What if your organization could foster a truly inclusive environment where every voice is heard and valued?
In this episode, host Becca Banyard is joined by Dr. Randal Pinkett—Chairman and CEO at BCT Partners, LLC—to talk about the importance of putting people at the heart of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
- Data-Driven DEI [0:43]
- Dr. Pinkett emphasized the importance of centering people in DEI initiatives. He firmly believes that organizations don’t change, people do. As such, efforts to mitigate bias and grow inclusivity must start with individuals.
- This concept reinforces the necessity for a data-driven approach to DEI, which is fundamental to understanding an organization’s culture, pinpointing micro-inequalities, and fostering an environment where experiences are freely shared.
- The discussion moved on to the five criteria for a data-driven approach to DEI, including the use of data to perform assessments, establish objectives, and evaluate results. This involves utilizing both quantitative and qualitative data to measure, analyze, and improve DEI initiatives.
- It was underscored that the power of data isn’t solely in numbers but also in words. Stories, interviews, and focus groups are just as essential as surveys and statistics in shaping impactful DEI programs.
- Collecting Data, Creating Inclusion, Closing Gaps [16:44]
- Dr. Pinkett shared insights on how organizations could combine quantitative and qualitative data to better understand their culture and identify micro-inequalities. The goal is to create psychologically safe spaces for individuals to share their experiences.
- To achieve this, organizations need a third neutral, trusted party to elicit honest, transparent, and sometimes emotional responses about employees’ experiences.
There are lots of silent friends in middle management that we can make into champions and leaders if we equip them and empower them appropriately.DR. Randal Pinkett
- The Crucial Role of Diverse Managers in DEI Initiatives [18:35]
- It was highlighted that having a diverse cadre of managers leads to employees feeling more included and satisfied in the workplace.
- One of the key takeaways from the conversation was the role of middle managers, termed the ‘frozen middle’, in DEI initiatives. Dr. Pinkett identified this group as a crucial area of focus, as they have a significant impact on employees’ experiences and the overall culture. The need for organizations to equip middle managers with the necessary tools to lead DEI efforts was emphasized.
It’s the combination of empowering others, being curious, staying humble, transparent, authentic, and vulnerable that liberates people on your team and allows your colleagues to feel included.Dr. Randal Pinkett
Meet Our Guest
Dr. Randal Pinkett, author of Data-Driven DEI, is an entrepreneur, innovator, and DEI expert. He is the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of BCT Partners, a global research, training, and data analytics firm whose mission is to provide insights about diverse people that lead to equity. The company has been recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Best Management Consulting Firms, Ernst & Young as EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Manage HR Magazine as a Top 10 Firm for Diversity & Inclusion, the Black Enterprise BE100s list of the nation’s largest Black-owned businesses, and the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America.
An international public speaker, Dr. Pinkett is the author or co-author of Black Faces in High Places, Black Faces in White Places, Campus CEO, and No-Money Down CEO. He holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Rutgers University; an M.S. in computer science from the University of Oxford; and an M.S in electrical engineering, plus an MBA and Ph.D. from MIT. The first African American to receive a Rhodes Scholarship at Rutgers University, he was inducted into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame as a high jumper, long jumper, sprinter, and captain of the Rutgers men’s track and field team. Dr. Pinkett was also the Season 4 winner of the reality television show, The Apprentice.
You can learn more at http://www.datadrivendei.com
Organizations don’t change; people change. So for an organization to grow, to evolve, the people have to grow and evolve.Dr. Randal Pinkett
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- Diversity of Social Relationships Is Just as Important as Quantity in Staying Healthy as We Age
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Read The Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Becca Banyard: Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you create happy, healthy and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Becca Banyard.
My guest today is Dr. Randal Pinkett, author of Data-Driven DEI and the Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, LLC .
We'll be discussing the importance of putting people at the heart of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. And our conversation will touch on the role of data, challenges organizations face, practical strategies for creating more people centric DE&I programs. Let's dive right in.
Hello, Dr. Pinkett. Welcome to the show.
Randal Pinkett: Thank you, Becca, for having me. I'm excited to be here and I'm looking forward to the conversation.
Becca Banyard: Before we get started, I'd love to know just a little bit more about yourself. Could you just tell me a bit about who you are, maybe your journey and how you got to where you are today and what you do?
Randal Pinkett: Yeah. So these days I am one of four co-founders of BCT Partners. Our mission is to harness the power of diversity, insights, and innovation to create lasting change, accelerate equity, and transform lives. So that's who we are. That's what we do. We're an equity-centered organization.
How I arrived at this place in some ways dates back to my childhood because I was the kid who sold candy at school and sold lemonade in his neighborhood and tried to sell his toys to other kids on his block, even though they were broke. They didn't have any money. And so I didn't really do well with my toy store. But that entrepreneurial spirit started clearly at a very young age.
So when I got to Rutgers for college, I had a childhood friend named Wayne who started the business when he was a senior and I was a sophomore. And to make a long story short, I said, if he can start a business, why can't I start a business? So I rounded up my three closest friends—Jeffrey, Lawrence, and Dallas—and we started selling compact discs out of our dormitory.
I'm dating myself, Becca. And we use the proceeds to fund outreach to inner city high schools to encourage students to go to college and that venture of outreach to students eventually evolved to doing diversity, equity and inclusion training. And now 31 years later, I'm 52, I was 21 then. 31 years later, the four of us are still together. And Becca, we still get along, and that's BCT Partners. That's how we came to be.
Becca Banyard: Amazing. What a beautiful journey. So let's dive into the topic today, and that is Data-Driven DEI. And you actually wrote a book on this. I'd love to start off by asking you, what is data-driven DEI?
Randal Pinkett: Indeed. So, data-driven DEI is leveraging and harnessing the power of data to be able to measure, analyze, and improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. And a data-driven approach to DEI is one that I'm finding is quite resonant and quite effective. And so there's five criteria you might say for a data-driven approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
One is using data to perform an assessment. Second is establishing objectives with clearly defined goals, so you know you've achieved the objectives. Third is looking to promising and proven practices that have worked for other people or other organizations. Fourth is having strategies with clearly defined measures.
What are you going to do and how would you measure progress against what you said you were going to do? And then lastly, using data to evaluate results and measure impact. So it's those five criteria that constitute a data-driven approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Becca Banyard: And could you give us an example of what some of these data could look like?
Randal Pinkett: When I say data, I'm referring to quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data is surveys, numbers. Qualitative data is words, interviews, focus groups, storytelling. These are all forms of data. So the book breaks out these two tracks, a track for people to use data and for organizations. So for people, for example, I could take the Intrinsic Inclusion Inventory, the I3, which measures my competence for inclusive behaviors towards others.
And so I can use that instrument to measure where I am, and I can therefore set a goal for where I want to go. So if it's a five level instrument, and I'm at level three, and I want to get to level four. Well, then what can I do to foster more inclusive behaviors? I can have conversations with people who are different than me.
I could explore travel opportunities where I'm immersed in cultures that are different than the one I'm accustomed to. I could of course take a training, or read a book, or a blog, or an article, or watch a video. And I can measure whether or not I've made improvements by re-administering that Intrinsic Inclusion Inventory.
And it's a cycle. It's never ending, it's continuous. And organizations, Becca, can do the same. They can do the assessment of their culture and climate, of their policies and practices, of their people's ability to manage difference. And once they've done that assessment, can lay out objectives, can benchmark against best practices, can develop strategies of what they can do, and then they can evaluate the impact and their cycle continues in the same vein.
Becca Banyard: So you've shared some of the significance of data to a DEI effort. And in your book, you say that any effort to mitigate bias and grow inclusivity must begin with people. So can you elaborate a little bit more on this and explain what you mean?
Randal Pinkett: One of my favorite one liners in the book, I try to pepper a lot of one liners in the book, is the following: Organizations don't change. People change. So for an organization to grow, to evolve, the people have to grow and evolve. And so to your question, if we're trying to mitigate bias in the organization, we've got to mitigate bias in people. If we're trying to create a more inclusive culture and climate for the organization, then the people have to behave more inclusively within that culture and climate.
It all begins with people. People are the quintessential building blocks of organizations and society, if I were to get more grandiose here. And one of the key messages at the beginning of the book is, what is the value to you for more diverse relationships, more inclusive behaviors, and more equitable practices? Because we have done a phenomenal job of articulating what we would call the business case for diversity, equity, inclusion. Why an organization, a business, a company should care? But why should you care?
And there is a case to be made, what I call the personal case for DEI for why you should care about diversity, equity, and inclusion. It can lead to better health. It can achieve greater advancement on your job. It can allow you to be a better friend, a better spouse, a better neighbor, a better citizen. It expands your range of opportunities like the list is enormous and in fact longer than the business case when I did the research for why people should care and why people should undertake their own journey because independent of whether your organization cares, you should care.
Becca Banyard: I'd love to know, you said something that just kind of sparked my interest. You said it can improve your health. And I'd love to know a little bit more about that and how diversity, equity and inclusion can improve our health from a personal perspective.
Randal Pinkett: So I will read to you an excerpt from a study conducted by the University of Michigan. And it's entitled, Diversity of Social Relationships Is Just as Important as Quantity in Staying Healthy as We Age.
How's that for a title? And here's an excerpt from that research. It says, these are their words, not mine: "Maintaining diverse relationships is just as important, if not more than having a large number of relationships. Individuals with more diverse relationships had a lower risk of mortality and experienced less cognitive and physical decline. A compelling argument for diverse relationships lower risk of mortality, less cognitive and physical decline as one ages."
That's all I need to know to tell me I need to get some diversity in my relationships. And let me reel off to you just a short list of other benefits. Enhanced personal growth, greater diversity of thought and innovation, enriched learning and performance at school and work, expanded network of relationships, increased range of opportunities, mitigate biases and negative stereotypes. Listen to this, those with more diverse relationships have more positive evaluations on their job, earlier promotions and higher compensation.
I mean, and I'm giving you just a partial list of the list of benefits from personal diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Becca Banyard: Wow. In your experience, what are some of the biggest challenges that organizations face when trying to implement effective DEI programs?
Randal Pinkett: One of the biggest challenges and hurdles that I see in organizations is what many in our field have termed "the frozen middle". Now what in the world is the frozen middle? Middle management, middle managers, are where diversity, equity, and inclusion can live or it can die. Meaning even with the most committed and well intentioned executives, which are few at best, middle managers far outnumber them, have far greater impact on the experience and the reality of employees, whether it's culture, climate, advancement, promotions, recruitment, retention, middle management is where the action is at. Which means when we do our assessments and we ask a series of questions, do you believe that this is important work?
Are you committed to the work? We often see very high levels of commitment and engagement from executives and it precipitously drops off when you get to middle managers. And therein lies the challenge, is: if we cannot get middle managers on board, we are at a standstill. And if we go under the hood, middle managers can manifest their disposition in lots of different ways.
Some can be champions, I'm on board. Some can be detractors, no way am I on board. And others are in that swing. I could go either way, like I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. Which means we have to give them the tools that they need to lead on DEI. And what is often the case is that many feel ill equipped, if not afraid, of having conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Because they're from the old school like me, where we didn't talk about this stuff on the job, and now we're being told, no, we're supposed to talk about it on the job.
Well, I need the tools to be able to have those conversations. And if we can give them the scaffolding, and not leave them as islands, it reminds me of the words of Dr. King, that we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. There are lots of silent friends in middle management that we can make into champions and leaders if we equip them and empower them appropriately.
Becca Banyard: So what are some of the ways and some of the tools that can be used to equip these middle managers?
Randal Pinkett: Yeah, so one of my favorite tools, getting back to data-driven DEI, I'd say give you two. One is a tool called The Inclusion Habit. It is the equivalent of Noom for inclusive behavior. So for those who don't know, Noom will coach you to better nutrition and better wellness.
The Inclusion Habit will coach you to more inclusive behaviors. It asks you to make daily micro commitments that research has shown will lead you to behaving more inclusively. It's a powerful but simple tool that can ship behavior. Another tool that I'm a big fan of is Virtual Reality. For decades in DEI we've been talking about, oh if we could enable people to see the world through somebody else's eyes, they would have more empathy, more human understanding, we have greater relationships.
Well, Virtual Reality can allow you to see the world through somebody else's eyes, literally. And so there's a series of emergence called 'through my eyes'. No accident on that name. Through my eyes, which is a series of emergence where you can see the world through the lens of a Latina woman or through the lens of an immigrant.
And by having that lived experience, you can embody their reality and therefore engender more empathy, more understanding and greater relationships to one another. So just two examples of things that I've just loved from that are data-driven tools for fostering change with middle managers.
Becca Banyard: Looking at DEI as a people centric approach, what advice do you have to organizations who are looking to turn their DEI program or initiative to be more people centric?
Randal Pinkett: My advice to them is develop a competency model that is embracing of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Let me say it differently. Most organizations have a set of skills or competencies, knowledge, skills, and attitudes that they want their employees to demonstrate to be successful in the workplace. It may differ for individual contributors versus managers versus executives.
But we're talking about things like effective communication, being curious, collaboration, like these are competencies, the ability to collaborate, the ability to communicate, the ability to be curious. When you develop a competency model that's inclusive of diversity, equity, and inclusion, you're now giving people a model and you're helping to build their learning and development toward the skills that they can be inclusive individual contributors or managers or executives.
So when you include in the model cognizance of bias, I want you to be aware of your biases to mitigate your blind spots. When I include in the model cultural competence or cultural humility, the ability to navigate cultural differences. If I put that in the model, now everything is centered on that. My performance evaluation, my learning, my development, how I'm incentivizing my employees.
And so it organically builds these diversity, equity, and inclusion principles said differently. It's not just leadership that we're promoting perhaps, but inclusive leadership that we're promoting.
Becca Banyard: So what are some of the ways that companies can measure the success of their DEI program? I know you mentioned some tools previously, but is there any way in particular that you would recommend people go about tracking how successful their DEI initiatives are?
Randal Pinkett: So first is the D. D is diversity. That is representation of different groups. So you've got to be able to measure and track representation across multiple levels to say, okay, are there certain groups that are underrepresented at the executive level? Or perhaps overrepresented at the entry level or in middle management?
And we have to be able to disaggregate that data by identity, by location, by level, by et cetera, so that we know where we have room for improvement. We have to be able to benchmark that against either our industry or our geography for where we do business. That's the D. For the I, we have to be able to collect information about our culture and our climate.
How are people experiencing the organization? So, we can do surveys that measure how people experience the culture and the climate. We can do interviews and focus groups because surveys tell us what people think. Interviews and focus groups tell us why they feel that way. So we combine the two, quantitative and qualitative, can characterize culture.
And now again, we stratify and disaggregate that data. Do we have Latino women in our Houston office who have the highest level of microaggression or micro inequities? Okay, well, we have to address that. Do we have an entire office in Chicago that have the lowest scores on the inclusivity index? Well, what's going on over there?
Or do we have an office in New York with the highest scores on inclusivity? So what's going right over there that we need to bring over to Chicago? So it's disaggregating data around how people are feeling included and as if they belong. That's the I. Lastly is the E. The E is equity. Equity is about identifying where we have inequity.
So do we have pay inequities? Do we have advancement inequities? Do we have recruitment inequities? And then the E is about closing those gaps. If I have women in the same role in the same office with the same number of years of experience and the same number of years of education, making less than a man in the same circumstance, I have a pay equity gap.
And once I know I have that gap, I can now center my work on closing the gap. And again, to your question, it's tracking all three—diversity representation. Inclusion, do people feel that they belong? And equity, closing inequity gaps.
Becca Banyard: So looking at the I, the inclusive inclusion piece, how would you recommend an organization, managers to create a space that feels safe enough for somebody to share perhaps the lack of inclusion that they're experiencing?
Randal Pinkett: First is you have to get the insights for who is and isn't feeling included. And to our earlier conversation, another mistake we see organizations make is conducting a DEI self assessment. We do not recommend that. You do not want folks from human resource, or even for that matter, managers, facilitating a focus group with employees with the goal of trying to elicit honest, transparent, and sometimes emotional responses about their experiences.
It has to be a third party. A third, neutral, trusted party that can create the psychological safe space for people to tell their lived experiences, tell their stories. So that's part one. Part two is there's been some really great research that's looked at what are the behaviors that when demonstrated by managers and leaders, most predict that people on their team will feel included.
And I'll give you some of the insights from what the research tells us. First it says, When you empower people to be their best and do their best, they feel included. Second, when you hold people accountable for what's within their control, they feel included. Third, when you stand on principle and not popularity, that you demonstrate courage, they feel included.
And then last is my favorite, this is my favorite one, of the favorite list. When you are humble, when you are forthcoming about what you don't know, what you don't do well, you liberate them to feel included. And so it's that combination of empowerment of others, of curiosity, of being humble and transparent and authentic and vulnerable, that liberates people on your team, your colleagues for them to feel included.
Becca Banyard: We're coming to an end here, but I have just a couple of questions that I ask all my guests and I would love to hear your thoughts. So the first one is, what do you believe is the number one thing that keeps employees happy in the workplace?
Randal Pinkett: So research tells us that if you survey people at more diverse organizations, they report higher satisfaction, higher engagement than people at less diverse organizations. So people like working around diversity. We also know that that the number one reason why people leave their jobs is their manager. And the number one reason why people stay on their jobs is their manager.
So if I combine those two parts into one point, like my brother would, it says that if I can have a diverse cadre of managers, I am going to maximize the likelihood that people have a positive experience, that they feel like they're included, they feel like they belong, that their voices are heard, and that they see reflections of themselves. So my answer is a diverse cadre of managers is what leads to people really feeling like they are satisfied and engaged and that they belong in the workplace.
Becca Banyard: What is the one thing you personally need to be a successful leader?
Randal Pinkett: The thing I need to be a successful leader is a great team. I need a great team. And I have a great team. You heard my story. I got three business partners for 31 years. That's a phenomenal team. That's an all-star team. And I have an executive team at BCT Partners that has been an absolute blessing.
We've been very fortunate that the core founders have attracted other like-minded and like-hearted people. And as a result of that, I humbly believe that we've been able to create a culture that has been inviting and sustaining of some incredible people. So I've been blessed to have an incredible team that helps me to do great work. But more importantly, for me to be supportive to them to do the great work.
Becca Banyard: Well, Dr. Pinkett, it has been such a pleasure having you on the show today. Where can people find you if they'd like to connect with you or follow your work?
Randal Pinkett: So for folks who would like to learn more and follow my work, I would first and foremost encourage them to go to www.datadrivendei.com. There you will find free, I'm going to say it again, free templates, tools, resources, and case studies for people and for organizations who want to use data to measure, analyze, and improve their DEI.
You can also learn more about me at randalpinkett.com, that's Randal with one L. And you can learn more about my firm, BCT Partners at bctpartners.com.
Becca Banyard: Great. We'll have all of those links in the show notes, so everyone listening, be sure to go check them out.
And to our audience, thank you so much for tuning in. If you'd like to stay in touch with all things HR and leadership, head over to peoplemanagingpeople.com/subscribe to join our newsletter community.
And until next time, bye for now.