Welcome to Crazy and the King!!
Oct. 28, 2021

Citigroup Racial Audit, Texas AGAIN, and the NDEAM 10

Citigroup Racial Audit, Texas AGAIN, and the NDEAM 10

Citigroup Conducts a Racial Audit, Texas Legislature Attacks Transgender Student Athletes and Andrew Pulrang's NDEAM 10

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Citigroup agrees to conduct a racial equity audit, perhaps to some of their executives chagrin. Texas Legislature continues attacks on it's citizenry signing a bill this week attacking transgender student athletes. Forbes' Andrew Pulrang's, gives us his NDEAM 10 must knows about disability and employment.

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Production and Music: DJ Cellz

Intern: Elizabeth Duff

Image by scan5353 from Pixabay 

Thank you to our sponsors and to the team atEvergreen!

Interested in sponsoring Crazy and the King? Contact us today! Email us at CATK@CrazyandtheKing.com

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More on Torin and Julie:

Julie: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliesowashdisabilitysolutions

Torin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/torinellis


Production and Music: DJ Cellz


Julie Sowash      “Welcome to Crazy and the King”                                                                     

Torin Ellis           "Hey so listen I'm starting it differently because you do something that I really never commented on and I want to comment on it today. So we're gonna keep one another honest does recording make you nervous there? It is you sigh."                                                                                          

Julie Sowash      "Yes, very."                                                                           

Torin Ellis           "Like you take this real deep sigh. Like okay I'm gonna do it and I'm saying I noticed that she does that every single week and you do an incredible job."                                                                                       

Julie Sowash      "Thank you. thank you. This this podcast has been such a growth experience for me I mean if you if you go back and listen to our very first episodes I am terrified and I love it now."                                                                          

Torin Ellis           Ah."                                                                                            

Julie Sowash      "I love it. But it's always still just that moment of like you're not going to fuck it up so bad that everyone hates you Julie kind of moment."                                                                

Torin Ellis          "Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely and I said you know what I'm gonna comment on that just like in the moment it was like a real time thought and consideration. So I will tell you here. We are at the end of October and it's not it's not just something to say I really feel like this year has gone by quickly. How do you feel?"                                                                                                                                        

Julie Sowash      "It has yeah I mean I think I expected very little action I expected it to be a lot like 2020 where it just felt like we were in and held down and the year felt so long. This year feels like it has flown by and it's. Been at least for us and for Disability Solutions. A really positive growth year so I'm thrilled, but can't believe its October nonetheless."                                                                                                  

Torin Ellis           "No, yeah and in the month of October some organizations made some really big announcements Citigroup being one of them. They become the first Wall Street bank to agree to a racial audit. I really wonder what the conversations were like I absolutely would love to have been a fly on the wall during those conversations when the phrase was landed upon that we would do a racial audit. Not a diversity report. Not a ,I don't know, just a racial audit like that's hitting it head on. You know what?"                                                                      

Julie Sowash      "Well and when you first you popped this story into our show notes and I'm like wasn't that like an affirmative action audit, but it's not it's completely different because really I think what they're focusing on is how they are spending the money that they committed to spend to help the Black community to decrease the wealth gap and putting that front and center. You and I talk about this all the time. Right? People are always making pledges and bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Citigroup, I think to the chagrin of maybe some of their executives based on the article, are going full in so I am excited to see how this comes out. It's a lawyer group that's like actually doing the audit. So what actually kind of comes out in the wash that we can see publicly is going to be the big question."                                                      

Torin Ellis           "Yeah, so and just this brief moment I am Googling the word chagrin I did spell it correctly.   I just want to see exactly what it means the context in which you used it. It says distress or embarrassment at having failed or been humiliated. Interesting. Why'd you use that word you said to the chagrin of some of their executives?"                                                                              

Julie Sowash      "Well, yeah so way down deep in the article it talked about that they were pressed to do this by their shareholders by their investors. They, I don't want to say an activist group, but a big pressure campaign from their investor class came for them to do this and the executive team kept encouraging the shareholders to vote no not to move forward with this that they didn't want it. They felt like they had done enough now. Ultimately it said that the actually the proposal in the investors group failed so it didn't pass that forced them to do this racial audit but they decided to do it anyway and I'm not it doesn't say why but it was definitely not something they were. They were jamming on at first."                                 

Torin Ellis           "Yeah and this is a learning point for everyone out there listening that when you are doing something around diversity equity inclusion and belonging since that's the center of our podcast. But really when you are doing anything oftentimes you're gonna have to go back at it again and again. And a couple of more times last year Citibank released that report in September of 2020 closing the racial   ah wealth gap or the disparities in closing the racial wealth gap and again we've talked about it on the report. When we had Gerard Charlot on a couple of weeks ago. We talked about having more people that are going to contribute to the conversation and education in healthcare in pay and in housing because of that September 2020 report from Citibank. So the fact that they are 1 year later 1 year later following up and recommitting doubling down saying that we're gonna do even more for me is a very positive piece and I liked that they worked through the tension Julie they worked through the tension and said we're going to do this anyway and personally I believe every single institution should evaluate you know how they've benefited from race how they perpetuate the inequities that exist I think every single institution should do what Citibank is doing. They absolutely get five stars for the week for me."                                                                       

Julie Sowash      "Excellent. Excellent. So more good news. The CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella released his annual letter to shareholders and really doubled down to build nd take responsibility to close the Disability Divide and that really kind of goes back to their April commitment of a five year commitment to spur development for accessible technology expand opportunity for people with disabilities and the workforce and to build a more inclusive workplace. And so the reason I bring up this story is not just because it was people with disabilities were mentioned which I always try to note when we see these shareholder letters. But if you are a Microsoft Office user, they have done an incredible amount of work to make creating accessible documents and accessible meetings something that the everyday user, people like you and I can do and do it pretty rapidly and pretty easily. So for example, Teams which we use, it's kind of like our Slack for our Office now has built-in transcription and closed captioning with one click of the button you turn it on. PowerPoint has built-in AI accessibility checks. Plus post checks that you can run and take care of any things like missing alt tags, missing images tags and so just again like we're running out of reasons as corporations and as people to not have accessible content built at the beginning of the process not at the end of the process not when someone requests an accommodation and Microsoft has a big hand it in driving that accessibility and I just think it's awesome."                                                                                               

Torin Ellis           “Yeah I absolutely agree with you and again in order for it to happen on the front end it really depends on who's sitting in the room who are we including who are we querying who are we thinking about is being left out. How do we and engage and empower them to be a part of the conversations. To be a part of that developing to be a part of those focus groups to be a part of those beta test groups. It's always in the beginning. How do we do that and sometimes you know funds resources can limit that level of participation but I appreciate what Microsoft has done in this and I'm looking through the letter and I encourage you all to read it. It's lengthy"              but he ends the letter talking about earning trust and then the very last section of that that letter is talking about the culture being in a growth mindset and currency of every single leader the currency. Of every single leader think about who you are and how you sit in your organization. What's your currency? What's your cachet is it that people trust you is it that they lean on you. What's your cachet What's your currency. So this is really another great story and I'm happy that we added it to the list.            we might have to add a new segment to the pod now I know we're trying to socialize her voice which we'll get to later. But we might have to add another segment. We'll deliberate over the holidays. But Texas they've done it again.                                                              

Julie Sowash      Like they're just gonna be have a standing spot in the show. Hey here's something Texas has done this week to actively attack its own citizenry. Fantastic job guys and they have."                                                                               

Torin Ellis           And this time once again. Yeah I'm sorry once again"       transgender.                                                                            

Julie Sowash      “Yep.  So Texas has now joined nine other states specifically targeting Transgender student athletes with the white house calling that legislation hateful and Anti-transgender and Anti-LGBTQ group celebrating a victory in. Proactive and overt discrimination as a win and then to just kind of top it off I that.                                                                        

Torin Ellis           " I mean I don't you I don't hold off you don't even need to top it off. It's like it's like why is it so critically important. For you to spend time legislating ways to keep people away from participating whether it be sports or voting. Why is it so incredibly important for you to act as if you care in this way yet you. You don't care in so many of the other ways like I just I find it hard to wrap my mind around the thought process that these individuals are going through and again I've. We've talked about transgender athletes. We've talked about it at various stages it being different in elementary middle junior high school versus professional competition level. We've talked about it all the way up and down the spectrum. And here they are with nine other states I didn't even click on the link I don't do you know the other nine 8 states or so do you know the other ones.                                                                             

Julie Sowash      “So I know West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama. I think Indiana so a lot. Just you know the South and the Midwest representing as usual.”                                                                                     

Torin Ellis           “Yeah. It’s just ridiculous”.                                                                

Julie Sowash      “It is it is and then you know earlier this month even the Governor removed a state like a government page that provided resources for LGBTQ youth that had suicide prevention etc. on it because his political competitor. Said that that proved that the governor was supporting an LGBTQ lifestyle. So not only are we going to actively attack now. We're going to also take away resources for kids who are some of the most vulnerable in our communities and I mean for fuck's sake Texas doesn't have a ah power grid that works. Right? But yet the legislature is just assembly like yeah ah manufacturing assembly lining. That's what I'm looking for I think these bills that are discriminatory that limit access that will gerrymander again their ability to have a minority that controls the majority. And I just think these stories keep coming. So maybe we get a Texas segment of the show."                                                                                          

Torin Ellis           “Yeah, Texas segment on the show. So listen those are our quick takes for the week I promise we'll be right back after this quick ad break because we're gonna end the month talking about National Disability Employment Awareness, all right? So - Stay with us.                                                                               

Torin Ellis           Cool. So as we end the month ah did the organization I mean I know it's kind of a silly question what you all do to celebrate in dean."                                                                                         

Julie Sowash      Oh gosh we've had our best our best NDEAM ever we have done some podcasts that are that are coming out. We recorded with some really great speakers Jonathan Kaufman from Forbes being 1 of them. We have had tons of speaking events. We've done probably close to 50 trainings.   this month and we've celebrated in ah in social media. So. It's been a really positive month for our team and we are. Coming out like super energized going into the end of the year"                                                                                       

Torin Ellis           Speaking of which I'm looking at the end of the month I actually need to make sure I remember the fast and I tell you? ah so the thing that I did last year coming into 2021 I said the last 2 days of the month I would only drink water. That did I share that with you? Yeah"   yeah     so I got to remember because 3 or four of the months I've forgotten the last 2 days kind of ran up on me real quick and I'm sitting there. You know holding a cognac and I'm like ah you're not supposed to add that right now. So.                                                             

Julie Sowash      Yeah"    you did because I told you you'd like you're getting all felt on me.                                                                                

Torin Ellis           I gotta remember to do that this weekend but I'm happy that you know organizations across the globe have spent a bit more time doing some things not just providing lip service not just simply placing messaging on social media actually doing some things like you suggested. Participated in podcasts being   guests or bringing in speakers in their organizations I Love the fact that more organizations are doing something and we found this great story. I feel like you've mentioned Andrew Pulrang before. Did we talk about him? If you recall did we talk about him when I had that snafu with the Washington Post retweet when the disability community kind of gave me the business."                                                                                               

Julie Sowash      "Possibly I always try to mention him when I'm talking about influencers to follow on Twitter for people with disabilities. He definitely is 1 of my favorites. He started the #Cryptthevote hashtag on Twitter that's been really instrumental in activating voters with disabilities. He does a lot of really great stuff.”                                                                              

Torin Ellis           “So his name is add an Andrew Pulrang. Before we get into the story that he wrote 10 things. Everyone should know about people with disabilities and employment before we get into that. Let's hear a quick message from senator tammy. Duckworth.                                                                                 

Torin Ellis           All right cool so set this up for us Julie because I think it's important.   I think it's important that people have an idea of context around the 10 items that he delineates in the article but I don't want folks to just kind of read the article and walk away. I really want them to hear a bit of colorful layered context because you are in the community you work and help organizations to do a better job of this and I got to tell you. And I've said this before some of the best learning that I've done over the last 10-12 years of doing DEIB consulting has been with you and been around the disability community. So this article. 10 things everyone should know about people with disabilities and employment it caught your eye and tell me why."                                                                                                  

Julie Sowash      Yeah I mean it caught my eye because it's just it voices some of the frustrations that I and my team always have around national disability employment awareness month and we always have to kind of go back and say to each other this is what we do every day we are the experts in the room. It's still brand new to so many people and I think that's where Andrew kind of took this article right? It's like hey it's hard for me to come up with something new to say. So let's go back to some of the basics that companies and people should know about disability and employment right? am I taking you to church. Yes."                                                                                           

Torin Ellis           “Do you see my hands up in there listen to me when I tell you I am I literally was on a call with AG you know who AG is I literally was on a call with AG on Friday of last week and I said I am strongly considering I'm saying it out loud I'm strongly considering next year being my last year of doing keynote presentations because I feel like I've been saying the same thing. And people are just beginning to catch up to what I said in 2014-2015 around diversity and inclusion I swear you were taking me to church. Go ahead."                                                                                              

Julie Sowash      “Yes and we feel the same way right? But we don't get out of it that easy. We have to keep saying the message because it is penetrating. We are seeing change just more slowly than we would like. Right?”                                                                          

Torin Ellis           Yeah.”                                                                        

Julie Sowash      And so you know he really makes it a good point in terms of like you know when we're talking about, and I've struggled with this too, is when I first started presenting about my community I saw the things that I saw my own biases I would go into every conversation. Everything had to be data. Everything had to be business. Everything had to be outcomes driven and that helped us to build a successful model. It helped us to lay the groundwork for you know what we do at Disability Solutions today. But what it also did was reinforce that people with disabilities have to come to your work and make you feel good. They have to be your superheroes. They have to stay longer. They have to do better instead of just saying hey these are fucking humans. Hire humans and be more human. I was reinforcing some ableist and exploitative stereotypes around people with disabilities and what we've seen right is that we still have to share best practices. We still have to share outcomes because data does matter, impact matters. That's why I do what I do but we have to couch it in fully accepting, realizing and reinforcing with our audiences that people with disabilities are fully human who have desires, dreams and capabilities just like everyone else but are not perfect. We are not here to be your cheerleader. We’re not here to fix your morale problem. All of those things I could go on and on as you can tell and that's really how Andrew sets up the article but then he does go in. And say here are some things that we think that you should know and just gives a really quick explanation that I think is good and reinforces what we know. Is important and also what new beasts don't know yet because we've got a whole new generation of people entering the workforce."                                                                                                  

Torin Ellis           “Absolutely, Wendy Lu writes on Twitter she says, ‘Please don't celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month unless your company is willing to do the actual work of hiring supporting and retaining workers. With disabilities we are more than a cute banner.’ Nw she did that tweet on what looks like October 13th so it's a bit dated but trust me she's gotten a bit more smoke on her feed. She's @WendyLuWrites and she's got a penned tweet ‘disabled people are not a burden and she just repeats it disabled people are not a burden if you are disabled. You are not a burden. You're a human being who deserves respect compassion and dependence a platform and equal.’ I think that's what you're getting to in this article and what Andrew is getting to in this article. Yeah, we understand that businesses are there for a reason that people need to be productive as employees in the business”                                                                                                                             

Torin Ellis           I think back to a scenario that I was involved in this must have been around 2012-2013. There was a guy who would I don't know what his disability was but he worked for like an organization here in the city called chimes. And he would just walk by all the time and I said you know what I'm gonna have him come in and I want him to feel better I want him to feel productive. So I said why don't you help me around the office. So I help had him. Help me move some papers and tidy up off wasn't an official employee but move some papers around tidy up the office.  He would take out the trash and it really wasn't no trash trashes like a couple of sticky notes and you know a couple of spreadsheets but the glow on his face. And what started jay had started because he would knock on the door and try to sell CDs and you got to understand in 2012. He's trying to sell me a cd of Luther Vandross actually wasn't CDs it was cassette tapes wasn't even CDs.”                                                                                 

Julie Sowash      “Oh."                                                                                          

Torin Ellis           “He was trying to sell cassette tapes in 2012 and I said something is not right and so I don't want to get sidetracks but I use that example as just how happy he was to be productive. He would come by. We were in a strip mall setting. And I would give him twenty dollars every time he would do and literally he was there for like ten minutes. Happy I mean, he would leave skipping and I think what the article is suggesting is treat him right.”                                                                          

Julie Sowash      “Yeah and you know to your point work is so much of the American experience unlike a lot of other countries. We are defined by our productivity right? What we do. So I'm gonna ask you, Torin, what do you do. You don't say I go skiing, I hang out with the Kings, I do this, I do that. You say this is my job and people with disabilities want that same satisfaction that same joy out of their productivity and it doesn't have to be the same level of productivity that you have or that I have or someone else has and. Just like a couple of quick things and I fully encourage our listeners to read this entire article   especially if disability and employment is not your comfort zone yet   a couple that stood out to me for sure is that even though we have. Really important groundbreaking foundational revenue or foundational revenue foundational legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act that is really just a framework for equal opportunity. It's not easy to enforce. It's not regularly enforced unless we get to the point where we're got an EEO claim or an ADA you know discrimination lawsuit and those take years to process through. They don't really cause the individual company that much pain.                 and so. The ADA is not the end all be all. It's just the basics. It's like the bare minimum and too often it still gets exempted out. For example, hospitals under I believe the ACA don't have to have ADA access for everyone to still be able to receive Medicaid and Medicare funds. That is an exemption that I believe shouldn't exist. I understand why it does but I still again totally different thing different, different story.                There's an interesting piece about the 2 the differences between SSI and SSDI.”

Torin Ellis           “Yep, saw that.”                                                                                     

Julie Sowash      And how there are fantastic programs all over the country I actually ran 1 in the state of Indiana that helped people who are an SSDI transition into work and if they aren't able to continue working they can move back into SSDI very quickly.                                                                                

Torin Ellis           “J, You preempted what I was going to say so now I actually need clarity or you're challenging what I was about to say because I was gonna say I have a family member who is in that experience. You know, been diagnosed.”                                                                              

Julie Sowash      "Okay.”                                                                                     

Torin Ellis           Receiving SSI it took forever for us to get through the hoops necessary for them to be able to receive it. But now that they're working you know they can only make a certain amount of money and then once they surpass that they are taken off of SSI and my understanding was that we would have to start that process all over again. But you just said that we could quickly, J.”

Julie Sowash      So there's a difference. SSI is hard. That's for people who don't have work experience who haven't paid into Social Security Disability. SSI is tough and the number is really low and it like all of these programs. The other thing to understand about them is that they are designed to keep people in poverty right? If I start to rise up out of that but still need Medicare or Medicaid to make sure that I can work if I start my own business if I start to save some money I'm penalized. By either being kicked off the program or having a reduction in benefits now SSDI on the other hand has a program called the Ticket to Work which helps with like expedited re and statement of Benefits. It helps   people make the transition and in a lot of states. 1 of the most critical things to actually people with more significant disabilities being able to return to work is access being able to keep Medicaid and those types of programs will allow them to keep Medicaid so that they can still make sure that they have the ability to work and stay insured. And so there are fantastic programs if you go to www.tickettowork.gov you can find really talented individuals. We actually just hired a person through our ticket program to do data analysis for the disability solutions team and he is killing it and that's just it. And I bring it up specifically to say that there is a difference. It's important to understand   as a caregiver but it's also important to understand It's another great place to find talent."                                                                                               

Torin Ellis           “So 1 quick thing that I want to do before we end this segment I got to get in this piece around sub employment now I'm sorry subminimum wage so before we do that. Let's listen to a clip. It's about a minute long and then I'd love for you to come back and educate me. Along with the audience on subminimum wage because I had never heard of that before.”                                                                                   

Julie Sowash      “I love Trevor Noah I'll just go ahead and say that right now. So subminimum wage actually was in the news again this week so it's a really timely and the subminimum wage is really what was designed Eighty plus years ago.  . To help people with very significant disabilities have some sort of work experience and it is sort of the ultimate social program that should have been gone away with dozens of years ago. And in fact I can tell you that my agency because I work for a big nonprofit. They stopped using subminimum wage contracts for people that that we serve probably about 15 years ago and so there are still about four billion in contracts from the us government every year that go to a certain set of providers that basically contract out subminimum wage jobs and what does that mean that means maybe I'm the person who's putting the fork and the knife in the spoon and the napkin. In the pack I'm doing like piecework and I'm getting paid a penny or 2 pennies based on that output and so we've really been as a community moving away from this model for a long time but this week the federal government came out and said hey every. Ability 1 contract which are those sub minim  wage contracts now has to bring anyone who's working on them up to a minim  of the federal minim  wage or what's legal in their state and so that. Has been happening again for decades really forward thinking nonprofits have been moving away from it some are legacying out of it. So as people age out of the program. They're not having new people come in but it is probably 1 of the most stereotyping. And exploitative programs that are aimed around people with disabilities that were I'm sure built with good intentions but have outlived their usefulness."                                                                                                 

Torin Ellis           “Yeah, no it sounds that way again. It was it was I don't want to use the word shocking but it was a revelation for me because I had never heard of it before. Yeah, it's a great article. Yeah I'm really really happy that you found it and that we're able to share it as our lot last pod of.”                                        

Julie Sowash      “It is."                                                                                         

Torin Ellis           “The month of October how do we close out this segment because I'm sure you have something you at least want us to kind of take away or consider."                                                                                           

Julie Sowash      “I think the quote I'm going to use this week is from the article from Andrew. ‘Instead of touting employment as the way for disabled people to find a better life. Maybe we should try making life for disabled people better. So more of us are secure enough to pursue employment from a position of strength’.”                                                                           

Torin Ellis           “From a position of strength and that brings us to Her Voice segment where we are amplifying women that are making moves I want to just run through these 3 individuals really quickly. Monica Ramirez founder and president of justice for migrant women. She recently co-hosted the national Latina equal payday Latina equal Payday was on October twenty first I don't know if you all knew that but it was on October twenty first I also want to highlight white house gender policy counsel co-chair Jen Klein who said last week this marks for ourselves and for the world that this is going to be a priority in the years to come referring to the new white house national strategy on gender. Equity and equality I love that they are doing that and then last but not least I want to highlight CeCe Cheng. You can find her on Twitter at CeCeCheng. She is the founder and CEO of Sharewell. Now so she talks about finding herself in a relationship that she now calls emotionally abusive and the thing that helped her to recover more than therapy she says was the support circle of her peers. I absolutely I absolutely appreciate having peers that I can lean on folks that can help me refuel my tank that can reenergize reinvigorate me when I feel like the work has become downtrodden and arduous. Feel like having a group of peers people like Julie and so many of you that are out there listening to our pod when you ping me with messages via text or via email you might drop a note on social media I love having a group of peer.  So I don't have any quick mentions or name drop. But I think you do."                                                                                              

Julie Sowash      “Yeah, just a quick name drop to the Breathe Equality team. The Black ERG at my parent company Ability Beyond and specifically to their leader and who I call my Partner in Crime Shaileen Brighton-Ortiz. I  got to spend some great time with that team last week, go to dinner celebrate over almost a year and a half of Breathe Equality at Ability Beyond.   

Torin Ellis           Beautiful thing I close, we close, reminding each and every one of you to share the pod with your digital tribe. Make sure you tag us on social media like #CATKI or #CrazyandTheKing don't be shy like tag us. Let us know that you are out there listening. Let us know that you're sharing the pod find something inside of each episode that inspires you that informs you that motivates you to take action. Do something different. Don't just listen like be actionable about the 30-40 minutes that you spend with Julie and I. We'll be back next week for now J and I are ghosts."                                                                                          

Julie Sowash      See Ya."