This episode features a conversation between Adrienne Lawrence, JBC Sr. Consultant, and Jennifer Brown, as they discuss why is there such a disconnect between how white women view their support and how black women are experiencing it. Discover why white women are often afraid of stepping up to be an ally, and what white women can do to bridge the allyship gap by 2031.
Listen in now, or read on for the transcript of our conversation:
DOUG FORESTA: Hello Will to Change listeners, want to join the Beyond Diversity book insider family? It’s easy to do. Visit jenniferbrownspeaks.com, and go to the tab that says books. Click on that, you’ll see a dropdown for Beyond Diversity. That will take you to the landing page, where you can enter your details to join the book insider and get early access to exclusive updates and invitations to launch events. Again, that’s jenniferbrownspeaks.com, go to the tab that says books, and the dropdown that says Beyond Diversity to sign up prior to the book’s launch on November 9th, 2021.
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Time and time again, we have seen how oppression works, and how subjugation works, and the fact that it is not. It’s actually better for all of us who are marginalized to align together, so we uplift one another. And then I do think that there is a sense of perfectionism, this thought that I’m going to get it wrong, this thought that it’s foreign, it’s different, and the fear aligned with it. And so we get the people who say, “I don’t see color.” And we know that they’re saying that, simply because they want to avoid the issue and its entirety, to not acknowledge the oppression, to not acknowledge, essentially, that there are people who are being mistreated and suffering, and it’s just… It’s unfortunate, and it’s sad, and we’ve seen it time and time again, but we’re always hoping that in this new world, this new era, since there has been some change, that things will indeed change, and people will step up, and they’ll see the value of stepping and coming together.
DOUG FORESTA: Everyone has a diversity story, even those you don’t expect. Get ready to hear from leading CEOs, bestselling authors and entrepreneurs, as we uncover their true stories of diversity and inclusion. And now onto the episode. Hello and welcome back to the Will to Change. This is Doug Forrester. And this episode features a conversation between Jennifer Brown and Adrienne Lawrence. Adrienne is a Principal Consultant for Jennifer Brown Consulting. She’s also an on-air legal commentator and inclusion speaker. She is the author of the book, Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment, which was published by Penguin Random House, and received numerous accolades, including two 2021 international book awards, and the 2021 Axiom Business Book of the Year in the category of women in marginalized groups in the workplace.
Adrienne’s commentary is showcased on major outlets, such as NPR and Buzzfeed, and her insights are included in publications like the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Forbes. And in this conversation, Jennifer and Adrienne discuss the allyship gap. 80% of White women see themselves as allies, but only 10% of Black women say that most of their strongest allies are White, and Jennifer and Adrienne explore why there is such a disconnect between how White women view their support, and how Black women are experiencing it, all this and more. And now, onto the episode.
JENNIFER BROWN: Adrienne, welcome to the Will to Change.
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Ah, thank you so much for having me.
JENNIFER BROWN: I can’t believe we haven’t had you on before, but we’re going to be asking more and more of the JBC team to join us in the podcast, but you are a senior consultant for us at Jennifer Brown consulting. And for everybody that hasn’t had a chance to work with Adrienne, you are missing out. She’s incredible, and I am asking you on today, especially because I got to work with you yesterday, in fact, here in Atlanta, where we still are, at The 3% Conference, which is a conference that… whose name references the number of female creative directors in the agency and advertising world, when Kat Gordon first started the conference.
Sad to say, I was Googling some statistics, and the percentages aren’t much different. So we got a lot of work to do, but Adrienne, it was just great to share the stage with you. And today, on this podcast, we’re going to talk through some of the things we shared, the research, the statistics that were very, I think, startling for our audience, and then some of the candid dialogue that Adrienne and I engaged in, and I think that also the audience was really grateful for, which was interesting to hear, Adrienne, that…
We learn a lot from audience reactions, about what people are hearing and not hearing, and what they’re craving, and I think we got a really strong sense of that yesterday after… based on the feedback from our session. So we’ll be get into that in a moment. But Adrienne, would you like to just tell our audience a little bit about your career journey, your personal diversity, why, and story, whatever you’d like to share to contextualize you for our audience?
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Sure. I’ll do the best I can, because I’ve had quite a wild journey. I first started out as an attorney, and I still am a licensed practitioner, I just don’t practice as much. But yeah, representing generally large companies, as well as high net worth individuals. And then I wanted to transition into something where I felt I was giving people more insight, and also in a different world, so to speak. So I went into broadcast, and I was able to go straight from a major law firm to an international news desk as a legal analyst and anchor at ESPN.
Then I had an experience there that was really an eyeopener, in terms of workplaces, that the vast majority of women experience, and it made me truly realize that, hey, I need to speak up, and there are things that aren’t okay. So I ended up standing up, I became the first on-air personality at ESPN to sue the workplace for… or to sue the company for workplace sexual harassment and retaliation. That ended up settling, and I wrote a book, it’s an award winner called Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment, first of its kind book written…
It looks at it from a sociological in terms of workplace sexual harassment, since it’s something entirely preventable. And that’s how I truly really planted my feet in helping improve workplace cultures, and to, essentially, help people uplift and create spaces where there’s inclusivity in the professional sphere. And so as a result of that, all of a sudden, I got a great call from JVC reaching out, asking me if I’d be interested in joining the team, and it has been incredible ever since.
JENNIFER BROWN: Oh my goodness, Adrienne. Well, thank you for stepping up and practicing what you preach, and writing about it, to get that out into the world. And I’m just so glad we found our way to each other, and you’re such an addition to the team, as everybody can probably tell. And so you and I shared the stage yesterday, and when we were invited by Kat Gordon to come up with something provocative relating to racism, and what kind of dialogue we could facilitate, the two of us on stage, it just was such a no-brainer, and I feel like the script sort of came together quickly for the things that we wanted to share, the data that we wanted to pull on, and the questions that we wanted to ask each other.
And she, in true form, for this conference, really wanted the conversation to be candid, honest, hard-hitting, maybe uncomfortable at times. So that’s what we attempted to create on the stage, and I think we did that according to the reaction. But tell me like… Adrienne, you came up with the structure for us. Could you tell me what went into the structure? And if you would like to share any of the statistics and the source of the statistics and what your process was for choosing those really eye-popping things that got Instagramed like crazy and tweeted yesterday, because there are things that I think people just don’t either know about, that this research has actually been done on allyship between White women and Black women, specifically, or maybe it’s just not shown in that kind of way that we showed it. So, anyway, tell us about it. Tell us about the process you used.
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Yes. So for this particular opportunity, when it came to bridging the gap between Black and White women in professional spaces, the first thing I thought of is, what it does it look like in terms of the allyship? And then also thinking, what is another instance where, essentially, it keeps people apart? And racism, most definitely. And then what can we do to bridge that gap? And so what I wanted to do, since I’m very big on facts and stats, is to look at the numbers. And so I comb through a considerable amount of research to see what is truly thought-provoking out there, and what can be specifically tailored to this issue?
Because, unfortunately, as we’ve seen living in a cis-hetero, patriarchal world that really focuses on men, the vast majority of research is not necessarily specifically divvied out, so we can understand what it looks like from a different marginalized group perspective. So being able to find something, I found that [inaudible 00:09:30], McKenzie, also some of Nielsen, had the best research out there, that we could find out it, specifically, how are Black women, how are White women, and women of other marginalized intersectional groups under those umbrellas, how are they reporting their experiences?
And so when we look at the allyship gap, what we saw was that 80% of White women really see themselves as allies to Black women, but about 10% of Black women say that their strongest allies are White. Now, that is a reality there in terms of a significant disconnect. And so being able to discuss these things, to look at why is it that, of those supposed allies, only 39% are confronting racial discrimination? And why is it that only 21% who say they are allies to Black women are advocating for new opportunities for women of Color?
And so to dissect those things, and for you and I to have a very authentic conversation, especially given our backgrounds, and our knowledge base, just really, that’s been accumulated over years of being in various fields, as well as the DEI fields, specifically you, so we can discuss, why is it that we have a disconnect? Why is it that 45% of Black women say they’re experiencing racism most in their professional lives? And what, we have only 3% of Black professionals, not even specifically women, who are ready to return to the office post-COVID, full-time, but 97% saying, “No, I’m not comfortable returning because of the microaggressions, because of the lack of inclusivity.”
And so these are conversations that need to be had. When we look at these stark contrasts in terms of numbers and representation, and people feeling like they have a seat at the table, and that their voice is heard, and that they’re not subjugated and subjected to various forms of implicit bias, we have to really have these discussions in a candid way, and I believe that that’s definitely what we brought at The 3% Conference.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. Thank you for all of that. Yeah. And so we wanted to tell the truth about what we both believe gets in the way, and we started by you asking me, what’s the disconnect between the perception of support and the reality of how that support is being received or not? And I started with the point of intent versus impact. I started with the trap we get into of, well, wait a second, I’m a good person. Or I support other women, or I believe, in general, in the values of inclusion and equality and equity.
In many ways, we let ourselves off the hook, because we think that intent, and belief systems, and making commitments, but not taking action is enough. But it’s not enough. And so the actions we need to take are to deploy what we have access to. There’s much I can do that I need to be doing to participate, Adrienne, in your success, in your ability to thrive. And not just looking out for myself. That was one of my other answers to this question, was this whole scarcity mentality that we have developed, I think, as a survival mechanism, because we perceived the reality correctly. I think that we will…
There hasn’t been room made for a lot of us. And so if I get through the net, is there going to be room for somebody else? And we’re just not… we’re not sure. And I think our instincts kick in and say, there isn’t room because this… I’m here by the skin of my teeth, hanging on by fingernails, and very, very conscious of my difference every single day. And now I need to turn around and lift others up. And believe that that we actually have abundance, we have a lot, that room will be made.
And so my call to action for White women in the audience was, make that room, and don’t give into the, there’s not going to be enough for me mentality, and instead, think about that very proactive, I think, very straightforward, very proactive mindset of saying like, “What can I do today, say today, challenge today, advocate for today? Whom can I champion? What rooms can I get into? What influence do I have? And what can I be utilizing? And I think people really like that. I saw a lot of… Through this whole conversation, I saw a lot of note taking, it was great. And then I asked you… I turned the tables on you, Adrienne, and I said, “Why aren’t Black women communicating their need for greater allyship? Or are they?” And I’d love you to share your thoughts on what you said to that.
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Yes. It’s a thing, historically, where Black women have been positioned to support White women, or mutually beneficial agendas, and to uplift, yet, Black women always end up being the ones left behind and marginalized. And so it’s difficult to essentially ask an individual or a group to continue to put in effort, where they have not seen a return on their many investments. And so to the extent that Black women are not asking for allyship again and again and again, it’s completely and totally understandable. We have been kicked in the teeth way too many times to even try to go down that road.
So oftentimes, it’s best for us to just look away and move forward on our own path, and try to support each other. And it’s only expected. But I would also say that there are many Black women who continue to ask and to, essentially, try and make that effort. It’s just a matter of not being heard. And so that’s a place where we have to get, where we definitely need White women to realize that even if they do start making an effort, that, essentially, they’ve been in positions of privilege, and a vast majority of people have not necessarily been uplifting. And so if a Black woman is not necessarily there to reach back across the table and accept their hand, that White women have to realize that they have to continue to try to make up for, essentially, centuries of ignoring the issue.
JENNIFER BROWN: And I said, “We can’t just try once, we can’t just try twice.” My side of the equation. That it’s going to take a while to build the trust, that we really mean what we say. And I often think about this, that, to me, inclusive leadership is done whether you get a reaction or not, whether you… It can’t be done for the gratitude, and the kudos, and the recognition. Oftentimes, as we exercise ally muscles, it’s done in a vacuum, and we can’t do it for the reward, necessarily. I think it needs to come from this intrinsic place of knowing that this is the right thing to do. And then we need to understand the context you just provided, Adrienne, which is, it was just centuries of… There’s some examples of partnership, certainly, but centuries of mistrust and broken trust.
And so my advice for the women in the audience, and myself, too, is to continue to extend over and over again, and what we need to show up with is consistency and persistence, and authenticity, and really show don’t tell, as well, I think, too. It’s not just enough to check a box and say, “Well, I tried today.” Or, “I tried once, and I didn’t get a response. I’m not going to try again.” I think that that allyship is… it needs to come from within, and it needs to sort of bubble out of us on a constant basis. And we should be pushing into that, knowing that what we are overcoming and needing to make up for in our approach were centuries in the making, and it’s not going to undo itself.
Trust isn’t built in a day. It’s not going to undo itself that quickly, just because we want it to, just because we decide that it should. That’s not our place. I really appreciated being able to make that point. And then you asked me why are White women afraid of stepping up? And I said, I think perfectionism really gets in all of our ways. Certainly, all women of all identities can relate to this, but I think the more intersectional your identities, the more, perhaps…
Perfectionism, again, is that survival mechanism, because, again, we have that sense that our seat at the table is tenuous, and that we will be doubted every moment. And so the perfectionism comes from, “I don’t want to give anybody the shadow of a doubt. I need to be 150%.” We a lot about that pressure. And we do that… Unfortunately, perfectionism is not… it does not make allyship very reasonable, because allyship is an imperfect journey. It’s a journey of learning, and making mistakes, and correcting yourself, and owning know any sort of impact that you didn’t intend, and taking that lightly, and adjusting and trying again the next day. And it’s this iterative process.
We undertake it, not with ego, but with humility. So, if there is perfectionism creeping in, for those of you who are listening to this, and I know it’s a struggle for me, Adrienne, I wonder if it’s a struggle for you, too, but I… That’s what I wake up thinking every day, is, I want to try today, I want to try. I’m not going to make perfect the enemy of the good, I’m going to show up, I’m going to get comfortable, being uncomfortable, make an uncomfortable choice at some point during the a day, and I’m going to put myself out there, and I know I’m going to learn.
But I’m going to know, I’m going to get more wrong than right, so to speak, until I develop the muscle of allyship, which is really through this process of trial and error. So let me pause there, Adrienne. What would you like to share? And maybe anything I missed about why you think White women are afraid of stepping up?
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: I definitely think people do appreciate the power dynamics, the fact that… given that we live in a society that uplifts White supremacy, that it’s easier to align with White men, oftentimes, and that the thought that it could be more beneficial for your career, for your future, for any kind of, I guess, economic development and advancement, protection and whatnot, even though time and time again, we have seen how oppression works, and how subjugation works, and the fact that it is not. It’s actually better for all of us who are marginalized to align together, so we uplift one another.
That seems to be, I think, in part, that White solidarity in play. And then I do think that there is a sense of perfectionism, this thought that I’m going to get it wrong, this thought that it’s foreign, it’s different, and the fear aligned with it. And so we get the people who say, “I don’t see color,” and we know that they’re saying that, simply because they want to avoid the issue in its entirety, to not acknowledge the oppression, to not acknowledge, essentially, that there are people who are being mistreated and suffering, and it’s just… It’s unfortunate, and it’s sad, and we’ve seen it time and time again. But we’re always hoping that in this new world, this new era, since there has been some change, that things will, indeed, change, and people will step up, and they’ll see the value of stepping and coming together.
JENNIFER BROWN: I certainly hope so. I think you make such a good point about, we share so much in the struggle, and we’re so powerful together. But if the scarcity is separating us, remember that the scarcity is there in the first place, because we’ve been strategically divided from each other, and we’ve let that happen, and we haven’t known that it was happening, probably, in a lot of cases. And so we’re starting to get this sort of an, ‘Oh now I see, moment.” I think that’s happening to a lot of people.
And women are on the rise. If there is a way to lead differently… And I hesitate to say female and male leadership. But, what I can say is that we have not had a seat at the table to shape what is important to companies, what is measured, what is celebrated, what is… What does belonging mean? And what does it look like and feel like? And so what’s happening now is we are ascending. And the numbers are indicating something of the opposite, which is that we’ve lost so many women from the workplace over the last year, or during the pandemic.
But it may be a huge dip in an overall incline in terms of the path we’re trying to stay on. If companies would do the right thing to support us in the right way, so that we are at the table in greater numbers, and that we have abundance mentality where we say to ourselves, so there’s a lot of… I see some White women but I don’t see any women of Color, and I’m going to back up and give my seat here, or I’m going to nominate somebody, or I’m going to step aside in this way, because I always get the opportunities.
I can relate to this, Adrienne, because I do this a lot with speaking engagements and panels. I say, “Do you really need another perspective from somebody that identifies as I do? Or can I provide a suggestion that you can have a much more complete and holistic intersectional conversation if we get these voices?” And people are very, I think, excited about that, open to it. So it’s one of the many ways I think about adjusting how I show up, where I show up, who could show up instead of me. And then I always want amazing people in my back pocket. And so I have that whole list in mind and I’m always investing in that list, too, to think about like, who can I promote? Who can I suggest? Who can I champion? Who can I vouch for? Who can I get on somebody’s radar screen?
Let me take a little turn back to something you said earlier that 45% of Black women say they experience racism most in their professional lives. So think about this, 45% on the workplace, on the job. And then 3% of Black professionals want to return to the office full-time, post-pandemic, not good news.
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: No.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. So tell us, in your words, what is it? This is a rhetorical question, but I want to hear you saying, what is it about the workplace, that is it’s like, “I cannot go back there. I just can’t. I have to find another way.” And I’m so glad people are pushing back on this, because it’s giving voice to the toxicity that has been there for so long. But to hear this happening an amazing to me, and I’m so heartened by it, I’m so excited by it. What is it about the workplace that is, and has been, and continues to be so toxic?
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: It’s like being back on the playground. It is where the weakest party, the person with the least power is continually subjected to mistreatment. And when you are there to invest, and to do a good job, and to uplift, and you’re knowledgeable, and you’re committed and devoted, and yet, you are constantly, constantly enduring slights, microaggressions, people are picking out at you, and picking on you, it is overwhelming and exhausting.
I don’t need to, essentially, have to deal with that behavior, simply because people want to feel more powerful, and want to feel like they have the upper hand in this situation. It stifles the objective, it also continues to… It denigrates you, and it wears you down. And this is so… it’s so much a reality for so many of us, marginalized individuals, and the fact that we spent so many years building up our knowledge, making sure we are on point, that we do our best job, that we are the one always with our pearls on and looking perfect, and all the T’s are crossing, and the I’s are dotted. It’s exhausting.
And the thing is, also, we look at statistics, we know that Black women are the… they’re the group with the most college degrees of any demographic. We also know that 64% of Black women report saying that they aspire to be at the top of their profession. That’s two times the amount of White women and Hispanic women who say the same thing. The fact is, we are not only grinding and putting in our best, but we are also facing the most. Black women also face three times as many… or file three times as many workplace sexual harassment complaints with the EOC than White women do.
We are getting systems of oppression, full throttle, from each and every direction, no matter what we do. It gets exhausting, and it’s also one of the reasons why I left corporate America for a period of time, because all it could offer me was oppression.
JENNIFER BROWN: That’s so difficult, to hear you describe that. And I just sit here, and I’m like, “I have to do something. I have to do something about this.” So if we assume, we believe that this is pervasive, that it is daily, hourly, that you and I, Adrienne, are in the same storm, but we’re in different boats. So we are arriving the rough waters through differently. My call to action for myself and other White women is to notice things when we are privy to, when we observe, when we witness. Assuming we’re aware of everything you’re talking about, so assuming…
That’s the big assumption, because I think, actually, we’ve got to back up and make ourselves aware. We need to study the experiences that you’re talking about, so that we… when we see it, when we hear it, we notice. And then what happens next in an ideal world for that aspiring ally, that White woman in solidarity, to know something is wrong, know something happened, and wanting to take action? What are some of the scenarios that you’ve seen work really well? And what works in terms of checking in, in terms of not being the savior? We have to really watch out for always assuming we have the answer.
The answer that we might come up with is a different answer than you might come up with, Adrienne, given an incident. But when we are privy to something, and when we’re in that room, and when we know… or know that something occurred, I want to know, step by step, what would you recommend to activate [crosstalk 00:29:07].
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Definitely, because you’ve already hit the nail on several of these things. But in terms of lifting up voices that aren’t present, saying something, using your privilege and power and alignment with Whiteness to really make change. Because the things is, there… And I believe you pointed this out yesterday during the conference, is the fact that you’re going to be exposed to things that I’m not necessarily going to be exposed to, but you also are positioned where you can use your voice, and you can say something about it. You can interrupt the bias. You can say, “Hey, that’s inappropriate, or that is… that’s not it. That’s not going to work. That’s unacceptable.”
You can say, “Hey, we’d like to get someone else in the room.” Or, “Why don’t we consider a candidate of Color?” You can use your voice to make change, because you’re going to be in a lot of spaces that not in. You can open doors, you can, essentially, create opportunities, where we’d otherwise, essentially, be excluded, simply because of our melon count. And by doing that, and also addressing what maybe an individual’s own internalized biases and racism, that goes a long way in terms of making meaningful change that will resonate, and will really advance us and move us all forward.
JENNIFER BROWN: It was just such a good experience to be on stage with you. Adrienne, is there any other point we made from the stage that you want to make sure we cover here in this conversation? It’s a huge conversation, but is there-
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
JENNIFER BROWN: … anything else you want to make sure you land?
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Let’s see. Let’s see. I guess, I think you’ve hit on most of it. Don’t strive for perfection.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah.
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Because it’ll never be attained. So you have to reach out and make the effort. And just look to uplift. I really love, love the idea of having an abundance mentality.
JENNIFER BROWN: All else fails, sometimes I’ll talk to leaders about their legacy, to think about what am I… It’s not always going to be me. I might be climbing now, but at some point, I feel like the energy in our careers shifts, and we start to think about impact, we start to think about what’s beyond ourselves. That action can be small, and it can be making a difference to someone, like saying… taking an interest and being invested in somebody’s career path. Or it can be challenging huge systems from a very public platform, and speaking out, and using the leadership reach that only senior people have.
I love it when I see executives committed to this, because I know what they’re doing, by sharing their, their mistakes, their journey, the actions they’ve chosen to take, the successes that they’re proudest of in terms of equity… when they do that, it shifts people’s understanding of what this looks like in action. And then anyone who’s watching or listening to that leader says to themselves like, “Oh, maybe I look like that leader. Maybe I can do that. Maybe this is something I could contribute to.” And it makes it real, and it shows that it’s scalable, and it’s just… There’s so much power that decision makers, in particular.
Those are often White, straight men, and sometimes White women. And so it’s a wonderful population to think about, of a certain generation. Also, I’ll point out, a generation that I share, that was taught a lot of, I think, limiting beliefs, like we need to not see color, we need to paper over difference, or that it’s a meritocracy, all these things that I think we were told, but that aren’t actually true. We have an opportunity, in my generation, to, I think, be mentored, to be in relationship, in trusted relationship across difference, and to very much acknowledge publicly what we don’t know, publicly what we’re learning, publicly where we’re uncertain, and how it feels.
Nobody is asking anybody to not feel anything as we’re going through this process. We can be frustrated, we can be angry with ourselves, we can be disappointed, we can be outraged. I’m outraged, Adrienne, when I read these statistics. And I know that part of, maybe, what you want from me is the outrage to say, “I’m not going to stand for this. I’m going to do everything I can in my day to bear this in mind, to share this information, to share it with people that don’t know it, which is most people that look like me, and then to action it, and then to talk about what I’m actioning.”
I think we all need to be much more proactive in taking these actions every day in ways we are sharing our capital, ways we’re activating any privileges, or advantages, or tailwinds that we benefit from. This is the discipline. But Adrienne, it was just great. How did it feel to be up on stage? Did it feel how you expected to? What was your sense… What was your takeaway about what we need to teach or to make visible in conversations like this, and where audiences are? I know you shared a couple thoughts with me at the end, but something always shifts during presentations. You learn something about the audience, you learn something about yourself, you learn something about your content. But what did it leave you with, thinking about?
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Well, it left me with the reality that these conversations aren’t being had. I think the initial stat, in terms of the 80%, 10% disconnect there, it just really makes me, I guess, confronted with the reality that so many people are in the dark when it comes to understanding the fact that we are so not there yet. We have considerable issues that we’re not addressing, and that we need people to be willing to confront. And until we invest more time, and until more companies, more professionals really sit down and be completely honest with themselves, but bring in conversations and people, and invite others who have regard and absolute conviction, and want to share the message, and want to make change, then we’re not necessarily going to get anywhere.
Well, because I think, as I mentioned to you, I felt like I was holding back. I was holding back a lot. Yeah, there was so much that could be said, and we kept it at a very, I would say, mild level. Yet, people were blown away, and that was a little disconcerting. But it just made me realize that, whoa, there are things that people are not discussing. And so many people are in the dark, and it’s… But it just makes us realize we have a Lot of work to do.
JENNIFER BROWN: We do. And Adrienne-
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Yeah.
JENNIFER BROWN: … yeah, you’re on our team. And JBC’s philosophy is meeting the learner where they’re at, so… But sometimes you assume maybe this is out there and understood, and you get a correction. And I think it’s such an important reminder, like you just said, to… where is the learner? If people don’t even know there’s a problem, then it’s-
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: … difficult or impossible to expect any different behavior. So then you back up as a consultant and teacher and facilitator that we are, and say, “Okay, so what… How do I show this, and then show the starkness of it, and then… over and over again, if necessary, and then we can start to have the conversation about, so what is your response to this? What is your responsibility? What is your accountability to address it?” And how can you spread the fact that there’s the allyship gap? But I just thought that was such a really like… It took the audience’s breath away to think about it in those terms, and recognize… I think every single person in that audience… Well, women of Color are like, “Uh-huh (affirmative).”
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JENNIFER BROWN: And White women were like, “Oh boy, the truth.” Like, I’m not doing enough, I’m sitting back waiting to be asked for help, which, believe me, you… Adrienne, you shouldn’t have to do that. You should be managing what you’re managing, and it should be offered to you. That is the dynamic. That true partnership, that 50-50, that… What we’re missing is, I think, the proactivity on the side of White women. And so I do think we kind of gave gay people a big kick in the butt yesterday.
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Yeah.
JENNIFER BROWN: I think so, based on the tweets that we got. So everybody, this episode’s going to come out the same week as the conference, and you can go back and look at our Twitter feeds for Adrienne and myself. And there’s a lot of wonderful dialogue from the conference, in general. So it’s at 3% Conference, I’ll put this in the show notes. But please go back and check out some of the screenshots, and experience a little taste of the conference, and the conversation that we had. But most of all, I hope you take this content to heart, and that we get comfortable being uncomfortable, challenge ourselves every day, and listen to Adrienne’s words, and never forget them, and make sure that nobody around us doesn’t know them, because that’s a huge part of our job. So Adrienne, thank you so much for joining me, and I hope that everybody listening to this gets the chance to listen to you and follow you. And speaking of that, where can people get more Adrienne in the world?
ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: They can find me at Adrienne Law on Twitter, at Adrienne Lawrence on Instagram, and then on my website, which is www.Adriennejlawrence.com.
JENNIFER BROWN: Awesome. Thank you for joining me today, and yesterday, and always. 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 in 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.
- Influencing the Systems We’re In, with Egon Zehnder's US Head of DEI Dede Orraca-Cecil
- Trust in Action: How Inclusive Leaders Can Create a Better World with Author Jim Massey
- Designing for Identity, with Author Jessica Bantom
- Amplifying Diverse Voices at Hearst Television: ERG Business Impact with Elfi Martinez and Yasmine Osborne
- Meeting the Moment: Navigating DEI Challenges in 2023 and Beyond with Jennifer and JBC's Elfi Martinez