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Hoarding

with Jennifer Brown

workminus-Logo
Hoarding

with Jennifer Brown

This is the time to be generous

09 Apr 2020   |   Inclusion Productivity Remote Teams

What are we talking about?

How the COVID-19 crisis has affected the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) world.

 

Why is inclusion and equity important now?

This is when companies can show if they are serious about DEI, or if it was just a pet project.

 

What did Jennifer Brown teach us about DEI in the age of COVID-19?

Above else, this is the time to BE GENEROUS. With your time, expectations, money, thoughts, margin, etc. There is a lot to give and always someone who needs what you have.

Jennifer said that this is the time to invest into the people we have a relationship with. “As things become more unpredictable, the one thing we can count on is networks and our communities of practice.” The empathy quotient is really going to explode. “We need to fill in the gaps for each other.”

Even though we are in a quarantine, co-workers may be more intimately connected than ever because they are welcoming others into their homes. Jennifer said, “This is a crash course in how different other people’s lives are.” Jennifer talked about how we are “lowering the waterline of our icebergs” and revealing more of ourselves.

If companies were already moving along and committed to DEI, then that commitment has deepened. If they were only treating it as a campaign, then they’ve backed off. Companies that are responding well are activating their diverse employee base through employee resource groups, and asking them how they are affected and how they can offer solutions. “We’ll discover that people have gifts we didn’t know about.”

The COVID-19 crisis affects groups differently. Some are really enjoying the change:

  • Racial minorities (less covering has to happen)
  • People on the neuro-diverse spectrum (less layered context to communication in the virtual world)
  • Introverts (communication is less intense, can be paced out more)
  • People with physical disabilities (no commute, and accommodations are already built at home)

Others are not enjoying the change:

  • Those with less economic stability
  • Caregivers

There’s even a chance that the virtual world will be democratic, meritocratic, and equitable than the physical one.

We talked a lot about productivity during this time. Jennifer said, “We are going to start to learn how efficient we could have been in this new world.” Yet, we also need to rethink how we define productivity. Despite the Groundhog Day feeling, not every day is going to be the same. There will be some great days and other tough days. That’s what it’s like to work as a human.

There’s a lot that company leaders can be doing.

  • Think about the nonprofits and minority-owned vendors and suppliers you use now and how you can keep them afloat.
  • Asian/Pacific-Islander heritage month is May. How can you support that group and make sure they know they are not to blame for the tragedy?

As she looks to the future, Jennifer said, “If we do not build whatever is next through an inclusive lens, people aren’t going to feel engaged and like they belong, and therefore are not going to be able to be productive.”

 

More from Jennifer Brown

Jennifer’s latest book – How to Be an Inclusive Leader

The Will to Change Podcast

Her current Community Calls going on during the crisis

Jennifer’s consulting page (with a signup for the mailing list)

Today, our guest is Jennifer Brown. She’s back on the show. She’s a speaker, consultant. She’s the author of the book “How to be an Inclusive Leader” and host of the podcast The Will to Change. Hi, Jennifer. How are you doing?

 

Hey, how are you? Thanks for having me.

 

  

I’m doing well. And thanks for being on the show. We are recording in April 2020. Which means there’s only one thing on most of our minds, which is all this COVID-19 stuff going on.

 

Yes, indeed.

 

  

So, we had you on the show last year. I learned so much from that episode just about how to be that inclusive leader, how to think about life and those things. But we wanted to bring you back on just to talk about the changing nature of things. So, one thing I really admire about you is in the midst of all this transition, you have really reached out and tried to see how you can help people and instead of focusing on your own business, how can you make things work. You’re trying to make sure everyone else is doing well. I know one of those things is that you’re doing a lot of community events, you’re trying to host a lot of event support group almost online. Tell us about how those have been going and what you’re learning from those.

 

I’m learning so much. I think that the one thing I’ve come to is there’s so much that’s unpredictable right now, but what we can count on is our networks and our community of practice, if you will. All of us professionals have communities of practice, and you’ll see in social media and other places where we’re gathering. And I decided I have this big mailing list and what better way to be helpful right now than to create a space on Zoom where people can call in and talk about what they’re doing in their organizations to ensure that diversity and inclusion remains top of mind. And perhaps even I would argue, and we would argue more important than ever during a crisis. And so, bringing that group of professionals together has been amazing. We’ve had people from Spain and Italy and China come on and talk about, for example, being ahead of where the U.S. is in terms of their curve and thinking about what does going back to work even look like if we’re starting to think about that. And is there a new normal, which of course, we know there’s going to be and none of us can really predict what that is yet. But we’ve had the global voices, we’ve had all kinds of industries. And everybody’s reacting differently. I think the consensus seems to be that if companies were moving along and very committed, and that commitment was deep and real to diversity, equity, and inclusion, that it’s continuing through, and that it’s not being cut. But then other organizations where I think any DNI leader in those organizations, if they were really honest, they might have said something like, well, the buy in was questionable even going into this, and I’ve just been furloughed, for example.

 

So, that’s an interesting way to look at it. It’s not always true. I would imagine there’s also companies who haven’t really been committed, but who are having that light bulb moment right now to say if we do not build whatever’s next through an inclusive lens, people aren’t going to feel engaged and like they belong, and therefore, they’re not going to be able to be productive no matter how many tools we might equip people with. It’s really our desire through the crisis and the panic and the distraction to really focus on our jobs and be productive, I think is wrapped up very tightly with our feeling of belonging and inclusion in this time. I think if we can talk about it that way to business leaders and our stakeholders and people who fund us, if you will, if we can make it mission critical, if we can attach the work to the pain points right now and going forward, I think that will help us maintain our positions and our value proposition. But it’s tricky because even in the best of times, we fought to have a seat at the table, I think with this work as you know. Now where the rubber is hitting the road, sadly, it’s the proof of where we are and where we’re not because now is when it’s hard. And if we haven’t shown the value or the value hasn’t been understood, this is where we could be on the chopping block.

 

  

Definitely. I’ve got so many follow up questions from that. Let me start here. Tell me some of the stories about companies that really have fully bought into DEI practices and really believe in this. What are some of the things they’re doing uniquely right now during this time that show that this is more than just an extra effort for them?

 

I think they’re activating their diverse employee base. Some companies are fortunate enough to have affinity groups which we call Employee Resource Groups, or Business Resource Groups, which are identity based groups, meaning the black network, the LGBTQ+ network, the women’s network. So, the smart companies that have those are activating them to help guide their strategies, meaning what are we missing as we virtualize our workforce? What do we need to be thinking about? Who’s being left out of our plans, for example, whose experience we’re missing because of our blind spots and our biases? And how can we create a more inclusive decision making table and process so that we ensure that we don’t just magnify and perpetuate the business as usual, which is full of bias, but we actually pivot into something better, it could potentially in this new configuration, and I think that’s very much a possibility. So, a lot of the ERGs are stepping forward and then there’s new groups. In some of my largest clients, they have things like parenting networks, caregiving networks, mental health networks. There’s also virtual workers. In some really large companies, they have virtual worker ERGs. I’ve gotten excited when I discovered that one exists. I think that it wasn’t necessarily though mission critical.

 

And now, all these groups that have been percolating are coming to the fore in terms of being valuable, in terms of what they understand, in terms of how they can post their membership or their mailing list to say, hey, how would we guide our company right now, assuming that we do have that voice and we’re being listened to, what are we building to shore up employee engagement right now and helping to educate at the same time about the experience of certain underrepresented groups, or I might say about like parenting it’s always been a fact. But it’s something that has led to so much I think stigma and covering traditionally. And now, in a way we don’t have the luxury of covering because our lives are very much on each other’s screens right in front of each other. So, this is a great opportunity to lower the waterline of our icebergs and to really bring our full selves to this moment so that others can understand exactly more what our lives are like. And that we can then be heard and seen and I hope be part of architecting what is next in a way that works for more of us than the traditional structures did.

 

  

Yeah, absolutely. We’re really inviting people into our homes now.

 

Yes, we are. Yes, we are.

 

  

Tell us what are some things that we might be missing. We talked about how bias is always there. We just have to admit that it’s part of our lives. So, especially as companies transition to remote teams, to remote culture, to a digital workforce, what is a common blind spot you think are there that our companies aren’t necessarily taking into count?

 

All the stuff we’ve been talking about now has an extra level of urgency to it because now, it’s just coming home to roost, things like what times are meetings scheduled? Do they work for people? Who gets the most voice on a call? How does the hierarchy I guess, from a seniority perspective, show up in the analog world? And then how is it showing up in the digital world, which I might argue is actually more democratic potentially? If you structure it right, you can actually, I think people will start to notice disparate inequitable approaches we used to have around team meetings, for example, and who gets Share of Voice in those meetings. I think that it’s very interesting to run inclusive meetings in a virtual landscape. For example, giving everyone a certain amount of time to speak. For example, having the chat available so that perhaps introverts or those of us who need a little bit more time to process can actually preview to the conversation in a real way. And for allyship, too, by the way, to come to the fore, meaning that whoever you are, whether you’re a team leader, or you’re a colleague on a team, we can all be monitoring for inclusion in this new way of working. We can elevate each other’s points. We can echo each other’s points. We can pick things up in chat that are important and bring them to the group.

 

We can think about more, I think carefully, like if extroverts are sucking up a lot of the air, how do we include more introverted team members, perhaps before or after the meeting? How do we note take and share information from a transparency perspective? I think there was always this sense of who had the power and who the insider groups have been in the physical workplace. But I think there’s some really cool ways to democratize these hierarchical systems that I think have really been exclusionary for a long time. So, if you’re an extrovert, I say be very mindful of voices of time speaking of representing the input of those who may not want to turn on their video, for example. I do think, too, we have an opportunity to check in with each other on a personal level and not just make it about the task all the time. This is really bringing this home that we are trying to live our lives where some of us are struggling with mental health and well being right now and wellness, and the opportunity to self care, particularly parents who are homeschooling or trying to and work a job.

 

So, I think the empathy quotient is really going to explode. It will need to and if you’re in any sort of more comfortable place, like I don’t have human children, I think about how can I be the best ally that I can right now, based on whatever comforts or a lack of complications that I have right now. I’m extroverted. I’m comfortable working from home and I have been. I’m comfortable expressing myself and speaking up in meetings. I don’t have childcare or caregiving responsibilities right now. So, when I think about allyship, I think the definition is shifting as well, like it has been. Originally, allyship was a concept we talked about in the LGBTQ community as straight allies. And then it has been growing to mean allies for inclusion generally. But now, it’s yet another layer of allyship for those who, for example, don’t have the socio economic stability as well. So, this is a huge reckoning for a lot of us to understand our privilege. If you are full-time employed right now, you’re in a really different spot than business owners, you’re in a really different spot than hourly workers with no safety net. So, also, I want us to think about allyship around these emerging dimensions of identity. And I think we’re going to come out of this looking at all of this in a really different way, and hopefully a more honest and complete way.

 

  

It really hits on the idea of intersectionality. There’s so many layers to this. One of the things we’ve been talking about is that, as you transition from a colocated space to a digital space, it’s not just like you flip the switch. You really become a different company. Like you’re saying, the interactions are different. Digital meetings are different. How you report in is different. And so, we have to build in a new definition of how work gets done. So, let’s just talk about, talking to managers, people who are leading teams, how should their approach to the inclusion be different in a virtual environment?

 

It’s tricky because it depends who you talk to about productivity going up or down during this time. I would probably say down from what I’m hearing. It’s weird because business owners in my world, we’ve been working on our own remotely, like for years. So, there’s so much that we, I think, understand and have experimented with that we’ve got to remember that the vast majority is transitioning to this in many ways for the first time. So, it’s about, for me, the way I live and manage my team is you get the work done when you can, and when you feel the most energized and focused, and when you have that quiet time, if you have that physical space, and you can go somewhere. So, this may mean that daytime hours are not the time for people to get things done. And I’m not sure what you can expect from folks right now in terms of output. And I do think less output is okay because I think the whole world is grappling with that productivity and output is going to be different. It’s really going to challenge us, I think, to managers to say, what do I really need? And when do I need it? And how can I have an honest conversation with every single person who’s going to have a different experience right now to say, what would work best for you? Here are the things that I need that are must haves, here are some new things that I might recategorize as nice to have. I think we’re going to get down to brass tacks in terms of output. And then I think leaving people space, too, because they’re trying to figure out how they’re balancing parenthood and perhaps mental health issues and economic issues and caregiving.

 

So, I think the more room we can leave for each other, and the more, by the way, like I said earlier, we can fill in the gaps for each other, and I don’t know, anything we can make mutual at this time and ways that we can work on things differently, more collaboratively playing to each other’s strengths. It may mean tag teaming certain things, it may mean that we don’t have full team meetings. And then you can argue, too, that ritual, though, is really important for people right now. And so, it’s a balancing act, I guess and it’s up to each leader and each team to decide what feels really good for us right now? What’s doable? When we do get on calls, do we spend most of it connecting on a personal level? Do we not have the the management by tasks and output and deadlines? I understand all those things are still with us. But I think we’re going start to learn how much more efficient we could have been, I think, in this new world. We’re going to realize that a lot of us can be very productive from home once we get into a groove. And I think, honestly, I wonder if people are really going to take to it. I know I would fight kicking and screaming if I have to go back into the office after 10 years, because I know I’m comfortable. I feel I can bring more of my full self to work in a weird way virtually because I can just be a voice on the phone. I know a lot of my colleagues of color, for example, who spend a lot of time covering and dealing with bias and microaggressions, a lot of that happens in the physical workplace.

 

And so, some have shared with me I’m so much more relaxed working in this way because the physical workplace is full of these microaggressions and it’s just this constant. I walk into a room and people, they see what they can see about me and then there’s other things I hide. And I am intersectional. So, there’s some things you can see, some things I can hide, some things I can’t hide. There’s always this exhausting dance that many of us have to do. So, imagine what stripped away in this new world of work and imagine this is a fantasy come true, I think for some who have felt very different in terms of their physical appearance, and then the biases that are triggered as a result of that. And that’s why on my calls that you mentioned earlier, I have everybody go into Zoom and rename their profile name in the call in the participant section, and I have them add their pronouns. And it’s one small thing that we can do. And in a virtual world, it’s so low risk because we can all do it quickly. And in a call with a lot of people on it or whatever, it’s a great opportunity to just talk about these things, maybe for the first time, and maybe we can identify our pronouns as a cisgender person and open a conversation up that. And in a way, it’s less risky for someone to walk into somebody’s office and say, “I’d like you to call me different pronouns,” like I’m effectively coming out to you as somebody who’s gender fluid and I’d like to be referred to as they/them. That’s a hard conversation to have face to face.

 

So, I do think there’s a level of safety that’s really interesting in this virtual world. You have to realize it feels like a relief for some people. Introverts are loving this. People of difference are loving it. People on the spectrum are loving this, by the way. I had a really interesting interview with someone who identifies as a person with Asperger’s and runs the Center for Autism and Innovation at Vanderbilt University. And he said, “We are in heaven right now.” Because there’s so many nuances to the ways that neurotypicals communicate. There’s so many gestures and eyebrow raises and inside jokes and humor that we miss. We miss when those folks who are neurodiverse, and so, we almost have to figure out this other language of neurotypicals in order to thrive in that world because we’re very literal. And so, it struck me that this virtual world is a more literal world. It is a world where just like everything we learn from the people with disabilities community, what looks like an accommodation for disabilities is actually good for all of us. And it just struck me. I thought, who are we learning in this new environment, who is able to flourish that wasn’t able to. I might add, too, the commute to work for people with disabilities is often one of the most arduous things and the biggest barriers. We don’t have that. And then we have people who don’t need an accommodation in the workplace that’s not built for them because their home and they have the accommodations they need. You just can start spooling out all of these positive silver linings of this situation we’re in, and all of a sudden, you start to realize there’s so much that can be unlocked.

 

  

And this wasn’t hard to do. Most companies were able to do it fairly quickly.

 

But they didn’t, because they don’t want to change. I think it’s just the inertia. I don’t know. We have been talking about this forever. But I think there’s nothing like this burning platform to force the hand of companies that could have always done this. And they just didn’t because they were comfortable. So, I do think this is a catapult into the future of work. It’s like we’re jumping over a ton of steps and we’re finding ourselves in this future that would have taken years to get to. And for that, I’m really actually grateful. I take a lot of solace in that that it just accelerated our messages by 10 times.

 

  

So, you’ve identified a lot groups that could and hopefully are benefiting from this transition. What are some people we should be aware of that maybe are not benefiting from this? I’m thinking of people who are lower socio economic that maybe have a smaller house or not an extra room in the house to do office work or what other groups should we be aware of?

 

We have caregiving, parenting. I just think we have to be incredibly sensitive to folks who are balancing a lot right now, much of which they’ve never done before and they didn’t expect to have to do. I personally on my team for the parents that have lots of kids at home now, I’ve reduced their hours. And I’ve just said, look, some of us will pick things up for you or let me go through your priority list and change it so that you don’t feel that you’re pressured to do everything you used to do and do what you’re doing and coping with at home. The grief, I think around caregiving, so many folks I think are first or second degree from someone that’s sick right now. The distraction, the check ins for mental health, giving people mental health days if they need it. I just think that we’ve got to indicate our empathy right now and be very overt about that. And particularly if you are a manager, you have the seniority and it’s got to be you that sets a tone for inclusion right now. You’re the boss, if you will, and that would be my advice for managers is to do those one on one check ins privately, open up those back channels to hear how people really are. And then your job is to mix and match the tasks at hand and maybe you reallocate things, maybe you redistribute things. Maybe some people take on a bit more because they’re relatively more able to focus and have that quiet room. I just think that this is a rebalancing opportunity.

 

And who knows? We’ll probably discover that people had gifts that we didn’t know about. That’s the other I think really cool thing that may emerge from this is when we’re having to flex and support each other and we’re holding each other as a group. There’s so much that will be revealed in terms of capacity that we didn’t even know existed. And I just think this is the way the future of work really should have been, which was that we’re constantly calibrating and we’re swarming around a certain project, and then we have some lag time and then we have a sprint and then we have where some people are busy and some aren’t. It’s like this constant thinking about here’s what I have to work with. And that may change every single day and every single week. I mean, people who are parenting right now and working, their hours are different and their abilities and their energy is shifting day to day. So, I do think I wouldn’t probably set up a schedule in stone. I would be very, very flexible. And I would almost revisit it on a constant basis to make sure that it’s meeting the needs of everybody and also meeting the needs of the business, of course, too, that you’re balancing that.

 

So, when you think about it, it’s a very different skill set I think that leaders need to develop and doing all of that while being sensitive, while listening, while maintaining trust so that people will actually tell you what’s going on in their lives versus what you don’t want to be is the person that nobody trusts because then you really don’t know what’s going on. And I can guarantee you, you could be doing something to alleviate the pressure on someone, but if you don’t know, you can’t do anything about it. So, to me, this is like the moment where, hopefully, you’ve been an inclusive leader and you’re someone that people trust, and if you’re not, this is a wonderful opportunity to deepen your work in this. And read my book, start to really sensitize yourself maybe to your own privilege and then to the real life experiences and truths and realities of your team. Their partners may be losing their jobs. Somebody in their household may be I’m on employment. I don’t even know. There’s so much upheaval going on. So, I would really recommend this is a crash course in how different other people’s lives are from yours. And if you didn’t know that, that’s your job right now. Dive into that, know it, do something about it, talk about it, advocate for better policies in your company, really be an ally right now, because now is the time that it really matters and the rubber’s hitting the road.

 

  

I absolutely agree. I think this is the time every manager’s job description right now is just keep the team together. Make sure everyone’s connected. Make sure they’re there. Like you said, productivity, some cases may increase, may not increase. But anyway, we need to redefine that term I think in this new world of work, this new normal. Hopefully, we will not just immediately go back to where we were, but say, hey, you know what? We’ve realized what’s possible, we can see what can be done. Like you said, it’s a way to say these are seasons, we can work harder this time, but we’re not going to be as productive later. But we still maintain that.

 

And giving that slack time. So, if you have extra hours, as the manager, I’m not insisting you’re productive for us and for me anyway, in those times. Take that for yourself. Just be generous right now. I just think that that will go a long way. I was also going to say, for your listeners, think about the nonprofit’s and also the diverse owned and small businesses that help you do what you do. So, vendors and suppliers, nonprofit partners, think about, for example, in your philanthropy or your foundation if you work for a company that has that, there’s an ecosystem beyond the four walls of your organization that depends on corporate money to survive. And I would really think about being philanthropic right now, really, I would say, as a team, thinking about how can we come together and be mindful of and maybe even financially and concretely supportive of who is most at risk of not making it through this. And so, I do think that’s another rallying point, too. If we do have a paycheck every two weeks right now, I do think it’s incumbent on us to broaden our aperture to understand and to focus our company on, hey, we can’t do what we do without the support of these partners, these community partners, these nonprofits that we support every year, these small businesses that do our training, which is my situation where we’re woman owned and LGBT owned and certified. And there’s also minority owned companies. And a lot of the companies I work with that are big, huge brands, they spend like hundreds of millions of dollars with diverse owned companies. It’s a strategy and a commitment.

 

So, what we call supplier diversity is more important than ever, because, again, in any world of any field, they’re the most vulnerable. And that is true also in the small business world where there’s a lot of struggle right now to survive, because those incomes have been impacted by 80%, 90%. So, if you’re sitting in that place of privilege of any kind, also think about, and maybe that’s something that brings the team together, maybe it’s something that provides a common cause and something to put your passion towards. So, really I would say this is a time to leverage the community opportunities that are maybe that you’ve never taken advantage of that have always been there in the company you work for. Really get involved in a different way. Join your diversity networks right now. If you’re an ally, join those communities and sit in and listen. Like the Asia Pacific Islander Heritage Month is May, and all of the anti Asian racism right now that’s going on due to the virus and what’s been said about it and what it’s been called, it’s no joke. So, your API colleagues know that this is going on. I would ask, can you support some educational programming that they may be planning for the workforce for May? Can you support pride, which by the way, as you know, all the parades are canceled, all the celebrations we normally have, all of that, everybody’s scrambling to figure out how do we celebrate? How do we do these important celebrations during this very strange time? So, get involved with that stuff. You can learn front row seat of what communities are dealing with right now. And you can also lend a hand and a heart and a voice.

 

  

Jennifer, what I’m taking away from this conversation is this is the time to be generous. This is the time to reach out to other people. This is a time to be generous with your expectations of others, be generous with your time, with your wealth, with whatever you have behind you. So, this is a very important message. You are a generous person, too, and you have a lot of resources to share with other people. So, where can they go to learn more about you, all these events you’re doing, where can they go to check out those?

 

Definitely. Thank you for asking. So, my two books, “Inclusion” was the first and “How to be an Inclusive Leader” is the second. Written pre-pandemic but I hope still helpful. I know it’s going to be pre and post from now on. And then my podcast, as you said, is called The Will to Change so please tune in to that. I did a minisode which means I riffed for half an hour last week. And if you want to know what’s on my heart and mind and what I’m reading and stuff, please check that out. And we’re in the usual spots, like LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter. I’m at Instagram @JenniferBrownSpeaks. I would also say please join our mailing list now more than ever, because we are broadcasting these community calls that you referenced, where we’re having all these conversations about Heritage Month and virtual teaming and inclusion. I literally am talking to all the biggest companies right now in the world about how they’re upping the engagement quotient right now in this new landscape and how they’re ensuring that it’s inclusive.

 

So, if you’d like to send us an email, we’re at [email protected] Or you can go to Jennifer Brown Speaks and join our mailing list, which I would recommend and then you can find out when we’re doing the calls, which is Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon Eastern. So, keep an eye out for that. And we’re communicating in social. It’s probably the best place to look for things I’m up to, particularly on Twitter, which is where I spend a lot of my time. And by the way, if you’re an ally, and you feel very motivated after listening to this, go read Twitter, because there’s so much, for example, for people to say that this pandemic is a great equalizer is not really the right thing to say, because it really is impacting certain communities very, very differently. And I think it will be, I hope, an a-ha moment for some of us. And also gives us fodder to then turn around and educate others when they say that because actually, it’s not being experienced in the same way and the same equity issues are coming to the fore right now that we’ve always known are with us. But it’s incredibly important that those of us particularly who aren’t being impacted in that way, talk about it in that way. So, thank you so much for this opportunity. It was great to talk to you. It was fun to do an interview. Thank you so much and good luck to everybody out there. Stay connected to each other and be generous.

 

  

Absolutely. Thanks so much, Jennifer.

 

Thank you.

 

Jennifer Brown has spoken at many top conferences and events such as the International Diversity Forum, the Global D&I Summit, the Forum for Workplace Inclusion, the NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference, the Out & Equal Workplace Summit, Emerging Women, SHE Summit, Responsive, the Better Man Conference, INBOUND, Interbrand’s Best Global Brands event, as well as at organizations such as Allstate, Pepsico, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NBA, Google, IBM, and many more.

Jennifer’s growing list of clients have included, Walmart, Starbucks, Toyota Financial Services, Microsoft, the City of New York, T-Mobile, and many others, from the Fortune 1000 to government agencies and nonprofits.

She is the bestselling author of; Inclusion: Diversity, The New Workplace and The Will to Change and the upcoming book; How To Be An Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive, available August 2019.

Jennifer also lends her expertise as the host of the popular weekly podcast, The Will to Change, which uncovers true stories of diversity and inclusion. The podcast receives thousands of downloads each month and has featured multiple notable guests including NY-Times bestselling author Sally Hogshead; ex-NFL player, advisor, and consultant Wade Davis; Priya Parker, facilitator and author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet & Why It Matters; and theoretical neuroscientist Dr. Vivienne Ming.

She is the proud recipient of several accolades, having been named a Top Small Business Female Executive award winner, Woman of the Year by Pace University, Social Entrepreneur of the year by the NYC National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), one of the Top 40 Outstanding Women by Stonewall Community Foundation, and NYC Controller Bill Thompson’s LGBT Business Owner of the Year. She has also been a finalist for both the Wells Fargo Business Owner of the Year Award and for the Ernst & Young’s Winning Women Program.

As a successful entrepreneur, Jennifer has been featured in media such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, AdWeek, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, Inc., CBS, and many more.

Jennifer lives in New York City with her partner, Michelle, and a few furry family members. When she is not keynoting or meeting with clients, Jennifer enjoys yoga, jazz, and clearing pastures at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. She is a proud aunt to twelve nieces and nephews and enjoys spending time with family on both coasts.

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