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Podcast Transcript

Inclusion Is An Action

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:11  

Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we're uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Well, Marsha, welcome back to our final episode in this little mini series that we've been doing here on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. And I will say that last week's episode on "Equity is a Choice" still has me in deep contemplation mode as I consider like just all of the things that we discussed, how my stereotypes and biases are impacting my thoughts, my feelings, my attitudes, behaviors and my choices. This has really been a powerpacked series. 

Marsha Clark  0:55  

Yes, I think so, too, Wendi, and I hope our listeners understand with good purpose. We want our exploration of the diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, this content, to go beyond the platitudes and the inspirational posters and really provide our listeners with some actionable activities.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:13  

Well, I know today will be just as relevant and helpful. So, let's get started. Okay, so, just in case today's listeners are just now tuning in to this little mini series, please set up some context for today's title.

Marsha Clark  1:29  

Our title today is, "Inclusion is an Action". And it's inspired by a quote by the DEI strategist, Arthur Chan. And his quote caught my attention because, for me, it really synthesized and simplified the essence of what each of these elements of diversity, equity, inclusion and now belonging stand for. And so, here's the quote, what Chan said: "Diversity is a fact, equity is a choice, inclusion is an action, and belonging is an outcome." And I really appreciated Chan's, what I would describe as a matter of fact, approach to differentiating and delineating each of these elements.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  2:11  

Exactly. I totally agree. And it clarifies for me, and I'm sure for our listeners, how each element is unique, yet also intertwined. So, throughout these three episodes, in this little mini series, we've been unpacking your chapter in your book titled "Belonging", and that's from your upcoming book, "Expanding Your Power". And so in this section on 'inclusion is an action', you share some interesting kind of megatrends from a 2016 Deloitte study. And so, I know 2016 feels like a long time ago, but I think these trends are still relevant today. And what made them so compelling for you?

Marsha Clark  2:56  

Well, I think not only are the trends still relevant, but they've been emphasized or, even exaggerated over the last several years. So, I think we can all agree that we have been, and we're continuing to live in what is often described as, and I'm gonna say this acronym, VUCA world and VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. And I certainly think every one of those adjectives describes the water we've been swimming in, really, for decades. But when I think about the last five years, it's even more true. So, in this VUCA world, I would offer that predicting the future with any kind of precision is risky business. And so, what I liked about the Deloitte study is I found it helpful for leaders who are trying to better understand the big trends or what Deloitte calls megatrends. And these are trends that are shaping and will continue to shape the marketplace. And knowing these megatrends will definitely influence business and institutional priorities. And so, the first megatrend is diversity of markets. So, this is noting that demand is shifting to more of the emerging markets, and that with their growing middle class, these new markets represent the biggest growth opportunity in the portfolio of many companies around the world. And then the second megatrend is diversity of customers. And customer demographics and attitudes are also changing whether it's being empowered through technology and greater choice. Then there's an increasingly diverse customer base that expects better personalization of products and services.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:49  

Yeah, exactly. I mean, I see this in businesses that I'm involved in, emerging markets. There's now almost everyone in emerging markets has some kind of cell phone flip phone in their hand that's access to commerce, it's access to communications. And then diversity of customers, just by basis of that access means you're getting a diversity of customer. And customers, I love your last line about they're expecting better personalization of products and services. 

Marsha Clark  5:19  

That's right. Access to that information has opened up a whole new world. And that leads us to the third megatrend, which is diversity of ideas. So digital technology, hyperconnectivity, deregulation, these are all disrupting what is referred to as the business value chain, and the way that human beings are consuming and competing, right? And few would argue against the need, therefore, for some pretty rapid innovation in order to meet this diversity demand, this diversity of ideas demand. And then the fourth megatrend is diversity of talent. And this is shifts in age profiles, education levels and migration flows along with the expectations of equality and opportunity, as well as work life balance. These are all impacting significant employee populations.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:15  

And these two, last two ideas are making me think about everything that we discussed in our episode last week around equity is a choice. And removing those stereotypes and those biases from our thought process allows these diversity of ideas and the diversity of talent to come forth.

Marsha Clark  6:35  

I couldn't agree more. That's right. So, these megatrends, the simultaneous and parallel shifts are the new context in which our organizations and institutions are working. And so, the fundamental aspects of being an effective leader, when you think about setting direction, influencing others, those are always going to be required. And with this new context, there are some necessary and additional skills that will be required to be successful. And so, in addition to the megatrends, they highlight in the Deloitte study, they identify six inclusive leadership traits that characterize an inclusive mindset and an inclusive behavior, which in turn, generates an inclusive culture. Right. So before I start with the six traits, I do want to emphasize that what I offer from the research, it is upon the foundation of authentic leadership. I am not a big fan of there's only one profile of a leader. So, each of these traits, these six traits that I'm going to share with our listeners, is going to be displayed in different ways. We're not going to all be Stepford Wives, automatons, that kind of thing. So, elements of inclusive leadership, are echoed in transformational leadership, servant leadership, as well as the authentic leadership that I strive to offer to my clients. And these six traits  that are offered here are amplified and built on the known attributes to define a powerful new capability that can be uniquely adapted to this diverse environment in which we we find ourselves.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:23  

Yeah, thank you for adding that important clarification, Marsha, because it's helpful to keep that kind of North Star of authenticity in front of us as we explore these topics.

Marsha Clark  8:35  

I see it as key, definitely key for me. So, I also want to add that there have been multiple studies that describe when people feel that they're being treated fairly and that their uniqueness is appreciated, that they have a voice in decision making, that they're going to feel included. And so, putting this in the context of inclusive leadership, these actions are going to enable leaders to operate more effectively. And so, treating people and groups fairly and that is based on their unique characteristics rather than on those stereotypes and biases. The second is personalizing individuals, which is about understanding and valuing the uniqueness of the diverse others while also accepting them as members of the group. So, it's a both and, and leveraging the thinking of diverse groups for smarter brainstorming, ideation, decision making, and that's really going to reduce the risk of any organization or leader being blindsided. 

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:39  

So, one more thing before we dive into that the first inclusive leadership trait from the Deloitte study. I'd really appreciate it if you'd comment on the statement that you make in the book about these traits. In there you specifically say that the six traits that follow are tangible and can be developed. I guess I don't normally think of traits as something that can be developed, but something more innate, like eye color. So expound on that. 

Marsha Clark  10:09  

So, I see these traits, these six that I'm going to share with you, as being a part of every single human being. So, it is innate, in that way. But developing them more fully is our opportunity. Because we all have parts of ourselves that we don't know we have, that we haven't discovered, that we haven't explored, that we haven't gotten curious about, much less developed. So, these six traits can help us be a good organizational leader and, in my opinion, be a better person.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  10:39  

Okay, so, got it. And let's dive into the traits. So, the first trait from the Deloitte study is commitment. Tell us about how that plays out in terms of inclusive leaders.

Marsha Clark  10:51  

Yeah, so, highly inclusive leaders are committed to diversity and inclusion, because these objectives align with their personal values and because they believe in the business case that diversity and equity and inclusion bring. And this is an interesting trait in that and it's also one I strongly agree is necessary to be an inclusive leader, to be a strong leader. If either of these conditions, whether it be alignment with my personal values or my belief in the business case, if either of those are absent, you might get what I often refer to as malicious compliance. I'll do it, but I'm not liking it and I'm going kicking and screaming, kind of thing. And that's usually very short lived, right? So, this is in contrast to what I refer to as true commitment and engagement, which is much more sustainable over the long haul. And it's the combination of head, which I think is the business case, and heart, which is our personal values. And when both of those are engaged, we've got a shot. And if both are present, you're going to move beyond talking about it. You're going to give it priority, focus, energy and resources to ensure that inclusive leadership lends itself to an inclusive culture.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:14  

Exactly. Okay. All right. The second trait is courage. And I think I can see how this is important for a leader who's committed to inclusion, especially in today's political climate.

Marsha Clark  12:25  

Yeah, this goes back to courage, the Winston Churchill "It takes courage to know when to stand up and speak and courage to know when to sit down and listen." So, what I would say is that highly inclusive leaders speak up and challenge the status quo. And at the same time, they are humble about their strengths and weaknesses, and I would offer, are aware and understand their own stereotypes and biases. So, the courage to challenge the status quo is a fundamental behavior of an inclusive leader and it occurs on three levels. The first level, at the organizational system level,  being part of the bigger organization. With others, fundamental behavior of how I choose to be with you, give you assignments, promote you, so and so forth. And then within ourselves. I've got to challenge my thinking, my status quo thinking about what it means to be an inclusive leader. So, courage also comes into play in a willingness to challenge the deeply, often deeply, entrenched organizational attitudes and practices that are more aligned with promoting homogeneity, when we're all alike and that the vulnerability that comes with being an inclusive leader when we're confronting others and challenging the status quo. Immediately we're inviting the spotlight to shine on us, right? We've got to be ready for that. So, being an agent of change will often be met with cynicism, with challenges, resistance from others. And I can say that from the get go, when I started talking about doing a women's leadership program, I mean, I got all of that - cynicism, challenge, resistance. And so it takes a lot of courage to stay the course.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  14:17  

Absolutely. I think people, I think our natural default as humans is to not embrace change of any kind. But you know, what got us here will get us there. And you talk about it's a challenge to go against those entrenched organizational attitudes and practices, that that promote sameness. I mean, because it becomes kind of a tribal culture that happens. And we all agree that this is the way, this is who we are. So, this is interesting content to have courage to go against that.

Marsha Clark  14:55  

Well, and, Wendi, you've heard me say this. I think people change when it's more painful to stay the same. And when I look at the very root of individual change, that is my belief. And I also want to add, in addition to courage, that humility is also required because humility prompts me to admit that I don't have all the answers. And some people's egos won't let them go there. According to the Catalyst Organization, and they're a nonprofit organization that supports research about women. The Catalyst Organization's research shows that humility also encompasses learning from criticism and different points of view, as well as seeking contributions from others in order to overcome our limitations. So, humility enables me to reach out and have thought partners, have people who I can be in relationship to build trust that we can have the real and the deeper conversations.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  15:54  

Right. So, this is another full circle moment back to our recent episode on feedback and the conversation that we had about being open to exploring your blind spots. 

Marsha Clark  15:54  

You're right, Wendi, and so much of our work is, you can see how it builds on each other, the different concepts, tools, and so on, interconnected, reinforcing all of that. 

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  16:14  

Exactly. So, last week when we focused on equity is a choice and we broke down a number of different types of biases, Deloitte's third trait of inclusive leaders takes us right back there.

Marsha Clark  16:27  

Yeah, it does. Their third trait is called cognizance of bias. And remember how last week how many times do we say it's an awareness, I have to be aware, so awareness, cognizance. Highly inclusive leaders are mindful of personal and organizational, so not just in us, but in the organization's policies and practices, the blind spots and what is happening, what organizations may be doing to ensure, quote, unquote, "fair play".

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  16:57  

What do you mean by fair play?

Marsha Clark  17:00  

Yeah, I don't know that we can go find our dictionary definition on that one, but to Deloitte's credit, they describe the three features of fairness that their highly inclusive leaders consider in making their decisions with the aim of creating an environment of fair play or what we talked about last last week equity, fair play and equity. So, one, is outcomes. Are organization's outcomes such as pay and performance ratings, as well as developmental and promotional opportunities, are they allocated on the basis of capability and effort or does their distribution reflect bias? The second feature of fairness, fair play, is processes. Are the processes applied in deciding these outcomes, are they transparent, are they applied consistently, are they based on accurate information, are they free from bias, and are they inclusive of the views of individuals affected by the decisions or are they tinged with bias which can often lead to undeserved success for some and undeserved failure for others? So, think about these as processes of performance management, talent acquisition, talent development, succession planning, all of those are big processes that get impacted and result in or not fair play. And then the third feature is communication. Are the reasons for the decisions that are being made or the processes that are being applied, are they explained to those who are effected and are people treated respectfully in the process? It's the I know that our organization is trying to do the right thing so I can be transparent about what's going on. I'm not trying to hide because we shortcut this, that or the other.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:04  

Exactly, exactly. Well, that's a really handy list for our listeners to use as they're assessing their own organizations in terms of inclusionary or perhaps exclusionary practices. 

Marsha Clark  19:17  

You're right. I agree. And I also want to say that in addition to Deloitte's elements of fair play, when it comes to cognizance of bias, I also like how Dr. Rohini Anand who is the former senior vice president and Global Chief Diversity Officer at the company, Sodexo, describes the importance of recognizing bias. Dr. Anand shares that, quote, "The leaders that are inclusive do a couple of things. At the individual level, they're very self aware and they act on that self awareness." And the way I look at that is that I'm managing my own biases, right? I'm aware that they exist, I understand them and I'm managing. That's acting on self awareness. And Dr. Anand goes on further to say "And inclusive leaders acknowledge that their organizations, despite their best intention, have an unconscious bias and they put in place policies, processes and structures in order to mitigate that  unconscious bias that we all know exists."

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:22  

Well, here it is. Inclusion is an action. And that's a perfect example of that. I did a little exploring of Dr. Anand and found really some interesting articles on her website that I think our listeners would appreciate. And Dr. Anand's website is...

Marsha Clark  20:41  

Yeah, we'll have it in our in our show notes. We don't have it here.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:44  

It's all good. We'll have it in the show notes.

Marsha Clark  20:47  

And I think that's a great you know, add to send our listeners there because she really did some incredible work at Sodexo. And she's now consulting on her own with organizations around the world based on the foundation of knowledge she built there.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  21:02  

Excellent. So, okay, let's move on to Deloitte's fourth trait, curiosity. I'm a little curious about that!

Marsha Clark  21:11  

Well, think about it. Commitment, courage, cognizance of bias. The fourth C is curiosity. So, in terms of curiosity as a trait, highly inclusive leaders have an open mindset (gotta be open, gotta be willing to hear it), a desire to understand how others view and experience the world and a tolerance for ambiguity. I just want to remind our listeners, one of the top three competencies sought in the world for leaders is dealing with ambiguity. And that this thirst for continual learning helps drive attributes associated with curiosity. So, open mindedness, inquiry, and empathy. And such behaviors are not going to come easily to everyone. And such behaviors can result in loyalty from others who feel valued, along with having access to a richer set of information that's going to enable each of us as leaders to make better decisions. And asking curious questions and actively listening are core skills that are key to deepening the understanding of perspectives from all the diverse individuals that we're working with and for and around. And that an openness is going to involve withholding fast judgment that can stifle the flow of ideas. So, you remember when I find myself going to judgment criticism, I say to myself, isn't that fascinating, and it moves me to a place of curiosity. 

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  22:42  

Exactly. And what else could be true? So, I'm really feeling personally validated right now because this one, this one is pretty natural, comes pretty natural to me. I've always been a naturally curious person so, I'm hoping our listeners can can jump on board with that.

Marsha Clark  23:01  

Yeah. And I think it's nice when we can see our own behavior showing up... 

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  23:07  

At least every once in a while I get a win. So, we have two more traits to cover. The fifth one is intriguing to me and one I really want to get better at.

Marsha Clark  23:22  

Me, too. And I've worked with women, since we're speaking about women more specifically in my work, from over 60 different countries. And I've visited over 40 countries and talked with and learned from and learned about what is true. And so, it leads us to this fifth trait which is called culturally intelligent. Deloitte's research shows that highly inclusive leaders are competent and effective in cross cultural interactions. So, while an understanding of culture roles, similarities and differences is important, inclusive leaders also recognize how their own culture impacts their personal worldview, as well as how cultural stereotypes can influence their expectations of others. So, this is where when I talked about in an earlier episode, I'm putting on my United States of America glasses and seeing the world through that lens. So, at a deeper level and inclusive leader's thirst for learning, which goes back to that curiosity, means they're also motivated to deepen their cultural understanding and to learn from the experience of working in an unfamiliar environment. And many organizations over long periods of time have talked about a non home country experience being required of their executive levels. Because if you're a global company, you've got to have an immersive experience. That was the belief then. We're much more fluid and virtual now, but still learning from the experience of working in an unfamiliar environment is a necessary part of being a good, effective, authentic, inclusive leader. And this curiosity leads them not only to learn about that but to value those cultural differences and really defy the ethnocentric tendencies that that can cause people to judge other cultures as somehow inferior to their own, and enables us to build stronger connections with people from different backgrounds. And inclusive leaders are tolerant of ambiguity, and that enables them to manage the stress imposed by new or different cultural environments, as well as situations where familiar or behavioral cues are lacking. And I want to tell a quick story here. I was back at one of our high school reunions across several classes that we do once a year. And when I was in high school there was a place called Garner State Park in Texas and that's where families went to camp, and they had dances every night and it was a big deal to get to go to Garner. And so, I never went. I just didn't have a life and a set of parents that chose that as an experience for me to have. And so, this one young, well, he's younger than me by a couple of years, said, "Marsha, you've never been to Garner?" And I said I haven't. He said, "Well, you've lived a sheltered life." And I said, "Well, does the fact that I've traveled to 40 different countries around the world count?" But I mean, just think about that contrast. For him, Garner was an experience but didn't even care to know that I had been to 40 countries or think about how that might be an even more experience. But those little things are out there everywhere.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  26:50  

Yes. And there's your bias and stereotypes. So, in this section of your book also has some really helpful descriptions of cultural intelligence or CQ as you refer to it. So, like emotional intelligence that most people have heard about, you offer some capabilities of cultural intelligence. So, please break those down for our listeners.

Marsha Clark  27:14  

I'd be happy to. So, I'm going to refer to as CQ. So, like EQ and IQ. It's comprised of four elements. One is motivational. And this is about the leaders energy and interest toward learning about and engaging in cross cultural interactions. I am motivated to learn. Cognitive is the leader's knowledge of relevant cultural norms, practices, and conventions. So, when I go into a country or places different than my own, I'm knowledgeable about what I can and cannot do. The third is meta cognitive. And this is the leader's level of conscious cultural awareness during interactions. So, maybe I have done my studying, but the person across the table from me from this different country is doing something that I'm noticing is common across the people from that country but I've not read about it but I'm going to be conscious of that in the moment. And then the fourth is behavioral and the use of appropriate verbal and nonverbal actions in cross cultural interactions. And so, this is where when we talked in an earlier episode about looking people in the eye. In America, you're not looking me in the eye you're lying to me, right? It's kind of that bias or stereotype. And yet, in other parts of the world, it's an affront. It's disrespectful. It's like eyes bowed in deference to an elder or someone of greater positional power. And so, research has demonstrated the positive relationship between my CQ or cultural intelligence and a range of important business outcomes. So, whether it's expatriate job performance, I'm giving performance reviews to people who might do it differently, intercultural negotiations, I'm negotiating a big contract with a company that is not American. And then just the overall team process effectiveness when I'm, you know, I've got an offshore team in India and I've got a call center in the Philippines and I've got a development center in Poland. And I'm sitting in Dallas, Texas.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:17  

Right.This work is so fascinating, and it makes so much sense from a business performance perspective.

Marsha Clark  29:31  

It certainly does. 

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:33  

Okay. So, here we are. We're ready for our sixth and final trait of highly inclusive leaders, collaboration.

Marsha Clark  29:40  

One of my favorites. So, and I'm gonna bet that this sixth C, collaborative, being collaborative is not a surprise to our listeners. And the Deloitte study speaks to how highly inclusive leaders empower individuals as well as create and leverage the thinking of diverse groups. And it's been said that the old IQ intelligence quotient is about how smart you are, and the new IQ is about how smart you make your team. And if you take this to heart, instead of leading from the top of the pyramid shouting orders down, you'll lead from the middle of the circle.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:21  

Okay, this is another 'say that again' moment. Those last two sentences - repeat all of that about old versus new IQ.

Marsha Clark  30:30  

I will. And I really liked this, too. And, dare I say, I think women are more naturally collaborative. I want to acknowledge that in this, too, because of our belief and flat structure, we're all in this together. So, what I said was, the old intelligence quotient or IQ, is about how smart you are. And the new IQ is about how smart you make your team. And if you take this to heart, instead of leading from the top of the pyramid, you will lead from the middle of the circle.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:05  

I just love this. Love this concept. 

Marsha Clark  31:09  

All right. So, at its core, collaboration is about individuals working together, about building on each other's ideas to produce something new or solve something complex, and it's also an effective strategy when you need the team's psychological buy in and you need that same team to go make happen, what you just created. So, in terms of inclusion is an action, it reminds us that while collaboration among a similar people is comfortable and it may even be easier because you can get to the decision faster, but you may lose out on the innovation and the creativity of a more diverse team. And again, that's been proven again and again in the research. And I don't know many organizations that aren't looking for innovation and creativity. And so inclusive leaders understand that for collaboration to be successful, individuals must first be willing to share their diverse perspectives. And a few episodes back, we offered recommendations on creating psychological safety which also encourages and supports individuals to share their thoughts, ideas and recommendations.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  32:19  

Yeah, we've covered psychological safety in a couple of podcast episodes, but the most recent one was Episode 102 entitled "Creating Safe Spaces", which aired on August 30th of this year.

Marsha Clark  32:33  

That's right. And thanks, again, for that reference, Wendi. I hope our leaders know by now that we encourage you to listen to all of our podcasts because they're building on each other and you're making connections. And for inclusive leaders, pulling in that diversity of thinking is a critical ingredient for effective collaboration. And far from being guided by stereotypes or biases, inclusive leaders adopt a disciplined approach to diversity of thinking and that disciplined approach is collaboration and learning how to do that well and paying close attention to who is on their team, what that team composition is, and what your decision making process is.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  33:15  

Breaking down those traits of inclusive leaders, okay, that's really informative and it ties beautifully into one of the activities that you include in your book that guides leaders in a self assessment where they can rate their own effectiveness in deploying these traits in their day to day responsibilities. 

Marsha Clark  33:36  

And I'm all about supporting learning and action with the tools, the templates, and so on, that bring content to life, I hope, for my clients. So, this exercise in the book is an example of that. And the assessment is really a matrix of the six different traits. And think about that along the left hand column with a rating scale of one to five. One equals low, five equals high. You can do it low, medium, high, whatever you want to do, but to give yourself that self awareness knowledge, and the matrix prompts you to rate yourself and each trait across four different categories. And you can add to those categories as well. But the categories that I offered up were family, workplace, community, and other. And other can be anything. It can be your book club, it can be your church, it can be your child's classroom, whatever it may be, that you might want to think about because it's an important part of your life. So, once you filled in the matrix, you gain a big picture of how you're doing on these different domains across the traits. And then there are some additional reflection questions to consider. So, which trait would you like to develop further? So, maybe I need to work on my courage or maybe I need to do some additional work on my biases so that I can manage those better, so that kind of thing. So, again, eating the elephant one bite at a time, what will your first steps be? And then a question of how can you share this information because this is in the spirit of not only do I know better and do better, but I can offer that up to my team, my family, my organization and any other group of which I'm a part.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:15  

Exactly. And you know, I need to work through this matrix again. Like I did this back in the Power of Self program, but I definitely need, I feel like this is something that you could revisit every year, maybe on New Year's Day, and like, get a fresh layout of the year.

Marsha Clark  35:31  

And also see what progress you've made. So, it's not, it's a snapshot in time. And you can do it at any time. And that's the intention behind the tool, for sure.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:40  

Exactly. Okay. So, for those listeners who also want to do some reflection at the organizational level, you include a set of reflection questions for them. So, please, what are those? 

Marsha Clark  35:52  

And again, I want to say the six attributes, the inclusive leadership attributes, that's working on me. This is working and thinking about the organization, but I'm still in the story. So, I just want to make that clear. So, in the case of the organizational assessment, I recommend that our listeners review your organization's effectiveness as it relates to policies, procedures, practices and metrics for success. And the questions that I'm offering up here, I want to give credit to the people who helped me to know these good questions. I've adapted some of them, but they, by and large came from two DEI consultants and coaches. One is Tina Bowers. So, shout out to Tina and Raquel Daniels, who has been a guest on this and whose podcast of 'What's Your Superpower' was one of our most popular that we refer to in Episode 99. And so I adopted or, I should say, adapted these questions from their work and what I've learned from both of them over the years. So, the reflection questions are these: So, one, and this is, to me, one of the hardest ones. 'Can you acknowledge that there are inequities and if yes, what are you willing to do, so, recognizing that you're going to be asked to do more and more.' And I want to share something here. There have been lots of studies where, and again, I'm not poking anybody here. I don't mean to be judging. But men often say, 'Everything's working just fine, thank you very much.' So, their ability to see and acknowledge inequities, they think everything's going just fine, thank you very much. And they say, but look how much progress has been made. I agree a lot of progress has been made, and we're not there yet. So, just know that's a huge difference in who will and can acknowledge the inequities. The second is: 'Will it take you longer than expected to address some of these and what you're willing to do and how are you going to support yourself in going the distance?' And then the third question is: 'What do you believe are the biggest challenges for organizations of all kinds to create diverse, equitable and inclusive cultures, what practical and impactful policies and practices have you identified thus far in your professional and personal life that positively impact and further building diverse, equitable and inclusive cultures?' The next question: 'What accountability systems have you observed or experienced, to be effective and impactful in supporting dei cultures?' And I would love to hear from you about that, listeners, because I would love to be able to share some of that with our broader audience. And then the next question is: 'What is the most critical lever to pull in order to advance dei in your organization?' And then this last question to me is, oh, it's a clincher. 'Does your organization want a disrupter or a carrier of the culture and which do you want to be and which do you choose to be?'

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  39:27  

Okay. I need a quick explanation of what you mean by disrupter or carrier of the culture. I don't want to assume that everyone understands what you're meaning by those. 

Marsha Clark  39:39  

That's good. So, a disrupter is someone who's willing to challenge the status quo. And let's be real, it often requires the disrupter to speak truth to power and I think of that as courageous and I'm going to tell my story. And carrier of the culture on the flip side is someone who wants to maintain the status quo, keeping things as they are. And I'm sure we all know the situation or has been a part of the situation where an organization says they want a disrupter, yet their decisions, policies and practices don't change so the culture doesn't change. And this is where one of my favorite organizational sayings come from, which is, "The system is designed to produce exactly what the system is producing."  So, think about that. If our policies, if we're not aware of the biases and we're not prompting and queuing ourselves to do something about those, then we get a homogeneous environment, not one that really represents the power and beauty of diversity.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  40:49  

These questions allow for hard, honest looks at organizations through the lens of DEI and B. Go ahead.

Marsha Clark  40:59  

No, I was just going to say, I want our listeners to take a hard look, an honest look at their organizations. And even if you haven't seen it before, can you see it now? 

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:10  

Exactly. And yet, one thing that we haven't addressed directly yet, in any of these last three episodes, is that final line in the Arthur Chan quote, 'Belonging is an outcome.' So, let's wrap up today's conversation with that.

Marsha Clark  41:26  

Yes, I do want to, and I think it's important if you've been any part of quality movements or determining metrics, you know there are lead metrics and lag metrics and belonging is a lag metric.  Do I as a human being and part of an organization, do I feel like I belong here? And so, again, I'm going to, we have a definition, that's right, Oxford Language.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:52  

This could be a drinking game with Marsha. There's a definition. Drink!

Marsha Clark  41:58  

All right. So, belonging is defined as, quote "an affinity for a place or situation" end quote. And I love that Cornell University, they provide what I would describe as additional texture to that definition. They say, and I quote, "Belonging is the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group." end quote and these certain groups can be family, friends, workplaces, clubs, places of worship communities, and so on. So, belonging is a sense of fitting in and feeling valued. And I often talk about fitting in versus belonging, and yet, I'm using it in the same sentence here. So, I want to explain that a little bit. If I'm fitting in to conform to how someone else thinks I should behave, look, act, talk and so on, versus a sense of belonging is I can be myself and still feel that I quote, unquote, "fit in". So, that's how they're both contrast and the same, because when there's a true sense of belonging, I can be myself and fit in.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  43:17  

Right, right. Well, so, full circle back to the idea of everyone needing and wanting to be seen, heard and valued.

Marsha Clark  43:25  

That's right. That's right. And I believe in my heart that those are the fundamental human needs -  to be seen, to be heard, to be valued. And I also believe that belonging is fundamental to our sense of happiness and well being. And you know, you'll see over and over in the research that this loss of belonging is associated with stress, with illness, decreased well being and even depression. So, just think about all the stories, the articles, personal experiences regarding today's mental health challenges.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  43:57  

Yes, the impact on schools, families, communities, society at large. I mean, it's all significant.

Marsha Clark  44:03  

Yeah, it's at the core of really a well functioning society.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  44:08  

Well, okay, so, let's step back for just a second. So, if belonging is an outcome, according to Arthur Chan, what's the input? 

Marsha Clark  44:16  

Yes, that's the question, right? So, here's my summary of how everything we've talked about in these three episodes are inputs to the outcome of belonging. So, inputs include acknowledging that diversity is a fact, we're gonna go right back to Arthur Chan's quote, right, and understanding the many facets or dimensions of diversity. And I'll go back to Michelle Bogan's concentric circle. And input is also valuing the perspective that all those diverse dimensions offer. And then a second input is understanding that the choice of equity means each person and group is given the same resources or opportunities beyond stereotypes and biases. And finally, we have the input of taking action to be an inclusive leader. So, displaying those six inclusive leadership traits, bringing others along with you as you continuously work on being an authentic, inclusive leader is what that looks like. So, creating psychological safety that encourages everyone to contribute their best thinking, ideas, solutions, perspectives, experiences, recommendations, all of that, and giving weight and considerations to those contributions. And when we as leaders are intentional, courageous, tenacious about those inputs, we're going to see the fruits of our labor which is going to be belonging as an outcome. So, for all my mathematical, scientific, logical, analytical folks out there, diversity plus equity plus inclusion equals belonging.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  46:01  

Exactly. Marsha, I love getting to dig in to this content that's going to be coming out in your second book, "Expanding Your Power". It's an incredible opportunity to get to this very personal and curated preview of the content directly from you. So, thank you for giving us this insider's perspective because these discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion, they've been insightful, informative, educational, and yet also inspiring. 

Marsha Clark  46:32  

Well, I hope all of that. I hope our listeners feel that way. And I feel like we're giving a little bit of a sneak peek here because the book doesn't come out for several more months. But I hope it piques your curiosity enough to want to get that book.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  46:47  

Mm hmm. Absolutely. So, as we wrap up to not just today's episode but this little mini series, what are your final thoughts you'd like to share with our listeners?

Marsha Clark  46:57  

I want everyone to recognize that none of us gets it right every time. So, I'm back to give yourself and others grace as you travel this path of continuous learning and improved effectiveness as an authentic leader. And that each and every one of us deserves that sense of belonging. I never want anybody to feel left out. And that's my high inclusion needs. But I hope you'll join me in doing our part, each and every one of us doing our part, to provide that sense of belonging in both our personal and professional lives.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  47:34  

Well, thank you, listeners, for joining us today on this journey of authentic, powerful leadership. Please continue to download, subscribe and share this podcast from wherever you like to listen and realize you're getting some really great juicy nuggets and sneak peeks from Marsha's second book two, "Expanding Your Power", which will be available in early 2024. But also every week we're referencing back to juicy nuggets and tidbits from book one. So, if you don't have it yet, go to and get your copy of book one, "Embracing Your Power."

Marsha Clark  48:10  

Well, and you know, Wendi, I think I said this in one of our earlier podcasts I see "Embracing Your Power" and "Expanding Your Power" as companion books. "Embracing Your Power" is about self awareness as a woman and as a powerful, authentic woman leader and our interpersonal relationships. The second book is all about teams and organizations and as leaders in our families, in our communities, in our workplace, it takes all of that for me to be the best leader that I can be. So, I hope that we are continuing to engage the intellectual curiosity, the emotional, the cultural curiosity of our listeners in helping them to be the best leaders that they, too, can be. So, listeners, thank you. And again, if there's any questions or thoughts, ideas, sharing of best practices, please let us hear from you. You can send those through my website. You know, we have an email portal there that you can get into and I promise you we'll get back to you because this is about making it happen, right? It's not just talking about it or hearing about it. It's about putting it into action. And so, as always, we can't do this alone. "Here's to women supporting women!"

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