Learning has the power to drive change, especially when it’s made accessible to learners from diverse groups, or when its goal is to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across the organization. To learn how training can help drive a more inclusive future of work, we spoke with Anson Green, senior manager of economic opportunity at Tyson Foods, Lori Spicer Robertson, vice president of DEI at Saks Fifth Avenue and founder and chief joymaker at Wundher, and Alaina Doyle, learning and development director at Wells Fargo. 

Listen now for insights on:

  • What we mean by “equitable learning.”
  • What effective allyship looks like in today’s business environment.
  • How can organizations remain accountable and committed to advancing equitable work and learning. 

Listen now:

Additional Resources:

To learn about common barriers and pitfalls that sabotage D&I efforts, download the complimentary job aid below: 

 

The transcript for this episode follows: 

Speaker:

Welcome to the Business of Learning, the learning leaders podcast from Training Industry.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

Welcome back to the Business of Learning. I’m Michelle Eggleston Schwartz, editor-in-chief here at Training Industry.

Sarah Gallo:

And I’m Sarah Gallo, a senior editor. Before we begin today’s episode, here’s a brief message from our sponsor, Training Industry Courses’ Building Diversity and Inclusion Training Programs workshop.

Ad:

As a learning leader, you play a key role in driving diversity, equity and inclusion in your organization. The Building D&I programs that go beyond reactionary, surface level solutions isn’t easy. Training Industry courses’ newest workshop, Building Diversity and Inclusion Training Programs, will arm you with the tools and skills you need to create and deliver D&I programs that make an impact. To learn more about the program is at the show notes for this episode, or browse the course page on TrainingIndustry.com. Building inclusivity can’t wait. Learn more about how you can lead the change today.

Sarah Gallo:

If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re likely a learning and development professional or in a similar role focused on improving human performance. So you know more than anyone that training, especially DEI training is often seen as a check the box event, but you also know that learning has the power to drive change, especially when it’s made accessible to learners from diverse groups or when its goal is to improve DEI across the organization. So in today’s episode, we’re going to dive into what we really mean by equitable learning and how L&D can help drive a more inclusive future of work. With us we have Anson Green, senior manager of economic opportunity at Tyson Foods, Lori Spicer Robertson, vice president of diversity equity and inclusion at Saks Fifth Avenue and founder and chief joy maker at Wundher, and Alaina Doyle, learning and development director at Wells Fargo to learn more. Anson, Lori and Alaina, welcome to the podcast.

Lori Spicer Robertson:

Thank you. Excited to be here.

Anson Green:

Very thrilled.

Alaina Doyle:

Yes. Thank you for the invite.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

Yes. Welcome. We are so excited to have this conversation with each of you today and hearing about your experiences and background. And so to kick things off, why don’t you each explain what diversity, equity and inclusion means to you, and how are you working to foster it in your organization?

Anson Green:

I’ll go ahead and begin. I think for me personally, and then of course at Tyson, the big area that we’ve really wanted to foster is economic opportunity and wage lift and really advancement. And so our company consists of about 121,000 workers across the United States alone. We have of course locations all over the world. And 60 to 70% of our workers are immigrants and refugees. And of that group, you’ll see about 12% of that group are non-educated, meaning they’ve never had education in their home country. And then the top 10% of that immigrant and refugee group have college degrees, but they’re languishing in lower skilled jobs because they lack English skills. So we really try to target opportunities, not only for English as a second language and digital literacy and other skills, but also career development programs to help actually move them to a more substantial position within the company. And of course, raise their household income. So for us, it’s largely tied around economic opportunity for the individuals.

Lori Spicer Robertson:

I think in world and for both of my hats, diversity, equity and inclusion is definitely around people and understanding that there’s a value in difference. We spend a lot of time preparing our leaders as well as our colleagues that there’s a value and difference in that. It’s not a liability. We talk a lot about culture add versus culture fit, and helping us have new learnings and unlearnings, so that we can adapt and move forward and create a culture really where people feel like they belong. I think the other is access and opportunity. We spend a lot of time breaking down equity and understanding how does it fold into our policies, our processes, our procedures, especially as you look at the talent life cycle of any employee that works with us. And so as you think about diversity, equity and inclusion for us, it’s heavily around the type of environment and workplace we’re creating for individuals that have different backgrounds and who are diverse and loosely, whatever that means for a person.

Alaina Doyle:

Right. And then I’ll round us out with Wells Fargo, [which] is heavily regulated. It’s the banking industry. So of course we value and definitely promote diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects. And what I’ll talk about [here] is more from a business perspective. So we think that success comes from inviting and incorporating diverse perspectives. And we also feel that D&I results in permanent meaningful change for all employees and customers alike. So we have roughly two over 200,000 employees across the globe as well. So a lot of differing components there. And then we’ve also increased our focus on diversity and inclusion by making it a part of our behavioral expectations. And so those are things that we expect our employees to demonstrate in their work. And then most recently we’ve hired someone to an executive leader to report directly to the CEO, because it’s definitely one of those things that we focus on for sure.

Sarah Gallo:

That’s great. Thanks for sharing everyone. I think it’d be helpful if we could maybe break down some of those challenges that today’s organizations are really seeing around DEI. What are those challenges, and how are they showing up in today’s work environments?

Lori Spicer Robertson:

I’ll start. Some of the challenges you think about DEI in terms of learning for us is just helping people understand that when you’re trying to bring people along on the journey of diversity, equity and inclusion, you have to meet them where they are. If your approach is that you have to force feed learning on someone or force someone to change and be different, as you can imagine, no one really likes change unless they [initiate the] change themselves, or unless it has a million dollars tied to it. And usually that’s not the case. And so you have to bring people along the journey with you and meet them where they are. And so for us restructuring, people’s thinking that DEI is a force-fed approach, that we want you along the journey that we’re not approaching this with, “Something is wrong with you.” When I first came, I remember people saying, “I don’t want this to be people poking holes at what’s wrong with me. If that’s the case, then I’ve already shut down.” I’m like, “That’s not the work. If the work is to poke holes, then something’s wrong with all of us. We all have our own challenges and issues and opportunities.” And so for us, it’s really starting with meeting people where they are and then doing so by building grounding for the work that we do. We have to make sure people are grounded in what does diversity, equity and inclusion mean for this place, this organization? Because it means something different to every single person. And so our CEO really started with our board, but our board and our CEO led the discovery phase to ensure that everyone in the company knew what it meant for us. And so that we could then build from that. And how does it relate to everyone’s business functions, our center of excellence and the work that they do collectively, as well as an individual? So for us, I think that has been the challenge to overcome is just reframing individuals thinking about diversity, equity, inclusion, how it ties to their continued learning development, but also how it ties back to their work.

Anson Green:

Those are great points. I would add to the point of knowing what they don’t know and meeting people where they are that I work in collaborate with other businesses in areas where there’s large proportions of underskilled workers. And I think part of the areas that I see challenges are is companies sometimes don’t know where they have gaps in terms of access to sometimes some fundamental things. For example, we see a lot in the manufacturing area, we see lots of innovation in the last 20 or 30 years, which has really accelerated, I would say in the last five. But the questions of, to what extent are that diverse workforce, especially limited English workforce, to what extent are they prepared to assimilate into a more automated environment or an environment with more technology, or even simple things like can they access human resource systems online that have been migrated online, a lot of self-service. And so the people sometimes in it implementing those systems aren’t the ones working on the front end with the workers that are trying to use those systems. And so I have seen over and over these gaps, especially in the area of computer digital literacy, where systems get rolled out and no one ever asked the question to what extent could the workforce log into the system or use the system, because they may not have the digital skills. And so I find it exciting sometimes to see these gaps, because it’s just amazing. But then you reflect back and you think, well, definitely I could see how people got there because the lines of communication and meeting people where they are, as Lori was saying, is something that you’ve got to really be vigilant at and the right questions. And if leadership is making big dollar decisions on new technologies or automation, they really do need to make sure they’re getting down to the front-line supervisor level groups to determine to what extent those innovations can be deployed.

Alaina Doyle:

Yeah. And now I’ll round us out again. So I think some of the challenges for sure is we recognize that we continue to make progress and we know that in advancing D&I in our work, and we know that there’s also more that needs to be done. And so I think that a lot of the things that many organization and business leaders face is making sure that the fundamental concepts of justice equity and inclusion and diversity are thoroughly supported and embedded throughout the company in a way that drives that meaningful change, even when the business needs to shift focus, so they might shift focus. And so I think that from as learning and development professionals, we can help meet those challenges by offering training that helps to drive that change. So that’s all I’d say about that.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

That’s such a great point. There’s definitely more that needs to be done. Expanding on what you were saying, I’d be interested to hear, Lori or Anson, anything else that you can share…. How can learning and development really help to solve these very real challenges that you’ve mentioned?

Anson Green:

I would say again, my perspective comes from an employer with a very large lower skilled workforce. But I think learning and development leaders often just because of their training, often because they come from higher education like I do, sometimes they have not really thought of their models in terms of accessibility across the spectrum of skills and abilities. And the initial assessment of a workforce to be able to be successful when it comes to learning and development opportunities that would promote and help individuals not only retain their jobs, but grow in their jobs is something I think still just the industry has a long way to go in terms of really that full assessment of down to literacy levels and English levels and digital skills. I just see over and over that it’s sometimes that lower skilled workforce that isn’t having the equitable access to training opportunities. Even though they may have, of course great tenure at their business, great skills to offer. We find so many in our Tyson plants, so many foreign trained professionals that have had full careers in their native countries, have come to America and now they’re in frontline processing jobs, although they have a college degree, which might just seem amazing to people, but it’s very true. And for us, it’s about how do we tackle and tap into that great value of having not only someone with great skills and being able to grow them, but also the bilingual and bicultural qualities that they bring to the company and building those into higher skilled positions into more levels of decision making. So it sometimes is the story of the untapped workforce within the company that, because I think sometimes our education systems in public ed, which trickle into training and development have these biases almost in terms of how they’re built and how they’re structured, who has access. And we definitely see this at Tyson. We work lockstep with our public schools and colleges. And sometimes access points for lower skilled workers into training programs really aren’t accessible, but it’s possible. And so I think it’s creating that possibility for the workforce that we really hope to find great value, not just in terms of equity, but also in terms of bringing new ideas and new talents and new perspectives to our leadership.

Lori Spicer Robertson:

For us, I think similar to what Anson shared was tailoring our learning platform for each department or division. We have a distribution center now. It’s called the fulfillment center. But as we built out program, we learned some gaps that were in our processes and that in the past our distribution center, that we had a heavy population that was Persian, but also Hispanic. Well, one employee had taken it upon herself to translate everything that we had given that team. There’s no reason for that. We can hire a translator who can develop our content to make sure it’s applicable to whoever is in that department. So that’s one of the small ways that we tried to bring the team along. I think the other thing that we did is we would change the training based on areas. And not change it in a way that was beneficial for everyone, just changing a way that was easier for the team to disseminate the information.

Anson Green:

Yes.

Lori Spicer Robertson:

And so we took a long, hard look and said, “How do we give the same type of information and maybe even improve the nuances in certain places, so that everyone walks away on the same page as we continue on this journey?” And we spent probably six to nine months last year developing our learning platform and making sure diversity, equity and inclusion was laced throughout it and for every department, our Canadian team, our team that’s in Bangalore, India, our team that is in La Vergne, Tennessee, that leads our distribution center. Everywhere, not just focused on New York. And so I think that was just different for us as a company. We hadn’t done that before. But the employees were so appreciative of it. They felt included. That’s the work that we do. They felt included. Our learning and development team was proud of the work. And so now we have this 18 month continuous learning platform that is tailored for each one of our teams and departments, so that people can walk along this journey with us. And that we’re all speaking the same language and singing from the same book. So it’s exciting for us.

Anson Green:

Love that.

Alaina Doyle:

And I think too, for us we did something similar, because you really can’t focus on racism in an area where everyone looks the same. And so I think that was a long hard look, just to tack onto what you both said. So we took a long, hard look at that. But I would say for the most part at Wells [Fargo], we try or at least when we worked on the strategy, the DE&I training strategy, we wanted to align with the company’s DE&I strategy and making sure that we did that. And what I have my team to do is to really form the strong partnerships with the DE&I leader, because again, we’re not all in the same group. We work hand in hand with those individuals, the DE&I leader, the consultants, and that diverse segment organization to just make sure that we’re aligning together and that we can market things together. So maybe if it’s some training that we have that has to do with maybe women’s history or something like that, and we may align some training with the key messages, that goes out that way. And then by doing this, then diversity content can be developed to support those organizational pillars. Because again, we’re aligning with the company strategy.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

Definitely. As Sarah mentioned earlier, DEI training is oftentimes treated as a check the box activity or reactionary event with something that unfolded. In both of these cases, DEI training is unlikely to achieve the outcomes we’re hoping for. How can L&D and DEI leaders make sure their programs go beyond lip service and drive meaningful and measurable change?

Alaina Doyle:

One of the key things or a few things that they can do, so L&D and DE&I leaders can make sure that they establish measurable goals. And this is what I’m always asking for is, “What are the metrics?” Being intentional about the needs to meet those goals. For example, if you believe a change can be made in inclusive behaviors, then training could be developed and offered for managers and employees that is followed up by a level three evaluation. So I’m trying to make this a bit more practical for L&D folks to learn more about the change in the behaviors. And then the same could be said about hiring for diverse talent. You’re pinpointing or you’re being intentional about giving that training for recruiting and hiring the managers on demand, so that they can go back and refer to it in that moment to ensure that the organization has an uptick in hiring diverse talent, because we believe on both sides that’s what’s needed. From time to time, I think that this question is a good question. We have a tendency in L&D and in DE&I had to maybe focus on things from a social perspective. But as I’m starting to learn a lot about this construct and working in this space and things like that, we have to be more focused on metrics and then making sure that we’re focusing those solutions to accompany whatever change that we’re trying to accomplish.

Anson Green:

I would add to that, one of the things that it’s lip service, but it’s also helping individuals see the work that needs to be done in their particular context. And what I mean by that is one thing I have run across is that when you go into a Tyson [Foods] plant and other businesses in similar industries, people will look around and say, “Well, we’re already very diverse. We have 30 different countries represented here and 25 different languages,” which is often the case in a Tyson plant. And so the question is less about the profile of the workforce and more about the opportunities to access training, opportunities to participate equitably, retention rates in those programs for individuals, finding ways to help them address barriers outside of work, that might be particular to their circumstances, so that they have equal access to just benefiting from employment. So I think sometimes specific to the industry, for sure, but definitely even down to the business locations about what are the right metrics to find change, and then pay attention to that? Because I have seen it so often that people get complacent and they think when the term DE&I was coined, we had already arrived. And I’m like, no, it’s not that way. It’s not because of your profile and your workforce, it’s to what extent are retention rates? It’s to what extent are people having access to training? Are they accessing their HR systems? Things like that. So there’s some different ways to target the measures and get people to think about things differently, because I think the complacency is as much of a threat as the lip services.

Lori Spicer Robertson:

I’ll add for us in terms of lip service, and our CEO led this effort because he knows our team far better than I. He’s been there for 25 years. His thought was that he needed to lead it. He needed to lead the conversation and express the value of why we were creating this learning platform and why it was intentional to make sure DEI was connected and tied to it. We started our foundation building as we called it with cultural intelligence. And so he and his leadership team all went through it. It was a four hour session. Never before had our leaders or Saks ever gone through anything that long. And so I think that alone for our employees was a remarkable shift. That one, we were entering into the space where learning was going to take our time and that it was important enough that we needed to give time to it. So he led that conversation. And then of course, his peers on our C-suite of leadership team followed suit and shared that with their teams as well. So I think that set the tone for the value and how important it was for everyone in the company. And then people were excited. They hadn’t had any training probably since before COVID-19, or no formal training like this. And so everyone was eager to be a part of it. So I think ours is a little bit easier to get over the lip service. One, our CEO led and everybody was hungry for new learning. Now, who knows if the hunger for new learning was because I think the person next to me needs some better training. That’s usually the case versus I myself need some learning and education. So either way it worked for us.

Sarah Gallo:

Perfect. Yeah. That’s great to hear that your CEO was really leading that change, because I think that’s something we’ve heard from a lot of leaders in the industry, that it really does start at the top. So that’s great to really see that in action. I’d love to talk a little bit more about that accountability factor, which I think is also important in making sure that we’re not treating DEI training like a check the box event. How can organizations really remain accountable in this long term commitment to driving change in their organizations?

Lori Spicer Robertson:

For us, our learning was also tied to our dashboards and scorecard. So Alaina mentioned metrics and making sure, I think it was tied to strategy and goals. For us it was. And so the way we monitored and measured that along the way was is it showing up in our leader’s scorecard? What’s attraction looking like for them as an individual, but also the people that report up to them? And as time goes on, that’s tied to our performance reward and bonus and benefit structure. And so I think when things are tied to dollars and cents, people pay a lot of attention to it, but it’s been helpful for us also just to measure accountability. I mean, if you didn’t have that structure in place, it was harder to keep track of it. So for us, that was an easy shoe in.

Alaina Doyle:

And then for us, very similar to what Lori said, we are making it a part of our business reviews. And I think just to expand on that and the importance of that is that wasn’t maybe the case or it wasn’t as prevalent as it is now. And then the other piece was looking at it from tying it together, the business reviews piece, but also making leaders accountable to advancing DE&I. So the CEO and his directs made some very specific commitments to us as employees to definitely drive that. And then sometimes leaders can also go back. I think to Anson’s point in the previous response, you’re going back to revisit these things so that you don’t become complacent. And L&D can really help in delivering content that supports that approach.

Anson Green:

Those are great responses. I would add that this is an alternative way that I don’t think we knowingly got into holding ourselves accountable in these areas. But most of the work that we do, as I mentioned previously is done to alliances in our local communities where our plants are with colleges and schools and community based organizations. And it’s actually those alliances also that hold us accountable and keep us moving forward, because we have to get on a phone call and talk about the work as a team. And it’s not something that if we just lose track internally here, we’ve still got to get our phone call and we got to tell them where we are in a process or implementing something. So I think that partnership piece, which I’m a huge fan of these local alliances, it has all these multiplier effects. And one of them is just keeping us focused and helping us do the work, but also to pay attention to this work. And when we talk to our leaders, it’s not just my team and what we’re doing, but it’s about the 56 other schools that we’re working with to do this across the country. And so that gets everybody’s attention and lets everybody know that we’re accountable to the local communities where those schools and those plants and businesses are, and those workers and their families.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

Definitely. Those are all great points. Thank you all for sharing. I think it would be helpful to look at more of those individual behaviors that we and our learners can take to support DEI in the workplace. Since we know that allyship is critical, can you both maybe share some examples of what effective allyship looks like in today’s business environment?

Lori Spicer Robertson:

I will jump in. It’s funny, I just had this conversation with some other diversity, equity and inclusion, access, belonging, all the words, togetherness colleagues. And we were listening to a panel of seasoned professionals who’ve been in this space for over 40 years. And one of them answered and said, “I don’t really think the needle is moving.” And so, of course it struck all of us because one, we’re in this space, we’re doing this work, but they’re also been in this space for 40 years. So if they don’t think the needle is moving, there’s so many questions there as to why they’re still here in this space. But all of that to say is what came out of this, interesting that it was the more seasoned professionals in a conversation with younger DEI professionals as they call it. And the younger group said, “I think what’s missing is action. We know all the things to do. We are following the same tools decade after decade, year after year. But the real piece that’s missing is action. And somewhere we’ve got to really educate people on what allyship is and how it shows up in our workplaces in training people on the value and importance of that, so that we can see the needle move, so that the next 10 years we’re not talking about we haven’t seen any change happen.” Now, I do think that person’s response is extreme. There has been change. It’s just been small, incremental change. And that’s like with anything that deals with people. It doesn’t happen quickly. And so you have to leave room for time and adjustment and for people to change and evolve in their own space. And so I think the question really around allyship is helping people understand what it is, but also why there is value in it. One of our leaders, not in this current position, but in a prior position for me and it was a white leader. And he said, “To me, allyship is getting individuals who have not had to change, who have not had issues in the workplace to care.” And he’s like, “When I care, then I unfold a world of other people who can help change and move this needle along.” But he’s like, “If I don’t care and I’m sitting at the leadership table, it’s going to be very hard for women or people of color, or those from the LGBTQ+ community, or for those who are of the disability community that to see change happen.” So he’s like, “For me, it needs to start with me changing and understanding why it’s important.” So long answer to get to, I think making allyship clear for people and why it’s important to value.

Anson Green:

I would say one of the things that I think really helps support allyship in our model at Tyson, and I think this grew out of some other objectives. But one of the things I’ve learned is when we work with our individual plants across the US, we try to bring a wide variety of people to those discussions from the plant. And we have on staff at our plants, a chaplain program where we have a chaplain that acts as a social service worker in the plant. We have community liaisons that represent the largest community, immigrant communities in the plant. So there’ll be a Burmese liaison or Vietnamese liaison. And then we’ll have the plant leadership, human resources. But you never know where your allies are until you broaden that discussion. Sometimes you default to say, “Well, I am a learning and development person. I’m going to talk to my peer at the local office that’s a learning and development person.” But sometimes that may not be the best ally there to build that network, but also to bring those perspectives forward. So I’ve really seen that broadening the group and maybe it narrows down from the initial discussions, but you never know where those champions are until you talk to a wide variety of people, especially when you’re working in a real diffused situation, like I am where we’re dealing with plants all across the country. You just don’t know those folks first hand. You don’t know what the dynamics are in the plant. And so challenging, from your initial discussion, I always challenge my team, invite four other people to that meeting, find their positions on the org chart on outlook. And bring them in and see how we can start to build that dynamic and see where we need to do training and where we need to build some capacity and awareness, and then see where it goes from there in terms of the champions that will help carry some of these efforts forward.

Alaina Doyle:

Yeah. Both good responses. And tying back to what Lori said about the action piece, and so at Wells, we define an ally as a person of one social identity group who stands up in support of members of another. And so if you are a part of a dominant identity group, the important thing for you to be able to do is to advocate and support a non-dominant group. So an example of that might be speaking up for someone when they’re not in the room. So allies speak up when maybe there’s a policy change that comes about, and you can see that this will definitely exclude an individual from the non-dominant group from that opportunity, whatever that may be, a career development training or something like that.

Sarah Gallo:

Yeah. Those are all great. We’ve definitely heard that allyship really is an action word. It’s a verb. So it’s great to hear you all reiterating that and seeing how training can help. Well, at this point, I think we can definitely say that advancing equitable work and learning is like you mentioned earlier, it’s a journey and it’s not a destination. And we’ve touched on the fact that it can be frustrating when it takes a long time to see change. And sometimes it’s small and incremental. What tips do you all have for our listeners who are struggling and maybe feeling a little bit burned out along the way?

Anson Green:

I would say the thing that’s helped me out, and I think it’s something I didn’t purposely do, but I think it’s a good practice to consider is even though you may not feel like you have the time to do it sometimes, getting involved in peer groups much like this group here on the phone call, I sit on several different groups that are discussing these issues from a wide variety of industries, just like we have represented here today. And sometimes I was talking to a friend of mine that’s in the healthcare industry and they thought it was odd to talk to somebody, I challenged him to go talk with somebody in a different industry. And it just didn’t make any sense to them at first. But I said, “Different sectors have really different ways of tackling things, different dynamics, but there’s really more similar across industries than I think there is different.” And so I find that I get fueled by hearing these new ideas that I have to learn. I have to think, okay, how do I take that structure out of healthcare and do something in a Tyson plant with it? Because I really like it. It’s attractive to me, but it doesn’t immediately fit. So it activates my creative side to build and think. And that gives me energy, I think to push things forward, even though ostensibly, you would look and say, “I don’t have time for that extra meeting on my calendar.” And it’s like, keeping that time, just sometimes justifying it with your boss is like, “Yeah, I’m in this group that doesn’t seem related to what I’m doing because of these other things.” But I think that’s something that has worked for me is to diversify my inputs. And then it gives me this need to creatively think and activate that part of my work.

Alaina Doyle:

Just to piggyback off of what Anson is saying, I think I’m on the younger side, as Lori mentioned previously of the DE&I work. And so I’m excited [about] D&I, [and I] think that advancing equity can be that. And so it does give you this opportunity to be positive and have a lot of energy, but also optimism and be creative and have some courage. And so to Anson’s point, it’s about learning these different inputs. That is what really energizes me as well. If it’s no more than just going to some sort of virtual conference or something like that, to meet new people and hear about just so many different things. But I would say to bring it down a little further is why are you invested in this journey? Why are you doing this? So going back and revisiting that might be something else that you want to think about. It feels great to help other people. And that, I think is what energizes me. It’s helping those who might not have an opportunity by offering them maybe a mentorship or a development opportunity, or just friendship. And then being intentional about what you’re looking for from a change while you’re, I guess waiting for the long term changes to take effect.

Lori Spicer Robertson:

Well, I love this question. I’ve been doing talks on this all year because people come to me consistently about burnout. And my friends tell me I have a therapy personality, even though I’m not a therapist. So I’ve come up with this acronym as what I share with others, it’s called BLISS. And it starts with a “B” for boundaries. Doing this work can be difficult. And so you have to create boundaries, especially for us coming out of a virtual world where everyone was home. People are like, “You’re at home, so I’ll call you at seven o’clock because you’re available to me.” I’m actually not. So creating boundaries for yourself. I think like Anson said, the “L” is for leadership. So surrounding yourself with leaders who can share best practices, who you’re comfortable, you have a safe and brave space or platform where you can about what’s keeping you up at night. And then also who you can celebrate wins with. The “I” is for impact. Most people got into this work. Their why, as Alaina mentioned was that they want to be impactful both internally and externally from their company. And then the “S” is really around success. It’s taking the time to celebrate the wins, large or small. Because if you’re doing this work, whether it’s DEI and I have a background in learning development, you’re going. You’re always on to the next. And so finding those times to pause and celebrate yourself or your team, or the company for whatever it was that you were able to accomplish. And then lastly is sustainability. You’ve got to find periods of rest, that there is a true harmony between a work and rest. And you have to find what works best for you. Mine is every quarter I check out, whether that’s a real big vacation or a staycation, or I just learn how to take a nap. It’s still a work in progress. But for me, it’s around change is “BLISS,” is what I call it. So boundaries, leadership, impact, success and sustainability.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

I love that. That’s such a great way to think about it.

Anson Green:

Absolutely.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

Because managing burnout is so necessary in today’s workplace.

Lori Spicer Robertson:

Yeah, it is. And it’s tough. I think the world has shifted, so it’s getting harder and harder. And there’s all kinds of things cropping up in social environments that influence what you’re doing internally that to me, that didn’t show up in the workplace before. So the walls have come down.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

Definitely. I’d love to circle back and talk about a point you actually made earlier, Lori, about your workforce wanting to see action, like DEI training needs to be actionable. And so really in order to drive real change, DEI training does need to be actionable.

Lori Spicer Robertson:

Yeah.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

So after today’s episode, what’s one basic step our listeners can take to begin moving the needle at their organizations?

Lori Spicer Robertson:

I think to get involved, don’t sit on the sidelines or be peripheral. I think for years people have said, “That’s somebody else’s work. I’ll let them do that in the workplace, that I don’t have to do that. Whoever’s leading learning and development or who’s leading diverse equity inclusion, they’ll figure out and solve the problem.” I think what we’ve learned in the last two years is that we are the solution to the problem. Everyone in the workplace is really the solution of how we show action and move the needle forward. And so identifying what those small ways are, if it is you sign up, because we also get volunteers who facilitate our content. So if you want to learn more, I always encourage people, “You don’t need to be perfect or have the answers. If you go through the training as a facilitator, it’s the best breeding ground for you to learn more.” So, raise your hand to be a facilitator. If you’re not part of an employee resource group or business resource group or affinity group, whatever your company calls them, definitely get engaged because they are internal communities where you get to learn more about yourself, but also the people who share an affinity in those groups. I think if there is a council for you to join, also become involved with that. And then our other one is we have a service group for our employee volunteerism in giving. And I’d say more than anything, that has given exposure to our employees because it shows what you’re doing in the workplace, but how it shows outside the workplace. We just launched a new career coaching series for HBCUs. And you come to work assuming that everybody starts in the same place that you started, and everyone has the same training and background that you’ve had. And then you start to talk to young people and you realize, especially from diverse backgrounds that they may not have. They don’t know things that we think are simple. And so how do I help bring and usher that next generation along is a great way to help. So I think finding your lane and not trying to compare your lane to someone else’s is how you remain active. But knowing that you are the solution is not for you to sit on the sidelines and watch someone else.

Alaina Doyle:

And then I would say Lori took all mine, but I’ll add in a key thing that she picked up that she talked about just briefly, I was at a conference recently and realized that there’s such thing as a first generation corporate America type of personal profile. So I fit within that, because no one else in my family has ever been in a corporate environment. So a very good point of befriending, especially those newer folks that this is their first experience in being in corporate America. They may not know some of the ends and outs. They won’t know that at all. But the other thing that I would say is I’m building relationships with people who don’t think like me at all. And so I recommend that’s one way too, because it expands your knowledge as well as that other person’s. And then that may in turn direct you to an ERG, or employee resource group, or all the other things that Lori mentioned.

Anson Green:

Those are all great points. The thing that comes to my mind continually on this is I think it’s so useful, and I talk to other businesses in different sectors frequently. And sometimes I’ll hear them say, “Well, what are y’all doing on DEI? Because we haven’t started that yet. Or like, “We’re trying to benchmark off somebody else. What are y’all doing?” And I think I almost feel like there’s almost sometimes for folks a paralysis in that they’re behind. There’s so much urgency around this sometimes and people want to see impacts. And I think to begin to move the needle, I think it’s really a good idea to first off, help reduce the idea that DEI is something else and that it’s this new thing. We’ve been actually working on these elements for many, many years. We just sometimes brand it differently. But people think, “Okay, now we have to start this.” And I’m like, “Well maybe you can reflect back internally on things that we’ve been doing, data we’ve been collecting to determine where we are on this continuum as an organization, and as you are personally.” You see job postings everywhere for DEI directors and all this stuff, like it’s a new thing. And it is in many ways, I’m not saying it’s not, but I think sometimes that also trips, the wire of people feeling like they’re behind or they’re not doing it when in fact, there may be some really rich body of work and evidence and structures in place. And it’s about how do we fit in this continuum of this discussion, and then find our way forward that way? But it just really makes me nervous when I hear people feel like they’re losing ground or they’re not doing anything when I find it hard to believe. When you talk to them, you realize they’re doing all kinds of things. They just have not viewed it through that lens. And it’s just a complicated way that we look at things sometimes. And sometimes it throws up more barriers than we might think it does just because of the way we’ve branded something, or things like that.

Sarah Gallo:

Yeah. Those are all really great points. And I think like we mentioned, it is a continuum and it’s a journey. And just like we see where our organization is on that journey, the action you take is going to be based on your own. So maybe that looks like doing some unlearning before you take any actions, or moving on from that into the next phase, so to speak. Perfect. Well, on that note, Alaina, Anson and Lori, thank you all so much for speaking with us today. How can our listeners get in touch with you after today’s episode if they’d like to reach out?

Lori Spicer Robertson:

For me, you can find me on LinkedIn, Lori Spicer Robertson. I don’t know if there’s another Lori Spicer Robertson. So you can go there and I will be sure to add you as a connection.

Anson Green:

Yeah, absolutely. I’m Anson Green, anson.green@tyson.com. And I would love to get emails from individuals that are working to help upskill lower skilled individuals, those with limited English, new Americans in their companies, because that’s my hobby and my career. And I can be found on LinkedIn too, and I’m a pretty avid poster there. So just look up Anson Green, A-N-S-O-N Green, like the color.

Alaina Doyle:

All right. And then Alaina Doyle. I don’t think that there are a lot of Alaina’s out there. A-L-A-I-N-A Doyle, D-O-Y-L-E on LinkedIn.

Michelle Eggleston Schwartz:

For more insights on equitable learning and to download a complimentary job aid from Training Industry courses, building diversity and inclusion training program, visit the show notes for this episode at trainingindustry.com/trainingindustrypodcast.

Sarah Gallo:

And if you enjoyed listening to this episode, let us know. Write and review us on your favorite podcast app. Until next time.

Speaker:

If you have feedback about this episode or would like to suggest a topic for a future program, email us at info@trainingindustry.com or use the contact us page at trainingindustry.com. Thanks for listening to the Training Industry Podcast.

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