Professionalism: By Whose Definition?

all right well welcome welcome welcome to another evening session mini Mastermind for our week of the deep work of intersectionality and tonight I am actually super excited because we have our sponsors um hosting this session over the conversation for us and I want to just welcome them as the disruptors I just love the name it resonates with me very well because disruption is part of my nature right um and so I want to welcome Jasleen Sindhu by both last names

okay actually I’m related to a lot of sandus so my mom’s side are sandus but I’m a sidhu yeah and Alexandra scoby and together they tag team as a disruptors helping to support um Equity work and inclusion work in the tech space which is very unique and an angle that not many people are aware is actually going on so tonight we’re talking about this concept of professionalism and who gets to Define that and what does that mean in terms of the standards and expectations within a workspace that is seeking to be diverse Equitable and inclusive so I’m going to turn it over for them to give a longer intro and then kick us off with our discussion yeah so I can start I’ll give my professional intro first so my educational background is in Psychology so organizational psychology is kind of where I specialize and then I did a postgraduate certificate in human resources and then I went to work in HR for almost a decade at a large oil and gas company shell and yeah and I left the corporate world due to burnout due to really trying to disrupt the systems from the inside always have been a huge advocate for social justice and just being in more of a generalist HR role it really was difficult to balance the competing needs of the business with the needs of the people as a whole and and really through the work that Alexandria and I do at the disruptors I also love that that name is to get people to see that it doesn’t have to be a competing agenda we’re really all about disrupting but in a way where we’re merging the business with people and so that you can have an inclusive business that where where Dei doesn’t sit as a separate check in the box kind of exercise and so yeah that’s my professional uh intro but I’m also a mom of twin boys I live in Canada I grew up on the east coast of Canada and now I’m in western Canada we were just speaking about before this that this is a province where Last of Us was filmed so if you watch that you get kind of get an idea of what the landscape looks like here and so I’ll hand it off to Alexandria to introduce yourself yeah so I am Alexandria co-founder with Jasleen of the disruptors my quote unquote professional I come from a background in counseling specifically addictions counseling with the Department of Corrections I got crispy Critter burnt out on that and I pivoted into Tech and started running Tech departments as an I.T leader and operations manager I was a very jarring move and going from disrupting the system within the Department of Corrections and then moving into Tech and being like great there are solutions to these problems and I’m like oh but you act like computers work for you cool we have other problems and it just being a whole other leadership issue and really wanting to show up in a way that made people feel whole and ability to be authentic other things about me bringing in the not so quote-unquote professional is I am also a queer woman and I was able to have the privilege of being straight presenting and I did it work because it was safer and not talking about it but the pieces of having to hide your identity at work and picking and choosing and what’s safe and what’s not safe and always being on high alert so that you stay in that box of professionalism is exhausting too and wanting to make a space in which people could just be them their full selves which is why we’re here with the disruptors because humans are humans always whether you’re clocked in at work or whether you’re sitting at home and being able to be your full self at all times is important in my opinion absolutely absolutely all right well let’s get into it this is gonna be awesome awesome let me get the presentation up sorry

um so um how do I get this in presentation mode over there present next to share there we go all right so yes today we’re talking about culture and professionalism by whose definition and so what we want to really cover today is this mental model of how culture shapes professionalism and culture shapes everything and so of course it shapes professionalism and so in order to start deconstructing professionalism in a way that makes sense for us and our businesses we really need to look at it through the lens of professionalism and then ask ourselves the question does this mental model need a refresh so we’ll let all of you kind of decide what you think we’re going to walk through the history of professionalism because we have to know where our current definition came from and what parts of those still make sense and what might have created some unintended consequences and then we’ll look at the impact fact of that model on all of our talent systems so when we’re making hiring decisions firing decisions all these kind of things how does that mental model then impact those systems but also the people inside of the system so then we can start to deconstruct it and rebuild it from an intersectional lens

yeah so jesleen found some really great quotes So culture is the acquired knowledge people use to interpret experience and generate Behavior and culture being defined as all the ways in which all the ways in which life sorry including like Arts believe institutions all of those things are passed down generationally right like human beings or storytellers we enjoy sharing ourselves and stories and we started writing them down and sharing them but there’s still so much of our culture that is shared non-verbally or just in presentations whether it’s how we dress or the way we do our makeup the way we have our hair all of those things can be very culturally based and so knowing that you know culture is the way of life of an entire Society like I think that that really encaps encapsulates that fully but we want to talk too about like work culture and what does that look like across different Industries because culture from industry to Industry is not the same and neither is professionalism like what’s perceived as professional is completely different sometimes yeah and so I’ve got a bunch of examples of types of cultures so this is not an extensive a exhaustive list but this gives you an idea of the dominant cultures at play and then what the less dominant or minority cultures that exist within North American society and so we have individualistic culture versus Collective culture and so in United States in Canada and most places in North America we come from a very individualist uh individualistic culture I’m in Canada it’s a little bit more Collective than the United States but it’s still very much individualistic versus it’s about how am I going to get ahead versus how are we as a community moving forward there’s also feminine and masculine culture and so you can grow up in this exact same culture as your siblings and still have be more impacted by a gender culture because of the messages we get because because of the way we present in terms of gender so that exists on a binary Spectrum on feminine versus masculine even though in real life our gender is on more of a spectrum or we may not conform to a gender at all and so it’s important to note that the dominant culture is very much masculine or as we like to say the the patriarch um so that’s really coming from more of a um a masculine stereotypically masculine approach and so then I won’t go through the rest of the list but there’s all sorts of other types of cultures in society Elite culture pop culture um third culture is something that I identify with um where you were raised in a culture that is different from your parents culture or the culture of your country of nationality and so it’s kind of like you’re walking a line between the two cultures and sometimes you know that can kind of spark a little bit of an identity crisis of I’m not Indian enough or I’m not Canadian enough and so where do I fit in what is the mental model what is the model that I’m following yeah and so um this heteronormative versus queer culture Black Culture indigenous culture and the list goes on but from a as a society in North America and in many places in the world white supremacy culture still Reigns even in countries that are primarily not made up of white people they’re still colorism and white supremacy that exists

so what is a typical corporate culture it’s shaped by the dominant group so that is the one that has the most presentation and representation within a grouping so let’s take I originally came out of the counseling world that is a heavily woman dominated industry and so the dominant culture there may be white women depending on what part of the country you live in it may be predominantly women of color if you live maybe on the East Coast or in the South but if you move into Tech it is predominantly white men that are the Dominic culture right so numbers based who makes up the largest group that’s representing a hierarchical command and control behaviors versus those collaborative behaviors that jazlene was just talking about the meritocracy people being rewarded for their Merit or are they I have spicy opinions about meritocracy uh diversity equity and inclusion valued on paper but also then being treated as a nice to have the budget gets cut who’s getting laid off those types of things show up there high Professional Standards looking to governing bodies and to Market society and informing their right and like who’s making those rules where are those rules coming from did everybody agree to them Collective or were they pushed down right command and control and then Jasleen has a huge soapbox I love it I love when she gets up on it of the invisible rules of career advancement rooted in the bias of that dominant group again you can be an all-woman group and be the dominant group and have bias coming into the way you’re behaving towards others so being mindful of who the dominant group is and what’s happening because of it yeah we’re not saying that the dominant group is doing this intentionally either like I want to really stress that because often the invisible rules of career advancement they are invisible even to people in the dominant group but the point is they were created by and for the dominant group and the dominant group has easier access to what these invisible rules are because I get that a lot when I create content um on Tick Tock and whatnot I get men saying well this applies to me too I’m like of course it applies to you too but we’re really looking at it from an accessibility point of view so if this is a tip and again as a first generation um Canadian or American if you’re watching this um you gotta think like if you’re the first person in your family to even go into the corporate world like maybe your ancestors came from you know more of a passive income place or it came from a low income place where they weren’t in a white collar type of role there’s no one there to guide you and so it’s really about the accessibility in terms of what culture were you raised in and so that means it might not have been taught in school what these invisible rules are these are things that are passed down yeah I think the point with the invisible rules that you just said right there is huge they’re invisible because they’re assumed the dominant group knows what they are because they’ve been told because it’s just normalized for them to know these things so they don’t even think about having to share that as a thing that’s true they assume you know and they don’t know that you don’t know yeah yeah and they’ve done studies on that too and often the dominant group doesn’t realize that they’re treating different groups in different ways they’re responding to that lack of accessibility and that lack of knowledge not understanding that it’s an equity issue and so back to how culture oh sorry Dr Aryan I was going to add too that there’s also something with that invisible component and that the quote-unquote dominant culture wants to maintain right that there’s there is a there is a a side of things that we’ve spoken about before that oblivious nature um that they want to maintain because they don’t particularly believe that giving access at that point to that level will keep them safe they feel that if other cultures or other groups gain that level of awareness or access then they become obsolete so there is some intention about keeping it invisible absolutely diversity mindset’s huge yeah it comes from the scarcity mindset it comes from the mindset I’m going to take care of my own first right right I’m going to take care of my and no it’s not racism I have friends who are people of color and who are different genders but I am going to take care of my friends first and so who is in your Social Circle who is in your in your sphere it’s usually people who look like you act like you all of these sort of things and again it’s shaped by the culture it’s shaped first and it goes in the Stream of it starts with your beliefs right so ideas that you hold to be true right and so even building this presentation today this belief that I have to have this slide deck and it needs to be pretty and fancy in order to look professional right and then your values come into play what do you care about who do you care about what problems are you really focused on what is important to you and then that shapes your attitudes how you you treat others how you approach situations and then that leads to your actions your behaviors what are you actually now doing with this mental model and so professionalism kind of fits into that attitude sphere so your beliefs your values that comes to play with now how you’re treating others and how you’re showing up and and then that leads to action and then that obviously shapes the results and the outcomes we see

and so the definition of professionalism is really it is still subjective but when you think about it when we like this quote by David Meister professionalism is not a label you give yourself it is a description that you hope others will apply to you it’s about Optics it’s about understanding who has power who has privilege how you’re going to impress them and so what ends up happening is you start sacrificing your authenticity when you aren’t like them or you start to believe going back to that that initial step step in the process you start to believe that you don’t belong in those spaces right and so that is and and that’s where sometimes where people sometimes give the feedback that is misplaced because they don’t understand the systems that play against underrepresented groups and so they say we’ll just do it this way but they don’t understand that these the way the approach that they’re asking people to take goes against their core values and who they are and so that takes a toll emotionally psychologically physically even yeah yeah and that’s one of the reasons why I don’t subscribe to this concept of imposter syndrome right and lean more into helping people understand and and reflect on imposer syndrome because you’re navigating a professional quote-unquote environment that has been determined by someone else right the definition of it was determined and established by someone else and you’re doing your best to figure out what that definition is so you can meet some standards so that you then can acquire again this label of professional so counterproductive to yeah it’s almost like in that regard it’s almost transactional yeah something that you sacrifice in buy it yes and that’s exactly what it is it’s not even like it it’s exactly what it is exactly what it is right or sacrifice it’s a transaction of sacrificing who you are your identity yeah yeah yeah yeah so what does professional mean the definition professionalism is a set of behaviors attitudes and values that are expected in a particular profession or workplace involves presenting yourself as polished competent manner adhering to ethical standards and demonstrating respect for colleagues and clients so this definition there leaves a lot of room for ambiguity here too right and you see that show up from industry to Industry which is even more what makes it like mind reading you’re hoping that you throw the dart correctly and that you get it because if you like you said earlier Jasleen if you come from a background your entire life all your family has worked in different blue collar industries and you’ve now moved into white color those rules are not the same professionalism is not the same from those different Industries and how you show up there you may be cast as somebody who has no idea what their doing and harm your career if you try and apply the same rules so some ways that professionalism is enforced or critiqued its appearance right what is the uniform of the industry which is different uh you show up in DC the way you show up in a tech space and you’re going to get laughed out of every single room in DC right because you’re in a hoodie in jeans you are not professional and you’re somebody’s kid right but if you show up in Silicon Valley in a suit and tie you are also going to be laughed out of the room and so what does that mean for the industry that you’re in and should it mean anything I’m gonna go with this should it mean anything because I think the way you dress is whatever but uh Behavior what is the code of conduct and the standards within the profession knowledge skills and experience what’s the standard of Education again that varies by industry how do you showcase your skills also varies by industry for what’s appropriate and then status and membership do you belong to certain credentialing groups or professional associations mm-hmm and you got to think too like which groups are caring more about this than others because I can say as a woman as a person of color like I hear people all the time show up to meetings and say excuse the way I look or you’re you’re doing a presentation and saying oh my hair’s a mess I’m a mess we don’t hear men saying that a lot and we don’t hear and we’ll get into kind of what other unprofessional attire and that kind of mental model might look like but really just thinking about how the group that you come from where you start to care more about these things because you don’t have the privilege not to care about it and so and it’s important to really recognize the history of professionalism where did this concept even start because as a society when we shifted from pre-industrial to Industrial then emerged professional Society because the focus shifted from people having passive income and owning land and then to really you know having managing Capital to then managing human as capital and so this created a need to say okay who is qualified thus the people who we’re going to include in professional Society but also who is unqualified who are the people we are going to exclude from professional Society so this is where it came into play and still today you see this as who are we excluding right right you even see networking groups where there’s like a huge wait list of people trying to get in to these professional executive networking groups and you’ve got to think like how are they making those decisions about who to include right and who to exclude because often like what makes an executive can be very subjective right I could call myself an executive I can call myself a CEO does it make me the same as the CEO in a large like it’s really and and you got to think about how privilege shapes that as well and so really I mean we want to think that it came from a very good place it came from wanting to benefit the public right because the implied intent of these standards are really we’re doing good by Society we’re creating safety we’re creating transparency fairness trust and responsible management of capital these things are true and so I don’t want to paint it all with a bad brush so we do need to hang on to these kind of yes we want to make sure that our doctors studied the right things so that when they’re prescribing us medication and and I mean we can look at that from an intersectional lens as well don’t get me started it’s a whole other soapbox Jasleen there’s another soapbox for another day but really you want to know that the people who are responsible for other humans that they are going to be legit so but again by who standards by who benefits the most from these standards and who might we be excluding

and so when I Googled professional professional attire these are the first images that came up and so you kind of pay attention here to what what are you noticing what are you noticing about this mental model or this this this depiction of professionalism well of course you know the majority of the illustrations that are being reflected are um white presenting or white passing individuals even though they’re cartoons right um the majority of the folks being featured here it’s that uh you also see the very button-down suit and tie jacket tie for the men and even the I’m going to say woman you’re right and that’s being depicted here is in a pant suit so it’s it’s very interesting to also discuss how um the standard is being modeled off of men and for women to be considered professional some of their attire has to match or complement that it’s really interesting that um and she and she’s also holding a briefcase which is typical of a man’s orientation in a professional space so it’s really interesting here too and the only obvious woman of color you notice her hair right yes and then that’s not in her natural hair representing by presenting blonde hair I didn’t change any of the Colors by the way in any of these images this is exactly how it showed up yeah it’s you know it’s it’s it’s one of the things that um some other colleagues have discussed in different spaces about how not necessarily whitewashing but how we see illustrations that are really trying to Claw at or maintain white status right um I don’t know if you guys watched was it yes the Chris Rock The Selective outrage Chris Rock’s new special I watched a little bit of it and then I I wasn’t loving it I turned it off you should just watch all of it you know yeah but he mentioned how a lot of the advertisements now on TV you are seeing um different diverse relationship status so you’re no longer just seeing white nuclear families you are seeing mixed families interracial couples you know gay gay couples um the spectrum of things and how that is creating disruption for folks who are still subscribed to a very hetero normative white supremacist type of positioning so it’s it’s it’s curious It’s Curious I mean on that front I do think that there is we can hold on to a little bit of progress they are all cartoons right your first Google image was all cartoons and so it’s not all just like blonde hair blue-eyed white man in a business suit so like a little bit of progress I don’t know yeah I would say a little bit like I wouldn’t say that this looks disruptive to me I would say this one on the bottom right but this was the first one sorry I missed that no not at all not at all disruptive go ahead no not disruptive but this one on the bottom right this one came out of canva and I feel like that was the most disruptive one the rest were mostly from Google one thing I noticed from one of these images you see that little verified check mark because this is when you think about how professionalism and verifying who’s qualified who’s not qualified how now it’s translated to social media and you see a lot of people who are buying this check mark or getting it by virtue of how many followers they are how popular they are so now popularity is becoming part of this professionalism how it’s evolved and again is is this really what we want or need in terms of understanding who’s qualified um and the other things that I noticed is when you look at the professional skills a lot of these again are subjective communication style what’s acceptable for different groups what is acceptable for the dominant group isn’t always acceptable for minority groups women aren’t always allowed to be seen as as you know as forthright if you will and they get labeled as you know being bossy or aggressive especially women of color especially black women and so time management again like you know we’ve heard you know I’m on Indian time a lot of time I’m but I’m a very much in time person and so it’s like the concept of time who by whose definition the concept of leadership by whose definition all of these sorts of things like how we present how we show up is super subjective that’s kind of what I noticed did you have anything else Alexandria that you noticed that you wanted to point out no I think we covered them all like your point all of those skills they’re super subjective there’s no definition there and that again industry standards matter and play a part and they’re all unspoken or assumed rules that you know how to behave right you work in a tech company well you should know all the tech algorithm um acronyms oh my God they make up acronyms worse than the government does like they can write a whole book on it yeah so communication there is completely different than communication somewhere else right yeah and when you change Industries oh my gosh trust me I’m relearning acronyms now going from oil gas to Tech it’s like oh my gosh I got to learn these again and they all mean different things right and so then I Googled unprofessional attire and this is what came up interesting so take a minute what I love that we’ve made zero strides when it comes to packing unprofessional attire zero size zero strides oh my gosh one of the things that stood out for me was when you look at the do’s and the don’ts again you have very masculine presenting attire on the left even though it’s a woman and on the right I don’t even know if that is a woman of color I didn’t notice that before but she may be a woman of color she’s wearing colorful clothes and when I think of non-dominant cultures when you think of India when you think of Jamaica when you think of Africa when you think of any really any non-north American country you think of color and so you’ve got to think about also how culture has shaped this Conformity right it’s more about not standing out just fitting in staying in your lane playing and it really comes from because when I when I coach people on the gender differences it that stem from masculine and feminine culture masculine culture is very very much shaped by Sports as well you have your uniform you play for your team you’re loyal to that team until you switch teams and then you’re loyal to that team and and it’s very much just like player player role stay in your lane not very disruptive again and so especially for the tech industry for looking to be disruptive this is a whole mindset that doesn’t just make sense for inclusion purposes but it makes sense in terms of a business and really thinking creative thinking innovatively challenging the system challenging how we’re doing things so you can then disrupt and start looking to the Future instead of the past because those are the businesses that are going to succeed because when you look at this we haven’t made much progress but

well yeah I wear a hoodie all the time right like but like what what is what size necklace I’m wearing have anything to do with me strategic planning what does the color of my shirt and whether I have a Blazer on or not say about my ability to communicate effectively or plan a project or to achieve an outcome and I’ll play Devil’s Advocate because this is what I hear sometimes is it’s distracting your jewelry is distracting it’s too big it’s too loud I the person who I think is six pay attention

the first people who think of who’s really disrupting in that space who I look up to is Bozeman St John because she is not afraid to be herself and she’s not afraid to leave environments when like so those of you don’t know who she is she worked for Netflix she worked for Uber I think like she’s she’s been at a lot of big companies I don’t remember if it was Uber or Lyft but yeah yeah so yeah one of those one of those um a lot of big companies where she just had to leave because they weren’t ready for her to show up fully as herself and she’s an amazing marketing mind and and so that’s their loss if they’re not willing to kind of go with go with what her amazing authenticity can do yeah and so and so yeah it is it is hard because if we want to disrupt part of that means we need to have the courage to walk away from spaces and opportunities that aren’t going to allow us to be fully ourselves correct absolutely I would also say to push on that thing of it’s distracting like you get used to things yeah it’s distracting because you haven’t seen it before but the more people do it then it shows up and it’s distracting when you’re coming from your culture right it’s distracting when it’s coming from your culture it is distracting for the other person to have to like overthink right how they’re gonna show up right and then they’re not going to be their best person at work they’re not going to do their best work because they’re constantly having to think of how am I conforming am I too much am I to this where you should just be able to show up fully holy your own self in the workplace and what makes you feel good and confident and like in your own power so that you can show up that way for everybody else because if everybody got to show up in their own power then you have all kinds of innovation and creativity that comes out of that yeah yeah but this is what this is what I’m I’m recognizing more and more that organizations are still very much formulated on compliance yes right they just want you to comply because the folks who are running the organizations of today come from a space where it was very industrial right they were the majority of these folks that are running these these these companies now are older white men who were raised in a time where it was you go to work you sell the car you come back home no questions asked right or you go to work do what you need to do on the factory line punch out and go back home no questions asked and so there the culture Collective culture of organizations now is still very much in that clock in check the box for the task and then leave and what’s the disruption that’s occurring now is that people are saying there’s that but I actually enjoy working I actually enjoy the craft and the talent and the skills that I have and I just want that to be valued in an environment that recognizes me in this way yeah at organizations legit don’t have that capacity because it is not the framing of the current of the majority of the current Founders leaders in the space yeah and again when you look at this historical perspective in the industrial era there was a reason for command and control correct if you come from the military there’s a reason for command and control if you work in an ER there’s a reason for that that kind of autocratic leadership style still works in you know a few spaces right it doesn’t work in Tech it because this is not a manufacturing site so if you want a a business who is just cookie cutter creating things from the past yes keep with that command and control but that resistance to change and that resistance that that it’s really coming from a fear of losing control yes absolutely but what if you were to step into a space to say I already don’t have control you already don’t have control collusion how much control be getting in the way of the real disruption you could be doing with your business yeah and you like you can do the command and control but you will be left behind because you won’t be able to keep up uh you just won’t correct correct even in medicine right and that’s changing there too like sure there is a hierarchy to a point but what they found in medicine is if you create an um an environment of psychological safety in which people can point out mistakes for the doctors it’s actually safer for everybody because less mistakes actually get made unless people die and so command and control I would push does it work like and even in the industries in which it seems to work does it right right yeah yeah and if you want your employees to lead and be creative you need to create leaders not be a manager who is just looking at their every move because then they’re just going to become just like you and it’s going to be it’s just going to go against any sort of diversity equity and inclusion effort right yeah and it asks lead people yeah yeah uh go ahead go ahead Alexandria I forget who’s supposed to we are so off track on who was doing what it’s all good

so examples of issues under the current definition uh can true meritocracy be achieved um you can answer that question for yourself but I think I think I think we need to stop striving for meritocracy that’s just my opinion but I’ll let you know it’s filled with unchecked bias like it’s that’s all it is is the dominant culture and those who have gotten control and they’re in the leadership positions have now determined what Merit is and have defined what Merit is and so if you don’t show up in their definition of Merit or value then you aren’t seen as valuable as opposed to trying to see the value in what’s there and choosing to find Value because if you’re looking for it you will find it if you are only looking for one small thing oh well they don’t look like a salesperson who’s going to be successful like what does that mean that’s all made up job but that’s where the meritocracy completely falls apart also in my opinion um The Invisible bias invisible rules most accessible to the dominant group because it’s normalized for them it’s so second nature it’s already been taught to them they don’t even remember it being taught is the point right uh how might the culture definition how might the current sorry definition I was like culture that’s not that word this is dyslexia at its finest folks um so it impacts diversity equity and inclusion right so the inclusion and belonging force and code switching you have to learn a whole new language and way of being and speaking and attitude inside that dominant culture the equity unequal access to Professional Resources you maybe have a mentor but do you have a sponsor in that Mentor so sure somebody can be assigned to you but are they really owning what that is for them and the diversity the systemic gatekeeping which you’ve never worked in Tech before you can’t possibly work in a tech company like what yeah and I just wanted to I just wanted to clarify what sponsor means because I get a lot of people who don’t know what that actually means because a mentor someone who shows you the ropes shows you like this is the path I followed but if they’re also a sponsor they’re actually willing to put their name on the on the line to advocate for you and say I trust that this person can do these kind of opportunities and I really need I need you to take a chance on them as well right and so we need more sponsors in underrepresented underrepresented groups women for example are over mentored and under sponsored at the middle level management um at that level and so we really need to think about not just does this person have a mentor but what is the quality of that relationship right are they also getting sponsored are they also getting really specific feedback that isn’t part of this mental model of professionalism that where biases at play right okay 100

did you want to talk I can do this and also yeah some research that shows why we need to change so the study that came out of the National Women’s Law Center is that women black women are more likely to report being sent home from work due to their hair not being professional than white women are that’s a prime example of white supremacy showing up in professionalism and deeming what appearance is professional or not professional the study out of the center for talent Innovation found that covering or downplaying or hiding one’s identity like my example earlier not sharing that I’m a queer woman so that I can blend in and nobody asks too many questions there’s lots of versions of covering or downplaying or just not showing up as your full self uh Harvard Business Review found that women are often penalized for being assertive in the workplace so you can say the exact same thing as a male presenting colleague and be deemed as aggressive or rude or out of line especially if you are a woman of color your likelihood of being labeled as angry is much higher than it is for a white man the book disciplined Minds it’s a the whole title of the book a critical look at salary professionals and the Soul battering system that shapes Our Lives by Jeff Schmidt that sounds like a super interesting book that’s why it is on my list but the flattering system I mean it is in so many ways um but one of his observations was that qualified professionals are less creative and diverse in their opinions and habits than non-professionals and I think that that goes back to what we’ve been talking about if you go back to the factory floor and even the safety of conforming the same thing all the time was safe and that was how you got promoted if you showed up and you did the things the way you were supposed to do them for x amount of years you would be promoted that doesn’t get you Innovation that doesn’t move from doesn’t get you the wheel it doesn’t get you sliced spread it doesn’t get you the Cutting Edge of things that’s a violent metaphor it doesn’t get you a shiny new coin right right it is the iPhone when it came out a very disruptive tool that has changed the way we all live in smartphones since it came out yes yep and so how might we disrupt professionalism so we need to start shifting to an intersectional and for those of you that don’t know that term intersectional uh it was coined by someone have the name starts with a K I believe anyways her name but yes anyways it comes from this idea that we can belong to more than one identity and so you know uh and within that identity that that culture is not a monolith either so yes we have different cultures but we can be we can belong to more than one underrepresented group for example I am a woman I’m also a person of color in Indian woman and so thinking about that through those multiple lenses um and and so being really inclusive in that definition and agile because if we saw from those examples we haven’t been agile in that definition in the past and as the world changes we need to also shift that definition based on the market that we’re in and the world that we’re in and so it’s not to really I I don’t feel like it’s about crazy this new definition but really being less committed to having a definition so this Dei Focus professionalism is about creating a workplace that values and promotes diversity Equity inclusion in all aspects of the organization it’s a commitment to creating a culture of respect fairness and inclusivity where everyone feels valued and supported mm-hmm and so these are the pillars so at the disruptors we believe that we have to look at everything as a system and so if you really want sustainable change if you want agility in your organization if you want to create the the creativity and have that not Dei sit under one person’s remit but really become part of the culture you have to look at it through these four pillars and so it starts with your leadership it starts with the commitment it starts with that vision for what that looks like not just for professionalism but as a whole for your business you need to really look at this strategically and align your Dei Vision to the business Vision so your diverse Equity inclusion Vision has to be aligned to that and I I we see that a lot with people where they’re like there’s so much out there we don’t know where to start it’s because you haven’t connected it to your vision your gaps and so then that comes the educational piece and this is not linear but there’s also that educational piece that you need to think of which is what what is it that we don’t know that we need to know there’s always going to be things that you don’t know but what are the major things that are getting in the way of you being a Dei leader what are all of those interventions that you could do but what are the ones that are going to be the most impactful in terms of Shifting the behaviors and skills in your organization to what is going to make your business more profitable and your people happier and more committed more engaged and then the Talon pillar and I’m going to go into more detail on this is really just the people the skills and the and the career development the engagement that you’re seeing the psychological safety all of that exists within that system as well and then all of those other supportive systems of the whole system the systems within the systems if you will of like just really having that sustainable Equitable change supported by the HR policy by the practices by really everything that is a process within the business is really integrated to that and again this is why it has to start with leadership because the leaders are overseeing all of this and creating all of this so when they’re trying to Outsource that to someone even if you are Outsourcing it to a Dei strategist you need to bring them into the organization and help them understand what’s really happening at all levels right and so now looking at professionalism that really fits under the talent pillar and so this is like a typical Talent pipeline it’s not always this linear but this is your typical Talent pipeline from sourcing to attracting those people to your organization and recruiting actively recruiting them the candidate assessment the interviews but also your applicant tracking system has built-in bias in terms of what professional looks like the offer even how you’re presenting that offer in terms of like what different groups might value and what different groups might understand about the offer the onboarding the team Norms that are developed this is very much under that culture that corporate culture lens and you can have Team Norms that are different than the overall corporate Norms but it all kind of fits into that standard typical patriarchal corporate culture typically so really understanding how are we being agile and flexible with these Norms that we’re creating and how when we’re bringing in a new person are we taking a step back to say are we still being inclusive because now if we’re we’ve suddenly said okay now we want to increase diversity how ready are you for that diversity in terms of like if if you see the retention rate of your diverse candidates go down it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was about them it could be that your system wasn’t set up for them to thrive right because they’re coming from those different cultures and so how are you assessing performance and potential and that’s a key one because I feel like people don’t understand the difference between the two like performance is what you do what you achieve what you create potential is about what you could do in the future and the criteria for assessing both of those should be different and of course riddled with bias and so how much are you standardizing those performance ratings as well as your hypo assessments and and how are you making sure there’s accessibility to the behind the scenes succession planning that’s happening at a leadership level and I know I used to be in those rooms I used to be doing having those Talent conversations and it is hard because you’re especially in a really large organization they end up looking at their top talent and their lowest Talent everyone else in the middle 90 of the employees get forgotten absolutely and so it’s about how are we making sure that we have equal accessibility to Talent programs and career development opportunities it’s the comp band The recognition that again get a look at that from an intersectional lens and I mentioned the development interventions the the mentorship and sponsorship that Alexandria mentioned and as well as the off-boarding again it’s a it’s a misstep for a lot of people because they just say okay check in the box but there’s a lot of data in why people are leaving and so that’ll help you look back at this whole system and say okay let where are the gaps if people are leaving who are underrepresented groups where are the gaps and so really asking these questions Um this can be a framework for you you can use this as a tool take this back to your organization so look at every step of the process and say okay where are we lacking diversity what are the biases at play in each of these steps are we approaching this from a human-centered lens objectively and business centered yes we want Business Center too we want we need to keep the business running but it needs to be both so where are we finding that perfect marriage of human and Business Center because remember your customers are humans and so so they’re your employees centered within the more you’re going to connect to the humans outside of the organization as well um and who might we be excluding at each critical phase because you might be doing well it’s at a lot of these stages but maybe when it comes to to developmental opportunities you’re not you’re not giving people equal access and also thinking about equality versus Equity I even see Dei leaders kind of mix up these two equality is about treating everybody the same yeah right but when we’re all different we don’t want to be treated the same so Equity is about recognizing that the playing field is not level and we do need to treat some people differently yeah you might have to have an ERG for a specific group and say no to an ERG for another type of group right because because one group has historically lacked access to these kind of things right and and the dominant group we’re not seeing issues with their Career Development so really being deliberate about that and and inclusive and intersectional about that and also asking what are the barriers to entry at each of these stages like challenge the credentials that you’re using just because you’ve always recruited from this University or you have a good relationship with this networking group like those are the yes it makes recruitment easier it makes a lot of things easier in the short term but in the long term it’s going to be bad for your business and for your people yes and so all of these standards are happening yeah so shifting to the bona fide occupational qualifications also because this will keep you above board in terms of liability because you you can get sued for not hiring people based on these things so really being clear what is it that people really need to do the job what will make them stand out from other candidates because we’re not asking to lower the bar on Talent we are asking you to be clear on your bar for talent and and challenge the bar not lowering it we’re just challenging it and often when you challenge it you’re actually elevating it when you’re removing the bias so getting out of that myth that that’s lowering the back the bar on Talent yep

and so that’s it any thoughts or questions Dr carrion that was awesome this was really awesome and I’m glad that you guys touched on um the kind of where things are as well as the historical component because I do not believe that a lot of people recognize that there is a significant historical component as it relates to how these definitions have come up and why these definitions are still in play is because a lot of the founders of the history of quote unquote the standards we have now are still operating right um I liken it to the complaints people make every year when it comes to election time and how Congress is still full of all these people on oxygen tanks like why right move on right things are growing things things are expanding and it’s the same thing with the workspace we need to honor what it has been how far it has taken us but we also need to now be excited and um prepare ourselves to take on the expansion and the opportunities for growth and Innovation around these mental models as we were saying earlier that require disruption they do well the whole thing that we’ve always talked about right for individuals when you move from a fixed mindset in a growth mindset we got you to where you are right now is not going to get you to where you want to go that’s still the same for business because it’s humans running it so what got business to where it is right now is not going to take business into where we need it to go for the future of work and what is actively coming at us faster than ever before right right and the the the new Workforce that’s coming in annually there’s a new Force coming in every you know few months they are not tolerating the same things they are absolutely not tolerating the the um identity minimization stuff they are who they are and they’re bold in it and I am absolutely elated for that oh yes it’s necessary right it is so necessary work is supposed to be fun yeah it’s supposed to be fun it is and um the new wave of folks coming in want that they want it to be fun they also want it to be valued and they want consistent stimulation yeah and it goes beyond what they want but it also goes to how the world is evolving and so with AI with all of this disruption we need to be thinking outside of the box we need to be more agile we need to adapt and so the more we stay in that mindset of what worked in the past let’s try that right the more your business is going to fail right and that’s why like it’s the innovators that are going to survive and so to be Innovative you need to let go of the past and you need we still want to learn from the past don’t get me wrong right I mean you brought the past into because we need to know okay what part of that are we hanging on to but what what is the fear that’s getting in the way and what is this mindset around um inclusion of our employees is going against the business because if you’re really able to tap into your people you can motivate and coach and develop them in ways that your business can transform beyond your own imagination I truly believe that I really do right but I think it comes back to the points that you were making earlier Justin around that um command and control right if I allow if I have a leader who has been doing this for the better part of 30 years of my career or 40 Years of my career and I’ve been consistent in getting these particular outputs and my return on investment and that makes me feel good if I now allow for different thinking and challenging the bar I lose the perception is I use control and you’re obsolete right what I know and then I become obsolete it feels like an existential crisis but it’s not it’s a call to leadership it’s a call to new types of thinking and new skill development yeah yeah and it’s a call to to to your ultimate success as a leader because you will fail if you don’t adapt but it’s part of being a leader and so it’s not that we’re saying okay command and control there are ways to hang on to that a bit you know if that’s your comfort zone We’re not gonna make you leave your your data and your spreadsheets and all of that behind we still want to be there we can control numbers we can control like but it’s like what is the what are the numbers telling us in terms of the future what is that story what is how are we starting to think about the way the skills for the future because the skills for the future are very much different from what we needed in the past yeah very very much different because the the the the the command and control work is being disrupted by AI that predictability anything that’s predictable anything that’s codable it is is it’s being replaced the skills we need for the future is thinking outside the box to really like a higher level thinking in terms of design in terms of Storytelling in terms of Symphony in terms of these are these are I’m stealing these from um a book a whole new mind what is that the book a whole new Mind by I want to say Daniel pink I could be wrong but he has written a new book about the skills for the future and so like part of that is like how do all these things play together how are we telling that story and how are we now thinking more from a right brain approach command and control is a little bit more left brain and so even if you’re a left brain person I’m a left brain person we have to move toward that right brain type of thinking yeah yeah absolutely yeah well this has been a lovely conversation hopefully you got everything you needed out of it and more and more lots more than than I because you know how this goes right you always have an idea like you have an idea but then I’m learning to allow so I was like I trust people in their spaces so let me see just from this little idea what can be interpreted and so definitely um got more than I had had conceived so I’m very grateful for the energy um and of course the time justly that you put this you know together it’s worth it

certainly agreed to go through this and putting together and I would love to um loop back on some components of it um and have further discussion with you guys about the aspects of identity because I’m getting questions from folks around um some of the the identity components and how to deal with this at work so folks are still struggling with spaces of pronouns still struggling with the spaces of um gender Transitions and what how those you know all the things that come up with that um and then of course what that means and you mentioned it in the early in the early slides around um feminine masculine that patriarchy and the ways in which these shifts are occurring yeah is it now a new form of patriarchy right and what was what will that what will that then mean ways that I can authentically identify and show up and you know I just one point on that do you know who I Look to as leaders in this in this space of challenging gender uh assumptions and gender bias is the non-binary gender fluid Community because they are having to lead and disrupt our our ideas about gender and they’re able to do it in a way that women we haven’t been able to because we have been conditioned and have felt like okay a lot of us do feel more feminine and subscribe to that culture and we’re okay with that it feels okay but for folks who don’t subscribe to the binary at all it gives us like a new way of thinking and even if you think of how the human brain has evolved from this binary thinking because if we look at the brain systems and how those have evolved the binary thinking has been replaced Now by possibility thinking of multiple options of not looking at things at the binary because if we stop looking at everything as a binary we’re going to be more Innovative yes yeah it’s all a spectrum it’s all the spec and that is what I say to people and I respect both sides of the conversation I respect the folks who are asking for the space and opportunities and forging ahead to have this dialogue and to support people in understanding but I also um respect the side of I’m tired there’s just all this stuff constantly coming at me that I was supposed to do this I’m not supposed to say this I’m supposed to ask this I’m tired and so a lot of people have like hands up I’m tapped out I don’t want to hear anything you know so figuring out because you’re looking at it as extra work right it is not extra work it’s about right it’s enhancing the way you think yeah yeah so I’d love to have that conversation absolutely as well about how we navigate that space how we navigate that space personally and then how to help others navigate that space as well as we do the work because all of us are on you know at a different point yeah we can’t do this alone we need we need to collapse it is fascinating to me when I reach out to certain colleagues I’m like hey we don’t really know each other but we’re doing similar work and I’d love to connect with you I’d have time for you oh okay I’m sorry to bother you mm-hmm it is fascinating to me how many people still have that that approach as if just you and your thing can run all of the work that needs to be done it’s an individualistic mindset and it’s also a symptom of a bigger cultural problem which is we have a lot of women women of color who are overworked and under recognized and so they’re in a system that’s not supporting them and that’s showing up in terms of then we have we’re forced into Conformity into this individualistic Conformity right yeah because we don’t all have the privilege to be able to to to shift out of it

got to put it down I I hosted a woman of color circle a few weeks back and the first thing I said is I do not identify as a strong black woman mm-hmm

so subscribe to that so if any of you do please drop some ones in the chat and then tell me how you feel about it and they were all like I’m tired I’m like exactly yeah that is such a damaging that’s such a damaging stereotype I don’t think people realize it’s a damaging stereotype they did a study so one of the followers or one of the people I follow on Tick Tock um shared this study where um they looked at depression in black women versus non-black women and the in the black population so the symptoms were identical like hopelessness all these kind of things that except for black women were more stealth I don’t want to say self-deprecating I think it was like self-hatred and self-blame and I feel like that comes from that stereotype of strong black woman and it’s like oh you now you’re depressed like now you’re now you’re analyzing your depression and saying you shouldn’t be depressed where other populations are just saying well I’ve lost hope I need medication or whatever it is where they’re not beating themselves up about having depression as much which I actually identify with that because I’ve been there on that self-awareness staircase of just feeling like like oh I feel this way but I don’t want to feel this way I I’m stronger than this this and then beating myself up for my feelings which your feelings are like their feelings right they’re just guides yeah what you need to shift to so yeah there’s a lot more certainly for us to unpack and discuss in the in the what I have now you know tagged as this identity informed human-centered design work because people keep forgetting human Alexander and I were talking about it the other day like how do you like how do you forget that core part yeah I think people get overwhelmed because humans The Human Condition shows up in so many different ways sure but at the core we all just want to be interesting valued respected exactly and that’s and if you just came from that place like people wouldn’t be fighting about the pronouns like come on we’ve been using pronouns oh yes for language changes all the time it was created yeah oh yes languages don’t even have pronouns so like get over it well this has been a really lovely conversation um being respectful of your time as it is almost 8 30 on the east coast and definitely continued one I think there’s yes we will we certainly will so thank you both for the time thank you for sponsoring this week for me supporting and we will certainly be keeping in touch I sent um I think jessalyn you told me you may be out next week but um Alexander let me know so we can do a collective speakers meet up so that would be great yeah thank you guys both have a lovely evening thank you guys connect again soon we will all right goodbye

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