The Messenger Matters: Executive Allyship with Jim Massey

Jennifer Brown | |

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Jim Massey, former VP ESG Sustainability, Ethics, Compliance at AstraZeneca, joins the program to discuss what organizations need to consider in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and why diversity and inclusion are more important than ever. Discover what ERG’s need to consider in terms of intersectionality and representation, and the importance of allyship.

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • Why some leaders have been caught unprepared (10:00)
  • Elements of privilege when it comes to working from home (16:00)
  • The fear that keeps systems from changing (23:00)
  • Where to look for wisdom at this time (26:00)
  • The importance of thinking about intersectionality (30:00)
  • The need for advocacy and support (32:00)
  • The danger of isolation (38:00)
  • How we might use our privilege for good (41:30)
  • Jim’s new mantra of “business as us” (43:00)

Listen in now, or read on for the transcript of our conversation:

JENNIFER BROWN: So Jim, over to you. I just kind of, spoiler alert, told everybody a lot of stuff about you. But jump in wherever you would like to and give us a level set on how you’re thinking and feeling in this moment. And also some changes that you have coming up soon, professionally, which I think people will probably relate to.

JIM MASSEY: Hi. So one of the commitments that I make is that I will learn out loud. And that’s what I am here to do. I appreciate you may have questions for me, I will give you the best answer that I have. And then the thing I believe is hopefully we both will find an answer to that question that we are comfortable trying out, and we can keep the conversation going. But that’s a critical aspect for me, especially at the state where I’m at is, I have confidence in that I can do my best. But also understand that sometimes it may fall flat. So I just encourage you, in any time feel free to ask or challenge on any aspect of what I’m saying. It’s one of those pieces that Jennifer and I have talked before. I’m always really uncomfortable joining a DNI conversation, because for me, when I started hearing about privilege, I fought it because I didn’t have it.

I worked hard. Right? And luckily a dear friend heard me say that. And she said, oh, sweet boy, you have no idea how much privilege you have. And it was through her article that… And I can’t find it now, and I talk about it frequently. I called her, she’s like, oh, I can’t remember where that is. That was five years ago. But at the time they identified 17 elements of privilege. Everything that is most common around sex and race, but even down to geography. Where I live, being Western descent. You can’t see this, but I’m 6’4″. And as you know, stature makes a difference in society. I used to be obese, and when I took on the health team at my company I felt inauthentic being a leader that was an obese man in charge of health.

And so I had to figure out what I could do differently. And so I started to embrace my unhealthy lifestyle, turn it into a healthy and I dropped 90 pounds. That’s an element of privilege. Health is, one that even then the world started to treat me differently. And I was just sitting here thinking, my goodness, these systems upon which privilege are built are so strong that when I had 16 of the 17, I had no idea what the 17th felt like. But they showed up. And so what I try to do now is openly talk about that. I bring it up frequently, I try to change my behaviors and different aspects of the various elements through which I’m running. And even carefully. Like Jennifer, I’ll say this now. Talking about my comfort with, oh, working from home is great.

Well it’s because I have space. It’s because I have wonderful wifi. But working from home could be the biggest terror for many people in that you may have to disclose that there’s children in the house. Or you may have to disclose some information about your personal life that you were hoping to never disclose. And as someone in all elements of privilege, I show up all the time. I always say that I have never experienced walking into a room and not feeling like I belong. And now I understand how sad that is and how few people ever experience it. And so my life’s mission is to shapeshift the power structures of privilege so that more can simply say, I feel like I belong. And it’s based on the human paradigm, we all have a need to belong. We all have a need for impact. And we all have a need for self care. But because of structure, one of the three is seldom that.

And the interesting thing about this, Jennifer was just highlighting is, in January, after 13 years of being at my company as a change agent, as someone who loves to go in and throw the sledgehammer at a glass brick wall, I realized I had created as much change as I needed. And so I realized it was time for me to leave. And so create a new organization. We had some things going on. Low and behold, I decided my last day was going to be April 1st. Because I wanted to make April fool’s day foolsproof. as long as you believe in yourself. And then the whole COVID thing took on. And even talking about COVID, I don’t feel is right, because COVID is showing the great disparity of the systems through which I have benefited and how harmful they are to the marginalized groups that don’t have that system working towards them. Whether it’s healthcare, education, job market, industry, it’s still, there’s a bit of a shame. But I know I can’t cover up that which I have, but I can continue to try to shapeshift those things so others can also be benefiting.

So that’s kind of where… I’m going to stop talking for now so we can keep going. But that’s just a little bit of who I am in a nutshell. What I’m trying to do. The questions of where I belong. I don’t know. My last day with AstraZeneca is May 1st. And the world today is drastically different than what I thought it was going to be on January 5th.

JENNIFER BROWN: And show your shirt, by the way, Jim.

JIM MASSEY: Oh, yes. And so one of the questions is, how can we support parents? I’ll tell you, as a proud father of 13 and 19 year old. I just bought this shirt, and it’s… What does it say? Greatest homeschool teacher in the universe. Right? And I’m here trying to get my 13 and 11 year old boys to learn, but also understand just being right now is more important than understanding the new math we’re trying to do. That I can’t help them with. So I purposely wore this t-shirt to not cover that I’ve got an 11 year old boy on the opposite side of the wall, on a Zoom with his classroom right now. And if you hear noises, welcome to the Massey house.

JENNIFER BROWN: And people want to know where you got the shirt.

JIM MASSEY: Oh, my goodness. The thing I love about my… I’ll have to text my wife real time. The shirts I got my boys are Zoom elementary and Zoom middle school. So if you have children, it’s a hoot. And the great thing is, part of the proceeds go to help fund a food program in Des Moines, Iowa, where my wife worked for many years and is closely committed to the community there. So let me text and I’ll come back with where the shirts came from.

JENNIFER BROWN: Okay. Okay, no problem. Jim, this is great. And people are admiring your emotional intelligence right now in the chat, which is much deserved. And you are learning out loud. You’re role modeling several vulnerabilities and things that I think are deeply under our waterline of the iceberg. And things that don’t get talked about enough. And I think interestingly, body image and things like that are now viewable. Right? And we talk a lot on this call about the tyranny of being on camera all the time. How does that feel for some of us who, does it feel better? Does it feel worse? I’ve heard both. Some of us welcome that opportunity because in a way, Jim, somebody shared on my team that it feels that in a physical workplace we’re judged based on our physical appearance because it’s right in front of us. And it triggers all those biases.

And then we have to deal with the microaggressions, the reactions, the stereotypes. But in this virtual world there is an equalization possible. I mean, I’m not saying that it’s always that way. But it has, I think, lowered some covering behaviors that we felt we needed to keep our wall up for in a physical workplace. So that’s just one piece. But on a flip side, the lack of the ability to shield ourselves, or to shield our true lives from our coworkers is probably feeling very vulnerable to some of us. Really, like that scrutiny. And the laying bare of perhaps mental health issues. The laying bare of-

JIM MASSEY: Absolutely.

JENNIFER BROWN: Parenting is one of the things that’s the most covered in the workplace. You know, it is notoriously something that comes up when I poll my audiences as one of the top things that people feel is going to hurt their ability to be taken seriously. So to have all that, I think it’s ultimately good, even though it feels incredibly uncomfortable. We’re never going to be able to put this genie back in the bottle. We have literally seen so much about each other. And our empathy, I hope, has increased so much that we can’t unsee it. You know? And I think we’re going to need to proceed in a whole different way. Do you agree?

JIM MASSEY: Absolutely. I think about just… So part of my job in global sustainability is we had the code of ethics and the policies that cascade from that. And we had a policy that you don’t work from home. And I still laugh out loud at that. Because we’re environmentalists. We have an aggressive environmental plan within the company to remove greenhouse gas from our emissions, yet we still want employees driving to work? So there’s just, we have to do an entire examination of so many little things that we just didn’t think about. And I do think, now I do believe that there’s fear right now. And this fear is going to stem some to try to protect the systems. Right? Now, I do think though, that there’s enough of us who are saying, this is pretty good.

The idea that, and again I need to be very careful about this is pretty good, right? The pandemic is not good. It’s, I’m still waiting to hear how loved ones are doing. And that is a separate topic. But what I’m saying about what could be good here is that the systems of old simply will not work. And so that is going to require… And then the other piece of this from a diversity inclusion, the thing that I always say, that I got to figure out during my work is, I was on a flight back from Indonesia. And I was really concerned about missing my 13, at the time he was 12, year old’s baseball game. And I was on a flight, and I’m not going to cover it was business class. Right?

And I was thinking about woe is me, woe is my son. He’s only going to have one parent at the game. And on that flight it hit me that the fastest growing population of smokers were 10 to 14 year old males in Indonesia. And I had just been over there working on the healthy lung program trying to fight public policy around clean air, both in the home and in the environment. The human determinants. And we have a young health program that’s trying to educate on that. And I was thinking, my job is not just for my two sons, but it’s for any people ages 10 to 14. It’s when I started to shift my life’s work and start rethinking differently because my children are being raised in those systems of privilege. And we as humans look backwards to solutions to problems we’ve never faced before.

The problem is, my boys will rely on systems that they know. But I believe that the young woman in Indonesia, who is faced with the same situations my sons will be faced with, will have a better alternative of innovation and creativity. So that’s why DNI is so important to me, is because I think it brings… We say diversity of thought, but I want to be very careful there. Because my organization, a colleague of mine, we’re a UK based company, and they were championing diversity of thought was we started recruiting from Oxford, not just Cambridge. And I said, I want to give it to you, but I just can’t. You know? Diversity of thought… Right? Diversity of thought is not about the structure of education from higher education, it’s about world experiences. And how are we increasing representation in our 70 markets of leaders from within those markets, not just from the West. And those types of things I think are really important.

And I’m hoping that voices around this conference continue to pipe up in April, end of April, in May, in June and next April. Because this pandemic is highlighting that we were not prepared and the systems were not prepared for the changes that we’re going to start seeing, whether it’s environmental, health, financial, power. I’m talking about electricity, power structures, water, the access to drinkable water and the changing earth and the dryness and water suppressed areas. These are all things the old systems are not prepared for. So without the diversity representing for the solutions, we’re just going to keep doing the same old, same old.

JENNIFER BROWN: It’s so true. I mean, I would argue that the most tenured leaders in our organizations, as I’ve always said actually pre-pandemic, but now more than ever have the least number of answers. You know, that-

JIM MASSEY: Absolutely.

JENNIFER BROWN: You know, the emperor has no clothes, right? It’s not where we need to seek the most innovative solutions and the way forward. I know you’ve learned a ton from your ERGs, Jim, at AstraZeneca. It has been such an education for you. You can never look at things the same way. There’s tons of people on the call who manage the programs for those networks. Right? And then there are network leaders on here. What advice around engaging with our senior sponsors right now is, what do you want to say about what’s most important right now? And in terms of investigating those relationships, activating them, if they are recalcitrant or they’re not engaging. Some people last week talked about going rogue.

Literally there were a ton of people in chat, they’re like, I’m not waiting for my leadership. I’m just doing what needs to be done. I’m not asking for permission. You know? So give us a little bit of advice. And folks in the chat, please let us know, how are your senior leaders working with you? Are they working with you? Are they enabling this? Are they listening versus, assuming, talking sort of command and control style of leadership? Which I hope not, but I think that’s still very prevalent. But Jim, what do you think, what’s some advice you’d have right now?

JIM MASSEY: And Jennifer, can I ask a favor? I don’t know if someone can help because I’m trying to think, and I’m just going to say, I struggle. Because there’s some great comments I was hearing when you were talking, you know? And so I’m going to stay focused on the conversation, but if someone can help us. Okay? I want to make sure I’m not missing. Because I had asked to be held accountable, and if someone’s doing that, I don’t want to miss that. Does that seem fair-

JENNIFER BROWN: And you know, maybe I can delegate that actually Brian McComack, could you read in the chat and warehouse some of the questions that are coming up. And then maybe when I jump off we could do more of a traditional Q&A right from the chat for Jim. Does that make sense?

BRIAN: You got it. Absolutely.

JENNIFER BROWN: Awesome. Thank you.

JIM MASSEY: I’m thinking four ERGs, and I’ll start first with the network of women. We used to conduct a women’s summit every year, and they asked me to be the cohost, or to be the host of it. And I immediately said, no. It’s like, no, there’s some strong women on my team, let’s give them that leadership moment. And I sent a very nice email back, and then one of them came back and they’re like, no, you’re doing it. And I’m like, I don’t think it’s right. And like, jump on a call with us. And so I did. And five of the 10 on the planning committee were mentors of mine. You know, mentee, mentor. I try not to get confused because I believe in any relationship, both are learning. And so I struggle with the power structure of that.

I will call them mentors. They would say that I was their advocate or sponsor. And they said, we want you on there. And by holding me accountable, and I say fearlessly, but I think they also knew it was a safe space. It’d be like, buddy, step up. But the way in which they didn’t take my answer, no, as the final one. And then they came and told me why. And they all five said, we wouldn’t be where we are without you. And we want you to be telling people, and then you can ask the white guys to show up easier than we can. So they were very smart about leveraging me to make a connection. And that year we doubled the male attendance. We went from 100 to 200. Now we had almost 2,000, so it was nowhere near where we needed to be.

But then after that, guess who started serving on the planning committee? Me. Right? So it’s by inviting me in and holding me accountable to that which I can talk about privately in one-on-ones, doing it in an open forum. And that was the moment that it started to unleash me. And that’s when I started to reach out. And that’s when my friend told me, oh, sweet boy, you have plenty of privilege. So let’s keep moving. Right? And those moments happened at the same time. And then from there, it was in that interaction with network of women that a woman of color said, this is great, but you’re missing the point. And she introduced me to intersectionality, and it got me to thinking about what we were doing for the African… At the time we had two different people of color organizations, we had African American and Blacks.

And I was able to actually say, hey, what if we started to join them? Could we come up with one community that we could start thinking differently? And I was able to bring in other executive sponsors to help with that network. So it started to have a different topic. And then I got educated on intersectionality. And it made me start thinking quite differently about the layers of privilege that I always thought one dimensionally, but as you start to bring them on it’s like, wow, that’s your day. And it was when the woman said, you walk into a room, you can cover a lot of things. My color enters before. Because all of our conference rooms are glass now. And having her take the patience to share that reality with me, changed everything in that moment. I never thought about the glass doors of a conference room before, until she shared that it enters before she physically does.

Right? And then from there I started realizing not all of the ERGs were equally represented with executive sponsorship. And so it was through networking I was able to help. And then we had the Hispanic, we had the black, we had the women, but we were missing so many other groups. We have a very strong LGBTQ plus community that was thriving. But then someone approached me and said, one of the biggest concerns I have with your organization is we talk about health a lot as a biopharmaceutical company. But what about mental wellbeing? What about ending the stigma? And this year we launched the first ERG around ending the stigma called Safe Space. A place where we as a community can talk about those things that stress us out. And thank goodness we have that coming into this space in which we’re existing today.

So what I would say is, find advocates, find champions, hold them accountable. Because we think we’re busy, and we’re not. Okay? So remember that. We will have excuses, but hold them accountable, foster relationships. And then I think the final thing I will say is, be patient. I love the idea of going rogue. I go rogue a lot. It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I also know, during these times of change and other things going on, the advocacy is critical. The support is important. And so sometimes when it’s fully rogue and it’s an isolated community, we were talking about a bridge. And I was saying, a bridge has two entrances and therefore two exits. And sometimes if you just go rogue within your own community, there’s a whole other subset that either you’re leaving behind, that’s a critical piece.

But in the DNI, it’s about helping all come along. And that can be frustrating. I know it can, especially if someone’s sitting there fighting it. But it was through unconditional love that I have been exposed to not only one aspect of what I can change, but 17. So that’s something that we can save for a little bit more conversation. But it’s making sure you have the support and advocacy at the highest levels is an important one, be fearless in asking for it, and holding them accountable. I do think the final thing I’ll say is data and information, but information around not why it matters, but how they can help. Because all of us have a need to try to help. And especially the more senior. I think people really want to be part of the street creds in a way. And trying to say that, hey, I understand what’s happening at the lowest level of the organization. So these ERGs can really give access and information to what’s actually happening within the organization because otherwise we’re pretty clueless.

JENNIFER BROWN: That’s right. We have a question here. How can we encourage allies to self-educate rather than putting the burden on marginalized groups? And Jim, you and I were just talking about this before the call. The bridge analogy, I love because there are some of us that live on that bridge and we’re trying to keep that bridge crossing safe. Right? We’re trying to enable mutual multi-directional movement across the bridge. Right? You live on one side of the bridge and maybe others live on the other, Jim. And you and I talked about, we need to meet each other on the bridge with grace and patience for each other’s learning journey. And yet we don’t want to be lazy about leaning on others for that journey.

And so I wondered, I know you had your aha moments, right? And then you dove in and you dove deep and you did your work. And you’re still doing your work, and it’s never complete. But I think a lot of people on the call struggle with activating that want, and that understanding too of that balance between relying on others and doing our own work. And so, I wonder maybe, how do you counsel other straight white men about this process? Do you talk about it pretty overtly and say, look, stop doing this, start doing this, XYZ? And then what do you tell them to do? Where do you direct them?

JIM MASSEY: I do it overtly, and even, I don’t know if you can see this. But you will never see me. If you see me in a blue Oxford or a white Oxford, you’re going to see me in a purple blazer. So this is going to sound silly. Right? But this is truthful. I wear clothes to get people to comment on my attire. First off, my wife’s a journalist and she’s had, not groomers, but buyers and things help her. And when I would have to go along or pick something up, they’re like, you should try this. You know? So it’s like, I like to look good. We all have a little vanity in us. And so I try to challenge it. And then in rooms, I love it when someone responds on, what’s that about?

I’m like, why would you ever comment on someone’s clothing? Now, if it’s someone from a marginalized group, I will never say it. But if it’s a white guy, step out of the way. Because I love to go in and be like, are you really commenting? And sometimes I’ll say, what, you want next to talk about my body shape? I’ll bring those topics to the table to make them equally uncomfortable, because I’m not sure what they’re trying to do. Or their intentions. And the irony, right? Is hearing it from someone that looks like this, for some reason I get away with. Right? Because they see themselves in me. And then often I’ll have a one-on-one conversation as a followup. Because part of my background is in adult learning, and you never set someone up for failure.

Right? But because I can use humor to deflect and educate, I leverage that. Right? Behind all humor is truth anyway. And so I try to bring that along. I would say that I have a need to learn, and I’m always trying to figure things out. I see Tom. Oh, maybe you were itching. I didn’t know if Tom was trying to get my attention. Sorry, Tom. Not to call you out. But I think one of the fascinating things is I have a need to learn. And so that need and curiosity allows me to go somewhere. So if we stick with that bridge analogy, I have no fear of walking across the bridge. The interesting thing though, is I always come back to the same comment is, I’ve never felt unwelcomed anywhere. Do you know what I mean?

And whether it is an Africa, or when I’ve traveled in Asia. Because of Western descent, there’s always that privilege that follows me. So there is a luxury to me talking about crossing that bridge to go and learn. But time and time again, showing up with the vulnerability and the honesty of learning out loud, the communities have always embraced me and taught me. And then I also feel an obligation that when I return, I have to continue. Part of learning out loud is continuing to modify and sense back from those in the community as well. And so that’s what I try to do is cross that bridge as frequent as I can. One of the biggest concerns I fear is that the frustration of systems not changing drastically enough draws more isolation than collectivism. And so I’ll leave that there, but I don’t know more about that, but that’s just a fear I have.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. We pull apart. If we lose faith in each other, I think in our ability to change together because some of us feel left behind. And this pandemic exacerbates that. I think, at the same time I will say on this chat, Jim, what I’ve been hearing, there’s tons of intersectional thinking going on right now. When you think about the great unifying themes, like mental health, like parenting, right? They, to me, are horizontal threads that are creating a fabric like this, which is the way we should have always been talking about DEI. Right?

JIM MASSEY: Absolutely.

JENNIFER BROWN: And I get this question all the time when I’m consulting is, how do I break the silos that we have intentionally and unintentionally created as we’ve tried to celebrate certain communities of identities and give those communities a voice, we’re finding that they’re not doing this.

JIM MASSEY: Right. That’s beautiful.

JENNIFER BROWN: So I think now we are… Right? So now we are weaving a new kind of fabric that is truly intersectional. And I would say, that’s the lens each of us need to have on absolutely everything we do right now. Because diversity dimensions are coming to the fore that we have never talked about before. And we have to add it into the soup and somehow make sure that soup is still representative. So it’s just that, I mean, I think it’s a wonderful challenge to try to think about what’s universal and yet honor the differences at the same time. And we should have always been doing this, but I think right now is a particular chance.

JIM MASSEY: So based off that feedback, if you guys will indulge me just a little bit on that learning. In a weird way, because I think if I were to pick three, I think race, sex, and gender identity, in a way, sexual orientation, gender identity, those tend to be at the forefront of the space in which I operate a lot. But what I just heard you talking about is, and I even identified this about intersectionality. I seldom drop down to health. Right? I seldom drop down to education. I seldom drop down to-

JENNIFER BROWN: Socioeconomic background.

JIM MASSEY: Socioeconomic parenting. Parenting is a distinct privilege. Right? I can always play that card, if my kids call everyone respects me that I go and meet their needs. Yet what if-

JENNIFER BROWN: You have the, what is it? The fatherhood bonus versus the motherhood penalty. I just want to point that out.

JIM MASSEY: Absolutely. Right? Right? And so to me that’s the intersectionality of sex with parenting. Right? Being married is another one that I remember at the time. So needless to say, as you start to come down, what I was hearing you say is, sometimes we might be pushing against a particular one that is a very sensitive cover for someone potentially. Another one is faith. I’m Christian. I have found myself covering that. But the interesting thing about my Christianity is, for me it’s about having a faith in something greater than me. Having a faith in humanity, and having a faith in tomorrow. And when I start to describe what my Christianity shapes up like, many start like, oh, you mean, you’re not going to say I’m going to hell because I don’t believe? No. No. It’s fine.

It’s just how I find peace and reconciliation with that, which goes around belonging, impact, and self care. And if you don’t have that, that’s totally fine, but it’s who I am. And so again, I get to talk about it. But it’s just an example of, there are ways in which I’ve always thought of privilege in a hierarchical manner, because it’s how we talk about it most frequently. But what I’m hearing you say is there might be other ways to bond and create the fabric that strengthens our communities instead of just continually tearing at them.

JENNIFER BROWN: That’s right. I mean, thank you for talking about your faith and spirituality. And I mean, even when I do polls in my rooms, talking about being an atheist sometimes is not welcome depending on where you work. But faith and spirituality is literally number two or number three in terms of things that people cover. And also the ones you would expect, age is big, mental health and abilities is also huge, socioeconomic background, education. So a lot of those things pop to the top. And they’ve always been there, but I do think we have this unique opportunity right now to really reshape a more inclusive conversation.

JIM MASSEY: We have to. This time, with everything going on, the thing that I’m now saying is, I want BAU to be understood as business as us. And I want humanity at work. I want people. Because ironically enough, organizations are the structures through which we interact with one another. Right? And once we start to realize that, once we move business as usual from profits to people, than BAU, we’re just shortening it. We all love things shorter. And so businesses as us is what’s going to be doing this. And it’s one of the five tenants I have. I used to call it peekaboo. And through the gift of mentors, I learned to call it unmasked. And it’s the rule that you show up as authentic as you’re willing to show up so that we get the benefit of the whole you. And therefore the whole solutions for the problems we’re trying to solve now.

And that was from a sustainability lens that really helped the team. But that’s my new mantra that I’m calling BAU as, businesses as us. Because that’s everything I was hearing you talk about is just helping people understand, it’s okay. Part of a job now, and this is something, Jennifer, I don’t know if Veronica told you this, but I no longer ask how people are. My wife is a communications consultant, and she and I teach an executive business school class on presence and communications. And we did something and learned from it dramatically, and I want to share this with you guys. We learned that one of the things we always say is for you to understand your message, you need to be able to boil it down to three words. And by doing that, it just helps you simplify what you’re trying to communicate.

So we were trying to talk about leading during this pandemic. And so we asked people, what are the three words to represent the lesson learned from COVID-19? And we did a minty meter, where you go into the phone and people could put their three words. And it was in that moment we had the watershed realization that, how are you? I’ve been conditioned in business to say, I’m fine. I can handle it. I’m resilient. All is good. When in reality, please forgive any profanity, but I’m scared shitless. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know where I belong. I don’t know my impact. And I’m struggling with self care. But if anyone asks me how I am, I’m going to tell them, I’m fine. Actually, not anymore. But now I use my three words that I say, I’ve learned to live moment by moment.

I get by next. I go on. And it was that exercise that made me start changing how I ask people. What would be your three words? Because on that exercise, people said toilet paper is gold. And someone said, sharing is caring, from hoarding to sharing. Someone said, dying all alone, versus humanity is alive. And just seeing the dichotomy started helping me to realize where I could meet people based on the three words of their lessons without ever asking, how are you? And forcing the conditional, I’m okay. Because I don’t know anyone who is okay during this time. And if they are, I’m worried that they don’t have the self-realization, that they should have some concern. In some way, shape or form. So that’s just another example. And I’ve gone too long, I apologize. Jennifer, I know you have to run off.

JENNIFER BROWN: I do, but thank you so much, Jim. I’m sure it’s apparent to everybody why I wanted to spend this time with you and give your voice to this audience who has deeply appreciated it, according to the chat. So, Brian, let me hand off to you. Bye everybody, have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you Tuesday. Bye.

BRIAN: Bye Jennifer. Thank you.

JENNIFER BROWN: Thank you.

BRIAN: So- Yeah, I just want to echo what Jennifer just said, Jim. As I’m reading the chat, I think you’re inspiring a lot of people. And I know even just for myself as someone who’s a gay man who has shared my story, just seeing a straight white man demonstrate allyship and demonstrate authenticity and openness to learning is, I think, really, really wonderful. So thank you for being here with us.

JIM MASSEY: Thank you.

BRIAN: Of course, of course. There’s one question that I want to share on behalf of someone on the call for the group. And then I have a question for you, Jim. And I’m hoping I can tee up Dr. Nika White to ask. But the question for the group, if you could just help out one of our colleagues in chat. They’ve heard across several organizations that senior leadership is modeling inclusive behaviors, but not always promoting wellbeing.

So they’re encouraging people to take time off, but are still saying, hey, but we need to get things done. And there’s a fear around performance appraisals and professional reputations. So Jim, you may have something to share on this as well. But I think for the group, are you also seeing this? Are you hearing this? Are you seeing this fear of, these tensions of we’re in this interesting time of your job loss, but also, there’s a lot happening. And we need to get to work and we need self care and we’re trying to take care of parents.

JIM MASSEY: Right. Yeah. I saw someone about the sandwich generation. We were having a pretty good morning, right? My wife and I had our kids on their Zoom classes. We just bought bikes and my legs are killing me right now because I haven’t ridden in years, but I’m trying. And we had a big hill by the home. And so I’m in pain. And we get a call from her parents who are worried about my father-in-law’s breathing right now. And his legs went out on him because of some discs. So it’s just, we were ready to have a good day. And now we have that stress of others that we can’t get to. We can’t support. My mother-in-law’s phone is dead, she doesn’t know how she’s going to be communicating when she’s sitting outside the hospital with him inside. These little things just start to pile on. And that’s why for me it’s moment by moment. So we just said, talk to your neighbors, see if you can borrow their phone, so we worked through that.

And so I will tell you, I agree with the statement, companies are not focused on wellbeing. They’re saying it. Right? And they know the right words, but I am not convinced. Because one of the things that I did when I took over the health team is I started a campaign called healthy you. And it was part of our speak up campaign, because wellbeing is not a one size fits all. So I’m looking at one, two, three, four, like 25 people, I think. Math’s not a specialty of mine. But if there’s 25 of us, what wellbeing is for us is drastically different. And so it is about having a company that’s willing to acknowledge that and to provide differences to meet those. And that’s a complex environment to be thriving in.

But I think what the pandemic is showing is the complexity is the new norm. And so it’s time to start addressing, when we’ve crossed that bridge of complexity is our new norm, things are changing faster than ever. Individuals matter, the rise of the individual through technology and other ways and connecting. And then I think the other really important thing is, organizations are the systems through which people interact, but it’s not the sole way. And so if your organization is failing you on the wellbeing front, find a network like this. And if it doesn’t exist, try to start one. And if no one is there for you, ping me directly. I don’t know what I can do to support, but if nothing else a conversation we can learn out loud to figure out through the network what we can do. But it’s about not accepting organizations as the sole institutions through which we as humans can connect.