Better Together: Male Leaders and Allies in Partnership for Change with Ray Arata, Founder and CEO of the Better Man Movement

Jennifer Brown | | , , , ,

Ray Arata, Founder and CEO of the Better Man Movement, joins the program to introduce and discuss the first-ever Better Together Conference. The conference will be a series of conversations aimed at fostering learning, connection, trust, and empathy that include both male leaders and other champions, with the intent of articulating a vision for true partnership that includes and enlists all of us. Discover the new mission, agenda, what to expect, and who should attend. To register for the event, visit:

You can also listen on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play.

Ray Arata:

I'm learning, sharing power. I get a lot of benefits from it. If I go unconscious, it's exhausting. One of the things we're going to look at at the conference is the five states of men that I write about in my book, Showing Up, and how I've been putting a little extra attention to these states of men that exist in organizations. There's a group of men that feel threatened by DEI initiatives. You and I, and probably a lot of people who are listening today, know that there are unexamined privilege out there in plain view for us to see, but they're human beings as well. So, I sit in the question, how do I include them? How do I meet them where they're at?

Doug Foresta:

The Will To Change is hosted by Jennifer Brown. Jennifer is an award-winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker, bestselling author and leadership expert on how organizations must evolve their cultures towards a new, more inclusive workplace reality. She's a passionate inclusion and equity advocate, committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore, more productive workplaces. Ultimately, driving innovation and business results. Informed by nearly two decades of consulting to Fortune 500 companies, she and her team advise top companies on building cultures of belonging in times of great upheaval and uncertainty. And now, onto the episode.

Hello. And welcome back to The Will To Change. This is Doug Foresta. Today's episode was originally recorded as a LinkedIn Live and features a conversation between Jennifer and someone that if you're a fan of the show, you'll know quite well Ray Arata, Founder and CEO of the Better Man Movement. And they talk about the first-ever Better Together Conference, what you can expect. And also, if you go to the show notes, you'll see a link to registered. So, don't forget to check that out. All this and more. And now, onto the conversation.

Jennifer Brown:

Hi, Ray.

Ray Arata:

Good morning, Jen. We've been seeing a lot of each other lately.

Jennifer Brown:

Hello. I know, and we're going to talk about that today. It's good to see you, and it's good to have everyone here who's attending. And we're really hoping for a robust group that joins us today, and even better would be some robust questions about what we're going to be highlighting today about our partnership, Ray, which has been a long and fruitful one, really enjoyable one for me personally.

And what we have coming up is indeed exciting and compelling. And we've been hard at work, as you just said in the background, building something that we think is fresh, relevant, critical for leaders. So, we'll be talking about that today. But anyway, welcome everybody to our LinkedIn Live. And please feel free to ask those questions of us. Don't be afraid, I'm sure if you have them, everybody else has them.

And engage with us about these concepts that we're going to be talking about. Let us know how it lands for you. Let us know how interesting and intriguing it is. And let us know if you'd like even. We're open to just fielding comments about how you're doing on the topic of inclusion, on the topic of men as allies and healthy masculinity because that's the world Ray comes from. And it's what we're going to be talking today about morphing this conference from those important roots that are still so critical.

So, really, anything you'd like to throw to us today, we'd be all ears. And it's always learning for us to hear what's on your hearts and minds. And there's certainly so much going on in our world right now that is changing day by day, and is leading to some pretty intense feelings. And maybe, even more reason for the conference that's coming up in the fall, becoming more and more imperative that we have a place to gather and do our work together.

So, Ray, welcome. And you know what? Why don't I kick off to you with our first question and we'll be going back and forth here? But tell me about our partnership in your words, how have you experienced it? And what is it changing into that you're excited about?

Ray Arata:

So, first of all, and thanks for that wonderful introduction. And when you were talking, I had a vision of when I first met you and it was walking across a crosswalk on our way to the PB, actually to a Schwab event.

Jennifer Brown:

Oh, my gosh.

Ray Arata:

I think we were both going to be talking or one of us was going to be talking, and I knew about this person, Jennifer Brown. And you gave me the time of day and we had a nice little conversation. And that was probably six or seven years ago, maybe seven. But when Robert and you came out to the Better Man Conference, I think in 2017, that's when we really started to get to know each other, and came apparent to me then that is ever present now is that, as a broad-based DEI practitioner with the focus on inclusive leadership, you really understood, appreciated the necessity or the critical importance of engaging them. I was one of the few loaners out there back then.

And so, your receptivity and openness and echoing its importance made my job just a little bit easier. I felt like on our way to becoming partners. And so, when we were talking about doing this call last week, I think I jokingly said that we've been dating and dancing for about years. And this year is very different because we're both taking the risk together, and we're both recording, both of our teams are putting time into this together.

I think one other thing that's worth mentioning is that we've all heard the saying be the change you want to see. And what I mean by that is, here we are two very different shops that have a natural way of coming together. And so, my want would be that DEI departments really look at the necessity of incorporating and/or including engaging men as a critical component. Some of them say they do, some of them back off and just call it allyship. I'm a big believer, let's just call it out and bring it forward.

So, this is just after putting emphasis on men for seven years, you and I talked and it became apparent to us that we need to put the focus on everybody inclusive of them. It's a subtle distinction. So, I think for me, that's why this natural evolution of us changing the name of the conference, the Be Better Together Conference, that's the desired end game, that's the hope for outcome.

And I think a lot of our listeners, and a lot of our DEI colleagues, and a lot of the people in their companies, that's what we all want. We're just going to try and figure out how to bring this forward. And I'll stop there.

Jennifer Brown:

That's beautifully said. And over the years, thousands of people have attended this conference. And Ray, it was equally inspirational for me to meet you and to know that this work. I'll never forget discovering that this work was actually happening because I had dreamed of it. I had wanted that, and it felt like such an uphill battle to get that kind of engagement.

And then, to walk into a room where hundreds of people were making, and this was in real life, IRRL pre-pandemic days where they'd made this full time to sit there and study and learn and reflect and share and be vulnerable was just really, it's kept me going. Honestly, it gives me so much hope. And I will never lose the appreciation for the fact that you were one of the early conveners of that. And you gave me and my team the stage and entrusted us in many ways with the facilitation of those discussions.

And we've learned together, and we've grown up together. And you've had books since then, and the community has grown. And we've successfully, last year ran a hybrid version of this, which had hundreds of people in attendance. And I think worked beautifully with two in real life places, and one virtual audience, and seamless presentations happening from both coasts. I mean, it was complicated.

But it was, I think what's been realized is the potential coming out of the pandemic times is just our ability to and our want to build experiences that are accessible for people, that are inclusive of everyone to join from wherever they can, and are affordably priced and don't involve travel. And then, also in many ways, I think it might be a little bit of a safe way of engaging with a "provocative" topic too for people who may not be all in to the extent where they're showing up and being in the room and coming with their colleagues, which is what we love that, we love that.

But maybe, also for that one person who just wants to come and listen and is beginning at the very beginning of their journey, beginning to really dig into this. So, I'm really happy with how it's morphed into now this year an entirely virtual experience. And with two days, two full days, which is actually more than we've done too in the past. And because of that expansion to the Be Better Together, we have so much more, I think to teach and more ground to cover and more value to provide for folks.

So, I love it. I'm very excited to see how this goes. And we're already getting some questions from everybody. Hey, I'm so glad you're joining. I'm seeing some interactivity already. Thank you, Madeline and Angela and Sharon, et cetera with some questions. So, do you want to pause, Ray, and address anything that you're seeing in the questions at this moment?

Ray Arata:

Madeline poses a question around how am I thinking about men's organizations where leadership is first fostered? It's a great question. I personally believe that the way into those organizations is to work with the leaders because little boys, whether it's in sports or fraternities or boy's club, they're looking at the leaders above, and how those men present themselves, are they heart-centered? Are they emotionally aware? Or is their behavior and language being driven by the outdated rules of what it means to be a man?

There's plenty of practitioners out there in the world like Ashanti Branch who works with young boys. I like to say that I work with the pain little boys inside grown men. And the men need to work on their own healing and reconciling their own issues, so that they can model their vulnerability model, their authenticity. And it's the same stuff in the corporate world that I've been working on for so many years to [inaudible 00:11:54] to step into that because the human beings that are around them need it. And clearly, the old way of being isn't working.

So, that's a long-winded answer to your question, Madeline. But to me, that's the way we need to get at this. And with respect to sports, when I did the Better Man Conference in 2016, one of the panels I had was on sports. And I had Don McPherson, a man of color, former NFL quarterback, Joe Rafter, who head of peewee football here in Marin County. And then, Jan Hutchins, a former announcer, another man of color. And I'm drawing a blank who the other person was.

But the whole point was to go into another arena, male dominated, and start to bring these concepts of healthy masculinity to make the men that are out in front think and understand that everyone's watching them, and that they have a very influential role to play. It's the same... It's this... We change that concept in the corporate world and we start talking about privilege, power, and position.

So, imagine if male leaders in companies understood their power, used it appropriately, understood their position, and understood that privilege simply meant advantage. Imagine the choices they could make to create an inclusive environment. So, again, long-winded answer. But hopefully, that answers your question Madeline or gives you some ideas.

Jennifer Brown:

Yeah, that's beautiful. And I want to highlight, Ray, that. And Tony is tuned in right now. Hey, Tony Degra from Cisco. We're going to be talking about some unique efforts that are going on to bring exactly that, to bring men together to learn in the corporate environment. And it strikes me that another way to think about your question, Madeline is, single identity spaces, if there is such a thing.

Now, I'm also admitting there's intersectional identities within men, right? But single identity, for lack of a better word, spaces in which to learn, to try, to experiment, to fail forward as we say. There is something very special about them because they're out of the public eye, they are incubators. If they are created to be safe spaces for learning and getting feedback.

And I think that as somebody who has as steeped as many of you know who we are, steeped in the world of employee resource groups, those traditionally have been, I would say single identity spaces. Yes, intersectional, but within those vertical identities. And then, allies come in and out of those depending on how the company structured it.

But Tony, I know is going to bring up some real experience with men's development in that community where it's what you're talking about, Ray, which is that incubator, that space. And then, I think the training wheels that are developed in that space, then eventually, we get comfortable and competent in our leadership, and we can go out and practice it across difference, across identity.

But I do think that there's a version one of ourselves, and as we grow and learn, and as we gain in comfort and skills, we can then address broader and broader parts of our ecosystem. But it is through practice, it's through habit building, it's through practice, it's through giving feedback, it's through feeling safe enough to receive that feedback and try again. And perhaps, even still not get it exactly right.

But what we endeavor to build with this conference, literally these two days are going to be content and practice and creating that format in which that all can happen, so that people leave this experience having learned a lot and had their eyes opened, but also done that journey in themselves. And then, been in a space with others where there could be some sharing and some growth. And that's what I'm so excited about in the format. So, thanks for that. Thanks for that question. Thanks, Tony.

Ray Arata:

One thing I'll add as we've been curating this conference, to look at day one as more focused on allyship and evolving into the leadership. So, Tony mentioned it in the comments that allyship is a journey where we evolve our leadership in this space. Tony, you couldn't have said it better. And so, one of the things we're really looking at is creating that experience for people to come in and to self-examine, and to be part of some conversations and to engage with the facilitators, so that the next day we're going to go deeper. And there's going to be a limited number of tickets available for Tuesday.

So, it's going to... You have even more of a workshop feel. We're going to create as much connection as possible. And so, for those of you who have attended a Better Man Conference before, both days... And for anybody, both days are highly recommended. And we're going to... Based on the current social and political narrative, we're not going to shy away from important topics and we're going to bring it.

And so, we're really looking forward for those of you to attend. There's one other thing I wanted to say, Jen, you were talking earlier about this being a virtual only conference. I don't know about you, but if I was really honest, I do miss the live experience, and if there... Oh, I missed it a lot. And that's just because I'm an extrovert. But not everybody's an extrovert.

Jennifer Brown:


Ray Arata:

And what's true for me, now I realize which made the decision easier even after the Herculean effort to create a successful hybrid event in the fall, that we want to remove all barriers. We want to make it as easy as possible for anybody who wants to attend to come.

So, and talking to a lot of chief diversity officers and a lot of that you and I share, a lot of them have been... Their boss have been decimated. And so, when we decided to do this conference, we also wanted to be cognizant of that and make it easy and really partner with our colleagues in various DEI departments, so that if they wanted to send some people, we weren't going to have these high ticket items.

And so, for those of you who are in the [inaudible 00:19:05], take a look at our sponsor packet, check it out. I think there's information in there where you can get more information. But by design, we set this up, so that as many people can come as possible. And with respect to the whole virtual thing, we're all learning how to create those experiences, so that we're not just talking to all of you, we are engaging with you.

So, I just want to just put that out there, so that y'all understand where we're coming from. And if you need our assistance, you can reach out to us and we'll figure something out.

Jennifer Brown:

Yeah, yeah. I want to underscore what you just said. The accessibility is important. One idea for all of you listening is, in the past, entire teams have come and experienced this together. Often, for some of you who've done that with other conferences, you know how powerful that can be. If there is a coalition of even just the loose grouping of interested male leaders, for example, who perhaps those are executive sponsors of your ERGs, for example. Perhaps, they are allies in training because we aren't allies unless someone in an affected community calls us an ally. People who are really endeavoring and have showed up.

But perhaps, need encouragement, need to feel that community, need to feel that I know I need this. And Ray, I know you do too, to feel you're not alone. And often, leaders who are trying to break out of this man box that we talk so much about, you and I, Ray, and it's such a powerful concept. Leaders who are trying to break out of that and find a new way to lead and to be more real and more human are the onlys. They are another version of the only.

In DE&I, we focus a lot on who were the onlys from a demographic and a representation standpoint. And I think historically, we have not invited in those in what we might call the majority in leadership.

Ray Arata:


Jennifer Brown:

And I don't love that word because by the way, the global majority is not white, not male, not cisgender. But when we think about the workplace, we do have an overrepresentation of certain identities. But that doesn't mean that those people in that group are happy with the state of affairs, that are happy with the way they have to perform their masculinity. The way that there is no latitude to be a different kind of leader.

And so, but I want the onlys to feel... This is so important to me, that less alone and to know that there is a place and there's a conversation and there's an effort, and there's a movement afoot to change that. And I think that the most excited early adopters come our way because they know this isn't healthy for them, this isn't healthy for others, and they want to be change agents.

But there's a risk involved with stepping outside of the accepted norms and of masculinity of... Therefore, of leadership. Because honestly, overrepresentation at the top. When you step out, there is a risk to that. And I want to support those folks. And funny enough, we were talking about allyship in some... The other day.

Ray, I feel very much like your ally. And technically, my identities mean that perhaps, I need your allyship more than you need mine. But it is a delight to be hopefully considered an ally to you and your journey. And to anybody that shows up to this, it's extremely fulfilling for me. And it's a way that I can hold any space you need for your own growth because I know that it is in service of you, and it's in service of me and everybody that I care about.

And by the way, this is nothing short of reinventing the workplace to be a healthier place. So, we're really going after one of the core pieces of change. If we can make progress with this group that shows up, I think that that will ripple effect through organizations and help all these great efforts that a lot of us who have been traditionally marginalized and underrepresented have been doing, but we've been doing it, I think, without the partnership. And that's the piece that I really think is worth investing in and making much more time for.

Ray Arata:

It means a lot to me that you said that, Jen. A lot of times, I felt alone in this work report, in need of an ally. And so, right back at you. I know what it means to be an ally. But if I go unconscious into... I'm the 6-foot 3.5-inch cisgendered white guy, I'm the hero. I'm [inaudible 00:24:15].

Jennifer Brown:

No, no, no.

Ray Arata:

I'm learning, sharing power. I get a lot of benefits from it. Because otherwise, if I go unconscious, it's exhausting.

Jennifer Brown:


Ray Arata:

And you said something [inaudible 00:24:37]... You and I. One of the things we're going to look at, at the conference is the five states of men that I write about in my book, Showing Up. And how I've been putting a little extra attention to these states of men that exist in organizations. There's a group of men that feel threatened by DEI initiatives.

They're the same white men that feel like all this attention on [inaudible 00:25:05] distraction. Now, you and I, and probably a lot of people who are listening today know that's there are unexamined privilege out there in plain view for us to see. But they're human beings as well.

So, I sit in the question, how do I include them? How do I meet them where they're at? So, if anybody on this call, if that resonates with you or if you know anybody, we want them to come. They have to behave. We want them to come, right?

Jennifer Brown:


Ray Arata:

And we want them to come, but they have to behave. I've said that twice. And then, there's a group that don't feel included. And because there's ERGs or BRGs in companies, we want them to come. There's an even bigger group of men that are afraid to say or do the wrong. So, they don't do anything. We [inaudible 00:25:55] come.

So, we're really going to try and meet those men where they are. There's two smaller groups, the ones that want to know what to do that don't know what to do. Those are the ones that come to the conference. And then, there's the few, the probably allies in training.

So, I just want to make sure that for those of you that are listening, that we're really trying to make a space for everybody, then that's really important. And so, that's who should come. You could be a manager, you could be a director, you could be a VP, an EVP, an SVP, a CEO. It could be binary, non-binary. We want everybody to come.

Jennifer Brown:

Excellent, excellent. And so, there were some questions about how this is going to be different than previous. I think the two-day structure of the teach day one and practice day two is unique, and we're going to be using... Making big use of polling and breakout sessions. And for some of you, you're like, "No, I don't." But it's a great way to learn and practice being vulnerable when it's just you and maybe one other person or a small group.

But we're going to really mix up the format because we know that virtual conferences need to be extremely creative. And we're going to cover... You'll all recall, we covered topics like power, privilege, position. We covered patriarchy last year. Also, a lot of Ps.

But we're going to have really dig into those topics again, but updated for this, what's happened over the past year. And particularly, being mindful of what's happening now, which I think is really unprecedented. What's being said, the resistance is changing, I think. And the role of leaders in companies and companies, how they're stepping up or not, how they're using their voice, what they're standing by, what they're committing to. All of that is being tested in a new, I would say, more overt and a stronger way.

So, I think the imperative and the landscape we will be addressing and weaving throughout these discussions and the imperative for allyship to change along with it, to update itself, to be more inclusive. I think a lot of this is situational, and we live in situations right now where it takes even more courage. But I would say also, more strategic awareness.

So, we're going to be going deep into that. We're going to be covering a lot of stuff. I teach normally, if any of you have ever been in a keynote with me. We're going to look under the waterline of the iceberg together. We're going to gather all of the different diversity dimensions, and really think about storytelling actually on day two, which we think is such an important piece of change.

And particularly, storytelling by aspiring allies. Because often, Ray, I know you hear there's people are like, "I don't know what to say. I don't know how I am diverse," which doesn't have a lot of meaning to it, because we all are in many ways. But how do I begin to locate myself in the change effort? And so, we're going to emphasize storytelling. What are the ingredients of it? What is the structure of it? We're going to practice it. We're going to really help in a very tangible way, people to leave with, "Okay, I know something about what to say. I think I know when I'm going to say it, and to whom, and I know that I have support to seek depending on how that goes." But I know that that practice is going to start on day two, and then it's going to continue throughout.

So, for those of you that are really stuck, I think this is such a wonderful unlock. I mean, it will absolutely give you people to practice with, ideas to practice with courage, confidence. And it's not going to be perfect because none of us is perfect, but it is going to prompt you to think about how can I get comfortable being uncomfortable on a more regular basis, so that I can build this skill.

Because it's really a skill that I know I don't need to say this, but to me, this is literally one of the top five skills that every leader will need. And in order to thrive, in order to flourish, in order to generate results, in order to get promoted and advanced. This is fundamental. And there's just not that many spaces like this where we can identify this demographic, which is just so special. And it shouldn't be controversial, but I think it's become controversial. And we're going ahead, anyway. We're not bowing to that. We believe in it.

Ray Arata:

I think what bear's mentioning, behind the scenes when Jennifer and I and Eduardo curate a conference, we're really paying attention to the social and political narrative with attention to the discomfort and pain that people are feeling. So, this conference is our answer to the divide that is currently in our country. To all the stuff that's happening to Roe v. Wade, to everything that we're all about and the factions that we've seen, even when we look at ERGs and companies talking the other day about this notion of shifting from us [inaudible 00:31:44].

So, it's our intention to foster connection and conversation to get people back talking to each other around some of these concepts. And the other thing is, and this might just be my opinion only, but Jennifer and I have talked about this. There's a lot of backlash with respect to DEI. And rather than fly right in the face of that, we want to evolve to leadership and skill building, in partnership with DEI.

So, we're really going to try and focus on some skill building techniques here, and as [inaudible 00:32:23] on the noise that's out there. But not the least, I know this is a used word, the word woke. My friend Michael Pritchard, he's a former standup comedian and anti-bully activist. When I asked him his opinion on the word woke, he said, "Woke doesn't belong to the left. It doesn't belong to the right. It has historical origins spiritually."

And the reason I'm bringing this up is, the work that I've been doing for all these years is to wake men up to help them be more awake. Now, we can take that same concept into the work that we're going to be doing. And part of our intention in this conference is to help people awaken to who they are, so they can be in relationship with other people.

And so, there'll be introspection, there'll be heart centering. There's going to be a little bit of everything, but that's really where we're coming from requires that we have to go inside. And for men, it requires get to know these things called our feelings. It's really, really important. Hugely important. So, I'll get off my soapbox there, but there is a couple of things I wanted to...

Jennifer Brown:

That's so beautiful. The concept of awakening and causing or being a part of someone's awakening. Awakening to their own diversity dimensions, perhaps that we assume, I don't know anything about this, well, yes, you do. So, that more inclusive definition of the D in DE&I. The awakening to what you can actually influence with the privileges you may have or the advantages you have, that is a beautiful thing and not something to be ashamed of, but something to actually be unleashed in the world. That's an awakening.

An awakening to the ripple effects that you can cause is particularly, if you have positional power or any kind of power, any kind of capital, any kind of social professional capital, all kinds of capital, that it really is available to all of us. And it is actually, I think a joyful process to... It's not a shaming process. It's a joyful process to discover how much capacity you have to lead inclusively and how much capacity you have to impact literally, the trajectory of people around you.

And to be transformed by what you learn because it changes us. It's not just, "Oh, I'm giving this and I'm giving this and I'm sharing power, whatever." The actual act of going through this process changes us, and I think makes us people that others want to follow, that others feel safe around, that others want to work with. And for that others find inspiring and trustworthy.

And if I could communicate that to leaders to say, "This work actually is going to endear and connect people to you," they're going to trust you. They're going to want to do things with you. I mean, that is the currency of the business world. Who has your back? Who is nominating you? Who's mentioning your name? Who's the loved? Leader's goal? Should be.

I want to be not just respected, but cherished. And to be cherished, to me, means you are showing up in all of your vulnerabilities. You've done your work, you're solid, your roots go deep, and you can weather some of this noise that's happening because you know that you are coming from this place that is true, that is strong, that is right, and that is of the future.

So, I hope that everybody that considers... Anybody, like you said, I love Ray like come wherever you are to this. Come from wherever you are in your journey, and even those who are resistant to it, I saw somebody in chat say, "Invite," I think it was Tony, reach out and invite that person that's struggling with this. I would love, like you said, I would love to have folks in the room who ask the hard questions and who say, "I'm struggling with this," or "I think it's a bad thing," or "I'm being told I'm a bad person," or whatever.

It's gone too far. Okay, I would love to be able to hold some space to explore that because that's real. And that's what... If we don't address what is being said and thought and felt, I don't think we're going to be better together. The point is together. So, let's acknowledge where we are, so that we can move together, even if it means going slowly and more thoughtfully.

Ray Arata:

The question that I ask a lot of men to ask themselves is, "How do you want to be experienced by others?" And it goes... Everything you were saying earlier, Jen, to be cherished, you had the answer. But sometimes, we have to ask the question for them to ask themselves, and then come up with the answer.

This conference is a great opportunity for your direct reports or to invite those to report to, to come and just experience the conference together. But what's going to be amazing is when we go back into your workplace with new ideas and different perspectives and a deeper understanding of what other people are going through, it's a great opportunity. I would call it an inexpensive workshop, an inexpensive training. So, interesting.

Jennifer Brown:

Yes, yes, I love that. Thank you, Ray. So, it's just some logistical details for everybody. We're running a special on pricing, speaking of our affordable pricing until August 15th. So, we really encourage you to come to both days. Honestly, they really feed into each other, build on each other. Day two will be more limited in terms of spots because we want it to be more high touch, so just you know that.

But we really, we recommend we'll have you in any way you can attend, but we really would love to see obviously, as many as people going through both days as we can. We're reachable at or And these are in the chat as well.

But I guess, I just want to end on this commitment we have Ray, to meet people where they're at. It feels so important to say it over and over again that the way we practice this work, dare I say, in the business world, it is loving, it is gracious, it is inviting, it is open, it is... We believe in you, and we believe in your capacity, and we believe in your future as a leader.

And we believe also that we need to be to fill each other's cups in an experience like this because it is hard to stand outside. It is hard to break with the expectations and begin to chart a new path. And to support these emerging advocates in their work wherever they are, is such a joyful experience for us.

So, I just want to leave you all with that, that know that there's not that many safe spaces or places to learn and have honest conversation like this one that we're going to convene, and don't miss it because it will probably do wonders for your soul. I know it does for me.

Ray Arata:

What I'll say is, I've been having a lot of conversations with friends in DEI, and when they share with me the budget constraints they're under, I always ask them the same question. And that is, "Do you like one good senior male leader that you could go talk to in partnership?" Because chances are, they may have budget, chances are they want to do well.

And this is a great opportunity for you to take a little risk, reach out to them and ask for their partnership because in the 16 conferences that I've done over the years, when it gets down to that conversation about a company potentially sponsoring, they either want to send a bunch of people to learn or they want to be part of something, or they want to be part of the narrative, or they just want to support what we're doing.

We don't care which one of those answers that you choose, but we're... At the end of the day, if you want to have a conversation with us, you can talk to us and we'll figure something out to meet you where you're at, so that if you want to send a bunch of new people, great. If you want to send some people that have done this before, great. We'll figure something out.

But Jen and I are looking forward to... That those days are going to be here sooner than we believe, I'm sure. And for those of you who asked your questions today, I mean, do we have a few more minutes? If anybody has another question? How are we doing on time?

Jennifer Brown:

Yeah, for sure. I think we're okay. We can stay on for another five. You just reminded me, Ray, that I do think actually like, employee resource group leaders and others, certainly, intersectional individuals, coping with visible and invisible diversity dimensions in a system that is frustrating, tiring, toxic. Please consider coming as well, because part of that healing that I've experienced entering that space, not even knowing that it existed.

But part of my healing and coming into that space is to say, "Oh, this work is happening. It's happening." I guess, it's not all up to me to change everything and to fight it alone. So, for those of you who are experiencing fatigue, I think it would be a grounding and energizing, a re-energizing experience to know that. And by the way, we'll grow your network exponentially, which is always good too. I mean, I think people who care about this form fast bonds and tight ones, and lasting friendships, and a deep sense of shared accountability to each other and to ourselves for the vision that we want to see.

So, I think that's another beautiful thing to think about is the community and how you will access that community after an experience like this, and never feel alone again.

Hi, this is Jennifer. Did you know that we offer a full transcript of every podcast episode on my website over at You can also subscribe, so that you get notified every time a new episode goes live. Head over there now to read my latest thoughts on diversity, inclusion and the future of work, and discover how we can all be champions of change by bringing our collective voices together and standing up for ourselves and each other.

Doug Foresta:

You've been listening to The Will To Change: Uncovering True Stories of Diversity and Inclusion with Jennifer Brown. If you've enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. To learn more about Jennifer Brown, visit Thank you for listening, and we'll be back next time with a new episode.