Implementing DE&I Efforts into Your Organization & Events | Featuring: Jaqueline Wilson Cranford, Founder & Principal of Cranford Advisory Services

EPISODE 16: Implementing DE&I into Events | PODCAST

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Show Notes:

Today on Pivot Points, Elise Orlowski talks with Jacqueline Wilson Cranford, Principal of Cranford Advisory Services and Cramer’s Patrick Martin, Partner, Business Solutions. In this episode, we look at Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I). Jacqueline, Patrick, and Elise discuss how you can include DE&I efforts not only in your organization, but also in your event planning. Jacqueline breaks down some of the key areas of focus and provides her insight into how to ensure the longevity of your DE&I plan.

You can find a few supplemental materials around DE&I below:

Transcript:

Elise Orlowski: 

I’m Elise Orlowski, a senior video director here at Cramer. 

Trip Underwood: 

And I’m Trip Underwood, a creative director at Cramer. 

Elise Orlowski: 

And at Cramer, we work with so many incredibly fascinating people from all over multiple industries. 

Trip Underwood: 

We have so many great conversations, many that are just too good to keep to ourselves. So, now we’re sharing them with the world. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Right here from Cramer studios. 

Trip Underwood: 

This is Pivot Points. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Cut. Hello, and welcome to another episode of Pivot Points. Today, I’m really excited about our conversation. Diversity, equity and inclusion have been in the spotlight for a while now, but today we’re going to focus on how you can discuss DE and I with your teams, as well as considering what you can do to plan for your next event. And today I’m joined by Patrick Martin, partner of business solutions. And Pat, you’ve been an advocate here at Cramer for DE and I for a long time now, can you tell me a little bit more? 

Patrick Martin: 

Sure, absolutely. DE and I is something I am very passionate about. Something we’ve been focusing a lot of our attention on here at Cramer. We do it not only just to better ourselves and society, but equally as important how do we use DE and I to improve the solutions that we’re delivering to our clients? So, as events strategists, what should we be considering when we’re consulting with our clients? So, we decided it would be best to turn to an expert for the answers. 

Elise Orlowski: 

And for our a guest today, I know that you’ve worked with her directly which is really exciting. 

Patrick Martin: 

Yes. I’ve been very fortunate to work with Jackie Cranford, principal of Cranford Advisory Services. She has over 20 years of working with clients on talent management, showing companies how they can better implement DE and I, Jackie, thank you so much for coming in and talking with us today. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Hello, Jackie. Nice to meet you. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Nice to meet you as well. Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this conversation because I’m very passionate about these issues and happy to be here. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Well, we’re very excited to have you. I think you have a ton of experience, so we’re really excited to pick your brain today. But starting off, I think continually, we know that you’re working with companies to better implement DE and I into the work that they do from what you’ve noticed in the industry, what are some key areas that you think are holding organizations back? 

Jackie Cranford: 

So, when I think about key areas, there’s so many that come to mind, but in the interest of time I’ll focus on just a few. 

Elise Orlowski: 

It’s a magnum opus. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Yes, exactly. So, in the short time we have, let’s think about some of the things that I see repeatedly and one of the things that often holds companies back is that people just don’t really understand how DE and I impacts them personally, and their team and their organization. I read an article recently about a study that was done in 2021, because in 2020, 2021, we saw quite an uptick in focus on DE and I and in this article, it was really fascinating to read that 93% of leaders thought that DE and I should be on the agenda and it was a priority and at the same time, only 34% believe that it made an impact on their company. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Really only 34%? 

Jackie Cranford: 

Yeah. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Fascinating. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Right. So, when you see that people are saying, we believe in DE and I and yet when it comes down to it, when you ask them, well, what difference does it make for you and your company? Not many people know the answer to that. So, that gets in the way of progress, frankly. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Absolutely. 

Patrick Martin: 

I can totally see that. I just know from working with our teams here, the benefit of DE and I is that we’re solving more difficult problems. We’re trying to come up with better solutions for our clients. And so the more voices we can have at the table that come from different places and have different perspectives, the better our solutions are going to be for our clients. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Absolutely. And Jackie, would you say are there any misconceptions that you found as well? I know you touched on that, but are there any misconceptions when it comes to DE and I that you’ve faced? 

Jackie Cranford: 

Again so many, like you said, there are so many [crosstalk 00:04:09]. 

Elise Orlowski: 

And like high level because I know it’s such a big- 

Jackie Cranford: 

Yes, absolutely. So high level, one of the things that I notice with a lot of organizations is that they’ll bring in DE and I expertise, they might stand up a DE and I committee or task force and some particularly over the last two years will establish a position. And then they delegate responsibility for DE and I to their DE and I professional. And DE and I is a team sport. It takes all of us to come to the table with our ideas so that we can better come up with solutions. It’s not just the responsibility of one person or an external person or a committee to do all the work. So, I think that misconception gets in the way of how we move forward. And the other thing that goes along with that, how we move forward, what I notice is people get this idea that all right, DE and I is big, I know people are doing things, what are the best practices? Right? What are the best practices? Yes. 

Elise Orlowski: 

It’s become trendy. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Yes, it’s trendy. Everybody’s doing it. What are they doing? What’s the other company that I compete with doing? What are my peers doing? And the problem with that is every company, every team needs to take a deep look at what are our issues? What are our DE and I priorities? And then figure out what we’re going to do about our specific issues. Be very targeted in what we’re doing rather than trying to take best practices from everybody all around. So, that gets in the way and we want to make sure that we’re really focused on our own issues and then we’re solving for our own issues as I often say, solving for the right problem. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Yep. Totally. I think it definitely starts from the small to the big, not trying to fix in something with a bandaid or anything like that. And I’m curious, you’re talking about how DE and I is trendy and it’s something that’s hot right now, but how do you feel like we can really make it so it’s sustainable and it’s a long term solution not a short term solution? 

Patrick Martin: 

Good question. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Absolutely. Well, one of the things is to be strategic for organizations to really think about why we’re doing this and what are we doing and what is our long term vision? So if we don’t establish a vision, where is our organization going to be in X number of years? What is our vision for DE and I? And then we work toward that vision with our strategy, with our goals, with our action steps, very for focused. Then we can move forward and it’s sustainable because we know what we’re doing and we are measuring ourselves against what we’re doing. So, it’s not just an initiative here, an initiative there, let’s just do this trendy thing but it’s, here’s our strategy over X number of years and every year and every point along the way, we’re going to check in and see how we’ve done, measure ourselves against our strategy, make tweaks if necessary, but keep the momentum moving forward, moving toward that goal, that vision. 

Elise Orlowski: 

It sounds like it’s again, a very long term solution and if it is meant to be a quick solution, it’s probably not going to be sustainable, but if you’re really in it for the long haul and even just take the time, I think it takes time to examine your organization, examine your people and where their changes need to be made ultimately then it’s going to really sustain in the long run. 

Patrick Martin: 

I love the comment too about measurement. That’s something that comes up with our clients all the time is, how do you measure and what are the right metrics? And one of the things that we talk about is how this new evolution of hybrid events has opened up so many new metrics because we can be more inclusive globally now to people that may not have been able have access to join a particular event and through those registrations over time, we can see the audience and how it’s changing and what their interests are. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Absolutely. I’m curious when looking at DE and I, how important would you say is there to recognize the difference between equity and the difference in inclusion? Because they’re one and the same, but also very different. They work together but also they’re not the same thing. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Absolutely. They’re partners but it’s interesting when you were talking, I was like, people say DE and I as if it’s one thing. We just run it together, but it is important and so I really appreciate you asking that question because one of the things that I will start with the client is defining diversity, equity and inclusion. So, I know you ask about inclusion and equity, I want to add diversity into that just to give a bigger picture like what are all these things and how distinguishable they are? So, I start with diversity because years ago I was traveling around the world doing training and I would ask the question and whenever I got a response, it could be so many different things. So, when people think about diversity, they’re really thinking about what are the many differences? Who’s in the room? They’re counting heads, who’s represented? Which is something that you definitely need to think about particularly when you’re planning events. 

Jackie Cranford: 

And then we have to think about inclusion. So, we might have a lot of difference in our midst. We might have a lot of different people representing different identity groups, but what is the experience? The inclusion experience? And by that, when people feel included, it’s do I feel like I am respected? I’m expected to be here, I’m represented, I am heard, I’m integrated, I’m actually a part of what’s going on here not just here counted as one of many people. 

Elise Orlowski: 

You’re not just a number and a percentage, but you’re really represented and included in the conversation. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Yes, absolutely. And then when we think about equity, one of my clients recently said, well, aren’t they the same? To your question. Aren’t equity and inclusion the same? And they really are not. So, when I think about inclusion I think about the experiences I just described, when I think about equity, I think about what are the skills that each one of us need, particularly if we’re in a leadership position to make sure that we are noticing who’s here, we are noticing how we can integrate them, where do I meet them at the point of how do they enter our organization? And it’s not about how can I help them, but it’s meeting people at the point of their need, noticing where they are and then meeting them there so that you can give them access, equitable access to what’s going on, what you brought them into your organization to do. 

Jackie Cranford: 

You’re making sure that they have the tools to do what you’ve hired them to do and it’s important to think about mindset because often people are like I’m going to help these people, but instead if I am equitable, I’m thinking about everybody where they are and I’m thinking about how I can facilitate their ability to do their job because they have the ability. One of the… Let me just give an example of how this really came a home for me. I speak at a lot of conferences, particularly pre COVID a lot of conferences. And there was one conference I was there to speak and when I go to a conference to speak, I don’t have to think about how am I going to get up on the stage and will I be able to see over the podium, I’m taller than the average person and I am able bodied, so I walk up on the stage and I deliver the presentation I’m there to give. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Well, at this conference, there was a gentleman who was there who was paraplegic. I’m sorry, he was quadriplegic actually in a wheelchair, he was a wheelchair user and he gave the most powerful testimony and explanation of equity I’ve heard and that is this. He said, I am asked to speak and I want to be able to do what I’m here to do. When people see me in my wheelchair, they often offer to push me but I don’t need to be pushed, I can operate this wheelchair. It’s built for me. But what I do need is I need people able to think about making sure that I can access the stage, making sure that I can access the room. So, don’t offer to push me, just give me a ramp and I will go up there and I will deliver my speech. So, when we think about equity, think about that picture. 

Elise Orlowski: 

That’s awesome. And where would you say in the event space in terms of messaging, the actual event like you were talking about there’s opportunities for change to be had? 

Jackie Cranford: 

So, many opportunities I think that example is one great one. How accessible are the spaces we’re using? And am I thinking through the many barriers that might be there? I might not even think about barriers. Like I said in my example, I don’t think about walking up on the stage, I just go and I do it. It’s not my experience. But once I start to pay attention and learn and even invite different voices back to what you were saying earlier, Patrick, a lot of different voices, a lot of different ideas help us to innovate, help us to think about what’s needed and then help us to be able deliver. So, that’s one way to make immediate change invite voices and say, what is it that we need to think through? What is it that we might be missing? We want to hear from you and we want to make change, so that’s a great starting point. 

Patrick Martin: 

I love that. And, it’s the small things it doesn’t always have to be a big thing. It’s just even how we address the audience at the beginning of a show when the voice of God comes on ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. Maybe it’s everyone like thank you for being here, we’re so excited please take your seats. So, it’s just making small changes. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Yes. Language is so important like you were just saying. As I think about this issue and it’s an area where I am continually trying to grow, which means I need to do more research, but our language is evolving and the more we know, the more we realize some of our language is just not inclusive. And once we know it, we have an opportunity to make a change. So, just even thinking about saying participants instead of ladies and gentlemen in that example or saying can I get everyone’s attention? Whatever the case is, really thinking through our words, are we using inclusive language? That’s an immediate step that we all can of take just to start to think about is our language ableist? Is it sexist? Because so much of our language is, it’s ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, men and women. I was just on an event last night on a Zoom and they were saying the attire for the men is this, the attire for the women is that and I just had to say, what about non-binary individuals? Are we even thinking about everyone? 

Elise Orlowski: 

No, I love that. And I think as we close out, I know DE and I is a huge magnum opus of things that we could probably talk about this for two hours, but it can also be really intimidating. I think a lot of people can feel like am I going to be in imposter? I don’t feel like I’m qualified. Should I just be silent and let other people take the wheel which obviously we don’t want either? What advice would you give to companies or people that are feeling this fear of getting into this space? What wisdom would you offer them? 

Jackie Cranford: 

I would say all of us are having some fear around these issues. I have been in this space for many, many, years, and there are areas where I feel quite conversant on maybe gender or race or ethnicity. I’m still learning in terms of gender identity. And so I’m a little trepidatious when I enter a conversation because I want to make sure I’m using the right words and I don’t say the wrong thing. Well, what all of us need to do is be open to listening and to do some of our own personal work. There’s plenty of information out there that we can read. And when we think about language, even a quick Google search of inclusive language is a great starting point to think about how do we talk about issues in a way that we don’t exclude people. So, if everybody’s doing a little bit of or a lot of their own personal work and as an organization, we set a foundation for having conversations on these issues. 

Jackie Cranford: 

And I will say over the last two years, more and more organizations have opened the door saying this is a safe space, bring your questions, bring your concerns, let’s talk about it as a community. These things are impacting us in the workplace. We can’t act like we can leave our lives, our identities at the door and come into the workplace and be productive. So as leaders, as organizations, if we can say, we want to create a safe space for conversation and that means we need to show each other some grace. I’m asking for grace and I’m offering grace. So, it’s just setting that atmosphere that we’re going to have this conversation, we’re going to show each other grace, and we’re going to learn and grow together. We, as an organization are committed to DE and I, and that means we need to have some challenging conversations and we are open to doing that and we’re encouraging you to do that. 

Elise Orlowski: 

That’s awesome, I love that. I feel ultimately it’s just a lot of humility too, being like I don’t have all the answers and I’m not- 

Patrick Martin: 

Perfect. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Even the experts like you’re saying you’re an expert and you’re still learning, you’re still kind of being able to be malleable and change your perspective and I think that’s super, super important. 

Patrick Martin: 

Absolutely. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Yeah. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Awesome. Well, Jackie, thank you so much for being here today. I feel like we could talk for another two hours about this, but we really appreciate your wisdom and your expertise in this issue. And I know Cramer will also be having some documents that we’ll be putting in the description below of other ways where we can amplify diverse voices as well. 

Patrick Martin: 

Absolutely and I will also just wanted to give a quick plug to Cranford Advisory Services. Thank you so much for all the help that you’ve been giving Cramer and to anyone else out there that’s looking for some more perspective, highly recommend Jackie and her team. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Awesome. 

Jackie Cranford: 

Thank you so much. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Well, thank you Jackie, for being here today and thank you for everyone listening to our conversation today. Catch us again for another Pivot Point episode. 

View Transcript

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