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This episode was originally recorded as a LinkedIn Live, and features a conversation between Jennifer and Ray Arata, speaker, author and co-founder of the Better Man Movement. Discover details about the upcoming Better Man Conference and the impetus behind the conference. Ray reveals the power of vulnerability and centering others, and the need for men to show up in a different way.—
Listen in now, or read on for the transcript of our conversation:
RAY ARATA: As a member of the dominant group with all the privileges, white, male, cisgendered, heterosexual. I'm 6' 3.5", I even got the tall guy privilege. Part of my role is to model what does the power of vulnerability look like? What does sharing power and/or de-centering myself and centering others look like? That's a whole different relationship with power. Because otherwise, if I just went asleep and my ego drove the bus, I'd be out there, "Hey, I'm the founder of the conference. Everybody look at me." It's not what it's about. It's not what it's about.
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DOUG FORESTA: The next cohort begins on July 25th. 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 advised 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 co-founder of the Better Man Movement, Ray Arata. Before we get into the episode, Ray is no stranger to The Will to Change, and I wanted to share with you, you could go back to episode 12, all the way back to 2017, Engaging Men As Allies For Gender Equality, to see the first time that Ray was on the program. Ray also was a panelist on episode 106, Feeling the Fear, and Doing it Anyway: Getting/Staying Uncomfortable as Allies. And joining us again for episode 121, Better Men Realizing the Promise of Intersectional Masculinity. And most recently, episode 207, Showing Up: How Men Can Become Effective Allies.
So I definitely encourage you, if you've not heard Ray on the program before, go back and you can listen to some of those episodes as well. You'll also hear Jennifer and Ray talk about the Better Man Conference, which is coming up November 2nd, 2022, online and in person. To learn more and to register for the Better Man Conference. You can go to bettermanconference.com. Go to the bottom of the page and click on conferences. And now onto the conversation.
JENNIFER BROWN: Thanks for tuning in. I'm just so excited, Ray and I have worked together, as many of you know, but not everybody and not everybody that's tuning in even knows, Ray, about your work and about the Better Man Movement. And so that's what we're here to talk about today and the conference we are all very excited about, which is November 2nd, which will be here before we know it. And so we're going to dive into some details about that. But first of all, Ray, where are you joining from? You're just talking about coast.
RAY ARATA: I'm in Fairfax, California, which is north of San Francisco by about 18 miles, in Marin county where the mountain bike was invented.
JENNIFER BROWN: Neat. Nice, good. So that says a lot about the priorities and lifestyle of your area.
RAY ARATA: Mine anyway.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. Yes. Well, everybody who knows me knows I'm a New York City resident, Manhattan resident, no less, and dabble a bit in trying to get out of the city to enjoy nature for all of its healing properties. So, Ray, I know we're going to talk about, if we have time today, really talk about the way we restore. Given, I know, the intensity of this work, the importance of this work, the stakes of this work and having been in it for quite a while, as both of us have been in different realms, but now kind of coming together for the purpose of supporting male leaders and what that looks like. And, you know, there is exhaustion happening, there is fatigue happening for all of us, all kinds of individuals for all kinds of reasons. So we'll talk about that and how it's showing up for us too individually, which should be interesting.
But first of all, Ray, let's talk about, quickly, the conference and give a little history on how it started and what's coming up? And who goes and what it's for? And just kind of level set for those folks who are joining us for the first time that don't know. And who attends and what happens there? I know I've been in the room with you many, many times, and I've also been virtual. But there's nothing like being in the room and we're able to actually have an in room and in and hybrid virtual audience coming up in November 2nd. So there's so many different ways folks can participate and I hope we get the biggest audience we've ever gotten. So what would you like to share?
RAY ARATA: Well, lots of prompts in your invitation. So I think the first thing I want to speak to is, and you and I have talked about this before, is I just want to celebrate our partnership. With JBC being an expert shop in, I call it broad based diversity, equity and inclusion, and us being a shop that focuses engaging, activating, educating, the male side of the house, those that identify as male because they have all the power position and privilege. After acting like partners for a number of years here we are, officially as partners. And the reason I say that officially is because we announced this and I came up with this kooky idea.
So for this year's conference, when June appeared to be too soon for New York, I was sitting by myself and I realized, I've done a couple of virtual keynotes where the jumbotron was on a stage and there was a bunch of live people in the audience and there was a virtual audience. And I know Jen, you've done some. Why not... And I'm not going to have an answer to this question... Why not do one conference live in New York, live in San Francisco with Jennifer holding the stage in New York with half of the facilitators and me holding the stage in San Francisco? So that everyone except the virtual audience only is going to have a live experience.
I'm missing it live and so when I threw this out, people have really been liking it. I found out that technologically, we can do it. So that's kind of the logistical, technological frame-up for this year. How this conference got started was I was invited to a number of women's only leadership type conferences, PBWC, Watermark, other versions, and I'd be speaking to an audience, mainly women. In fact, rarely was there a man in the audience, and it occurred to me that after having led 50 plus men's weekends where I was only working with men, working with them to get out of their head and into their heart and to be healthy, masculine, men in their roles as husbands, fathers, leaders, and friends that maybe somebody should put together a conference where it would put the attention and intention on the men.
And so I reached out to some friends at Genentech and Price Waterhouse and several other large companies and said, "I've got this idea. I want to advance healthy masculinity into the leadership conversation. Will you back me?" The answer was yes and that was 2016. And this was pre- Me Too, pre- Time's Up, pre- Black Lives Matter movement, pre-COVID. So here's, what's exciting and different. Now because of all those events, they've created a perfect storm, which is shining the light on the majority. Men. So those men, of which I, from a place of positive intent, believe they do care, they care about their families, their peers, their colleagues, their work, respect, business, they don't know what to do. So when I wrote my most recent book, Showing Up: How Men Can Become Effective Allies in the Workplace, part of my thrust was to help them with what do I do then?
There's the DEI practitioners, many of whom attend your calls and who I've met, sitting in the question, how do I engage and activate these men? I wrote to them. So the conference focuses on them too. And then everybody else who doesn't identify as male, who comes from a historically marginalized group, how can they support and be supported? So this year, like in years past, with an intersectional lens, we're going to be delivering a conference in November, that's going to have kind of a workshop feel. And we're going to take a crack at patriarchy, power and privilege. And rather than, and this is what I invite everybody who's watching or listening now or in the recorded version... A lot of times when people hear those words, they cringe patriarchy, Ugh. Privilege. Does that mean something's wrong with me? Or power.
Whatever the case is, we're going to take a positive slant. What might positive patriarchy look like? What might using privilege for good look like? What might a re-examination and a recalibration of power look like? So, we're going to be looking at that. So I'll stop there. And I think I got the who, the what... Oh, the participation. Last question, who attends? Everybody's invited. This is an inclusive conference, but at the end of the day, everyone from an individual contributor all the way up to C-suite. Men, women, non-binary.
JENNIFER BROWN: Love it. That answers a question that we have in the comments actually, Ray, about are all male-identified individuals welcome? Are all individuals welcome? Yes.
RAY ARATA: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yes. But just to answer the question so that everybody here can picture this audience, virtual or otherwise, it's probably majority heterosexual, majority cisgender, majority male-identified and some ethnic diversity as well, and there's sort of this amazing mix of all of that. But it's typically, you'll see a preponderance of that community because it is one of the rare spaces... One of the only spaces I've ever seen a group that identifies that way that is making the time to come and spend a day learning about power, patriarchy, privilege. Examining their own journey, examining their own, perhaps even, fragility. And I don't say that in a negative way, just that changing in the way that we're being asked to change and step in, triggers a lot of things for us.
And depending on how we've experienced the system and whether that system has worked for us and was built for us, with us in mind, this can be a challenging space. And how loving of a space, Ray. I have witnessed and been a part of creating that container where people can come and I'm hoping, not get more tense, but actually relax and breathe together and be in community together and realize I'm not doing this alone. I don't have to do this alone. I want more. I expect more for myself. I want to show up differently. I want to go on this journey.
If I could summarize the energy, as somebody who identifies as cisgender woman and my pronouns are she/her/hers, and I'm also in the LGBTQ community, it's an amazing feeling to be in this room because it is so rare to see and to feel that intent. And to see that intent in the form that it takes at this conference. I wish it were happening all the time, but it's not and it needs to obviously be more widespread. But at least we have folks for a day and at least we can dive into some of these themes and really help these leaders.
My passion is to help these leaders evolve and step into the opportunity of allyship and solidarity at a time, like you just referenced, Ray, there's a discomfort. There's a fear. There's a hesitation. You know, do I matter? How can I make a contribution? What if I say the wrong thing? All of those things, I think are just the static and the noise that's preventing folks from really doing what we all need them to do, specifically from that place of power, patriarchy, and privilege. I know you and I both are trying to close that gap. We're trying to say, "Hey, here's the bridge," and this conference is part of that bridge.
RAY ARATA: So, you touched upon a couple of the categories I call The Five States of Men that I write about in my book. So I'm realizing I want to make an invitation to each category. In talking to hundreds and hundreds of men, reading emails, talking to diversity, equity and inclusion professional, I began to recognize that there's these five states of men that exist in most, if not all organizations. So if you are a man that feels threatened by diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, or even feel that all this attention on white men is a distraction, come to the conference. You'll learn that the privilege that you may be tempted to demonize may be able to be flipped, and you might be able to see it as an advantage. And I'm going to assume positive intent that you all may be able to shift and then ask yourself the question, how do I want to be experienced by others?
So, that's the first category. There's another category of men that if you are at your company and you're sitting there saying to yourself, "Well, there's a ERG, employee resource group, or BRG, for women, LGBTQIA, Latin, BIPOC," and you're wondering, "Well, how come there, isn't one for me?" and you feel excluded, come to the conference because we'll help you flip that temporary feeling of exclusion, because you may not know it, but this is how other people feel, and it's an easy shift.
The third group, the ones, you all that might be afraid to say or do the wrong thing so you do nothing. We don't want that. That signals complicity. So having logged 15,000 plus hours and working with men, we can support you in having a different relationship with your fear and to keep going. The next group are the ones, and I like these guys too, you want to know what to do, but you don't know what to do, so come to the conference and learn. And then last but not least, the allies in training. You all might be the ones that kind of get it or think you get it a lot. And by the way, there's more to get. If you come to the conference, you're going to learn and you might be able to step into some of your teaching and mentoring to support others around you because as Jen said earlier, this is not something we do alone. So I just wanted to just give a little infomercial invitation to all those men and to everybody else who I didn't speak to, we need you there.
JENNIFER BROWN: Oh, I love the way you just put that. That's beautiful. And then the themes of power, patriarchy and privilege, Ray, I know we both, in partnering on this, we wanted to really get deeper than we have in the past and really have this conference equip folks with some tangible, concrete frameworks, skills, tips, practice, opportunity to reflect. Make it just really meaty, rather than perhaps, and I'm not knocking this format, but often conferences will be kind of expert, after expert, after expert. So somebody asked, who's on the planning committee and who's going to be on the stage? And we've really worked hard to get as many diversity dimensions and identities represented both in our small team that's putting the agenda together and also several consultants from my team who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community who identify as Latinx, black, queer.
So we've actually looked at this to make sure that we are having that intersectional, like you said, Ray, lens on every piece of the agenda so that we talk about it from multiple places and that we have different messengers, and not just the message, but really paying attention to the messengers because that diversity is important to both of us too. And sometimes people will hear things differently when they're expressed by different humans in different packages and I'm keenly aware of my gender identity and expression, as it presents, in a room full of largely, majority male leaders. It's something I'm always really interested in, my own experience and process of my relationship to power in a conversation about power in a room full of folks who are perhaps used to power defined in a certain way. And so we can get really, really meta here and talk about how that feels.
And I think we give voice in the room right, as many different identities as we can and as many different definitions of their experience of power, patriarchy and privilege from those who have it, from those who have a different form of it, from those who have not had it and struggled against it, with it, in themselves, in others. So I feel like we look at this like this through so many different prisms because these themes are really... I mean, I cannot imagine a more important arena to explore because like you said, if this goes through your head, you belong in this room because there is a community that's wrestling with the same things. And as a community, we have to lead. We need to come together as people who care, about redefining power, about utilizing privilege in a different way about dismantling the harmful effects of patriarchy and redefining them. And I love that this is an intersectional group that's going after that together and that we get to be part of that because that's fundamentally the work that has to happen.
RAY ARATA: You know, just in listening to you, Jen, as a member of the dominant group, with all the privileges, white, male, cisgendered, heterosexual. I'm 6' 3.5", I even got the tall guy privilege. Part of my role is to model, what does the power of vulnerability look like? What does sharing power and/or de-centering myself and centering others look like? That's a whole different relationship with power. Because otherwise if I just went asleep and my ego drove the bus, I'd be out there, "Hey, I'm the founder of the conference. Everybody look at me." It's not what it's about. It's not what it's about.
It's kind of like... And here's a tie in to positive patriarchy when you're a father or a mother, little kids are watching everything you say and do and everything you don't say and you don't do. So how I interact with adults, how I see them, value them, respect them, include them, it's not that far away from being a parent. And personally, if I can stay in my heart and be an inclusive white, cisgendered guy and everyone who is around the table deserves to be there and gets to be there, that's a good thing. That's a good thing.
JENNIFER BROWN: It is. It is. I think that the lack of visible role modeling of behavior and language and commitment and failing forward in public, which is part of this work... It is literally reaching out, it is going beyond your comfort, it's taking risks, it is not having a script and really finding, I think, a new language. Particularly generationally, you know, Ray, you and I are the same generation and we're one of many generations in the workplace today and there's an overabundance of senior leaders in our age cohort, although that's changing. And so every move that a senior leader makes really matters. It's watched, it is emulated. Good, bad, indifferent. Silence speaks volumes, it's a missed opportunity sometimes.
So I think that when we have this precious time with this audience who's dedicated and looking to build their skills and their comfort with a very uncomfortable proposition, which is that, hey, by the way, you're going to need to lead in a different way. You have to show up in a different way and the old way is not going to work. And we're here to talk about what that new way is. And reassuring them, I think that you will find there's a bigger community behind you that's moving in the same direction. But it can be so, I guess, lonely or isolating to feel you are one voice, perhaps on a team that never ever speaks about this. Or in an organization where there is no commitment.
So it heartens me actually, sometimes everybody, if you haven't been to one of these conferences where you'll see a table, literally delegations from different companies. And what's neat about that, Ray, and also unique, I think, is that this is a group that's, they are accountability buddies. They are coming together, they're attending together, they're learning together. They're going to follow up and debrief and share. And I love being able to look out over this room virtually to see that certain companies are represented that have always been a part of your conversation or maybe there's new ones too.
So I wondered if you could name drop a bit of who has joined us in the past and sending delegations of leaders? And yes, accompanied by others in the organization too. There's often those who come along as a coach, come along as a mentor, come along as a support and I notice all of that too. But, tell me a little bit about the companies that have been really dedicated to this and have always had a presence and maybe there are some new entrants into the mix too, that I don't even know about yet?
RAY ARATA: So companies that have been along for the ride for a long period of time have been PWC. And PWC, they signed the HeForShe pledge to have 80,000 of their men sign up and be part of that. And they realized they needed content and expertise and when we were starting to roll out the Better Man Conference and healthy masculinity, it was like the new ice cream stand on the corner. So they've been involved for quite some time. Same with Intel. And to Intel's credit, Intel announced, I think last year, that it's their intention to have 40% of their senior leadership positions filled by women. Cisco's been involved for a long time. Oracle's been involved for a long time. Sony. I talked to Hewlett Packard this morning. eBay. Unilever hosted in New Jersey one time. Blue Shield. So a whole host of companies have been involved.
And when I first started the conference, it was about gender and along the way, we developed the Four Steps of the Ally's Journey and it dawned on me that those Four Steps of the Ally's Journey support anyone who wants to be an ally to anyone. So anybody can come and benefit from the conference. Michael asked a question earlier, "Do we embrace and include transgender men and gay men?" And the answer is yes. And on our community calls and past conferences, we've had healthy masculinity conversations with both gay and transgender men because they have their version of what that is.
And at the end of the day, this all comes back to the majority, which is men in charge, which predominantly, still, until it changes, is white. So at the end of the day, if I could educate or have one of the end results be that those white male men in positions of leadership begin to understand even moreso their position, their power, their privilege, and their opportunity as a human to include everybody, and I mean everybody, that's a huge win. And for everyone there who doesn't identify as a man to see... You talked about how amazing the conference is, I'd like to think it represents what's possible. Better yet, what's eventual. And so, as long as I can talk to people like you and show up at the conference, that's going to be my end game.
JENNIFER BROWN: Eventual. I like that. Yeah. You know, Ray, you and I are always, we're working, in a way with the majority, but also at the margins. A different kind of margin than we normally talk about. We talk about underrepresented individuals at the margins. But this is another group at the margins in a very different way. Not from a power, patriarchy and privilege perspective, but certainly from an involvement perspective, in this conversation, that are not leaning in not understanding how to do the... Not practicing, holding back, afraid. I think perfectionism and, if I could take a page from the white supremacy playbook, leading in a way that is safe, and according to the playbook. Which is, I need to know all the answers. I can't show up as imperfect or questioning. I can't show up from behind and in service of.
And so I think this is part of, I think, what we're going after, is really questioning the norms that have elevated certain leaders over others. That have celebrated and recognized certain attributes and encouraged that in our organizations, such that we don't see a lot of certain kinds of diversity in leadership in so many companies. We are here, right? We're here, this is our current state. And that diversity of all kinds doesn't make it through and up that pipeline because it's an arduous journey. It's a journey through microaggressions. It's a journey through toxic workplaces. It's a journey through sexism, homophobia, power, and patriarchy run amok and completely unexamined.
And so when we get leaders in this room to examine it, to look at it in ourselves and in the systems that we work in, I like to think people leave feeling changed and feeling grounded in something different and feeling... At the same time, yes, I'm on a frontier and my own growth, but I know who I can lean on. I know what I can hang my hat on. I know what I believe. And I know that there's a community that's striving. Like you said, eventuality. Eventually the workplace will look very different.
And my message always to leaders like these is, let's get on board and if we keep our head in the sand, if we pay no attention, if we think it's not our issue or opportunity, if we don't think we can evolve, then please, come to this conference because we must evolve. All of us must evolve. And I think you and I have a point of view and everybody that's going to be in this room has a point of view that the evolution towards belonging, towards inclusiveness is the direction that we need to go in, especially to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation. And to not engage with that, I think is not a winning strategy, but some have chosen to remain on the sidelines.
I know you and I write books about this, to say, hey, this is not eating your spinach. This is actually core to your continued viability and relevance, not just as a leader in an organizational system, but as a human, as a parent, as a sibling, as a family member, as a loved one. This is core to our evolution. So it's really the energy of the invitation. And I want it to be the safest place that folks have experienced on this topic up until that moment. I mean, isn't that a beautiful goal?
RAY ARATA: It is. It is. Now, the word out of everything you just said, safest. In order for that to happen, it requires a nuanced intention and follow-through to meet men where they are or aren't. So, devoid of shame and blame. That's absolutely critical. And I see in the comments that Sylvia has a question of, "What are the consequences of not leading with DEI?" Well, if I'm a man and I choose not to embrace, incorporate, align with DEI and I choose to resist, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when, that I won't be followed. And what that might look like, is those around me who don't feel included, they'll leave or they won't bring their whole self to work and the team, and then ultimately your leadership will suffer.
Now I can only say that from a man's perspective, because that's what I extol when I speak to guys. And then Richard's got a question here, "What's been my experience in changing the hearts of minds of men in very conservative states?" So here's the deal on that. I've already told you five states of men, but there's also three groups of people who we want to focus on. There's the laggards, the learners and the leaders. Credit given to Chuck Shelton, Jennifer and I's friend. The laggards, we don't spend a lot of time and energy on them, we don't try and convince. But the learners and the leaders, that's where we put our efforts.
Now, with that said, when I spoke to earlier, that group, that state of men that feel threatened by DEI, I still want to find a way to meet them where they're at and give them a chance to be listened to, but then very quickly educate them so they can make a new choice. And so maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe. Because I've had a couple of extreme right wing individuals that I've been in conversation with and we've found some middle ground and that's not where the change is really going to happen.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. I also say... And hey Rich, nice to see you. I know we say bring your full self to work, but I do wonder whether the expectation of leaders in an organization needs to align to the values of the organization. So what we believe, perhaps, may not be aligned, but when we show up in an organizational context, the commitment is to foster that sense of belonging and inclusiveness so that everyone can feel comfortable bringing their best contribution.
So I do think too, that there is an interesting difference between, maybe, personal beliefs and practices and what our obligation is to further the goals of the organization we may work with. I think people, Ray, get so stuck in this agree/disagree binary. I feel like that's like where we spend so much time and it's not about agree/disagree. To me, this is a leadership skill. Inclusiveness is a tool. It's another tool. It's a really important tool, I would say one of the most important tools, in a professional person's toolbox. And it can be learned. Putting aside agree/disagree, all the questions I always get about, "Well, Jennifer, if I say they them, I'm such a grammatically correct person, I don't like saying that."
Again, it's agree/disagree with somebody's identity, with how somebody wants to be called. We just have to stop ourselves for a minute and say, this is not about agree/disagree. This is about being a part of a system that is ideally, hopefully, changing to meet a diversifying workforce and a diversifying world. It is literally shifting this in ourselves and learning this different language to build trust, to build collaboration so that people feel the psychological safety they need to produce and to give their best. And if that means I'm misgendered every day and I've shared my pronouns and they're ignored, or there doesn't seem to be any weight given to who I am and all of who I am, to me that's not a smart strategy. I mean, you can do it, but you're going to end up with a workforce that is continuing to be homogeneous, that is continuing to sort of repel all of that brilliance that exists in a truly diverse in every way workforce.
And I don't know how you can afford to leave that innovation behind. That is our lifeblood. If we don't have that, our organizations, they're not able to pivot and grow and evolve and anticipate. So, I think just practically speaking... The moral argument's tricky and you go down this rabbit hole of agree/disagree, you go down all of that, but I do wonder about how we might enlist folks, regardless of that, to agree, at least, how the organization needs to look in terms of the context that it exists in. And that's not changing, that's not going back to the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s. We actually need to be pivoting ahead of the changes that are ahead. We need to be prepared. It's not even like reacting to, it's preparing for and preparing ourselves. And I think this is exciting. I mean, is it intimidating? Is change intimidating? Is any new habit hard at the beginning? Yes, but I think that we sort of stopped before we start.
RAY ARATA: So Jen, when you talked about agree/disagree, here's what it prompted to me and this is something that I teach and I write about. It's listening from the head, binary, versus listening from the heart. And listening from the head is agree, disagree, win, lose, validate, all those kinds of things. As allies and leaders, that's not what we're looking for. So what's the context? I can be trite and say, it's not about me. And it's about we. So in the context of being a leader, the question I invite anyone, not just leaders, to think about is how do you want to be experienced by other people?
If you start to try and win, agree/disagree, guess who you're making it about? You're making it about you. And there it is. It's not about me. It's about we. So, that's the temptation. So the offer is to get curious. Seek to understand. Even with those right wing individuals that trolled me on the internet and said all these things, I still tried to talk to them because I wanted to understand. What are the values that are driving you? Is there a middle ground? Now, I exhibited a willingness to do that. And I'd like to think that all of us can do that. So rather than agreeing or disagreeing, hit pause, don't make it about you for a moment. It's not about winning. It's about connecting and relating and doing your part as a human being to have other people feel included. That's the game.
JENNIFER BROWN: Agreed. Ray, what you're describing is really the definition of allyship. It is being steered by the needs of others, for support. And where privilege comes in, everybody that's listening, power, patriarchy and privilege, privilege is something I'm redefining these days, and a lot of us are starting to talk about, it as something that can be deployed, something that can be unleashed, something that can be useful and something that can level an unequal playing field through the sharing of power, the definition of power in a different way. So when people are afraid to step in and do something and they don't know what the something is, I think honestly, privilege should move from something we were afraid to talk about and ever address to something that we utilize on a constant basis.
And in doing that, sharing how we're utilizing it, sharing what perhaps we were able to accomplish in solidarity with. Being steered, taking that tool and not making assumptions about how it should be utilized, but doing a whole lot of, you said, listening, and we. Consulting, asking, being steered by others is a whole new way of leading. Again, back to super uncomfortable, I know, because it requires us to kind of leap outside of the frameworks of what has worked for us. But if we can listen, learn, be guided and know when we need to guide. It's really this interesting nuance of, you know, we get this question a lot right in the room, like when do I step in? When do I step forward? When do I step back? When do I step to the side and make room?
This is the question we explore in the room, because sometimes we are needed to role model and show what it sounds like and looks like. But many other times we need to share whatever platform, access, permission we have and draw attention to something else in someone else's lived experience. Someone else make sure that person is at the table, make sure that person is heard, make sure there's follow up. So it's an interesting thing of pivoting, moving around constantly and being really emotionally intelligent about what is needed from me right in this moment? Am I needed? Is someone else needed? Is somebody else's voice needed? And I know, Ray, in planning a conference so many years, you asked this constantly. Am I needed? Am I on the stage right now? Who else is needed? Who else needs to be in front of this group?
And there's this whole dynamic of something, and I know like what this is like, because technically, I founded my company, but I always think about how the collective wisdom of this group is so amazing and we all do our thing in our own way. And I love the opportunity to sit back and listen and be the learner because I think expertise doesn't just live with one of us and it doesn't just live with the person who's planning this. You and I know this and I know we believe this, but this is in organizations, how can we bring that kind of thinking in?
RAY ARATA: For everyone listening and watching, the little cheat sheet, and you touched upon almost every point that I learned when I got my knuckles slapped when I was coming up through MKP on my way to becoming a leader. Because I'd be on a weekend and there'd be 40 staff men and we'd have circles and meetings. And then there'd be the 40 men that came. So there was always an opportunity or the opportunity was this, does something need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? That's an important one. Does it need to be said by me? And if I'm going to say something, towards what end? And then how can I pop out?
So if you pass through all those stages, then you'll know if something needs to be said. And if for some reason you don't have the position, the voice, whatever the case may be, then that's where an ally can come in. And that's where raising the awareness of a male ally, knowing that it's harder for women to insert their voice when a bunch of guys are crowding the microphone. So what can I do, using my privilege and my position and my power to make space?
JENNIFER BROWN: Hear, hear. Hear, hear! I wish we had more time, ray. And there are some questions we haven't had a chance to get to. I apologize in the comments. You can always follow up with us here, via direct message. Ray, I'm going to offer you up and myself as well for things that we didn't have time to necessarily get into, because these are deeper conversations that are... Come to the conference, that's a great answer. But Ray, the conference is November 4th, as you pointed out earlier for those-
RAY ARATA: November 2nd.
JENNIFER BROWN: Right, November 2nd.
RAY ARATA: November 2nd.
JENNIFER BROWN: New York and San Francisco live and virtual.
RAY ARATA: Virtual. Yeah. And if you go to www.bettermanconference.com, you can sign up for our newsletter... And you're on Jen's newsletter as well. We're always making announcements. We're going to be doing a three part series, Jen and I, with some of the speakers, doing a drill down on each of those themes, power, patriarchy, and privilege. So, that's coming. And if you like what you heard today, and you're curious, a lot of companies send a delegation. They say they send 5, 10, 15, 20 people live or virtual or combination. We can help you put something together. And if your company's just a little further along and you want to be part of the narrative and demonstrate to your stakeholders and the rest of your company how important this is, talk to us because we're open for sponsorships still.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. That's a great point, everybody. So, there's no one answer or right answer about where you need to be in your journey. And there may not be any appetite in your organization for even knowing what this is, let alone... Ray, as you and I know, there's fear to even have the conversation, let alone send one person to something like this, let alone send a group. So, companies like Cisco, Intel, the others that Ray mentioned are now after many years really comfortable putting this out there and saying, this is a priority for us, it's a way to develop our leaders, it's important to us. We sponsor, we send folks.
But I would really encourage if there's even an inkling of interest and even if there's not in your organization, I almost feel like, send a scout to this and begin. Because I think if you build it, folks will appear. There is a want and an appetite and a hunger for this conversation, you just may not know it in your organization. It may not have ever been articulated. It's one of those things that I think happens sometimes with DEIB work, which is, somebody will say, "Well, we don't have issues here," or, "We don't really need ERGs." And I'll say, "Build it, and they will come." There is a need. There is a need. And you just have to know that. And that's why you work with experts. To say, look, there are struggles going on with belonging in your workplace. We can guarantee it. It's just that there's no workplace that doesn't struggle. There are struggles going on around allyship. And we know that this is true.
So if you're listening to this and you're wondering, how would I ever broach this with my organization, please reach out to us. Because, really, we live not just for the long tenured organizations that have been having this conversation forever, but the ones that are just dipping a toe, that's so important to work with and pull that thread and encourage and foster, because one thing can turn into two can turn into 10 can turn into an internal conversation that's never been had before. And that, I think, brings us so much fulfillment and joy, because, Ray, like you say, this is an eventuality. But it's slow to get started and I wish it were accelerating and I think that's the way each of us can accelerate in the system that we're in, is by bringing this up, we're raising it, by offering it and just a virtual attendance. Even if that's that baby step that you can take everybody, I would really recommend you make an investment and take a look around, see how it feels and give us feedback.
RAY ARATA: There's one thing I've just realized, a lot of these questions, if you go to showingupbook.com and you order my book, it allows you to register for a free virtual ticket. And in the book towards the end, I write to, what if I'm only one person in an org and that this is important to me? Because at the end, there's a chapter for DEI professionals, what does the multi-year game plan look like. But what if you're at a company and that doesn't exist, but this is important to you. So there's some strategies in there and a lot of the answers to a lot of questions, both voiced and not voiced today, are in there. So it's a great tool and a quick little shout-out to Mark Green, I saw you chime in there, Mark. Mark is going to be, I think, our first guest for our first series in August, we don't know the date yet, but we'll let you know soon.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. Hi Mark, thank you for your work.
RAY ARATA: So, Jennifer, I know that we're out of time.
JENNIFER BROWN: I know we're out of time, everybody, but please continue to stay tuned. Like Ray said, we're going to have a bunch of these leading up and we're going to introduce our wonderful speakers like Mark and others who are on my team. We're so excited for this format. Ray, thank you for showing up, standing up, role modeling, giving me hope and inspiration for the fight, because it's hard some days and lonely some days. But I know that help is all around and we just need to know how and where to plug into it. And I hope that I see everybody that tuned in today, at least in a virtual attendance, if not joining folks in person, because now we can, if you're comfortable doing that, there's nothing like that. On this topic in particular. Thanks everybody. Thank you, Ray.
Hi, this is Jennifer. Did you know that we offer a full transcript of every podcast episode on my website over at jenniferbrownspeaks.com? 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 & Inclusion with Jennifer Brown. If you've enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. To learn more about Jennifer Brown, visit jenniferbrownspeaks.com. Thank you for listening and we'll be back next time with a new episode.
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