In today’s episode, CultureRoad™ creator and podcast host DeEtta Jones chats with colleagues Jayla Hodge, Media Marketing Specialist at DeEtta Jones and Associates, and Holly Brittingham, Founder and President of Septaria Consulting, to explore diversity, equity, and inclusion issues through the lens of The Great Resignation.
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About the Host:
DeEtta Jones is a 32-year industry veteran, transformational leadership expert, and owner of DeEtta Jones and Associates, the go-to management training and strategic consulting firm for some of the world’s leading companies and institutions. Visit deetajones.com for more information.
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- Hello, and welcome tothe Cultural Road Podcast
episode number four.
We are talking today aboutthe Great Resignation.
And I'm really excited tobe having this conversation,
because as much aseveryone is talking about
the Great Resignation
and as much as it's impacting our world,
our hope today is to be ableto talk about it with some
opportunity for thinkingoptimistically about how to use
this Great Resignation as a moment
to really think about how equity,
diversity and inclusionpractices and approaches
show up in our organizations.
And so with me today aretwo colleagues and guests,
Jayla, and Holly,
who will introducethemselves in just a moment,
and who will help us reallyexplore what the issues are
and how they show up in our world.
So just to think aboutthe Great Resignation,
the Great Resignation, asI'm sure everybody knows,
is this mass exodus fromthe traditional workforce
that's been taking place,
especially over the last couple of years.
It started off primarilyin the United States,
and then it started movinginto other places like UK.
And now it's starting to bemore and more prominent in other
parts of the world, Singapore,China, Australia, et cetera.
And what's happening isthat the entire world
is as we're going throughthis kind of grand
reckoning related to equity
and creating more equitablesystems is realizing that some
of the capitalistic structuresand systems and behaviors,
whether or not we're talkingabout purely capitalism as part
of the professionalidentity of each person,
is getting in the way ofpeople really being able
to have meaningful workand explore and live
the kind of lives that allow them to
have the meaning that theywant on a day-to-day basis.
It also is a call to actionfor so many employers
and organizations that have been saying
that they're committed toequity, diversity, and inclusion,
but have failed or comesignificantly short of doing
what it takes in orderto create organizations
and career paths that allow people
to feel satisfied and fulfilled over time.
And so what I wanna do is giveus an opportunity to unpack
what this means for us,
and to be able to have this conversation
with two of my favorite people.
Jayla, thank you so much for being here.
And maybe we'll start offwith you telling a little bit
about who you are andmaybe a little bit about
some of the work that you do
related to equity,diversity, and inclusion.
And then Holly, we'd liketo have you do the same.
- Hi, I'm Jayla Hodge.
So I right now work forDeEtta Jones and Associates,
and I work as a consultant,but also a media specialist.
And I specialize in creatingorganic content designing
and the ways that we moveonline and the digital world.
And then my backgroundcomes from journalism,
political science, community engagement.
And so it's always had a focus on EDI,
and then making everything equitable
and infusing those practices
and all the work that I've done.
- Thank you. Thanks, Jayla.
- Hi. I'm Holly Brittingham.
I am the founder and presidentof Septaria Consulting.
I do a lot of work in EDI.
I also am very interested inthe intersection of leadership
and organizational development,
which I think is reallyimportant to think about
as we're at this stage ofwhere organizations are going
and what they can do to managewhere we're at going forward.
- Yeah. Nice.
It's gonna be really important.
And in addition to your current role,
you also have many years of experience
as a C-suite leader in corporate settings,
where you've often been responsible,
and had a lot ofresponsibility for creating
hiring strategies and retention strategies
and advancement strategies,
and been held accountable in many ways
for making sure thatpeople are represented
and that they're movingthrough the organization.
And so the onset of the Great Resignation
must have been a reallytumultuous time for you,
especially not knowing how tohelp people kind of stay put,
and also not knowing exactlywhat tools were going to be
necessary to meet some of your own goals.
Maybe you can start off withhelping us understand a little
bit about what some of the experiences are
that you've witnessed with this.
I think I've been part of HR departments
for a number of years,
and HR has born the brunt and the burden
of all of the organizationalchange that has happened
right from the beginning of COVID.
I think that it's unbelievablehow much talent leaders
have had to contend with,
and what they've had tokind of continually manage.
So with every changingstrain of the virus,
every changing sort of iterationof guidance for how to...
What do we do about work from home?
What do we do about hybrid?What does hybrid even mean?
Layer on top of that, people leaving,
how do we hire?
How do we hire quickly?
All of those expectations.
It's unbelievable actuallywhat people have been through.
- What about you as far as your work?
Like what is...
You, in addition to beingpart of HR departments,
you've also have veryspecific responsibility
for equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Have you seen that the Great Resignation
has disproportionatelyimpacted certain entities?
And if so, what are someof those observations?
- Yeah, I mean, what'sinteresting is that I find myself
as part of the Great Resignation,
which is kind of interesting,
but what I've reallynoticed is that people from
underrepresented groupsare more comfortable
with flexible work environments.
And there tends to befrom the dominant culture,
a push to come back and be in the office
because that's a comfort levelto the prevailing culture.
And so I think where organizationsare really gonna need
to do things differentlyis understand that
part of the adaptation,part of this growth,
this change that needs tohappen is, like you said,
a redefinition, a renegotiationof how work gets done.
- Interesting, interesting.
Jayla, I know you havestrong opinions about this.
And so I would really love...
And I know that you aregenerationally different
than Holly and me.
And so it might have adifferent take on it also
from a generational point of view,
as a person who's at anearlier stage in your career
thinking about whatdoes this mean for you?
And what are some of thethings that you think about
as far as your own career trajectory,
as far as how you want to be employed
and the nature of the kindof employment relationships
that are palatable to you?
- Yeah. I can.
I can speak from thisjust on my experience,
and then also what I'vepicked up from my peers.
So I'm Gen Z.
I'm an elder Gen Z. I'm the first year.
And we entered the workforce as COVID hit.
A lot of us were getting into our first
career oriented jobs at that time.
So I think that's a big factorwhere we got established
when we're working fromhome and not necessarily
in these traditional workplace structures.
So that's one push why Ithink there's a big reluctance
from more people in my age group
to go back.
And then another reason too,
I think is COVID changed everybody,
but it allowed us time toslow down and sit at home,
and be still enough toreally think about...
We had a conversation aboutwork that's meaningful.
And I think a lot of peopledecided that the jobs
that they were doing orthe careers or pursuits
or pass they were leading
weren't actually givinga lot of meaning to them.
And I think that's a bigthing that's changed.
A lot of people wanna find purpose,
find flow in what they do.
And then also there'sthis other aspect of being
just appreciated and likefeeling the work that you do
is not only impacting others,but you're valued for it.
- And I think people are...
People, me, a lot of feeling a sense of
I want to be workplace thatI'm not just another number,
I'm not just this role.
I have a good holistic work/life balance
and I'm appreciated for my character,
and not just how much...
How productive I've been.
- Yeah.- Yeah.
- It's so it's so interestingto think about that
because I wonder, and I don't know this,
but are people more productive
when they're working from home?
Do we have a sense of that?
And I'm not pushing one way or another,
but I'm wondering, becauseculturally speaking,
at least in the United States,
we care a lot about productivity, right?
And we try to measure it,
and it's been reallycomplicated to figure out
how is it that we helpourselves understand
what drives productivity?
And is it being at home andhaving more flexibility?
Or is it being in a workplace environment
where you are actually ableto have some of the creative
and synergistic exchange andmaking sure that people have
access to tools and resources
and support that you mightnot have if you're at home
and your computer crashes,
or if you need to get something signed
or a decision made quickly.
So I wonder about thequestion of productivity
as we kind of navigate throughthis different landscape.
- I think that's...
And at least from what I'm perceiving,
I think you guys might havea different perspective.
Is that the more holisticapproach to work,
we have more language too.
We talk about emotionalwellbeing and mental health.
That's language that I feellike's more incorporated
now post-COVID than it was previous too.
So people are having emphasis
on different aspects of their life
that's not like productivity.
And then others...
On my flight here actually,
I sat next to a man andhe's saying that he was on
his way to Columbia.
And he's like being ableto get up and take a break
and go travel and go find creativity,
and find other outlets todo things has made his life,
his work/life better because he's like,
"When I go back to work,I don't feel drained.
I don't feel like stress. I feel relaxed.
I get inspiration."
So there's a give and take,
but I think that's somethinga lot of people are finding
value in that they weren't finding
in traditional officesor sitting at their desk.
Like if I get stuck on an idea,
I can literally change locations.
I can go work outside.
I can go another place.
And sometimes that's just...
That's all people are looking for.
- [DeEtta] Interesting.- Yeah.
That's completely true.
I think it absolutelyreflects the experience
of what companies aretrying to figure out.
So at the company I was last at,
we did a survey asking people where...
What types of work do you feel that you
are better in the office,
and what types of work
do you feel like you'd be better at home?
And what was very interestingis there was from leadership
a real focus on, but we need culture.
We need people to be together.
We need this feeling ofwho we are as a company.
And I think what's interestingis people who started
during COVID and who neveractually met people physically
still felt like theyhad a sense of culture,
because culture isn'tnecessarily just being in person.
On the other hand,
there are types of work where people feel
like it's brainstorming, right?
- [DeEtta] Right, right.
- So in a marketing services company,
the idea was if we'regonna be brainstorming
and putting ideas on the wall,
being together does make a difference.
And it results in quality work.
On the other hand,
there are times when if I'mjust gonna answer emails,
if I need to really bethinking and focusing,
it's better for me to be at home.
- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- And I think the big challenge
is how do you structure it sothat it works for everybody
in all of this flexibility, right?
And one of the things I noticedis you've probably seen that
new little tagline that'scoming on people's emails.
"This email is sent at atime convenient for me.
Don't presume that it'sconvenient for you."
So there's a little bit more to that,
and it's interesting tosee how it's gonna evolve.
- Yeah, and I'm speaking as someone...
The first community I found
and ever felt a part of was online.
That's a big difference.- Yeah.
- So it's easy to virtually find that when
that's what you're used to,that's what we grew up in.
That's what we've already been adapted to.
And I think that couldbe a disconnect to people
who are used to findingonline digital communities
versus the in-person experience.
- Okay, so this may be generational.
I don't know.
But it's interesting to me to imagine
that there's no connectionat all between people saying,
"I just am not feeling the support.
I'm not feeling heard.
I don't feel like I have ways for my voice
or my contributions tobe fully acknowledged,
or to kind of make their way
through decision making channels,
and also being in a totally virtual space.
Because a lot of times it feels like
in totally virtual spaces,
we're just kind of here for this meeting.
The actual stuff in betweendoesn't really happen, right?
It's like, okay, here'sthe meeting from this time
to this time.
If anything, we're makingthe meeting shorter
and more efficient andmore topically focused,
but all the stuff that is thein between stuff that allows
people to get to knoweach other and establish
a sense of care at human levelsis harder, it seems like.
And I don't mean people need to leave
the workforce for that,
or if it's a hybridversus in-person issue,
but it does seem like all of these things
are kind of conflated.
And I wonder if the meaning that people
are seeking from their work,
some of it has to do withnot being able to actually
establish some of the in-personrelationships that might
actually be cultivated morein an in-person environment.
I don't know.
- [Jayla] That's a good point.- [Holly] Interesting.
- That is a good point.
I think that...
I thought your point...
you said earlier that you foundmore marginalized identities
are more reluctant toreturn to the workplace.
- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- And I still remember I had one year,
one and a half year when I was
in a traditional office setting,
and I remember feeling kindof awkward, intense there.
And I know the feelingpeople are talking about,
the gathering aroundcoffee and be able to speak
and build those relationships.
And I understand why that's a big draw,
but also me being, again,
one of the only blackwomen in that organization,
I couldn't connect a 100%with everyone that way,
at least not as easily.
And that's another thing that virtually
it's easier to maintainthose work boundaries.
And so you don't also feel like
I'm being left out of this culture, right?
When it's like, okay,
all focused on the work and what we do
and building a relationship through that.
- [DeEtta] That's interesting.
- Yeah, it can cut both ways, right?
I mean, if the in officeculture is such that
it actually leans towards exclusion,
if the water coolerconversations feel exclusive,
then you could see how thevirtual would be preferable.
- And the dialogue around thatreally that started around
George Floyd and all that,
that culture really focusing in on this
happened when we weren't really returning
to office settings.
So while I think that a lotof organizations are making
the moves and steps and impacts
like change theirinclusion in that culture,
people that didn't get toexperience that before they left
might not believe it ormight not be eager to return.
- [DeEtta] Yeah, yeah.
- [Holly] Yeah.
- So there's one otherquestion that comes to my mind
probably of may others,about the Great Resignation,
and it's about job security.
I don't know,
different generationshave very different ways
of thinking about jobsecurity and career pathing
and all of that thing.
But with the Great Resignation,
there are a lot of people whoare earlier in their career
who are saying, "Hmm, that's okay.
I don't wanna play that game.
It doesn't matter if I havean interruption in my career
trajectory or in what has typically been,
traditionally been a path."
And I wonder what aresome of the different ways
of thinking about that,
because it seems like as people
are leaving traditional workplaces,
there's also the rise of more
and more entrepreneurial endeavors.
People are just finding otherreally cool, creative ways
to be employed and engaged.
And they're probably just asmarketable as ever, right?
And so it's really interestingto think about that.
- Yeah, I mean, I thinkphrases like the gig economy
and people having side hustles,
that's a trend that I think started
before the Great Resignation.
Another trend I think,
is that employees are lookingfor what they can learn.
So it's become, I would sayover the past five to 10 years,
even more important forcompanies and organizations
to understand what can I...
What learning are you goingto get when you come here,
as opposed to what areyou gonna do for me.
- [Jayla] Right, right.
- And of course both thingscan exist simultaneously,
but that requires more thoughtfulness
to make sure that the work is getting done
and we're learning, right?
And so having that learningmindset is important.
- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- Also pre-COVID, again,it's like pre-COVID world,
a lot of things are different.
When you're new and starting out,
they tell you don't want agap on your resume, right?
You don't want that.It's not gonna look good.
And then the world stopped.
A lot of people were getting let go.
We weren't able to work.
Now people have large gaps and realizing,
well, why does that...
That didn't matter,
that doesn't say anything aboutmy work ethic or my value.
It says more about circumstance.
And then I think that's a big change.
Other things like a lot ofcompanies were in a hard spot
where they unfortunatelyhad to let people go.
But we, from the outside of that,
you see a lot of entry levelpositions all of a sudden,
regardless of how well theyworked having to either
get let go or be laid off.
And so I think there's a lack of faith,
especially when you're first starting off,
you're like, "I may nothave job security anyway.
If the going gets tough,
I still might be having tofind out another hustle.
I'd rather just invest in that now."
- Right, right, right.
So what are the kinds of thingspeople are transitioning to?
For people who are specificallyleaving in order to find
more meaning in theirlife and in their career,
are there specific things thatpeople are kind of preferring
to go towards professionally?
- I think it's a big question
and it really justdepends on the individual.
But I've noticed a bigtrend in content creators,
and investing and cryptocurrencies.
And every time I go on TikTok or my IG,
it's tips of how tostart your own business
or tips of how to grow,
I don't know, grow yourengagement strategy
and how to monetizethis and how to do that.
And a lot of people are really pouring
into their own creative endeavors,
and their content endeavors.
- Yeah, I agree.
- And I think things have flipped.
I mean, I think that...
What's the phrase?
We're not living to work anymore.
We're working to live, right?
And yeah, snap. I got snap.
- I feel like that's true, yeah.
And it's interesting becauseI think COVID accelerated
a whole lot of things.
I mean, if you thinkabout 30 years ago, a gap,
I mean, if you didn't haveover five years somewhere,
that was viewed as, "Oh,they jump around too much.
You shouldn't hire that person."
So it's completely just...
It's morphing and shifting.
And I think we're goingfrom a very hierarchical way
of doing things in whichclimbing the ladder,
paying your dues, right?
Staying in a place fora long time was valued
in a way that now
as we're shifting to moreteam based structures,
then it's more about,okay, what do I bring?
What can I learn?
What do I bring here regardlessof how long I've been
in one place, and maybebetter if I haven't been?
- And skills wise too, it'slooking a lot different.
We're looking for a lot of people
that can do a lot, multiple things,
like Jacks of all trades arebecoming more and more valued.
So I know that they used to tell you
pick a specification, and stick with that.
And now my last two yearsof college are like don't.
Go try a little bit,
learn a little bit of this or that
so that you can be the personthat guarantees you work.
And now we have a whole bunch of skills
that I'm like, okay,
well I could do a little bit of this
and I could do a little bit of that.
And oh, I loved trying this.
And they're saying that Gen Z,
we don't stay more often thannot, in a role for more than
a year and a half before weget bored and switch, right?
- [DeEtta] A year and a half?- A year and a half.
- Yeah, and that bringsit back to the impact
and the churn on organizations.
And if you start to thinkabout the traditional model
of hiring and recruiting,
if that retention door isn't...
I mean, it's just this churn.
And so how can that...
Something's got to give at some point.
And we're in the midst ofthis really profound change.
And I think that the people...
I just have great empathy for anybody
in doing talent, doingtalent acquisition right now,
trying to figure out how dowe keep work getting done,
have the right people, build the culture.
I mean, it's a tall order.
- And if you don't love your company,
and you don't love your job,
and you don't find meaning in that work,
you're gonna leave.
And if you have a whole newtoolbox of digital skills
that are transferableand are very much wanted,
you have options.
And I think that's what we're seeing.
People are like, "Oh, youwanna make me work over time?
Or I don't like raise,
or there's not a lot of opportunity here?
Okay. Well, bye."
And it's that simple, I think.
- It's interesting.
Yeah, people have been trying to,
which is great,
the last couple of years hasbeen all about disrupting
systems and redistribution of power.
And it's really happening where employees
have so much power,
or potential employees,
but it also means thatorganizations and their systems have
to really be not just kind ofinterrogated in all of that,
but actually really redesigned.
Think how expensive it is to hire, right?
And so we hire people andwe invest tremendous amounts
of actual dollars in the hiring process
and the onboarding process.
And then the person leavesafter a year and a half,
that's a really unsustainable model.
- Exactly.- Right?
And so it's gonna take somereally heavy lifting as far
as understanding how toreconstitute these organizations.
And while we're doing it,
how to just go ahead and takeadvantage of the fact that
it's disrupted anyway, andhow do we build more equity,
diversity and inclusion intothe fabric of what we're doing?
- Yeah, no, that's exactly right.
I recently organizedsomething that we called
Interrogate The Culture,
and it was designed tolook at where is their bias
in the current systems,
and what do we do about it?
And doing it in that...
And we had just a diverse group of people
and employees from all differentlevels and perspectives
come together and really talked through.
The first process that we interrogated
was career development andthat got into salary and pay.
And it's fascinating becauseit just immediately surfaces
things like core issues,like pay transparency,
is who should know who's...
Should I know how much you're making
versus how much I'm making?
- [DeEtta] Right, right.- Does that work?
What does that mean?
What goes on behind the curtain of HR?
I think there's a sense
that it's this big mysterious black box.
And if HR is not doing its job well,
which is really hard,
then it's very easy for suspicion to come.
And I'm like, I'm not...
I don't trust what they'resaying to me and whatnot.
On the other hand, youhave employee privacy,
which is vitally important.
And so I think these arethe big fundamental issues
that are kind of in the cruxof this shift that we're in.
- Okay, I have to ask.
Is pay transparency good or not good?
Like it's so complicated.
It's really hard for me to imagine
a ridiculously clear answer to this.
But if you have one, we'll take it.
- I don't have an answer,but I have a story.
I know of a consulting firm that decided
because of their mission,
that they were advocatesof pay transparency
and everybody knew whateverybody made at all levels.
And that was...
They just felt like thatwas the equitable way to go.
- [DeEtta] And how did it work?
- To be honest, I should check back in,
but I have a feeling thatit is still that way.
I notice their titles indicate,
you can tell whensomebody's gotten a raise
because they get a promotion,
and generally they all knowwhat people are making.
I think it's incredibly thorny.
I think you can havepeople in the same job,
but if you want aperformance based culture,
some people are gonna bebetter performers than others.
So then I think the question of equity
and fairness is really tough.
I think ultimately whatyou have to do is have it
be a conversation thatpeople are engaged in,
so that there's at leasttransparency in the rationale.
- [DeEtta] Right, right, right.
- If you can't have transparencyinto what it actually is,
that's probably fair becausethere are issues of privacy.
There are issues of what's appropriate.
But so that there's at least
a clarity of understandingof how does this work?
How does this get decided?
How am I valued?
- [DeEtta] Right, right.
- And all of those systems,
performance management, talent review,
all of these things wereestablished in an old schema,
an old framework.
And so we're moving into a new paradigm
and it's a wild ride.
- And I feel like that'sthe opportunity, right?
Especially thinkingabout the word 'equity',
is to really help peopleunderstand how and why.
And then really making surethat we are looking at things
like our criteria and our rubrics,
and we're making sure thatwe're actively and consistently
applying things like an equitylens to them in a way that
doesn't make it just HR'srole or at the discretion
of one particular manager only.
And then differentmanagers approach the way
that they apply criteria differently,
and therefore inequityexists in an organization
because managers have their own biases,
and they're applying themmaybe to this in the same way
to their own teams,
but across the people aretalking to each other,
and those sorts of things canreally get out of control.
And I think that's part ofwhat has led so many people to
feel like inequity exists
or like they're not being treated fairly.
And a lot of times it hasto do with how one part
of the organization isapplying a practice differently
than another part of the organization
without any mal intent.
Oftentimes using the exact same rubrics,
but with our own kindof human interactions
coupled with those,
they play out quite differently.
So it's gonna be really interesting
to think about how it is,
especially now as we create
potentially new systems and models,
we solve for that, right?
We solve for the human bias.
- Well, and exactly.
It's how conscious are wegoing to be at this stage?
How conscious are leaders going to be
in creating the next...
What is next?
And I think that that's the opportunity.
- [DeEtta] Agreed.- Yes, we're in a struggle.
Yes, this is crazy time,
but there is tremendous opportunity.
At the very beginning of COVID,
I brought together a group of graduates
of a leadership programand had them brainstorm
what's the future of work look like.
And they got a lot out of it just being
in that conversation,
and it was really interesting.
And I think the hard partis keeping that going
and making sure thatwe don't drop the ball.
In that conversation,a lot came up around,
well, if we're all working virtually,
then we have access totalent that's everywhere.
- And that could totallyincrease in change
what the workforce lookslike in very positive ways.
But it also means that
there may be some applications, right?
Because the more people are different,
the more we have to figureout how to communicate
effectively across thosecultural differences.
That's what we want,
but it takes a lot more effort
and it takes a lot moresophisticated skillsets, right?
And attention to thehow on a regular basis.
And so it will get it usto the result that we seek,
but we have to be willing tokind of make the intensive
investment and also have the skill,
the associated sophisticated, I think,
skillsets to get there.
Yeah., it's pretty exciting
all that's in front of us right now.
Okay, folks, we need to take a moment
and get to our sponsors.
So how about this,
after our a break we'll come back,
and we'll continue our conversation.
Holly, specifically with you
where we'll talk more about what are
some of the opportunities andsome of the best practices
that people in HR andorganizational development
and talent and equity,diversity and inclusion
can and should be pursuing
in our organizations going forward.
And Jayla, thank you so muchfor your words of wisdom.
- Thank you for letting me join you.
- Okay, off to our sponsors.
So Holly, I wanna pickup on the conversation
that you and Jayla were havingafter the camera stopped,
that was really aboutsome of the reasons why,
especially people thatshe's been talking to,
people who are kind of atearlier stages of career,
who are applying for
or possessing entry levelpositions are leaving.
And what she described,
what Jayla described is thatpeople are making assumptions
about who's getting paid what and why.
And there's this, as she described it,
kind of a lack of trust thatexists in the organization,
particularly at thatpart of the organization,
or particularly, again using Jay's words,
for people who are frommarginalized identities.
Maybe we can talk a little bit about that.
Like what's the solve there?
How do we address that?
- I mean, I think there'sa couple of things.
I think it's absolutely truewhen there's a lack of trust
and you couple that witha lack of information,
people fill that space with ideas of....
What's the word? Conspiracy.
- [DeEtta] Yeah, yeah.
- Or they're out to get me.
Or they're gonna screw me over with the...
I'm not gonna get a fair offer.
And it's sort of...
I think it takes on much more intensity.
When there isn't enough communication,
there isn't enough openness.
And I think that's a big piece,
is starting to be more open and explicit
about this is how we do it.
This is why it's done this way.
And here we go.
Now you can't tell everybody everything
because there's privacy andthere's employee rights,
and there's a very...
There are laws.
There are things thatreally cannot be disclosed.
But I think that the more
you can communicateinternally, the better.
- It's interesting. I agree.
That's been my experience isthat in the absence of really,
really clear proactivelanguage and communication,
people assume nefarious intent.
- [Holly] Yes.
And it's the doggonest thing, right?
But it's just like thatthe assumption always goes
to the lowest common denominatorand they're out to get me,
or I'm not being treated fairly.
So it's interesting to thinkabout from your point of view,
how is it that we canproactively communicate?
One of the things thatI'd love to talk about
is anchoring to aspiration, right?
And so instead of waiting forpeople to feel like they are
not being treated fairly,
or for people to call out their employers
or for people to boycottor for people to be part
of the Great Resignation,
how is it that companies, great companies,
can actually be saying,
"We're going to proactivelyput together communication
and messaging and strategythat gets in front of
some of these things thatwe really wanna make sure
are understood by our employees,
understood by the communities we serve,
that are strategic embedded,that are aspirational."
What do you see as far as reallygreat practices out there?
- I think employee resource groups
are a really interesting place to go.
And I think that they can be fabulous.
They can also be terrible, right?
I think really employeeresource groups are work
in concert with an organization.
Because in some waysyou think about culture,
and dominant culture,
and there's formalcommunication that happens
in organizations and there's informal.
And the more that companiescan know and understand
what the informal conversations are
and line that up so thatyou don't have such a gap.
And I think employee resource groups
that are well run, well supported,
well understood can really help do that
to help kind of bringcloser into alignment
what people are talking about,
what they're concerned about,
and be responsive to that,even more than be responsive,
be in front of it and be aligned.
I think where employeeresource groups don't do well
is when they become kind ofthat place where people vent,
and then that's problematic.
So I think a lot of it is trying to...
And it goes back to whatyou were saying before,
about we've got to expandpeople's capacity and competence
to listen to each other really fully,
and understand if somethingis being discussed over here,
it's not a threat.
It's not a...
It's just something to know.
And let's kind of get to know who we are
as organizations in a more full way.
- So one of the number onequestions that I have ever heard,
I continue to hear everyday related to equity,
diversity and inclusionis, I get it, I care.
How do I dot, dot, dot?
The real practical, like tell me how.
So I'm gonna ask you the samehot seat question related to
really having the kind of relationship
that you just described withemployee resource groups.
How do we actually align the messaging?
How do we create employeeresource groups or structure
them so that they're optimallyaligned with the organization
and the organization feelslike there's a really close
relationship rather thanone that is potentially
either splintered orworking against each other?
I don't know that anyone's completely cracked the code,
but I suspect that it has something to do
with making sure that employee resource groups
are not set up off to the side.
I think it needs to be very embedded into the business.
And I think that,
I guess maybe you could ultimately say that the ultimate
goal would be to not need them possibly.
There's a lot of philosophical schools of thought on that.
I don't know the answer.
I don't 100% know the answer.
And I think a lot of it depends on
the culture of the organization.
And I think whatever organization you're in,
that's gonna look different based on who's leading,
how they lead,
what's modeled from the top is incredibly important.
And so that inclusion,
that willingness to model that behavior
is so important.
- The model that comes to my mind,
it comes to my mind all the time because it's so simple
but I think it's really helpful,
is strategy, structure, culture,
and how oftentimes we do so much work at the cultural level
and we put employee resource groups in this cultural bucket.
And we assume that, that is the right place for them to be,
and that's the major or only area
of investment that they make in the organization,
when actually employee resource groups I believe can
and should be operating at all three of those levels,
that they are absolutel ya part of the structure,
that they can and should be positioned and leveraged
to help drive business strategies, right?
And also nurture organizational culture.
But what that also means at the structural level,
there need to be direct relationships with people
who are managers or directors,
and also executives to make sure that there are layers of
formal and informal connectivity that exists.
And that people in business and functional leadership roles
have just as much responsibilityfor ensuring the success
and the alignment of the work of employee resource groups
as HR has traditionally, right?
And that they're not just kind of grassroots,
self-led, volunteer social groups,
but instead really, really robustly connected to the work
of the organization in ways that allow people
to see them as advancement opportunities,
opportunities for recognition and reward,
opportunities for cultivating new leadership
voices and examples.
But I think employee resource groups
is one great example of how it is that really wonderful
organizations right now are also drawing people back
into the workplace, right?
Or encouraging people to be employed by them.
I heard a conversation or an commercial the other day
by Marriott that I thought was so brilliantly done
because they were like,
if you want a place that is going to fill your bucket
and allow you to just have kind of the work/life balance
that you want and feel like you're financially rewarded,
and feel like you're able to be a continuous learner,
and it had some things to do
with productivity and performance,
but a lot to do with recognizing the rest of our identities.
And I feel like those are the kind of messages
and also companies that really get what it is
that people are going to need
if they're gonna be drawn back
into traditional corporate relationships.
- I think that's right, and I think it has to be authentic.
I think it has to be...
You have to really mean it.
Performative is not gonna work.
And it's actually gonna breed more of that distrust.
You know, it's kind of like, oh yes,
we have employee resource groups.
You can go plan parties.
We have employee resource groups
who consult to us on our strategy.
That's because that's what people want.
And I agree, it needs to be...
DEI, EDI should not be the realm of HR.
It's as if nobody else is caring about humans.
We're all humans.
- [DeEtta] Yeah, exactly.
- And humans are what's actually driving our work.
So there's a disconnect there.
- It's interesting because HR,
human resources practitioners,
especially over forever, right?
It's always been like a heavy lift.
But over the last couple of years,
I can just imagine how complicated it is
to be an HR practitioner,
and also to think about all of the expectations
for making sure that people have and are developing
more and more sophisticated skill sets
related to hybrid work environments,
thinking about different and more sophisticated ways
of managing, of demonstrating emotional intelligence,
let alone cultural competence and global leadership.
And so it's really interesting
to think about what does that mean.
So I can only imagine how difficult it is
to be a human resources practitioner right now.
There are so many things that are changing with COVID,
with hybrid and virtual environments,
with distributed workforces all over the globe,
with all of the work related to equity
and trying to figure out what that means
at all the systemic levels.
At the same time,
there's also a pretty significant shift
as far as understanding that the work that
has been primarily, or solely the burden of HR
for all these years must be distributed now.
It has to be redistributed to be owned by
and led by in really fulsome ways,
people who are managers
and executives across the organization.
What I would love from you is to tell us a little bit more
about what do you think the new work is of managers
and the leaders, regardless of what role they play?
Business unit leaders
and functional leaders in organizations,
what do you think are some of the things that they're gonna
need to be really proficient on now and going forward?
And then what are some of the ways in which they can
and should be investing in that proficiency?
It's been fascinating to observe and be part of, for sure.
And I think that there's been this...
I mean, you can look at COVID and racial justice
and all of that happening at once,
and it's very similar in that the work required
to respond effectively is hard.
And by nature, people don't wanna do hard work,
and I think it did get dumped on HR in many organizations,
and to the point of it being kind of humorous.
I had an HR person come to me and say,
"What am I? A tax attorney now?"
Because people with hybrid work,
they would move out of state.- Oh, right, right.
- And then who gets the call about, well,
why am I still paying tax?
So it creeps into every area you could possibly imagine.
I think with EDI,
we still have a situation where the dominant
culture is primarily white and male,
and that population has not had to confront this
to the extent that they have had to recently.
And I think I have a theory about...
In leadership we talk a lot about positional power
versus personal power.
And I think there's something in there to explore
with white male straight leaders.
And I think positional power and personal power
might get confused at times.
And this is not an accusation.
It's really just...
It's an observation.
And I think it plays out along different dimensions, right?
I think you can...
I'm bringing up race and gender,
but there's something to be said for
when people achieve leadership roles,
they either become over-identified
with the power of the role,
or they forget that they have to be
more careful of what they say and do.
So I think that that's one piece,
which links to the greater consciousness we talked about.
I think there's something to be said
for we're in an era now that's calling on us all
to be more conscious.
- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- I think...
And so that's sort of at an individual introspective level.
I think within organizations,
I would say looking athow do you structure
and organize teams?
I think team effectiveness is gonna be the next thing
that there's already go...
Like coaching is happening
and we've got all kinds of stuff like that.
I think team effectiveness,
because team are looking different
with more people consulting.
You're assembling different...
It's not the same kind of command and control team.
It's distributed, it's matrix.
And how do you account for different dynamics
and different perspectives in the team,
in the team functioning?
So I think those are two things
that really stand out to me.
- I love that.
And it's interesting because even thinking about team,
people used to be able to...
In organizations, we used to be able to assemble a team
and assume that, that team would stay together
for a period of time.
And now people are moving more fluidly in and out of roles
where we assemble teams based on skillset.
And sometimes people are contractors or consultants
or functional specialists or SMEs who are coming in
and we have very different ways
that teams are being composed and run.
And we also need to be able to very quickly create norms
that will allow us to then perform, right?
And have some shared agreements that very,
very quickly allow to still get things accomplished.
And regardless of how much we aspire
to have diversity in teams,
it's still more difficult to work across diverse attributes
and cultural identities.
And so we need to be able to have
really sophisticated intercultural skills present,
as well as all of the other business
and communication skills necessary.
I love it. We have our work cut out for us.
We definitely have
a lot in front of us.
- [Holly] I think so.
- So if you were going to leave us with any kind of wisdom
or reaction or ideas of hopefulness as we think about
the next generation of what we can
expect from our workforce,
or one of the potential benefits of this Great Resignation
that we're experiencing right now,
what would it be as we wind down this episode?
- I mean, I always am looking for the opportunity in things.
I think we're out of very exciting place of transformation
on a lot of different levels,
societally and culturally.
And there's opportunity always in that space.
I'm just thinking about the teams thing.
I had the honor of doing some work with Richard Hackman,
who was a researcher on teams,
and he passed away about, I don't know, five, six years ago.
And before he...
The edge of his research at that time
was something called Sand Dune Teams.
So it's like they're shifting always.
I think it's exciting to think about
what's in that for all of us.
What kind of learning?
What kind of growth?
Who are we gonna be?
- Yeah, who are we gonna be?
That's a great question.
Holly, thank you. Thank you so much.
Okay, before we go, though,
I wanna make sure that all of our viewers
have the opportunity to get in touch with you
and check out some of your work.
How would we do that?
- So my website is www.septariaconsulting,
I will be launching a blog fairly soon too,
- [DeEtta] Holly, thank you so much again.
What a great conversation.
I always, always, always love this space with you.
- [Holly] Thanks.
- And for our viewers,
thank you so much for tuning in and we look forward to
talking to you on the next Culture Road Podcast.