Love as an Equity Strategy

EPISODE 13

We hear a lot of buzz around diversity and inclusion nowadays, but equity is not talked about as often. How is equity different? Why is it important? In this episode, we have an amazing conversation with the co-hosts of the Dear White Women Podcast, Sara and Misasha. Their expertise, experience, and perspective really shine a light on the topic of equity.

Check out Sara & Misasha's podcast, Dear White Women here and everywhere podcasts can be found.

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Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

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Jeff Ma
Director

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Sara Blanchard
Co-Host of Dear White Women

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Misasha Suzuki Graham
Co-Host of Dear White Women

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Chris Pitre
Vice President

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Transcript

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Jeff Ma
Hello and welcome to love as a business strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business, but we want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from. We believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma. I'm a director at soft way, an agency based out of Houston, Texas that specializes in digital transformation, culture and branding. Each episode, we're diving into one element of business or strategy, and testing our theory of love against it, and today, we're going to talk about equity. Now, you may have heard this term used in the business world before and I want to start by clearing out what we mean when we say equity today. In business equity can sometimes mean like the value of shares issued by a company that's not the equity we're talking about today. When we say equity here we'll be talking about the concept of equity that is often mentioned alongside diversity inclusion equality. So it's definitely not the same thing as diversity, inclusion and equality. And I want to open by being honest here about it, I actually struggle with the understanding of equity. And that's why I'm so excited to talk about it. Today I hear a lot about diversity and inclusion. But when it comes to equity, I find it hard to put into words and context of what that often means. And so today, I'm really excited to invite some experts to help us really break open this topic and help me understand what equity means and why it's important. And before I get to them, I'll quickly introduce my co host for the day chris chris, Petri. Hello. Oh, and I'll just jump right into it. Without further ado, I'd like to welcome two very special guests to the show. Together, they host an amazing award winning podcast titled dear white women, which is a show that's dedicated to starting real discussions with real people who are looking for learning more about race, identity, and happiness and their show does an incredible job of Making uncomfortable topics more accessible while constantly challenging listeners to think differently and make change. So I'm a huge fan of the show myself. And I'm really honored to invite to the show today. Miss Sarah and me, Sasha, thank you so much for being here. Thanks for having me. Oh, all right. Now, there's a lot I want to dive into. But there is an awkward and mandatory tradition we have to get through first, which is our icebreakers. And full disclosure. If you're not familiar with this process, I don't know these questions until this very moment. And so I will now pull those up. And I'll start with you, Chris. So our guests aren't as put on the spot, Chris. Chris, what's your favorite seat on an airplane and why?

Chris Pitre
So I feel like Jeff sets me up with these questions because it's not a straightforward answer. If it's during the day, and I've been drinking water, it has to be a ILC. If it's an evening or nighttime flight, it needs to be a window seat. So I can sleep and be under undisturbed.

Jeff Ma
So to me this was, this was about as straightforward of a question as a guy and you somehow managed to make it and not

Chris Pitre
fight. It's contextual is what I'm saying. Like, you can't just put me on the aisle seat at night and then I get disturbed every time so it needs to go on to the restroom.

Jeff Ma
So thank you, Chris, for that very thorough explanation. Me, me, Sasha. Move on to you. If you could eliminate one food, so that no one could ever eat it again. What would it be and why?

Unknown Speaker
celery?

Unknown Speaker
Like, I just I don't see the point of it. I never liked it. I mean, you know, people say that you eat it. It's negative calories, then where's the joy people? I mean, my vote is for salary.

Jeff Ma
I fully concur. Sarah, there are now 25 hours in a day. How do you spend that extra hour?

Unknown Speaker
Sleeping?

Jeff Ma
Well, there you go. There you have it, yo. I should have seen that one coming to be honest. I'm great. So let's just dive right into it. I want to start super high level if we can, back to my own vulnerability here, please help me out. What is equity and either of you can kick us off. But please like in your own words, what is equity?

Unknown Speaker
I mean, equity according to the dictionary definition means being fair and impartial. Which when I hear that, I'm like, that seems contradictory. I don't get how you can be totally fair and yet, like you're not bias. So I guess it's really you know, it's it's this idea of giving people what they need as opposed to giving something away. I guess I contrast it to equality, which is just giving everybody the same thing. I don't know.

Unknown Speaker
Well, and I think that visual, you know, that has been going around that I think they're actually physically has

Unknown Speaker
my phone for everyone to see

Unknown Speaker
that, you know, I'm a visual person. So I really like that and and it's, you know two different pictures of kids of different heights trying to watch a baseball game, right. And they're trying to look over the fence. And equality is where you give every kid the same height box, right? But then only the taller kids will be able to see over the fence but you've given everyone the same thing, right, which is equality. equity is where you give kids different height boxes, right, so then everyone's the same height now and everyone can see over the fence. So, you know, to me that was a great visual depiction of what is equity versus what is equality

Jeff Ma
great. I think, Chris, when I first showed you that picture, you had something to say about that. What was that?

Chris Pitre
So it was a, I had read an article about that particular visual and in the sense that a better way to do that picture would be sort of have a heel, where everybody's the same height, but you're starting from a different place or a different vantage point. And so if you're at the bottom of the hill, how are you going to see at the same height as the person who's at the top of the hill? Just because there's an inherent sort of design? You know, it's one of the character design where it's like, well, the kid the smallest kid is sort of has a disability, apparently. But if we were to design it, where there's a slope, you could see how those who are either more marginalized or sort of set back from the majority, how they might have a higher slope to climb in order just to get to the same sort of tree or whatever the case may be, or visual. I mean,

Unknown Speaker
there have been a couple of other videos and things that have gone on in social media land about this to where you know, you have that visual, it's like a bunch of kids in a field. And the coach sort of calls out, and you're racing for 100 bucks at the other end of the field and the coach says, I can't remember if they have them step forward or step backwards, but it's like, if you were raised in a two family household or two parent household, take them over, you know, if you had an education, you know, you never went hungry, that kind of stuff. And then it says, okay, so so the kids that are spread out over this field, and then that's when they say, run for the hundred bucks. Well, are the kids at the back now? Do they have an equal shot of getting to that hundred bucks? No, right? That's not that that really exemplifies sort of the setbacks that people can experience in life, which make the playing field a lot less even.

Chris Pitre
Yeah, I've seen that video. I thought that was a great like, sort of reminder, like, even as you know, a black you know, guy in corporate America. Like even I have certain privileges that even my peers in my cohort don't, right? Like I've, I've been afforded opportunities, I've had access to things that, you know, even those who look like me, quote unquote, won't have or don't have. Sure.

Unknown Speaker
I mean, I think is it comes to like everyday life also, I mean, these are graphics and videos, but I don't know how many of your listeners also have children during the time of the pandemic. But a relatable story is about, you know, do kids have computers to access online learning. And I remember going to our kids school where, you know, one of my kids schools were basically like, take the Chromebooks, like, we want to make sure everybody has access to them. It'll be easier if everybody can have the same device. We can troubleshoot them, we know that they're controlled for not, you know, surfing YouTube during the school day, that sort of thing. But then when we went to my other child's school, and they didn't have the same push, and and they basically said, yeah, we have one for everyone in this School. But right now there's a huge shortage in the entire district because they were held up at customs and this sort of stuff. And they basically said, If you don't, if you have any device that you can use at home, these devices will not go to waste, they will be redistributed to other kids who literally have nothing. And so you have a choice to make in that scenario. As a parent, you know, we have a really worn down old school laptop, but it's still functional. Do we need my kids to have the absolutely fast paced one that the school is about to hand out? Or would it be more equitable for the district as a whole if we let you know the equitable choices to let the kid who has nothing, reuse this particular devices allocated for my child?

Jeff Ma
So I remember in the episode you were talking, or at least one of the episodes you guys were talking about it, even gave the example that when it came to like it's, it's almost equality in a sense to hand everyone the same laptop, but then when you go into those individual homes, even though they all have the same laptop, some of them are the kids are being cared for by an elderly grandparent who has is not tech savvy at all, and their ability to actually get that laptop set up and usable for their kid is different from some other child. And so there's, there's layers to me of understanding what truly being, you know, equitable really means in these contexts. There's so many layers to that. Can you guys give me a little give me a little context on what equity is meant to you guys? I guess because it's, it's often a theme in your show. And you guys have a lot of experience. Can you guys give me some background to what equity means to you?

Unknown Speaker
So I think for our show, and for our listeners, and one of the tenants of our show, is that we have a dominant narrative in the United States. And that dominant narrative is a white male cisgender well off narrative and if we if we don't And start sharing stories that exist outside of that narrative. And if we don't start amplifying the voices of the people who have that lived experience, then we are going to continue to live by that narrative. And it's, it's hard to understand equity or inclusion, or even in quality when we just have one narrative, because then it seems like everything's okay. So this allows us by sharing other narratives, by really believing that in the humanity of everyone that we can get past you know, the superficial or the performative and really address those deep seated systemic issues that will get us closer to equity.

Jeff Ma
For the context of this podcast, I wanted to really invite you guys in to connect kind of those two worlds, right, and it's all one world that we're talking about, but specifically our little ecosystem here is business and a lot of our audience is looking for how this applies. to their workplace, their company, their immediate environments, their teams. So where do you guys see that connection? Right off the bat, when it comes to equity and all the things, the systemic things that are definitely existing in the world? How do those take shape in a smaller ecosystem with just business?

Unknown Speaker
I mean, I think by definition, a business is created to help solve a problem that someone out there in the real world has, like it fills a need. And even within your own niche, there are going to be many different people that are looking for the solution to the problem that you have. And so, you know, say you have a business that, you know, all your employees in the workplace are all college educated in this sort of stuff. Do you realize for example, that like only about 35% of the US population has a college degree like, Are you are you communicating well enough to fill the needs of the people that aren't just Like you, or you know, if you think about products, I mean, so many products out there that are made for women are actually made by men. And so yet when like, women make 85% of the purchasing decisions for this country, you know, and they don't show up to influence the products that are being made for them, you know, how how are you really taking into consideration those needs for the people that aren't like you without paying attention to their voices.

Unknown Speaker
And I think also when you think about equity in the workplace, or you think about a business, you know, when you come into work each day or now when you're virtually you know, logging on to your, your zoom, you bring your whole self with you, right, and that's not just your business self, but it's everything that makes you who you are, and for businesses to who want to continue to hold on to their talent for people or businesses who are looking to be very thoughtful and intentional about how they grow their workforce, how they support their workforce, it's important to really consider all of those identities and all of those spaces. And that's where actually equity comes in. Because, you know, we have those different identities that we bring with us, but we bring our whole self and so it's important to recognize our wholesales.

Unknown Speaker
You know, I remember having a conversation with a woman who worked in I don't know if it was like Internet Security, but it was like the cyber security world and she was European and she was working out there. And I mean, I'm this applies to so many women, I am sure until this stage, I think, where people are starting to talk about what you've said, me Sasha, this embracing of the whole self, but in her view, she said, I don't talk about the fact that I'm a mother. I don't talk about the fact that my kid was sick and I need to get leave work early to go take them to a doctor's appointment or do whatever, because I work in a male dominated field and the men don't talk about it. So she for showing up at work, like, carved that portion of what is Quarter who she is out to show up in the workforce. And that's one way of doing it. But I think psychologically, when you're sort of piecemealing yourself, what does that do to you as a person? I mean, it, it at the very least adds an awful lot of stress. And it feels more secretive. And when you're operating in that space, how do you look out for your, your health because your your brain and your body, neither function without the other? And so you really do need to integrate, I think in order to thrive, a sense of whole being.

Jeff Ma
Chris, in our in our work in our workplace, Chris, why do we care like as a business? Why do we care to address equity?

Chris Pitre
So I think as a leader, as a teammate as a peer, the same that keeps coming to mind is when you solve things for the most marginalized, you solve them for everyone. And so if we are a business that is about sort of bringing people to the table to solve problems for our clients or building products for, you know, customers, we have to think about who is not at this table? And how can we get them to this table to provide meaningful value. And I know that when we started really thinking about how we were working with our India team, we came to the realization that, you know, we keep bringing up all these business terms and having these expectations that our team, everybody at the table understands business. And we look at the India education system, like they're not trained on Western business, principles, philosophies, concepts, constructs, although that's not in their education system for a legit reason, because they're not in the list. Right? And so, by us taking the time to start that foundational business level education, and now allow them to participate in those conversations where, you know, we hear silence and we think that you know, they're not following or, you know, there's a language issue All these other assumptions, when really is just, we don't understand Western business, right. And that's not something that is taught to us in our educational systems unless we go to a specific business course. But when all your tech team, our computer science educated, they're not getting exposed to, you know, business concepts and constructs. And so the importance of equity for me is making sure that everyone's voice can actually bring some some form of value to an outcome. But when that voice is silenced, or muted, or the volume is turned all the way down, and you as good, go back to the Sasha's point around that single narrative, right, if you are the only narrative that is being heard inside of your business, that means that there are so many other stories that could be coming out, that could change the face of a product that could change the face of a customer relationship, that could change the face of an HR policy. Right and and that's, that for me is the value that I would want if I were in a you know, Business Owner shoes understand why it's important to listen why it's important to get to know your teams. And then once you have that knowledge, how do you change and sort of support that? That transition to being more equitable?

Unknown Speaker
But what you said there made me wonder, you know, how many people or how many businesses would go? Well, that whole segment of that population in India is not well versed in American business. And so why would we even bother? Let me just continue to select from the people who already know, right, and I feel like that's the that's like a very fundamental choice, you have to provide education as a form of equity and to to realize that people have potential beyond what they already know. And to be willing to teach. I mean, that feels like teaching is related to equity as well.

Chris Pitre
Yes. Yeah. No, and I, you're absolutely right. Like that was a choice. And that was a time investment that some people will say like, Oh, my gosh, you're taking more time for me that's now going to cost us this much protein. Productivity going up. But on our end we were already losing because by having people that didn't understand those things, we had a lot of rework. We had delays, we have project overruns, our budgets were always off when it came to estimations, like there were so many other costs that were resulting from that inequity. But it was like the three hours that it takes to start the education and recording videos that people can watch and rewatch, and read. And reference. It was just a no brainer, right. And I think that sometimes we see the work of equity as being this burden. And that's where I would, I would just let listeners know, it does not have to be a burden. It's something that once you see it, you'll find a solution to get to something that fits within the budget that is going to allow for you know, the maximum amount of time. That's something that once you start doing it in my enlight a passion inside of the business or inside of you as a leader. Once you start seeing the differences on people's faces. Once you start seeing the light bulbs going off with people around the room and around the table that are like understanding concepts that they did not understand or speak to before. Like it's, there's so many other benefits to equity, equity that I think have to be illuminated beyond just making sure that person or that group of people are getting what they need

Unknown Speaker
Jeff's thinking so I don't want to cut you off, but I did have a question. Yeah, yes. Um, do you think that also, like the when, for me when I'm hearing that it reminds me of an experience I had like straight out of college, the company that I worked at was just like, it doesn't matter if you don't have a background in this industry, we will teach you we want to know who you are first and then if you're a teachable and we'll teach you the things and I have to say that for me, and I think for a lot of people breeds a sense of loyalty. If someone's willing to take a chance on you and teach you as a as an employee, then you're like, man, they they really are willing to invest in me. I really should stick around kind of thing.

Chris Pitre
Yes,

Unknown Speaker
yeah. And on the flip side, I sat through so many meetings at the law firms that I've worked at where we would talk about the cost of bringing basically losing a great attorney, or a great staff member, a great paralegal and the cost of replacement and the cost of retraining. And so and it was an hugely ridiculous number per person. And so I would always wonder why, then, are we not spending more time? like Chris said, really addressing the needs of the the most undervalued the most the people who are not being heard, because when you know, Sarah, when you were talking about that woman, like, who wasn't talking about her kids, I remember being a senior associate and having two young kids and struggling with talking about my kids. Do I talk about them? Do I not do I tell people why I can't do this 6pm call with Japan because I have to be At home at that point, and it is a, it's such an I felt really unheard when trying to voice concerns and you you're not in that dominant majority. So I think if we look at all those things, you know, we look at how great it is how supported you feel when you are educated when you are brought in and the company says, I value you and this is these are all the ways I value you because I see you. And then you think about the negative flipside of that, right? You don't feel valued, you leave and you're, you're great, but they're now the company is going to spend even more time or resources to try and find someone that's maybe not as great as you just based on, you know, a commitment to equity or not. And I think that's such a key thing, especially as we look at business right now.

Jeff Ma
Yep. So I have a question. So, a lot of the stuff we're talking about when I talk when I think of the other business leaders I speak to and a lot of the clients that come to our doors. The buzzword is DNI they come in some, sometimes it's Dei, sure. But when they come in and say, we have a diversity inclusion problem, a lot of what we're talking about gets grouped into that. What is the differentiating factor of equity that's not being covered in diversity and inclusion or what's how does that umbrella work? What what are the correlations between those terms?

Unknown Speaker
I mean, I think if you think about it, just on a basic level, diversity is having a variety of people. And then inclusion. And this was a great quote that I heard a woman say, Sherry, David, she said, inclusion is what brings diversity to life. Right? You can have all the people you want but if people are not included in the conversation included in happy hour included in the meetings, doesn't matter how diverse your population is. But I think what equity is is giving people what they need, so they show up at the table in the first place. Huh? That's, that's my take on it. I don't know me Sasha. If you have A different way of looking at it, but it

Unknown Speaker
but and I think diversity to me, I completely agree with that because I think diversity is sort of the cert, I think of diversity as sort of a surface. Like I think of these as layers and I think of diversity as sort of the first one because a lot of places can look around and say, you know, we're diverse for all these reasons. And great, we're good. We have the, you know, a two hour training every year we sit through it, we check that box, we're good. But I think when you look deeper at inclusion, right, that is where you take what you have, and then you really mesh that into the fabric of your company. And equity is the trickiest part, I think because it really forces you to look at sometimes the underpinnings of how you do business, how your company functions, which can be really scary and I get that because you are looking at it from different lenses and I think diversity it's easy to stop at diversity. Basically, it's easy to just end there. But I think if you're if you're committed to really looking at the core humanity of everyone in your business, then you get all the way down to equity. And it may take time, it may take a lot of time.

Chris Pitre
And I think that's a great point. But I'm gonna follow up with a question back to you masasa, which is, when it comes to a business owner who's hearing this concept for the first time sort of embracing it, what's their first step when it comes to trying to be more equitable, or at least, you know, approaching equity within their workplace?

Unknown Speaker
I think that's a great question. And I think you want to look at it from a whole bunch of different levels because I think equity can be a top down discussion, you know, looking at the policies, the procedures, your composition of your board, your composition of your C suite, let's say, but then it can also be from the ground up like looking at what are your employees really saying, like listening to you know, do you have employee resource groups, listening To what those needs are coming out of that what you, you know, and a lot of times you're, you don't hear the needs unless you go and ask. So asking, just the simple ask checking in seeing how people are doing, seeing how teams are doing. You know, we especially right now, we don't get a lot of ways and time to ask people how they are. But if you ask, and then you listen, that's the other key part of this. You can't just ask and walk away, you ask and listen, and maybe these are really small, maybe this is gradual, it doesn't it's not going to be a big explosion. And, you know, we've sold hundreds of years the issue right away. Would be great. I think everyone sold on that idea. But yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker
I mean, I to add to that, you know, like you just said, DNI, Dei, all of that has been around for decades. And we're still talking about it, which means that we're We've come so far to be Sasha's point may have stopped at diversity. It may have stopped at some of these easy measurables and I think that Where this concept of equity is probably the most tricky because I don't think there is a formula, you know, there's no like I have 10% of my employees are now black. And then I have this, you know, like it's not a measurable thing. And so and because by definition, it's not this equal distribution of those boxes to everybody. It takes a lot of concerted effort at heart and humanity to really, like you said, ask the questions of your employers, but I think one of the parts that we haven't yet talked about is checking yourself as a leader. Like, are you using things like I did this? Or are you saying, we did this? You know, how are you? How do you feel about your team? Are you when you bring in cookies for your team or poor perks for your team? Are you also including the janitor team, you know that I don't know what the proper terminology is that like the staff that helps take care of your facilities. Are you including the people who make photocopies for you? Are you only thinking of people you think are important? Like what what are you yourself doing? And to start there and really take stock of how you are setting the tone for your employees, I think it's really critical to

Jeff Ma
so I love what I'm hearing there and to kind of just really bring it to a sharp point for myself. And this may be a difficult question to answer. But I'll go back to an example we use before of like a working mom and you you talked at length about how you know maybe you don't bring up those issues or you don't feel comfortable expressing those those setbacks you might have having to juggle that that role. Or we can talk about what you just said of are you including everybody when you give perks. Now what a lot of those get, like in my mind grouped into inclusion like are we being inclusive of working mothers? Are we being inclusive of the janitorial staff? What is the line that crosses From inclusion to equity.

Unknown Speaker
So, taking the working mother example, because I lived that, um, you know, I think that inclusion there was, you know, that I got sort of invited to the calls the important calls with clients in the first place. But equity would have been, you know, scheduling that call, let's say at a time where I could have been there. You know, I think there's, there there is sort of, there are different layers, right. And it's hard again, it's hard to say, you know, if we do this, we're in, we're at, you know, at equity. And if we're, you know, we're here we're in the gray area of inclusion heading towards equity. But I think it's really looking at the address needs, right? Because inclusion is the invitation, but equity is making sure you can be there in the first place. And so I think that to me, is that is distinction there.

Jeff Ma
I, what I love about your show is you have a tagline, let's get uncomfortable together. And you guys do a really good job of inviting people into that. I wanted a bit of that in this show as well. Maybe I'll kick it off with what's, what would you say is the most controversial or uncomfortable part of equity for a business leader? Who's not yet thinking about this stuff?

Unknown Speaker
I think I think it's exactly that maybe that you that you haven't thought about this stuff. And suddenly, you know, it's in your face. You're seeing all these connections on LinkedIn posting about, you know, suddenly they're they've hired someone who's now in the DI space in their company, and you're like, oh, like I'm way behind on the curve. So I think that the scariest part then is getting started. even getting to having maybe having that introspective moment with yourself, right because I think The scary part two is feeling like this whole di train has now passed you by that you like you miss the moment. And now why do something because it's gone right like, and we are moving on. And I think that to Sarah's point earlier about how di has been around for a really long time, you know, and we'll continue to be around while we still have systemic issues here. But I think that it's important to also remember they can be small it can be it can start slowly, because equity is so scary because it is challenging so many assumptions about how we do business and how we show up and we do business. So I think maybe starting small and realizing that you're not too late

Unknown Speaker
is key.

Unknown Speaker
I think there's also got to be some element of if I'm giving people what they say they need. How do I know they really need it? Am I being taken advantage? Is my company going to get tanked? Because I didn't keep tight enough reins on, on allowing people to tell me how to run my business or to tell me what they need or tell me what time I should have that meeting or that I need to work from home on whatever it is, you know, like, I think that goes back to this fear of when you're coming from this system of like control and this traditional nine to five say workplace and everyone showed up at the office, you know, it's predictable. And then all of a sudden when you're talking about giving people what they need or equity or whatever, it feels like you're losing a bit of say and how it's, it's being run and so that fear can be, like paralyzing.

Unknown Speaker
I would imagine.

Jeff Ma
You guys let sorry, Chris. Good.

Chris Pitre
I was I was disagreeing thing for sure. I think that that is that confrontation that a leader will have to have because at some point you're going to realize that what you've been doing is inherently wrong or is dismissive potentially of someone's lifestyle or, you know, needs. And of course, in your head, you're like, that was not my intent. But we're looking at impact when it comes to equity and inclusion and these topics, right? So well, as a leader, your intent is not to build systems that oppress or marginalize, or dismiss or sort of exclude people anyway. Right? You're trying to run a profitable, efficient business is just like me have that real confrontation and start thinking about, oh, crap, I do schedule six o'clock meetings, I don't consider that I have three mothers, one of which a single and is trying to get dinner on the table. And I'm giving them feedback that they're distracted and not leaned in and all these other things, right. And that compounds into maybe a situation that I'm not, you know, including, you know, someone and they are wanting to deliver their best work, you know, no one comes I want to suck. We suck more yesterday, more today than I did yesterday, right? Like, that's not anybody's mindset, you don't come to the office thinking like, I'm here to suck more today, right? So, with that in mind, how I feel like there's gonna be that uncomfort or discomfort I'm trying to use properly. Comfortable uncomfortability is what I wanted to say discomfort. There's going to be that discomfort when you start realizing that I've, I've been sort of erecting or creating these things that potentially have been harming others. And that was not my intent. And sometimes that that realization can scare people back into keeping things the way they were, even though that doesn't seem rational.

Unknown Speaker
I think that point about intent versus impact is really important too, because I've heard people recently talk about you in saying something that made other people feel unheard, you know, but that wasn't my intent. My intent was, you know, Acts, but the impact that you had on the person and the group that you're speaking to is why. And so it's so important to separate the two because I think people get caught up in the intent a lot. And that scares you from doing anything else. Because you feel like your intent was great, you know, and people still aren't understanding. But if you look at it from multiple perspectives, right, more than one narrative, then you can start to see the impact piece as well. True.

Unknown Speaker
And you mentioned the word mattering a lot. And I just like the positive psychology fan of me wants to just interject because they like, also have studied this idea of mattering. And I just wrote down the definition of it because it's a scenario in which an individual views himself isn't as significant in his world and able to make a difference. And when you make people feel like they don't matter, I mean, it really does have this link towards negative mental health trends and it links to depression and I think any business owner knows That poor mental health, depression, all that leads to sick days, which affects your bottom line, when you have employees not showing up for work or not showing up well for work there, you're not going to get the most performance out of them. And so you it is very important for people to create environments where everybody in their organization feels like they matter.

Chris Pitre
Yeah. Yeah. So and I have so many stories of black women in particular who apply for FMLA leave, just to get away from toxic situations where they don't matter, or where they feel they don't matter. Right. And I often tell, especially executives that are trying to find sort of areas where they might have issues and they can't really put that on and I was like, Can you look at your FMLA leaves and see who's taking them. And while Yes, they might have a valid reason and it might have a doctor's note, chances are if it's higher among a certain group, there could be something to go and look into and investigate.

Jeff Ma
When we last chatted, you guys do something that really resonated with me because we're all about culture. From where we come from, and you guys said, it's the the power of the weak culture versus the me culture. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, it was a term I first heard from Dr. Perla Ted ski, who does. He was at the World Happiness summit and does a lot of research in this field. And he pointed out the correlation in the happiness rankings of countries like Canada and Denmark and Finland. Like they actually produce a thing called the World Happiness Report where they rank the country's happiness. And countries like that have consistently ranked in like the top of the world's countries and all of them have, like a sense of we like it is a fundamental intertwining of society where they have safety nets in place, like universal health care, or education that is accessible to all. And when you give people those fundamental pillars of dignity, they tend to be happier and there have also been a follow up study. That show that happiness is a precursor to success. It's not just like this nice to have, it really does help people perform at a much higher level. And so he said these cultures compared like the weak culture compared to countries like, say, the United States that are very me culture oriented, who by the way, have been sliding in the rankings, we've been sliding down the happiness scale and the worldwide rankings. You know, there is a very big difference. And so if you apply that to the microcosms of business within, you know, that applies, I think that that mindset would actually carry and differentiate companies as well.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. I, I think that what when I think of this topic, it has so much to unpack and when I think of the average, in my mind, maybe this is a bias of mine, but the average kind of business leader or even team leader, anyone out there, listening is it's a bit much to be honest because You probably haven't been thinking about these things you probably have been thinking about diversity and like we said, maybe even inclusion. But equity is this larger, harder to chew harder to swallow pill at times. So if I'm new to equity, what advice should I start with? Is this a mindset? Is it a behavior? Is it? Where's a good starting point?

Unknown Speaker
I mean, I think those two are linked, right. But I think if you start with a behavior, you know, I remember very distinctly, just to give an example, when I worked in finance, and I worked in the same business, but one in the Tokyo office and one in the New York office. And when I worked in the Tokyo office, like the big top head of the division, who was like super crazy senior, very influential would walk around the trading floor and didn't just talk to the partners. The managing directors like would sit down literally, I'm straight out of college and he would sit in the seat next to me if it was open me like How's it going? What's going on for you how you do it, like just have a conversation and relationships so that when things did go wrong or when things were going right, I knew that I had an open door to just approach him because we had that very casual relationship I knew he would check in with us, which was in stark contrast to the office in New York, where people were very, like, intimidated by a senior person walking down the street to the point where they were down the aisle to the point where they're like, like, like, look busy, they're coming kind of thing. And so when you realize that the same, you know, they were very different offices, but it was like the same types of people in both you really have the power as a manager to create a very different environment, with the people all up and down the hierarchy in your teams.

Jeff Ma
I'm smiling because Chris's favorite movie is Devil Wears Prada. Seen let's see what everyone's Getting ready to

Chris Pitre
Gird your loins.

Unknown Speaker
You know, it's not to say that you can't have a successful business by those metrics by the Met numbers, right if you really power your way through but is that sustainable is that building a model that can transcend your leadership and your the fear that people have of you if your vision of creating a business is to have a legacy and to nurture people for a long time so they can continue what they're doing, because they want to as opposed to because they're afraid of you? You know, that's it's really important to keep that in mind.

Jeff Ma
That love versus fear is something that seems to come up a lot as we talk about love as a business strategy. It's consistently been contrasted against fear because that's what's in parentheses. When we tell people love is a business strategy. What we're saying is not fear as a business strategy, which whether you're trying to or not, the classic top down hierarchy is built around fear, fear of losing your Job fear of not being promoted above somebody else. There's a lot of that element in play. And it seems like equity plays a role in that. If I'm not mistaken.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, I think it's I mean, it's developing those relationships and like you can't find out you know, you're not going to find stuff out to the extent that you want to by just filling out anonymous surveys all day long, right? Like you if you have relationships with the people and you realize that like, you know, even within working mothers, they may have either no partner at home or they may have a partner at home who works the overnight shift. So for them, they would love to start the day at 6am to whatever time like find out and trust the people that they are going to if you give them the leeway to figure out what works for them to get the job done that they will get it done Obviously not. And never check in with them again. But you know, have that conversation because I do think people like you said, Chris, why don't you go they don't want to show up in like, worse tomorrow like yeah

Chris Pitre
to do The

Unknown Speaker
I agree and I think having that conversation on all levels of your company, right, because I've seen some of the greatest conversations and these past months come from companies and CEOs and people in the C suite who have been talking to what might be considered the most junior employees in their company and really just opening their doors and saying, look, I want to listen, I want I want to hear what you have to say. And that impact that they had just like Sarah was saying, you know, the, the big boss on the, you know, walking around, sitting down next to her and just asking her, you know, how's it going? Can I help? I think just feeling heard in that way is a great place to, to just start and to have those conversations. A lot of times you hear especially the higher higher up you're in the company, you hear what people want you to hear in a lot of ways and sometimes you can cut through the noise and and really hear What is happening and what you might need to address right away and what might be going really well. So that's a thought.

Jeff Ma
If I'm putting my my skeptic hat on, there's this this thing that we're saying where equity is giving everybody what they need? How do I know what's a need? And what's a want? Because you might want to work at 6am or 5pm, that or you might want a lot of things to make your life easier and more be more productive. But, you know, you mentioned earlier a little bit of that, that fear of a leader becoming softer giving in to everyone's demands, because everyone needs to be as happy as possible. Where's that line drawn?

Unknown Speaker
That's such a good question. And, you know, my first stab at the answer is that's tricky. Like, it's really, really difficult to assess that. You know, the one study that we had all talked about that you know, massage and I talked about two but was this idea. It was actually from a completely different fields, but it was maternal health care, and how there was a study that showed that black women like when they looked objectively back at the pain scores that people self reported versus the painkilling medication you were given during childbirth and beyond. Black women were consistently not given the pain meds that met those standards, whereas white women were given with those same scores way more medication and sent home with more medication than they needed. And so there was definitely bias built into the system. And I think it's important to to, we do still so does that mean like so the assumption was that black women are so tough that they are or that they don't know their bodies well enough to tell you how much medicine they need, right? People. It's a mess. It's an absolute mess and there are going to be times where people are saying they want to Certain things versus needs certain things. But I think at the very beginning of the process, you can absolutely start with, you know, health, mental and physical health care. Not like providing the policies but checking in and believing people when they say they have a headache, or they say they are dysfunctional is a pillar of safety that we want to provide. Or if they say, I don't understand something, as opposed to saying you're not trying hard enough, give them the education, and that will take them seriously. So to your point about like training people up, you don't just dismiss them because they seem like they're not smart enough to understand it or they're not trying hard enough. Like if you give yourself give faith to the employee in put faith into the employees that you do believe them. They're going to be less likely to fool you. And I think you have to be careful if you do get burned, not to generalize. Like isn't that such a knee jerk reaction we have as humans is like, oh, that long haired man that I employed once lied to me. I'm never going to hire a long haired man who a man who I'm going to assume that all long haired men have that characteristic, you know, you can't do that. So it's, it's a, I would say start with what you think our needs and then wants, like, you know, something like a working mother they do truly need to keep human beings alive and feed them like, listen to their needs and find out what, what people need, like maybe some people are caring for elderly parents, you know, find out what human like basic human survival things they're dealing with and start with meeting them there versus I'm not a morning person. I prefer to like work until 10pm. But I don't want to show up for the 9am meeting. Maybe you cannot start at that, you know, level.

Unknown Speaker
I think I think that's so important because I think back to like Maslow's hierarchy of needs, right and and when we deal with those basic human needs, you know, health and shelter and food and stuff like that and the needs related to Those first then you can sort of progress up that that hierarchy. Right. And I, I think also in the needs versus want, question, you know, and trying to decide what is a need versus what is a want. What you're really trying to do here too, is build trust, right? Because you're not going to get to an organizational change or institutional change or even small change if there's not that trust there. So on some level, you have to let go a little and and trust what people are telling you. And I mean, you you will filter out, you know, sort of the, the really nice to have thing versus the I need this to do my job and to be, you know, a productive part of this company, because that's what I want to be. But building that trust to at the start is really, really important.

Unknown Speaker
I wonder if you could even just ask people, is this a need or a want and I think people would probably gauge their, you know, if you're being serious about meeting those needs, and they know that you're Trying to start there, they might be able to help you make that choice by filtering them out themselves.

Jeff Ma
One of our unspoken mottos is assume good intent, which we which is harder in practice than it is in a concept, but that's what I'm hearing essentially is if we can start by assuming good intent and go from there it goes a very long way. And, you know, I think we've already naturally broached towards this, this kind of area but I always bring these shows back to love obviously, equity and love when tied together. I'd love to hear your clear kind of takeaway on where does love in all its many ways tie into equity.

Unknown Speaker
You want to take it me Sasha for now.

Unknown Speaker
I feel like you're going every time I ask

Unknown Speaker
You can't love the idea of loving someone is this sense of unconditional love and acceptance, right like, and you know, they're good and they're bad. Like there's no such thing as a perfect human being and you just truly have faith that that person is, is going to do their best to do right by you. And I think if you want to show love for someone, you show that kind of faith in another person. And I think that is tied into the sense of equity because and this is not a clean one sentence that you asked for. But like, I feel like it is tied into this sense of like, I have faith in you. I have faith that how we want to be together in this to make this greater goal happen. And I want it we want to be there to support one another in all the needs that you have.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, and I think equity and love is about really seeing the other Like you were saying, and I think when you are talking about equity, you're really seeing that person, you're seeing the humanity in that person, you're seeing the humanity and the threads that tie people together, even on an organizational level when you're thinking about it on a company's scale. So I think that that commonality can't be understated.

Unknown Speaker
At all.

Jeff Ma
That's great. We're all laughing. Children running back.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, they're launching like a Navy SEAL attack back here. Awesome.

Jeff Ma
No, that was great. And that's always a tricky question. I'm always like, let's use the four letter word, the love word and see what people say about it. But those are great answers. And what I'm hearing is when it comes to equity, one of the big things that that really stands out to me is that we're not necessarily taking something from one group of people giving it to the other, which is like, to me very similar to love, like to love somebody, you don't have to love someone else less. You don't have to necessarily have this limited supply of love. You can love more and more widely. And to me equity seems to play right into that, or you're just giving everybody what they need and considering them. Does that seem accurate?

Unknown Speaker
That was beautiful.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. But I think that's true. Because I think we a lot of times we think and maybe it's the army culture, you know, I work here, right? That if we, we have to give something up, to have other people get what they need. And I think that is a mindset that we we need to get past in order to really be able to see how it benefits all of us, right when we see the humanity and all of us we all win.

Jeff Ma
Awesome, awesome. So before we close out here, I'd love if you guys could talk a little bit about your podcast. Can you tell us a little bit about what the show is about and where they can find it?

Unknown Speaker
Sure, I mean, the show is really about helping people enter the conversations which are often uncomfortable about race racism, and how to be more anti racist. And we dive in a lot to the history of this country, the current events happening in this country and really have been working to amplify voices that aren't in that mainstream narrative that we had talked about before. So we are on this journey as half Japanese half white people with personal and we really help people try to figure out why they actually care to even show up in this conversation. So you can find us at dear white women podcast in on Instagram, and in our Facebook group, you can always find us at our website, www dot deewr white women.com and also on Twitter at WWE podcast, but we are producing one weekly episodes every Wednesday, anywhere you listen to podcasts. So we would welcome anybody who's interested in just hearing some of these stories and conversations to come on over and check it out.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. And here at love is business strategy. We're posting new episodes every Tuesday. And if there's a business topic or anything else you'd like us to cover, please let us know it's software.com slash labs, which is L abs. And if you like this content, please do give us a nice review or subscribe. And also please do check out dear white women, it is really a good show. I really enjoy it. And we will thank you, Sara. Thank you, me, Sasha, for joining us. This is really, really wonderful. Thank you for being here. Thank you. We will be catching up with everybody next week. So thank you so much.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you. Thank you.

Jeff Ma
The last part is edited out

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