Sunrise Banks Town Hall Getting to Equity Video Transcript
Text, David Reiling, President and CEO. Logo, Sunrise Banks. Title card in upper right hand corner. Text, Getting to equity, how to build forward pathways, presented in partnership with Sunrise Banks, The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, Augsburg University.
Hello, welcome to our second town hall, Getting to Equity: How to Build Forward Pathways. I’m David Reiling, the CEO of Sunrise Banks; a global movement toward equity and inclusion started right here in Minneapolis one year ago. And today, we are prepared to have a vibrant discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Our moderator is Roshini Rajkumar. Roshini is a crisis coach and host of Real Talk with Roshini on WCCO radio. She will introduce you to three trailblazing leaders who will dive into the real meaning behind diversity, equity, and inclusion with a focus on actual steps towards true equality. We invite you to listen and absorb the discussion, and please ask questions via the chat.
Our desire is that you leave here today ready to put new ideas into action. You are the integral part of the path forward towards meaningful change. I look forward to what you will do as you spread the inspiration and action steps from this courageous conversation.
Roshini Rajkumar’s video feed appears in the left hand corner. Now the title card occupies the rest of the screen.
Thank you so much, David. It is my honor to be the moderator for today’s town hall; Getting to Equity. We have three amazing panelists who will share, ideas, share tactics they have used and some of the results they’ve experienced and helped to deliver.
I will first introduce them, and then each of them will give a short opening statement. Darrell Thompson, is the CEO of Bolder Options. Marnita Schoedl, is the CEO of Marnita’s Table. And Paurvi Bhatt, is the president of Medtronic Foundation. We will start with Marnita Schoedl and her opening remarks.
Four video feeds in the upper left hand corner including the aforementioned speakers. Marnita Schoedl’s video feed occupies the upper left corner.
Hi, Roshini. It’s such an honor to be here. I am Marnita, and Marnita’s Table has been around for about 16 years. But the reason I founded the organization was, I came out of the foster care system. And when I was born in 1962, in 17 states of the United States, my body was considered evidence of a felony. And what that meant was that my biological parents were mixed and they would not have been allowed to be married until I was six years old, and that my white family put me into the foster care system because they didn’t want the stigma of having anybody with Black blood in their family.
And so I grew up not belonging anywhere, not fitting anywhere. And so I created the Table as a space where everybody could bring their whole authentic selves and fit and belong. And all of us have a hardwired need for security, for significance, and to actually feel connected and so we belong. So I feel like I belong here. So thanks, Roshini.
Thank you, Marnita. You are terrific, we are glad you are at this table. Darrell Thompson, please share some opening remarks.
Darrell Thompson’s video feed occupies the upper left corner.
Sure, good afternoon everyone, and thank you for having me as a panelist. I’m honored to be here with Paurvi and with Marnita. I’ve been with Bolder Options for 26 years, and we’re a mentoring program. And our goal is to introduce youth to a healthy lifestyle. And I’ve been blessed, but I’ve seen a lot of things over the course of the last 53 years of my life. And I certainly hope that over the course of the last year, beginning to realize some of the potential that we can start to have by people having honest open conversations. And we can build on that and make this community in our world a better place.
And we know Darrell, today you’ll be sharing some tips for how people can do just that in courageous ways, and sometimes even simple ways are really what matter. Paurvi Bhatt, please share with us some thoughts.
Paurvi Bhatt’s video feed occupies the upper left corner.
Hi, everyone. Thank you Roshini, and Darrell, and Marnita. What an incredible opportunity being shared conversation with all of you and everyone who’s here today. For me, I grew up in the Twin Cities. I was born in Chicago and came here. And I’m also a second generation South Asian immigrant. And so I put that down because of the reality of where we are today.
I’m certainly leading an incredible foundation. And have prior to a year ago really thought about what we did from much more of an analytical space. But after George Floyd’s murder, after the Atlanta shootings and murders of API women, and what we’re going through now with the pandemic that is only exacerbating the inequities we’ve all seen, it’s become really clear that our voice as well as our value chain is really important to consider as we think about the way we live our days and the work that we do.
And so a lot of what Medtronic Foundation has been focusing on is really taking an intentional look at that value chain. And even though the decisions I might be a part of certainly have diversity at our intention, I want to make sure that every decision after we make it also has that same intent. So that takes really courageous work and a lot of self-reflection. So I’m happy to be in that reflection with all of you today.
Well Paurvi, we’re so happy that you are with us. And Paurvi is one of those people who has so much to offer us today, particularly because of some of the latest headlines you’ve seen in the news. So we will get into those headlines with all of our panelists today. Today’s questions are really part of what you want asked and answered. So we hope that in the chat, you will put your questions. We will get to as many of those as we can.
We’re going to start, though, with some thoughts and content that really came from conversations with our three panelists. So this is their expertise, they’re living and doing the work, and they’re seeing the results. So let’s start with DEI, diversity, equity, inclusion. I want to start with Darrell on this point, what do these words mean to you? And feel free Darrell, to identify all three or just one.
Well, I mean, I think we’ll get through all of them eventually. But, I mean, to me diversity just means a different lens people having an opportunity to have an opportunity that have not had an opportunity in the past. I think about my parents going to historically Black colleges, and not having an opportunity to have the same that their white counterparts might have had at the same time.
And when I think about inclusion, I think about the youth in our program and my own youth, quite honestly, about being included with some of the opportunities that we have that are going on currently in our country as far as internships, jobs, and those things. Because when you get in, especially a lot of corporate environments, it can be pretty white and it can be pretty uncomfortable for a person of color to go in there. So I mean, those are just the pieces that I think.
And I think equity is really, really– I mean, it’s difficult and not difficult to explain at the same time when it’s been unequal for so long. It’s going to take a while for us to get the scales of life and justice back built up. It’s just been tipped the other way for hundreds and hundreds of years. And now for us to have a couple of years or maybe on or whatever we want to call it amount of years, where we feel like it’s fair when it really probably hasn’t been and. But I think at least we’re starting to talk about it now, so that’s, to me a step in the right direction.
Paurvi, if you can share your thoughts on these words; diversity, equity, inclusion.
Sure. You can imagine in a corporate environment, we’re pursuing these words very deeply. And for me just in distilling it, diversity means to me that I’ve been seen. Inclusion for me means that I’ve been heard, and equity to me means that I matter. And the reason why I broke it down in that way is because it’s become a bit of a term of art, DEI. It rolls off the tongue and so I appreciate the question and really helping us pause, and reflect what that actually translates and meaning.
And from the environments that I’ve been in over the years, and I started out as an HIV activist, so a lot of the concepts of those three words are very embedded in advocacy. And being seen, being heard, and then really demonstrating that you matter, I think is the essence of what we’re all trying to achieve. Because what is an equitable is basically the fact that we aren’t equitably mattering. And trying to get there requires that you’re heard and seen. So that’s how I’ve translated it and I think it’s an active practice every day for each of us to make sure we’re showing up across all three.
Thanks so much. Marnita, what about you? Those words, they’re pretty powerful, what do they mean?
Yeah, I actually think sometimes I love how we can have– isn’t that what diversity is? That we can have different– each of us can have our own personal but also organizational meaning for those words. And for me, diversity is the state of things. We are now a diverse world, we are a diverse community. We are expected to work across difference, make products across difference, include across difference.
And so to me the first thing is, diversity for me is now the state of things. It’s no longer even an option to think like, Oh, I don’t want to hang out with people who are different from me. That is no longer an option. So I think that everything about diversity, equity, and inclusion are about practices, and about embodiment to me.
So diversity is about the state of things. If you are here, if you aren’t if you aren’t looking at diverse talents, you are not looking at a full field of people to hire. You are probably not– you don’t shop from only one aisle of the grocery store. And because of that, you have to have the pool, the whole pool there.
The second piece of that is about equity. Well, equity is about fairness, and it is about access and it is about opportunity. It is about paying attention to what you’re paying attention to. I once worked with a senior chef, and he was saying that he didn’t always– even the equity of his attention, he was saying, “Well, I haven’t really had a lot of success hiring Black people in my kitchen.”
And so I asked him to break down in his head “Well so, tell me the difference and experience.” He said, Well, just Black employees didn’t stay as long, and they didn’t have the retention he wanted. And I said, well, so what’s your retention for white employees? He said, one out of two leaves. I said, what is it for Black people? He said, it’s a little over 50%.
And I actually had to take a piece of paper, I got a napkin and gave him a pen. And I said, would you draw a picture of 50% and one out of two? Like what are those things? And until I made him do that, he was actually putting more attention on inequitable attention on the fact he was noticing, when a Black person quit, when he didn’t notice when a white person did. So even his impression of why he thought he didn’t want them on his team was a stacked question, if you will. So I thought that was really interesting.
And so inclusion is about including others. Like literally, what are you going to do to include? What are you going to do when you’re going to include somebody who uses their hands and talks? How many times I’ve been told I didn’t fit. Literally had reviews where they said, you exceeded all the goals, you came in early, you came in under budget. And then the next word was, but you don’t fit.
So what does it mean to really include somebody? Their whole body, them, what makes them them? What makes them perform, well what makes them actually be that person in your life or in the community or on the team that is able to shine, because they get to bring their whole selves? And because of that, you also get their best thinking in their productivity. So to me, inclusion is really about the act of opening the door and saying, here this seat is just– you fit perfectly in this seat, even if you’re not just like me.
I love Marnita, how you are also helping us understand what you don’t pay attention to or what you are paying attention to is probably a precursor to even asking yourself if you’re focusing on DEI. I mean, that’s brilliant, I love that. All right, let’s talk a little bit about the headlines of late. And Paurvi, I want to start with you, because you are of Indian descent as you’ve shared.
You recently were featured in the South Asian voices podcast. I highly recommend people check that out on LinkedIn or online at South Asian Voices. And you are very committed to this work, not only for people of Indian descent, but all people. Can you fill us in on what Medtronic and Medtronic Foundation has been doing in light of some of the recent headlines, and feel free to share which headlines you’re talking about.
Sure. I think we’re all in a zone now where we’re seeing these issues of inequity show up in the headlines, and can’t reflect on this year without noting that each of us wants to jump past the headline. So that it isn’t just the bad news of the headline and the good news of the commitment, but it’s actually the work on the ground. So all three.
And the most recent ones that I’ve absorbed very personally, and it’s interesting how it was juxtaposed is the COVID surge that’s happening in India. And I am of Indian descent, I’m second generation South Asian, as I mentioned earlier. But just as the surge was exploding in India, was when we were really celebrating getting vaccinated here. And so for us and for me in particular, the immigrant experience became very palpable. Because the inequity was within our family, just as much as it was in our community, and was in the headlines of what we’d been seeing over the year.
So for me to translate that quickly into what we were going to do as a foundation was important. For our team to take that on board. It really brought a different lens for the company in our experience. Because in this moment in time, we were also inequitable and how we were experiencing joy with the pandemic, and how we could come together changed very quickly.
Was the first time that the integrated experience showed up to say that we’re a diaspora, and that actually identifying as diaspora meant something. And so what the foundation did was galvanize the moment. As many of you know, corporate foundations more than just the funding that we offer to non-profits. It’s also the function that helps galvanize employee interests and activism, and the opportunity to come together.
So over the course of the year, we’ve had to be virtual and we’ve had to figure out how do we bring employees together and bring that spirit of healing together, When we couldn’t be physically together. And we used online mechanisms to get there. We did it very quickly in June. And so we leaned into that again during the India search. We knew that the diaspora needed to come together physically.
And since we were allowed to as things were opening up right here, some of our employees started to fundraise and bring pop up food opportunities and things to come together. It wasn’t just to raise money for our organization, but certainly that was an outcome. But it was also a time to come together and heal.
We went a step further and brought that into a virtual opportunity, where many of us from all around the world could come together. And not only talk about the facts of what was happening in India, which were dire. But also to recognize that the trauma that so many of us in the Brown and Black community feel with every one of the egregious things that happened was also happening now for us.
We were seeing in the media that crematoriums were being visibly seen and shot, you didn’t know whether your family was actually in that photo or not. You were feeling the pain of what many people were experiencing with burying a Whats up red light blinking, and not knowing if it was going to be bad news for your family. And soon, use that as an opportunity to come together and help explain to each other and our colleagues what it feels like to be separated, and what it means to come together and heal.
And from that, we had over nearly 1,000 people from just within the Medtronic community come together to share and learn, and then certainly put more resources towards the problem. I’ll expand from that to say that from the individual into the foundation into supporting nonprofits that were coming together all around the world, certainly activating disaster relief nonprofits, and now classically going through the things that institutionally we would do.
But it went all the way up to our CEO who certainly put a lot of voice of compassion and learning, because this entire experience requires just staying open to learn, and to this chapter of what’s happening with this inequity. And then also joining in with the White House task force that’s focusing on the global pandemic and what we can do that quickly came together with the Business Roundtable and the US chamber around what was happening in India and expanding now to Brazil.
And we see that the spread is happening, of course, throughout Africa. And we’re not done here yet either, we know that. And so what do we need to do locally here? So with each round, you’ve seen an individual response from each of us, and institutional and philanthropic response, and then all the way up through our leaders. And from a corporate response to beginning always with listening and having the courage to share what’s happening.
And I think on this one for me personally, it took a lot more courage than I realize to be able to recognize that the inequity was within our own family. And I think that’s every immigrant experience is knowing that when we chose to search for better there might have been a few people left behind and how to come into that experience was pretty intentional for us this time around
and these are the times for me that it’s wonderful that someone like you is in a leadership role like you are, because you are in a position to really be influential. Darrell Thompson, I want to ask you about some of the more local headlines which have to do with crime, which have to do with some of the things that the youth that you and your teams, your mentors are working with day-to-day are seeing and living and breathing. How do you do the work? And then the advice to those watching today for how we can get past the headlines and really get to some resolutions?
Well, it’s interesting, and it’s a good question and a tough question. It was during the chaos and the riots and everything that were going on last year. And the marches, a lot of really good things it was a time for us in our organization to listen to the young people, and to listen to the families. And listening to them, we found that– it was interesting that one young man I talked to quite a bit myself.
And he was like, I don’t know what’s going on. There’s people are coming in here that aren’t from around here. I’m looking out in the alley and I’m seeing license plates from like all these border states and I really don’t know what’s going on. So it was interesting to hear what was going on really, really firsthand from the youth that were in our program and from the adults that are in our program.
So number one, I feel like it’s important to listen. It’s really difficult to follow the news, but we got to we got to listen to the young people, listen to the people that are directly impacted by this situation. Then as far as things, I think, that we can do, I think it comes down to a little bit like what Paurvi was talking about and Marnita was talking about. We need to come together. We need to work together.
We need to find opportunities for some of the people that haven’t had access in the past to begin to have some of those access points, because I feel like that’s going to be the equalizer. If we level the playing field a little bit, I think all boats will rise. And I think that’s the piece that we haven’t really had in the past. It feels like, just for me being around and raising funds for our organization for a living, it feels like people sometimes can be a little bit selfish. And I just feel like if we’re willing to share, I think everything will be better, and I think people would feel better.
And quite honestly, I think, one of the things we could all do to begin this is just we need to start smiling. We actually got our masks that are off, and we can take them off. But smiling at a young man or young lady at a stop sign that doesn’t look like you can start to break down some of the barriers that we need to have broken down. So you know those are just a few of the things that we can begin to do, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Practical tips, we can all smile that’s for sure. Another thing I know you’re really committed to and I hope you can share some ideas is equal pay in your organization. You’re a CEO, you have direct say over what people make regardless of gender identity, regardless of color what advice do you have for people and leaders who are watching?
Well, it’s interesting, because sometimes you hire people and you bring them on and you have different spaces and different communities. And I think it’s something we can all really look. And I looked at it last year and I did have to move some people up on our payroll. And I think it was a little bit challenging. But I mean, because you might not have planned for it, but it’s the right thing to do. Then it’s the right thing to do.
And that’s just one more piece of equalizing, making comfort, reducing the animosity, quite honestly. If someone’s sitting across the room they know and they’re doing just as much work as someone else, then they should be compensated like that. And I think it helps the leadership, it helps the rank and file, and helps everyone all the way through the entire organization.
So true. Social contagion and experience engineering, these are two concepts that Marnita taught me as we were preparing for all of you. Marnita, can you take us through them?
Yes, so social contagion is the idea that, well, have you ever been to a stadium? If you’ve ever been in a stadium and had the wave and tried to avoid doing the wave, and you almost feel like your body is going to rear up and do it, whether you want to or not. They’ve done studies. And the fact is, people want to do what– all these expressions, like birds of a feather flock together and keeping up with the Jones’. Well, they have a basis in scientific fact.
And so they did test, and they did a test in New York City. And before Times Square right when it opened and it started that traffic, they had somebody stand on a street, one person, and point across the street out of fixed mark on the wall. And when they did it with one person, 20% of all people who walked by stopped and started staring up the wall. There was nothing to see. When they made five people do it, they stopped all the traffic in Times Square for several hours. It was like they couldn’t untangle it. Although, nobody knew why they were stopping, what they were doing.
So first of all, your parents used to say, if somebody jumped off a bridge, would you do it too? Those kinds of things. Well, it turns out that when we see our friends doing something, if we see our friends smoking. Or if we see our friends doing something whether walking, there’s a lot of studies on this. And they found that, basically, behavior is socially contagious.
And so including people can be a socially inclusive behavior. In fact, at the Table, five minutes into an event if you’ve ever been to one, we often stop and we do it both digitally and in real life. We’ll say, you are now our married co-hosts. So now imagine you’ve been on Zoom all day, you’re a professional.
But we’ve invited people who might live in poverty, may not be technologically as adept as you. And they might have a baby or they might have a dog and they’re a little nervous about all this, we want you to be co-host. So when somebody comes in and maybe you hear a baby cry, could you drop a chat saying I’d love to hear the sound of babies. Like let them know that they’re really welcome. And this becomes contagious.
We have a young person say, a mom or a dad say, Oh, my God I was so nervous and I really wanted to be at that event. And the only town squares for the last 18 months have been digitally. So if that was not a space that you felt comfortable in, somebody had to do something to welcome you into that space. So that’s social contagion. What was this second one? You had a second one. You wanted social contagion, and I just forgot–
Your experienced engineering.
Engineering, just generally. So experience engineering have you ever been to a Target store. Has anybody’s ever been to target or Disneyland and spent more than they planned to spend? Well, that’s actually built into both of those companies models. That they know that you’re going to spend more. And not, by the way, by being taught or have their finger waved at you, you should buy more things at Target. No, they just make a pleasant experience where you are so happy to spend money that you want to go back again.
Because most of us would say, I just spent 10 times what I planned to spend. I’m not doing that again. But we’re right back at Target the next week, because we enjoyed getting that lipsticks. In my Ted Talk, I literally the big red talk like a bath mat that I bought at Target, leaped into my cart one day. Just wanted to be home with me, the red bath mat. And it made me do a little happy dance every time I take a shower.
And that’s what experience engineering does. And so we took a different play, we watched when we did diversity, inclusion, and equity consulting. And often when we would talk about conception, which, by the way, exist, white privilege exists. But I would see, first of all men, often white men would start leaning back. And it was almost like a slow motion arm cross. They’d lean back, they’d move their body back. And then they’d say something like, well, but I didn’t have it easy. I worked hard.
And we really weren’t talking about people laying on chaise lounge being fed bonbons. We were saying do you have to worry about being stopped by the police when you’re walking in your own neighborhood at night like my 27-year-old brown graduate son does? Who never had anything but straight like, do you have to worry about those things?
[But I also had to then prostate myself. I’d have to say, well, look this is what happened to me. I wasn’t invited into a room, but it didn’t make me want to be a leader. So we were looking at the table for a way that people would give up their preconceived notion, their implicit bias about the other, and want to continue doing it then it would make them happy to do it.
Then instead of extracting wealth like Target does as you walk through and making you happy about it, we just calmly create an environment that allowed people to drop their veils and to see each other. And often, we don’t talk about race. But the rumors are almost always 51% immigrant or of color, and at least 33% under the age of 24.
So when you ask somebody a very personal question, like have you ever had trouble accessing health care? What should we do about health care? But have you ever worried about paying a bill? Have you ever been denied ER treatment? I’m a Black woman CEO, and I’ve only had one good ER experience in my life. Every other time I’ve been in the ER, the doctors assumed that I was there as a drug addict, and refused to treat me as a patient.
It’s like this isn’t an idle question or people mock us, oh, you’re too sensitive. This is what happens to me at 2:00 in the morning when I’ve fallen down my steps, because somebody left a pair of boots in the middle of the steps and I didn’t see them and I tripped. Suddenly, I’m in the air at 2:00 in the morning having to travel four business days. And I’m being told by the ER doc that they won’t give me a painkiller, they won’t give me a boot to travel, and they really think I’m there for drugs. And they can see my ankles twice its normal size.
So there’s just these ways, pay attention to what you’re paying attention to, Roshini. That’s what I keep saying, to pay attention. Because I think we would do better about inclusion. If we just noticed that kid that came into the room and was nervous and we went up and put out our hand as Darrell said, and said come sit next to us.
I’m just going to finish this one point, I know I’ve been talking a lot. But I’m going to finish this because I think you’re going to love this. I heard something on NPR the other day. And it was a woman who was an arborist and I should have looked up her name but I didn’t, PR. And anyway, she’s a very famous forest scientist.
And she’s been doing all these studies and it turned out the stronger trees in the forest the older stronger trees have a water storage device. And they are interconnected with weaker, younger trees. And those trees know when they’re weaker younger trees do not have water, and they share their water with the weaker trees. And all I can say is, if the trees know how to do it without being told, why don’t humans know how to do this without being told. The trees know, and the scientists know.
And I also want say I’m from the Pacific Northwest, then it was the Salish in some Amish Indians who taught her this. And now she’s proven it all by science. But they said they knew just by sitting in the forest. And by the way, these are people that if you were to ask somebody, I spend a lot of time having to debunk things like black and brown people are inferior, we don’t get the same scores on IQ tests. White men feel they need to tell me these things all the time.
And she said everything she learned was basically from indigenous people. And everything they told her about healthy microbes, and good fungus and bad fungus, that they could see and experience in the forests themselves. She’s now proven by hard science. But these are people that wouldn’t necessarily be asked to go to a University to be a scientist, even though they have this wealth of healing and knowledge. And so pay attention to what you’re paying attention to. Pay attention to who you’re valuing.
Yeah, and that is so true. Paying attention to more things even and mostly because they are outside of what you know right now or what you grew up with, so important. Well, you’ve given us several examples of the personal. And I want to talk about the micro versus the macro. And Darrell, let’s start with you on this. Because people have these pie in the sky ideas about DEI, how do we get everyone to get equal pay? How do we include everyone?
But it really starts on that micro level, that one kid, that one adult. Shares some stories with us, give us some advice on how we can bring it down to the micro. Because I really believe in all the things I’ve seen in my work in this area as my past life as a TV reporter, it really does come down to what one person thinks, and if we can get them to think differently to then change behavior.
Well, it’s a difficult question. And I feel like it really comes down under that individual [INAUDIBLE]. Everyone’s got to figure out that piece. And I was just reading some of the questions in the Q&A and I feel like you have to get involved. If you want to do its homework after school, if it’s running, if it’s biking, for tutoring, if it’s volunteering to be the assistant basketball coach or football coach or track coach, we’ve got this web in this community.
And I feel like people just come in and then they go to work and then they drive back home and then we sit down. Especially now, we sit down, we watch TV, we watch sports, we watch Netflix, and then we rinse and repeat and do the exact same thing the next day. But I feel like coming out of this pandemic, we have an opportunity. We have an opportunity to reconnect to talk to people you might not have talked to in the past and then get involved.
And quite honestly just in my experience, I’m one block away from where there was tons of things going on. And I was coming into work pretty much every day during last year right now, and nothing really happens during the day. It’s a great time to be downtown. We need to come downtown, patronize the businesses, walk around see what’s going on. Because right now they feel a little bit empty, a little bit neglected. But to come downtown and be involved in the community, and to get involved in some type of community effort would be one of the main pieces I feel like needs to happen if we’re going to get to the other side of this chasm that we’re in right now. Because I don’t see it happening any other way unless we get involved and start to laugh and hug and eat and spend some time together.
Let’s talk about that a little bit more Darrell, because Dave Jones is asking this. Thanks to all of the presenters, is there any opportunity to partner with each of these organizations in the DEI work? Darrell, let’s start with you, because my guess is you’re saying, Dave Jones come on into Bolder Options.
No, absolutely. Dave Jones come into Bolder Options. And I think one of the things we’re doing the last probably five or six years, since we have a fairly significantly large alumni group is for our kids to be able to go in and tour facility. So we’ve actually, Paurvi doesn’t know we’re meeting with Medtronic later on today. We’re talking about getting in– they’re getting inside swans that organization, general Mills.
And just being able for our youth to be able to see what goes on inside a bank, a law firm. And because I think a lot of times people just you just drive by these buildings and our kids don’t see it. But for someone to come and say, hey, I’ve been working there for 10 years, 5 years, 20 years, whatever it might be to have that opportunity to get engaged, and someone to talk about their experiences there.
And to maybe bring that young person in there. Maybe there’s an internship, maybe there’s a job shadowing. We have what we call career night where people come and talk about what they do. And that’s an opportunity for people to come and share their passion, their experience about what is they do on a daily basis for their organization, and speak to our kids and, our kids will ask them questions. So those are some of the opportunities that we have available. But just sign up, get involved, get engaged. If it’s Bolder Options, that’s awesome. But if it’s another organization, that’s as important as well.
All right, along those lines I’m going to ask Paurvi this, based on a question from Heidi. And I’m hoping I’m pronouncing your name right, Triori. How do organizations reconcile marketing to diverse folks, while contributing to politicians that support non inclusive policy? And I’ll ask you Paurvi to answer this, keeping that micro versus macro in mind.
Yeah, I mean, I think this is the hardest part of diversity, I think is recognizing that it’s all voices, not just the ones we agree with. And in these moments, you can see it from any corporations view that even within our own employee set all the way through to our consumers, the importance of being able to listen to all sides.
And that’s where you start to see the tension points come through. There are going to be people who have a variety of points of view, and our job is to stay open for all of them and keep it as healthy a conversation as possible. And building a bit on what Darrell was saying and Marnita was saying as well is that, it’s only through the experience that even a marketing effort can be authentic.
But it’s only through experience things are going to change. And we all throw data up there, we all talk about the numbers of what’s changing with the DEI lens, but it really doesn’t change until the experiences begin. And so even with the question the Dave put forward about how do we get involved together. I think we can be in service together. We don’t have to be in our own individual company or nonprofit efforts, we can do it together.
And at a time that I bet all of us can rewind and think about some of the most inspirational things that have happened over the year. And those most inspirational moments for me have been when we saw people organically just jump in and get involved. They didn’t need someone to help them organize it. All of a sudden, we all showed up on the North side to do things when we needed to last year. We needed to, because we knew that there would be [INAUDIBLE] that would come out of that because we had to be together in community. And that brought us closer together.
And before you know it, we started to understand each other’s point of view. There’s been so much that’s been happening this year that has been from those organic moments of coming together. So as the politics go in one direction no matter the side, and as we pursue DEI through the value chain, certainly through the business line all the way into community, it always comes from a place of really having a shared experience and having the courage to be in that.
And I’ll just end in saying, it’s so easy to be in our bubble. And there are times you kind of want to hide in the bubble. I certainly wanted to at various points in the year. But it’s been in the moments of crisis that we had no choice but to pop the bubble to get out and do what needed to happen. So I agree with Darrell, it’s time to smile and to share in whatever way we can. And get back to understanding each other again. And that is what businesses do as well. But we’ve got to stay open to all sides because that is the world that we’re in. And that–
Right and when we do it– and with the advice that you’ve all given us even so far at that micro level when we stay open. We really listen, when we start to pay attention to more things, we can grow and help the macro level. Catherine Reed has this suggestion for a book by Suzanne Simard, Finding the Mother Tree. My assumption that is about the beautiful language of trees. The forests really know what they’re talking about.
And Darrell, if you have any thoughts on that, feel free to because, I know what you’re doing at Bolder Options, your mentors are really helping these young kids who are the sprouts and they are the twigs that grow into these big trees.
Absolutely. One of the things we say one mentor one mentee, and it’s two lives that are changed. Two lives are changed forever with that opportunity. So for a mentor and a mentee to be able to spend time together, the mentor learns about the mentees life, the mentee learns about the mentors life. And their families learn about each other.
And I’ve seen them many, many times where people talk about the families, the relationships, everyone’s had everyone’s phone numbers, they know the birthdays, they know the holidays, and they’re at graduation parties and their basketball games or track meets, whatever it might be. But people need to come out of their shell, trust each other a little bit, and extend an open arm and open hand a handshake and a hug can be the beginning of something special.
So true. I want to talk about tone from the top, specifically as it has to do with equity. Marnita, let’s start with you. You’re a CEO, you have a team, you advise other leaders. How do you make sure your tone from the top is heard and inspires others who are leading?
Well, we like to lead by example. So we’re not we’re not really big on do as I say, not as I do. So we pay all of our workers living wages we develop them, we give them opportunities, so that’s basic. You can’t expect others to treat people equitably if you’re not valuing your people.
I remember the day I was listening to Jones at the Humphrey and. She said words that changed my life. She said we’re a capitalistic society, what we value we pay for. And at the time I just started the Table, and nobody really valued the Table. I mean, people loved it. They were coming, but we were not funded. It was hard to convince people to do– it was as a small leader of a small nonprofit 15 years ago. It was always hanging on by our fingernails.
And that just mindset. We’re a capitalistic society, what we value we pay for. So if we aren’t willing to pay you, say, for your services or your labor. And so one of the things we did and it was really great. The grand tour that, the potential grand tour just let us know we don’t know if we’re getting the grant. But they said, we read our grants and a big circle, and we got to your grant.
And we had a question about volunteerism, and we write something very different than our grant proposals on volunteerism. We say, you know what, who can really afford to normally volunteer? People who know where their mortgage is coming from. People who– Yes, I mean, as a Black woman who came out of foster care, when I go to my own community, we’re always helping our niece, our cousin. There’s somebody who needs a car or somebody who needs a little extra help, I call it private philanthropy. We don’t always donate to a big organization. But we’re engaging in our communities.
But when we do events, we don’t try and get the food for free. We hire vendors from immigrant and of color communities, because that’s one of the issues in our community. If we were hired more, if we add more equity and what we’re being paid, we wouldn’t need so much charity. And so I actually observe that for us, it’s putting our money where our mouth is.
Paying somebody so they can have time with their baby. Paying somebody– understanding what it really means if we say we have family values. So if you have family values and somebody gets ill and they need to be at home with their family, it’s not calling them at 20 times that day, and saying acting, as though, if they’re not at work that day they’re harming you in some way.
And one of things that comes up a lot, I’m a CEO so we talk about payroll and all these things. But I once heard Jim Sinegal, who was the former CEO and founder of Costco talk. And he said, you I don’t lobby not to pay taxes. It turns out if we almost have to spend the same amount of money to lobby to not pay taxes, as we just do to just pay the taxes. So why don’t we just pay the taxes?
And he also said, the people who worked for him were his family, his friends, and his community members. So he sat in the cubicle, just like all of them. He flew coach just like he expected them to fly coach, he flew coach. And so I often will hear people say something like, well, if they want to get skills, that they can make more.
Well, we have all sorts of people who, by the way, almost every job takes skill. Whether you’re a garbage person, whether you are picking up dishes like even knowing how to carry a tray and wait a tray takes skill. That I think some of the language we have about skills is really about not valuing labor very much.
We know that when somebody stands on their feet for a long time, if you’re just using your brain and it’s hard work you use our brains, but I’m not doing the hard work that somebody who’s digging a ditch is doing. And I need that ditch dug. And so why shouldn’t a ditch digger or somebody who’s doing that have the ability to afford a roof over their head, and to be able to have their children have a future?
I think sometimes we have this idea like, well, if they just work hard enough. Well, don’t mediocre people who aren’t very ambitious deserve to eat? Are we really only a country that only believes that the wealthiest and the smartest deserve to have any kind of life? I don’t know if really what–
Maybe having that life and having that therapy makes you want to work harder and get more. I mean–
Exactly, it’s the opposite. It’s actually– and I see that when I– because I have two white children and a Black child. And my kids grew up in a pretty upper middle class neighborhood. And you would meet somebody, oh, I’m Steve so and so. At Dorsey Whitney. I would want to be an attorney, can I come down to your office? You know what Darrell was talking about. The social capital. You’ve been asking what are you planning to do for the summer? Our kids will say, well, I’m planning to go to Concordia language camp or whatever it was.
Well, I’ve often observed that we assume that Black and brown kids need more development as opposed to just whatever your kid needs, which is to be invested in, to be seen, to be valued. And that often, we keep coordinating and I love the work that Bolder Options done. So I firmly believe in mentorship. But I’ve also observed over the years how many organizations find it easier to do mentorship and things that develop young people when their–
I exist in the world, I’m a 60-year-old professional. I exist in the world, there’s all sorts of talent out there whose senior, level mid-level talent that’s ready to go right now. And all we need is to be as welcomed into the environment, and to be recruited and invested in. And to observe that. How many times I’ve seen I have five white brothers. And the fact is when they talk sometimes is like Oh, this guy reminds me of me.
One of my high points was talking to Hubert Joly, who’s the former CEO of Best Buy. And one day he said, well, we may not look alike Marnita, but we have the same values. You and I believe in the same work ethic, we have the same view on excellence. He said, but a lot of people wouldn’t see that, because we look different. And so for him, diversity– he didn’t feel it we were so diverse from each other because we had such similar values and the way we showed up purpose driven in the world.
So it’s also how do you measure diversity? And how do you measure that? are you measuring it based on [INAUDIBLE], are you are you doing it based on– And I believe this is a unique, I believe we’re at an inflection point with George Floyd. But also 13 states in the United States just made it illegal to teach about that laws are connected to racism in any way in this country. 13 states have–
So we will get into that in a whole other panel. We are really running up against the clock. So I want to get more response on this. And I’ll ask Paurvi to keep it brief because we’ve got to wrap, and then we have a special musical guest we hope you all stay for. Paurvi, I’d really love your thoughts on leadership from the top and setting that example.
Sure. Well, I think the main thing is the listening that’s necessary and the constant vulnerability and courage required to note that we’re all trying to learn. Whether you’re Black or Brown or white, we’re all in this learning together. And so and to use the top wherever you are. We’re in a fairly flat world now and to a certain extent. We all have a place to lead from if we choose it.
And so where we’ve seen some change. Certainly have seen it from our CEO all the way through to each of us, is really being open to the fact that we’re trying to listen and learn. And it sounds like a common statement, but is one of the hardest things that people can bring, is the opportunity to listen and learn and stay very vulnerable to what you’re trying to hear.
And so I would just say that and then back to the value chain. Really understanding that it is more than just this conversation like we’re doing now. It’s to come away from this conversation and then say, OK, where do I actually have influence? And everyone has influence. It’s not just your title where you sit. What can I do just a little bit differently to try and move things forward and to take that? That becomes the tone of change versus tone at the top. And I think we’ve all got that tone going now. And just to keep that as virtuous as possible, and let that amplify. So that’s what we’re trying to do.
I love that you said that tone of change and really listening. It reminds me of a line I wanted to share with everyone from Gabrielle Bernstein. And all of our panelists today are really living this. So close your eyes and listen to this quote. “The best way to serve others is to feel excited and eager to guide toward solutions, rather than staying stuck in their problems. Seeing someone in their wholeness is the greatest gift you can give them.” and our three panelists today have really given you all concrete ways to see others around you in their wholeness.
I’m going to ask each of the panelists to just take 10 to 20 seconds, you’re on the clock folks, to give one last tip. Whether it’s about DEI or whether it’s a way that each of you advises the rest of us to watch for wellness in our own lives. Darrell let’s start with you.
I’ll keep the brief and I think you guys might know I used to play football, and the greatest coaches I had were the coaches that look for the good in their players. If you look for the good, you’ll find it. If you look for the bad, you’re going to find it. If you look for the good and build on it, if we can all do that, I think we can make some progress.
Change begins with us. But I also have to say change begins with– I’m grateful. So I practice gratitude every day, even when things are really hard. So that’s my first one practice some gratitude, be grateful that we have the opportunity to still be duking this out, because we have to say cruded up for what’s next. But love– love and purpose. Go forth with love and purpose, and your life will be better of in every way. Just–
So true. Pervy.
Keep it simple. The things that we’ve seen this whole year have been just the opportunistic times of people coming together. Just keep it simple and you’d be surprised. I won’t go through every study out there, but helping as simple as that seems actually does make you healthier. So for all of the focus on wellness, and all the things that we’re trying to buy to help us feel better, actually getting involved in helping and just trying something new and doing that, does make you feel better. It does make you healthier. There’s plenty of data out there that show you the medical evidence are very funny. So keep it simple and stay in the virtuous cycle of help.
All of you are so terrific. And we did not get to all the questions in our Q&A today. I invite you to look up our panelists, write them directly. You can see they’re very responsive, they’re very inspirational people, and they really want to help you become a better leader. Whatever that means, whatever space you’re in and I hope we can all thank Paurvi Bhatt president of Medtronic foundation, Darrell Thompson CEO of Boulder options, and Mannita stradale CEO of Mannita’s table.
Before we go our special gift to you is musical artist Mayyadda. She is Minneapolis based, she aspires to use her music to make people slow down. Listen to her music and then land in another perspective. Mayyadda refers to her genre as black girl magic, an eclectic mix, a neo soul vocals folksy guitar, pop style piano with the occasional trap beat sprinkled in for flavor. Her most recent project, holding space. Enjoy the sounds of Mayyadda. Thank you for being with us today.
Mayyadda’s video feed occupies most of the screen. She holds a guitar. Golden tassels hang down in the background.
Hey all. Good afternoon to everybody in Minneapolis and st. Paul. I’m Mayyadda my pronounce of she heard hers. And I’m a singer songwriter born and raised in Minneapolis, and I’m still based here. And I’m going to share one of my songs with y’all today, it’s called Black is Beautiful. And first and foremost to all the Black people who are watching this, I hope that you feel loved and affirmed, and encouraged by this song because in a world that frequently devalues our lives– tells us that we are worthless, tells us that we are not even fully human– I just want this truth to be a degree of balm today to some very sore wounds, some very old wounds and maybe give you a little sense of peace, as you move throughout your day.
For those of you who are watching who are not black, I want this song to be an invitation to you to consider the opportunities that you have in your life, in your spheres of influence internally– the ways your body moves through space, what you believe, what you think, the kind of conversations you have, the places that you put your money– all of those different things how those opportunities can be leveraged to create a world that actually does value in a firm black life. And then how you can take those opportunities. So that’s that for everyone. I hope you’ll enjoy the song. This is black is beautiful.
[00:55:27.97] [MUSIC PLAYING]
She looks down at her guitar and plays.
My mama used to tell me, to love the skin I’m in. I didn’t always understand her, I didn’t always listen. But now I know better.
She closes her eyes and raises her head.
Now I know better. I didn’t like my curls that grew up to the sun, because I wanted to fit in and look like everyone else around me. Until I found me.
Ebony chocolate or cafe Au lait, our skin is gorgeous no matter what they say. So block out the noise, hear the voice of God who made as well. As he whispers to you let it break through and know your black is beautiful. It’s beautiful.
This world holds so much danger for people with this skin, cause people stray trying to put out the light we have within, but we can’t let them. No we can’t let them. See Rosa, Martin, Malcolm, all did what they could, we got to rise up, fight back, stand where they stood cause it’s our duty, to proclaim our beauty.
Ebony chocolate or cafe Au lait, our skin is gorgeous no matter what they say. So block out the noise, hear the voice of God who made as well. As he whispers to you let break through, and know your back is beautiful.
Were are Maya’s brilliance, Nelson’s resilience, and with Harriet’s strength we move. We’re Ruby’s daring with voices worth sharing like Billie and Mahalia. So sing it loud, sing it proud Oh-oh, oh, oh.
Ebony chocolate or cafe Au lait, our skin is gorgeous no matter what they say. So block out the noise hear the voice of God who made as well. As he whispers to you let it break through, know your back is beautiful. Oh, woah, it’s beautiful. Woah, woah, so beautiful. Oh, were beautiful. And know your black is beautiful.
She claps her hand over the strings.