The cavnessHR podcast – A talk with Cheryl Ingram
Go to the bottom of the Show Notes for cavnessHR affiliates and resources
The cavnessHR Podcast can be found at the following places or you can just type in cavnessHR on the respective app.
YouTube Pippa: https://cavnesshr.co/youtu227b2
Google Play: https://cavnesshr.co/cf163
Pocket Casts: https://cavnesshr.co/theca20e1a
Social Media links for Cheryl Below!!
Facebook: www.facebook.com/diversecityllc and www.facebook.com/inclusology
Website: https://diversecityllc.com and www.inclusology.com
Below is Cheryl’s book recommendations:
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
Link to purchase Cheryl’s book recommendation is below.
The first 20 people that reach out to me on social media or e-mail, or whatever. I will give a free 15-minute consult about diversity, equity and inclusion. Whether you are looking for a job in the field or if you work in a company and you’re starting to look at those conversations. If you're interested in learning more about training, I am happy to give you a 15-minute consult – all you have to do reach is out. And it’s free.
Jason: 0:00 Hello, and welcome to the cavnessHR Podcast. I’m your host, Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Dr Cheryl Ingram. Dr Ingram, are you ready to be great today?
Cheryl: 0:11 Yes.
Jason: 0:12 Dr Cheryl Ingram is the CEO and founder of Diverse City LLC and Inclusology and has specialized in diversity, equity and inclusion work for 17 years. Working with such clients as Netflix, University of Washington, Uber, Ada Developers Academy, and the Greater Seattle Business Association. Her expertise helps companies increase transparency and awareness. Ending the discriminatory practices and biases to create more positive, productive work environments. Cheryl has been awarded New Business of The Year in 2017 and is a finalist for the Advocate Award in the Champion Awards hosted by the Female Founders Alliance of Seattle. Cheryl, I know you’re keeping busy with all the diversity stuff going on in the news lately.
Cheryl: 0:57 Yes I am.
Jason: 1:00 So, Cheryl. Give us some background on how you started your company.
Cheryl: 1:04 Sure. So I actually started my company because I had been working in different components that dealt with diversity, equity inclusion and even multi-culturalism in higher education. From working in that background, I just saw so many different forms of discrimination that you can see a human being face, Jason, daily in their lives. Whether it was conscious or unconscious, it was coming at people left and right, front and back. I really got to a place where I was really tired of seeing people being mistreated because of their identities and who they are. I cashed in this $401K that I had built up over a short amount of time and grabbed my business license and I took the methodologies that I had been using already. Because I was doing consultancy, on the side, for some businesses – and decided to just launch my own company and do my own thing. Because I wanted to approach discrimination a lot quicker than I saw happening currently in corporate America and education.
Jason: 1:58 So, Cheryl, you had a post on, I think, your LinkedIn where you said that you compared life to playing poker – everyone doesn’t get the same amount of chips. Can you expand on that? I really like that analogy you used. Can you expand on that a little bit?
Cheryl: 2:10 Yes. So, I'd like to talk to you about privileged and underprivileged. Because human beings know that those are the two types of privilege that human beings have. Most people don’t understand, I think, meritocracy. If you work hard, get a good job, have an education, you’ll have a quality life. People have to understand we might all be playing the same game. But we come in with different chips. When I say those chips, they represent different identity components that you have that create barriers that might allow you to be treated equitably or equally in a workplace or in an education system. So that could be your race, your age, sexual orientation, your gender identity, your size, your physical appearance. Whether or not you have an accent to someone. All those things can create barriers for people in the workplace. We have multiple components, or multiple intersections. Of those, you have multiple barriers that some people, who might be running the same race. Those are hurdles that they don't have to jump or, in poker, the rules that don't apply depending on what your identity looks like. So, when I made that statement, I wanted people to understand that, even though you think we’re all on the same journey. We have very different trails that we walk depending on who we are.
Jason: 3:15 So, for example, you have one child, they have two parents, the parents have a combined income of, say, $100,000. Another child, single parent and that person makes maybe $24,000. All of us have different chips. It’s that what you’re saying, correct?
Cheryl: 3:27 Yup. That's one component of it, Jason. Even today, I was reading an article by The New York Times and it talked about how, for example, young black men whether they are poor or the same parents. They end up with the same future, highly dependent just on race. It's just amazing that people don’t really want to understand or don't know that those things impact the quality of life that you have.
Jason: 3:51 So you might have seen this. I think it's on Facebook or LinkedIn about a month ago – where there's a male and female co-workers. The female’s complaining how there’s people not treating her properly on email. The male co-worker is like, “you're making this up. There's no way you get all this.” So they switched emails and the female co-worker was like, “oh my god, people are so respectful of me, if I had an idea, they went along with it, no questioning.” The male co-worker was like, “this was the worst two weeks of my life. People asked me out on dates, they were condescending, they asked me if I got verification from my boss.” I just thought that was very interesting, that experiment they did.
Cheryl: 4:20 That's right, I do remember that. Sometimes you want to think that people don't believe it because they don't experience it. Or they want to believe that we live in a world where people still don't do those things and no longer do those things and if they don't understand how prevalent some of those things still are depending on who you are and where you come from.
Jason: 4:38 Recently, on LinkedIn, and I think it’s crazy. A lot of females are saying that a lot of guys are hitting on them on LinkedIn. I can understand with Facebook, but LinkedIn? Like this is craziness right here. But everyone’s saying this has happened like, are you kidding me?
Cheryl: 4:52 Yeah, that is so prevalent, Jason. I have a lot of female colleagues and members of groups and we have those conversations, daily, about the things we experience on LinkedIn. Sometimes, when they go on job interviews or getting messages through Instagram. It is never surprising, sometimes, how people use those things.
Jason: 5:18 Yes. So, Cheryl, is there a certain size industry or a certain size industry that you target with your company?
Cheryl: 5:24 We do. We target about 80% of our clients. Our goal is for them to come from tech in some way, shape or form, and then 20% we like non-profits and educational institutions. That is because that population is growing so quickly and with the population change and the way that it is and by 2040, 2060. Depending on what data you look at, over 51% of the United States is going to be what they call diverse populations. So you see these populations growing and you see more companies donating money specifically to STEM for children in under-represented populations to prepare them for the future. Now I'm thinking, if those companies are going to grow, and those populations are going to be entering the workplace. You should probably start to fix the culture that you have created now so that you make it more inclusive by the time that they get there so they don't have to struggle because of their identity. So we target tech.
Jason: 6:16 Have you found that tech is more open to what you're trying to do versus, let’s say, like a traditional company?
Cheryl: 6:21 No. It’s not. We probably get some of the most resistance in tech. It was, at first, surprising to see because you would think with how fast they are growing that they would be more welcoming to inclusion and diversity and equity. But it's not. For example, Jason, I did an info session once at a company very recently and we were promoting diversity, equity and inclusion and I was explaining then what we though DEI 101 (which is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 101). What does it look like in your company, why should you be thinking about it. At the end of the session, it was an interview in a room of 8 people, and at the end of the session. The VP that was in the room – a white male – said to me, “that was a great presentation, you’re very articulate and you spoke smarter than you look.” You think you think to yourself like, “oh my goodness, if you’re saying this to me. I'm sure he says that other people on a regular basis.” We run into micro aggressions and just aggressions like that all the time, Especially in tech as opposed to our educational institutions and our non-profits. The resistance is definitely more prevalent.
Jason: 7:27 I would've never thought that, to be honest with you. I'm sure you’ve seen the picture that’s out there where there’s like five white guys and the caption: “CEO of a tech company, we appreciate diversity of and background,” or something like that.
Cheryl: 7:43 Yeah. It’s interesting that you brought that up, Jason, because, in tech, the conversation about diversity of thought is definitely more prevalent than it is in other fields and industries. People don’t understand that diversity of thought comes from diversity in your identity. Because the way that you think and the way that you grow up is sometimes heavily related to who you are, specifically, race and gender identity, and even sexual orientation and age. People say, “oh, we just want you to think differently.” It's like, well, in order to think differently, sometimes you come from different backgrounds. So you have to have lived different lives to understand what solutions are needed in order to support different communities. So diversity of thought should be laced in race, age, gender identity, all of those things, But people don't want to have that conversation, they use it as an excuse instead.
Jason: 9:31 Cheryl, do you believe a company can ever become totally diverse and have an environment of no discrimination or harassment or no other negative behaviours? Is this attainable?
Cheryl: 9:41 I do. I’d like to believe that, and I’m building systems that I hope will continue to perpetuate that and make it sustainable. If I weren't optimistic about that, Jason, what I see in companies daily, I would say no. But I would like to believe that someday our society will get to a place where that is no longer the case.
Jason: 10:00 Hopefully, you’re correct on that assumption. So, Cheryl, what do you do, you work with a company and you realize this company’s just checking a box. They're not really involved, they really don’t care, just checking this box or someone’s making them do it? What do you do in that situation?
Cheryl: 10:14 There's a couple of ways to assess that. The worst case scenario, we end up walking away from a company. We've done that once out of the 17 clients that we've had. We had one client where we decided it just was not a good fit. Because they didn't really want to do the work after they found out what the issues were. So, in that case, we'll decide to leave. But if we are in a space where people say, “we just want you to come in and do diversity work,” and you do start to see a change in the way that people perceive diversity. Do they know that it’s worth taking the risk and putting in the work in order to help the people that work in that company that are suffering. But if you look at it, and people are just very resistant and they don't actually want the diversity work, it's probably time to keep moving.
Jason: 10:58 Yes. Cheryl, can you talk about a time you were successful in the past, what you learned and what we can learn from the success you had?
Cheryl: 11:06 I remember we went into a company once and they were losing employees and, specifically, women of color. Predominantly African-American black and Latina women, at a substantial rate. We went in and we did a diversity assessment and we looked at all the things that might be contributing to the fact that these women did not want to work in this work environment. There was some toxicity in that company culture and so we did our assessment. We created long-term and short-term goals for them up to 3 years for them to fix. I think that one of the things that we definitely learned throughout that process. It was one of our very early engagements was just how much the difference was in the way that people perceive the experience of people who work in a workplace. Especially if they don't experience those things. For example, these women were facing discrimination from their co-workers, from their managers, from leaders in the company. Anybody you can think of and some people just couldn't believe it. There was no way that that was happening to those people. Kind of like the man that we talked about earlier with the email, Jason. It was phenomenal to see that. When you raise that awareness, how people respond. I think that one of our key learnings there was to meet people where they are. Because there are people in the company and, especially those with influence. Who, if they have no idea what diversity, equity and inclusion means. But they use those terms, they’ll never know how to implement it correctly. I think one of our learnings was a little bit of patience. Because there were so many people at so many different places among that staff. But we saw the retention rate increase by 75% after the first year. So, to be able to go into that and to know that our work was making a difference. Because sometimes when you even think of it, Jason. It doesn't always feel like that that's happening, and then you see the outcomes and you know that the work that you’re doing is meaningful and impactful. Those kinds of things keep you going. I think we learned a lot about our processes and our policies and we learned a lot about even our methodology and meeting people at different places. I think we even hired more consultants after that who specialized in different areas in order to make sure that we were doing that accurately.
Jason: 13:24 Cheryl, do you mainly work with companies in the Seattle area, or are you nationwide?
Cheryl: 13:28 Nationwide. Our first company was actually in New Mexico. Where I went to college while I was here in Seattle while I was working with that company. But we are open to working with companies across the globe.
Jason: 13:38 Okay. Cheryl, next, talk about a time you failed, what you learned from this failure, and, more importantly, what we can learn from this.
Cheryl: 13:45 When I read that question, I just shook my head because you know you have those memories that put you back in that place. I remember when I first started my consultancy. I was so nervous and so scared, Jason, because as an entrepreneur, you’re like, “how am I going to survive. I know that my company needs money, I'm now living where I don't know when I’m going to get paid. I don't have a salary,” I’m a first-time entrepreneur with no money. I remember I was taking multiple accounts, just taking on accounts, to make sure that we don’t lose financially above water. I'll never forget that I was with one account and I will submit things like trainings to these people. Like my content, and they would change it, and I’d let them do it. I think that one of the things I learned is that sometimes, when you work in diversity as a consultant. People, even though they have good intentions, sometimes they want you to come in and teach their staff what they want to teach them. They don't want to learn what you want you to teach their staff. So I let those people kind of own my curriculum. I taught what they told me to teach. I assessed the way that they told me to assess and it was the most disappointing thing. I promised myself I would never do that again. Because the outcomes that we had gotten in that engagement were positive. But still not as good as they could have been if I had just held my ground and believed in what it was that I was doing. I didn't do that. I think that one thing I’ve definitely learned, and to any consultant out there, is know the balance of finding your “no” and when to tell a client “no.” That was my biggest lesson. That I’d make sure I would never, ever do that again.
Jason: 15:19 That's great advice. I think people forget that when you have a business you have to qualify your customers, too. Because every customer is not a right customer for you, regardless of what they might pay you.
Cheryl: 15:28 That's right.
Jason: 15:29 But I know you wish you could go back in time and change all that, don't you? Like, “what were you doing back then?”
Cheryl: 15:34 I do. That's right. I was like, what was I thinking, Jason? Then even sometimes, when I'm in a meeting with a client, and they tell me what they think should happen. I remember that moment because I'm like, “remember what happened last time, you let that go by.” So it's always been like my greatest lesson and it always comes back, always.
Jason: 15:54 Cheryl, next, talk about someone who's helped you in the past and how they helped you.
Cheryl: 15:57 This morning I had written a letter to my English teacher in high school – my senior English teacher. The reason I thought about her, and when you sent me this question, actually made me do it. I thought about her because she was the first person that kind of made me see my potential. In high school, I was always kind of smart and working hard and I just loved education. She was a person that held me after class one day and said to me, “you know you have the potential to do great things in the world. You have the potential to be a great leader. You just need to really show up and give your best every time. No matter what the components are like. I know you’re black, I know you’re poor, I know you’re going through these things.” She kind of really had that conversation with me and then, throughout my senior year. she wrote a recommendation letter for every scholarship that I applied to, for every college I applied to that year. She sometimes stayed afterwards for me to fill out those applications. She made me join her Latin Club. I was just like that first person in my life, outside of my family. That really made me think about the fact that there was something great in store for me. Now that I’m here, in this place where I have these two businesses and one is scaling and the other one is coming up and growing. It was interesting for me to think about her because that was the first real conversation I've ever had in my education about my potential.
Jason: 17:20 That’s a great story. People don’t realize that there’s a lot of kids out there that don’t have that mentor helping them out and that’s just a disadvantage.
Cheryl: 17:27 That’s right. Where I would be without her.
Jason: 17:32 That’s a great story. Can you tell us something about you that most people don’t know? Of course, close friends, close family know this. But people that work with you on a day-to-day basis don’t know this about you.
Cheryl: 17:42 That I've played rugby for four years in college.
Jason: 17:44 Oh, wow. That’s interesting.
Cheryl: 17:47 Most people don’t know that until I tell them.
Jason: 17:58 Did you play in high school also?
Cheryl: 17:59 No, I did not. I had learned about rugby in college and I remember we went to the Sweet Sixteens in rugby and everything and it was the first time I had ever played rugby. It was a great experience.
Jason: 18:10 Cheryl, I understand you have a book to recommend to our listeners.
Cheryl: 18:14 Yes. So the one book I’ll recommend – I just finished reading it in December of last year – is called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*. That book is an amazing book and I think that that really taught me some things about, especially as an entrepreneur. Just what to care more about and to care less about help me find that balance. Especially when stress comes, you can run a business, some of the things that you don't really need to give a f* about at that time. I would recommend that book to anybody.
Jason: 18:42 That's a great lesson because you’re an entrepreneur, you can't worry about people liking you or not liking you. You’ve got take care of business. Cheryl, I also understand you have something for our listeners today.
Cheryl: 18:53 A gift, yes. So, for the first 20 people that reach out to me on social media or e-mail, or whatever. I will give you a free 15-minute consult about diversity, equity and inclusion. Whether you are looking for a job in the field or if you work in a company and you’re starting to look at those conversations. If you're interested in learning more about training, I am happy to give you a 15-minute consult – all you have to do reach is out. And it’s free.
Jason: 19:15 Thank you. Cheryl, can you provide us your social media links so people can reach out to you?
Cheryl: 19:20 Sure. So on Twitter, it’s @DiverseCityLLC and it’s the same on Instagram. On Twitter, I also have @DrCIOfficial. I have @inclusology on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram also. So all of my accounts are either diversity, inclusology, or DRCIOfficial. That’s also on Facebook.
Jason: 19:53 To our listeners, we’ll have all the links and the link to the book recommendation on our show notes. Cheryl, are you in the company by yourself or do you have people that work for you right now?
Cheryl: 20:02 I do. I have seven people that work with me in diversity and I have three people that work with me in Inclusology.
Jason: 20:10 How do you hire people, like how do you know that this person is the right fit for you or what you’re trying to do? Do you give them some kind of skills test or just talk to them? I'm sure everyone has different opinions and I'm sure you want to make sure that their opinions match yours. So how do you go about doing that?
Cheryl: 20:25 Yeah. I vet people, especially for my consultants on diversity. I've usually seen them train or I’ve paid attention to something that they have posted. Or we've attended workshops and seminars together. So usually I’m looking for people – and sometimes people who think differently than me. But still want to do the work that I’m doing and have the right heart. They're in it because they love it and they want to see change and they might have a difference of opinion from me. I'm not always looking for a culture fit. I’m looking for a cultural addition (because I don't believe in culture fit). People can really help me shape an inclusive culture that have experiences that I don't. I'm also always looking for diverse candidates. That's visible and invisible candidates. Like what gifts or talents do you have that you can bring to the table to help me change the world and to make it a better place. That's the most important to me is the passion and the skillset.
Jason: 21:17 Cheryl, we’ve come to the end of our talk. Can you provide our listeners with any last-minute advice or wisdom on any subject you want to cover?
Cheryl: 21:24 This morning I posted something about some of the greatest lessons that I've learned and one is to always be authentic. Stay true to who you are. But the one thing that I think I had learned, my greatest lesson, is know that, sometimes, who you are will change. Depending on where your destiny is and where it is that you are going. That the one thing that’s constant in our life is change. So be willing to grow, be willing to learn and be willing to share that knowledge with others. Because, if you don’t, then that knowledge is useless. Because you’re the only person learning from it. Be authentic to yourself and make sure to turn your wounds into wisdom. Also, be kind to others.
Jason: 22:00 That reminds me of a quote from Charles Barkley I read a while ago. He said, “if you're the same person, today, who you were thirty years ago, you’ve wasted your life.
Cheryl: 22:07 I agree.
Jason: 22:09 So, Cheryl, thank you for being our guest, we really appreciate it. You gave us a lot of valuable advice and we appreciate your time. You’re doing a lot of great things. To our listeners, thank you for your time as well. And remember to be great every day.
Live Leap - Automatically share Facebook Live Video to multiple platforms at once. Simply go Live on Facebook and Live Leap shares to multiple Facebook pages and groups. Not only that, Live Leap notifies your audience on Twitter, LinkedIn, Email, SMS (text) and your website. See why Social Media influence love Live Leap. Live Leap has been a great tool for cavnessHR. Use the link below for your free trial
Zoom - it's the easiest video and web conferencing experience for your team! Zoom has been a great tool for cavnessHR. It has helped us produce high-quality content for the cavnessHR podcast. It has also been a great tool to conduct meetings for cavnessHR. Use the link below for more information on Zoom.
Audible: For you, the listeners of the cavnessHR podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service
Namecheap: is what cavnessHR uses for all our domain and hosting needs. Our experience with Namecheap has been outstanding. Click the below link for more information on Namecheap
Note: cavnessHR receives a commission for any sales from the above affiliate links.