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

###

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!

 

###

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!

###

 

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!

When Diversity Goes Wrong…

When Diversity Goes Wrong…

Shea Moisture may be the latest company to join the ever-growing list of companies committing diversity faux pas in the marketing arena. They join the ranks of Pepsi, and Baby K’Tan by sending the wrong marketing message (seemingly by accident) in an advertising campaign. Even though other companies have committed similar mistakes, theirs may be one of the more obvious offenses with potentially detrimental results. Why you ask??? Because they committed the number one marketing sin, they alienated their core market!

In case you haven’t heard what happened, let me give you a quick recap. Shea Moisture is a hair care brand that makes several products. Those products are OVERWHELMINGLY used by African-American women.  How overwhelmingly you ask, well according to the market data company InfoScout. African Americans have a marketing index of 824 compared to Caucasian having an index of 53, Asians of 96 and Hispanics of 123.  That means, compared to their average consumer, African Americans are 724% more likely to buy their products while Caucasians are 47% less likely.  724% that’s huge!!!! Shea Moisture is sold in the African American section of the hair care products aisle (did you know grocery stores haven’t been fully integrated yet…but that’s a conversation for another time). That is a well-defined core audience that should determine every decision Shea Moisture makes regarding everything they do… right?  Well, they didn’t.

In their most recent commercial, they cast 4 women, 1 woman who most assume to be multi-racial and 3 who appear to be Caucasian. Suffice it to say, their core audience was not happy! Consumers like to see themselves represented in the commercials for the products they buy. They want to feel the company understands who they are and that the company is talking to them directly. In a company where more than 90% of their sales come from African Americans, this was a miss…and the internet went crazy! People are calling for a boycott and asking consumers to stop using all Shea Moisture products.

But are people acting too quickly? Maybe Shea Moisture was trying to diversify their market. Isn’t that how companies grow? It absolutely is but, and this is a really big but, they must be careful how they do it. When a company has a strong core audience and they are attempting to reach out to a new market they have to tell their core what they are doing.     

For example, when Apple went from being a computer company to a lifestyle brand that sold everything from computers to phones to watches, they started the shift with their “Think Different” advertising campaign. They told their customers “we are changing”. When Starbucks went from being just a coffee shop to selling tea they announced their plans, talked about a partnership with Teavana that was coming soon and made sure they let everyone know they were still all about the coffee.

Shea Moisture didn’t do that. They didn’t run a campaign that said they were expanding their market, they didn’t say “don’t worry we are still and will always be here for you”. They simply ran a commercial that did not reflect who they were or who they sold to. They went against their culture and ignored the people who made them successful…and they didn’t even tell them why.

The key to successful growth will always be diversity – diversifying your products, diversifying your audience, and diversifying your revenue sources. However, like all diversity, it must be done in a way that the consumer understands.

Imagine you are a member of a gym. Everyone at the gym lives in your neighborhood because that was the unwritten rule of membership. The gym historically catered to your neighborhood. Suddenly, the gym started offering memberships to people 10 miles away. They put up billboards in other cities, they ran ads in other states and they didn’t tell you why. As a long time member, your first thought may be, are they forgetting about me, am I going to be pushed to the side and not receive the attention I’m used to getting, am I no longer good enough.

The truth may be, they are opening new locations and trying to build interest in anticipation of that but their lack of communication to you, their core audience and current members, puts them at risk of losing you to a shiny new gym who is paying you the attention they used to give you.

Shea Moisture (and all other companies out there with clearly defined bases) people understand you wanting and needing to grow. Everyone gets why you want to expand your market but can you give us a heads up? Can you assure your core, the people who made you the huge success you are today, that you are still here to support them? A little communication goes a long way in the consumer marketing world and your core needs to hear from you!

###

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! You can reach Christy at Christy@ChristyPruitt-Haynes.com

She’s just like me so she must be perfect…the dangers or hiring your intellectual twin.

She’s just like me so she must be perfect…the dangers or hiring your intellectual twin.

Human beings tend to think we are pretty smart. Thankfully, we are typically correct. However, our ability to be capable, confident, high performers sometimes leads us to believe that anyone who thinks, acts or works differently may not be up to par. Who would want to work with someone who isn’t equally intelligent?

How can that attitude play out in the work place and when forming strong, cohesive teams? This story illustrates what I learned about diverse work styles and strengths. It completely changed my approach to team building, and maybe it will affect you similarly.

After weeks of planning, anticipating and strategizing, the time for our inaugural leadership conference had finally arrived. My assistant and I  had great speakers, wonderful activities and engaging presentations. She and I enjoyed great communication, shared vision and honest feedback. Some would say our working relationship was the stuff dreams were made of. We were sure our connection would help make our event a tremendous success.

My assistant was my first hire as a department head. I poured through resumes, labored through interviews and selected the person I thought would be a great fit to work with me. We were from the same town, went to some of the same schools and she saw many things the same way I did. She was, in fact, a lot like me. I soon found out she was probably too much like me.

As we reviewed the final details for the conference, neither of us could find the conference room booking information. We went through endless pieces of paper. We found speaker bios, conference mission and goal statements and hotel information, but no conference room booking details. We reached out to our hotel contact who said, “We don’t have a meeting room reserved for you. No one booked it.”

There we sat, with 25 conference attendees arriving in 4 hours and we didn’t have a meeting room for our two-day session. The hotel representative forwarded the email she sent asking that we confirm the room reservation and neither of us responded. In the midst of our big-picture thinking, we missed this one detail that proved to be a major hurdle. It didn’t matter what speaker or activity we booked, because we didn’t have a place for them to present.

As smart and capable as we thought we were, neither of us was great with details. We were wonderful big-picture, strategic thinkers, but didn’t excel at the day-to-day activities required to make the big picture a reality. I was self-aware regarding my strengths and opportunities, but I failed to hire a person who excelled in the skills I lacked. I was so concerned with getting along with my assistant, I ignored the most important part of building a team. A strong team must have members with diverse talents and work styles.

I learned people managers and team builders should strive to avoid hiring mocking birds that will only repeat what they do and say. You don’t want a mirror or “amen corner” of people who will tell you every idea you have (even the really bad ones) are great. Ideally, you’ll create a team full of different opinions, backgrounds, work styles and, most importantly, strengths! You want a team that is stronger than any individual member to work together to accomplish a mission.

The goal of a team isn’t to think and act alike, but to think and act together. If you are a strong thinker, hire a strong do-er. If you are a quiet person, hire someone who can be the question asker and departmental spokesperson. It may not make every day easy, but it will improve your end result.

The most successful team members recognize value in different approaches and different ideas. When it comes to teams, the old saying, “Different is good,” truly applies.

###

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!