All Episodes Sr. Director of Diversity TA Kanika Raney

Sr. Director of Diversity TA Kanika Raney

Mapping diversity talent market

Capital One’s Senior Director Diversity Talent Acquisition, Kanika Raney, explains how to remove the burden of cultivating inclusivity from those you seek to include, as well as how to effectively map the talent market from a diversity perspective.

Episode Transcript

0:00:00.7 Kanika Raney: And so the key is not the training, it’s the accountability. So how are you holding these managers accountable for being the leader that you expect them to be? Being the leader that’s gonna uphold the values and the vision of the company?


0:00:18.3 Rob Stevenson: Maybe you changed your company logo to black. Maybe you searched your job posts for exclusive language. Maybe you reported on your employee representation in a press release. What’s next? Welcome to the Ally series. If you are ready to do something about the way your company looks, hear what a mature and comprehensive DE&I strategy looks like and be a more effective ally, then this series is for you. Right here on Talk Talent To Me.


0:00:55.5 RS: Joining me today for this edition of the Ally series here on Talk Talent To Me, is Capital One Senior Director of DE&I in the talent organization, Kanika Raney. Kanika, welcome to the podcast. How are you this morning?

Related: Diversity Isn’t Optional: How 3 Talent Leaders Made DEI an Organizational Imperative

0:01:07.0 KR: Thanks Rob, I’m doing fantastic. It is a pleasure to be here, so I appreciate you having me.

0:01:12.5 RS: I’m so pleased you’re here, and just to let some of the audience behind the curtain a little bit, this is the third time of asking. [chuckle] Because the first time, I just looked like a total noob. None of my equipment was working, I was having this technical difficulty and you were really patient with me, we rescheduled then you were under the weather, you got sick, you’re healthy, my microphone works, we’re ready to go, [chuckle] it’s finally happening. Thank you so much, Kanika, for sticking with me.

0:01:40.0 KR: Absolutely. Yes, we are ready to go. Long time coming but I think some of the best things, right? You have that momentum. The build-up, right?

0:01:49.6 RS: Yes.

0:01:50.0 KR: And then it gets you the most amazing product. I think we’ll both be in for a treat and all the listeners as well.

0:01:54.2 RS: I hope so. I just wanted to let people know that these are the unglamorous parts of podcasting you don’t get to hear it.


0:02:01.4 RS: I want to know Kanika, right off the bat. And it’s because I only have a few more opportunities to ask this question. [chuckle] As people start getting vaccinated, the world turns back on, how you have been keeping busy during lockdown and quarantine. Have you developed any weird hobbies?

0:02:19.4 KR: Oh Rob, that’s a good one. I am not gonna admit to any weird hobbies but…


0:02:27.2 KR: I will share that I think my quarantine or pandemic experience has been the opposite of most. So when the pandemic hit, and most people, I think, found themselves stuck in the house, they couldn’t go to their gym, they were at home all day, probably so close to the refrigerator, eating all day.


0:02:49.4 KR: And many people, I think woke up a few months later, not being able to fit their clothes. And they only knew this because they tried on a pair of jeans, but they’ve had on their yoga pants or their sweatpants the whole time. [chuckle]

0:02:57.8 RS: Exactly.

0:03:01.6 KR: I actually, when the pandemic started, I started going for a daily walk and I was inspired, actually to eat healthier, cut back on all the bad things we know we shouldn’t be eating, the sugary, fatty fried foods, things like that, eat more veggies, lean meats and all that good stuff. And so I ended up losing weight.

0:03:17.4 RS: Well done.

0:03:17.7 KR: And flip to almost a year later, also moving across country from California to Maryland, I have probably gained that weight back. [laughter] Somewhere after that move, and I don’t recommend moving in the middle of a pandemic, especially not across country. Somewhere in the middle there, I fell off the wagon and I lost my rhythm, and so now, again a year later, and when I put my jeans on, I’m like, “Oh. Okay. Yeah. Time to get back on that.”


0:03:47.0 RS: That’s a sign.


0:03:47.7 RS: Yeah. When your routine gets interrupted like that, like in the case of a move, you’re on the road, it’s like, “I can have Taco Bell just once.” Then you kinda can’t help it. You just have to get by. But now that you’re settled in the new spot, wherever you are, it looks really put together, you have a bunch of art up on your wall, love to see that.

0:04:10.8 KR: Thank you. And folks can’t see it, but the art on the wall is actually compliments of my eight-year-old son, Gavin. I call him my artist in residence. And if you’re a parent and you see all this artwork coming home from school, and you’re like, “What do I do with this?” Well, I recommend you go to IKEA and frame it and make yourself a wall gallery.

0:04:34.0 RS: I love it.

0:04:34.1 KR: Thank you.

0:04:34.2 RS: Where can people go to get original Gavin Raney’s? [chuckle]

0:04:39.2 KR: Good question. I actually had someone look at my art and say, “Hey, can I commission your son to make my holiday cards?”

0:04:45.5 RS: That’s so cool.

0:04:45.9 KR: And I was like, “You absolutely can.” And since then, I’ve been trying to figure out, “Okay, how can I actually monetize this?”


0:04:55.6 RS: Oh no. We’re pushing him so much so early. Let’s make money off this. So let’s make sure he loves it first.

0:05:00.8 KR: Exactly. Oh! When I mentioned it to him, he was all over it. So he’s always looking for a way to make money. I heard him maybe a few minutes ago, FaceTiming with my mother during his break, trying to negotiate if he get straight A’s again, “Hey, can I get a… ” What did he say? “A shopping spree in Target.”

0:05:19.6 RS: Oh interesting.

0:05:20.2 KR: He was like, “For 10 minutes, where I can grab anything I want”.


0:05:23.8 RS: And so now she’s doing the math like, “How much damage can this kid do in 10 minutes?”


0:05:30.0 KR: Exactly.

0:05:31.1 RS: He’s gonna sprint right to the electronic center, and if the iPads aren’t behind a large case, I’m in trouble.


0:05:35.3 KR: Exactly, Rob.

0:05:38.3 RS: Well, that’s wonderful. Love his art. I have so many questions for you, Kanika. I think what would be useful, can we talk a little bit about your role and sort of set some context around what it is that you do every day when you open up your laptop and it’s time to do the actual work of DE&I? I’m just curious what that looks like for you and how you kind of conceive of your role.

0:06:00.4 KR: I sit in Capital One’s Talent Acquisition team. And at Capital One, we have an enterprise diversity talent acquisition team, and I am a part of that team. So in the role of Senior Director Diversity Talent Acquisition. I lead a few teams that help increase our representation for underrepresented groups at Capital One from a hiring perspective. And the groups I have, one would be a diversity sourcing team, and so this team works across the enterprise to supplement sourcing of the recruiters that are aligned with each of the lines of business that we have. I also have a market intelligence team, which I think is an interesting team. A lot of companies are starting to build these in-house, what I call Talent Insights and Intelligence Teams to better understand, what does the market even look like? Where can we find the talent?

0:06:51.2 KR: What are our competitors doing as it relates to talent in this space? What are some of the challenges we’re coming up with? One of the areas that we’re doing a lot of research on now, is the return to work or return to office piece and what are companies doing there? And so we do this research and provide the intel in the form of newsletters, we also do white papers and other documentation to share this information. We share it with our recruiters, we share it with hiring managers, leaders as well, and they help us inform our decisions, inform our recruiting strategy, maybe our workforce planning strategy, even our location strategy as well. So a unique team there, they do… I would say the gamut, but their focus is in the diversity space.

0:07:42.1 KR: The third team I have, is what I call Early Talent Engagement. And so this is a team that focuses on recruiting campus talent, and in some cases, we look at high school talent because we’re trying to get them and prepare them before it’s time to actually recruit them. But we partner with a number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities or HBCUs, also Hispanic Serving Institutes, HSIs. And also, we have what we call early engagement programs, where we… Again, engaging early before it’s time for the talent to apply, and then the last piece under this early talent team would be the partnerships, and so engaging with organizations that are specifically focused on college students.

0:08:34.8 RS: I would love to know a little bit about the nitty-gritty of that talent market mapping, because it strikes me that identifying individuals based on their in-groups can be problematic. You can’t just look at someone’s LinkedIn photo and say, you’re a member of this in-group. I worry that there’s this possibility that, in an attempt to make your organization more representative and understand the market you’re hiring in, you’ve resorted to harmful stereotypes just to try and designate people. How does that team get around that?

0:09:07.9 KR: Excellent question, Rob. And on the record and for the record, we do not make judgments assumptions based on a visual inspection, I would say. So we will look at information that’s published from other companies. And so a lot of companies now are publishing their diversity data. So we know how many Black people you have, how many Latinx, how many women you have versus men, and so we leverage that information. We also leverage information from the US census. So a lot of the information we’re leveraging, comes by way of public knowledge, like things that are already out there. But who actually has the time to actually go and find it and then pull it together in a useable format?

0:09:57.2 RS: Sure.

0:09:57.6 KR: So that’s a big piece of it.

0:09:58.7 RS: And in those cases, those people have identified themselves. Right?

0:10:02.4 KR: Absolutely. Yes. One of the other things I’ve seen people do in the diversity recruiting space, is use what they call diversity indicators. So it’s not foolproof but there are certain organizations that are majority Black or majority Hispanic. There are certain schools that might be majority Black or majority Hispanic. Or women. I went to Spelman College, which is an all women’s college. So if you’re looking for women, you can assume if any student coming out of Spelman is a woman or identifies as a woman. So Spelman College in that case, would be the diversity indicator there. Let’s say, National Society of Black Engineers or NSBE. It’s an indicator that, if you’re targeting a member of that organization that they’re black, it’s not a guarantee. Because I’ve been to many of conferences, events where it might have been geared toward one particular demographic, but there’s a very diverse audience there. But that’s just something that people tend to use in order to recruit.

0:11:14.7 RS: Yeah, yeah. It makes sense. You mentioned that a good amount of workforce planning results from the insight this team is able to pass along. Does that insight turn into your own goals around representation and how do you conceive of setting those goals?

0:11:31.8 KR: So when I say workforce planning, I think it’s helping people to understand what is actually available in the market. And so I remember earlier in my career, there was a team I was working with in an industry where there were very few women and they said that they wanted to hire more women. They had a problem hiring women, and I actually went and did some research and found out that in this industry, there were only five women in the United States, in this industry with the skills they wanted. Yes, five. [chuckle] And you can’t tell me you wanna hire 10 if there’s only five, even out of the five, we’ll be lucky if we get one of them. And so it helps to inform, “Here’s what’s possible.” And as it relates to representation goals… So I’ve seen people do it a lot of different ways. I’ve seen companies take a goal that matches market availability and that could be based on research, it could be based on census data as well, specifically, I’ve seen people take that data and create stretch goals. They’re like, “Hey, I know this is market availability, but hey, we’re gonna go for it and we’re gonna try to get 5% more.”

0:12:48.4 KR: I’ve also seen companies take it from an incremental standpoint, where they’ll have goals over a period of time, where they’re increasing the representation over years to, maybe by year five, get to that particular goal. Most companies, including Capital One, we tend to focus on diversifying the top of the funnel. You can’t hire who you don’t interview. And so who are you putting in at the top of that funnel? Interesting about representation, people always jump right to hiring and they’ll say, “Hey, we need to increase our representation. We need to hire more women or hire more Black people, hire more Latinx people.” And representation is actually an equation. Representation is hiring minus attrition. We can’t forget that second piece there. A lot of times, the business will be quick to come right to you, but I’m like, “But what are you doing to ensure that you keep the people that we actually bring in here?” And we could talk about retention too.

0:13:48.8 RS: I’d love to.

0:13:49.4 KR: Okay. Alright. Before I jump into that though, I did wanna talk a little bit about some practices that I think can help increase representation on the hiring side. And one of those would be, and I’m starting to see this a lot with companies, and you may have heard this, is diversity of slate. And so looking at the candidates that you bring in and ensuring that you have a proportionate number of both women and I would say underrepresented from a race standpoint for the interview slate. That’s really important, that practice can help minimize discrimination. There was actually a study with the Harvard Business Review, where they found that if the final candidate pool, only had one candidate from an underrepresented group that he or she virtually had no chances of being hired.

0:14:37.7 KR: And if you just upped it to at least two into that final group, then the odds of hiring a minority candidate would increase 194 times. It was 194 times greater. So just that simple. It’s like one of the easiest and simplest things to do and just making sure you have a diverse slate. I would also say make sure your interview panels are diverse as well and ensuring who you have interviewing candidates, represent diverse view points. So then when candidates come in, they can actually see themselves at the company. So I, as a Black woman, I’ve gone to interview at a company and it’s been all White men or maybe White men, White women and I didn’t see anyone that looked like me from sometimes a gender perspective and race, sometimes just race, and that actually means something to people from underrepresented groups. People wanna know that people like me work at this company and not just work there, but they actually thrive.

0:15:36.0 RS: Yes. By that interview panel, you’re wondering, “Is this a place where someone who looks like me can succeed?” And then, this came up on another episode recently… Are you interested in being a trailblazer? Are you like, “Do I wanna take that on? Do I wanna be the person that has to… Do I wanna be the first Black woman, for example? Do I wanna have to have that weight added to my job responsibility?”

0:16:02.3 KR: And some people take pride in that. I don’t wanna speak for everyone, but I’ve been the first a lot in my life, and I’m tired of being the first. [chuckle] Why do I have to shatter all the glass?


0:16:15.1 RS: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Totally fair.

0:16:17.8 KR: Another thing I wanted to flesh out or just actually call out is, a lot of companies have this notion about culture fit. And is this person gonna fit into the culture? Why are we trying to force people into a fit? And one of the things I loved that we did when I was working at Google is, they started a program about… And they called it, I think, Culture Add. And so it was less about, can you fit into this culture? But it was about, what are you adding to this culture? And I think that that’s something that all companies should think about. What can this person add to our culture?

0:17:01.1 RS: Right. Do you think culture add is… It’s definitely better than culture fit. Because that excuse, not a culture fit, usually what that means is, doesn’t look like me or doesn’t have a similar background as me, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

0:17:13.5 KR: Yeah.

0:17:16.0 RS: Do you think culture add is steeped in that homogenous idea of culture?

0:17:20.3 KR: It can be, without the right intent, I would say. And even training, to help people understand what culture add means. So we’re looking for someone, can this person bring an alternative perspective? In what ways will this person’s alternative perspective be a benefit to the team? If this candidate is missing a credential, can it be taught on the job? Is this teachable? Are they bringing a thirst for knowledge, are they’re bringing curiosity? Do they have a skill that maybe we didn’t think we needed, that we actually do need? That helps to balance maybe what they’re not bringing to the table.

0:18:02.0 RS: Right. This is great. Now we’re getting into kinda interview training and these are the questions and these are the considerations you need folks to be taking into account and also perhaps building into the process, making sure that this is a rigid part of assessment as opposed to trusting people to have the wherewithal and the presence of mind to do it. Right?

0:18:21.0 KR: Absolutely.

0:18:24.6 RS: I wanted to ask about retention as well because…

0:18:25.1 KR: Oh yeah.

0:18:25.6 RS: Because it’s so important. There’s no use hiring a diverse workforce if they get to your company and just leave. One, you’re right back where you started. Two, all you’ve really done for these folks is provided them with some fresh professional trauma.


0:18:41.5 RS: So what in your opinion is a meaningful onboarding strategy? Maybe you’re at an organization that doesn’t look very representative and you’re very sensitive to the fact that, “Oh we’re hiring a trailblazer,” in a sense. How can you set that person up for success when they’re starting at your company?

0:18:57.6 KR: Rob, I am so glad that you asked this question. I’m so glad that you’re making the connection between onboarding and retention. This is a very important topic, especially in these times where everyone’s working from home. And you hire onboarding remotely, I think is inherently a little bit more difficult. But it’s still setting the tone for an employee’s future, for their tenure, their experience. At Capital One, and I have to give Capital One a plaque. So our new hire onboarding, we feel sets the tone for their experience at Capital One. We have a foundational experience where everyone goes through this day-long training where they learn more about the culture of Capital One and the values of Capital One. And for us it’s very essential that they feel included from day one. We have recently, I think it was in 2019, evolved our onboarding program to emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging at Capital One.

0:19:56.3 KR: And we want people to understand what our commitment is to diversity, inclusion and belonging, but also encourage our newest employees to get involved through our business resource groups and our DIB initiatives. And we think that onboarding also, and this is actually a call out, it doesn’t just start on day one. It starts from the hiring process. What are you doing to ensure that they’re set up for success? Who are they interviewing with? Who has the buy-in on them? I think that’s important in determining if someone’s success… When they get there… Excuse me, after their interview, what does the follow-up look like? After they accept the offer, do you talk to them between the time that they say accept and the time that they actually come in to work on their first day? Are you taking interview feedback where maybe this wasn’t the perfect candidate. Maybe there were areas that showed up as strengths, and areas that showed up as opportunities.

0:20:52.1 KR: Are you taking that feedback so that you can ensure that you’re putting them in the right role, the right position? And if there is an area for development, are you crafting out a development plan for this person to be successful as well? The last thing I wanna mention about onboarding would be, onboarding isn’t just something that occurs when someone starts at a company. Onboarding occurs, I think, any time there’s some type of a transition in an employee’s career. And so that can be when you transfer to a new role, when you get a new manager, if there’s a, say a re-org. If you’re returning from an extended leave. And so I think that companies should have an onboarding strategy for each of these defining moments in an employee’s career.

0:21:36.1 RS: Yeah, that makes sense. Any significant transition, any shake up in work. There’s gonna be that adjustment period and we expect people to figure that on their own. That’s a great example of getting a new manager or returning from maternity or paternity leave. We can’t just expect people to pick up right where they left off when you change the way they’ve done work, right?

0:21:56.3 KR: Right. I’ve got a personal example I’d love to share with you…

0:22:00.3 RS: Please.

0:22:00.3 KR: About how important onboarding is. So most companies when you join, they’ll give you what they call an onboarding buddy. Usually it’s somebody on the team or adjacent to the team that can help you navigate and figure things out. And so one company that shall go unnamed…


0:22:17.8 KR: They set me up with the only other female that was on this leadership team with me. And I think they did it. I think they were trying to be intentional about connecting me with a woman, so that we would have that connection point. Now at the end of the day, it turns out this woman was probably the poorest performing person on the team. And then I looked at people who were the high performers, they were white males. Why would you buddy up somebody with someone who isn’t a high performer? Who isn’t the example of what success looks like. And so I would say to companies that, yes, I think that that’s great to be intentional around having a buddy that maybe this person has some type of similarity to. Whether it’s gender or race or any other demographic. But even more importantly, I would say to make sure you’re pairing that with one who’s successful. Who models the success that you expect to see out of them.

0:23:17.1 RS: Yes. The intent there was good. You can understand why they matched the two of you up but…

0:23:22.9 KR: Absolutely.

0:23:23.6 RS: I think about that challenge too, taking it back to the interview panel. And you wanna assemble an interview panel that your candidate can identify with and that they can look at it and be like, “Okay, maybe someone who looks like me can’t succeed here.” But if you’re at an organization that’s not representative, now you’ve tokenized someone. And that person is gonna be like, “Why is it that I only interview other female engineers?” Why is it that every time a woman comes in, it’s like, “Alright, you’re up,” as opposed to they’re a valued member of the team, and you invite them to across the board. How do you combat that or avoid that tokenism?

0:24:06.1 KR: So the first thing that I think of when you say that isn’t necessarily the tokenism, but it’s the burden that’s put on that person. Because more often than not, if you are that only female, if you are the only Latinx employee at a senior level, you’re gonna be tapped on the shoulder every single time. And so that becomes a lot for one person representing one demographic. And so I am more worried about that than I am someone feeling like a token. More often than not, people from underrepresented groups wanna step up in this capacity. But it’s the over-usage that I think sometimes can cause the issue. And I would also venture to say companies, and I haven’t seen this, so companies who are trying to be intentional about who they put on the interview panels, they’re not just putting you there because you’re Black, or because you’re a woman, or because you’re a person with a disability. They’re putting you up there because you’re actually a great interviewer who happens to be. [chuckle] And so we want you to be a part of this interview process so that our panel is reflective of what we have at our company.

0:25:20.8 RS: Yeah. That burden piece is so interesting because it’s not fair to put that extra work on someone when that’s not really their job description. They came to be an engineer and interviewing and hiring and helping to build a team is important, but not everyone’s great at interviewing, not everyone should be an interviewer, or no one even wants to be. So it just feels like it comes back to just being really in lockstep and understanding the people on your team and do they know why they’re being asked to interview. Is it because you are a great interviewer, it’s not just because you look a certain way because there’s no reason to put a bad interviewer on a panel, right?

0:26:03.2 KR: Oh absolutely Rob, and what I’ll share is most companies have metrics that will let you know if you’ve got a bad interviewer and I’ve got my air quotes up. And they’re looking at that, and again, I have not worked at a company who is just putting people on interview panels for the sake of because they meet a certain requirement or make a panel more diverse. First things first is you are someone who wants to interview, like we’re not gonna force you to interview unless you’re a manager. As a manager, it is part of your job to help bring in the right talent, but… So we want you to wanna interview, we want you to be capable.

0:26:41.6 KR: Typically there’s some type of training that you have to go through before you’re able to interview. Some companies will actually make you shadow before you can do it on your own or be shadowed, and then a lot of companies are collecting data from the candidate-on-candidate experience to understand what type of experience does this interviewer give to the candidate. And then another data point I’ve seen picked up, are what are their outcomes of certain interviewers? Are there certain interviewers that only say to hire certain demographics or always say no to certain demographics? So I think that there are a lot of checks and balances particularly with companies who are being this intentional and employing this particular strategy to help increase representation, there are a lot of checks and balances that help keep what you just described from happening.

0:27:33.7 RS: I’m really interested in the burden. Craig Campbell called it the Black Tax.

0:27:40.2 KR: Yes, that is a thing.

0:27:42.2 RS: And I suppose it’s similar… There’s a tax for any underrepresented group, in that there is this expectation that, they are going to be the ones to be the trailblazer, to appear on those interview panels, to educate the company in certain ways. When it comes to inclusivity and building inclusivity, one thing I’m hearing from a lot of folks is that part of being a good ally is not always asking [chuckle] the people whom you’re trying to be allies with how to be a good ally. Take some of the owners under yourself and go out and educate yourself and learn and try and contribute without making it someone else’s burden or tax to educate you. It’s a bit of a paradox though, because in the case of inclusivity, the people who you want to include don’t you need to ask them, “How would you like to be included?” How do you go about that balance between not making it someone else’s problem, but developing a system that works for folks?

0:28:47.8 KR: Absolutely. Thanks for calling that out the Black Tax. That is definitely real, and I would say it’s interesting as a professional who works in the Diversity and Inclusion space, in a role where I’m trying to fix the very issues that I’m confronted with on a daily basis, weekly basis in corporate America is definitely an interesting paradox where you do feel that Black Tax and so you have to feel committed. But then there are people who have not chosen to work in D&I in that space who get called upon to be able to answer or tell us how you feel, what should we do in this situation? And so what I’ve seen companies do to help alleviate this would make it very clear that Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, like this is the work of everyone not just people from underrepresented groups. And empowering people to create an inclusive culture by understanding not necessarily by asking, but a lot of companies are doing I guess what they call these talks. Where they’ll invite speakers in to talk about the Black experience, or the Asian experience.

0:30:03.0 KR: So immediately following the killing of George Floyd for example, we hosted a town hall, a discussion on race and this is an opportunity where people, let’s say Black people in this case who may have wanted to speak up could. And it was also a space for allies to come in and speak up or just listen, listen quietly. Maybe don’t have an opinion, don’t say anything, don’t ask questions, just listen, that’s the other thing. We started in 2020 a speaker series, and it’s called All In: Live to Advance Authentic Dialogue, grow DIB awareness, enhance capability and promote allyship. And so we’ve featured external Diversity and Inclusion experts like Michelle Norris, who is a journalist and founder of The Race Card Project; Ijeoma Oluo, who’s the author of So You Wanna Talk About Race, and Kenji Yoshino, professor and author of Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights.

0:31:02.9 KR: And so bringing these speakers in to talk about experiences, also encouraging allies to read books, there are a lot of books out there on these subjects as well, so I think it’s an open dialogue. For example, a couple of weeks ago we hosted Stop Asian Hate, town hall addressing racism for associates to learn and we had some of our Asian associates come and talk about their own personal experiences. Again, another opportunity to just listen, to understand, so I think… I don’t know if that answers your question but I think it’s about creating the space for open dialogue and a lot of people to join in on a voluntary basis versus putting people on the spot and making people feel like, “Okay, so I’m the one that has to step up and answer this question.”

0:31:53.0 RS: Yeah.

0:31:54.5 KR: And then when the dialogue is happening, just listening.

0:31:58.6 RS: It’s a great point. You’re able to bring in these experts, who can speak from authority, right? In one fell stroke, right, you’re removing that burden without these individuals coming in to talk about their expertise, their books, their experience. That’s one less time that someone from that group has to explain that perspective. Be like, “Let me explain something to you about what it’s like to be in my shoes.” That’s one less time that has to happen, from someone in your organization, right?

0:32:32.4 KR: Yeah, and I don’t know if this has come up in any of your other interviews. So, they called, or I have heard them called, business resource groups or employee resource groups, right? But you have these voluntary, employee-led groups, where people can join together based on common interest, right? It could be common backgrounds, demographic factors, or just people who have a passion for allyship, right? And these business resource groups, I think are another great source of learning, understanding. Both, I think for people who are in the underrepresented groups, right? And a form of creating community, a form of belonging, but also for allies as well. It’s another way to deepen one’s understanding, I would say of culture, also perspectives, and people’s experiences.

0:33:23.4 RS: It’s really important, I think, to append the end allies, to any Employee Resource Group, because it can be intimidating for someone who doesn’t identify with the group for which that was formed, to go into those meetings. But to encourage that welcoming. And to be like, “Look, it’s not for you explicitly, but the fact that you are passionate and share this interest and want us all to be happier and more included. You do share that, right? That is for you.” So that’s not a question, I’m just encouraging companies out there, with your ERGs to also encourage people who don’t identify with the end group to attend as well, right?

0:34:04.3 KR: Absolutely. And I’ve seen companies go as far as to offer what they call allyship training, right? So, what does it mean to be an ally? And how can you best show up as an ally? Which I think is interesting. Another thing that I’ll point out is, so, you’re an ally going into a space, where you’re the minority, right? And imagine that’s the feeling that people from underrepresented groups feel on a daily basis. But this is something that you’ve elected to do. You have decided you’re gonna go to this event, or meeting or what have you, right? And you’re feeling that. But imagine feeling that, when you have no choice, and it’s on a daily basis.

0:34:43.0 RS: Yeah, exactly. Had a similar scenario. I used to live in The Castro in San Francisco.

0:34:49.9 KR: Yeah.

0:34:50.0 RS: Which is heavily gay population. And a friend of mine came to the gym with me there, and he was getting a lot of attention. He’s a good looking guy. He was getting a lot of attention from men.

0:35:00.2 KR: Okay.

0:35:02.1 RS: And he was a little uncomfortable with it. He’s like, “Man, that’s so weird, like, I just didn’t like that.” And I was like, “That’s how women feel every single day when they step outside their door, right?” [laughter] Your unwanted advance from men, like big, beefy, scary, strong men.

0:35:15.7 KR: Yes. Yes, yes.

0:35:18.7 RS: With perfectly groomed mustaches in this case. But yeah, so that was just a moment where, I mean, I was kind of… I was sort of realizing it, at the same moment I was saying it to him, right? That’s how certain people feel every single day. And in his case, he can choose not to go to that gym, right?

0:35:35.0 KR: Absolutely.

0:35:35.5 RS: And you can choose not to go to an ERG, where you’re the only person who looks like you. But some people can’t, you can’t take it off, you can’t not identify as that, right?

0:35:46.2 KR: That’s the exact point I was trying to make. That, and just imagine this discomfort that you’re feeling for an hour, let’s say. That other people are feeling every day of their lives, for every hour of every day.

0:36:00.1 RS: Yeah. Yeah, it’s powerful. What are some other ways in your experience, that you can promote inclusivity? You have the ERGs. When you think about the way actual work gets done, the actual function of fulfilling a task, right now, it’s happening mostly on Zoom and Slack, and chat protocols, and that kind of thing. And it happens in one-on-ones, it happens in, “Hey, quick question.” It happens in this capacity. How do you promote inclusivity, when it comes to, not just the organization as a social whole, as you kind of do in an ERG, but when it comes to the function of work?

0:36:36.8 KR: So one other of the things we often hear is, when it comes to inclusiveness is, “We wanna be a company where you can bring your whole self to work.” Have you ever heard of that, Rob?

0:36:46.6 RS: Oh, yeah.

0:36:47.1 KR: Bring your whole self to work? I’ve always thought that was a little… I’ve always thought that was interesting. I don’t know that I want everyone bringing their whole self to work.

0:36:55.8 RS: I know.

0:36:56.4 KR: I don’t know why that people want me bringing my whole self to work, right?

0:36:58.8 RS: Yeah. Somethings are just for me, thank you very much.

0:37:04.1 KR: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yes. Okay, so, what I’d like to say instead is, bring your best self to work, right? And if I’m inspired to do that, then that’s what’s gonna make me feel included. I can be who I am, and that’s embraced, and I belong there, right? And I think one way that companies can do that, is namely through the manager. I think I mentioned earlier, that the manager plays such a critical role in the experience of employees. The manager can make or break that. The manager is responsible for creating the culture within their individual team. And you’ve probably seen it in companies, where the company has one culture, but this particular org has another culture.

0:37:45.3 RS: Totally, yeah.

0:37:46.5 KR: This org over there, they’re known for creating or building great talent, right? For example. And this org over here, they’re known for, that they can’t keep people past a year, right? And it’s usually because of that manager, and so what I always encourage managers to do, to make people feel included, it’s is really basic. Get to know your employees. Find out what they like. Find out who’s an early riser, who’s the person that prefers to jump online, work from six to three and be done. Or the person who wants to start working around 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning, and work later, right?

0:38:24.3 KR: Who is the person that doesn’t mind being on Zoom all day, right? Or the person who may be experiencing Zoom fatigue, and let them know, “It’s okay. If you don’t wanna be on video, that’s fine.” Right? Who is the person that likes to get accolades, and public praise, versus private praise. Right? Who’s the person that craves feedback, and needs feedback after every single thing. After this meeting, so how did I do? What did you think? Pick up on those things. And so it all goes back to what I call differentiated leadership, right? And it’s getting to know the people on your team, what makes them tick, what makes them excited, what motivates them, and managing to that, and versus this one size-fits all management. If we continue down that road, then a very limited number of people are gonna feel included, and more than likely they’re gonna be people who look like you, think like you and act like you.

0:39:24.9 RS: Exactly, and these are specifics now, it sounds like there needs to be manager training, and maybe it’s not the HR person’s job or the recruiter’s job, maybe you do need to look a little further afield and hire some consultancy or hire some company that focuses on leadership training. Or like, here’s how to structure a good one-on-one, those companies that offer that sort of service.

0:39:48.3 KR: Absolutely.

0:39:49.7 RS: Because the thing about leadership management, it’s like you don’t typically get trained on how to do that. It’s like usually, you are just so good at your individual contributor function that they just plucked out of it. And they’re like, “Alright, now tell other people how to do it.” Your point about the culture and different teams being related to the management is so true, they see people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses, they quit managers. And when you were rattling off those examples of things to know about someone, I think you need to be that specific.

0:40:20.7 RS: As a manager, you need to be deliberate about the things you learn about folks so that you can be specific about how you help them, like I’ve gotten this from manager before. “Hey Rob, I know blank blank has affected you.” Whatever you need to do, open ended, perform your own self care, right? Which like appreciated, but also bare minimum. Right? [laughter] Okay. Yeah, do whatever I need to do, guess what? I still got deadlines, people are still emailing me, I’m still getting slack, you can say, do what you need to do, but two days later, if that thing you need isn’t done, then all of a sudden it’s less do what you need to do and more do what I told you to, right? So again, someone who knew me better would be able to say better what I should do.

0:41:08.0 KR: Like, “Hey, I know you to workout, why don’t you drop off early today, go to the gym, get a workout in and then jump back in,” right? I guess something like that.

0:41:17.9 RS: Kanika loves massages, here’s a hundred dollar gift card, go get a massage and come back tomorrow, ready to crank.

0:41:23.7 KR: Yes Kanika does love massages. And if you ask me, what do I miss most about being in a pandemic, I miss getting massages, I miss traveling, right?

0:41:34.4 RS: Yeah.

0:41:34.9 KR: Yeah, it’s funny that you should bring that up.

0:41:37.3 RS: Yeah, yeah, getting a spa day and a good manager would know that about you.

0:41:40.6 KR: Exactly.

0:41:41.3 RS: Or a good podcaster.


0:41:45.1 KR: Touché. Hey, I wanna go back to what you said about the training and so, yes, we do need to train managers, most managers become managers because they were really good at being an individual contributor in the team that they’re now leading, and you don’t just magically become a good manager, there’s not a good manager gene that you’re born with necessarily. I will share for some people, probably good manager traits may be more innate than others, but more often than not, these traits can be learned.

0:42:15.7 KR: And you mentioned that sometimes you may have to bring someone in, for the training. And yes, if you don’t have the training in house, definitely outsource it. There are a lot of firms out there who do this type of training, but a little secret, a lot of companies out there, particularly Fortune 500, 100, 50, they have these trainings, they exist, and so the key is not the training it’s the accountability. So how are you holding these managers accountable for being the leader that you expect them to be, being the leader that’s gonna uphold the values and the vision of the company, and more often than not, what I see are companies who… They measure leaders on their results. Did you meet your objectives? Did you increase revenue by the margin that you committed to, that we asked you to do. But nobody is ever asking about or looking at the how, so at what cost? So yes, I met my results, I exceeded them, right, but did this leader leave any dead bodies behind on the way? So it’s that accountability piece and accountability around not just the what, but more importantly the how.

0:43:25.7 RS: It reminds me what you said that inclusivity is everyone’s job, cause I was about to ask, whose job is it to, to make sure that the managers do that, everyone, even employees about their boss, if your boss isn’t meeting that there ought to be opportunities for feedback in your company, if there aren’t that’s a one level deeper opportunity for feedback to tell them that, “Hey, I need to be able to express this,” and you can be like, “Look, I don’t feel seen. I don’t feel supported. These aggressive goals we hit were at the expense of the whole team’s mental health.”

0:44:01.5 KR: Absolutely. Yeah, a lot of companies now are doing surveys where they have what they call an inclusivity index, for example. Right. So they’re measuring. Do you feel like you belong? Do you feel like your opinions matter? Do you feel like this is a place where you can thrive? But then taking it a level deeper and tacking it on to the manager, is this manager making you feel valued? Is this manager helping you to thrive, as well. And again, linking those results to some level of accountability. So I’ve seen some companies who do these surveys about managers. Managers get the results, but they’re never held accountable for course correcting if there’s an opportunity there to do so.

0:44:45.4 RS: Yeah, well, Kanika. We are creeping up on optimal podcast length here.

0:44:49.7 KR: Oh, wow. Time flies when you’re having fun.

0:44:53.0 RS: It really has flown by. It has gone so great. Before I let you go, I wanna ask you one more thing, and I am aware of it not being the job of minority populations to educate those in privilege, about how best to wheel their privilege in support of minority populations. So my hope is that I can ask you to do it once, and then thousands of people will hear and you will have to do it less. So I just wanna call. I know it’s ironic, but while I have you, I wanted to ask, in your opinion, what is the best way for allies to bring themselves to the conversation, to be as supportive as possible to underrepresented groups?

0:45:33.8 KR: I’ll accept that question. With the caveat, I mean, I can only speak for myself, Kanika Rose Raney based on my experiences and my preferences. And with that being said, I will share… I’m gonna go back to what I said earlier, bring yourself to the conversation, but listen. I think that is probably the most powerful thing that you can do. Next to that, and you just actually said this is, how do you use your power or your privilege for good? So first is acknowledging that you do have privilege and understanding what that privilege is, but then how can I leverage my privilege to create a better world, a better workplace? I firmly believe that changes aren’t gonna occur because people who are at a disadvantage or are a member of an underrepresented group, we rise up and demand it, ask for it, the changes aren’t gonna occur until our allies actually rise up and demand it.

0:46:43.6 RS: Thank you so much for joining me and for sharing your candor and your expertise. This has been a great episode. Thanks again.

0:46:50.9 KR: You’re absolutely welcome. It’s been a pleasure. And again, I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks, Rob.

0:47:00.1 RS: The Ally Series on Talk Talent To Me is brought to you by Hired. Hired is a career marketplace that intelligently matches tech talent with the world’s most innovative companies. We combine cutting edge AI technology with hands-on help so both talent and employers can find the right fit faster, we are on a mission to find everyone a job they love.


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