answer any questions you all have in front of our live audience here. 

 

Today’s topic is “Why Empathy & Allyship Matter in the Workplace.” I’m going to talk about the role of allyship within diversity, equity and inclusion, talk more about empathy, we talked about empathy in the last episode as well. We’ll talk about what people want from allies. We’ve done some research there, so I’ll share that and also a business case for allyship. So hopefully you can take this back to your company to get budget to do more allyship work, for those of you who are actively working on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

  

So hello to Brian, MaryEllen, Tricia, Lisa, hey good to see you. Pamela, Vincent, Ben, Vanessa and Jericca. Great, thank you for introducing yourselves. Just briefly to describe myself for anybody who is Blind, Low Vision, on the phone or listening to the podcast. I’m a White woman with long, red hair getting longer and longer, but I am going to get it cut soon I think, wearing a white shirt with some turquoise flower pattern and black and white glasses. 

 

Again, thank you so much to First Tech Federal Credit Union for sponsoring this episode. And on screen we do have two ASL interpreters who will be tag-teaming today. Thank you to Interpreter-Now for our ongoing partnership there. Really appreciate them. Also this is being live captioned by Maggie at White Coat Captioning. If you don’t see the captioning and you want to turn it on, go to the bottom of your screen and click ‘closed caption’ and you should be able to change the settings there as well. 

  

You can also use the Q&A function if you have specific questions. I will definitely leave time for questions at the end and may answer some questions along the way as well if you have them. So, try to use the Q&A function so I can find them easily because there’s a lot to juggle, myself here. 

 

And thank you to the team, Juliette and Renzo and Ariyah and Emilie and all the folks from Change Catalyst that are working behind the scenes. They’re also in the chat so if you have questions from them around the technical side, please do ask as well. 

 

Okay. I’m going to share my screen and so when I do this, ASL interpreters may or may not stay on screen. Just toggle your view, if you don’t see them on screen. 

 

Alright. You all know who I am. I’m Melinda Briana Epler, the Founder and CEO of Change Catalyst and you can find me on Twitter @mbrianaepler or on Instagram @changecatalysts with an ‘s’ at the end. I’m also on LinkedIn. I’ve spent my life cultivating the skills and experience to create behavior change and change organizational culture. That’s what I do. For the last eight years I’ve been doing that work specifically in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Yeah eight years.

  

So I do have a big announcement before I go deep into the subject. I’m really excited about this. So my book, “How to Be an Ally,” is now available for preorder. Please do check it out. Thank you, Michelle. I’ve been thinking about this since 2015 or so. I’ve been writing for the last two and a half years. So it’s a big deal for me, and I’m really excited. I can’t wait for it to be out in the world giving people actionable steps that can take to be a better ally. It’s really going deep into what you can do as an ally. And how you can make a difference in your workplace, in your industry. 

 

So please do – and it’s with McGraw-Hill as my publisher. They have been amazing. Thank you all for your comments. Please preorder if you’re able to. It does make a huge difference in the book’s success the more preorders there are. I didn’t know that. Learning a lot about the publishing world, so please do share it also. And if you do want to order anything, any books in bulk, companies like to do book-buys for their team or their company or their school, email me and I’ll make sure you get to the right folks at the discounted rate. Or you can DM the team here, DM the panelists in the chat and we will definitely connect you. Ally.cc/book – there you can preorder. So I appreciate y’all. 

 

For the next four episodes, I’m going to share some of what’s in the book, give you a taste of it and also give you some important ways that you can make a difference as an ally in your workplace. Some specifics here: today is focused on “Why Empathy & Allyship Matter in the Workplace.” Brian, thank you. 

 

Next time, so in two weeks is “Understanding and Correcting Our Biases.” For July, we’ll really focus on microaggressions, “Recognizing & Overcoming Microaggressions.” That takes a lot of work and so we’re going to spend two episodes on that. 

 

One of the biggest things that I’ve learned, doing diversity, equity and inclusion over the years, with hundreds of companies, is there is no magic wand that creates diversity, equity and inclusion. It happens one change at a time, one act at a time, one word at a time. It is human nature to want quick solutions. Often companies come to us when they’re new to diversity, equity and inclusion believing that one training is going to fix their problems. But that’s not how change works. And there’s no training in and of itself that will magically fix the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

 

Also we work in the tech industry a lot, and in the world today in general, we have a tendency to believe that technology can fix most of our problems in our workplaces. But there’s no technology that fixes this either. It really is you and I taking one step at a time. There are some technology solutions working on pieces of the diversity, equity and inclusion puzzle, and there’s some training that can help people learn specific solutions to creating more equitable systems, more equitable processes, languages, and structures, yes. 

 

But the real change happens when each of us becomes part of the solution. That’s where allyship comes in. It’s you and me leading with empathy, changing how we do what we do, how we make people feel, working together to recognize and correct deep imbalances in opportunity. It began centuries ago. It began 500 years ago in this country in the United States. And it really takes a critical mass of allies to fundamentally shift all of diversity, equity and inclusion and that’s when we create stronger and happier workplaces, companies, and industries together. 

 

So laying some quick foundational definitions. Diversity is bringing humans with different backgrounds to the table. That means you’re hiring diverse people. You’re inviting people with diverse identities to meetings and to events and there’s diversity in your boardrooms as well as your classrooms. If you’re in education, when you look around the loom, and more important when you look at the data, you see that there’s a broad range of people. A broad diverse range of people of different genders, races, ethnicities, disabilities, religions, ages, sexual orientations and lots of other aspects of somebody’s identity and background. And of course keeping in mind many people have intersectional identities. One person can have several aspects of their identity that are underrepresented. That also compounds barriers to opportunity and access. It also adds to the biases and microaggressions that people might experience, which we’ll be talking about in the next episode. intersectionality is important here as well. 

 

Inclusion is inviting humans to speak. Diverse humans to speak at that table, and encouraging and supporting them to lead. And also not – yeah. It’s not enough for somebody to really be at the table. They also need to be there, leading at the table. Also might need to rebuild the table, perhaps, if it’s not really built for them. So sometimes inclusion means collaboratively redesigning the table together. And we’ll talk about inclusion a little bit more, a little bit later in this episode. 

 

Equity is correcting injustice and unfairness while addressing historical privilege and oppression. People in companies that address equity, they acknowledge that throughout history to the present, some people have had more privilege while others have been – other people have been oppressed and treated unfairly through our institutions, through our cultures, through workplaces, through our criminal justice systems, throughout our lives. And this means that we also often have to learn and unlearn and relearn what we’ve been taught as well. 

 

So allyship, good allies, they learn, they show empathy and they take action. They take action to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our role is really working to address all of these things. We use our power and our influence to create positive change for our colleagues, for our friends, for our neighbors. We recognize when someone isn’t in the room who should be in that room and bring them into that room. Open that door. And not just in the room, but at the table. Rebuilding that table together, if it wasn’t made for them. Leading conversations, letting them – opening the door, opening the table for them to lead. And then also helping correct injustice and unfairness and addressing historical privilege and oppression. Right. All of these things. 

 

Allyship is learning by reading, by observing, listening, hearing other people’s lived experiences. Stepping in, stepping up, sometimes stepping back so that our colleagues can thrive. And it’s also leading the change. Really taking action to correct the unfairness and injustice and removing the barriers so everyone can rise. 

 

There are many terms out there that go hand in hand with allyship. A lot of people will say that – some people will say that we need to go beyond allyship to be comrades, collaborators, co-conspirators, accomplices and advocates. There are a lot of terms out there. To me the term is not as important as the action; right? All of these to me are forms of allyship and each one is important. The most important thing is that this is not passive, it’s active. Allies aren’t bystanders. Allies do the work. 

 

In terms of learning, and you all help me if there’s anything else this month. There’s a lot in June. We’re just starting June here, pride month, celebrating LGBTQIA rights and honoring the Stonewall riots 52 years ago on June 28, 1969, which was the catalyst for the gay rights movement and led by several amazing people, including Marsha P. Johnson who was a Black trans woman, and also Silvia River A., a Latina trans woman, was also a leader in the movement. Important to recognize people’s intersectional identities and that history there. Lots more to learn if you don’t know. Please go into each of these. 

 

Juneteenth is on the 19th, honoring the day in 1965 in Galveston, Texas where the Union Army finally freed Black people who were enslaved two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. 

 

Loving day on June 12th is the anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision which struck down laws against interracial marriage and of course I’m very grateful for this and all of these things, actually. 

 

Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 is also celebrated in June where Native Indigenous people were granted citizenship in the U.S., though many people weren’t able to vote until much later – until 33 years later. All of that is kind of ridiculous, when you – we’re on their land and they shouldn’t have to fight for citizenship, but there it is. That is oppression. 

 

Caribbean Heritage Month and Puerto Rican Day also this month. Also Helen Keller’s birthday is on June 27th as well. So, it’s an important month for many people and a good opportunity to really learn and learn why all these things are important for our friends, neighbors and colleagues. And again, go beyond learning to showing empathy and taking action. 

 

The image here is – it’s – for those of you who aren’t able to see it, it is a thought bubble with lots of different words in it. It’s how people describe allies. While allyship can feel complex sometimes, and we can get overwhelmed with all the different things we can do, must do, should do, above all, people describe good allies to be trustworthy, helpful, honest, supportive, loyal, caring, kind. Good listeners. All of these things that we all do. And we have this in us. It’s kind of being a good human. Being a good – I would describe this as being a good parent, being a good partner, a good neighbor, a good colleague. People describe good allies as being caring and honest and trustworthy. 

 

A large and growing body of data also shows that while there’s a business case for diversity, equity and inclusion, which we all know, well, most of us know, the business case shows that diverse and inclusive teams are more productive, more profitable, more innovative. We’ll share a couple of resources following this episode when it comes out on video and podcast. But as the research deepens, it’s also becoming clear that happiness and well-being are the key components of what produces those business outcomes. When people feel safe, when they feel valued and respected in an inclusive environment, that’s when you get those important business outcomes. So as allies, you and I have a key role in this. We can impact that culture and make a difference for our colleagues. One action at a time. 

 

Some research that we have done on allyship at Change Catalyst, looking at what people want from allies. We found 17 different themes in our research over the years. And when people are actually asked to prioritize those, overwhelmingly people want their allies to ‘trust me,’ ‘give me confidence and courage,’ and ‘mentor me.’ Followed by ‘recommend me for an opportunity’ and ‘take action when somebody says or does somebody harmful to me.’ So that intervention. 

  

Women most frequently want allies to give them confidence and courage where men prioritize trust. Generally, people who are nonbinary prioritize mentorship and recommendations for new opportunities. Something else that is interesting that we found. When somebody has experienced discrimination in their career, their allyship priorities shift. They want allies to help build their confidence and take action when somebody says or does something harmful. In our research, Black respondents in the United States reported the highest rates of any race who experienced discrimination in their careers, 73%, compared to White colleagues, 46%. They are more likely to prioritize that allies learn about their biases and to take action when somebody says or does something harmful. 

 

And then on the flip side, when Black people do have allies, it changes their feelings of safety in the workplace. Black people in the United States are 70% more likely to feel safe in the workplace when they have allies. And that number rose the more allies that they have. And rates of workplace safety and belonging are very low for people with disabilities, people who are Indigenous, Black, Latinx, nonbinary and people from the MENA region. Indigenous people and people who are LGBTQIA+ usually want allies to take action when somebody does something harmful.

 

People with disabilities also want allies to trust them and take action when somebody says or does something harmful to them. We’ll talk about that in our microaggression session a bit. And then also immigrants and recent immigrants and people with disabilities also prioritize better understanding their identity. So there’s something important there too. We’ve worked this out in a lot of different ways in our upcoming allyship report too. When that comes out, we will share a lot more detail. Stay tuned for that. For those of you who are interested in all 17, how allies want people to help them. 

 

So the next on the list is to ‘amplify my voice or ideas,’ ‘recognize my work or my accomplishments,’ ‘educate themselves to be able to better understand me or my identity,’ ‘check in, listen to me,’ ‘ensure I am paid and promoted fairly,’ ‘learn about biases,’ ‘hire me,’ ‘help create a culture where I belong,’ ‘advocate for change in my company,’ ‘publicly protest,’ ‘hire more people like me,’ and ‘donate to programs.’ 

  

So those at the bottom there are pretty significantly lower than the top, and I do want to take a moment to reflect on that. Because over the last year, since George Floyd was murdered, there have definitely been an increase in the number of people who have come to allyship. And I would say a lot of what’s happened over the last year is really externalizing allyship. Protests, donating, hiring, even. And really prioritizing that. But, that’s pretty far down on this list.

 

So what we see is that people want us to do the internal work. The harder work. Often the personal work – often the harder work, so that we put our trust in people. We support them. We lift them up. We boost their confidence. We’ve put ourselves out there a little bit. Use our influence and networks to recommend people. Take action when somebody harms them. We often gravitate towards the easy external stuff, but it’s often the more difficult internal stuff that makes a bigger difference to people. It’s really – a lot of this is how you make people feel. Maya Angelou said ‘I’ve learned people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ And most of these that rise to the top are about how you make somebody feel. 

 

Some data here. 91% of people feel that allies have been valuable in their career. People with two or more allies are twice as likely to be satisfied with their job. Twice as likely. People with two or more allies are almost twice as likely to be satisfied with their work culture and to feel like they belong in an organization. So when allyship is encouraged in the workplace, with training, for example, people actually want more encouragement of allyship in the workplace. It actually rises. The more they have access to allyship training and encouragement, the more they want more. And not surprisingly, people feel significantly safer and more like they belong when allyship is encouraged and when DEI in general, diversity, equity and inclusion in general is a focus for the organization. And then one last statistic here is people with two or more allies are also 41% more likely to feel safe in their workplace. So allyship makes business sense, as well as obviously makes human sense. 

 

So, show empathy. The best allies I know, they listen, they learn, they act with empathy. Allyship requires self-awareness. Self-awareness of your own presence and perspective, your biases, microaggressions, as well as curiosity, and openness to somebody else’s perspective. Really seeing them, appreciating them for their uniqueness. And encouraged to respond and show your empathy for them and their experience and to really take action. 

 

In season 2, Kate Johnson, who’s the president of Microsoft U.S., says that empathy is a super power and is the common denominator for leaders and individual contributors in a successful organization, and one that’s high-performing. You can learn more about how they at Microsoft are working, and how Kate is leading that change in their company around building empathy. That’s in episode 31. 

 

I love all of your comments. Thank you. 

 

Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman did some work together and came up with three types of empathy. There is cognitive empathy, we intellectually understand somebody’s experience. And emotional empathy, roughly feeling. We emotionally understand somebody’s experiences. And then compassionate empathy combines both. We understand, we feel, and we respond to somebody’s experiences. This is essential for allyship. We talked about this a bit in the last episode, where cognitive empathy is insight, seeing their world, understanding their feelings. And then engaging. Appreciating them without judgment and communicating that understanding. I see you, I hear you, I care about what you shared. And, I take action. 

  

I’m going to take a moment and pause and look at all the comments for a second. The episode will be available, yes, absolutely. If you’re registered, you should get the link in your email. Yeah. Andrea, the top answers of what people want for allies, encompassing – it’s something that will help the individual, whereas the bottom encompasses changing the system, which is harder. That is true, absolutely. And I would say that, yeah. People – there’s multiple levels of allyship and layers of allyship for sure. Madeline is saying the same thing. Awesome. And then I agree with you that attention to the individual takes real commitment to see that person. And it is I think in some ways it’s harder than giving money or going to a protest for a day. It’s really making that commitment to see somebody, understand them, learn so that you can react and act appropriately. 

  

In episode 6, Dr. Najeeba Syeed said it’s important to cultivate genuine relationships with people of diverse cultural backgrounds. We have to practice the muscle of empathy in small ways in small conflicts so that when a huge issue comes up that muscle is exercised and you’re ready to respond. Allyship is a muscle. You have to practice it. And I said this in the last episode but I want to go a little bit deeper that if showing empathy doesn’t come easy for you, it’s okay. There are studies that show it can be learned. I am a living example of it being learned. Being able to learn it. As a young girl, I grew up in a family that really didn’t discuss or show feelings for each other. It made it really difficult for me to have or show empathy for other people. I approach being – I approach people intellectually rather than emotionally and often miss opportunities to be there for them. For friends and family when it really mattered. 

 

So in my late teens and early 20s, when I moved to college, I actively worked to cultivate my empathy. I did it through reading. I took a lot of classes in college, different subjects around different cultures and literature from different countries, film from different countries and I also learned how facial expressions and body language convey emotion. Paul Ekman is a really great resource there. And then I got to know myself, because a lot of this is about getting to know yourself too. I did that through writing and later meditation as well. And asking questions of myself, asking questions of other people and really deeply listening. 

  

So, over time, not all at once. Over time the awkwardness of sharing emotions and building those emotional connections gave way to a passion for it. And flash forward, here I am in a career of empathy building. Filmmaking, I started filmmaking and social marketing and behavior change and change management and diversity, equity, and inclusion – and now I train and coach leaders to build empathy in themselves and across teams. So it can definitely be learned. Meet yourself where you are. Work to grow and show your empathy and that exercising will make a difference. Your empathy muscle will grow. 

  

And keep in mind when we have conflicts, when we’re interacting with people who are different from us, different races, different ethnicities, different genders, studies show that it is harder to have empathy. It’s often harder to have empathy. So when we’re stressed as well, it often reduces our empathy. So we have to work harder in those situations to have that empathy. Maybe change your perception of in-group and out-group and we’ll talk about that in the next episode a bit too. Really remind yourself to have empathy in those situations. There’s a lot more in the book about building empathy, but that gives you a taste of it. 

 

Oprah, of course I have to quote Oprah, says, ‘Leadership is about empathy. It’s about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.’ Empathy is a crucial leadership skill. Stephanie shares a discussion of empathy versus sympathy from Brené Brown. Yeah. That’s an awesome session. So we’ll share that in our resources as well. Thank you, Stephanie. Empathy is a crucial leadership skill. And more and more so. People with empathetic colleagues and leaders report more effective collaboration and creativity, higher team morale, better performance. This is the business case. Demonstrating empathy for each other increases employee engagement, job satisfaction, retention, customer satisfaction and loyalty, business growth, and profitability. So all those are definitely business cases for really building empathy in your organization. 

 

And yet we’re often missing out on empathy. 72% of CEOs say the current state of empathy in the workplace needs to change. And that same study found that 96% of people in the tech industry feel their colleagues have a difficult time demonstrating empathy. So we have work to do in the tech industry. And considering the impact that tech products have in the world, this lack of empathy can have a huge negative impact on a lot of our lives. Right? 

  

Companies that focus on inclusion, along with diversity programs, they benefit more from those, that business case, right? And it really – this is our – at Change Catalyst we call these the Stages of Inclusion. It’s our framework based on years of doing this work, interviewing diversity, equity and inclusion professionals, analyzing the research, we came up with the stages of inclusion here. 

  

It really begins with stage 1. I feel welcome walking in the door. And then stage 2, I feel safe to be who I am and to share my ideas and experiences. Stage 3, I’m engaged with my team and actively contributing to our successes. Stage 4, I’m committed to being here for a while. The company is also committed to me as well. And then stage 5 – I belong here. I’m valued for my unique experiences and can become who I want to be here. 

  

It’s a continuum. People slide up and down, depending on their experiences at any given time. And many people – many companies focus on stage 1. I feel welcome. They’re really bringing diverse people in the door. But if you’re not working on making them feel safe once they get there, it can become a revolving door. So we as allies have a role in each of these stages. Little things we can do in our daily interactions can make a big difference in how somebody feels along the path of inclusion. So I’ll just share a few here, and then we’ll jump to questions. So if you have questions, please do put them in the Q&A. 

  

The welcoming – Stage 1. I feel welcome to walk in the door. The company’s websites, messaging, vision, the values resonate with me, people seem to care about my presence. And you all, please feel free to add to this if you have other things that you’re doing to help people feel welcome, please do add in the chat. I have a good experience in the hiring process, in the onboarding process speaks to my needs. Yeah. How are you making people feel welcome in your words, in your emails, in your Slack conversations or your Internet conversations and in person as well? Having an ERG where they know they can go somewhere, where they feel like they belong. Giving women the floor in meetings. I think that kind of goes into – yeah – welcoming and also engagement as well. Julie says, ‘Learning a few signs or words in another language relevant to new hires or current employees who are multilingual.’ Ah, interesting. Yeah.

  

Some questions to think about here. How are you making people feel welcome? How are you showing you care about them? How are you helping people when they first come on board, when they first come to the company, how are you helping them integrate and learn about the culture and the benefits and helping them navigate? And then helping in the hiring process. Are you helping in the hiring process for it to become more inclusive? Are you making changes there? 

  

So 2. I feel safe. I feel safe to be who I am, share my ideas and experiences. You don’t have to cover my parts of my identity, I don’t have to code switch. I’m not harassed or bullied. I don’t face regular microaggressions and if I do face any of these, I know where to report them. And I’m confident that appropriate action will be taken if I do report them. Lots of research here around psychological safety, and it’s the foundation for inclusion. Without safety, you can’t get to full engagement, commitment, and belonging. Right? It’s the building block. So social scientist Amy Edmondson has done a lot of work on psychological safety. She says it’s a climate in which people are comfortable expressing and being themselves. That’s where it starts, right? So I can express and be myself. I can take risks. I can make mistakes and share concerns. But you need this for innovation. I feel confident to speak up. My colleagues value my unique skills and talents. My colleagues trust and respect me. 

  

What else are you all doing around building a safe space? Have you thought about this much? Are you working on psychological safety? I think Brian, I think you said this for the last one, but I do think recognizing people for their ideas, not letting others take them as their own, that actually goes into safety, right? I’m safe to express my ideas knowing that I’m going to have attribution. Yeah. ‘Anonymous surveys.’ Yeah. Thanks, Kevin. 

  

Liva says, ‘Being patiently open when people don’t have the same communication style.’ Yeah, absolutely. That cultural intelligence that a couple of you hit on, that Liva you hit on, and also – somebody else talked about learning a few words as well. Julie talked about this as well. Cultural intelligence can be a key piece of this as well. So how are you showing trust? How are you allowing colleagues to take risks? Helping boost confidence, showing appreciation for their skills and expertise. All things to think about in terms of building a more psychologically safe team and company. 

  

So stage 3 – engaged. I’m engaged with my team, actively contributing to my team’s success. I’m rewarded for my accomplishments, and motivated to improve my work and increase the company’s overall success. I understand the process for promotion, so that transparency there. My manager cares about my growth and gives me regular feedback. My ideas are valued, and I contribute to innovation. 

 

If you’re in management – if you’re a manager, engagement is key for you. Obviously you need to work on that first step of psychological safety, and then engagement. Catalyst found that 45% of employees’ experiences of inclusion are explained by their managers’ inclusive leadership behaviors. 

 

So, yeah. Brian. ‘Feeling safe in voicing concerns of not an empathetic team.’ Interesting. Yeah. Brian says, ‘I hear from women who speak on our allyship calls that they have to pick their battles when pushing back on management where microaggressions occur.’ Absolutely. Just going back to psychological safety for a minute. Yeah. A lot of us have to pick our battles because it takes a lot of energy. And some professional risk as well sometimes. So yeah. Appreciate that. 

 

Engagement. So Julie says, ‘Regular check-ins.’ Brian says, ‘Middle management is the sweet spot for the culture to change.’ Yeah, absolutely. Andrea says, ‘Not just in meetings, not just meetings, inclusive meetings, but also team activities. If you want to go to lunch, are you including those that have culture-based food requirements?’ Yeah. Perhaps don’t do all of your team’s extracurricular activity after hours so that everybody can be a part of that as well, including parents and other caregivers. Yeah. 

  

Managers create a culture of inclusion and allyship. Yeah. Michelle asks, ‘Would staying informed about current issues that affect coworkers and talking about them come in here?’ Yes, absolutely. This is where it would come in. A few episodes back we talked with TDo about ways that she worked internally around that and what she wanted from allies when she was really hurting and the Asian community has been hurting throughout the last year plus, year and a half, almost. So I encourage you to listen to that episode if you haven’t yet to see what she wanted. Because there’s a lot of good stuff there. Yeah. 

  

Questions to ask yourself around engagement are: are you helping people grow in their career? Are you showing that you care about your colleague’s well-being? Michelle, that was a perfect example. Are you helping meetings become more inclusive, are you helping events become more inclusive? Can your colleagues rely on you for doing what you say you’re going to do? And are you really communicating and communicating transparently so that people, again, can rely on you and know what’s happening, knowing what’s happening with a project. Knowing – yeah. Great. Thank you all for your contributions here. Appreciate it. 

  

So, step 4. I am committed. Managers and leadership teams have a big role here. The more you get – the further you get, the more management and leadership really do need to step up. So those of you who are leaders and managers, really take note of commitment – all of it, but especially as it gets further along in the stages of inclusion. I’m committed to being at this company for a while and my company is committed to me. Leadership cares about me and my growth. I have opportunities to become a leader myself. I’m fairly compensated and promoted. I contribute to my colleagues’ success and our company culture overall through mentorship, sponsorship and other ways. And I have opportunities to lead. My leadership cares about me. Our company and my leadership team shows that they are committed to and they’re continuously growing around diversity, equity and inclusion. 

 

Yeah. Anything else here that you all can think of that you’re doing around commitment in particular? This is great, by the way. 

  

Jerrica asks, ‘Do we trust that HR is managing pay fairly? Do we actually push for this level of allyship and commitment to employees?’ I would say trust is a hard word, but I would say ask them. Are they doing pay equity audits and promotion equity audits and if they’re not, as an ally, encourage them to do so. You can definitely do that. They may not know they need it – they may not know that it’s an issue. And so it may take several people, it may take an ERG, a couple of ERGs to really push for it too. 

 

Back in 2013-2014, Tracy Chou and a couple of other people looked at pay equity at Google. And they did some really cool stuff where they worked to kind of investigate it – and showed it to management. And that’s the way to make a huge difference. It is delicate for sure. But the more open we are about it, the more equitable it is. Right? There’s a few companies out there that are – that don’t do negotiation during the hiring process and that can level that as well. But yeah, there’s lots of different ways that you can handle it, but it’s important to handle it. Because it has been inequitable for so long. It needs to change. You can also advocate if you’re involved in the hiring process, you can certainly advocate for fair pay in that process. As well. 

  

Questions around commitment. Questions to ask yourself: are you giving people opportunities to lead? Are you advocating for your colleagues to be promoted or to get a raise? Are you advocating for pay equity, for promotion equity? Are you mentoring? Are you sponsoring? And if you are a manager or a leader, how are you really showing that you care about your team members’ growth? How are you doing that? 

  

Okay. And step 5. I belong. I belong here. I’m seen and valued for my unique experiences. I’m proud of my accomplishments at the organization and I’m connected to my colleagues and to the leadership of the company as well. I’m supported in my own growth, and I can become who I want to be. I am also given opportunities to give back, and we’re all working together to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. 

  

So, great question, Madeline. I’ll go back to the other slide at the beginning so that you can see the whole continuum. Yeah. So what are you all doing in terms of belonging and really looking at how to help people feel valued and to help them become who they want to be at your company? Kevin says, ‘listening sessions.’ Yeah. Awesome. Anything else? ‘Allyship groups.’ That’s great Andrea. ‘Book clubs.’ Interesting. Book clubs from different perspectives, written by diverse folks, I assume. 

 

Please feel free to add. Working with our HR team for D&I metrics. More mentoring. Absolutely, Crystal. And Andrea says. ‘Yes. ‘Book clubs with the allyship groups.’ That’s great. Ask yourself in a round of belonging, things to ask yourself. Are you sharing and celebrating the wins? Everybody’s wins? Are you making meaningful connections with your colleagues? Are you working to give back? And are you working to improve diversity, equity and inclusion together? Yeah. Awesome. 

  

All right. I’m going to go back here to the original continuum. There you have it all together. Crystal says, ‘Working with HR to focus on women in leadership too. How can we improve?’ Absolutely. And of course, I’m sure you know this, but making sure that it’s all women. Often historically, when people – when companies work on women in leadership, they often focus on just White women. So it’s really important to just make sure that it’s intersectional. 

  

Andrea says, ‘I’m going to protests and rallies and hearing the stories of those with diverse voices to try to understand their viewpoint and have empathies for their experience.’ Awesome. Cool. This is great. 

 

Douglas says, ‘Ask people in one-on-ones how would you rank your current project for being a good fit for you on a scale of 1-10?’ That’s really cool. ‘Because then you can – and then ask them why they ranked it low or high. And in the cases where the score is low, offer some initial thoughts on how you can advocate or change the situation for the better.’ Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes people are not on the right projects or the right teams even for their personal growth and well-being. That’s a great question to ask to kind of get at that and find some solutions. It’s really cool. Thanks for sharing. 

 

Madeline, sharing a quote from Gandhi: ‘Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart.’ Very relevant to the point of empathy. Yeah. And Liva’s writing to state representatives about workplace issues like child care. Fantastic. Actually, the EEOC, for those of you in the U.S., the EEOC is a good resource too. They – for advocating as well. They’re doing a lot of great work. Okay. 

  

I’m going to just pull down the slide here. Actually I’ll leave up the slides for a minute and kind of talk through the last two here. One is, in case you joined late, the preorder is now available for my new book. It comes out September 14th. And please preorder. If you are so willing and able to, and share this as well. And again, if you want to do a bulk order, reach out to us and I’ll make sure you get in touch with the right folks to get the bulk discount. It matters. It makes a big difference in the long-term success of the book, this preorder time. So thank you. And I’m not good at self-promotion, so thank you also for – Renzo just put a link in the chat. So appreciate you all. 

  

And then a reminder of what’s coming up next. In two weeks we have “Understanding & Correcting Our Biases” and July will be focused on microaggressions and we’ll go deep into the different types of microaggressions and how to interrupt them in yourselves and also we’ll talk about some intervention strategies and solutions there. 

 

I’m going to take the slides down. And we just have a couple more minutes, if anybody does have questions. Or thoughts that they want to share. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate you. 

  

Okay. Well, has this been helpful? Yes, definitely. Okay, cool. Awesome. Okay, great. I’ll try to keep sharing the data, because I know for some of you it’s really important to make the business case for some of this stuff too. And thank you Douglas. And also the individual actions that you can take, as well as what you can take in your company. So trying to continue to do all of those things, because I know you all kind of have different hats here. Okay, cool. 

  

And Julie, you’re welcome – ASL interpretation and closed captioning is something we have done since the very beginning. I think it’s really important and always happy to connect anybody who wants to investigate that to our interpreters, our partners there. 

  

My question to you all leaving here is what will you do differently? What action will you take, after hearing all the things that we talked about today, what action will you take? And then me, we’ll see you in two weeks for our next show. Again, thank you to First Tech Federal Credit Union and Interpreter-Now for their partnership. I appreciate them, couldn’t do this without them. And please do share this. Share with your colleagues. You can find all of our previous episodes at ally.cc and then find this episode on your favorite podcast platform or YouTube and like it and subscribe. That helps us too.

  

Appreciate you all. Have an amazing week and we’ll see you in two weeks! 

About the Host

Host: Melinda Briana Epler

Melinda Briana Epler has over 25 years of experience developing business innovation and inclusion strategies for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and global NGOs.

As CEO of Change Catalyst, Melinda currently works with the tech industry to solve diversity and inclusion together. Using her background in storytelling and large-scale culture change, she is a strategic advisor for tech companies, tech hubs, and governments around the world. She co-leads a series of global solutions-focused conferences called Tech Inclusion, where she has partnered with over 450 tech companies and community organizations and hosted 43 solutions-focused diversity and inclusion events around the world.

Previously, Melinda was a Marketing and Culture Executive and award-winning documentary filmmaker – her film and television work includes projects that exposed the AIDS crisis in South Africa, explored women’s rights in Turkey, and prepared communities for the effects of climate change. She has worked on several television shows, including NBC’s The West Wing.

Melinda is a TED speaker. She speaks, mentors and writes about diversity and inclusion in tech, allyship, social entrepreneurship, underrepresented entrepreneurs and investing. She has spoken on hundreds of stages around the world, including SXSW, Grace Hopper, Wisdom 2.0, the World Bank, Obama White House, Clinton Foundation, Black Enterprise, Google, Indeed, Capital One and McKinsey.

Watch Melinda’s TED Talk

Speaking Engagements

Change Catalyst Co-Founder Melinda Briana Epler has spoken across the globe in hundreds of venues and virtual events. Empathy, Allyship, Advocacy, Microaggressions, Inclusive Leadership, and Building Inclusive Teams are just some of the topics Melinda has spoken on. Let us know about your next speaking engagement needs! Melinda has also spoken on how to build organizational capacity to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as how to lead behavior change or how to build allies and advocates.

Testimonials

This show has given me clear opportunities to learn in the midst of 2020’s numerous social and personal challenges, including engaging remote content. I’ve learned new terms, heard new voices, diversified my interests and internalized personal narratives that have inspired me to get more active.

The show shaped my scope of reasoning on the dynamics in the corporate world, brand building, harmony across board with team mates. Your series has helped me feel less alone and less daunted by the challenges I face as a leader at a company that is used to moving fast with decisions and making swift progress across the board. I so earnestly want to grow and deepen my perspective when it comes to diversity and allyship; it’s not always clear how to do it. This series has felt like a path I can follow and revisit and draw strength and insight from. Thank you.

I watched many of your live shows in 2020, and I learned something from every discussion. They were inspiring on many levels. Early on during the pandemic (especially), the show also provided me with a sense of community that I was sorely needing. Thank you.

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If you’re looking for a way for remote teams to continue their learning and professional development, we’re now offering virtual allyship, inclusion and leadership trainings. We’ve also continued our consulting practice virtually. AND we now offer hourly coaching. Let us know if you’re interested in learning more!
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