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April 28, 2022

Mackenzie Fierceton: Institutional Empathy or Elite Elitism

Mackenzie Fierceton: Institutional Empathy or Elite Elitism

Who decides someone is worthy of empathy? Do the white elite believe they are the only ones to decide?

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Who decides someone is worthy of empathy? Do the white elite believe they are the only ones to decide? Mackenzie Fierceton, college student and foster kid, tests the bounds of white elite empathy. Why do we create gradations of suffering? Is suffering less than the most invalid? Let's dive right in on this week's Crazy and the King!

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Production and Music: DJ Cellz


0:00:01.3 Announcer: 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 DNI progress for most of our professional lives, we use Crazy and the King to cover news tips from colleagues and host 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.

0:00:37.6 Julie: Welcome, welcome, welcome to Crazy and the King.

0:00:41.8 Torin: I think the weather has finally broken here in Baltimore, I'm really excited about that. I feel good about where we're going. We are in Q2, feeling good about the year of '22 as well. How are you?

0:00:56.9 Julie: I am good, I'm good. I've had a little grass growing under my feet for the last 10 days, so the hubs and I are...

0:01:04.4 Torin: Woo, 10 days! My goodness.

0:01:06.2 Julie: 10 whole days.

0:01:06.9 Torin: Lord have mercy.

0:01:07.4 Julie: I know.

0:01:08.2 Torin: I mean, 10 whole... What is the world to do when a person has to sit tight... And you know what, tell me something. So, even though you've been back and forth now a couple of times, every time you go, do you get a stamp on your passport book?

0:01:24.2 Julie: I always get a stamp in my passport book, but it's almost always in Paris because that's where we fly through, so I don't even know if I have an actual Portuguese stamp in my airport because I never get to fly direct.

0:01:39.5 Torin: Oh, okay, got it. So it's not as if you can walk up to one of the agents, and just kinda ask them to put one in just to kinda like mark the country?

0:01:48.3 Julie: Trust me, if I could I would.

0:01:52.8 Torin: We don't wanna cause a ruckus, we're not trying to get anybody detained, any extra... You already got bricks over there in Portugal that have your name on them. We're not trying to have you recognized and referenced by border agents and other internal agencies, right?

0:02:07.8 Julie: Yeah, let me get that EU passport before I muck up my US passport too bad.

0:02:12.4 Torin: I got that.

0:02:13.2 Julie: So, I was thinking of something this morning, because this trip is actually a little bit different... So we're headed over for three weeks, [0:02:20.5] ____ Cheese is doing an awesome show with House of HR in Brussels. But we're at first going to see our oldest in Budapest this week, and I'm taking my mama this time to Europe for 10 days. And it reminded me of how I got to meet Mama Ellis in London in 2019, and I thought, "You know what, I'm gonna ask Torin today, give us your top three tips of traveling with Mama Ellis to make the trip better."

0:02:54.4 Torin: Okay, Trip Number one, make sure that she is comfortable on the plane. My mom has no problem flying, but I will tell you we were not in first class or any of that, and so it was a pretty long flight for my mother and I wanted to make sure that she was most comfortable on the plane. That's number one. Number two, I wanted to make sure that we had a decent hotel, and I don't wanna say decent in the sense of because I tend to spend money on my lodging, I just like to be comfortable, and I'm not a real touristy type person. So when I go places, while a lot of people like to get about of the city, I really go places, honestly, J, just relax. Literally, like I'm not about a whole bunch of walking. I can really enjoy going to a city and within a small radius of my hotel, find myself some degree of happiness. So I needed to make sure that her hotel was comfortable because I don't know the hotel, I didn't know the brands over there, and I didn't wanna necessarily stay, and I don't stay at large brands here in the US, I typically stay at boutique hotels.

0:04:12.2 Torin: And then the third thing that I would say is, give her what she wants. You know, when my father passed away back in 2009, one of the things that I told my mom is, "Whatever you want, I'm gonna get it." Now, granted, that statement in and of itself has a degree of limitation because I'm not wealthy or rich or any of those things, so it comes with a degree of limitation, but my mom knows if there's something that she wants, she can have it. There is a number of things that myself and my sisters handle for my mother on a monthly basis, even now, and so, I wanted to make sure when she went over there, if there was anything that she wanted, she got it and she did. So we had a great trip. You and your mom and Chad are gonna have an awesome trip.

0:05:08.7 Julie: We are. We are, I just have to recognize the blessing of being able to do this with my parents and have this adventure and my child, so I'm very excited. And I know you and Mama Ellis had a great trip. And we will as well. So what do we have happening in the land of Crazy and the King this week?

0:05:27.5 Torin: So let's see. There's a place where five million people go because they have something to say about the workplace, and it's a site called Blind. Are you familiar with it?

0:05:37.6 Julie: Not until I read this article, but I'm completely intrigued. Tell me more.

0:05:42.3 Torin: I'm actually surprised because I wasn't aware of Blind either, certainly aware of other anonymous review-like sites, Glass Door, some that happened on Indeed and Comparably, if you will, but Blind was one or is one that was started in 2014 over in South Korea and made its way to the US in 2015, and it's one of those anonymization sites where people can talk about the workplace, and it's fastly growing in user-ship, in comments and for some HR departments makes them uncomfortable.

0:05:21.9 Julie: I cannot believe it's been here since 2015, and we both have not heard about it. That's... So, is it like a Reddit kind of set up? In terms of like, we just have Crazy and the King is the employer, and everyone who's ever worked at Crazy and the King goes on and tells all of our dirty laundry.

0:06:43.7 Torin: It's something like that. Again... It's one of those places where, again, we could just simply go, we can talk about the experience, good, bad, indifferent. It allows us to have some... I shouldn't say some. Full anonymization, if you will. I guess it's just another one inside of the landscape, and the reason why I shared it is because, again, it had not hit my radar in all of this time, I literally was fully unaware of it, and I wanna make sure other people are aware of it, not because I'm encouraging people to go out and bash their employers, but I do want HR teams, I want TA teams, I want EB teams, recruitment marketing teams... I want all of them to at least know there's another site out there that people are using, and if you are really committed to that employee engagement, that experience of your people, if you wonder what the candidate journey sounds like, or could possibly look like, I want you to at least know that the resource is in landscape.

0:07:48.3 Julie: Yeah, no. Absolutely, I think it's very intriguing. Employers have worked so long to create this sort of unbreakable perfect image of what it's like to be there, what it's like to have that brand, and even to the point of restricting employees' ability to speak after they leave, non-binding arbitration, all of those kind of things. And when these sites come up, I always encourage HR teams to look at them, dive deep into and take them with a completely open mind. You can't... I see like, "Oh, I think I know who that was", or, "I know this or this. And this is not true", and it's like, "Hey, maybe it's not true to you, but someone in your organization or who's left your organization has that perception, and at that point, the perception is the reality." So, what do you have to do to fix that perception, to make sure that that perception doesn't happen again, because it's damaging your ability to attract great new talent, and frankly, probably to keep the great talent that you already have in the door.

0:09:00.1 Torin: Yeah, you actually said something, where people can read comments and "I kind of think I know who that might be", or "I kind of think that it may have from this department" sort of thing, and you all listening, you can't really see my antics and my movement on video, but it talked about that in the story where organizations can... They tend to semi-mask IP addresses and other things to sort of allow people to feel like they're anonymous, but in all actuality, a lot of the internal metrics still allow people to be uncovered, if you will, and let me just say this to you. I'm not really all that opposed to... Let me think about this, just for a second. I don't wanna spend a lot of time on it, but I'm not opposed to anonymity, if it's absolutely the only way you can get your comment out without retribution.

0:10:06.5 Julie: Fair.

0:10:07.2 Torin: If you feel like there's gonna be some retaliation... I oppose anonymity when people are afraid because I don't want people to be afraid, I want people to feel comfortable, but if you absolutely feel like your organization or the leader or someone is going to retaliate against you, I feel like it's fair game because the comment needs to be in the public square.

0:10:30.1 Julie: Agree, agree. Great, great site. Great resource for us to check out.

0:10:34.7 Torin: So, have you ever heard of the phrase, "you're thirsty" or thirst trapping, have you heard that before?

0:10:40.6 Julie: I have, I have... I'm not sure what it has to do with us, but let's talk about it.

0:10:46.2 Torin: Okay, so this next one, it was real quick. So I was actually out in... Where you call that? Carlsbad, California flew into San Diego last week, shout out to the entire team over at Direct Employers, we really, really, really had an awesome event. But I was on my way back to the airport and as I was driving, my driver and I, we were talking and there was a story lowly playing under our conversation, and we both literally stopped talking at the very same time, and we heard the newscaster say that the pilot's license was taken away from them, and so that made both of us stop, because right after that it said that the pilot purposefully crashed his plane so that he could get more views on YouTube. That, to me, is thirst trapping.

0:11:42.5 Julie: In the worst kind of way. Right, so YouTuber jumps from a plane that he caused to crash in order to record the video of it, and I think the funniest part of this little story that you sent me is that he had cameras already positioned on the plane so that you could get that live crash. So he's parachuting, there's camera, there's camera... Like, come on, dude. If you don't wanna get busted, don't put cameras on the plane...

0:12:14.8 Torin: When I saw that part, I said, "Now, that really is a dead giveaway." Like, how many flights... And it could be a positive thing, like he literally coulda had a go-cam. He literally coulda had the camera's position and talk about the positive-ness of flight. Show us different angles, maybe a maneuver, if you have to do this because you feel turbulence come in... Give us that experience, we don't really have... I guess that experience might be out there because I'm not looking at YouTube videos of people in flight, but yeah, that story was a little bit crazy. Speaking of at least three airlines are going to restore the flight privileges of people who acted a donkey during the last two years of the pandemic. How do you feel about that, especially considering you've been flying or you are certainly beginning to fly more? This time you're going to have Mom on the flight... First of all, have you had any flights where a person has acted an ass on the flight?

0:13:25.8 Julie: I have not. I have not had one.

0:13:27.8 Torin: Neither have I. Admittedly, neither have I. So, how do you feel about that? How do you feel about the airline saying, "Hey, Torin, listen. You were rude to our flight attendants, you were rude to other passengers because you didn't want to keep the mask over your nose and your mouth, or you didn't want to wear it at all. You made a scene when you were boarding the plane... " I remember reading stories about people who made a scene boarding the plane, they just did not want to put the mask on in any way. How do you feel about those people being allowed to come back and fly?

0:14:06.5 Julie: And I think you make the point is that they acted egregiously enough to get put on a list, like a company approved "Joe Smith cannot fly anymore." I mean, here's the thing, it's like I knew... I actually said this to Chad a few months ago, like how long until the airlines go, "Okay, it's fine. You can come back on" and forgive the bad behavior, probably not the worst behavior, the offenders, but the majority, and people just feel like they can act like that any old time. The number is not that big, that the airlines are gonna lose everything that they have for these like three, four thousand people, it seems pretty silly to me.

0:14:50.3 Torin: Yeah, yeah, I'm just wondering about that. I guess the piece that I think about the most... Remember when we talked about this story, I can't remember the company. We've had so many different stories, but how they re-hired a person in HR after the person was... I think the person was like rude to employee... Here's what I'm thinking about...

0:15:12.0 Julie: It was Tesla.

0:15:14.7 Torin: Was it Tesla? Here's what I'm thinking about. All I'm saying is, are you as an organization saying that the customer is more important than your employee? That's the question that I'm asking.

0:15:27.0 Julie: 100%

0:15:30.0 Torin: And I had to ask myself, is it that bad that we keep a person off of flight and travel, and then on the other side, I'm like, but my employees matter. And whatever you did to my employees, if it caused me enough to make a decision then, I would think that that decision should probably hold now. I don't know, it's an interesting story.

0:15:57.3 Julie: And maybe not forever, but we literally just dropped the mass mandate for federal transportation a week ago? It's not even been long enough, the body is not even cold yet on mass mandates, right? Why don't we give it a year, y'all, because there's a good likelihood we have to go into some sort of masking again this fall, when everybody gets the COVID again, it just seems silly. Anyway.

0:16:26.9 Torin: That's a good point. Real quick. Will the three of you have masks on for your flight this week?

0:16:31.0 Julie: We will.

0:16:33.3 Torin: Amen. Last but not least, the SBA dropped the equity action plan, which I think is a very, very good piece... At least, it's a good step towards that agency in the federal government acknowledging that they need to do more in under-resourced, under-supported, perhaps in marginalized communities. So I highly, highly, highly encourage you to go out to sba.gov and read about the equity action plan. I'm not gonna get into it this week, because a lot of you who are listening may not be entrepreneurs, but I know that you know some entrepreneurs, and so I wanna encourage you to get out that equity action plan has four points in it and make sure that you get out there and share it with those in your digital, and maybe personal, tribes. So that'll do it for our small talk this week, we'll take a quick commercial and I promise, we're gonna come back. We've got an interesting story, and it touches on one of those words that I often say. The word happens to be empathy, we'll be right back.

0:17:48.3 Torin: So, in a flash this week, Fortune Magazine dropped the new list, the modern board 25, a ranking of S and P 500 boards that exhibits the hallmarks of innovation. The rankings methodology speaks to the why of board diversity, and if I or we need to spell that out for you then you've not listened to Crazy and the King long enough. Speaking of not listening. That was not the case with Bay Area police. Back in August of 2020, police walked into a black couple's store around 1.00 AM and asked them to prove that the store belong to them. Apparently, it was odd for two entrepreneurs to be working that early in the morning or late into the evening, and so they harassed that couple and the couple did not take that in silence. As a result, the city now has a community advisory board to help vet candidates for the police department, and the couple is about $150,000 richer. CBS shareholders have reportedly agreed to $14.7 million settlement with the network in its lawsuit over the handling of sexual misconduct claims against their former CEO, and while all of that was happening, Bamboo HR leader, Cassie Whitlock, has publicly advocated for the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to include a non-binary gender option on the EE-01 workforce data form, shout-out to Cassie.

0:19:21.0 Torin: And before we forget, according to the Center for the Study of hate and extremism, anti-AAPI hate crimes has increased by 339% in 2021. And if that hand on grandpa's hind parts is a little cold in Minnesota, it may be the hand of a robot, according to the New York Times, robots may soon be working in nursing homes in Minnesota, helping to fill a labor gap in that industry. Cold hands of a robot on Grandpa's hind parts J. Let that sink in for a minute. Alright, so let's talk a little bit this week, I mentioned in the first half of the episode that we'd be talking a bit about empathy, and I just wanna use this moment to just highlight something that I am trying to do a much better job of a much better job in coaching executives, a much better job in counseling and supporting and consulting with my client organizations, and Julie, a much better job when I am standing on stage in front of a microphone. There are four words that are extremely important to me, and I think that among a number of others, these four are good pillars to diversity and inclusion, and I'd love for you to actually weigh in. I've set them before, but I don't know if I've asked you to weigh in, I don't know if you've weighed in on your own.

0:21:03.5 Torin: But the four words are empathy, intentionality, proximity and transparency. I believe that if you are going to do diversity and inclusion work, those four words, empathy, intentionality, proximity, and transparency, are vitally important. What say you?

0:21:27.7 Julie: Yeah. So actually, this is such a perfect timing. You and I, whenever we speak, we're always trying different things out that we do in a presentation, in a keynote. And I rolled out a new one this week, and I actually had a... We talked about it last week with broad bean, leading with empathy, how to understand and manage people who process differently. And I started looking at the definition of empathy, and I found this great HBR Harvard Business Review article that got me really thinking, as they define empathy as something that we take on, and sometimes we can become so overwhelmed by feeling the emotions or feeling the needs of other people that it can be paralyzing. And, I sort of had this aha moment of, you know what, I have seen myself as an ally, sometimes getting so bogged down in feeling overwhelmed in my empathy that it's frozen me. And what I did in the conversation last week with broad bean is said, "You know what, let's take that one step further. What you do with your intentionality, which is to take action." And that really is compassion, so when we can recognize some... Another person's feelings and needs, and instead of just staying there in that emotional state, we act.

0:23:01.2 Julie: And that's your intentionality, and that's really what I'm kind of calling compassion right now. And in my brain, it really goes back to that ally versus accomplish. An ally feels you, they center you, they talk about you, but what do they do to change that? And that's that intentionality and that compassion. So I'm 100% with you, and I think it's just so interesting how you and I are always so close, but we express things so differently, when we're talking about that need to be deliberate.

0:23:34.9 Torin: It's really, really important for you all to understand the reason why she's doing that, she said, "So." She's sitting in that listing of a person's experiences, what they are feeling, so I'm just trying to draw out the so, so you get that vocal visual of what it is that Julie is trying to convey to you. That it's really important for us to feel where a person is, but that we also are able to move, that we move forward and we take some action. So this week, I'm thinking about a story that we found over on the New York Times titled, how the elites monopolize empathy. So incredible, how the elites monopolize empathy. And in the piece, the author J. Caspian Kang, K-A-N-G, I believe that's how he pronounces his last name. He asked a question, the question was, "Do elite institutions perform empathy?" He asked the question, "Do elite institutions perform empathy?"

0:24:46.4 Torin: And in the article, he's talking about Mackenzie... What's her last name? Mackenzie...

0:24:52.8 Julie: Fierceton?

0:24:53.2 Torin: Fierceton, that's it. He's talking about Mackenzie Fierceton, and it's focused on how she may have centered her life, how she may have represented her life, how she categorized her life as it relates to entering into college. And you have to read the story to get the back story around MacKenzie, the family that she grew up in, in St. Louis. How she filled out her academic admission form where she left off some of the information... Actually, she left off all of the information as it related to her parents, and what that did was it allowed her to be classified... The system, the algorithm of admissions said, "Okay, well, if you're not talking about your parents, then you must be a first generation college student." I want you to stay there for a moment, because we're gonna talk about that later in the episode. But it categorized her as a first generation college student. And so J, he pulls out a piece, because this was actually captured in a New Yorker article that was more in-depth about McKenzie.

0:26:08.1 Torin: And the university said this about MacKenzie Fierceton. Mackenzie... And this is a quote from UPenn University of Penn. "Mackenzie may have centered certain aspects of her background to the exclusion of others, for reasons we are certain she feels are valid, in a way that creates a mis-impression". And this is a language that is really, really interesting, and it's going to be the underpinning of our story. Let's take a quick two minutes. Let's listen to MacKenzie Fierceton, and then Julie and I are gonna talk about the story and hopefully it will emit some thoughts on your end as a listener.


0:27:08.3 Fierceton: We have this idea of someone who causes harm as a guy who leaps out from behind the bushes late at night, or they look a certain way because they're a person of color, or they're low-income or whatever stereotypes, the media and the culture has created about people who cause harm. Which are obviously not an accurate reflection of reality. Abuse and violence can happen across all income levels and bases and professions, and we've seen that happen time and time again over the last few years with the Larry Nassar-s and Jeffrey Epstein-s and Woody Allens, and all of these people who are... Represent these incredibly powerful elite identities, and that's why they were able to cover up their abuse for so long and render their survivors further invisible. Because they were the antithesis of what people imagine or assume is someone who couldn't abuse.

0:28:10.3 Speaker 3: That's really the reason I want to tell my story, is because I do think it's emblematic of these societal notions of who can be abusive and who can cause harm. And we know at least cognitively as a culture that that isn't true again, 'cause we've me too, we've had all of these moments of reckoning with, "Oh my god, white successful academically educated people can also cause harm. Mind-blowing." And we've had to reckon with this and still there are people... And unfortunately, a lot of people who don't see that. And especially almost everyone who's been involved with this have also been white, highly educated professionals, and I don't think that's a coincidence that these people are the ones who are having a hard time believing that this can happen by someone who looks like them. The truth really is something that cannot be changed, and I'm not gonna let anyone tell me that it's different or try to manipulate it anymore.

0:29:29.0 Torin: So we pulled that clip from the latest episode of Katie Couric's podcast, Next Question. So let's talk J, what do you feel? How do you feel?

0:29:43.9 Julie: Basically, what I'm getting, and I think just to make sure that I'm understanding in the same way that you are understanding is so... McKenzie had parents, has parents who are... She separated from, and she was part of the foster system. And through that separation with her parental-s by being a part of the foster system, she excluded them from her college information and talked about the things that she went through, as pertaining to abuse in the system, abuse from her family that caused her to be put into the foster system, and that is centered to her identity. And because her parents are white and successful, the University of Pennsylvania felt like that was not a valid interpretation of her life.

0:30:50.0 Torin: Pretty much MacKenzie's parents, like you said, separated when she was six. Her mother was a respected figure in the St. Louis medical community, and her mother's boyfriend, which is key to the story. Her mother's boyfriend was a personal trainer who had won the Missouri Strongest Man Championship in his weight group. And here's the first... I don't know what... Let's call it tension. The first piece of tension in the story for me is, we find ourselves struggling between... It's like a struggle Olympics around, well, whose issue is more important? Whose issue is more worthy of exaltation, of elevation, of amplification? Whose issues should we be taking more seriously? And a very close parallel to that tension is, should it be the issue of a middle class, maybe even an almost upper class white teen, or should it be the issue of a downtrodden coming from a less than advantaged neighborhood, black teen. I wanna just start there because that tends to be the beginning of that academic entrance, if you will, they both have to be teenagers. And are we parading one issue over the other? Did you get that?

0:32:34.6 Julie: Yeah, and I think... And this is a tough conversation, and we actually have the same kind of argument, for lack of a better word, in the disability community all the time. My struggles as someone who has hidden disabilities, who has mental health disabilities, has neuro-diversity disabilities, is much more discounted in the community than people who have physical disabilities. Now is mine as... Where does the gradation happen? Yes, there are significantly more impactful disabilities than mine. Does it make mine not part of my story? Does it make it not valuable for me to be a part of the community? That's where, with MacKenzie, I feel that, where she feels like because her abuse is white elite abuse... That caused her to be put into the foster system, it was that bad. And I don't know if you... It is not easy to get a child taken away from you in this country, especially from a mother. It had to be something significant enough for the court to make that decision to put her into foster care, unless there's something I missed.

0:34:01.9 Julie: And that's significant. Now, does it lessen the need of a young black man to get equitable opportunity, or a young black woman to get equitable opportunity into the university system? It doesn't. It does not lessen that, it doesn't override that, and I think that's where we have to be careful, is that putting my white woman hat on, which I wear all the time, is that I want to make sure that we're not sucking all the air out of the room, that we're not being the Vampires of the DEI movement, but we also have to figure out how we are all stronger and able to move together, and that elite institutions like Penn, don't get to discount someone's story merely because they look like the people that are sitting in the room making the decisions, and who haven't... Have maintained the power structure for thousands of years.

0:35:04.4 Torin: I really appreciate you inserting the example of your own personal walk, your own personal journey, how it is purported in the disability community, when people think about you, how you describe yourself, what it is that you are going through. Clearly J, clearly, clearly clearly, we look at people who have a physical disability, they have mobility issues, they have access issues, and... I'm guilty, I'm guilty. I look at you and I'll say, "Okay, well, how hard does Julie have it when I think about this person who might be in a wheelchair? Or how hard do I have it... When I think about a person who may have a palsy, if you will." I do, I find myself battling back and forth and not trying to be in a state of pity for them, because I've even had to check myself on that, through recent conversations. I just don't know sometimes how to show that I care, I don't know... I'll give you an example. Walking through the airport a couple of weeks ago, we're de-planing the woman in front of me... And we have a slight gradation in the floor, it was going down, but she's in her wheelchair, she's got a small carry-on in the middle of the legs of the wheelchair, so she's guiding it with her legs, if you will.

0:36:38.7 Torin: And the bag has wheels on it, so every once in a while, the bag would get away from her, she'd have to hurry up and catch up with the wheelchair, catch it with her feet and kind of re-guide herself, and I walked up behind her... Now, this is not moving extremely fast, but I walked up behind her and I said, "Would you appreciate... Would you want any assistance?" And she said, "No, I got it." And I said, "No problem, make sure you enjoy your evening. Travel safely. And then I walked beyond her." But as I moved beyond her J, I said to myself, "Was that offensive? Does she get tired of people asking if she needs help?" And then the other thought of me J was, "Do they not have sort of a contraction, a hook that could go on the back of the bag... The wheelchair to... " I just went through all of these thoughts as I'm walking down the ramp towards baggage claim to get to my vehicle and keep moving.

0:37:34.3 Torin: So you raise a very, very good point. But when it comes to the story, it really is around, people who are white and others that want to be allies, how do they hear and participate in these conversations without centering themselves more than necessary if you will. And one quick point that I wanna raise in the story that I thought was really interesting. Back in 2003, there was a ruling regarding race conscious admissions at the University of Michigan Law School, and the Supreme Court narrowly upheld affirmative action, but wrote that the practice should not continue indefinitely. And so it was then the universities began looking for other ways, Julie, to encourage diversity. And this is where that first generation phrase comes in. Now, I don't know this to be the launch of first generation, but I found this to be interesting. It was then that the number of first generation students on campus became a new benchmark, a sign that the university was fulfilling its social contract. Were you aware of that in anyway?

0:38:43.4 Julie: Yeah, a little bit. I've started to hear about it more frequently.

0:38:48.8 Torin: So, for me, it was interesting. And so in short, basically there are a number of generations, a number of algorithms that universities, academic institutions, use to qualify a person as first generation. Here's the other tension. So why does first generation have to fall under diversity and inclusion?

0:39:16.0 Julie: Yeah, I think that...

0:39:16.1 Torin: I don't know that as being... I just don't know that, just because I was the first person to come from... I'm sorry, the first person to enter college. I could be coming from... Let me not put anything around it. I just found it interesting that first generation fell under the moniker, the domain of diversity and inclusion.

0:39:43.0 Julie: Yeah, I think again, it's a really interesting question because we do have massive income inequality in this country, and it's not solely related to diversity being under-represented, anything like that. So first generation at the front makes sense to me because it is that movement between the lower class and at least a strong middle class, which we are lacking in this country. And then, I'm also gonna make an assumption that when people think a lot of times about first generation college students, they think about immigrants. And so instead of saying, "Hey, are you of a different... Or a different race or ethnicity group." If you say... If we can figure out that you're first generation, that's a way we can get around that race-conscious ruling and say, "Well, it's not really because they're black, brown, whatever. It's because they're just the first generation college students in their family." It's a different approach that I don't necessarily dislike and think that there might also be some opportunity for under-represented poor white people to also be in that group.

0:41:06.3 Torin: And I think that's a great place for us to end it, because when we think about the dimensions of diversity, you can think about, as you said, the inequality, income status, or wealth or lack thereof, if you will. And I don't mean wealth as in wealthy, just a person's wealth and accumulation of resources, if you will. That is a perfect place for us to end it, and when we end it under that tent, that flag, that kite, if you will. I think it's valuable that it is one of the metrics that are used to say, "Are we doing a good enough job of allowing our student body, of our workplace, if you will, to represent a number of different individuals?" Listen, fascinating conversation, I appreciate you J. If any of you are interested in learning more of the back story of Mackenzie Fierceton, her parents, UPenn, we didn't even talk about the road to the scholarship piece, the article and interviews that she did. If you are interested in getting a bit more context around that, we encourage you to read the articles referenced in the show notes.

0:42:17.2 Torin: You can also follow Mackenzie on Twitter, it's Mackenzie Fierceton. She's at M. Fierceton, that's M, as in Mary, F-I-E-R-C-E-T, as in tango, O-M. M. Fierceton. I like her Twitter handle, it says, "Believe survivors." She's refusing to be silent. We'll be right back with her voice.

0:42:42.2 Julie: Alright, welcome back. Loving, loving, loving our her voice segment. And thank you so much to the amazing sponsors that make it happen...

0:42:50.0 Torin: And why do we have her voice? What are we doing there?

0:42:54.3 Julie: We are amplifying women making moves all around the world.

0:42:57.6 Torin: That's right. And this week, we're gonna talk about a different type of return policy, shout out to Alison Felix's shoe brands Saysh S-A-Y-S-H. I think that's how you say it. If your shoe size changes, that's a tongue twister. If your shoe size changes during pregnancy, you can exchange your sneakers for a new pair, Alison Felix is a track star and her brand says in a tongue-in-cheek type of way, it refers to the maternity return policy as intentionally sexist. I love it. And here's a fun fact to complement Allison Felix 'cause she ran track. Last week was the Boston Marathon, and for the First 76 years of the Boston Marathon, women were not allowed to run. Roberta Gibb was the first woman to run the full Boston Marathon back in 1966.

0:43:54.1 Julie: And then we have Qumu, named COO Rose Bentley to the President and CEO role.

0:44:01.8 Torin: And 26-year-old Harvard University dropout, Eva Shang has raised 400 milli in just six months for her firm Legalist. Legalist uses artificial intelligence to invest in private debt, which is a hot market populated mostly by men with Wall Street pedigrees.

0:44:22.6 Julie: I'm interested in that. And finally, Estée Lauder is head of human resources for global corporate functions. Christina Schelling will join Verizon as a Senior VP of Talent and Diversity.

0:44:33.9 Torin: Hey, I was talking about you last week, I said, "Julie, she purposefully looks at the her voice segments to see which last names she can read, and those are the ones that she picks out." She's like, "Torin, you and not getting me anymore." Our quote for the week is, "In a rapidly changing business climate, innovation at the board level, and the high performance that comes with it, can be predicted based on who is in the room." That was said by Fortune writer Aman Kidwai.

0:45:04.6 Julie: Awesome, so quick mentions this week, join All Wheels Up, who we've had on the show before, for their first virtual nationwide golf fundraiser, an ace for accessible air travel. This month-long golf event can take place any time and at any golf course of your choosing during the month of May. And it's an opportunity for our... For the supporters of All Wheels Up of all ages and skill levels to come together to achieve one common mission, accessible air travel. So Torin and I are challenging you to play, to help fundraise and to have a lot of fun, all proceeds will go to raising money, and to conduct research for wheelchair spots on airplanes. You can check and learn more at allwheelsup.org.

0:45:54.0 Torin: Love that, love that. And my name drop this week goes out to Todd Corley, who we have talked about on this show. But he sent an email out this weekend, and the email reads in part, "A note of thanks to all who have been supportive of the work in the DE&I space, and shared feedback on how difficult it is to lift this work up under normal circumstances, but even more challenging under extraordinary events." And this week, or shall I say for this month maybe on Netflix, White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie and Fitch, has been number one. And the movie is based on coolies book, The Fitch Path, F-I-T-C-H path. The book actually came out in 2015. Todd is a shining light, and once I connected with that brother several years ago, we've communicated back and forth on a fairly consistent basis. Whenever I ask him to participate, to show up, whether it being my cohort to come speak at some event that I'm doing, to do something, he has always been there. Todd is incredible. If you get some time, get out on Netflix and white hot... White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie and Fitch. And I close reminding each and every one of you to share the pod with your digital tribe and find your voice, be a better human, and let's create better culture, better teams and better workplaces. For now, J and I, no grass under our feet are ghost.

0:47:41.0 Julie: See ya.