Belonging and Acceptance
Hopefully you’ve heard of “DEI,” but what about “DEIAB?” Tune into this week’s episode of Money, I’m Home as Lynne is joined by Ronaldo Harvey to discuss the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging in the workplace.
0:00:06.9 Lynne Jarman-Johnson (LJJ): Money, I’m home. Welcome in. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union from finance to fitness. We have it all, and I have had the most exquisite week, it has been one of learning and laughter, and mostly learning about things that are so important in credit union space, and for all of you who are members and listening in today, we have a really special edition, we’ve got a keynote speaker who was here on stage with us this week, and he is Ronaldo Harvey, and Ronaldo you have such an engaging personality, number one, on stage.
0:00:40.7 Ronaldo Harvey (RH): Thank you.
0:00:41.2 LJJ: And here’s the topic that we talked about, which you know something… This is something that you learn about every day…
0:00:47.7 RH: Yes.
0:00:48.4 LJJ: But I learned to even something more. It’s D-E-I-B-A?
0:00:54.3 RH: B-A Yes.
0:00:54.4 LJJ: Okay, help me and help the listeners know what is the BA… because that was new to me.
0:00:57.9 RH: Correct, so the B stands for belonging, and we’ll go to that one last because right before that is the A, which is accessibility, and when you’re doing diversity, equity, inclusion, and you’ve done those things the right way, one key component of it is how you create additional access for audiences that are being left out. So whether that’s internally within our corporate culture and how we create more space for people at the table, or externally even with our membership, how do we create more access to our products and services. Accessibility is key to inclusion. And then of course, if we do all of these things the right way, the final outcome should be a sense of belonging, people should feel connected and feel like they’re actually a part of a place where they should be, and not just trying to fit in.
0:01:46.6 LJJ: Tell me how you started in this work, because when I heard of your story, your background story, you really began before this became what people talk about now, I think this is really important.
0:01:58.0 RH: Correct. So, of course it’s super popular now, I believe that George Floyd kind of super charged at in every industry around the globe, we saw people unite around the globe around that particular moment. But for me, I really began this journey first through my educational attainment, so my master’s degree is in human resources with a concentration in leadership development, and I did studies there, and I had seen the impact of me doing this work in organizations I led. But in 2017, I had this aha moment, and it was after the events of Alton Sterling in my community, and also then we also had someone come in and kill police in our area as well as a retaliation to what happened with Alton Sterling.
0:02:30.1 RH: And so, I was kind of dealing with that, I was at the forefront of some of those efforts in our community. And I began to reflect on my own professional journey, and while I was a CEO at the time already, and I had a national profile, had already began in speaking in different conferences and around the industry, people knew me, I realized that a lot of my journey growing and matriculating through the organization came through heavy assimilation. And something in me decided that I was not okay with that anymore, that I really wanted to show up 100% myself, and I knew that there was value to being who I am. And for me, I’m a black man, there’s no day that I’m going to wake up and not be a black man, and I said to myself, it’s not worth it if I continue to move into spaces and occupy seats based upon elements myself that I’m adjusting to be there.
0:03:41.5 RH: I’m not comfortable, and I said, As a matter of fact, we got to change this in the industry as a whole, which at my age at the time, already being a young black CEO, I’m thinking to myself, this really could be career suicide, the industry that had grown to love me in many ways, could decide, “Oh no, you’re doing something we’re uncomfortable with, we don’t like you anymore,” and I could be killing my career, but what I said was I’d rather do that and live out my purpose and my passion, than to continue to show up in spaces and places, having to be a different version of myself just to advance. And to my surprise, you know the industry, it wasn’t all the way ready for that discussion in 2017, but because I have built a certain reputation, some started to at least listen, and over time, I’ve seen that evolution of continuing to work in this lane and how we are starting to evolve, but we have a long way to go.
0:04:44.5 LJJ: Right. One of the things that you spoke about is having a seat at the table, and I loved how you said, you know, “If all of a sudden you pull up more seats… Someone in the room is worrying, is my seat going to go away?” And that’s totally the opposite of what holding a seat at the table means.
0:05:04.8 RH: Exactly. I always say a conversation of inclusion will never be a conversation of exclusion, and so, so many people hear these… They hear the acronym, they hear the terminologies, and all of a sudden they get this tense feeling and they begin to think, I’m going to get excluded here, whether… Of course, one of the groups happen to be white men, they get picked on or they feel picked on in this work a lot, and what I envision that most people see when they hear this is a game of musical chairs. They think somehow I have to fight for my seat, there is not enough space for me, so I have to push people out, the seat is going to be pulled from under me, somebody is going to get vicious, and from my vantage point, I’m like, “Well, you know, we actually could just pull up another seat, we can expand the table that really works too.” You’ve gone restaurant before it had a really big room. Right?
0:06:01.1 LJJ: Right.
0:06:01.7 RH: And what do they do? They started putting tables together, they add seats… Why can’t we look at it that way?
0:06:07.6 LJJ: Right. In every walk of life of what you’re doing. Finally, I really do want to talk about the work, because many companies around the world now are really looking at DEIAB and they’re saying, I need to put a plan together, but they just don’t… A, know where to start. But B, don’t understand that it truly is an everyday working…
0:06:29.1 RH: Correct.
0:06:33.9 LJJ: It is not a let’s check the box. We’re done.
0:06:34.0 RH: Correct, so this is an adaptive change, and one of the books that I read, I was a part of an Urban Leadership Development Institute, and they had us read this Harvard Business Review book called The Practice of Adaptive Leadership. It changed my perspective on so much because a change of this nature is adaptive, and what happens is a lot of people try to see change of this nature as something transactional. I see a problem our industry, we’re full of transactions, so I see a problem, I implement this immediately, I expect adjustment. Whereas this is something that takes time. And when you’re going through adaptive change, one of the things that the book identifies is that most people view change through the lens of loss. What am I losing? Because every system in structure we’re part of was built… Somebody built it and someone benefits from it, right
0:07:28.2 RH: So, when you look at change first, you have to figure out who’s going to feel like they’re losing, and help them to cross over into this perspective of, “Hey, there’s no loss, there’s only gain here.” But then organizationally elevating this discussion all the way up to the strategic level, making sure you have board buy in, then executive buy-in before you push it out to the staff, because some places just want to move 100% of this to HR and training, and they’ll say, “Go get us some DEI training.” They don’t even know about the A and the B yet. “So get us some DEI training and we fixed it.” And I’m like, “No, we need to do a little bit more than that.”
0:08:07.7 LJJ: It’s a constant work.
0:08:08.3 RH: Correct.
0:08:09.9 LJJ: It is constant work. I absolutely love the fact that now the open, transparent conversations are happening.
0:08:17.3 RH: Yes.
0:08:18.3 LJJ: And you, I think tie it all back together to the one word that is so important, that is having someone feel like they belong.
0:08:25.8 RH: Belong. That’s the end goal. I think that if we get to the root of every human heart, every human heart wants a place to belong, and when we consider that even in how we build our organizations, we shouldn’t want people to show up every day and be a part of the work we’re doing without feeling like they belong. Because until they feel like they belong, they’re not going to give us their best. Your best efforts are produced in places and spaces where you feel like you belong. And there’s a number of different things that have to happen to feel that. Representation does matter, because if I don’t see myself represented in the organization, I’m not going to feel like I belong, it’s one of the key components of helping people to feel connected. You know as a woman, when you worked in spaces that you saw women in certain seats, whether that’s the executive seat or that’s the board, it helped you to see yourself in another position. It helped you to see, but maybe I’m going to work out here because it seems like this place, at least…
0:09:28.9 LJJ: And I can go into that… Right? I can grow as a person, as a human being, I can grow.
0:09:37.1 RH: Absolutely, absolutely.
0:09:37.7 LJJ: How can people reach out to you if they would like your guidance? Amazing conversations again today.
0:09:42.8 RH: Thank you. Send an email Ronaldo R-O-N-A-L-D-O-H @custrategicplanning.com So it’s Ronaldo.
0:09:51.9 LJJ: Custrategicplanning.com.
0:09:52.8 RH: There you go.
0:09:53.4 LJJ: Well, really, thank you so much for your time and have safe travels back, and I know that I will see you in the future.
0:09:58.9 RH: Absolutely, thank you for having me.
0:10:00.5 LJJ: Hey, thank you for listening, if you have a topic that you’d like to share, just send it our way, and I’d like to give a shout out to Jake Esselink, our producer, who has done an amazing job this whole time as we are traveling around the country to bring you interesting topics. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union.