Changing Lenses: Diversify Your Perspectives

Ep12: What Kind of Person is Your Corporation? – The Case for Equity Diversity & Inclusion – Ali Interviews Rosie

May 25, 2021 Rosie Yeung Season 2 Episode 12
Changing Lenses: Diversify Your Perspectives
Ep12: What Kind of Person is Your Corporation? – The Case for Equity Diversity & Inclusion – Ali Interviews Rosie
Show Notes Transcript

What do you think is the business case for equity, diversity and inclusion? In business, or even not for profit, should morality or humanitarian reasons play a role? Or should it strictly be about profit and shareholder value?

I have some opinions on this, which I apply in my work as an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategist. But as a podcaster, I've tried to keep the focus on my guests' perspectives, until one of my guests asked to switch places with me. Ali Ahmed, whom you heard in the previous episode, wanted to hear my experiences as a recruiter, HR director and not-for-profit executive.

So in this episode, Ali will host me. And I give some pretty blunt opinions about many business systems that we've taken for granted, which are structurally set up to discriminate and exclude. And it's not because they're racist or misogynist or anything related specifically to people. The sad thing is, systemic discrimination is also rooted in capitalism. If you're wondering how that happens, tune in to this episode. We'll explain how this plays out in recruiting, succession planning, even charity and corporate social responsibility.

Contact Rosie and find JEDI resources at:  https://www.changinglenses.ca/


In this episode, we talk about:

[03:06]  A story explaining inclusivity and diversity.
[09:00]  The need to decolonize and de-patronize philanthropy.
[14:29]  That the donors who hold money, hold power.
[18:06]  Diversity at the C-suite and Board levels.
[21:03]  Discrimination in recruiting immigrants and racialized people.
[27:11]  How do we make recruitment more equitable?
[33:50]  A corporation is a person. What kind of person is it?
[38:47]  Focus on positive change in the future, not mistakes of the past.

Full transcript available at:
https://changinglenses.buzzsprout.com/1759041/8526517-ep12-what-kind-of-person-is-your-corporation-the-case-for-equity-diversity-inclusion-ali-interviews-rosie


Guest Bio and References/Links

About Rosie Yeung:

Rosie is a Speaker, Coach, Strategist, and Podcaster for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI), specializing in intersectional diversity and Asian-Canadian identity. Her life goal is to reduce social inequity and discrimination, especially in wealth, race, and gender. Rosie loves mentoring Asian and racialized women to succeed in business as their true selves.

As a Chinese-Canadian, immigrant, cis-straight female with invisible disabilities, Rosie’s intersectional identities help her empathize with diverse communities and bring compassion and kindness to her work. With over 20 years of professional and lived experiences, she holds certificates in inclusion, consulting, Indigenous history, human rights, and more.

Based in Toronto, Canada, Rosie enjoys travel (except during global pandemics) and has served communities in Guatemala, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda. To de-stress, she watches movies and eats popcorn and ice cream – sometimes simultaneously!

Find Rosie on:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rosieyeung_jedi/
LinkedIn:

If you enjoy the podcast and want deeper ways to Change your Lens in work and business, check out the free resources on my website, changinglenses.ca. I also offer workshops and keynote speeches on JEDI topics like Decolonizing Corporate Workplaces, recruiting more inclusively, anti-Asian racism, and many more. How can I  support your JEDI journey? Contact me at changinglenses.ca.

Episode Transcript


Please note: the transcripts attempt to stay true to the essence of each conversation, while maintaining clarity and readability. As a result, certain "filler" words, and nuances of tone, emotion and emphasis will be missing.

If you're able, you're strongly encouraged to listen to the audio podcast. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human editors, and may contain errors.

Ep12: What Kind of Person is Your Corporation? – The Case for Equity Diversity & Inclusion – Ali Interviews Rosie 


Rosie: If a business, an organization incorporates in Canada or the U.S., legally their status is as a person, right? So if a corporation or a business an organization, a not for profit is a person, what kind of person is it? How do other people, not just employees, but customers, suppliers, general public. How do they see this person?  And so I think that organizations first need to realize that the so-called business case for equity, diversity, and inclusion, isn't starting with business. The rationale I think it has to come from wanting to be a better person. Because the profit and the productivity and whatnot are happy side effects to making your organization the type of person that people want to hang out with, that want to be friends with. And they would see as a nice person, a good person, an anti-racist, anti discriminatory person. Not as this big corporate entity. 

What do you think is the business case for equity, diversity and inclusion? In business, or even not for profit, should morality or humanitarian reasons play a role? Or should it strictly be about profit and shareholder value?

I have some opinions on this, which I apply in my work as an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategist. But as a podcaster, I've tried to keep the focus on my guests' perspectives, until one of my guests asked to switch places with me. Ali Ahmed, whom you heard in the previous episode, wanted to hear my experiences as a recruiter, HR director and not-for-profit executive.

So in this episode, Ali will host me. And I give some pretty blunt opinions about many business systems that we've taken for granted, which are structurally set up to discriminate and exclude. And it's not because they're racist or misogynist or anything related specifically to people. The sad thing is systemic discrimination is also rooted in capitalism. If you're wondering how that happens, stay tuned. We'll explain how this plays out in recruiting, succession planning, even charity and corporate social responsibility.

But first, a quick introduction and land acknowledgement.

 

[intro music plays]

Rosie: Welcome to Changing Lenses. You’re invited to step into the lives of people on the front lines of discrimination, racism, and exclusion; to see the world through their eyes; and to hear their personal story of their fight for social justice.

I’m your host, Rosie Yeung, a Chinese-Canadian, immigrant, cis-straight female with invisible disabilities, and I’m passionate about justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Do you also want to see social change happen? Then please join me in Changing Lenses.

Each episode is hosted on colonized land that was taken from many Indigenous nations, including the Anishinaabe, the Huron-Wendat, and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. I seek Truth and Reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people of Turtle Island, and I call upon us all to decolonize our thinking, not just our systems. Learn more on my website, changinglenses.ca.

Now please, enjoy the episode.

[intro music ends]

 

Ali:  Hello, everyone. Welcome to Changing Lenses. And yes, this is not Rosie. My name is Ali. We have turned the tables this time, and I'm going to ask Rosie some questions. As you all know, Rosie has a breadth of experience. She's worked in a not-for-profit and she was also a recruiter. So as an immigrant I'm very interested in hearing her perspective on things and also to learn more about what is inclusivity and diversity. So with that, Rosie, are you ready?

Rosie: Bring it on. I can't wait for you to be the podcast host. 

Ali: I want to learn from you Rosie and because there are so many definitions out there. My first question to you is, Can you explain inclusivity and diversity? What do people mean by it? Is it just the color, or it's more broader than that?

Rosie: Yeah. I'm actually really glad you're asking that question and I feel like you're asking it in a way that isn't, what do you get when you look it up in a dictionary? And there are plenty of online definitions from really good sources. But I actually want to answer your question, not by trying to cite one of those amazing sources. For anybody who wants to we'll have some links in the show notes, and you can just Google it.

But I think it's actually better illustrated by stories and examples. So I really love to watch movies and one of my favorite movies is World War Z. It's a zombie movie starring Brad Pitt, and it is relevant to this. Let me explain. So in this movie there's like a worldwide pandemic, but it's about zombies. And Brad Pitt is this investigator and he gets sent to Israel where for some reason, Israel is the only country in the world that seemed to know this was coming and they built a giant wall around itself to keep the zombies out.

So Brad Pitt goes to the head of Mossad or whoever and asks him how did Israel know? And this guy's answer was the 10th man. And Brad Pitt's like what the heck is the 10th man? And the guy says, well, you know what? Over the years the Jews have been killed in the Holocaust. Jews were killed at the Munich Olympic games and all of these things that happened we said it could never happen. That will never come to pass. And we were wrong. So we decided we needed to make a change. And we came up with this concept where no matter what it is that we are debating or trying to figure out if nine people say yes, the 10th person's job was to go and act on the assumption that everybody else was wrong and they were going to go and research this stuff.

And so when they had got word of zombies, Nine people out of 10 said, that's ridiculous. And the 10th man was this Mossad guy who said, Oh, I'm going to go pretend that it's real and figure this out. And lo and behold, it was actually real. So it's a movie, but I think it really speaks to how we're doing things today, where hundreds of years, racism, discrimination, sexism, gender discrimination, and things haven't changed.

And then now you see a lot of movement coming up, which is great. But people are still doing things the same way. And unless we're consciously seeking out things that are different from us and giving them space to be heard and to be taken seriously, then that benefit of the diversity's lost. So, no, it's not just about skin color. Just because you have people with different colored skin in your organization, even at the C-suite level or the board level doesn't mean that you're accepting their opinions or their ideas.

You need to have that 10th person mentality where the reason why you have them there is because they're different from you. Because their ideas and the way they think is different from you and only then do you actually get the benefit of, you know, your weaknesses are maybe their strengths. And you're going to have conflict because how many times have I thought I would love it if only everyone thought like me, the world would be a better place. Like it would be so much easier to get through, but I'm completely missing the point when I think that, and that's also true for diversity. If you think that just having some Canadian Asian people, Indigenous people or Black people, just by the way they look, that's going to solve your diversity problems. No, that's just perception. Are you actually allowing them to be their real selves at work?

Ali: Wow.  That made me think so many things, but World War Z, I need to see that movie.

Rosie: Yes. You're welcome Brad Pitt I'm giving you some free promo here.

Ali: Thank you so much for that explanation. So now let's keep it real and you've worked in not-for-profit for a very long time. So what's one thing not-for-profits can do to be more inclusive and diverse.

Rosie: I'm really glad to have this conversation with you because you're also in not-for-profit, and I think there sometimes a myth or maybe a bit of complacency, because many times not-for-profits are doing things, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others. So you're at Canadian Blood Services. That's about really saving people's lives through blood, through blood donation. I've worked at a number of development agencies and. Places that are trying to make the lives of people who are vulnerable and marginalized better. I think that can sometimes blind us as people, people working there and the organization to its own lack of diversity and inclusion internally because by its set up not-for-profits are there to do good. And most of the time they do. 

So one thing actually that gets a little bit touchy because not-for-profits understandably struggle for funding. Like you and I both work in the finance department of not-for-profits. We know what that's like. And so often people are paid less than what's market value and that's just been accepted for years and years, so I'm picking on this as an example. Partly because it's a challenging one, how do we justify not-for-profits paying so-called market salaries?

Like if the CEO of a bank is making millions of dollars is what that person's doing that different from leading a hundreds of millions of dollars size organization like the Bill Gates foundations or the World Visions of the world , right? Like they're massive size charities out there. And yet because of funding restrictions or maybe donor limitations, because nobody likes to see charities paying what they call admin costs. The salaries are usually lower and that's been accepted. So I think there's a lot of things that have grown over time that have just been accepted as that's the way it is.

There's nothing we can do to change it, but that in itself is putting inequity upon people. I see individuals who really want to do a lot of good, but they need money the same as anybody else. Housing is extremely expensive. You gotta pay your bills. But because of their passion, they really want to work at a particular not for profit and they're willing to volunteer essentially some of their time because they could be being paid more to work somewhere else that's not a not for profit. And to me, that disparity is its own salary inequity that should be righted. But I know any not-for-profit hearing this a probably be like it all comes down to funding. So then to me there's this whole chain, right? Everything's interconnected. You're right. That there are limitations on funding. So how are we doing corporate social responsibility? How are we doing philanthropy? One of the writers and public figures I follow that I like a lot is Edgar Villanueva. He has a book called Decolonizing Wealth. And I see a lot of patronization. Old school patronization that is steeped in power privilege, really white supremacy and colonization tendencies. Where if I'm a major donor, maybe I'm corporate maybe I'm a person. I'll give you, charity, some money, but I want you to use it in the way that I say, and I put all these limitations on things like what reports you have to write, what kind of results you have to show me, when you're going to show me those results. And no matter what I say, I end up lording it over you because I have control over whether you get more funding or not. So you can't give money under a corporate social responsibility program. And then expect the organization to be able to be totally free to do the kind of work it knows best. No corporate, no matter what they say will be able to know better than that charity that is focused on the issue, how to deal with that issue.

So let them pay their people the same as you at a bank would pay your people. Cause how can they do their best work if they're not getting the quality people, because the quality people understandably also need money to live. And so they're going to go for higher salaries, right? So there's this whole circular thing I think around money.

And this may not sound like, what we think of around diversity and inclusion. If we associate that with just race or gender or people we're missing the whole picture, which is money and the way money is being used by people in power, influences, all of that.

Ali: True. And the interesting point here is also folks that work in not-for-profits right. They've worked really hard. It's not like they're working less than people who are in financial services. 

The other question I have for you, and again, because you raised a really good point of how money for not for profit influences the goal of the organization, right? How they achieve those objectives are actually influenced by also the funding they receive. A lot of not-for-profits receive funding from big rich families or corporations. Do you think there's some issues in terms of inclusivity that comes out of it, like, well, I'll give you this much money, but I want this person to be the president, I want this person to be the CFO. 

And then do you think them having so much power stops the organization to be more inclusive and diverse.

Rosie: The short answer is yes. Like you talked about on part one of our episodes together, it's not necessarily that blatant. Especially this day and age, I would imagine that historically, that could totally happen. And like you said, the big dollars come from very long ancestral families that have a history of wealth. And if you trace all that wealth back where did it come from, that's a whole other issue. But here's an example of even when an organization tries very consciously not to allow that to happen, not to allow the fact that they hold the money in their hands to influence people. It still happens inevitably, because the reality is you hold power, right?

So at one of the charities I was at, we do development work and we go and make visits to the local agencies that we work through. So I worked in the organization that did the funding for smaller charities or partners. And I was warned already and I saw firsthand that when you go to visit on location, people treated us like royalty. Especially when I went to different countries in Africa. There would be people lined up to greet us at the office building, they would be wearing their best suits and whatever outfits they had. They would bring us into their best boardroom. These are small organizations, and so they only had one. 

And so we would go to whatever that one room is that was the most presentable. They would treat us, they would offer us great stuff to eat and drink.  It was like a ceremony almost, or a parade. And I felt terrible. It was like, you guys have so much to do. You guys are so busy, the point of our visit, isn't like the Prince of England or whatever coming. We don't need red carpets. We don't need all this stuff. We just wanted to work with you and partner with you. And yet this is still how they treated us. So can you imagine if a charity wasn't trying to even do that? Like didn't think about the power and balance at all. Didn't intentionally go saying don't treat us like that. How much more will they be treated like they were something special?

And I get it. It does make you feel good. I felt important, but that is not supposed to be the point of why we're funding the charity to do that work. So I think that the reality is that power imbalance is always there if you are the one holding the money. If you hold the money, you're holding the reins.

And so with great power comes great responsibility. It's the responsibility of people who are holding those dollars to be aware of this dynamic in the relationship, and then do whatever they can to reduce the gap and reduce that imbalance so that the charities can do that work. And so there is less of this patronage system in philanthropy. 

Ali: So shout out to Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. So you have two movies you have to watch.

 Okay, so let's talk about skin color for a minute. I know you have worked for not-for-profits. And you have been in recruitment, right? I know immigration is not new. People have been coming to this country for a long time. Tell me this. How much diversity have you seen in a big multi-nat on a C-level? 

Rosie: Well, Ali, as you know, I'm very old. So growing up in the corporate sector in Canada there was none. All of my bosses I can think of at the accounting firms And in private sector in charity. I'm trying to remember if I ever had a CEO who was not white, maybe there'd be a woman, but if it was a woman to be a white woman, and now it's changing, I do see more color, so to speak, in the C-suite. The boards of directors are still very white. 

That's another way I think charities in particular need to change the diversity of their boards makeup. And that was also what made it hard for me trying to how that affected the way I worked in my mentality. It was always then getting mentorship from white people, which then led to how do I succeed by acting more like a white person.

Ali: Interesting. And, I find that in order for you to be an executive, right? If you look at their profiles, all MBAs, right? If you think about it doing an MBA, if it's $50,000-$100,000, it requires that much money, right. Not everybody has that money but yeah, I think it's interesting, that you said that there isn't that much diversity at the C level, but immigration has been there for a long time. You go to school, you see diversity there, right? For an accounting firm, you go to accounting firm, you see staff accountants. There's a lot of diversity there.

So something doesn't add up. You something is off here. In my community, I see South Asian uncles that are in their 60's, they're educated, they work in auto. They got their education here. They came here 50 years ago, 40 years ago. But somehow it's not represented. It's represented at an, I wouldn't say lower level, but not at the C level. You see everywhere else, but somehow at the board level, you still see it. And I'm glad to hear from you that it's changing. So -

Rosie: So you can say lower level cause it's true, right? That's where they're at.  I don't want to harp on accounting in particular, but I think it's true of professional practice companies. Where when they say diversity,  it doesn't tend to be Black people.

It doesn't tend to be Indigenous people. I don't think I recall any Indigenous person. They may self  identify as Indigenous, but it wasn't visibly obvious. Didn't see anybody like that in the company that I've worked for, the private sector companies. And then for promotion wise, yeah. Maybe they'd get to senior manager, like maybe, an East Asian person, a South Asian person might get to the senior manager level, but that leap was really just one more level up to get to partner. 

I saw people being hired back, not when it was, you know, when things were really booming, and we couldn't get enough accounting help. We were hiring from overseas, like crazy. I was part of HR at the time. And so we did a lot of global hiring and orientation and it felt like a Brown person from say the Middle East, or from Dubai, or these countries that their English is great. Still doesn't sound Canadian, but they have it, they have really great experience. They might be like an associate partner or principal, basically that level that isn't quite partner, but is higher than a senior manager. And it was always like, why are they second place? I would never say that, Oh, there was racism happening in that anyone's said, because they're Brown, they're not going to get it. But there always seemed to be that invisible barrier. That glass ceiling that has existed for women for so long, same thing is there for racialized people, where it just takes that much more for them to make it to the level that white men in particular, and also white women, get to easier, than people of color.

Ali: And you mentioned that you were in HR during that time. And let's look at it from the recruiter perspective. So I know you worked at the recruiting firm, you just mentioned you work in HR. So what challenges did you see around diversity and inclusion, especially for newer immigrants?

Rosie: Ali, a lot of what you shared in part one of our series together around immigrants and how hard it was for immigrants without Canadian experience to find a job is sadly really true. And I'm still hearing stories from my colleagues today about that. 

I will never forget. In my early days as an external recruiter, I had just left the firm. I was naively thinking I was going to help people find their dream jobs. And I was interviewing and screening candidates. I met this great person. I can't remember what country they were from originally, but it was not from Canada. And they had a lot going for them on the resume.

Had accounting experience in a different country, was here looking for a job, doing something similar, but couldn't find one. And I went to my boss at the time, one of the more senior recruiters. I was like, "Hey, I found this really great candidate. Maybe they could do this job or that job posting that we had open," because we were scrambling. We needed more accountants.

And my boss said to me, "Throw that resume out. You're never going to place them." And I don't know why that particular one stuck with me so much. I think because it was clear, I'm pretty sure my boss said it blatantly like, "Nope, they don't have Canadian experience , no one's going to pay us for him. He's not going to find a job."

I'm like, "Well, maybe I'll keep them for a future - if it's not for these opportunities we have open." He's like, "No, never, never, it's not going to happen."

Ali: It's interesting because what I shared was just my perspective, how I perceive things to be, because I don't know what's happening on the other side, right. It's just how I feel. And that could be wrong. That I could perceive things differently. It's, interesting to hear what you just shared that it's not just how we feel,  but there's some truth to it.

Rosie: There's absolutely truth to it. And I don't want to tarnish the entire external recruitment sector. I know a lot of good people in that sector. It's not about that. But the model itself is set up to fail. The model itself is set up to exclude people. Because the head hunting executive recruitment model is, the recruiter only gets paid when they place somebody with your organization.

And it's pretty big fees. It's 20 to 30% of the person's salary. So from a business perspective, I understood why my boss was telling me that because we're never going to make money off of this guy who had no Canadian experience. No one will want to pay us 20 to 30% of that guy's salary because they could have just hired this no-Canadian-experience guy on their own.

They want the elite from the external recruiter, right. They want the best. They want the guy that nobody can get. They want the guy that's already the CEO of Royal Bank to go to be the CEO of Scotiabank or something. That's what they're paying 30% of the person's salary for. So I think that was probably when I decided I wasn't going to stick around in the head hunting sector because I just couldn't, I couldn't handle that.

The fact that these people who are honestly just looking for a job, needed a chance to prove themselves. And yet because of how the external recruitment model worked, they weren't going to be given that chance.

Ali: So we've heard how things are now.  So what should we do to change it?  As a recruiter, as an HR person in your past experience, I want you to tell us an idea, how we can change that, how we can make recruitment more equitable.

Rosie: It has to start with the heart. And just by saying that,  I'm actually afraid. But I'm not afraid to say it. I'm just, I don't want to turn people off, but this is part of the problem, right? It just can't be about all business. It has to be personal. That example, I just shared around their recruitment and  throwing that guy's resume in the garbage is like throwing the person in the garbage, right? Who are we to judge that individual's worth? There's obviously worth there. So it can't just be about the systems. I do believe that the systems are set up to lead to that kind of thinking. And so it's gotta be both ways, right?

We need to change our processes. We could change, for example, the recruitment criteria. It doesn't have to focus on what their Canadian work experience is. Do we believe that smart people can learn? I think so, right. So if we can figure out what their competencies are and if they're able to then grow into the job, like, you can learn how to live in Canada. You can learn how to do things the way they do things in Canada. What you can't replicate as easily is the capacity to learn and also the skills that they've already built up. So let's change the evaluation metrics that we actually already use. Even the emphasis we place on resumes, which is really a marketing document, right? The whole thing has become this game.

I know this because on the recruitment side, and also when I was looking for job, when I got laid off last year, is a game of what words do you put in your resume to let it get picked up by computer systems and artificial intelligence that are screening for things. We need the human element to actually see beyond just the words on the resume. That applies also to performance management. So when you talk Ali about how many people are at lower level positions versus higher level positions that are racialized? Yeah. That comes through performance criteria that are designed maybe unconsciously, but they're designed to weed people out.

Here's an example related to women, not specific to any particular race. I sat around performance management tables, deciding promotions all the time when I was in HR and I did it as a line manager as well. And the common thing I kept hearing, cause we were a big company, we had women that were of childbearing age. And as soon as a woman went on maternity leave, they quote unquote lost a year of work experience. And so the man who had eight years of work experience versus the woman who also worked for the same company for eight years, but she took a year off of mat leave, was docked a year. Because of that year where she wasn't working. And so that didn't count. At the time I bought into it, I was complicit in that system. I was like, yeah, of course, that person can't get the promotion. They don't have the right number of years of experience because she was on mat leave.

If we keep doing that, then women will never ever be able to keep up. Like we have systematically designed to keep women down in lower positions, make it take longer and be harder for them to get to the same level as men, if we continue to say that, right? So it's complicated of course, like there's no denying that they wouldn't have had the same on the job experience as men would have had. But this is where I think the equity part comes in. Not equality. And there's nothing to say that that woman couldn't still do the job as effectively. If they could do the job before they'll be able to make up any lost time, which I would argue is pretty minimal. So there's a lot of things that are built in the systems, but we also need to change our mentality to be willing to consider the changes in the systems that are needed.

Ali: At the end of the day, the answer was the number of years the person has worked, but not competency. Is that a correct way to say it or no?

Rosie: It was a robust discussion. There were absolutely supporters of these women that were on maternity leave because they were highly rated. A lot of the women I know in that position got the highest possible performance rating from the company. And there were a lot of supporters saying, why are we so stuck on this?

But because, for many reasons, and one of them was probably that perception of equality, in a way we didn't want to have to make the hard choice. It's a lot harder, I admit. To have, to make those kinds of more subjective calls than to say, Well, no, they either, they have the number of years or they don't have the number of years, that's it. So it almost became a way of coping, but then it led to this systemic discrimination against women.

Ali: Interesting. It's informative to hear that. And the other thing is when I hear about these stories, it's not about complaining, it's about, okay, this is what happens, you need to be aware of it. And if it happens again, well, it shouldn't happen again, right? It's like, look at what happens. I just explained to you, this is what goes on behind the curtain and it shouldn't happen. So I'm glad that you're sharing these examples for us to be aware of things that are happening within our organizations. So we can work towards it not happening anymore.

So you've talked about not-for-profits, we have talked about as a recruiter. What's the one way you would like to see companies to change in order to become more equitable, diverse, and inclusive?

Rosie: I think it gets to what I sort of touched on before about being more personal. And here's an interesting perspective on it. Here's a lens we could change on it. If a business, an organization, incorporates in Canada or the U.S., legally their status is as a person, right? So it does all sorts of things. Now that I'm trying to run my own business I feel it more. The whole thing about incorporating is I'm less at risk. The reason I'd want to incorporate is, so that my house, my personal bank accounts and stuff, it's not involved in the business. There's this wall that separates the two. But legally, that corporation is a person.

So if a corporation or a business an organization, a not for profit is a person, what kind of person is it? If they went to a party would people want to hang out with them? Would people invite them to their wedding? How do other people, not just employees, but customers, suppliers, general public. How do they see this person? What characteristics would they associate with that person? And so I think that organizations first need to realize that the so-called business case for equity, diversity, and inclusion, isn't starting with business. 

There's research and data that proves, organizations that are truly diverse, they benefit because you have those different skill sets, strengths and weaknesses that collectively make the organization stronger and will lead to more productivity, more profit. There's lots of data that shares specifics about that. But ultimately the ends don't justify the means. The rationale I think it has to come from wanting to be a better person. Because the profit and the productivity and whatnot are happy side effects to making your organization the type of person that people want to hang out with, that want to be friends with. And they would see as a nice person, a good person, an anti-racist, anti-discriminatory person. Not as this big corporate entity. 

I just want to picture the little angel and the little devil on the shoulder that you see in cartoons sometimes. And that was sort of where I was thinking about, if I'm incorporating to protect myself, have I really just taken out all sort of the worst parts of me and put that in this organization? By that I mean, I don't mean I have all this bad stuff to dump in it, but if I'm protected essentially from accountability, right? If anything goes wrong, the corporation is the one that gets in trouble because that's the person, right, that did those wrong things. It's my business, my organization as a CEO or whatever. But by incorporating, I've separated my money, my own liability from any wrongdoings that might come from the corporation. So in a sense it's like we've freed ourselves from the accountability of potential wrongdoing that could happen out of that organization, even though legally it's a person, even though it's actually, it's really our organization doing those things. And so I think that there needs to be more of that accountability brought back in. Just because legally my stuff's not on the line, but it should be.

Ali: I've never thought about it like. You know what, I'll go through my list of organizations and see who I want to party with. But that's such an interesting way to look at it. Thank you so much for bringing this new angle to it. I never looked at things from this lens. Talk about changing lenses. Okay. So just to wrap up would you like to leave audience with any key takeaway and call to action?

Rosie: I think, I just want to acknowledge that this is really hard. I say all these grand ideas like, Oh, we just need to do this. We just need to do this. I recognize it's not just anything. And I also recognize that change is scary. And the type of changes or ideas that I've talked about gets to long held deep rooted beliefs, values, how we were raised, how we are in our own personalities.

So I do not take any of this lightly. It's not meant to be like, just go do it. It's so easy. And so I just really want to offer an encouraging word because I, myself, yes, I'm a woman. I'm racialized. I'm part of the problem too. I have my racist moments. I've been discriminatory against people. Not proud of that stuff, but I have to admit it in order to recognize it and move on, right. So really want to encourage people that if you want to stand in solidarity with people who are being discriminated against, totally possible, even if you've done or said something that you regret now, that's the past. You can't change that, but you can change the future. And I really hope that we are all here as a global community to support each other, instead of judging and blaming and pointing fingers, let's all encourage each other to be the kind of people and have our organizations be the kind of people that we want them to be.

Ali: Great words. Thank you. Thank you so much for it. So what you're saying is everybody try to be a human being. I try to be a person, try to have a heart and learn from your mistakes. You're right. You can't change your past. You can learn from it and just move forward.

Rosie: Let's humanize our businesses, right? Like it's not just all about business. Let's humanize business.

Ali:  That's great. Yeah. So thank you so much Rosie for allowing me to be a part of your podcast. This has been great. It was fun.

Rosie: Thanks. Yeah, no, I appreciate it. Thank you for offering to do this. I think it was a great idea on your part. I love this kind of switching things around. Cause I learned something from you and you know, hopefully you got something from me, and if anybody does have follow-up questions or want to share their own ideas, they can always reach out to me.

Ali: Thank you, Rosie.

Rosie: Thank you, Ali.

 

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Thanks for joining us! I hope we helped to change your lens, and expand your worldview. This episode was produced and hosted by me, with associate production by William Loo, and post-production by Cue9. Until next time, I’m Rosie Yeung, your guide to Changing Lenses.

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