In this episode, we discuss the topic of allyship and sit down with Author, Public Speaker, Educator, and CEO of Lead at Any Level, Amy C. Waninger to discuss what allyship looks like practically in the workplace.
Hosts: Zach | Ade
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Ade: “First, I must confess that over the past few years I’ve been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Klu Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” This excerpt from Martin Luther King’s letter from a Birmingham jail highlights a point in his movement where he was particularly frustrated, and as he wrote here, his frustration was not with those who were very clearly against him but were with those who were, in his words, lukewarm to his cause of social equity. From my perspective, I realize that I probably will constantly face opposition. My real question is “What does true support look like?” This is Ade, and you’re listening to Living Corporate.
Zach: Whoo, that was a heavy quote.
Ade: Yeah. It’s--I mean, it’s kind of weird that so far we haven’t quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., I think. But, you know, whatever. Considering our show.
Zach: Fair enough. So today we’re talking about effective allyship in Corporate America, and honestly I’m really excited we’re discussing this today. When you talk about Living Corporate and the fact that we’re trying to highlight the views of under-represented people in Corporate America, a lot of that has to do with how we partner and get partnership from people that don’t look like us.
Ade: Right. And honestly, just the world and the context in which we’re living, it’s so weird. Like, it’s, you know, simultaneously more diverse than ever, and more voices are popping up and, you know, demanding to be heard, but at the same time there is this relentless push back, and it feels like the more voices pop up, the more there’s this, like, push to maintain the status quo, just whatever against the idea of recognizing the truth and reality of all of these different experiences.
Zach: Oh, you’re absolutely right. I mean, honestly, when you talk about, like, the reality of different experiences at work, right? So at all of the different places I’ve been, every job I’ve had so far had some type of ERG or employee resource group or affinity group or whatever you want to call them, but that’s kind of where they just group people by their identities, right? Or by how they believe people identify themselves primarily, and 99% of the time--I’ll say it this way. I can count on one hand how many discussions I’ve had at work around race that weren’t like, “Oh, you’re black? Well, yeah. We have, like, this black stuff over here.” Like, “You can just go over there with all the other black people, and y’all can be black - together.”
Ade: Okay, so I’m curious. Ever, over the course of your professional career, just an instance really of someone being in your corner--someone obviously being someone who did not have a marginalized identity within that context, someone who really practiced effective allyship, who had your back in tense situations.
Zach: That’s a really good question. You know what? I think so. So one time I was at work, right? And every time I would be in these meetings, like for a particular project, I would get ignored. Like, I would speak up, and I’d say something. I’d give a point, I’d ask a question. I’d say something, and it would get ignored. But then the people on my project, my colleagues, they would then say what I just said, and then they would get applauded, right? Yes, and it happened all the time.
Ade: Ugh. Been there.
Zach: So finally this white knight--and no pun intended considering the quote that we gave at the top of the show, it was actually a good thing--this paragon of parity, this champion, he approached the project manager at the end of one of these meetings and in a hushed but direct tone said, “Hey, the way you’re treating Zach seems odd.”
Ade: Uh… is that it?
Zach: Yeah, that’s it.
Ade: Okay. So, um, that sounds nice, and to be real, like, I am not necessarily expecting, you know, knights to come up and, you know, duel people to the death for our honor or throw on their capes and leap from one building of oppression to the next to try to save us all. I just--I feel like it’s hard enough being, like we’ve said multiple times on this show, one of the onlys in a work environment. It’s hard enough when you feel like you’re just at it by yourself. Sometimes, all it really does take is that one quiet conversation to feel like you’re not alone, and I really want to focus on the concept of people who are dedicated, not just, you know, having the idea of allyship but dedicated to using their privilege and their space and their social capital and their power in ways that benefit the people around them who lack that same social capital, and, you know, sometimes a little bit of the coded language, a little bit of the flexing of social capital muscle, goes a really, really long way.
Zach: I mean, it would be great if we could speak to someone, perhaps someone who is not an ethnic minority. Someone who maybe they wrote a book about unconscious bias and diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Someone who’s had many public speaking engagements and who’s the CEO of a firm that promotes in the trenches leadership, diversity and inclusion and career management through mentoring, public speaking engagements and other offerings?
Ade: Are you talking about our guest, Amy C. Waninger?
Zach and Ade: Whaaaaaat?
Zach: [imitating air horns] Sound Man, come on, you know what it is. Give me [inaudible].
[Sound Man complies]
Ade: Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.
Zach: We’re gonna get into our interview with our guest, Amy C. Waninger.
Zach: And we’re back, and we said before, we have Amy C. Waninger here with us on the show today. Amy, thank you for joining us today.
Amy: Thank you for having me, Zach. I’m excited to be here.
Zach: Absolutely, excited to have you here. Would you mind--for those of us who don’t know you, would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself?
Amy: Absolutely. I started my career in 1999 as a software developer and, you know, kind of went through all of the bubbles and bursts in the early 2000s in IT. For about the last 10 to 12 years I’ve been in the management space, so progressive management roles in and around information technology, and in the last 10 years I’ve focused on the insurance industry. I recently started my own company, Lead At Any Level, LLC, and through Lead At Any Level I do authorship of, you know, a blog. I have a book out, as you know, and public speaking engagements, training sessions, coaching, individually consulting around career management, diversity and inclusion, and leadership skills.
Zach: You have written a book called Network Beyond Bias. Can you explain the title?
Amy: Okay, sure. So that--it’s kind of a long story, but I’ll try to make it as quick as I can here. So the word Beyond was really important to me. I did a--I went through a process with a woman named Erin Weed. She has a company called Evoso, and she does this process that she calls a dig, and she helps you get to a word that is powerful for you. It’s this very structured, important, detailed process around how you get to this word, and the word that I chose for myself at the end of this was the word “beyond” because beyond has a lot of power for me, you know? The idea that wherever you are today, you can get beyond. Whatever horizon you can see, you can go beyond it, and so the title comes from the need to network with diverse populations and with people, you know, with all different perspectives, and I don’t believe that we can undo our biases necessarily, and we shouldn’t ignore them. We need to accept that they’re there and then move beyond them, and the subtitle, Making Diversity A Competitive Advantage For Your Career, came from what I saw as a gap in the diversity and inclusion consulting space and even in the writing about diversity and inclusion in the corporate world that we tend to target organizations or senior leaders in that conversation and not engage people at the everyday level. You know, just everyday individual contributors that are maybe trying to move ahead in their careers, and that was important to me for a couple of reasons. Number one, I think people who--by the time they’re in the C-Suite or they’ve got the VP titles or, you know, they’re pretty high up in these large companies, I think they’re very entrenched and engaged in the way things are and not necessarily looking to change because they know how to play the game as it exists today. And, you know, for people who are struggling to get into that in-group that can be really challenging, so I wanted to focus on people who maybe haven’t made it as far as they want to go yet and want to get there but get there in a very inclusive way, and so how can individuals engage in the diversity and inclusion conversation in a way that feels authentic for them? And there’s some element of--I don’t know how to explain it. There’s some element of just because it’s the right thing to do, right? Not altruism, but doing the right thing, but also in a way that helps them move forward in their own careers, because I really feel like if we can engage tomorrow’s leaders today--and I kind of wrap up the book with this--if we can engage tomorrow’s leaders today in being more inclusive and kind of changing the way we network and changing the way these conversations happen for our careers, we can make lasting changes that will get us to, you know, get more diverse representation in the C-Suite.
Zach: You know what? It’s interesting that that’s your answer because it leads me into my next question, which is actually--I’m gonna lead in by reading an excerpt from your book, okay? So I’ma read this excerpt. “In the United States, few words are more polarizing than race and racism, yet Americans suffer from constant racial tension, race-based economic disparities and institutionalized racism. If we are to change this, white Americans must listen to those experiences and perspectives that could inform and enlighten us. Our blindness to our privilege is oppressive. Our sense of entitlement is embarrassing.” So I’ve read your book. Really genuinely enjoyed.
Amy: Thank you.
Zach: Like, as a black man I was like, “Wow, I’m really surprised there’s a white person saying this.” Right? Like, I was very surprised. I’ve read content in the past, like from various authors, who have a similar tone, but they’re typically not white. In this you allude to allyship, so could you first expound on this excerpt and then help us understand what you mean by being an ally and being someone who listens and learns and things of that nature?
Amy: Sure. So I’m gonna start by saying that I’m really grateful that you’re calling attention to this chapter. This chapter, writing that chapter about race, was the hardest part of writing the book, and the book almost didn’t get written because I knew that I couldn’t write a book about diversity and inclusion without acknowledging that I’m white, and I didn’t--I struggled so much with how to write about that in a way that was from my perspective but not exclusive of other perspectives, and I struggled with how to write it in a way that was genuine and authentic without--you know, there’s a lot wrapped up in the word “race” for everybody, and, you know, as a white woman I think that, you know, I’ve heard other white people say it’s important for us to talk about this because white folks have access to conversations and audiences that people of color do not, and I think until I wrote about this, on my blog and in my book, I didn’t really understand what that meant. So getting back to your question though, I think allyship is important because as you noted, I--you know, I exist in a white world. I mean, that’s just--that’s my reality, right? The environment that I grew up in--I grew up in southern Indiana in a rural community that was 99.9% white, non-Hispanic, and I was--you know, I was kind of the ethnic one in the room most of the time because I wasn’t German and Catholic, you know? I was different, and I wasn’t that different, right? So, you know, it’s been hard for me to get to a place where I can understand my role in the race conversation, and it wasn’t that I grew up necessarily thinking that--I didn’t grow up thinking that racism was okay. I mean, that was, you know, very ingrained in me from an early age, but what racism meant in an all-white community, it was still racism, right? Even if you weren’t racist, like, it was still a racist environment because there was no--there was no one different. So it’s been an evolution for me over, you know, the course of time, and when I wrote the chapter on race and the blog post on race, I actually reached out to a couple of people of color in my network, and I said, “I would like some feedback on this. I would like some help with this,” and Sabrina Bristow, a friend of mine from North Carolina, she does social justice work in the human services space of government, and she helped me with that chapter. And I actually--I kind of had started a little too advanced, she thought, for most white people, so I had to backtrack a little bit and include, “Okay, here are some things I’m getting right already,” right? By including people of color in my network and, you know, having genuine relationships, and going out of my way to find people and to build relationships across racial boundaries, because it’s very easy for us, for anyone, to stay in their neighborhood, to stay in their enclave, right? And we’re a very segregated society, especially--you know, I think--in the northern states I think we’re a little more segregated even because of public policy that drove segregation kind of under the--you know, under the covers. It wasn’t explicit, right? But it was perhaps--and I hate to use the word effective because it sounds positive and it’s not, but, you know, it was perhaps a more lasting segregation in the north because it was policy that was guiding it, and it was subversive policy at that. You know, in the south, where it was very explicit, it was easier to undo. So I’ve had to learn all of this because this isn’t what we’re taught in schools, and it’s not--you know, if you pick up the newspaper or magazines or, you know, if you read white bloggers, you don’t read about this. What I’ve had to do is I’ve had to expand where I get my information and who I listen to and what those people learn. So, you know, you get a much different perspective if you--I’ll get outside of the black and white, you know, racial categories for a moment--if you read books for Asian-Americans written by Asian-American authors, for example, about the corporate landscape, what you read sounds much different than, you know, what you might get if you are in a meeting with a bunch of managers and there’s, you know, a 5-minute section on how to include Asian-Americans in your work [inaudible], right? It’s just different. It’s a different perspective.
Amy: And so, you know, I started listening and learning that I need to go where I’m a fly on the wall listening to how people talk amongst themselves about the problems that they’re facing, and then I need to figure out how I can--when those perspectives are not represented in a room that I’m in, how can I bring those perspectives to light so that the people who are in the room understand that their perspective isn’t the only one that matters just because they’re the only ones in the room?
Zach: As an ally, how do you balance being vocal while not, I don’t know, talking too much? Like, do you have any type of rules that you follow to not, in a sense, colonize the movements and spaces you want to support?
Amy: Yeah. So I knew that you were gonna ask me that question, so thank you for that in advance, and I struggled with it originally because I don’t have hard and fast rules. I think the guidelines that I try to follow are--I’ve come to the realization that when people are in the majority in a room, any room, they’re very candid, and perhaps too candid sometimes, right, that they divulge things that they probably shouldn’t. People tend to be very candid when they’re in--like, especially in a super majority in a room. People who are in a minority in a room tend to be very emotionally intelligent, right? Because speaking up can be threatening, and so what I’ve found is if I’m in a space where I’m a minority, if, you know, maybe I’m the only white person in the room--maybe I’m the only non-Hispanic in the room, maybe I’m the only woman in the room. That happens quite a bit. You know, I tend to be more in listening mode and receiving mode, and I try not to ask a lot of questions because I don’t want other people to have to educate me, but I think about those questions, and then I can go research them later. I can contemplate or I can read and, you know, not stop the conversation because, you know, the white lady has a question, right? Let the conversation continue as it is, and I can absorb and kind of take that away. But then when something comes up where I feel like someone else is being dismissed, that’s when I speak up. So I have a hard time speaking up for myself. If I’m feeling defensive about--you know, like I said, I grew up in technology, and I started in ‘99, and I was frequently told, you know, “Oh, you’re really analytical for a girl,” or, you know, “Wow, you code really well for a woman,” you know? And I would just kind of roll my eyes, and if I said anything back it was usually not--it was usually not work-appropriate if I said something back. Let’s just leave it at that. And so I got to the point where I was like, “You know what? I’m not even gonna address these things,” but where I have learned that there’s power and where I think you build respect and you can become an ally--I don’t think you make a decision to be an ally and you are one, and I would never use the word ally to describe myself without first saying, “I aspire to be an ally,” because I think it’s ongoing work. I don’t think you can give yourself that title. I think someone else has to give it to you.
Zach: Wow, yeah.
Amy: But the ways in--I’m sorry, go ahead.
Zach: I was just saying wow. Like, yes, absolutely. I’m listening to you.
Amy: Yeah. So the way I aspire to be an ally and the way I aspire to do the work of an ally is to recognize what perspectives are missing, and if those perspectives were in the room and had a voice, what would they say? Or if those perspectives are in the room and don’t feel like they have a voice, can I make space for that? Can I stop the conversation so that someone else who is maybe not in the super majority in the room can speak up? Or, even more importantly, can I say “Hold on, I think if we look at this from a different perspective,” and then I can share what I’ve learned by being in those spaces, right? In those spaces that are predominantly of color or, you know, in different ways so that I can help bridge that gap and sort of make that translation so that it doesn’t always fall on the one black person in the room or the one Hispanic person in the room or, you know, the one Asian-American in the room to speak up, right? To me that’s allyship, not making people advocate for themselves all the time. You have to advocate in a way that includes them.
Zach: Yeah. You talked a little bit about gender diversity and you being the only woman in the room, and I can empathize. I can’t sympathize, right? But I can empathize, and let me confess something, like, with that in mind. For me, it’s deeply frustrating when I see diversity and inclusion programs only focus on gender diversity, right? So, like, if you look at the tech space, and if you ask, like, the common, average person--we have this app called Fishbowl, which is, like, an anonymous posting app for consultants, and there are times when I’ve seen people post questions like, “What do you think about the diversity and inclusion at your work?” And most people--typically people tend to be a little bit more honest on these anonymous online threads, for good or bad--they’ll say, “Well, it’s good for white women,” right? And so for me, I agree with that, right? Outside looking in as a black man, like, just my perspective, it seems as if these programs are very much so focused on gender diversity but don’t really look at the cross-section of the ethnic diversity or the sexual orientation diversity, right? So in your book you talk about representation in the C-Suite, in chapter 33. Can you talk more about that particular chapter and the things that you wrote around that topic?
Amy: Sure, and I don’t have the book in front of me so I’m gonna not speak specifically to the numbers…
Zach: Sure. [laughs]
Amy: [laughs] Because I don’t have the numbers memorized. That’s why there’s a book. You know, the representation of women I think--of white women, and I want to be clear that we’re talking--and I think you and I spoke about this before we did the interview, right?
Amy: We talked about we get these numbers about, you know, pay disparity, and we say it’s 83 cents on the dollar for women, and that’s not true. It’s 83 cents on the dollar for white women. The numbers for, you know, women of color get worse and worse, right, as you start going down the list. So, you know, black women make less than white women, Latina women make less than that, indigenous women--you know, I don’t even know if they collect the data on that, right? It’s ridiculous the disparity between white women and women of color, and when we talk about women, right, we tend to talk about women as if that’s all women, and it’s not. It’s white women, so let’s be very clear about that. White women make up--and I want to say it’s less than 6% of the C-Suite, right? Of CEO positions in the United States, and I think there were, like, 27 this year out of the Fortune 500. So we’re talking, like, itty-bitty numbers, right? But white women have better representation in the C-Suite at their 4 or 5% or whatever it is, have better representation in the CEO spots of the Fortune 500 than do all people of color, and so I agree with you. I think that it’s a missed opportunity when we--you know, I think ERGs are important, and I talk about that in the book too, employee resource groups and how it can help you connect in spaces that are affinity groups for you, and it can help you connect in spaces that are not affinity groups for you so you can understand different perspectives, but I think one of the things that that can do if we’re not careful is it can kind of divide people up where the employee resource group for women ends up being all white women because women of color identify as, you know, Latina or, you know, African-American first and women second, and the pride ERG is the same way by the way. I think, you know, a lot of times the LGBTQ community is the white LGBTQ community and ignores the perspectives of people of color and, you know, assumes, right, “Well, if they’re here they’ll find us because they’re gay,” and that’s the most important thing to the LGBTQ community that’s white is that they’re gay, but, you know, for--you know, for Asian-Americans or Hispanic-Americans or black Americans that may also be LGBTQ, that’s not the first thing people recognize about them, and so their primary identity is in the racial--you know, in the racial or ethnic category. So all of that to say I don’t think we should cut people up. I think what we should do instead is, you know, recognize that feminism has been white feminism for a long time. You know, white women have benefited a lot from not just their own advocacy but also from the civil rights movement and the African-American civil rights movement of the ‘60s, and instead of claiming ours and then hoping that other people will follow or, you know, “Once we get there we’ll reach out our hand,” I think is the absolute wrong approach. I think what we need to do instead is when white women hear that, oh, we make 83 cents on the dollar, I think it’s incumbent upon us, it’s imperative for us to say, “That’s not the number for women. That’s the number for white women,” and we need to be the ones, white women need to be the ones to stand up to say, “Look, this is not an inclusive conversation just because you’re talking about me. That doesn’t mean you’re being inclusive of everyone.” And, you know, we all face the same systemic issues, right? White women face a lot of the same issues that people of color face that, you know, people who are immigrants face, but the way we’ve carved up the problem it’s like we’re each trying to get our own seat, and what my book seeks to do is to get everybody, like, wherever they are, to start reaching out. So it’s almost--instead of one person trying to break through, it’s more like a game of Red Rover, right, where we’re all holding hands, we’re all moving forward together, and then when we get there we all get there together. And then our C-Suite isn’t, you know, 10 white men and two white women and maybe a person of color, it’s, you know, this whole Red Rover game of black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, you know, Asian, men, women, non-binary, cisgender, transgender, you know, abled, people with disabilities. You know, it’s all these things, and we all get there together and we all lift each other up.
Zach: Hm. So talk to me a little bit about Lead At Any Level. So I know that you intro’d with that, about the company that you’ve started, and you’ve shared that you’re from Indianapolis and that you engage in predominantly white spaces. So I’m not trying to be pessimistic, right, but I’m looking at…
Zach: [laughs] I’m looking at American history, and I’m also looking at the words that you wrote in your book, and I’m curious, like, how do you expect to break through and work past, as you’ve described it, the entitlement of white folks? I ask because I’d say any time we as Americans talk about race--so, like, if you want to look at the situation around kneeling, if you want to talk about even how we talk about diversity, and we say, “Well, it’s about thought diversity,” and if you want to talk about--any time that we’ve in the past I would say 54--really the past 400 years, but just looking at, like, our most recent era of just, like, the past 50, 60 years, we talk about race within the context of making sure that the majority is comfortable with the ways that we engage topics around race. So I’m curious as someone who’s starting a company, or rather who has started a company really tackling this subject, how do you plan on breaking through and navigating that?
Amy: Sure. So people of color can’t fix racism, right? People of color can--there are all of these--you know, there’s, like, respectability politics, and I know that there’s a lot of code switching, and there are all of these things that happen within communities and within just the mindset and the sort of the self-censoring people of color, right? And no matter what happens, right, whether it’s a protest--you know, someone kneeling for the anthem because of, you know, the pain in this country that’s happening, right, or, you know--it’s one of those things where it’s kind of like you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, right? If you march, it’s the wrong march. If you speak, it’s the wrong words. If you protest, it’s the wrong protest. If you’re quiet, it’s the wrong thing. You know? We’ve tried every combination of people of color doing things to try to end racism, and where racism needs to end is in white America. Like, white folks are the ones who are gonna have to step up and fix this because we’re the ones that are perpetuating the problem. So I want to be clear. My company is not--the stated purpose of my company is not “end racism in the United States,” and I know there are people for whom that is their mission, right? That is their work. What I want to do is I want to help individuals at all levels of organizations see that if they’re not accepting and welcoming and doing hard work around their own biases and their own privileges and understanding that maybe--you know, maybe yeah, you’re really qualified for this job that you’ve gotten, but you probably got there not just based on your qualifications but also based on, you know, your relationships and based on the network that you have and your ability to say and do the right things and to look a certain way, right? So if I can help people understand, and particularly white folks, right, that hey, if you really want to be a leader, being a leader means standing up for those who don’t have a voice. Being a leader means being courageous. Being a leader means moving beyond where you’re comfortable into where you really need to go. That’s what leadership is, and, you know, through the work that I’m doing, whether it’s, you know, consulting or coaching or classroom training, yeah, I do--some people might say that I soft-pedal it in a way that makes it more palatable, but I think that in a lot of cases unless you can get your foot in the door you can’t even have a conversation. And so, you know, I talk about privilege in terms of, like--in kind of silly terms to start, but it opens people’s minds to the conversation you can have about privilege, you know, if you can just start laying those--you know, putting those seeds in the ground, and then you can build the conversation from there. I think the great tragedy, and I think where privilege is, you know, just at the most basic level, is that, you know, I grew up white. I grew up talking a little bit about race, but it wasn’t an everyday conversation in my household growing up, right, because it wasn’t that my family needed to worry about, and I think that’s the experience of a lot of white folks is that, you know, we--you know, they tell us, “You just treat everybody the same and you’ll be all right,” and that’s not enough, and I think it wasn’t until just the last couple of years where I realized that treating everybody the same and treating everyone respectfully isn’t enough. Like, we have to take steps to undo some of the damage, and we--you know, I don’t think any one of us can do it all, but, you know, if we can all do it in our own way in a way that’s authentic, in a way that gives us life, and not in a way that--and that’s different for everybody, right? There are ways for me to do this that are energizing and there are ways for me to do this that leave me in a crumpled heap on the floor, and so I’ve had to find my own way to have this conversation that I feel is energizing and that I feel is productive and that I feel like is authentic for me, and that won’t be the same for everyone. So I’m not sure I’ve answered the question, but I think because I’m white I can talk about racism without being labeled as angry, you know? But on the flip of that, because I’m a woman, if I talk about sexism or I talk about, you know, gender disparities, or if I call out someone’s micro-aggressions, you know, where they’ve referred to me as a girl, or--you know, people--one of my favorites is when I’m traveling people are like, “Well, who watches your kids?” I’m like, “You have never asked a man that question. Ever.” [laughs] “You have never asked a man who watches his kids when he’s traveling for work.” Like, nobody does that, right?
Amy: But if I call that out as a woman, and not just a white woman but as a woman, I’m too sensitive, right? So I need--in the same way that I need to stand up and say, you know, “Whoa, hold on.” You know, “Don’t insult a person of color by telling them they’re articulate.” You know? Like, why wouldn’t they be art--like, that’s not a compliment, right? That’s a slap in the face. I need to stand up for that because I’m not angry, I’m just pointing out, you know, somebody’s ignorance, right? Whereas if you did that--you could have the exact same conversation, use the same words, the same tone of voice, but then you’re gonna be labeled as angry, right? “Why are you so angry?” And I think in the same way, you know, women need men, not just white men but men of color, and women of color need this as well, for men to say, “Hold up.” You know? “She’s not being sensitive. You’re being a jerk.”
Amy: [laughs] And kind of tease that out, and that’s kind of the point of the book about--you know, the whole part about allyship is if you want somebody to stand up for you, you have to be willing to stand up for somebody else first, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
Zach: That’s powerful. No, this is amazing, and I’ve really appreciated our conversation. So before we wrap up I want to know, do you have any shout outs? Anybody that you want to recognize and thank?
Amy: Oh. Well, first of all I want to shout out to Jennifer Brown. Jennifer Brown is a consultant, a TEDx speaker--or maybe a TED speaker--she’s amazing, and she wrote the foreword to my book. She is one of the most internationally-recognized diversity and inclusion experts in the country, and I want to thank her. She was the first person to encourage me in this work. I just want to thank her for that. She’s been amazing. And I want to shout out to you guys. You guys are doing something--the Living Corporate podcast is doing something that I think is wonderful, where you’re giving a voice and you’re giving kind of the inside scoop to folks who maybe feel like they’re on the outside, and you’re creating a sense of community that is beyond corporate borders, beyond--you know, you’re knocking down walls and reaching out and holding hands, and I think that’s amazing, and I’ve been so impressed with the quality and the insights that you guys provide on this podcast. I think it’s amazing, so I want to shout out to all of you.
Zach: Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you so much, and let’s make sure that we link your book, Network Beyond Bias: Making Diversity A Competitive Advantage, in our show notes, and we’ll put it on our Favorite Things so that--
Amy: Oh, thank you.
Zach: No problem, ‘cause I really enjoyed it, and I think everyone who’s listening to this should read it. I don’t care where you’re at in the diversity and inclusion discussion or--if you’re listening to this, you should read it. It is a great read. Amy C. Waninger. Thank you so much for your time today. We definitely consider you a friend of the show, and we hope to have you back.
Amy: Well, thank you, Zach. I’d love to come back.
Zach: Awesome. Peace.
Ade: And we’re back. Wow, that was an amazing interview. So real talk, right next to our Preston Mitchum B-Side, that was top 5. Top 5, top 5, top 5. I know Drake’s cancelled, but whatever. [laughs]
Zach: That was a really real talk, yeah. I mean, honestly, it was refreshing to have someone who doesn’t look like you empathize with your experiences and be so honest about the reality of the world that we live in, right?
Ade: Seriously. I truly appreciated her comments around, you know, gender diversity and LGBTQ diversity. I think that intersectionality is just such a big thing, and it’s very easy to get lost in the sauce, but also we just have to keep in mind the multi-faceted nature of being and also the fact that under-represented and marginalized identities in general experience very, very different things in the spaces we occupy.
Zach: Absolutely. And I think ultimately, when I think through my interview with Amy, the biggest step revolves around courage and just speaking up. It’s not like she had some secret formula. She was just speaking truth to power. I mean, we had a section even on there where she said, “Look, there’s a point as a white woman where I have certain privileges where I can speak to race and I can speak to ethnic and diversity, and at the same time, Zach, even though you’re a person of color, as a man you have the opportunity to speak to items around sexism,” right? And patriarchy and things of that nature. So there’s opportunity for us to speak up.
Ade: Right, and I think the abiding truth of Living Corporate as a whole is we’re challenging our listeners and ourselves--we’re holding ourselves responsible as well--to live authentically but also with courage, you know? And what the conversation with Amy reminded me of was the fact that--and she sort of alluded to this--we have more power than we believe we do. In a lot of ways we empower each other, we empower ourselves, when we speak up for others, when we utilize our privilege in ways we never have before. When you group with people who look like you and ERGs, affinity groups, happy hours, whatever, all of these things exist because they are necessary and there is a space for them, but even beyond those resources and beyond those spaces, figuring out ways to, you know, plant your roots and insist that you will not be moved, in a lot of ways figuring out how to collaborate with others, support each other, challenge other people, and bringing your whole self--in a professional fashion--to work. Supporting others honestly and truly is really your call to action, I suppose.
Zach: Absolutely. Okay, so let’s go ahead and get into our Favorite Things.
Ade: Oh, that’s like my favorite. My favorite, my favorite, my favorite. My favorite section. All right, so I hate to sound like the book nerd but I can’t help myself. I’m on, like, my 80th read-through of a book called Sister Outsider by this amazing writer by the name of Audrey Lord. If I ever, ever, ever am blessed to parent a kid, I’d probably name one or several of them Audrey, and yes, I am absolutely willing to have an Audrey 1 and an Audrey 2 in my household just for the sake of having a child named after Audrey Lord. Anyway, that said, if you’ve never read Sister Outsider, Audrey Lord basically has this collection of essays in this book, and if you’re at all interested in black feminist literature she’s a really great place to start. My other favorite thing at this point? I’m really living for thunderstorms. I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times--again, like, I’m a very predictable person so, like, books and water, those are, like, my things. So I’m really into thunderstorms right now. I sleep to the sound of thunderstorms, and this is a complete aside, but there’s this app on my phone and it’s the only thing that gets me to sleep. It’s called Tide, and there is a thunderstorm sound setting on there, and it puts me right to sleep, and it’s the greatest thing ever. So I’m here for actual thunderstorms. I’m here for thunderstorm sounds. I’m here for thunderstorm playlists. So if anybody out there actually has a link for a thunderstorm playlist, hook me up. I’m here for it. That’s all I got. What about you, Zach?
Zach: Wow. So first thing is--[laughs]--definitely I love Audrey Lord as well. You know, great work. Beautiful work. The point around thunderstorms is interesting. Technology is crazy. So you’re telling me there’s an app now that actually simulates thunderstorms?
Ade: An app. It simulates thunderstorms. It simulates ocean sounds. You can do, like, a focus period. It does naps. It’s frickin’ amazing. Sponsor us, Tide.
Zach: Sponsor us, Tide, and we’ll [inaudible]--
Ade: I’m here for you guys.
Zach: Ah, yeah. That’s something I’m--I’m trying to get into this. That’s great. [laughs]
Ade: [laughs] No, but seriously.
Zach: Yeah, no, that’s awesome. Okay, so Tide is the name of the app? Okay, I’m gonna check that out.
Ade: It does forest sounds. There are forest sounds, my guy.
Zach: Forest sounds? Okay. Well, cool. Look, my favorite thing right now has to be Amy C. Waninger’s book Network Beyond Bias, right? So I shouted it out during the actual interview with Amy, and I told her that I was gonna shout it out during Favorite Things because I really enjoyed it. I read it. Very thoughtful, very frank, very approachable. Definitely a recommended read for anyone interested in learning about diversity and inclusion, leadership development, unconscious bias, effective representation, and a slew of other things. It’s very, very thorough. It covers so many different topics in very--just, again, approachable and transparent ways.
Ade: Oh. Well, okay. Great. As a reminder, to see all of our Favorite Things, very, very simple. You just want to go to our website, www.living-corporate.com, and click “FAVES” right across the top.
Zach: Yes, and as another reminder, we have a Patreon. In fact, you--
Ade: [imitating air horns]
Zach: Okay… Okay, so Sound Man, go ahead and add those horns.
[Sound Man complies]
Zach: [laughs] As another reminder, we have a Patreon. In fact, Sound Man--so I know you just hit Ade with the horns, but go ahead and hit me with some of that royalty-free jazz music. I mean, I don’t know, you can probably find some tracks from, like, 1970 or something. Just give me something smooth.
[Sound Man complies again]
Zach: Okay. You playing it? Okay, here we go. So listen, I know you want exclusive content, right? But you can’t get it for free. But guess what? We got it. You want giveaways? We got that. You want extended interviews? We got that. You want exclusive writing written by guests? We got that, and guess what? It only costs a dollar to get in, baby. Just a dollar.
Zach: One dollar. So do me a favor, do you a favor, do us a favor, and become a patron. Become a patron today. I got the links in the show notes right there. Open up your phone and press details. You’re gonna see the links all right there. All right, that’s it. I’m done. Sound Man, cut it off.
[Sound Man dutifully complies]
Ade: I wasn’t ready… So we just got to go home. Okay, guys. That was our show. Thank you for joining us at the Living Corporate podcast. Please make sure to follow us on Instagram @LivingCorporate. We’re also on Twitter at LivingCorp_Pod, and subscribe to our newsletter through www.living-corporate.com. If you have a question you’d like us to answer and read on the show, please make sure you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don’t forget to check us out on Patreon at LivingCorporate as well. We’re all over Al Gore’s internet. And that does it for us on this show. My name is Ade.
Zach: And this has been Zach.
Ade: A pleasure as always.
Ade and Zach: Peace.
Latricia: Living Corporate is a podcast by Living Corporate, LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Brown. Additional music production by Antoine Franklin from Musical Elevation. Post-production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion? Email us at email@example.com. You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and living-corporate.com. Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.