3 Practical Ways to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

3 Practical Ways to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

3 Practical Ways to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace


Diversity awareness is at an all time high. Societies around the globe are coming to terms with the near universal lack of diversity, equity and inclusion. Institutional racism is real and with it come a host of personal, economic, and societal consequences. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have long been the domain of the HR department. This made most of us feel as though diversity and inclusion weren't our responsibility. Recent events have demonstrated that creating a diverse workplace is every leaders' responsibility. Rectifying institutional racism isn't their job, it's our job, it's my job, it's your job.

By becoming more aware, educating yourself on the topic, becoming an ally and a champion, and creating space for honest, non-judgmental conversations you can make a difference.

For a long time diversity, equal opportunity, or affirmative action were considered lowering the bar and lowering the standard. This was never correct.

When we work to create a more inclusive workplace we identify new solutions, see problems from new, unconsidered angles, and become more innovative. 

In this podcast (and post) we discuss ways to empower you as you seek to create a more inclusive workplace, and look at three (3) simple ways that you can implement diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

The three ways you can create a more diverse and inclusive workplace are:

  • Diversity recruiting: Ask for diversity
  • Be intentionally inclusive (vs. accidentally exclusive)
  • Bravely and humbly engage in conversations about race (pointers below)

⦿ You can ask for more diversity in hiring and on your team.

⦿ Diversity, equity, and inclusion are necessary elements of today's leadership skill set

⦿ Unfortunately, we haven't ended racism, yet. It's still very much alive and well.

⦿ Creating an inclusive workplace isn't lowering the bar, it's increasing perspectives, acknowledging strength in differences, and building a more resilient organization.

⦿ Real change happens one conversation at a time.

⦿ The notion of a colorblind society limits conversations on race and downplays the value of diversity.

Promoting Equity in the Workplace
with Alex Bratty


Alex Bratty  00:01

Every leader knows that a thriving organization depends on the energy, productivity and commitment of its people. But few leaders are able to cultivate the employee engagement and performance needed for this level of success. What's the difference? Positive leadership practices. Welcome to the Positive Leadership Movement Podcast. With your host positive work culture expert, Alex Bratty, ready to harness the power of positive leadership. Let's dive right in.

Alex Bratty  00:38

Hello, and welcome to episode 36 of the Positive Leadership Movement Podcast. I'm your host Alex Bratty, and this week, I am so honored and grateful to have Dr. David Arrington on the show. He is an executive coach and the COO of Arrington Coaching and he's going to share with us his wisdom, experience, and expertise in how leaders can bring more diversity and inclusion into their own work and their organizations. This is an incredibly timely topic, and that is why I'm so thrilled to have him on the podcast.

So let me share a little of David's very impressive credentials and then we'll jump right into this important discussion. David’s stated mission is to impact an entire generation of leaders. And he does this by helping executives realize their vision and create sustainable change through executive coaching and training.

David holds a doctorate in strategic leadership, which he puts to good use in his coaching practice. He is a force multiplier for executives who want to stretch their goals fast. He partners with C level executives and their leadership teams, increasing accountability, clarity and focus, David pastored for 12 years and that experience allows him to help leaders find constructive ways to lead their teams. He's the principal of Arrington Coaching and is a much sought-after coach, speaker, and leadership trainer.

He and his team launched ArringtonTraining.com to make his practical teaching style and proven methodology available to more leaders and teams. In his spare time, David enjoys watching movies, TV shows and listening to great music; when he's not watching a great or terrible movie with his beautiful wife of 23 years and three kiddults. (I love that, kiddults.) You might catch him nodding his head to some old school rap or playing the action adventure game, ‘No Man's Sky’. Welcome, David. It's so wonderful to have you on the show.

David Arrington  02:46

Thank you so much, Alex. It is a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me on.

David's Definition of Leadership

Alex Bratty  02:50

Yeah, absolutely. And I just want to start by having you share, you know, your definition of leadership; how you define positive leadership. And I think that'll set us up nicely to jump into this whole conversation that's happening right now about diversity and inclusion. So how would you define positive leadership?

David Arrington  03:11

And that's such a good question because I'll give you a roundabout answer, then I'll give you the absolute direct answer. There are thousands, literally thousands of definitions of leadership. So I will be tossing another definition onto the pile. But mine would be it is a trust-based relationship where you are motivating and inspiring your people to accomplish shared goals. So for me there are a lot of important words in there.

But I go with fundamentally the number one most important word would be relationship. Because, in my experience, most leaders forget that leadership is fundamentally a relationship and if there is no relationship, or the relationship is sour, it really, really impacts your ability to lead. You can't motivate people who don't like you. You can't get them to rally around shared goals if they don't trust you. So yeah, that's that would be my quick and dirty when you ask me what my definition of leadership is.

Alex Bratty  04:12

And I love that, and it's so relevant to the whole positive leadership movement too, because we talk about that a lot on the show relationships in general, and I 100% agree with you that leadership really is about relationships. But not just relationships, but building positive high-quality relationships, right? I mean, we can have a relationship, but it's not that great.

David Arrington  04:40

Enemies have relationships! You have to quantify the relationship.

police accountability requires Diversity and inclusion

George Floyd: We Still Have Real Problems Around Race 

Alex Bratty  04:43

Yeah. I love it. And the trust is crucial. I mean, without trust, there is no relationship to start with, right? At least certainly not a positive one that can be had. I love it. I love it. So tell us, let's dive into this whole conversation around diversity and inclusion because, I mean, this topic has been important for years and years and years. It is not a new topic.

And, of course, it now has come really to the fore and to the, you know, central focus of so many organizations with everything that's going on here in the United States at the moment with the protests with the killing of George Floyd, by police in broad daylight and all the other, you know, many, many, many incidents that have happened before that. But it's sort of like it all reached a boiling point this year. So tell us a little bit about this.

Because I know that, I mean, when I used to be in corporate life, and I'm talking about 20 years ago, we had diversity and inclusion training, okay. And I can tell you back then, literally, everybody rolls their eyes at it. Like they're like, we got to attend this diversity inclusion thing. And it wasn't just white people doing it. It was everybody doing it.

Right. White, Black. yellow, purple, blue, what matter what color your skin was, it was kind of like this token thing that we all had to participate in to check off the box that the organization was doing diversity and inclusion.

So I really want to dig into with you ,like, how can now, at this great opportunity, it become actually a really important and valued aspect of organizations and leadership so that it's not that eyeroll “Oh, HR is making us do it.” So tell us, I know you've got like three practical steps that leaders can take to bring diversity and inclusion into their daily work. Tell us about that.

David Arrington  06:41

So yeah, you give a great backdrop. It's not just George Floyd. George Floyd was just the most recent and most egregious demonstration of police brutality against black and brown people. And that is why it touched such a nerve because for the entire black and brown community, this is life for us. We know these things happen.

And what I'm excited about is that for the first time in my life, I'm seeing people outside of that black and brown community realize that “Wait, this can't continue.” So when I look at it from a leadership perspective, I say this is not an eye roll add on, you know, token gesture that is made that you have to sit through.

In this moment, as leaders, we need to understand that leadership is part of our, I'm sorry, that diversity, equity, and inclusion is part of our leadership skill set. It's no longer something that's done by diversity and inclusion be the organization or department within your organization. It's something that each and every leader needs to pick up the mantle on themselves, and work to make it happen day by day.

Institutional bias is not going away. Because there's a department, right? It's just like racism didn't go away with the end of slavery, or the signing of the Voting Rights Act; none of it changed the bigger problems. It's not until individuals own the outcomes and say, “You know what? I can make a change. I can make a difference. I can take a stand here, that things will change.”

And so that's what I talk about when I talk about diversity and inclusion as it relates to leaders and practical steps they can take every day. So the first- Actually, let me give you three. Let me just give them to you and we can unpack them if you want, Alex.

Asking for Diversity and Inclusion

One is going to be provide equity via resources. Another one is going to be asking for more diversity. Yeah, asking for it. And the third one is going to be beginning healthy discussions. I left the last one. The third one is probably the scariest one for most people. But those are three ways that every leader can step up to the plate day by day and make a difference just by asking different questions.

But just by listening more, just by understanding that there are perspectives that you may not share, simply because you've never been made aware of them. So talking to, again, black and brown colleagues, they're going to have a worldview that's going to be fundamentally different than a, perhaps their white counterpart because of the things they've gone through their experiences and the lives they have to live in order to try to get the same type of equity and the same type of opportunity in society.

Alex Bratty  09:41

Yeah, and I love how you kick that off, because, wow, it is so true that if we want to change anything in an organization, the leader has to embody it and own it. You're so right, just because there's a department allocated to it doesn't mean anything is going to happen. And that's kind of how it was 20 years ago when I was, you know, going through that training, it's like, the HR department had that in their purview.

And they came along and said, “Okay, everybody has to attend this” right? But there wasn't a whole lot of leadership ownership of it. So I love that, because it's, that's true of sort of any change we want to make at the organization, right? So why should diversity and inclusion be any different? I love that.

So yeah, let's talk about these three practical steps. I really love them. So you said a leader needs to ask for more diversity on their team. Now, that that sounds maybe a little scary to me. So tell me about what that is and how our leaders, our listeners, can embrace that idea.

David Arrington  10:49

So one, if you're hiring, let's just say you're looking for new people on your team. Ask the question, “How are we selecting candidates?” I mean, this is your responsibility. Most people just kick it over to HR and let it be.

But I would encourage leaders to take it a step further, ask how we're looking for candidates, ask if we're looking for diverse candidates, even encourage “I would like to interview diverse candidates.” If you're bringing me a roster of, say, 10 people, I want this percentage to be diverse, because this is what our team looks like now, right? We don't have much diversity.

So what we need to do is bring in these new ideas, these new perspectives, these new ways of interacting, because that's going to make us more productive, more profitable, and it's going to help us solve problems in whole new ways.

And I would encourage you, as you look at this, and I would encourage every leader to look at this from their own perspective as well, because you want to just say “What biases do I have” right? “What biases am I not aware of?” So do I think, like you said, I love how you kicked it off. Right? You know, it was an eye roll.

Everybody just, you know, face palms and they said, “Oh my goodness, another diversity inclusion training.” What I would ask is, “What do you think about diversity and inclusion? Diversity, equity, and inclusion? Do you feel that we're lowering the standard?”

Because that's a common misunderstanding about diversity, equity and inclusion. The idea that, oh, because we're bringing in more minority candidates or black and brown candidates, that we're lowering the standards.

It's fundamentally untrue. What a Harvard study found in 2003 was that employers were more open to white candidates with criminal records than they were to black candidates with no criminal records.

Alex Bratty  12:49

I had not seen that study. Thank you for sharing it.  I'm not surprised but it's just such a- (Alex sighs)

3 ways to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Being Intentionally Inclusive

David Arrington  12:56

These are the biases we have. So we think that fundamentally if we're opening the door that, and I have some trigger words, tolerance for me is a negative word because being tolerated is not something anyone wants to be.

So just going back and unpacking your own biases around diversity and inclusion is going to help you to ask better questions, and to really take a look in the mirror and it's not saying you're bad or that you're racist. It's saying “Guess what? We all have unconscious bias.”

And when we ask questions, we're able to unearth some of that bias and think “Well, maybe I do think it's lowering the bar, maybe I am a little bit hesitant because I'm not sure what I'll get if we bring in more quote unquote, ‘diversity hires’,” which is also a pejorative, if you really think about it.

But what you want to do is you want to look up and ask the questions because you want to move to intentional inclusivity from unintentional exclusivity, you don't want to be unintentionally exclusive. You want to be intentionally inclusive.

Alex Bratty  14:09

I love that. And I mean, you have your doctorate. I know, you're probably evidence based in all the work that you do, and you just cited. And I know I mean, there's at this point, I mean, sort of the moral piece of it apart, right?

The argument for diversity is almost like, why are we even still debating it? There's actually so many studies out there that show if you have diversity in your organization, you're going to be more creative, you're going to be more innovative, and guess what, you're going to be more profitable. So it's like, this is a bottom line argument as well.

So if you can't get through to someone on sort of, the more like “This is the right thing to do,” the virtuous kind of approach. Then there's a bottom-line argument to be made for this stuff, too. You know?

No One Wants to Talk About Race

David Arrington  15:01

And that's what gets lost. Again because of bias. Because of the way we're thinking about this. And it's tragic. But yeah, we're still here. And I think just going back to the bigger societal picture that you were painting earlier. I think it's because we as a society have chosen not to discuss race, have chosen to put it in the “We don't talk about race and politics.”

And that became the- Well it's race, politics and religion, right? Those are the three we don't talk about, right? So we put it in these categories, so we don't really know how to talk about it. We walk into a situation with zero language skills when it comes to having dialogue about race, which only means we've pushed it further to the background.

We've allowed the situation to fester instead of actually discussing it and moving forward so we should have been here 25 years ago. But we're still here in the same space because we've chosen a number of avenues as a society that don't allow us to have the type of productive discussion that we'd need to have to bring everyone to the table.

Alex Bratty  16:16

I completely agree. And I want to I want to unpack a couple more of your three steps that you mentioned, but just because you brought this up I just want to sort of go off a little bit here on a tangent but having that conversation, you're right.

There hasn't been a conversation and that's why there really hasn't been progress, right? I think some people are afraid to have the conversation. So I mean, everybody watching this podcast, you can clearly see David is black and I am white.

David Arrington  16:51

(David gasps, feigning surprise with a humorous smile and tone) Imagine, just imagine.

David Arrington  16:55

My chair is abandoning me as we're having the conversation. Go ahead.

Alex Bratty  16:59

Sorry. Yeah, we're don't want to lose you just disappear. I know,

David Arrington  17:01

I was just shrinking lower. And I was like, come on.

Alex Bratty  17:06

Okay, good. So if you're listening Just so you know, I'm white David is black. And so, you know, I mean, I'll be completely honest, right? I have white friends who, number one, they're scared. They're scared about everything right now. They don't really know what to say, they don't know how to ask. They don't even know the questions to be asking.

In case they somehow, like, as you said earlier, don't even realize they have some kind of implicit bias and it's like foot-in-mouth disease without like- They didn't mean to. They were well intended, but they don't know what to say. And so it's very difficult to maybe have that conversation.

And by the same token, I'm sure there is some fear, you know, in the black and brown community too. But how do we have this conversation? So like, what do you say to leaders who might be feeling that no matter the color of their skin, like if they're having sort of fear or anxiety around opening up this discourse, what what's your advice there?

Leaders: Educate Yourselves on Diversity and Inclusion

David Arrington  18:10

I would encourage any leader because leaders should be educating themselves continually. They should be reading, they should be listening to books, they should be digesting as much, consuming as much content as they possibly can. But I would encourage leaders to educate themselves as much as they can. And take this on as a new topic of study.

I would encourage a few books, I would encourage ‘Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, I would encourage ‘The New Jim Crow, which will is incredibly enlightening. I would also encourage ‘The Rich and the Rest of Us.

And these are just three books, there are a number of books if you look up books to help you discuss race that's going to show up. There's no reason in today's society that we shouldn't have that type of discussion for fear of not saying the right thing. I say it's an easy out, I think most people just haven't thought, “Let me take this topic on and study it,” versus “I just want to go and have a conversation.”

And that's why most of those conversations aren't productive, is because you don't have an outcome. You don't know where you're going. You don't know what you want to do. You just you feel like, “Hey, it's bad out there. What can I do to help?” And that's, that's a tough question to ask any black or brown person because it's almost like asking me what does air tastes like?

It's just, how can you help? Well, there are a number of ways. But honestly from my perspective, I see things and you would see different things from your perspective.

So going back to how to have that conversation, I would say humbly, I would say before you go in and do foot-in-mouth disease, I would say You know what, I really didn't know about this, I'm gonna go educate myself, I’m gonna read a few things.”

If you want to read to understand why the monuments are being taken down around the country to the Confederate soldiers, well, most people understand that. But there's a lot of confusion on that among people who feel that that's their heritage and shouldn't be taken down.

Go read the cornerstone speech by the then vice president of the Confederacy and you'll understand that the entire platform of the Confederacy and therefore every symbol associated with it was rooted in the idea that black people were subjugated to white people. And if we still honor that, today, we're saying the exact same thing.

Diversity and Inclusion Conversations

David Arrington

So you’ve got to understand black and brown colleagues, friends, we're struggling right now. I don't like to speak on behalf of all black people because I don't have the right, But I can say that, say, you know, there's a lot going on, and while we're not, you know-

We may be nervous about having a conversation, we're not nervous. Again, I'm speaking for all of the black and brown people in the world, but we're often not as reticent to have those conversations because we're used to having those conversations. We talk about this a lot, right? It's because it's part of life.

Think about this when I taught my sons and I'll teach my daughter to drive, or I should say my wife usually does, because I'm not as patient, but we talk to them. We teach them how to be pulled over. Because if you drive, it's just a statistical reality that you're gonna get pulled over at some point, right? You want to live through that.

And that's a conversation most white parents will never have to have. Right? So that we talk about race we have to because as much as we don't necessarily, and again, I'll put it to me as much as I don't necessarily judge people by their complexion, I know that I’m seen a certain way. And that's why I did my doctorate.

Really, I mean, because I knew as a black man in America and coming to talk to leaders about leadership, I had to have my stuff together. One of my favorite quotes, and it may be apocryphal and that's okay, but it's the Samuel L. Jackson quote, he said, “Hey, in order to get to do well, in this business, you're gonna have to be 10 times better than anybody else,”

And his response was, “Okay, let's do it.” That's the way we understand. That's the way in circles I'm in. I know, my black and brown friends, they know that we have to be better just to have the same opportunities just to get to that to the table.

So those conversations, we have them. I would just encourage you to not ask your black and brown friends or colleagues to speak on behalf of all of everyone else. Like I'm doing so eloquently today, right? I encourage you to ask them about their experience. I would-

Alex Bratty  22:57

I'm sorry. I cut you off. Finish your thought.

David Arrington  23:01

No, I was just gonna say I would encourage you to listen to humbly to ask more questions to be curious and to educate yourself. Because it's tough when now that it's become just a national conversation, which is long overdue.

It's difficult for us, we're already like I said, we're struggling, you know, it's a lot of emotional baggage; a lot of things come to the surface and to ask for us to kind of deep dive like 15 times with 15 different people, it can be emotionally draining.

That's why I say take a minute, read some books, read some articles. James Baldwin, just go back in and Langston Hughes, read some of the works that speak to the African American experience, and that will better help you kind of sort of get a grip on where we are.

Alex Bratty  23:56

Yeah, I mean, you make a really great point there, right? Because it's almost, it's almost a little intellectually lazy to just be like, “Okay, I'm just going to call up my black and brown friends and ask them and that's gonna, you know, make me feel better and somehow, like I'm doing something about it.”

But yeah, I love that you're challenging leaders to essentially be curious, like, be intellectually curious about this topic, treat it like you would with other topics that you want to learn about. And as you point out, I mean, there's no end to literature on this right?

And as you said, if you just Google, you know, “How do I have a conversation about race”, I'm sure multiple books will come up, right? So I love that it's like, again, sort of bringing that broader lens to this whole discussion. Like we talked about earlier, “Hey, you know, you have to as a leader embody this, it can't just be in another department.”

Guess what? That applies to all of us. An organization's right and this almost your I mean, the advice here too is like, “Hey, don't be afraid of this topic, we need to have the discussion.” Basically take it like you would with another topic and go find out about it get educated about don't just call up your friend. I mean, as a leader, you don't necessarily just call up your friend to learn about, you know, how we can be more innovative.

You go educate yourself about it, right?

David Arrington  25:24

You buy some books, you'll go to a conference, you'll do something you'll try to get that edge.

Providing Equity in the Workplace

Alex Bratty  25:30

That's right, exactly. So yeah, I really love that. Okay, so I want to go back to your three steps because they were really, really important. And you'd said about asking for more diversity, we talked about that. You also talked about, I think you said providing equity via resources. So tell it what does that mean and how can leaders do that?

David Arrington  25:54

So fundamentally, what you want to do is you want to understand that everyone doesn't have your experiences. Everyone may not have your opportunities. So think about training in an organizational context. It's fundamentally a cattle shoot.

Training is offered, everybody goes through it, right? And it's, you know, you get out of it, what you get out of it. Like you said, half the time you're rolling your eyes. And that's why as a trainer, my job is to make sure no one ever falls asleep in my class. My job is to make sure that people are laughing the whole time.

Because I know I'm taking up your time and I know, for most people training has that negative connotation, but just thinking, “Okay, I'm sending someone to diversity training. Okay, good. But what if they need something else that's off the menu?”

So what if your black and brown colleagues need additional mentoring and additional coaching?

So I was fortunate enough to go, I was a participant in the inroads program, which I still remember, this was back in the 90s. I was in high school and it was a nonprofit organization designed to help talented minority youth place them in business situations.

Of course, I always say flawlessly but there I flubbed it like three times, it's okay that we're going to move on. But I had that opportunity so I was in offices early on. I was in offices almost all through high school, through college; so graduating and getting a new job working in office environment was second nature to me, I understood it, everyone doesn't have that experience and that's not just a black and brown concern.

But if you're hiring great people that may not have all of those experiences, it's good to have opportunities for mentorship for coaching for additional training and provide equity because fundamentally, equity is the idea that everyone does have different backgrounds.

Everyone is starting at a different spot, some because of institutional bias, some because of other reasons. But equity is to make sure that everyone gets a level playing field versus equality, which is give the same thing to everyone, which only helps those who are further ahead, stay further ahead, and those who are further behind, perhaps even lag further behind.

So what you want to do is you want to make sure that you understand the needs of your team and the team members and in so doing, you can offer different resources and make those resources available. And I think that's something that's missing.

Because still, it's a cattle shoot, everyone goes through the same thing and it's only when you're at higher levels in the organization, you get a coach and mentoring is excellent. But mentoring can be hit and miss. I'll tell you when I was at Exxon way back in the day.

I was a mere babe, just in diapers at Exxon and I was going to work with this gentleman who looked like me, charismatic guy. I remember handsome. I was like “This dude, I want this dude to show me the ropes.” He was already like two or three skip levels above me.

So and he was good. We had already met a few times. And then he moved organizations. And I lost track of him. And I mean, I think that's a huge missed opportunity, because there was nobody else to back me up.

And honestly, there was only one other person there that looked like me. And she and I were friends, but there was never going to be a mentorship because she would just, you know, it wasn't gonna be a formalized mentorship, I should say, she was awesome, but she just wasn't open to that, or I never asked or whatever. That is key and critical.

Think about how many CEOs, black CEOs are in the fortune 100, right? How many? How many people can your black and brown colleagues look up to and see as a mentor for them, not just any mentor, but someone that looks like them, someone whose experiences may be similar to theirs.

Someone who may understand the world they come from or live in, in a way that someone else might not. Those are the types of resources, that's the type of equity I'm referring to. And yeah, it's many layered, but you want to make sure that not just bringing diverse people in, but ensuring that diverse people succeed in this organization.

Alex Bratty  30:20

Yeah. I mean, leaders, really, whether you're managing a team, or you're leading the organization, I mean, there's now an inherent need for leaders, managers to basically be coaches. To individualize what people need, rather than, as you described it perfectly, a cattle shoot, right?

It's like, “Okay, we're all going to do this,” and half the people might be interested, and the other half is doing the eye roll, right? Instead, it's about having your manager sit with their team, like schedule those one on ones and have this discussion.

Okay, you know, “Where do you want to progress? Or do you think you need support? How can we do that for you,” right? And really helping people move forward. And again, that is just so it's so completely baked into the notion of positive leadership is that idea of wanting to develop people and seeing them for who they are, and recognizing their strengths and their you know, what makes them great, what makes them unique, and then nurturing that in, you know, in collaboration, like working with them to say,

“How can I support you? Where do you think you need help? Let's get you where you need to go.” And again, it just, you know, it ties in beautifully with what you're saying about, you know, providing this equity via resources. I love that. I love it.

Diversity and Inclusion Conversations continued

Alex Bratty (cont.)

All right. And then your third one was about discussions. You mentioned beginning healthy discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. And I think we maybe kind of already touched on that, but I did talk about ethical conversations. But I don't if you wanted to add more to that, or we kind of cover that one already?

David Arrington  32:07

I think we covered it. It just in a different order, which, again, flexibility, we're good. I think we said what could be said. And I would just encourage leaders to be, again, humble as they ask questions, and flexible and creative in how they bring diversity into their team.

So when I'm working with, let's say a virtual team, which a lot of teams are right now, then I would encourage you, especially if it's a global virtual team, I would encourage something along the lines of, hey, let everyone bring a dish, even though we're not eating it together, we can talk about it.

And we can talk about why this dish is important, where this comes from, why you know what it means to you in your culture, I would say, ask similar questions. So talk to me about where you are. Tell me about something where you grew up.

That may be a good question. And again, it also goes back to the relationship that has to be- I would encourage that to be part of a private discussion versus the first open discussion you have, because people may not be willing to share that transparently.

Again, and if you don't have your outcome set up for those big discussions, you want to make sure that you tread very softly and listen very, very diligently. But in one on one conversations, you can, you know, share a little bit about you and then, you know, ask to share a little bit about them. And you can do the same thing once you've developed that level of trust in your in your team with them in team meetings as well.

Alex Bratty  33:38

Yeah, I love it.

Acknowledging Your Biases

Alex Bratty  33:43

So one last question, because it's sort of been in the back of my mind as we've been having this conversation. Despite everything that we're seeing on social media in the news, despite all the organizations that are making efforts right now, there's still people that will turn around then say, “I'm not racist. I don't have to change anything about what I'm doing.”

And there might even be some organizations where the leadership team kind of feels like, “We don't need to do anything different. We're not racist, so we're fine.” What do you say to people like that?

David Arrington  34:22

I would say that every organization and every human being has work to do. So the notion that you are above having implicit bias or unconscious bias, or the notion that you are somehow inoculated against the institutional bias that fundamentally undergirds our entire society would be a stretch to believe.

So that would encourage me to think maybe there's a decision here that's different. Maybe your there's an actual decision you're making, to not be inclusive and not be diverse, that would be where my mind would go. And then I would start asking questions to help them realize that, yeah, everybody's got some moves they need to make.

And every person is not racist, every person who has these misunderstandings isn't racist. A lot of times it's just a lack of information.

But now here's the trick. Here's where it comes in. And this is the tough love part, when you are made aware that this type of institutional bias exists. And it's presented to you in living color. (That's a 90’s reference. There you go. You're welcome for that.)

So, if you're, if you're aware, J Lo started on that to be honest, if you if you want to be just a little more- (just another pop culture reference,) but if you want to step back and say, it's not real, after you've heard all of that and seen all of that, then I would think that the bias goes a little deeper, I would think that maybe you got to do a little bit more soul searching. And sometimes you have to be careful of perceptions.

So I worked with a client recently who had put their foot in their mouth in a big meeting basically said that, “I don't believe we're racist.” She said this in a very charged meeting, I was moderating, and I tried to help her avoid this because I knew where it was going and I knew the perception that we're creating.

And I don't believe them to be racist. I believe them to be honest, but unaware. So from their perspective, they were answering one thing and saying one thing, but from the perspective everyone else they were hearing something completely different.

And so I worked with them to help them start re building some relationships and reconciling some relationships, because that will stick and what you want to do is understand you've got implicit bias your organization has implicit bias. You know why?

Because your organization is made up of people, people made the processes, people made the culture. And all of these people had biases. Going back again to that Harvard study in 2003, if you're choosing a white potential employee or a white candidate with a criminal record over a black candidate without a criminal record, all things being equal, that's an implicit bias. Right?

Alex Bratty  37:29

That’s a problem right there.

David Arrington  37:30

That's a huge problem right there. And I think it's far more- I think it's far more deep seated than we know. And that's why as leaders, we've got to step back. And when we hear those things, we've got to challenge them.

We can't just idly sit by and say, “Oh, yeah, we obviously don't have a problem because the people upstairs in the boardroom say we don't have a problem.” It's the onus is on every leader to speak up, and if you can't affect organizational change, you can affect team change.

If you can't affect team change, you can affect your sphere of influence change. You can start having conversations, you can start speaking up, you can start reading, you can start asking questions and being curious. You can do all of that today without anyone signing a check, or anyone authorizing it above you on an org chart. all of those things you can do today.

And that's why it's going to take each and every one of us making a decision to eventually I would love to say, I'm really optimistic guy. I don't I don't even know if I can say eradicate, but, you know, so lessen the impact of institutional bias that it no longer adversely affects any one population, specifically black and brown.

Lessening the Impact of Institutional Bias Where You Are

Alex Bratty  38:43

Yeah, yeah. Amen to that. I mean, that would be an amazing world. Right. And yeah, I mean, I think, ultimately, it's about we all need to have greater self awareness. You know, like that's it.

When we say, “Well, I'm not racist,” or “I'm not prejudiced” or “I'm not biased,” it's like wait a minute. You are on something. I mean, as you said, we're all human.

I don't know whether it was the Holocaust Museum in New York or DC I forget now but I believe they had two doors and above one door it said “All who are not prejudice go through this door. All who are prejudice go through this door.” And of course, everybody wanted to go through the I'm not prejudice door. Well guess what was behind the door?

A brick wall. Nobody gets to enter that way.

David Arrington

I was gonna say it was locked!

Alex Bratty

Yeah, locked brick wall. I mean, either way? Right? I mean, it was very, it's a very powerful way to make to make the message. Obviously, different situation than what we are talking about today, but really kind of relevant and still wrapped up in the whole, you know, everybody has prejudice.

Everybody has some kind of bias going on. And so to sort of blanket claim like, “I don’t have any, I’m pretty perfect.” You know, I got it all. It's like, maybe a little more self awareness that would help, maybe.

David Arrington  40:08

It seems like a 360 degree blind spot at that point.

Alex Bratty  40:13


David Arrington  40:14

That's a pretty big blind spot!

Promotable, Discount, and Closing

Alex Bratty  40:17

Exactly. Oh, I love- you are providing so much wonderful wisdom and just, you know, your years of experience and your years of expertise around this. It's been fabulous. Thank you so much for joining us today. I know our listeners are going to get so much value out of this.

So what if they want to get in touch with you, David? Can you tell us how people can connect with you further? And also I think you have a book you want to share and you also have a special complimentary offer as well.

David Arrington  40:49

I do, I do. So I'll start with the book. So Promotable came out, right before COVID came out. So we were pre COVID amazingly like a week or two and then, like…

Alex Bratty  41:00

Then the world changed right after!

David Arrington  41:02

Yeah, right after the Super Bowl! The week after Super Bowl and then two weeks later, everything was up ended. So, yeah, Promotable is out. It's doing really well. People are really enjoying it. And it's- Oh! I have her here. Ah-ha!

Alex Bratty  41:13

Yeah. Put it up.

David Arrington  41:15

Yeah, it's demonstrate your value, highlight your potential and your next promotion. And I work with clients and fundamentally the book is designed to be like sitting with me over coffee talking about your career. That's what I did. So like the pop culture references, they'll show up, you know, I've had people tell me they were reading and they just bust out laughing like by themselves! They just found it amusing. So that is there, and we have a course that augments the book. So I go into much more depth in the course. And that's one of the offers I was making to your team. Oh yeah, you can get this on Amazon by the way, to your community. And generally that course is $395 or $397 and for your listeners, we're making it available for a short time for $27. (Sorry that offer has expired)

Alex Bratty  42:05

Whoa, that's amazing. That's like, less than 10% of the overall price! Wow! Yeah, that is amazing. So where can they work? Everybody needs to run, not walk to get this offer. So where can they go to get it, David?

David Arrington  42:21

They can go to ArringtonTraining.com. And I believe the code is PLM for ‘positive leadership movement.’ So it's your code for you. You see it and they use your code and they get that that amazing discount. And the reason we're doing that seriously is because so many things have changed.

And because so many people are struggling out of work looking for the next move. That's why it's like, “Yeah, we're making all this great content available for you know, literally next to nothing.” I mean, there's not much lower I could go before it's just I'm just giving it away for free. But the funny thing is, you and I both know people don't respect things they get for free.

So that's right. Yeah. So that's The other and speaking of things you don't expect to, you know, be getting for free: If you're also on Arrington Training. There are right now I think two free courses that you can sign up for. One is on giving powerful feedback. The other is Leading Meetings That Don't Suck.

Alex Bratty  43:17

Meetings that don't suck. Everyone needs to take that course! I love it!

David Arrington  43:24

Yep! Leading Meetings That Don’t Suck.

Alex Bratty  43:25

Yeah, I love it. And so for the special course though, it's ArringtonCoaching.com/PLM for positive leadership movement.

David Arrington  43:34

So it's ArringtonTraining.com, and you'll see you'll see Becoming Promotable, I'll drop a link, I'll give you a link so you can share it with your folks. That make sense?

Alex Bratty

Yes, that would be awesome.

David Arrington

If they go there, they'll see Becoming Promotable and if they click on it, they'll see the regular price, then they can add the coupon, which is PLM. And then the price will drop precipitously.

Alex Bratty  43:54

Awesome. All right, that is incredibly generous. You have been you've been generous with your time today, you have been generous with your wisdom, and now you're being incredibly generous with your intellectual property.

I mean, this is stuff that genuinely will help people move forward in their careers and in their leadership positions, especially at a time when it can be really tough out there. So I am incredibly grateful to have you on the show today. Thank you for being here.

David Arrington  44:24

It is my pleasure, Alex, and I really appreciate you having me on. It has been an absolute pleasure.

Alex Bratty  44:31

Awesome. All right. Well, folks, you heard it all today, we had a terrific conversation about diversity and inclusion. This one might be an episode that you need to re-listen to because there is like layers to the onion in there.

There's so much wisdom that David shared with us, and if you have positive leadership stories to share about diversity and inclusion in your organization, or if you've questions on this topic, because Lord knows, there are a lot of questions around it and I know we just kind of touch the surface of it today, so if you've got questions, write to me at questions at positive leadership movement.com I always love to hear you. Alright, that's it from us this week.

Thank you for being part of the positive leadership movement and inspiring me to do what I do every single day.

Alex Bratty  45:25

Make sure you subscribe to the show. If you liked this episode, please rate and review. If you want to get more from Alex, check out Happiness at Work where she provides leaders with a proven path to cultivate a positive work culture that increases performance, productivity and profitability. Go to HappinessAtWorkNow.com. Join us next week and harness the power of positive leadership for your organization.

About the author 

Dr. David Arrington

David a husband, father and the principal of Arrington Coaching. He and his team work with leaders, teams, organizations, and entrepreneurs. He regularly speaks and writes on leadership development, team alignment, and peak performance.

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