Melony Gibson: Effective/Successful Leadership through Diverse and Inclusive Strategies (Ep. #23)

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October 20, 2020
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Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #23: Effective/Successful Leadership through Diverse and Inclusive Strategies

Modern leadership embraces effective diverse & inclusive strategies. Our guest, Melony Gibson, has great advice for what leaders need to be doing right now, including hiring & recruitment ideas, succession planning & the ROI of successful implementation.

In this episode:

Meet Speaker:

  • Background
  • Her current doctoral project is on performance improvement leadership, focusing on succession planning in organizations, how to identify potential, and especially how to leverage diversity and inclusion to identify future leaders.

Having a Plan & Strategy for Diversity Inclusion

  • Leaders cannot be effective without a plan or strategy for diversity inclusion.
  • It must be intentional, not just from the top down, but from the bottom up and from left to right.
  • Diversity and Inclusion enriches and builds engagement on teams. And we know that engagement leads to retention, which leads to the sustainability of an organization.

How Leaders Take D&I Journey In Their Day-to-Day Roles

  • This can't be just theoretical, it's practical. We need leaders to be able to take the theory, and all the great resource research that's been done, and make it practical.
  • When out in public, and you have a reaction, when you see a large group of people, you clearly have biases, and those biases may be very deep seated and very unconscious, but it's a bias. So you have to acknowledge that you have that bias, you have to own that bias, and then you have to find ways to strategize, to address it in your day to day and to use it to leverage that to be more effective for your employees.
  • You have to be bold enough to actively listen to what your team is telling you. That means you're listening to learn, you're not listening to solve yet, you're just listening to learn. So you've addressed the knowledge, your bias, and now you're listening to your team, because you need to hear where they are coming from.

The Importance of Transparency

  • Avoiding "Checkoff Box Syndrome"
  • You don't implement D&I  just because a crisis occurs or a tragedy occurs, because then it doesn't feel authentic.

Considerations for Recruiting and Hiring

  • When thinking about recruitment and hiring, we need to make sure that we put a diverse foot forward to make sure that we put people out there, materials out there, resources and information out there so that everyone feels like they could be a part of this organization - a successful contributing member of your organization.

Succession Planning

  • As leaders we have to be able to identify potential. And that is difficult when you have unconscious bias - it's difficult to identify potential in somebody that doesn't look like you, that may not be as polished, that may not be as articulate, that may not be as ready right now.
  • But people that have the drive that have the passion that have the vision, that have the willingness to commit and are committed to your organization, those are people that we want to grow!

Downloads & Resources

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Check out our blog articles on Leadership here.

About Melony Gibson

Melony is a performance improvement and leadership professional focusing on training related to leadership development, employee engagement, succession planning, and diversity and inclusion programming. She is currently a doctoral candidate specializing in Performance Improvement Leadership.

View the episode transcript

Wendy Hanson: I am so delighted today to introduce Melony Gibson, who is going to be our wonderful guest today and share her knowledge and experience on this important topic of you know, diversity and inclusion. That is such a big topic and such an important thing for us to work on right now. Let me tell you a little bit about Melony. And we'll have a longer bio in the show notes. Melony is a performance improvement and leadership professional focusing on training related to leadership development, employee engagement, succession planning, and diversity and inclusion programming. She is currently a doctoral candidate specializing in performance improvement leadership, I'm going to have her tell you also a little bit about what her doctoral project is, which is very interesting. And we're delighted to have her here today. And I am even more delighted to say she is a member of the BetterManager team now and it's going to be doing diversity and inclusion training for us. So welcome, Melony.

Melony Gibson: Thank you, I am thrilled to be here. My my doctoral project on performance improvement leadership is focusing on succession planning in organizations, how we identify potential, and especially how we leverage diversity and inclusion to identify our future leaders, which of course leads to organizational sustainability. So it's a win win for everyone. We've not perfected it across organizations yet, which is why it was such a need for me to pursue it. So that's what I'm focused on. And and that will be done very soon.

Wendy: Good. Well, it will be a great contribution to what's happening right now in in in all corporations so that that information is sorely needed.

Melony Gibson: Yes. Thank you.


Wendy: Yeah, thank you for doing that work. So let's start off a little bit about strategy. You know, can leaders be effective without a plan or strategy for diversity inclusion? Because I always hear people talking about it, and they're not really sure what to do. So right, a little background on that?

Melony: Sure. The short answer to that is no. Leaders cannot be effective without a plan or strategy for diversity inclusion, like you said, you're hearing a lot of information, you're hearing a lot of talk. And unfortunately, there's a lot of talk, I think there's still a lot of fear that revolves around this really big topic of diversity inclusion and what you're getting in the media. And what you're seeing and being inundated with on a daily basis adds to that fear of Am I doing this? Right? What of who do I need to include to do this to do this better? The fact of the matter is, we need to do something. So we need to create a plan, we need to create a strategy to put steps in place to do something. Diversity Inclusion is beneficial to implement in all organizations because it but it's not accidental. This isn't happenstance. It doesn't just happen because we want it to happen. It's very intentional. And it's intentional, not just from the top down, but from the bottom up and from left to right. There have to be voices that are included in the conversation in order to make the engine go. Diversity and Inclusion enriches and builds engagements on Team though.

And we know that engagement leads to retention, which leads to the sustainability of an organization. So what does that look like to build engagement, you have to have authenticity, you need to have leaders that are willing to say, this is who I am. This is 100% who I am. I'm not sure about what I need to be doing here. I need your help. I need your support. I need you to be on board. I need you to be my ally. And you have to have transparency. diverse and inclusive practices and strategies don't happen in an organization without transparency. It means leaders That are vulnerable enough to say, I don't know, you know, I'm feeling this help me understand what that means, help me understand how I can support you and your development, and help me understand how we can use this to help the organization grow. So that's a really long answer to a very short question. But the The answer is no, you have to have a plan and be strategic with your leadership team to build that engagement from the very, you know, most elementary position on your team to the most advanced or senior position on your team.


Wendy: Yes. And one fear that I have, Melony, is when I hear people talk about this, that  they want to check off a box, right?, that I did this. And that's not going to make it happen. You know, it's not going to make absolutely not that I did this, and now I can feel better. There's absolutely a depth of understanding one needs to have and and one needs to bring people on and, and I love that you say you have to admit, I don't know what to do? Absolutely. But you're going to get any further.

Melony: Absolutely. And one day, you may feel like you have all the answers, you may feel like you're on the right track, I've surrounded myself with all the subject matter experts, I feel like I know what I'm doing. And the next day, maybe you bring on a new employee, or you take on a new initiative, and it all goes right back to zero. And so you pick yourself up, you strategize again, you shift your strategies, you involve the people around you at every single level, and you start again. So it's there's never going to be an opportunity to check the box off. It's always the box that goes unchecked, because it's always a work in progress. And once you embrace that, then you know, it's not something that I can just accomplish by attending a workshop or, or having a lecture or reading an article. It's something that I have to work on intentionally, every single day.

Wendy: Right. And it's not just HR's issue, it started, right? Because isn't that just thrown over to HR.

Melony: it happens a lot. It happens a lot. But diversity and inclusion are not just topics, they're not just chapters. And in this book that we're dealing with right now, diversity, inclusion is a reality for every single human being in their lives every single day on your team. So resources and materials can be be provided by the human resource department. But it's just that if we don't have a way to implement the information to transfer that learning into dealing with the actual humans on our team, then it's all moot. Diversity Inclusion has to be owned, implemented and integrated by every single leader that's committed to seeing it move forward. It is a living and moving and constant part. That's not something that human resources can take accountability for. The leaders are directly engaged with their teams with their employees, they are seeing it as it happens as it unfolds. So being able to take the content that they learned through HR, or through workshops and trainings and being able to transfer that into the actual day to day with their teams. That's where the DNI movement will come from. It's not accidental. It's intentional. Yeah.


Wendy: So let's really start there in terms of very pragmatic, you know, how do leaders you know, take the D&I journey in their day to day roles? What are some of those things that they need to do?

Melony: Well, one of the things I want to stress and this is one of the things that I practice with a lot of leaders is it's not theory, you know, diversity, inclusion, in theory is a really great idea. But it's not theoretical, it's practical. We need leaders to be able to take the theory, and all the great resource Reese research that's been done, and make it practical, because you will find that the book knowledge and the reality don't always align perfectly. So you're going to take that information, you're going to align it with what the old knowledge that you had, and you're going to bring it into the real, everyday work life experience. So one, leaders need to acknowledge their own biases. And and people think that that's a bad thing. People think it's a negative thing. But if you have a reaction when you're watching the news, and maybe a particular social group comes up, and you see it, and you have an immediate gut reaction, or if you're out in public, and you have a reaction, when you see a large group of people, you clearly have biases, and those biases may be very deep seated and very unconscious, but it's a bias.

So you have to acknowledge that you have that bias. You have to own that bias. And then you have to find ways to strategize, to address it in your day to day and to use it to leverage that to be more effective for your employees. You need to seek to understand what your team needs. So if you're bold enough to ask the question, what is it that you need for me in terms of providing a diverse and inclusive environment, you have to be bold enough to actively listen to what your team is telling you. That means you're listening to learn, you're not listening to solve yet, you're just listening to learn. So you've addressed the knowledge, your bias, and now you're listening to your team, because you need to hear where they are coming from. It's difficult to implement diverse, inclusive strategies.

If you don't know and you haven't listened to where your team is starting how they're feeling about it, you have to have buy in diversity and inclusion doesn't happen because one person believes in it. It is a great Kickstarter. But it's just that you need to be able to engage your team so that you have buy in and you can work together collaboratively to make diversity inclusion a reality in your workplace. leaders have to understand diversity inclusion, it's about how you'd like to see it show up at work, leaders have to be able to communicate authentically, transparently and vulnerably. who they are as a human being, how they feel, what their fears are, and that they're an ally, for all of the people that they work with. You don't have to be a person of color to support people of color in the workplace, you can be their ally, and that can be extremely effective as well. Yeah.

Wendy: And you can't be their ally, unless you would you admit your biases. And unless you absolutely you, you know, you say, I don't know, I don't even know the right language to use on this. I don't know what to, you know, and boy leaders have that have to have this in their face these days, you know, just all you come in, whether whether we're we're dealing remotely or whether we're in an office, you know, and there's been a, you know, tragic events, how do you deal with that, you know, not step over it not to, you know, how do we bring people together? I think that's so important. And we've always depended on our HR departments to take care of that, well, they're going to take care of it. These are the people that know the people and can have the deeper conversations.

Melony: But it starts with me, right? It starts with me. And Wendy, I think you you touched on something important we're seeing with social media today. And with media, in general, we're getting these images as they're happening, right? Things are happening so quickly. And I think as a leader, when you're walking into that space, it changes you, right? If you're driving on your way to work, and you're listening to this news, or you're you know, traveling on transportation, and you're watching this news, and you get into work, it changes you it's literally like a little bit of a weight that's coming onto your body. So to not address that, you can believe that your employees are all coming to work with the burden of the news of the day that they just heard or watched. So you need to be able to address it or to provide an outlet or a space for employees to feel safe enough and comfortable enough to address it. So that then they can use those strategies to be effective in their workspace.


Wendy: And I would I would assume that there are some people are it's going right over their head. It's like absolutely not about me. You know, these are not, I am not a person of color. You know, boy, there's terrible things happening. But I can just go on with my day. Uh huh. Have to all work together to own this. And absolutely. How do we make a better workplace? How do we make a better world? Yeah,

Melony: Yeah, you have to create a safe space. Yeah. So employees feel comfortable coming to you and saying, When do you know i, it really affected me this morning, I need a moment to step away to digest what's happening. And then for us to provide people the space to do that.

Wendy: Right. This is part of our really creating an inclusive environment and a safe environment for work. We talk a lot about psychological safety, you know, hooking up BetterManager. And this is all part of it being able to, and I think I have learned from you and our other great members of our team about transparency, you know, absolutely. If you don't know, you just say I don't know, help me.

Melony: Absolutely. I have a hard time with that.

Wendy: That's a good place to start. I have no idea. And I it's a great place.

Melony: It's a great place. And here's the kicker, here's the key. You don't start it just because a crisis occurs or a tragedy occurs, because then it doesn't feel authentic. It feels like as we said before, it's checking off a box, you start having these conversations, when there's not a crisis of the day, or crisis of the moment you start having the conversations with everybody in a staff meeting, or over lunch in the staff room, or through a memo that you send out to everyone to let them know where you stand. When we talked about you know the checkoff box syndrome. We talked about the only way you instill trust and establish trust is through consistency, transparency, authenticity. So start having those conversations today. It's not too late. As a matter of fact, you're right on time and have them every day and it doesn't just have to Be verbally, it can be through a short video clip, it can be through a staff meeting, it can be through some hands on, it can be through some roleplay. But there is an opportunity in every leaders day, every single way to impact diversity and inclusion. And

Wendy: Our team provided a wonderful training that you're going to be implementing to going forward on implicit bias, you know, and one of my big takeaways from that, you know, we always, I always think about racial bias, yes, bias of just like there's some somebody has something going on in their life, that you have no idea, and you're making a judgment leaders have that issue all the time. If I have a manager and I'm working with someone, and they're showing up not in the usual way, like that's a I might have a an assumption, and absolutely treat them differently. And meanwhile, they they may have had a death in the family, they may have a sick child, they may have something to understand that our biases are everywhere. And when we talk about this, we're not just talking about racial bias, we're talking about how to see people as a whole, and how to bring the most openness into workplaces and the most diversity of thought into workplaces, because absolutely better.

Melony: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It makes the environment richer. You know, people see that people that look like them. people that think like them, people that respond like them in the workplace, and they see opportunities for growth. And I think that's the importance of having a diverse workforce, you know, so that's, um, it just makes the workspace so much richer.


Wendy: Well, let's let's start them there at the kind of beginning of recruiting and hiring, diversity and inclusion if we got to go back. When recruiting and hiring, what do we need to be mindful of and aware of?

Melony: Well, I thought it was an interesting kind of trait of a lot of companies, you have your recruitment and your, your talent acquisition, you have your team, and they function kind of separately, because their job is to go out and to find the best candidate for your open position. The challenge with that is sometimes as leaders, we're not exactly clear about what our expectation is, and what we're looking for. We haven't even broken down the process to say, when our recruitment team goes out, I want somebody that looks like everybody, you know, and I and I thought about this, when I attended a couple conferences, I've walked around in the vendor section after, and I see a lot of companies and they'd have their recruitment team out front end, with best company, we look, and rarely did I see an organization where I said, Oh, they've got people that look like me.

And I thought, darn it, I've got skills to offer, you know, I felt that I had something to bring to an organization. And if that's where it stopped for me, if I didn't see representation, you know, if it looked very homogeneous, and I didn't see anyone that looks like me, in the marketing materials, and the recruiters, you know, in the in the displays and the signs, I had a hard time stopping at that particular table. Because I thought that they didn't, if they did, they weren't intentional and reaching out to people that didn't look like them. Though, I had no idea at the time, what the rest of the company looked like. But I didn't really have any passion or desire to go back and research the organization. Because I thought this is a simple ask. And I think as leaders, when we're thinking about recruitment, and we're thinking about hiring, we need to make sure that we put a diverse foot forward to make sure that we put people out there materials out there resources and information out there. So that everyone feels like they could be a part of this organization, a successful contributing member of this organization. And without that, then we continue to have organizations that aren't diverse. So that's the first step.


Wendy: It seems like a simple solution stakes that everybody like this is the bottom line. Yeah, right. Right. not there yet.

Melony: Right. We're not there yet. We're not there yet. But I will tell you, you know, as a person of color, that was a big deal for me. You know, I had a senior leader once asked me, Melony, why is it that we can't recruit more people of color? And so she was willing to sit down to hear well, let's talk about why. And I will tell you, they made a very intentional drive to change the perception. Because once I was in, I found it to be extremely welcoming, warm, inviting organization.

And I thought How unfortunate that more people don't see that, you know, how many people have they not tapped into that that didn't see that? Because they didn't see an organization that looked like them. So there there are tremendous opportunities in terms of the personnel that are lost, because we're not making the effort to do recruit, or to make recruiting efforts to attract people that look different. Yeah. And what are some of those efforts? Like, you know, we talked about how do you recruit on conferences and with social media, college campuses? You know, people have to think about this in a whole new way. What are some of the things that, you know, just lit small pieces of advice you put out there in the world? Yes, I'm a topic. But in the short podcast, I'd say think about recruiting to some of those sororities and fraternities that attract people of color.

Think about reaching out to LGBT organizations, having that representation when you're sending folks out, to speak to college classes, and think about attaching yourself to AARP United Way, so you're recruiting older applicants, there's so much knowledge, you know, in an older applicant, and I think it's often you know, poo pooed, because we want the young minds, but there's, there's a great deal of knowledge and, and gifts, that older individuals who may have retired, you know, can bring to the organization. So you have to change your mindset, you have to listen to what people are wanting social media, the changes that are happening, everything is real time, real life, you need to have a group of recruiters that reflect the world, because it's global, there's nothing that you can put out in Georgia, that's not going to hit Russia Two days later, it's global. So you have to have a very diverse ideology, and strategize and have diverse way to attract those diverse candidates. But sending out brochures or flyers or sitting at a team that doesn't reflect the globe is going to be the kiss of death for organizations now. Yeah.

Wendy Hanson: I love that you point to you know, diversity comes in all different flavors.

Melony: Absolutely. It's, you know, it got the the wisdom, speaking for somebody who's a wiser person. Yes. Like, we need everybody in our workplace. You know, absolutely. Everybody there. And I think this is what this is, what I want people to remember is that I had an experience as a 20, something when I was hiring folks, I had an HR consultant, who I was hiring teachers, I was in education at the time. And after I had gone through a number of interviews, she says, Do you realize that everybody that you've picked that you thought would be a good match all look like you and all these young blondes, and you're like, Oh, my God, I you know, I'm so fortunate that she picked she pointed that out, when I was probably 24. That I could hold that lesson with me for many, many years. Yeah, geez. You know, yeah. And I could purposely say, Wow, this person is really different. And now I know, the diversity on our team is what makes us strong. Yeah, absolutely.

You know, I'll tell you, I had I had someone that had interviewed me and this this, like, your story stuck with me forever. Because I admired her bravery and her courage and her response. She was interviewing me. And at the end, you know, we're talking, she said, Do you have any questions for me? And I said to her, I'm a little nervous to ask this. But But I want to ask it, and I said, am I the best candidate? That happens to be black? Or am I the best black candidate? And she sat back for a minute, and she thought, ah, and I thought, okay, if that might have been the kiss of death for me, and she said, you were one of the top candidates, and you happen to be black. And she said, I will tell you, we're making a very concerted effort to look for the best candidate.

And the fact that you're a diverse candidate, is going to help us move the needle in this way. And I and that response, I thought was brave, and it was authentic. And it was honest, because she could have sidestepped the question with a with a canned response. And so I want leaders to be mindful that when you ask an applicant, you know, don't be afraid to answer authentically, you know, we're not where we need to be. We want to be here. This is what we're doing to get there. Because you will gain the respect for your honesty, but you have it requires bravery. And it requires transparency. And I think that's important. And if you're not comfortable, then interview with someone else that has a slightly different perspective, so that you're not hiring a group of people that look and think and respond just like you do.

Wendy Hanson  24:45  
Right? Right. How did how did her response make you feel?

Melony Gibson  24:50  
It made me feel great, because I felt that she was Yes, one looking for the best candidate. But also, I feel They were very intentional about what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go. And they were very intentional about what they weren't currently doing, where she felt they had success and where she felt they still had room to grow. And way back then, almost 20 years ago, she said, we're not there. And I know this is going to take work every day, every year, probably for decades, probably forever. But she was so transparent. I said, this is someone that I want to work with. She was a senior leader. And I thought this is somebody that I want to work with, because she gets it.


Wendy: Yeah. I love that story. And I think those are the kinds of things that people need to hear. Right? Kind of get it, get it in there polls of what's going on here. Yeah, and and I love right, bravery, courage, we all have to be courageous right now, no matter who we are, no matter what our you know, where we come from, to be courageous, and be able to speak our truth and speak our, our inability to our tap salutely. Yeah. So we talked a little bit very quickly about recruiting and hiring, for a little bit about succession planning and the legal role, because this is, you know, this is certainly you are you are the down expert on this studying this right now. But I think that's, you know, that's another way we can impact people that come in our organization, right and have an impact, who are going to be our future leaders. Absolutely. This is my love. Because I find that we don't always do it right, we probably do it wrong more often than we do it, right. And one of the things I found was that oftentimes in succession planning leaders will say, this is the person that I want.

Melony: This is the person I'm going to grow. Well, most often, leaders and folks that are ready for growth don't come with 100% of the skill set that we need. So we as leaders have to be able to identify potential. And that is so difficult when you have unconscious bias, right? That's so difficult to identify potential and somebody that doesn't look like you that may not be as polished that may not be as articulate, that may not be as ready right now. But those people that are that have the drive that have the passion that have the vision, that have the willingness to commit and are committed to your organization, those are people that we want to grow. Those are the people that you want to tap into. And they're often the quiet folks that are folks that often get, you know, glossed over, because they're not out there saying I'm you know, look at me, I've got the growth potential. These are the cogs that make the wheels of the organization turn. And those are people that we want to invest in. But identifying potential is very difficult for people, because it takes the ability to not just look at the education, formal education, because while it's important, it's not the primary indicator of a successful leader.

Right, it's the ability to be able to transform the information to the practical and say that person gets it. It's the ability to see the person that steps out, when it doesn't always feel safe to step out and speak out to say, wait a minute, I'm not sure I quite agree with that. That's that's the potential that we're looking for. And then for leaders, here's the kicker, you have to own succession planning, like it's your baby, you have to own it, like it's a piece of gold, not only are you investing in the identification of the potential succession planning candidate, you're investing in their stretch assignments, in their challenges, assignments, you're investing in their professional growth and development, you're investing in the accountability that happens when you're giving that critical feedback, and you're investing in their future growth. So it's not another checkbox. This is the opportunity to really connect with someone to engage with someone to grow because you're growing the next generation of leaders.

And that's what you need to think about. as a as a leader for succession planning, you have to put your ego aside. And you have to say, Can this person continue to lead this team successfully, while I'm not here, in my absence in the absence of their supervisor, when you go on vacation, do you have to worry about getting the phone calls or emails or the text, succession planning needs, identifying that person that has been able to take all those lessons, all that information, all that content, transfer it into something that's practical, and usable, and really perform as a leader, even if they're not in a leadership role yet? That's the key to succession planning. It is bigger and much more important than people think because that's the future of your organization.

Wendy: Yeah. And I love you make me think about, you know, you don't have this person that's a carbon copy of you, right? And when there's an emergency and this person who I'm raising up to be a leader, make some decisions. They may not make them exactly the way I make them. That's right. Okay. And that is okay.

And I also think Silicon Valley, which is We work with so many tech companies. The the pedigree is really discussed a lot. You know, there are people that, you know, that run companies, I think I may be misquoting but I want to say that Ilan musk didn't even have a, I think he has a high school degree. You know, there are brilliant people in the world that have gone to the best schools, you know, who have a different background, who have a different perspective. And and those people need to be identified as high potentials. And not absolutely not just that came up through the ranks.

Melony: Yep. You know, Wendy, something I heard some time ago from instructor she told me, Melony, people live up to or down to your expectations. And I thought, come on now, this is insane. What do you mean, but it's true. And I've kept that with me for so many years, because I have been the person, I've been a person that had low expectations of someone. And you know what, Doggone it, they live down to those expectations. I've also been a person that's had high expectations. And when I sat back and thought about it, I thought, well, what why did that happen? And it happens, because when we identify somebody that we say, has potential, whether they do or not, if we identify somebody that we feel is the next winner. When we when we expect people to succeed, we surround them with the resources, the support, the you know, the people, all the opportunities, which it's almost impossible to not be successful and to not succeed, when we expect someone to not do well, because of whatever maybe they didn't go to the best school or have the best education aren't as, as articulate right now. We failed to provide them with the support the engagement, the opportunities for trust the people the resources, and sometimes it's very subtle. So then they live down to our expectations. And once I realized, I too, was guilty of that. It really changed how I looked at how I identify future leaders. And it changed the people that were growing into leaders. under my leadership, the sign of a great leader is someone who can grow an organization of great leaders. And anything other than that is not great leadership, when you leave, the organization will continue on and you want to be able to leave your mark on that organization. And that's through growing successful leaders.

Wendy: In coaching, one of the the tenants that came from the coaches Training Institute coactive training now is called we we talk that people are creative, resourceful, and whole. And that if you look at somebody as creative and resourceful, you will treat them that way. If you look at them, and we deal with this all the time with coaching managers, if you look at this person on your team as well, they're never gonna get it or they're this, you're it's exactly what you said, you're going to set this up and you're not going to give them the support. So this this goes past racial lines, it goes past it's, it's everything of how do we show up and boy, you might articulate this different than me, or you might have a different path. But if we each set our GPS towards the same place, we're going to take different roads to get there. But if we get there, and we bring the organization with us how wonderful that is.

Melony: Absolutely. Absolutely.


Wendy: And speaking of wonderful organizations, we need employee engagement. And what what, what, what is the collaboration between employee engagement and diversity and inclusion? Why would we put those together on a on a page?

Melony: Well, it's when I go to work, I want to be seen, and not just seen with someone's eyes, I want to be heard, I want to know that my leaders truly see me. I had someone first, you know, someone say to me, Melony, I feel like when you come we really know who you are. And in my head, I was thinking you have no idea who I am. And when I walked away from that, I thought how sad that is I felt bad. I felt, you know, I thought how sad it is that I wasn't feeling like I was bringing my authentic self to work. I wasn't feeling engaged. I didn't see a future for myself. And I thought that's the ticket when when I joined an organization that I really felt that people saw me and heard me, then I became engaged. And I will tell you, you know, in terms of diversity and inclusion, once I felt engaged and committed, I saw a future for myself. Even when the position I started the position I ended, I felt like I had something important to say, I felt that the organization could benefit from that. And every bit of me felt that I could make a difference. You know, I could improve the organization. Maybe not at this level, but at this level. So I started thinking how what can I do? To make the organization better, that sense of engagement kept me with that organization for many, many years. Because I felt people really cared about what I had to say.

And that's the key. And I'll tell you, when I was interviewing for different positions, people would say to me, now tell me how to pronounce your name. And I thought, there's the first sign of respect. My name is spelled a little bit differently. And you know, sometimes it gets mispronounced or, or written incorrectly. But when you have a leader say to me, I'm not sure I'm pronouncing this correctly helped me pronounce it, how do I pronounce it, they're taking the time to learn me. And as a diverse person, that was extremely important to me, it seems like something that's silly, in easy, but I can't tell you how many times I went by a different name, just because I felt like it's been this many years, and no one's even bothered to ask, or no one's even bothered to clarify. And so that's, that's key about feeling included. When you feel included, you get engaged, when you get engaged, you start to set roots, when you set roots, you feel like all I want to do is help my organization be successful in the role I'm in now. So that's, that's the key with with engagement and, and DNI, everyone feels they have an opportunity.

When I started in early education, it was a teacher assistant. And the position then looks very different. It was 30 years ago, and the decision didn't look very differently than it does now. But I connected with some great leaders, and I felt like I can make a contribution. I made pennies on the dollar. But I really felt that I was so committed, I felt like I had an opportunity to grow to whatever level I want it to be because people believed in me, regardless of my skin color, my height, my weight, that didn't matter. They wanted the best. And that's how they interacted with me. And I wanted to be with that company forever.

Wendy: Yes. And that all came true. But that's because people believed in me, right? Oh, no excuses, leaving somebody, it changes their soul, it is their soul, it I get very passionate and very excited about it. Because I believe in it, because I've lived it. And and when you are fortunate enough to have that experience, you want other people to experience that as well. And that's why I focus so much on the practical versus the theoretical.


Wendy: Yes. And I always use the word at BetterManager that we are pragmatic, like we possible. Yes. So that's why you and I get along. So it is not, you know, the theory is great, but how do we put this into action and help you be all that they can be? That's right. Last question, because we could sit here and talk for hours, but what is the impact of for ROI in a company, you know, if I take on diversity and inclusion, you know, I gotta I gotta run my business, I got to make money. What's my ROI return?

Melony: You know, people say that, that that's a bad word. When you're talking about diversity inclusion, you shouldn't talk about money. That's ridiculous. Organizations have to thrive, they have to sustain they have to move forward. So I think it's a ridiculous mindset to think that one can't exist without the other. As a matter of fact, one needs the other to exist and to thrive. And I think when you have a collaborative, diverse and inclusive strategy as an organization, not only are you bringing in new partnerships, new diverse partners, new diverse partnerships, those partnerships, mean new opportunities for diverse revenue streams.

And that's what people can't forget, you're opening up your business to attract new collaborations, new partners, and with those new partnerships come new sources of revenue. And that helps with organizational sustainability, the collaboration that happens when you bring in diverse perspectives, results in creativity and economic growth, so that there is a return on an investment. And I'll tell you 74% of millennials, according to a study by Deloitte want to work for a company that has a diverse perspective, that has diversity as one of its primary goals, because that's a reflection of the globe today, and they want to work for an organization that reflects the world and so there is a return on investment for diversity inclusion.


Wendy: Yeah. And you want you know, if you're with a company that you share similar values and yes, then it's then it's like, I found my you know, my group that people I found the family I want to work with, you know, I found the community I can, I can be in and really grow and, and everybody I can grow other people I can an expression from a book that I read 20 years ago, I wish I could remember which book it was a lift to climb, you know, yes, lift other people up in organizations, we will climb You know, that's right, a very different mentality.

Melony: So it has a different material.

Wendy: It has been amazing talking to you, thank you so much. And if people want to get in touch with you ask questions, maybe find you on LinkedIn, what's the best way for them to get you and we'll, we'll put all this in our show notes too.

Melony: Oh, perfect, they can reach out to me through Melony at engaging me.com or through www.engageny.com. And my information is contained there. I'm also on LinkedIn and Facebook. And just you know, engage and lead is about finding that missing puzzle piece. You know, when you make everybody feel engaged, it all fits together. And that's what the focus of our of our organization is on. Right. And we are, we are excited and blessed and everything to have you on the BetterManager team and you'll be sharing your expertise through D&I training. And, yes, we we look forward to being able to really help a lot of organizations, you know, jump on to some of the things you said today, and help leaders right, thank you.

Melony: Yeah, thank you. My pleasure.

Wendy: Thank you all for checking in with us today. We look forward to having you join us again, and have a wonderful day.

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