AIIR is excited to introduce AIIRWaves, a new podcast from AIIR Consulting. Each month, we’ll be talking to coaches, business leaders, and individuals about how they are helping leaders and organizations navigate change and shape a better future.
Want to make sure you never miss an episode? Subscribe to AIIRWaves wherever you listen to podcasts.
In our inaugural episode, AIIR’s Thom Fox and Stephanie Thomas welcome Gigi Gilliard for an insightful conversation about inclusive leadership, and how to get it right. As Gigi shares, her Ikigai [or sense of purpose] is helping to create belonging, and that is what she has been doing in her work as a trainer and executive coach. Gigi’s firsthand experiences with bias and discrimination shaped her approach to DEI and have guided organizations to embrace inclusive leadership. We discuss what exactly makes an inclusive leader, how to become one, and the benefits this approach brings to teams and organizations. Gigi and the rest of the AIIR team also touch on the pitfalls of taking a halfhearted approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, and what happens when you get things wrong. If you’re working to build a more inclusive culture, or simply curious about what great inclusive leadership truly means, this episode is for you.
Hello, and welcome to AIIRWaves, a podcast dedicated to helping leaders navigate change and shape a better future. I’m your host, Thom Fox. And our program is brought to you by AIIR Consulting, a leadership consultancy creating transformation for people in their organizations. Today I’m joined by my colleague, Stephanie Thomas; she’s a senior leadership solution strategist. And we’ll be chatting with our guest, Gigi Gillard, coach and celebrated DEI practitioner. And that’s going to be our topic today, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Gigi, welcome to the program.
Thank you, Thom, I appreciate that. And full disclosure, we were joking before we got started about the word celebrated, right? I think I’m the only one that celebrates myself, so I’m going to take it because I can make a celebration all on my own. I don’t know about celebrated like more broadly, but I’ll take it.
Well, let’s talk about celebrations. We look at your background, I mean I know a little bit about you, but tell folks a little bit about yourself. Why are we chatting with you today?
Yeah, sure. So I’ve been what I like to call a learning and development leader, practitioner. I also call myself a conversation architect for the last 26 years or so. I’ve been in the learning and development space for a long time. And the last eight, nine, maybe even ten years I have been almost exclusively focused on helping to bring interventions and solutions to organizations around diversity, equity, inclusion, and I like to say belonging. So I often say DEI & B.
I do a few things. I’m a corporate trainer, I still do traditional facilitation doing training workshops and so forth. But I do a lot of executive coaching as well, again around helping organizations to think about how they can become more inclusive, what makes them not inclusive now, how do they bring in this concept, this sentiment of belonging. And just what that needs to look like, especially toward the leadership, like how do leaders lead in an inclusive way. We like to call that inclusive leadership. What that looks like, and where that can fall down. And that’s how I spend my time, that’s how I spend my time.
I’m also a caregiver to an 81 year old mama who is going on 18.
And that keeps my hands full.
You got an educated 18-year-old right there.
Yes, we did a bad thing by getting her on iPhone. So all she wants to do is send Bitmojis all day long.
You know, and I appreciate you talking about that, especially when you talk about inclusive leadership. And I know Stephanie, you’ve done a lot of work in this space as well, really trying to connect that aspect.
I guess I’ll start. I know the conversation’s going to go to Gigi, but Steph, I guess I start with you. I know you’ve had that background working with inclusive leadership, so what does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you?
Absolutely. And I love that question, because it works on sort of the technical practitioner level of, okay, how does this mean in practice for organizations, for leaders, tangible steps, KPIs we can go into, the strategy it all, love it. But it also has a very personal element for me. When I think of diversity, equity, and inclusion, it touches on the most innate human experiences in the workplace. That we all come in with our unique identities and so many differences, and we have an expectation to perform and work with one another and show up in this workplace. And for me, if you’re spending that much time of your life in the workplace, it better be a positive, healthy experience.
And so when looking at diversity, equity, and inclusion, it, for me, is that facet to so many other outcomes of our performance management, our wellbeing, our leadership, when we touched upon that inclusive leadership. And I love and am embracing the expansion of the acronyms as we have them. So we at AIIR, we’ve approached diversity, equity, inclusion very much as this inter-relational model. If you have just diversity, you’re not necessarily going to get the positive outcomes of what we’re talking about with the business case for driving DEI at an organization. Sure, you’re going to have different perspectives, but are these perspectives being heard? Are they being valued and giving a platform to actually impact the organization. That’s done with the lever of inclusion, you need inclusion for diversity to thrive. But then we always say if you leave inclusion as its own, without diversity, well you’re not going to get anywhere either. Homogeny, it’s really easy for us all to get along when we don’t have differences that we’re navigating and exploring with one another.
So we very much approach it as diversity and inclusion need to go hand in hand. And then equity is sort of this mediator between both, of making sure we’re enhancing diversity every step of the way with our fair and thoughtful processes and procedures for people at a company. And likewise, for enhancing inclusion, if we have an inclusive leadership group that’s great, but what if people don’t have access to it or the basic needs and amenities for their work as they show up in the workplace?
So for myself, diversity, equity, inclusion is sort of an engine. It goes ahead and drives this human experience in the workplace. And what excites me with this engine at AIIRs, we’re a leadership consultancy. And so it’s about putting leaders at the helm of this engine, to go ahead and drive change. And moving diversity, equity, inclusion, that’s traditionally been something legal on then HR, to now a seat at the leadership table and being considered as part of that core element of a business.
Yeah. I mean, when you put it that way, it’s an engine, I think back to rail car. It’s got an engine, it’s got a conductor, and essentially the conductor could be the CEO, whoever it is. Gigi, you’re a coach, you must be talking to these conductors all day, trying to help them understand and navigate what is diversity, equity, inclusion not only mean, but mean in their organizations. And I guess I would say, what are some of those attributes that are associated with some of those inclusive leaders that you’ve experienced in your time?
Yeah, I appreciate you asking me that, Thom. I think, first of all, I wanted to answer in large part, very similarly to what I heard from Stephanie, just there’s this sort of clinical piece to diversity, the tools, the strategies, the techniques, the things that we ought to do on paper. And for me personally, if I’m honest, there is the dimension of my lived experience. As a black woman, I’m a black woman who is a child of the sixties, don’t tell anybody. So I’ve been around for a while, and I am the daughter of parents who moved to New York City as a part of the Great Migration. So my history and my identity as a black person in this country is wrapped up in some of the complicated ways that our country has sort of dealt with people of color and those who have been marginalized.
So when I think about those experiences, and I marry those experiences with my corporate background and my experience with business, it really does give me sort of this, like Stephanie said, this personal relationship with DEI & B, with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. And at the risk of sounding hokey, in my coaching practice I talk to people all the time about finding your purpose and living your purpose. There’s actually this Japanese principle called ikigai. And ikigai is all about figuring out what your mission is and what your purpose in life is. I absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, believe that diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and me working in this space, is a part of ikigai. It is my mission in life. It’s the thing I was sent here to do.
So because of that, some of the same standards and requirements that I would hold myself to, in terms of making sure that I am inclusive, are the very same things that, first of all too, that I’ve seen in corporate spaces, that I’ve seen over the course of my clinical experience and just my experience with many, many leaders over the last two decades, but also the same standards that I hold myself to. And four of those standards, I believe, are things that leaders can start to think about right away. And it’s an acronym, so let me just warn you.
Acronyms are my love language, I speak in acronyms all the time. It’s a part of adult pedagogy, I believe, to speak in alliteration and acronyms. It helps people to remember, it helps to make the learning sticky. But there’s an acronym that I use in my practice all the time: it’s curiosity, authenticity, respect, and empathy. You put those letters together and you get CARE, right? Also at the risk of sounding even more hokey, leaders really do have to care. And that sounds almost like, well, of course we care, right? Of course that is natural, I’m a leader, I care about my people, I care about my company. But we’ve got to care more about just the bottom line. We’ve got to care more about just the optics, just the optics. And I say that a lot as it relates to diversity not being performative. In the times that we live in now, it could be easy for people to say, “Well, let’s make sure that we have lots of representation at our organization. Let’s make sure that we recruit diverse candidates and hire diverse candidates,” but it’s got to be more than that. Right? I think when leaders can say, “Okay, we want to make sure that we’re hiring the most skilled, the most talented, the most capable, but we do want diverse candidates. Once we get them, we’ve got to care about them. We’ve got to be curious about their experience here, making sure that they get the same development opportunities, making sure that they get the same access to promotions, making sure that they get the same experience. We’ve got to allow them to be authentic.”
And when we think about that, that brings in the whole conversation around psychological safety, making sure that they’re psychologically safe. That they feel like they can bring their authentic self to work. We’ve got to make sure that there is respect being given and shared. And that people are respecting the different experiences of people who don’t look like them, or who may not love like them or who may not have grown up like that.
And then, this idea of empathy and being self-aware enough to realize whether or not you need to raise your empathy level. That’s something, again, like these are not things… These are always things that I first check in with myself on. I consider myself a leader. I have a small consultancy. I’m always thinking, how do I make sure that I’m hitting all of these notes? But these are also things that I share when I’m coaching other leaders as well. How do we remain curious about people? How do we make sure that we allow people to bring their authentic selves? How do we elevate respect, and how do I always check in and make sure that I’m being as empathetic as I can?
I’m going to ask you a devil’s advocate question.
Why do I want people to bring themselves to work? Why do I want them to bring their best selves to work? What’s the benefit for me with them? What’s it for me?
What’s it for me?
I do all this stuff. I make everybody equal. What is the benefit? What’s the upside to my business, society?
Yeah. There’s lots of data out there that a lot of the big consultancies have done over the years. Deloitte and McKenzie, around the power, if you will, of having a diverse team, right? The strength of a diverse team. If there’s more innovation, if there’s more creativity, you get all of this power from a diverse team. So, there’s that.
The truth of the matter is though, I think that as a leader, what’s in it for me is that with this diverse team, a diverse team that feels like they are included. Not just diversity for diversity’s sake. Not just people from traditionally marginalized groups, just for the sake of that, but with a diverse team that feels like they are included. I believe that you get more engagement. You get more engagement, you get more discretionary effort.
If I feel like I can be my authentic self, and I feel safe being my authentic self, I’m going to give more. I’m going to be more creative. I’m going to put my guard down. You’re going to get the best from me. You’re going to get the best out of me. And here’s the thing. If I’m a leader in this space, I’m going to model the behavior for other leaders. I’m going to model the behavior for other people. “Wow, Gigi really loves it here. Like, she’s jazzed. She’s turned on. What’s that about?”
Well, she feels like she belongs. She feels like she’s included. Somebody is doing something, because inclusion is about what we do. Some leader, somewhere, is doing something, is behaving in such a way that I can feel like I belong. Belonging is a sentiment. When we feel that way, and when we experience belonging… When I say we, and I am speaking specifically about leaders who are Black and brown and from other identity groups, who’ve been traditionally marginalized.
You get the best from us. And that comes out in all kinds of ways. Yes, it comes out in creativity and it comes out in productivity, but it also comes out in retention. It comes out in retention. I want to work here. I want to work here, and I want to work here for a long time. Not just because there might be some great people here, but because I do feel like I belong and I feel like I can thrive. You can’t thrive if you don’t feel included.
I was watching something the other day, talking about a happy place. Go to your happy place. And when I go to my happy place, it’s a place where I am comfortable. I can be myself. I can share my thoughts. If everybody who’s listening, imagine you’re in your happy place right now, and imagine that’s at work, and imagine all the great things you can share with your leaders in your team. To that point, look at all that untapped potential, because I just made it safe for people to come up, speak their mind. To share some things.
Now, you said another important term, and I want… Stephanie, I’ve been working with you on a project about this, psychological safety. That brought up, and so I won’t want some folks to go, “Ah, that was interesting. I hope they come back to that.” Well, we are.
Stephanie, in your job, you know what you do, you really go in and work with clients and try to understand what they’re really trying to get from a program. And you add that richness to come out and make it all come together. Interesting to see how we talk to them about psychological safety. How do you set it up?
Yeah. Yeah. It is definitely timely. I know you and I have been talking about this a lot. Psychological safety, what does that really mean? We’re talking about the perception of risks. Like, is it safe for me to take a risk with others? Even back to your earlier question of, “Oh, why should we all be our authentic selves in the workplace?”
I think one differentiator is, and I’m going to snag this concept from a DEI practitioner named Lily Zheng, and they talk about it in the essence of, it’s not just everybody able to show up as themselves, a hundred percent of the time. It’s about agency. It’s about, “Hey, I think that this is, I feel safe. I feel okay to speak up, to try to challenge this idea or share my new idea, or talk about a personal experience that might be overlooked, or might be relevant in this instance.” And that I have the choice, the agency to go ahead and express myself, or not.
I think that’s the pivotal moment in the workplace right now, is that historically there wasn’t necessarily the agency there. There was just a set way, a set type of challenging, of being overt. And now it’s really creating this wider safety for people to have this agency, to express themselves. And how we go about that, that’s the tangible skill that Tom, you and myself, and leadership development team at AIIR, tackle on a daily basis. We talk about, are you able to express your mistakes? Are you able to encourage descent to ideas? Are you vulnerable? That goes to expressing the stakes, but are you really vulnerable about where you are? What you understand, what you don’t? And are you curious about others and their experiences and their behaviors around you?
For inclusive leaders, so much of that is… And I know it’s hard for leaders at times where we’re rewarded for being experts, rewarded for success. To admit vulnerability, and Gigi, I loved care and now you laid it out. This authenticity of authentically being vulnerable, of really when you’re stumped on something, can you admit this? Do you have the curiosity to fill those gaps? Do you have the empathy to be receptive to what you learn and respect for those differences? All of that ties into psychological safety, at least in the work we have. Yeah.
And you get a better product. I mean, I’ll look at it, correlate from the startup world. I used to do mentorship for startups and I guess we’d call it a different way. We’d say, “We’d allow people to call our baby ugly. Come on in and challenge. Open the door.” And it was a safe space. What you got out of that, 10 times out of 10, was something stronger, something better, something faster, because you invited people. You made it safe for them to share.
That’s very vulnerable, right? To any aspect, “Hey, listen, there’s an aspect of my business, or this is my business.” It’s vulnerable to talk about. I may not have the answer, but you get so much more richness when you have different voices at the table, different lived experiences.
Gigi, I don’t want to step on your thunder, but we had a conversation before you even came on the program, and you told me a wonderful story. If you remember it, about a gentleman that chased you down, and that came up. Stephanie was talking about that curiosity, that vulnerability. I was like, “I got to ask Gigi about that. That experience.” I want you, if you can, share that with folks, because to me, that is that aha moment that said, “How do I create this in my organization? Because I didn’t even know it was happening.”
Yeah, sure. Actually love telling this story. You’re going to be sorry. You asked me this. Let’s go back to young Gigi, right? Gigi who was doing her undergrad at Rutgers. I grew up in a pretty strict home. My parents were pretty religious and kept a tight rein on my sister and I, but I was able to go away to school and lived on campus, but I was relegated to the dorms for the first three years of school. My third year in school, I convinced my parents to let me get my first off-campus apartment. It was a small attic in the home of a woman who lived about a mile or two off-campus. And I only know that because back then there was no internet, right? I’m telling on myself. No internet. So I found the apartment in the back of the school paper, that kind of thing. It was described in the back of the school paper.
I called the woman up who owned the home, who had the apartment, and we had a lovely conversation. And even as I’m recounting this to you now, I can hear her voice in my head as clear as day. And she asked me about my parents. She asked me about what I was studying and all that kind of stuff. And obviously in the course of that conversation, she asked me my full name.
Now, this is important to the story. My middle name is Gigi, but my first name is Grethalda. It’s actually German Hungarian. So you imagine growing up in the Bronx as a Black girl with a German Hungarian name. And my last name is French. My last name, even though the American pronunciation is Gilliard, we say Gilliard.
So the reason I’m telling you that is because when I look back on this, I know for a fact that the woman that I was speaking to probably could not connote on the phone that I was a Black girl, right? She probably couldn’t put that together. And I don’t think I sound… I’m told by some of my non-Black friends that I don’t sound like a Black girl on the phone, whatever that means, right? I don’t sound like a Black girl.
At 19, I probably didn’t sound like I was Black. So myself and the woman that was renting the apartment, we spoke on the phone for several days. I convinced my dad to write a check. I got on the bus and went back to Central Jersey. I traveled an hour and a half on the bus.
And I could not be more excited. I was 19. I had my whole life ahead of me. I was going to live off-campus for the first time. I was a real big girl. Right? I think I had a boyfriend at the time, or thought certainly I was going to get one now with this off-campus apartment.
Walked to the neighborhood. I’m literally skipping down the street. Imagine Black Dorothy, right? Skipping down the street, just happy as I could be. I get to the woman’s house and I see her very cautiously opening the door and not opening the door all the way, but just peeking out. And I immediately sensed her fear.
And I called her name and I said, “Hi, it’s Miss Gilliard. Grethalda Gilliard, the Rutgers student.” And as she opened the door, when she realized who I was, she said, “You’re Black. You’re Black. No Blacks. No Blacks.” And first of all, I was stunned. Right? I was stunned because it never dawned on me that she didn’t realize that I was Black. I didn’t piece it together.
So when I realized what was happening, I started sort of very organically reading off my parents’ credentials. I said, “No, no, no, no. Before you shut the door, my dad is an X-ray technician and he’s really smart. And my mom, my mom is a good Methodist. My mom goes to Methodist church. And I’m a student.” And I just remember feeling this fear that I wasn’t going to be able to convince her that I was good or that my parents were good in those moments.
And I couldn’t convince her. She shut the door on me. And she told me that she wasn’t able to rent to me. So again, we’re back in a time where there are no cell phones. I go to a payphone, first payphone can I find. As you might imagine, I’m weeping. I’m weeping. I’m a girl of 19. I knew that racism existed in the world. I did. My parents did a good job of showing us that. I just had no idea that I was going to face it just with so much brutality. It felt brutal. Right?
And I got on the phone and I called my dad who was at home, and they were waiting to hear about this new apartment. I said, “Dad. Dad. I got to tell you something. I’m Black.” And as you might imagine, my father’s like, “What are you talking about, kid? What is wrong with you? Of course you’re Black. What are you saying?” I was like, “No, Dad. Dad, I’m Black. And because I’m Black, I can’t rent the apartment.”
And my dad started crying. My father started crying. And my mom, who is a pragmatist, got on the phone. And she was like, “Listen to us. Listen, we told you this was going to happen. We did. Get on the bus. Come back home. We’ll help you.”
Now, why this is important to leaders who want to lead inclusively is that a few years ago I was in the UK. And I was brought over to the UK by an American company who was doing a big leadership retreat for all of their C-suite executives and the executive vice presidents.
And we were talking about leading inclusively and recognizing the experiences of other people. And I shared this story in that room with 35 middle-aged white guys. There might have been two or three people of color, maybe four women in the room. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the room, first of all. And also, you could hear a pin drop.
When I was done with my presentation and with the workshop, I packed up my laptop and I was going back to the hotel to get back to the airport. And the CEO followed me out into the hotel lobby. And he says, “First of all, I got to ask you, did that really happen to you?” Right? Which is a little bit off-putting. I was like, “Of course it really happened to me. That’s a real story that did happen to me, and it helped to shape who I am.”
And he said to me, he was like, “I was listening to your every word. I was listening to every word you said.” He was like, “But if I’m honest, I didn’t relate 100% to you, but I could relate to your dad.” He was like, “Right now today I have a 19-year-old daughter who’s on campus. And if she called me to say that she wouldn’t be able to get an apartment because of some way that she identified, I don’t know what I’d be able to do.” Right?
And he says, “You’ve got to keep telling that story, because honestly, Gigi, I’ve never understood bias and racism the way that I do today.” And to Stephanie’s point, and you both said this, right? I was impressed by his level of curiosity, him being vulnerable enough to ask me…
Exactly, right? That’s tough.
… “Did this story really happen?” But also his level of vulnerability. Even as he was recounting to me how he was feeling in the moment, I could see his emotion. I could see his emotion. I could see that he was relating to my father, who was probably about his age at the time, having to deal with this kid whose heart was broken because of some ideology in the world.
And so I think that that just underscores what we’re talking about here in terms of… There’s a gentleman by the name of Keith Wyche. W-Y-C-H-E. He wrote this book called Diversity Is Not Enough. He’s the past president of Pitney Bowes, but he’s had a lot of leadership roles in a lot of different companies.
But in this book, Diversity Is Not Enough, he’s been doing some press around the book and he’s been interviewed recently. And he said that leaders have to come to a place when they’re thinking about diversity where they’re helpable. He uses the word helpable.
And I want to believe that that gentleman that day was helpable. He allowed my experience, my story, to help him. And that leader is still a good friend of mine. We’re still very, very dear friends. And he says all the time, he says, “I wasn’t ready for that.” He was like, “That’s not what I was thinking. I thought you were going to show me some slides about diverse numbers. I thought that’s what we were going to do.”
He was like, “And you tell me this story about not getting an apartment, and here I am wanting to learn more about bias, wanting to learn more about my own racism, wanting to learn more about my empathy.” And I believe that that spirit of helpability, being helpable, where you’re, again, the word we’re going to use is curious, where you’re curious about the experiences of other people, can 100% help to power your leadership. I absolutely believe that.
Yeah. I mean, and you look at the influence at that particular point in time that you created for that individual. And it sounds like the epiphany was, “Hey, you know what? We’re all humans.” Maybe he didn’t associate with you at that moment, but he looked at your dad and he goes, “I’m a dad.” There was no color, there was nothing else, there was no CEO.
There is a, “Here I’m a dad, and I got to pick up this phone call from my daughter.”
That’s right. 100%.
Now, if you could level-set in that way and have that leader then bring that back to the boardroom, to the C-suite, to whatever else, and have that lens now focused, what else, what could we do better?
And it sounds like folks could do better. And I know we’ve got a few minutes left. And what I wanted to do in one aspect is, we’ve been talking about these, how it works out, how it’s good and how we can set people up for success or make them helpable in many respects.
But, and you kind of said this a little bit earlier, and I guess I’d ask you the question this way, obviously things are changing. We are out of the command and control leadership style. We’re away from the aspect, if I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you. We’re at that point of, “Let’s get people involved.” I got to imagine there are some people are working really hard to get diversity equity inclusion right. I’ve got to imagine there’s some folks that are doing it halfheartedly. And I’ve got to ask, and I’ll pose this to Stephanie, I’d like for you to chime in on this, too, in some respects, as we close out, but, what’s in it for folks if they don’t do it right? What if they do it just to check a box? What does that ultimately lead to, if they’re not doing it with the full intention and breadth of what DEI is all about, getting people involved, belonging, creating belonging?
So I can jump in briefly.
With my take on that. So halfheartedly and check in the box. I think leaders at each position they might have across an organization, in the end, it’s recognizing, taking a step back, that regardless of your function, you’re a leader of people. Your company and that end product that you are putting out there is driven through people. And so, if you’re just ticking the box on the human experience in your workplace and that the feeling of belonging, safety that comes from diversity, equity, inclusion done thoroughly and with care, it’s going to fall apart. And I think we have evidence of this across the news, when you see the backlash, and when you see the strain it can put on an organization, and how it can hold it back. So that’s my brief take on that. But, Gigi, all ears for you, too.
Yeah. Thank you, Stephanie. I definitely think of this word, and this word might be a little bit overused in our time right now, but this word, “performative.” So when we think of checking the box and we think of our leadership, our inclusive leadership being half-hearted, I do think of that word. I think that we don’t want to perform. We don’t want to just pretend. We want to be genuine about our efforts. And I think the way to do that hearkens back to what I was saying before. We can be a leader who thinks, “Okay, as it relates to strategy, let’s go about recruiting some diverse talent. Let’s do that.” But if we’re not concerned about the experience that they have, whether or not they’re included, whether or not they’re being developed, whether or not they have equal opportunity to access, whether or not…
There’s a woman by the name of Verna Myers. And she’s been coined to say that diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance. So as a leader, we can invite folks to our company. We can hire them. That can be a part of our diversity strategy. But if we don’t ask them to dance, if we don’t get them involved, if we don’t give them the opportunity, then I think we do undo all of that work, because I mentioned earlier retention. We live in an age where diverse candidates can sniff out a mile away whether or not your activity around diversity is sincere.
Diverse candidates, first of all, are being wooed. That’s the truth of it. They’re being wooed right now across the country, those who are talented, those who are capable. And they’re looking for the organizations that are really getting inclusion right. So you can do all this work to bring diverse candidates on, and then lose them, and then have to spend all this money going back out again and finding diverse candidates, which only serves to hurt your organization in the long run.
So I do think that it’s important for us not to check boxes, for us to not be halfhearted, because it ultimately not only hurts our own sincerity and our integrity as leaders, but it can hurt the organization.
That’s what my old mentor may say to the aspect of putting lipstick on a pig.
That sounds about right.
You’ve got to…And let’s be honest, too, to your point. You talk about turnover and things like that, the great resignation, the great reshuffle, whatever you want to call it. But to your point, if I’m that candidate, I’m going to ask a lot of questions about diversity equity inclusion. I want to understand that you live it, not just that you do it. And it sounds like when you’re trying to get talent, which is expensive, keeping talent can be. Replacing them would be even far more expensive. So it sounds like through the time, do diversity equity inclusion correctly, really look at it, challenge yourself, and really, to your acronym, care.
To care. Yes, yes. 100%. And one thing that I want to say, too, because I spent a lot of time talking about the direct experience of those who are diverse candidates, or those who have membership in traditionally marginalized groups. But we are in an age right now where we’re spending a lot of times with our allies. And if you are in an organization that has folks who are the allies of diverse candidates, they want to see the right thing happen, as well.
Right. So we’re not just talking about the experience of the diverse, the Black or brown or gay candidates, employee themselves. We’re talking about the people in your organization who desire to be their allies, who don’t want to be bystanders, who really want to help elevate and center those lives, and center those experiences. When we’re checking boxes, we run the risk of really alienating those folks, as well, those people who really want to do the right thing and want to do the right thing at work.
Right. And want to do the right thing at work.
Absolutely. Listen, both of you, thank you very much for joining us today. I really appreciate it. And I want to say, wonderful conversation. I really appreciate folks listening in and really taking the conversation. So thanks again to my colleague, Stephanie Thomas, Senior Leadership Solution Strategist, and our guest Gigi Gilliard. Got it right that time, I hope.
Yes, you did. Yes, you did.
Coach and, now I’m going to say it again, celebrated DE&I practitioner.
And to you, our listeners, for joining us. To learn more about how AIIR unlocks leadership potential through coaching, consultancy, evidence based practices, and best in class technology, visit aiirconsulting.com. That’s A-I-I-R consulting.com.
Data from our proprietary team assessment shows that leadership teams are struggling under the weight of unresolved conflict. This whitepaper offers three steps leaders can take to work through unresolved conflict and improve team performance right now.
Read Now >
AIIR marks a new era of talent management with the launch of sister company AIIR Analytics, as well as an innovative leadership skills assessment and a succession planning software.
In the throes of rapid change and economic uncertainty, it’s easy to focus on external threats. But the real threat may already be infiltrating your team.
The year has already handed leaders a lot of lemons. How can you help them build the capacity to keep making lemonade? Here’s how to help leaders at your organization build sustainable resilience.
Partner with AIIR to empower your leaders and ascend into the future.