Antonio King joins me to talk about the importance of keeping the conversations going, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.
I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!
Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello, and welcome to Episode 142 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we’re talking about diversity and inclusion. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. I’d like to welcome back to the podcast today, Antonio King. “Tones” to his friends of which I would like to count myself one. Tones, Thank you so much coming back.
Antonio King 0:44
Thanks for having me back. It’s always a pleasure being here with you.
Charlotte Ward 0:47
Thank you so much. So, this week, we’re talking about diversity and inclusion. Right before I hit record, we got talking about this topic a bit, and you used the TLA, “D,E’n’I”, and maybe we could begin there because you educated me a little bit right before we came on air about what he means it was, what the E in, D,E’n’I means, so maybe you’re not there. And you can explain that. And then because I’ve already learned something before we hit record, and I’m sure over the next 10 or 15 minutes, kind of learn a whole lot more.
Antonio King 1:24
Yeah, totally. Well, I think you know, well, first off, I thank you for joining me on the topic conversation of DnI. It’s something I think a lot of us here in the US are seeing much more prevalent nowadays than we would have ever hoped. But you know, hopefully this drive some opportunity for change. But yeah, to kind of answer your question, and I said, we’ll definitely include the E. DNI, D stands for diversity, E standing for equity. And I standing for inclusion. And I think a lot of us kind of more commonly think of DNI because they’re typically at the forefront, which, in contrast is ironic, considering the equity stands for, you know, equal opportunity in the realm of a lot of things that we might not see as often for that exact reason. So a good example of equity is probably one that’s that would be the gender pay gap between male female employees. So that’s a really good example of how equity needs to be included that entire umbrella of changing the workforce as a concern to people for the better. So yeah, DNI is, is a good way to think about it.
Charlotte Ward 2:30
Yeah, that’s great. You put it so well, as well. And I think that what I’d really like to explore with you is, is maybe even thinking about those each individually, you gave a really good example there of the the gender pay gap, when it comes to equity. They use that opportunity word, and I think actually, maybe Canada want to kind of presume too much at all in any of these conversations this week. But it feels to me like the D and I bits of DNI are kind of the contributory factors to that, eat that middle eat that equity to that, to that opportunity. Right. So, so I guess I’m kind of interested in your experiences, your thoughts, maybe what you’re doing professionally, what I’ve seen professionally in, in any of those supporting areas. And where you’ve seen it Take, take the, the perfect your professional life or, or the organisation that you’ve been in.
Antonio King 3:26
Yeah, so it’s, it’s interesting, you know, being being a black male, I grew up with a single, single parent household granted, raised by a tonne of people in my immediate family that I love, near and dear. But I remember my mom telling me and I was much younger, she’s like, you know, you have two strikes automatically against you. Number one, you’re male, and number two, you’re black. So don’t put you know, don’t kind of build that third strike against yourself before you get an opportunity to get out of the gate. And that’s something that you know, has always kind of been in the back of my mind. But I think as as the US has specific as kind of come into turmoil in so many different areas. That’s something that’s kind of catapulted itself to the front of kind of my mind is and you know, I it’s interesting kind of being in my position or any other person of colour, not even just a person of colour, but you know, women as well in the workforce going through very challenging opposition’s in areas that they really shouldn’t have to, it’s clear that there’s a tonne of work still to be done in a lot of areas. And I think a lot of what’s kind of come out of the woodwork here in the US recently has really shown that we still have a lot of Way to go, you know, diversity I think the common thing with with diversity is that it’s often kind of secluded at least, I think in most folks mind to really just mean race and that’s not entirely what diversity means. While Yes, there you know, race is a component of it, but there’s other areas involved as well such as you know, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, and All of that’s kind of added into the realm of the definition of diversity. And inclusion is the fact that you can make those folks or people of different backgrounds, different ethnicities, religions, kind of feel welcome, regardless of their affiliation of religion, regardless of their race, regardless of the things that they can’t necessarily control. to kind of help make sure that we’re, especially as we talk about the workplace, continue to build a lot of the model of what’s what’s what people want to be a part of, and are comfortable being a part of. So, you know, I, I probably had more opportunity to aside from living some things, I probably had more opportunity to really put more opportunities in practice as a consultant, career wise, having spent maybe four years in the HR world as an HR leader for one of my life organisations. So I got an opportunity to really kind of help pilots and things as well as my current employer and kind of helping draft along some opportunities for us to put, you know, the vision of DNI into the traction mode and really drive some things to fruition from that, that point of view, which includes things like how do we hold our recruiters more accountable for bringing in candidates from different backgrounds? Right? Do we give them a measure of accountability that they have to report on whenever recruiting polls? Or? Or what, what does a benefit package look like for people of colour that’s different than you know, white Americans, right? because not everything is, is the same for every person, right? Different people have different classes, socio economic classes, are all going through different things, as it concerns what’s what’s happening in our lives. So you see the traditional way of companies just going well, here’s the blanket benefit package that should be working for most, whereas it’s not necessarily the case for a single mom of, you know, a colour versus, you know, the opposite of that. So, there’s a lot of opportunity, I think, for companies to really kind of double down on a lot of their efforts in DNI and really not just talk about it, because that’s what’s happening now, but make it a continual cycle of conversation. So that it does permeate throughout the organisation out of out of habit and kind of fold itself into what the company is known to be not just because of the current climate, though the current climate absolutely is helping drive those conversations it’s going to be if the climate kind of goes back to a sense of normalcy, are those conversations going to contain you on the hope as always, yes.
Charlotte Ward 7:17
Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense is that there’s a lot about transparency, and not just giving it lip service, isn’t there? And, and how this how this plays forward over the next months to years and beyond even is going to be very interesting to see what what what do you think, has been the highlights for you that you’ve seen, particularly in that HR role, or with partner hero right now? That you seem kind of give traction, as you described it, get give, give, give benefits, transparency, learning opportunities, opportunities, full stop? What, what are some of the things that you’ve seen it in, you know, in recent years that you hope will kind of propel this in? Yes.
Antonio King 8:05
So I’ve said it from I set up for a while I know, I’m not the only person that said it. But leadership, from the top really stirs behaviours, whether they’re good behaviours, or bad behaviours depends on what leadership is doing. But all leadership has their their big drivers and behavioural changes in organisations that’s kind of focusing on the career world. So having, you know, more and more again, it’s unfortunate that it’s come up in the past four years. But you know, it’s it’s been something where I think we’ve seen a lot of organisations tank for take firm stances on what should be up for debate versus what should not be up for debate, as it concerns human lives, as it concerns human lives with different backgrounds and different, you know, genders and all those sorts of areas that we should never really need to debate what’s right or what’s wrong. But we still find ourselves doing that as a country. And I think we’ve seen more and more opposition, in a good way from organisational leaders who were like, No, we shouldn’t be fighting a conversation on whether or not you know, certain Lives Matters over whatever kind of the cadence of the messaging is. This should be a basic need for everybody. But it’s clear, that’s not the case. That’s not what’s happening. So I think as long as we start to see that leadership, continue to flourish with those opportunities and help instil those behavioural changes that that will help continue to muster a lot of these things along. But I think what’s, what’s even more telling is you have a lot of employees, employees who are welcome to change and want to know how to be a part of the change for the good. So companies are starting to partner here, oh, we’re exploring a DNI tool to kind of kind of help continue to drive those conversations and drive the positions of learning opportunities that maybe some folks might not be aware of, or just help continue to have that conversation over time. So we’re looking at a tool to help us assess that over the entire 850 person, organs. Top continue to drive for the conversation right of me and I, to kind of help permeate that throughout the rest of the organisation. So I think you know, with more tools coming into play, and really with the pivotal piece being leadership and behavioural changes and modelling the right behaviour changes, we’ll continue to see a lot of those things move forward along the way.
Charlotte Ward 10:21
Yeah, yeah. I think one thing that I’ve experienced this year is a great deal of discomfort in these conversations. And I think that, personally, I have one of the reasons that this week is being broadcast so late in the year from for me on this podcast is just that level of discomfort that kind of concern about, about doing things right about having the right conversations about, you know, when to have them out, have them now to get them going. How hung up? Should we be on that? Do you think?
Antonio King 10:57
That’s a really good question. It’s kind of reminds me of the cliche, quote, in order to get comfortable, you have to be comfortable, uncomfortable. And, you know, the topic of DNI is, has always kind of been taboo. You know, and I can only really speak from the from the realm of the US, I don’t really have much experience outside of the country, in the realms of DNI, but I can only speak from within our borders here that, you know, it’s always been a taboo subject, at least here in the States, to where there’s this, this notion of, you know, if I don’t bring up this topic, then that’s, that couldn’t be me being seen as complicit to the wrong things. Or as that’s not necessarily the way I think it’s it should be viewed, I think, you know, having those conversations are critical key to changing some of the behavioural changes that need to happen. So that this does not become a taboo conversation. You know, race is very similar. I think things have progressed in the position of race stance here in the US, but I would be remiss if I said it progressed at the speed of which I thought was necessary, right. I think a lot of people from different backgrounds will tell you the same sentiment, argue tonight, some might disagree, and that’s okay, too. But the conversations have to be cyclical conversations have to happen. The more you get used to having conversations around the areas of uncomfortableness, the more it becomes comfortable to have, right. And that’s kind of a key piece to piloting a lot of the changes that need to happen is having conversation. So my, my point of advice, there would be, you know, yeah, it would be if it would be a challenge, we would tell you, you’re never going to feel uncomfortable. At some point, you won’t feel uncomfortable. But the journey to get to that point is to just have that conversation over and over again. So it does become second nature. And ideally, we get to a point of the future to where no one has to have the conversation because everyone’s already doing it. Right. Until we get to that point. We need those evangelists to have those conversations on our behalf and different areas around the country so that we can kind of continue that that that pyramid flooded information, one person talks to three prayers, and those three people talk to three other people, and it just kind of continues to fold out that way. That’s what needs to happen to help manage that conversation so that it is a normal talking point, so that everybody can feel like they can attribute to the same common goal versus those who just feel comfortable doing it. Mm
Charlotte Ward 13:25
hmm. You talk there briefly about having these conversations in all different areas. And for me, I think that’s something I’m kind of, if I’m getting any level of comfort with these conversations, I think you’re right is becoming ever so slightly more comfortable every time I have a conversation like this. I think those areas that we talked about that you talked about exploring aren’t just like, it’s not just geographic, is it? It’s in different forums. It’s in different parts of your life with different people. at every level. Mm hmm.
Antonio King 14:00
Absolutely. Yeah. It’s and that’s, that’s kind of the DNI is applicable to everyone and everywhere. It’s not just focused. In the south in the US, it’s not just focused in countries that are kind of suffering from extreme or extreme experiences of poverty. It’s, yeah, those are those are probably the focal points, because that’s what you that’s what you hear often, but just because it’s not heard elsewhere, doesn’t mean it’s not happening elsewhere. So it should be kind of close, construed as if it’s a it’s a, it’s a worldwide opportunity to learn and do better and implement measures that don’t just focus on one specific area, because I guarantee you there’s people all over the world who go through very similar challenges, even though they might not be on cnn news top story tonight. They’re still going through similar things, too.
Charlotte Ward 14:51
Yeah. It’s a conversation that belongs not just on the news. It belongs on this podcast. It belongs in the diversity initiatives group at work. It belongs With my children, it belongs to everyone. Right?
Antonio King 15:04
Yeah, absolutely. especially children. You know, those are, they’re the most volatile and age group, the most malleable and mindset the most malleable and impressions. That’s where it all starts, right? It starts with with children at very young ages. Because children are products of their environment, their products of their environment, the products of their parents or products with their families or friends. So the more they get exposed to what the world was actually like, versus just this bubble of inclusiveness, the more they’ll be able to adapt to what actually happens and the more they can contribute, to continue to make positive change along the way.
Charlotte Ward 15:44
That’s it for today, go to customersupportleaders.com/142 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.
A little disclaimer about the podcast, blog interviews and articles on this site: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text and podcast belong solely to the author or interviewee, and not necessarily to any employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.