Diversity without inclusion, access, and equity is pointless

Diversity without inclusion, access, and equity is pointless

Over the past few months, due to a spotlight being placed on ongoing racial injustice after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we have seen a significant rise in the number of racial minorities in general and Blacks in specific hired by major organizations (pushing the Wells Fargo’s President comments aside)… but now what???

In many cases, these newly hired or newly promoted individuals are walking into organizations that have no idea how to properly support their transition and set them up for success.

I remember being the only Black female department head at two different organizations. In both of those cases, I can count on one hand the number of times I was asked to join coworkers for lunch, included in conversations that didn’t directly involve my department, or invited to activities that took place after work. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was “nice”. They didn’t go out of their way to make my life difficult but they definitely did not make me feel a part of the organization’s leadership team and more importantly, they didn’t do the basic things to ensure my transition into leadership was met with the level of respect and acceptance that it should have been

So, what are you going to do now? You have a new Chief Diversity Officer or the first Black employee who is a people leader. How do you make sure they have all of the tools necessary to be successful in their role? How do you ensure they are aware of all of the unspoken rules of success? Who pulls them aside to mention little things that they need to know about the organization and its key clients?

Bringing them in was step one. It’s not the finish line!!

PS – Also, if the only Black employee you have in leadership is your Chief Diversity Officer you haven’t mastered diversity.

But I want you to see my color (and your financial bottom line needs you to)

But I want you to see my color (and your financial bottom line needs you to)

You may have heard that the former Chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, said the one line that many of us have heard throughout our lives, “I don’t see color”. Here’s my response to that statement.

Dear Howard Schultz (and everyone else who has ever said, “I don’t see color”),

How are you?  I hope you’re doing great and enjoying your day.  Can we chat for a minute? I really appreciate the fact that you’re a direct, logical thinker so hopefully you won’t mind me being direct.  I get what you’re trying to do when you say you don’t see color.  I understand the sentiment behind that statement.  You are trying to say that people are people and as Michael Jackson put it, “It don’t matter if you’re black or white”.  That may work in songs, but it can really hurt individuals, and more importantly, hurts businesses in the real world.  I’m sure you’re wondering “how can that statement hurt anyone?  It literally means we’re alike.”  I’m so glad you asked.  Let me tell you a short story.

We haven’t had the pleasure of meeting but thanks to a quick Wikipedia search I’m going to go out on a limb and say you were, at some point, a huge Seattle Supersonics fan.  I also use to work in professional basketball for the Memphis Grizzlies, so I know the level of devotion to that team that comes with those relationships.  Imagine for a second that we’re back in 2006 and you invited me to a game to sit with you in your box.  Your only caveat was, I had to “supersonic” it up.  I had to go all out and dress in head to toe supersonic gear to show that you (and as your guest I) were superfans.  That really mattered to you because the Sonics were a part of your identity.   Obviously. I’d comply and I’m sure I’d have a great time. 

Because I’m a proper southern lady, I’d send you a thank you note that may go something like this:

Howard, Thank you so much for the awesome experience!  I had a great time and haven’t stopped telling everyone about my time at the game.  While reflecting on it yesterday I realized something, I don’t see you as a Seattle Supersonic fan.  I just see you as a basketball fam.  The team you claim to be a part of is cool and all but that’s irrelevant, I’ve listed you in my phone contact as Howie the B ’ball fan.  Thanks again!

How would that make you feel?  Would you feel like I just took something that was a part of your existence and dismissed it for no reason?  When you saw me next would you try to hide the fact that you loved the Sonics because you felt like that made me think of less of you?  Would you invite me to another game?  My guess is that would have been my one and only time as your guest because I refused to acknowledge something was a part of you. Being affiliated with the Sonics helped define who you were, and I ignored it and chose not to see it.  The same is true when people say they don’t see color. 

But hey, we’re all adults and I sincerely believe your heart is in the right place on this so we can move past misunderstandings like that… right?  Probably, but at what cost?  The true value of diversity is the unique and varied perspectives of each different person but if all people are the same (we’re all just human) how do we capitalize on the unique and varied perspectives? We’ve all heard that 2 heads are better than one and that’s true but only if those 2 heads come from different perspectives.  So, the questions businesses need to ask is how do people gain different perspectives? 

The answer is easy, from experiencing different things.  If you and I walk into the same store and interact with the same clerk to buy the same item, we will not always have the same experience.    That’s because the world interacts with us differently.  When I ordered an expensive glass of bourbon at a bar ($50 a pour) the bartender asked if I was sure I could afford it.  I doubt that’s ever happened to you (so now when I design customer service training programs, I’m certain to address how to handle a situation where you are concerned you may not get paid).  When I was potty training my daughter, I learned that the automatic flush toilets aren’t good for children.  Do you know why, have you experienced that?  It’s fine if you haven’t (but since I have, I can help organizations determine what type of toilet to install where).  We’re not suppose to have the same lives as anyone else but if you don’t see my color you may miss the unique ideas, I can bring to the table that come from walking through the world in my body instead of yours.  If you don’t see my gender, you’ll miss the things I’ve experienced that you haven’t, and you may miss the unique ideas I can bring to a marketing campaign or product design meeting because of it.  If you don’t see value in our economic differences, you may miss out on the way to position a product to someone in my tax bracket as opposed to yours. 

Seeing my color and gender and socio-economic status and education and neighborhood and sexuality and everything else about me that makes me different from you is the only way to truly see me as an individual and to truly benefit from the ideas and knowledge that I bring to the table. 

Seeing me for the unique individual I am is what gives me the confidence to represent the groups you need to hear from in a meeting.  It makes it ok to add the black perspective or female perspective or southerner perspective and every other perspective I can add.  If a person doesn’t want to see my color, then I feel like they don’t really want to see and work with or even talk to me. 

Like I said, I get it, this stuff is hard and awkward and uncomfortable but ultimately, I want the same thing you want, the ability to add to the success of every group I’m a apart of.  I want to feel comfortable sharing my knowledge to make every organization and company I work with better.  I want to be seen. 

Sincerely,

Christy Pruitt-Haynes

A married cis-gender black mother and aunt from Nashville who was raised and educated in the south and loves travel, wine, coffee, laughter, debate and music

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence. If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture. CPH Consulting will help grow your business!

What could have saved Toys R Us…and how can you keep your business from that same fate?

What could have saved Toys R Us…and how can you keep your business from that same fate?

Toys R Us may have been one of the first truly successfully niche stores.  I remember standing in line to buy the latest Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle Me Elmo when that was THE place to get toys.  I stalked them the way I now stalk presale codes for popular concerts.  Everyone wanted, dare I say needed to be a Toys R Us kid.  Toys R Us represented play to an entire generation, so what happened???

The answer is easy, they refused to change.  They wanted to remain a brick and mortar in a time when the world wide web was taking over everything.  They wanted to just sell products  when unique experiences were dominating the consumer purchase decision.  They were an oak tree when they needed to be a willow.  You may be asking how we switched to talking about trees.  Well, oak trees are known for their strength and ability to stand fast, but they are inflexible and if a strong enough force comes through (Amazon, Escape Games, kids cooking and painting classes), they will fall.  A willow tree, on the other hand, is also strong but in a different way.  It bends and sways so when a strong force comes through it is likely to lean into it and bend without breaking.  That’s what Toys R Us needed to do, and that’s what your business needs to do.

In this day and age, we see a lot of disruptors – businesses that seem to come out of no where and change the game.  They’re your Amazons and Ubers and to some extent Southwest Airlines.  They literally disrupt the way consumers do things and become the new platinum standard (or should I say Vibranium standard for the few million people who saw Black Panther).  Established businesses can survive a disruptor if they are nimble and react quickly enough to the new normal.  That’s what Toys R Us didn’t do.  They continued down the path of shoppers coming in the store instead of being able to buy online.  They didn’t create an extension of the buying experience online, so customers still felt that was the only place to go for toys.

Unfortunately, while relying on their in store experience, they chose not to revolutionize that either.  Thanks largely to the internet and the evolution of social media, kids are used to immediate gratification and constant entertainment.  They watch YouTube videos and then want to make slime or fly a drone.  Toys R Us could have created instore demonstrations and become the place parents brought their kids to have a hands-on experience with all the latest fads then bought all the materials in the store to continue the fun at home.

As a parent, if I’m going to get up, go to a store, hunt for parking and deal with crowds instead of buying online, a store must make it worth my time.  That typically means have really great prices or a tremendous experience that makes the extra effort worth it.  So, what are you doing in your business to keep up with the latest trends in your industry?

Are you a realtor and if so how do you capitalize on the fact that buyers have seen homes online long before they walk into them?  Are you a marketing and PR company and if so how do you make sure your products are talked about by the social media influencers of the day, or better yet, turn your brand into an influencer?  People don’t watch commercials the way they use to so what new and creative way are you reaching your customers?

Creativity and innovation use to provide a slight advantage, now they are the only path to long term success.  What are you doing to insure they live and breath in every decision your team makes?  How are you going to innovate your company into the next craze that leads to long term success?

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence.  If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture.  CPH Consulting will help grow your business!

 

 

No, no, no…I insist you should only pay me 64% of the position’s salary

No, no, no…I insist you should only pay me 64% of the position’s salary

Massachusetts has given us such treasures as New England Clam Chowder, the Red Sox, Boston cream pie and now they are the first state in this nation to truly do something about the pay gap that exists with so many private companies. Massachusetts is the first state to ban employers, both public and private, from asking for salary history during the recruiting and job offer process.  How does that affect the pay gap you ask?  It’s simple, when a person’s future salary is based, in part, on their past salary and their past salary was lower because they were a woman or a minority or a certain age, their future salary will remain lower than people in other groups and the gap, over time, only widens.  Playing the truly exhausting game of “salary catch up” becomes a futile task.

This may leave some people asking, “if we don’t know a person’s past salary how do we know what they expect to make now?”  Well here’s a novel idea, we should pay what the position is worth regardless of that individual’s salary has been in the past.  I’ve never heard a company say “since I’m only paying you 64% of what your white male counterpart makes I only expect 64% of the work.”  (as a black woman that is statistically what I make in comparison to my white male counterparts).

How does that play out if someone has less experience than someone else?  Again, I ask the question, do you lower the expectations once they are in the role?  If not, they should receive the same compensation.  Does that mean every person should make the exact same salary, not necessarily, there will always be differences in roles, expectations and abilities that should be factored in but if two people have the same title, are held accountable for the same outputs and judged against the same ruler why would one make 30-40% more than the other???

Many may be asking, “how did the pay gap come into existence, isn’t it common sense that people doing the same job should make the same money?”  Sadly, it isn’t…or at least historically it hasn’t been.  In the past, many companies used the “person” method of determining compensation meaning they paid the person what they felt that person needed instead of what the job was worth.  You heard comments like, “he’s probably the bread winner for his family so he needs extra income” or “she should be lucky she works here, if it weren’t for affirmative action we wouldn’t hire her” or my personal favorite, “she’s only working until she starts a family, it’s not like she really wants a career”.

Today you don’t hear those comments (I hope anyway) but some of those attitudes prevail.  More importantly, because they were so common in the past and many companies used a person’s past salary to help set their current salary it became a never-ending cycle of pay inequities that widened over the years to what we now see.

Speaking of that, what do we see now?  With  all of the legislation and education, isn’t the problem going away on its own…NO.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013, on average, Hispanic Women earned only 54% of what a White Man earned FOR THE EXACT SAME JOB.  The chart below gives statistics for additional groups.

White Men Black Men Hispanic Men White Women Black Women Hispanic Women
100% 75.1% 67.2% 78% 64% 54%

 

Once inequities like that have been established, the only way to break them is to stop relaying on past salaries and pay everyone for the job they are doing, not the demographic box they check.

Thank you Massachusetts for one of my favorite basketball teams, thank you for fine institutions of higher learning and most of all THANK YOU for starting to solve an epidemic in our country!  I hope we see the rest of the country follow in your footsteps and stop asking people about the past when determining their future!

 

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence.  If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture.  CPH Consulting will help grow your business!

 

What is the TRUE Value of Diversity?

What is the TRUE Value of Diversity?

Most would agree that the true value of a team lies in its ability to solve problems, enhance performance and meet organizational goals better than any one individual can. As true as that notion is, there is one caveat that must be discussed; it only works if each of the team members brings a new, different, and DIVERSE mindset and point of view to the conversation.

When a well-known TV conglomerate wanted to increase its ad and subscriber revenue it created and offered different channels. Another way to phrase that is it DIVERSIFIED its product offerings. When a political hopeful wanted to gain support from an additional segment of the population they hired individuals who knew, understood and represented that demographic…in other words they DIVERSIFIED their staff.

Imagine for a moment that you are on a game show, you get to the final question and you have no idea what the answer is but you really want to win. You have one opportunity for someone to help but who do you call? You could reach out to your best friend. The person you grew up with, went to school with, partied with, cried with and celebrated with. They are your go to person. They have your back. They want you to win…but can they really help you? If you went to school with them didn’t you learn the same things? If you grew up with them didn’t you have the same experiences? If you learned the same things and had the same experiences, don’t you know the same things and conversely not know the same things?

In that situation, you need the person who learned things you didn’t, did things you couldn’t and experienced things you never knew existed…you need different knowledge and skills…you need DIVERSITY!

Diversity isn’t just about checking certain boxes on a form. It’s more than making sure your organization, city or group looks a certain way. It’s about forward movement, growth and excellence. It’s about doing things in a better, smarter and more efficient way. It’s about maximizing profits and minimizing risk. Diversity is about business success!

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Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting works with organizations and individuals to help them on their quest towards professional excellence. If you’re facing significant change, unprecedented growth or stagnant results Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting will help by providing customized tools to solve problems, increase employee engagement, improve leadership capabilities and increase profits. As a Speaker, Trainer and Coach, Christy will provide diversity of thought, enhanced communication, improved leadership and a maximized corporate culture. CPH Consulting will help grow your business!