Video Transcription

Mo: Hello, hello, hello and welcome to this week’s everyday inclusion and belonging where we talk about everything under the sun when it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

And we have a really timely topic. Today we are going to be talking about the impact of the presidential election and politics overall on inclusion and what we can be doing to prepare. Because 2016 actually gave us a blueprint for some of the things that we can expect. So, let’s be proactive.

This time, in terms of preparing for the impact on inclusion and last night’s debate where some very divisive, incendiary comments were made are a great example of what we need to be doing to be proactive.

I’m joined by Texanna Reeves and I’m really excited to have Texanna with us. She has such deep experience and so much to offer in the DI& space. Texanna, would love for you to introduce yourself because I won’t do it justice.

Texanna: Well, thank you so much Mo. And again, my name is Texanna Reeves. I’m a global diversity and inclusion subject matter expert, 20 years and extensive experience and diversity and inclusion in large multinational organizations, different industries, with different diversity, inclusion, maturity levels.

Rather, organizations are in their infancy stage just beginning, or rather, the company is mature in wanting DEI management to be more aligned with their business to achieve better outcomes. I partner with these organizations to develop strategies and programs to attract, develop, engage, and retain the world’s best talent to fulfill their organizational mission.

Mo: Love that, Texanna. I feel like every conversation you and I have I always leave with an ah-ha, idea. I’ll say this up front y’all, if you’re not connected with Texanna on LinkedIn, or other places you should be. I always watch for your posts. The information that you’re sharing; it’s always so relevant.

And that’s why I really wanted you to join me on this really weighty big topic about politics, and the impact right now on inclusion. I will say this. Leaders, today, check in with your teams. Check in with any BIPOC person on your team.

Check in because last night’s debate has a lot of people feeling scared and feeling marginalized. So, it doesn’t matter, what we’re going to talk about is it doesn’t matter what your politics are. What matters as a leader is what you are doing to make the folks on your team understand that they are valued, seen and belong on your teams.

Impact of External Environment

Texanna, I know that you’ve got some data around what happened after 2016, right? This blueprint for what we can expect and actually what, again, last night, today, good examples of what we’re already experiencing.

Texanna: Yeah, very good and so the impact of the external environment to the workplace has become more, I would say, polarizing. And to have a better idea of what that is when we look back at the 2016 in comparison to now. Certainly we can expect even more of, um, unrest based on our the what’s been happening lately around racial unrest and the conversations, as you know previously, has been more taboo. But certainly, it’s much more common now in the workplace.

Just to give a little flavor around some of the data that we learned from the 2016 presidential election on the impact of the workplace, what it’s indicated is that we really need to be much more intentional and plan. The American Psychological Association had a survey that they conducted that stated that half of the post-election respondents, in fact 54%, said they had discussed politics at work since the election and for 40% of American workers it had caused at least one negative outcome such as reduced productivity, poor work quality, difficulty getting work done, a more negative view of their coworkers that can be long lasting, feeling actually stressed out as well as increased workforce hostility.

This is a significant increase from the pre-election survey they had conducted earlier in 2016, which only represented 27% that reported at least one negative outcome.

Mo: Yeah, so wow.

Texanna: So when we think about this decreased productivity, poor quality of work, negative impact on employee relations, negative impact on health and wellbeing, and increased workplace hostility; that’s the business case for why we need to really have this at the forefront from an inclusion perspective. To be able to be prepared and to help our workforce.

Mo: Well, and I think that was 2016 data. Now think about the world we’re in right now. Layer Covid on top of this. Yeah, right where we already have you know, people are from Covid particularly if you’ve got caregivers, whether that’s children or adults, I mean people are already maxed out and stressed out, and then we’re then we’re adding this. So yeah, if you’re looking for a business case like you literally as a leader cannot ignore this and have to be proactive so I’d love to hear some things from you. What are some things that leaders can be doing?

Texanna: Yeah, so in what leaders can be doing and let me just also back up for just a second ’cause I did talk about 2016 and I wanted to build off of which stated in terms of what happened last night, and what’s happening with this particular election.

As we know, in terms of things have been polarizing throughout these last four years, and what actually is an indicator of last night, in reference to what we could anticipate.

With the election and particularly post the election is the fact of we can expect that first of all, president Trump clearly indicated if he does not win the election, that it’s rigged in an unfair election, and that he cannot agree to a peaceful transition of power If he loses. He would also not denounce, as you mentioned earlier, white supremacy, an involved white nationalists, the proud boys, to stand back and stand, stand back and stand out. Well, I don’t even know what that means, but what it doesn’t, what I’m sure it doesn’t mean, is unity.

Mo: And let’s not lose fact of the site that he was using the racist language of Chinese flu, right? So not forget that as well. Right, whatever the results are, we can expect some chaos.

Texanna: We can expect some chaos, and there was also something recently that happened that is potentially can have a profound impact on us as DEI professionals. He defended the recent decision to stop all anti-racism training for federal agencies, and his new executive order on combating race and sex stereotyping to all federal contractors that conduct business with the US government, to cease workplace diversity training that teaches concepts that he perceives can be decisive concepts such as anti-racism or unconscious bias training.

Obviously, these trainings were designed not to be the decisive, but actually design in order to be more inclusive. To create this more welcoming environment, while those are all at stake right now, yeah, actually elimination.

Mo: You know it’s interesting Texana. I know the conversations, this work is about bringing people together, yeah, and so to say that all of that should stop is, Um, you know, not just alarm bells but like fireworks of like, yeah, we have a problem here.

So what do we what do we do? And and, um, you know it’s interesting because obviously doing this work I get outreach from lots of folks and this morning in particular, and I just I said do the next right thing uh-huh right? I think one of the things that we can be doing as leaders right now and facing all this is to get paralyzed and that’s the last thing. So if it’s feeling too big, do the next right thing.

Texanna: Very good, excellent. I love that Moe

Mo: Yeah, so if you can focus on that I was just gonna say that all credit to Nikki Rogers when Nikki was on this she shared that with me and it is the thing I’ve been sharing out consistently since she and I had a conversation about white ally ship around, do that next right thing ’cause then then you can stay in action.

I know Texana because you’ve 20 plus years of this work. You’ve seen organizations and leaders through some things, Right?

Yeah, what’s your advice? What should we be doing right now?

Support Voting

Texanna: So some of the things that you can be able to do is first support voting and to know your current policies. In fact, Sherman has an excellent article that’s called ‘On Election Day is Coming’ what are your obligations as an employer. Employer’s should immediately review existing policies and practices, to ensure compliance with applicable laws and be prepared to address employee requests for time off for Election Day. November 3rd, and even what happens afterward.

So, voting Holidays for examples are encouraged in terms of to have your employees to go out and vote. Some states actually have it as a holiday such as Virginia, while other states such as California, are required based on their California election codes to be able to offer time paid off right for two hours for example. Some companies such as Twitter also just made a company holiday in terms of Election Day.

Important volunteerism is that Starbucks, Old Navy, Target, and Microsoft just to name a few, are encouraging employees and consumers to serve as poll workers. This is where you also want to engage your ERG’s to be able to have them to incur voting and or volunteering.

Mo: I love that I love that to link in the ERG’s. Yeah, that’s great.

Texanna: Absolutely an also that’s leading up to the election, but in addition an Election Day but also prepare for post-election as you mentioned in earlier months.

Mo: So before we get into post-election, let’s talk about preparing for. You know, it’s interesting, the impact of Covid is far reaching in terms of this election. Many of the poll judges, an poll workers are older Americans who, because of risk concerns can’t do it, so sign up. I’m really happy to say Andrea Di Matteo, who’s on our team is serving as a pull judge.

I actually, you know, put my application and I haven’t heard back, but I’m going to go and see. So I’m going to go and pursue that. So right now, right? That there’s a need. And what’s cool way as an organization again across the political spectrum, what a cool way is an organization to say “we were a part of a key to our democracy” and I love if you can get the ERG doing that.

What that does well and even conversations with leaders right? So I love the examples that you shared, but as a leader you could say, “What are we going do, what are we going to do to make sure that either people understand our mail in ballot procedures” I know that you know, for Pennsylvania example right then, then naked ballot won’t be, So even doing some cool, “Hey, how do you vote in our state?”

Texanna: Yeah, plan to vote. Plan to vote.

Prepare for Post Election

Yeah, but that and with that planning to vote is also thinking about what meetings are you scheduling on the day before and day of day after the election, particularly the day after election and the day of.

Try not to have any major meetings because now you are not going to have 100% focused individuals. If you want to have meetings those days.

Mo: I have two stories to tell after the 2016 election.

I had an all-day meeting the day after with an organization, and everyone you know everyone was exhausted, and somebody said something like, you know, we’re not going to talk about the election. And when I got up to speak, I said we absolutely are talking about this and one woman just broke into tears and said, “you know, I can’t. I can’t be processing any of this.” And I said that’s OK, right? So I think it’s a good example. The second was on that Thursday, right? So another I flew out, was working with an executive team and the CHRO came up to me and said, what do I?

What do I do? You know? What do I do? I’ve got I, I’ve got people all over you know people who are related. I said talk about your core values as an organization.

Texanna: Excellent, excellent Mo.

Mo: Right, but don’t schedule those meetings.

And you say the day after Texanna, I would say the week after, right? Then yes, Wednesday Thursday Friday it better be light, yes. Let people be working on their own projects. I would say let that be individual work time, but don’t try and do any you know good God, no budget conversations. No strategic conversations try not to have client meetings.

Company Values and Inclusion

Texanna: Absolutely, I’m 100% in agreement with that and I loved it when you mentioned about the values. The core values know this is the time again, despite the affiliation, political affiliation, what you’re going to have is post the election is that as you mentioned, Mo, you’re going to have people that are elated, and people that are devastated absolutely devastated, and so how can you handle this? As the organization is that where you go, is that you really land on what will be common ground. And that is on your stated values.

Examples of those can be such as treating people with dignity and respect, teamwork, showing you care, and you support each other and encourage each other and working together on the greater good of the common mission of the organization.

Mo: So, center back right?

Texanna: Center back to again. What I say is stated. Those values have been there for however many years. OK, when something that you made up OK, something that the company has identified that is core to them and so this is where you can meet on that common ground despite your differences.

Yes, yes. It’s that again, support time off. One comp company modified their sick leave policy in order to offer their employees time off as a mental health day. Look at your sick leave policies, look at look at the current resources that you have around health and well-being. How can you be able to promote those to offer those during this, like you said, it’s not just one day, it’s an extended time.

Mo: Well, and because of some of the Mail in ballot right there saying that we might not know the result, for who knows how long.

Texanna: Oh, thank you so much for raising that because it is unlike any other election, the fact of us knowing the next day, we’re not likely to know, and I’m so glad you raised that because that is we really should be not looking at just today, but to be able to look at multiple days and perhaps even multiple weeks.

How are we going to get through this? And this is where it’s not always trying to come up with something new, but being able to be depending on your resources as to being able to leverage what you have and re-imagining an rethinking what you have.

Mo: You know what’s interesting Texanna and I just saw?

Check In With Your Team

To be able to check in with your folks because the data said something like 70% of people had not heard from the person that they report to on this.

What’s your capacity right now? Do you need anything? Do you need, you know? Do you need some time off, do you need us to look at what is what your deliverables are over these next couple of weeks? And yeah, that’s day, right? That’s a good time to be having that checking because a lot of people are shook right now. And same thing after post-election.

Also, my goodness, check in with your folks.

Texanna: I would say you can’t check in enough and mainly this is the time in order to set that cycle psychological safety type of environment. You don’t have to know all the answers which you can be as just a sounding board which you can do is be able to be in order to know what resources that you have. Which you can also say is shut down the computer for an hour.

Take a break, those are things that are simple, that are appreciated, like you mentioned, just the acknowledgement makes a difference. When people are going through a difficult time to know even though they can’t do anything about it, to know that somebody cares that somebody really wants again around their well-being.

Mo: Well and you know one of the things Texana, that leaders may not know an and this was a great conversation that I had with Lori Baron Secker where we were talking about how companies are stepping up with different benefits right now.

Your organization has probably added some mental health resources that you don’t know about, even if it’s you know, I know there are organizations doing things like giving people the app Calm.

Yeah, find that. Make sure you are up to date on all of the resources that you can offer to your employees.

Texanna: Absolutely, and also think about some things that if you’re in a position to be able to do some things new. Think about that in terms of whether or not some of the employees, systems, programs, etc. Or even some of your learning and development team members have access to resilience training. Yes, be able to offer that type of Education.

During this time, especially because we know what is going to be longer lasting than dealing with just a couple weeks, etc.

Mo: You and you know it’s interesting, we’re adding to the everyday inclusion app right now. We’re making sure that we have things around empathy.

We always say right, it’s about seeing the human ness in every one of us and what we have in common. So anchoring your folks back to that to empathy or respect kindness.

Texanna: Yes, being kind. Oh my goodness. Absolutely. And then, it’s also a time to do some things that might be inspirational. Companies are used to having things like Employee Appreciation Day or you might want do something around your inclusion day or inclusion week or inclusion month.

Come up with different types. And this really makes it such that is equal when you talked about earlier around Covid in the and people already filling around isolation and so forth, you can do some fun virtual things like Zoom Karaoke challenges.

Or having, even providing, you know, we’re used to doing meals and things like that for employees. What about giving them door dash certificates? Oh yeah, so they can do that. I know one company that actually is offering dinner for the family, actually.

One that runs weekly in terms of they can expense that. Again, depending on the type of resources that you have, and even if it’s a one-time deal in terms of saying you can go ahead and take your family out for dinner and give us that expense report, boy, how does that make people feel like, appreciated? They feel valued.

Mo: Yeah, I’d love that. Like what are the things that you can do to create that unity? And yeah, like you know whether virtual or those essential workers.

How can you do something that drives community? And I’m wondering Texanna you know it might also be a time to prepare your ERG leaders absolutely, because I think that this is a really good time for those communities within your larger employee community to be able to rely on one another and have community as well. So, having conversation with them about what are we going to do post-election, what, what’s the plan for the group?

Texanna: That is absolutely wonderful. You absolutely want to engage your ERG’s because they’re going to come up with some great ideas.

Mo: Absolutely yeah.

Texanna: Great ideas in addition to the fact of here, a lot of these situations, such as what we’re talking about with the election, is impact certain affinity areas or groups differently? You talked about what Covid and we think about our Asian employees in right now.

Mo: And people with disabilities.

Texanna: And then when you think about in terms of what we just talked about around the white supremacy and other underrepresented groups and how they are impacted. An also particularly around black unrest and what we’re seeing in terms of all the racial injustices. Each one of those ERG’s can be able to look through that lens.

Yep, and to be able to communicate and also better serve in terms of what would be most impactful for their particular community or ERG. And so this is where engaging those ERG’s are absolutely essential in terms of being able to really have a positive impact.

Texanna: Boy Texana we have gone through a lot. I mean everything from think about your core anchoring back to your core values, time off, engaging ERG’s, volunteerism and you know getting people to the polls. I’ve even forgotten everything we covered.

Do you have a last truth bomb for me?

Texanna: Yes, I would say that I don’t think there’s been any time in history for the US, like a time that we’re going through right now. It is really a layering of crises. From Covid, to the economic disparities in issues that we’ve gone through racial injustice, and also the wildfires, the different floods, and hurricanes.

All these environmental impacts that have just really affected all of us. In addition to what we’re experiencing now that what could be could be a political crisis in terms of with the election, but I’m an optimistic.

Well, I’m very optimistic is that we can get through this. We can do this, and we can be successful if we meet on common ground despite the differences. Doesn’t matter who you worked for, it doesn’t matter what all your beliefs are we do have some common values, as I mentioned, where the land is not on your personal values when talking with others, but more on those company or organizational stated values that you’ve already agreed to, and being able to really focus on those.

Then as well is really lift each other up. Look at how don’t you know some of us are in situations in which we impact the enterprise or a department or a team. But I would also invite you to even do it down to the individual level and that is to really role model.

Showing care showing kindness, treating people with dignity and respect, and being able to look for those opportunities again to be proactive to add fun into the game too. Even with this chaos and craziness, that’s what we can fit in fun.

And I would want to go ahead and leave in terms of the truth bomb is that it is dark times. But we can get through this.

Mo: We will get through this. We will get through this now.

Texanna, thank you so much. I knew this was going to be a really rich conversation and I hope that all of you watching have taken 1 or 2 things that can have such a profound impact on right now and through the course of this election, and the weeks after. Thank you so much, everybody, everybody. Get out there and do the next thing. See you next time.

Texanna: OK, take care.


To learn more about politics in the workplace read our politics in the workplace blog.