Healthy workplaces for all vs the normal, could it have changed things?
This week, so much to dive into with Torin and Julie. First, could universally designed work places (and policies) have prevented or stemmed the Great Resignation? Mason, TN is being threatened publicly by the state's Comptroller. Is it greed or political disenfranchisement? Or both? Jane Campion, puts her foot in it, in her moment in the spot light. A good lesson how to be a better ally and not muck it up.
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0:00:01.0 Torin: We've been about this work. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, shared through the voices of a White woman and a Black man. We bring lived experiences. We have pursued D&I progress for most of our professional lives. We use Crazy and the King to cover news, tips from colleagues and hosts incredible guests. Listeners count on Julie and I to transparently drive the conversation. We thank you for rocking with us. Check it. Julie, kick off the show.
0:00:39.8 Julie: Welcome to Crazy and the King.
0:00:43.8 Torin: First day of spring, not necessarily today, but it did happen this week. So what? We went through a time change last week. There's some legislation going through to say that we don't need to necessarily do that. I just wonder like, there's like, two or three states that just don't have to even do it at all, and I wonder... I mean, why do we still do it? Anyway, first day of spring...
0:01:12.1 Julie: Yeah, I literally have no idea. First day of spring. Other interesting fact I learned is that Europe does not spring forward for two weeks after... Until two weeks after we do. So, it's actually been four hours difference instead of five or six. And again, when we're talking about why do we do this, I don't really think there's a rhyme or a reason. If we all don't need to do it on the same time, does it even make sense?
0:01:40.5 Torin: Yeah. And see, I didn't even know that. I absolutely had no idea. So, for a two-week period, you're actually seven hours ahead of me and not six hours ahead of me, just for two weeks or...
0:01:53.5 Julie: Other way around, six hours and not seven. Yeah.
0:01:55.9 Torin: Yeah, six and not seven. Yeah, that's crazy. Nonetheless, weather this weekend was incredible. Got out, was able to open up the roof in the whip, I mean like, really, really, really enjoyed where we are. It's like my favorite time of year. Still a little nippy, you gotta put a jacket on, but, at some point, the sun is gonna come up. Get to see some folks that you haven't seen in a while. Like, I get to see some of my neighbors. I've got some neighbors... I only have a couple on my street, but I have a couple of neighbors that do not come out at all in the winter time, like you really don't see them at all. So, I'm looking forward to the rest of 2022. I'm also looking forward to our show. We got a lot of ground to cover today.
0:02:39.8 Julie: It's a busy, busy week, starting with a great article from Fast Company, talking about how to build a healthy workplace, you need a toxic culture alarm.
0:02:55.9 Torin: A toxic culture alarm. Now, I'm wondering, J, do you think that we could have avoided the Great Resignation? Let's say with the Great Resignation, because I know folks call it the great reset and some of the other things, but let's go with what was uniform for most people in 20... Definitely all of 2021, it was the Great Resignation. Do you think we could have avoided that?
0:03:24.3 Julie: I don't think we could have avoided it in total. I think if we had better workplaces and better work-life balance, especially in big cities in the US, where we have super frenetic cultures, we could have avoided some of the volume of resignation or reset. But with a pandemic of this nature, something that this is globally life-changing, I think it was gonna happen no matter what.
0:03:50.6 Torin: Yeah, so like Julie said, the article over on Fast Company is titled, "To build a healthy workplace, you need a toxic culture alarm." Now, here's what's interesting. In this article, it actually focused on autistic folks. It focused on that aspect of the spectrum, and I really found that to be favorable, because when I read the headline, I was thinking that they were gonna go with one of the normal... Just another normal story around building a better culture, if you will. But this one was focused on those with autism. And a stat jumped out, it said, autistic people have unemployment rates around 85% in the US, 78% in the UK, and 60% in Australia. And that in the UK, 50% of managers admit that they would not hire an autistic candidate. 50% of those polled admitted that they wouldn't hire an autistic candidate.
0:05:04.8 Julie: One of my favorite stats is a UK poll of HR managers who I think like, 60% said that they would not hire a person with common mental illness like, anxiety or depression. So I think there's a business here in the UK that needs to get done. These managers need some training on how to get people with disabilities into their workforce. And I think this is... The important thing to understand is a couple of things about this piece is, it's absolutely correct, because people who have disabilities, people who are on the autism spectrum kind of experience the world in ways that are different than neurotypical people, and neurodiversity in general, they experience the world more intensely than the average person. You know...
0:05:55.5 Torin: But can you elaborate on that? When we say more intensely like, is it the sounds are more intense, or is it that they can hear sounds that the normal person cannot hear? Which direction is it going, if you will?
0:06:15.1 Julie: Yeah, I think it's more of the intensity of the sound and then their physical reaction to it. So it's like, if you hear me tapping on my keyboard, and it's very, very loud and intense to you, it's like that. Or someone who eats chips, and it feels very loud, it can certainly be auditory like that. It can also be emotional. It can be processing in whatever way that that individual processes information about the world, whatever the input, the output then tends to be more intense.
0:07:00.9 Torin: Yeah, I appreciate that. Well, what the author did in the story is they actually suggested for us to design for the margins, that if we thought about our work places, whether it be the cubicles, whether it be the sound that is pumped in across the audio system, whether it be how we might broadcast movies, if you will, or other think pieces on television sets inside of the office place, it could be the lighting inside of the office place. Even... That's a visual sensation, sensory through the visual, just the intensity of the light, if you will, can make a difference. And so, the author of this piece says that we should design for the margins and that we should consider special cases first, and then actively involve marginalized individuals in the design process. And you know, I appreciate that this was written by a person who is in the community. I'm learning. Lord knows I'm learning. I'm learning, I'm learning, I'm learning, but I appreciate, because the context in which the story is delivered is really one that is, to me, fair. Like why would we design for people with autism and not include them in the plan, in the discussion, at the table?
0:08:30.0 Julie: Yes.
0:08:35.1 Torin: So I just appreciated her for saying that. I was actually on a call earlier this week, and I literally stole that line from this article designed for the people in the margins, and I was talking to a corporate communications team with one of my clients, but I said, we should design our communications through the D&I lens, let's design for the marginalized voice, let's design for the underrepresented voice. So I appreciated the author. Let me see, let me get the name of the person, not that you all are going to necessarily know who the person is, but Lumila... Ludmila Praslova, Ludmila, L-U-D-M-I-L-A, last name, Praslova, P-R-A-S-L-O-V-A. I'm going down to the bottom of the article to see if... Well, her Twitter is not in there, but she is a PhD SHRM-certified individual who use her extensive experience with global cultural ability and neurodiversity to help create inclusive and equitable work places. She's also a professor and Director of Graduate programs in Industrial Organizational Psychology at Vanguard University in Southern California.
0:09:56.7 Julie: Yeah. I know, it reminds me, we actually should add to our future guest list, Dr. Rebecca Langbein, who has just joined the Disability Solutions team, and she is a doctor of Occupational Therapy and has her masters in Engineering, and she actually helps us build for the companies that we work with, Universal and Accessible Design. And she really has a unique take on universal design and building for all as completely as possible, so that when you really get true outlier cases, you've built the best culture and environment that you can, and that makes it much easier to set up accommodations when they're necessary, because they come a lot less... They become a lot less necessary when we build for the totality and not for the typical, I guess.
0:10:53.4 Torin: Yeah, she actually used the term in the article, J, Neuro-Minority Hiring. I'd never heard that term before. Had you ever heard that before?
0:11:04.7 Julie: Never. Never. Tell us what it means.
0:11:07.0 Torin: Yeah, so I wish I could tell you what it means, but full transparency, the term in the article was linked to a Harvard Business Review article. So I clicked it, and I will tell you, as I started reading, I got side-tracked. [chuckle] And here's why I got side tracked, so I never found the term in the article, and before recording, and I never had a chance to go back and read it so I could find it. I did go out and Google it as well, and I don't know why I was googling it instead of just staying in the article, but I could not find the term. I'm sure there's a definition. So, what got me sidetracked in the article though is, it's an article from May, June 2017, and in that article, it's titled Neurodiversity is a Competitive Advantage. And in there, it said... And this is what got me sidetracked, and you're gonna know why... At least I think you're gonna know why I got sidetracked. So it says "Everyone is to some extent differently abled... " [chuckle] See, you already got it. I haven't even read the rest of it, and it's a great statement, so let me read all of it.
0:12:24.5 Torin: Everyone is to some extent differently abled, an expression favoured by many neurodiverse people, because we are all born different and raised differently. Our ways of thinking result from both our inherent machinery and the experiences that have programmed us. And we were having a conversation around that phrase, differently abled, and it was less than three weeks ago that I revealed to you that I now understand why that phrase could be problematic. And here we are with a PhD, and I am in no way throwing shade to the doctor, because I love her article and certainly respect her educational acumen, her role in the community, what she's contributed here, not mincing words or picking on her in any way, but just that she's from the community and she's suggesting that people prefer, they like it, they got an affinity for it.
0:13:33.0 Julie: Yeah, I mean, I think it tells you how quickly our community is changing, and I don't wanna say maturing, but just finding their voice and figuring out what makes sense to them. And when we think about things that are kind of typical stereotypes of people in the autism community, you know, not just that they're differently abled or that they're only good for certain types of work. I still get this conversation every single day, right? That this assumption and really... And honestly, it's an ableist assumption that people on the autism spectrum are only gonna be good at programming, they're gonna be good at coding, they're gonna be good at problem-solving. And I can tell you that we've helped place people with autism in any type of role, in all different types of roles, because we're working with companies that understand the value of getting a person who does process differently in through their applicant tracking system in front of those hiring managers.
0:14:41.7 Torin: I gotta tell you, I'm like bad guilty with this. I mean, literally, I've been inside of client engagements in 2022 and have said, "Have we identified a range of opportunities, a scope of roles? Have we put together some sort of deep evaluation prioritizing the ones where people with disabilities can participate?" Now, I'm using the broader phrase, I didn't be specific around different types of disability, if you will, or where an individual was on that spectrum, but I've been the person who is, in some way, used a limiting language, not an expansive language. And I guess, it would depend on who is hearing me say it, how they process what I'm saying, everything that goes along with it, body language, facial emotion, energy, zest. But I'm being critical of myself, and I'm saying to myself, "I want to make sure that when I am talking about those that are not highly represented, I wanna make sure that I'm being as open as I possibly can and not limiting that aperture." Does that make sense?
0:16:08.3 Julie: Yeah, and that's... I mean, that's what we absolutely know from people like you who are allies and leaders in our world that say, "No, we cannot limit the jobs that people with disabilities can do." We have to find, just like you do in any other sourcing or recruiting role, the right person for the right job, and we can do that by creating opportunity within our applicant tracking system, our interviewing processes, our assessment processes, the way that we think and break down those biases, because when they're hearing that from you, that's a whole lot different. It means a whole lot more when someone who doesn't represent people with disabilities comes in and says, "No, people with disabilities can do every job. Let's find groups to start helping put those people into roles."
0:17:00.6 Torin: Yeah, yeah, which brings us to another incident that happened last week. Jane Campion, she won Best Director at the Critics Choice Awards, and instead of telling people, let's just let them have a listen. It's a really, really quick clip. Have a listen, and then J and I will talk about it just for a moment.
0:17:31.8 Jane Campion: You know, Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. [laughter] However, you do not play against the guys, [laughter] like I have to.
0:17:56.8 Torin: So let me tell you, I thought it was a powerful example of a few things, Julie, a few things that we do too often and need to do more and be more aware of. And she... I mean, she just... As they say, she put her foot in her mouth in that moment. She just literally put her foot in her mouth.
0:18:19.7 Julie: Yeah, she did. And when you think about that moment of being in you've won, you have this proud moment, and then to have it be overshadowed because you put your foot in mouth, [chuckle] God, that was tough to listen to. And certainly have been there and done that before, where you just say something, and it comes out very fast, and then you're just like, "Oh no, why did I say that? That is not what I... That's not how I meant it. And then... But it's still what was conveyed across.
0:18:53.0 Torin: Yeah, yeah. Needless to say, it happens fast, and again, it's an example for all of us that if in fact we are real allies, these moments come, we apologize, we own them, fully accountable for them, and then we figure out a way to back out of it. I wanna close with Janet Stovall. She actually weighed in because Ellen McGirt on the RaceAhead newsletter, she took that clip and she shared it with the readers, if you will. And she asked for them to give some feedback. And the reason why I wanna bring this up is because I have a client coach that I am working with, and they were struggling with, how do I be an ally? How do I be a mentor? And when do I listen and not center myself in the discussion? How do I be an ally? How do I be a mentor? How do I just simply listen and resist the urge of centering myself in the discussion? So Janet Stovall in the hashtag RaceAhead newsletter, she gave three quick tips, I'm just gonna read them really quick. She says, "Stop centering yourself. I know it's hard, it's natural to do it, but no matter how much standing up you do, if you revert to self-interest when it's convenient, we know who you are." Number two.
0:20:18.1 Torin: And she's talking to white women. "Number two, stop crying. Equity and justice are not for wimps. Often we're angry at systematic oppression, just like you, but unlike you, we have systemic oppression squared." And the third thing that she said, Julie, is stop taking our energy, and I love this one. She said, "Sometimes white women feel almost vampiric. If you aren't bringing energy in the way of true allyship, please don't Kumbaya ours away." Leave our energy with us. I know Julie and I went long, but we had to get into these couple of stories. We wanted to change up the cadence a little bit. Stick with us, quick commercial, we'll be right back.
0:21:10.6 Torin: Awesome. In case you care, this is in a flash, in case you care, the three cities with the biggest billionaire populations are now Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai. New York City is fourth. London is fifth. Pope Francis flexed on them last week when he introduced a landmark reform allowing any baptized, lay Catholic, including women, to head most Vatican departments under a new constitution for Holy Sees Central Administration. About time. And internal documents show that Amazon has knowingly tricked people into signing up for Prime. The National Labor Relations Board accuses Starbucks of retaliating against workers desiring a union, and according to Workhuman, one-third of women grapple with overt misogyny in the corporate cubicle, and hallway, and parking lot, and break room. Knock it off. Which is in part why Hollywood has a cancer culture consultant who is hand-holding anxious Hollywood execs afraid of their young assistants.
0:22:25.7 Torin: It reminds me of the time Julie and I talked about execs being afraid to travel with women during the Me Too era a few years back. I get it, but most of this stuff can be avoided, like look straight ahead, keep your hands to yourself, and just remember your comment ain't all that funny. So don't say it. Let's keep talking.
0:22:43.8 Julie: Yeah, so this week kind of a different slant on our conversation. So we found a story on the Tennessee lookout, about a small city called Mason, Tennessee, which is close in proximity to Stanton, Tennessee, which is where Ford Motor Company's new electric truck and battery plant is currently being built. So this plant is gonna require what, about 33,000 temporary jobs, 27,000 permanent jobs so far. So this sounds like a good story of good economic development, the kind of things that we love to hear, new jobs, new energy in the air, the whole nine yards, and that's where the story takes a turn. And let's hear from Vice Mayor Virginia Rivers in this clip on why it matters.
0:23:53.6 Mayor Virginia: That's the main issue actually. I feel that we know that Mason is getting all of this money from... We are entitled to the monies that has been allocated to Mason through the state for as the ARP in other funds, and now that we will be able to receive this money, so we can do better financially here in Mason, now all of a sudden, they wanna come in, Mr. Mumpower and them and take over. He even made the statement that he felt we were irresponsible to be able to handle the finances. So that alone says to me that you are saying because of who we are, that we are not capable of handling the finances of Mason.
0:24:57.6 Torin: [laughter] So it's really not all that funny. I'm smiling because sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying or cussing, but according to the Tennessee comptrollers website in an open letter to residents... Now I wanna pause there for just a moment. Typically, the comptroller for the state, if they're sending out any communiqué, it's going directly to political officials, not residents. Not the residents, but this time he sent an open letter to the residents, and he said that in the letter, Mason's town government has been poorly run for at least 20 years.
0:25:51.8 Torin: I ain't got no issue with that. None. What I have an issue with is his lack of detail. But we won't get to that point yet. So he says there has been a pattern of fiscal irresponsibility and even instances of fraud. Mason hasn't submitted its audit on time since 2001, and the comptrollers office hasn't approved the town's budget for four years in a row. So this comptroller, Mr. Jason Mumpower, is prepared to take over the finances of Mason, a majority black town with fewer than 1500 residents. So basically what this means, Jay, is that if they don't do what he's asked them to do, he's going to insert himself to say, "You all can't spend anything without my approval if it's over $100."
0:26:55.6 Julie: So 20 years at least, we've been seeing this mismanagement in Mason, and so now we know that since 2016 is actually when new leadership took over from White elected officials. So really Black democratic community put Black democratic leaders into this 153-year-old, 60% plus Black community. And why did that happen in 2016? Because the White leadership had embezzled more than $100,000 to the town clerk, there had been extensive fraud and including public works employees who made an extra $600,000, and just in general mismanagement allegation and actual convictions that led... The people of Mason decided it's time to bring some leadership that's more reflective of us into power.
0:28:01.4 Torin: And again, going back to Mumpower, what he said is, "I want Mason County to dissolve its charter." Now, I read the whole charter. It's about 15 pages. He wants them to dissolve the County Charter and to roll up the 1500 residents. He wants them to roll up under Tipton County, which is right next door. Mason County is really only about three square miles. So literally, it's not a large county. It's sitting right next to Tipton County, which is a mostly Republican County, which I don't have a problem with that. Democrat, Republic. I don't care nothing about that. What I care about is his characterization of the now leadership in Mason. As Julie said, primarily run by mostly White politicians up until 2016, a number of which has been or have been convicted, a myriad of allegations and other mismanagement, and for him to say that the town has mismanaged their money, their fiscal responsibility over the last 20 years, but in none of the interviews that I saw, I watched a couple of video interviews, I listened to a couple of audio clips, not once did he talk about who the mismanagement was being done by.
0:29:40.6 Torin: He said present, in the sense of these Black folks that are running the city, the county, don't really know what they're doing. Was really, really slow, if at all, to even give them credit for coming out of the deficit in 2016, where I believe they were something like $500,000 or a $1 million in the whole. They've been slowly making their way out of this hole, never given them credit. Why? Because he wants to put them under another county so that another county can control the billions of dollars that are gonna come into Mason as a result of the new Ford electric plant that Julie said is being built.
0:30:29.8 Julie: Yeah, and I would say just one push back to something that you said, is that we're actually seeing in Tennessee some of the most virulent work by local county and state officials to remove power from Black voters. And so I think that it really does matter what the reasoning is and what the causation is, because it could be the Ford plant. It could be that this is another way to ensure that 1500 Black votes get pushed into a White county where they basically get lost, whereas right now, that is not the case. And we're seeing this all over the country, and Tennessee is one of the most ramped examples of the disenfranchisement of Black voters, and once that power is gone, it's a lot harder to get it back.
0:31:28.6 Torin: So to your point, I actually saw a tweet by Representative Gloria Johnson. She's on Twitter @VoteGloriaJ. I'm not advocating for anybody's campaign, but to your point, she is a state representative and she put up a tweet last week that says, "When I got home this weekend, someone asked how things are going in Nashville. I'm not sure they were ready for my answer, but it went kind of like this." You know it's gonna be juicy when they say it went kind of like this. I'm just gonna read a couple of these, J. She said, "We have a "Don't Say Gay" bill worse than Florida's and about four more bills to go along with it, all equally filled with hate. GOP and B list celebrities are accusing librarians and teachers of "grooming" kids. We have a vigilante abortion bill worse than Texas, a bill that makes your friends and family $10,000 if they rat you out. Heck, if you decide to abort your rapists baby, his family and friends can sue you for $10,000." Next one, she said, "Do you ever imagine Tennessee would give more rights to a violent rapist than a victim of violent rape?" Like she went in, about 15 joints on the thread.
0:32:41.9 Torin: So to your point, there are certainly a lot of legislation, and it really does matter where it's coming from. And I was just really, really offended me, terribly offended by the fact that he categorized... First of all, he absolutely ran in, this is Mumpower, by the way, totally opposite direction, that this has anything to do with race.
0:33:08.3 Torin: But yet you characterize those that are in power as incapable of managing a budget, almost to the tone of not smart enough, not wise enough, like they used to say that black men couldn't be a quarterback, not smart enough, can't lead an organization, not enough in the CEO ranks. I was infuriated by that, and here's my issue. He's been in the comptroller's office since 2010, so it's not as if he didn't have purview on the way that the prior entity was running Mason County. So I didn't see any comment or commentary in 2010, 2011, 2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 or 20 as it related to the acumen, the... The ability of anybody to run the county finances. So I just found that to be extremely disingenuous, negative and borderline racist.
0:34:26.6 Julie: And that's the perfect place to wrap up this segment and catch our next ad break.
0:34:34.6 Torin: So our Her Voice segment is where we amplify women that are making moves, and we have four, but one of them is a set of twins. Oni and Uche Blackstock, both 44, twin sisters and Harvard educated, both running businesses that address racial equity in the healthcare space. Dr. Oni Blackstock is the founder of Health Justice and her sister, Dr. Uche Blackstock is an emergency physician and the founder of Advancing Health Equity. We applaud both because of the work that they are doing to chase equity in a space that has too often been unforgiving to black people.
0:35:13.8 Julie: And Eve Halimi and Anam Lakhani, who are both in their mid-20s and have raised more than $2 million to take on what they call the old school online trading scene. So they have created Alinea, which boasts pastel colors and playlists that help bundle investments to teach women to make their own money.
0:35:36.3 Torin: And let me spell that for you all, just in case you find them on Twitter or look for them online. It's A-L-I-N-E-A. Again, A-L-I-N-E-A. And our last woman in the Her Voice segment is Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon. She got a long name. Making things happen. She is now the CEO of All Raise, a non-profit that focuses on increase in diversity within the VC deal space and adding diversity to the decision makers that are making some of these deals happen. Again, as the new chief executive officer of All Raise, that non-profit, glad to see Mandela move from her own start-up, the Founder Gym, and she's now back in what we considered to be a corporate chair, continuing to make things happen. You can find them on Twitter at All Raise.
0:36:39.5 Julie: And our quote this week is, "Every time I hear about toxic directors in the responsible AI org at Google, I'm reminded that people there are so removed from the idea of accountability. Their whole world is Google, and they're very much rewarded for treating people in marginalized groups like shit." Dr. Timnit Gebru, who is the founder and executive director of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, or DAIR. Name drops this week, I'm gonna do one of my favorites, one of our favorites, Matt Stubbs, best friend of the pod, I would say, is on the chat, and she's... Podcast this week, and he is educating the boys on the challenges of finding a job in inaccessible applicant technology, definitely head over to chadandcheese.com and have a listen to Stubbsy this week.
0:37:30.5 Torin: And my name drop is Dr. Jen Frahm who writes a now quarterly newsletter. She recently dropped a post, and the topic of that post is how might we change the way we initiate, lead, deliver, and receive change. You can find Dr. Frahm at Jen Frahm, that's J-E-N F-R-A-H M. J-E-N F-R-A-H-M on the Twitters. You got anything else?
0:38:01.5 Julie: Nothing from me, my friend. Take us home.
0:38:03.6 Torin: So I close reminding me to every one of you to share the pod with your digital tribe and to find your voice, be a better human. Let's create better culture, teams, and work places. For now, the magnificent J and I are Ghost.
0:38:21.5 Julie: See ya.