Drink Like a Lady Podcast

“How Can I Be More Inclusive?” – Making a Business Case for Diversity with Subha Barry

October 09, 2023 Joya Dass
“How Can I Be More Inclusive?” – Making a Business Case for Diversity with Subha Barry
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
More Info
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
“How Can I Be More Inclusive?” – Making a Business Case for Diversity with Subha Barry
Oct 09, 2023
Joya Dass

The CEO of Seramount, Subha Barry here presents the business case of diversity, offering tips and insights into how to bring greater diversity into the workplace, in a way that is beneficial to all.

Barry begins by contrasting the situation in 2021 with how it was ten years ago, when she was a senior executive at investment bank Merrill Lynch.  Then, diversity was a governmentally mandated program, with EEOC Requirements forming a basis for a lot of the DE&I work.  Much of the focus was on the market side – targeting more diverse groups of customers and clients.

In 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a much more far-reaching project.  Following the disparities thrown up by the pandemic and by the deaths of George Floyd and other victims of violence, there has been a much greater focus on systemic racism and bias, both within organizations and processes.

An example she gives is the bias that may be exhibited by an all-male, all-white panel when interviewing employment candidates, even when there’s an explicit instruction to engage in more diverse hiring.


FIVE WAYS TO MAKE A BUSINESS CASE FOR DIVERSITY

Barry has five key tips for helping make the business case for more entrenched DE&I work:

  1. Speak the language of business leaders. Helping leaders see that the ethnic stereotypes they may have grown up with are wrong and there are valuable untapped resources in diverse communities.
  2. Utilize big data. There’s more evidence than ever before that diverse working groups, for example, beat homogenous ones hands down in problem solving, because they bring different insights and assumptions to the table.  Diversity drives innovation, and this can be backed up with data.
  3. Minimize Staff turnover. A recent study showed that more than 50% of women of color in large organizations are waiting out the pandemic to leave their organizations for better opportunities.  This shocking degree of turnover can be mitigated by building workplaces that respect differences and build a more tolerant culture.
  4. Diversity of Perspective Drives Innovation. Building on point two above, it can be shown that the different backgrounds and experiences that diverse employees have can increase creativity and innovation.  To leverage this, employers must recognize that employees from different backgrounds may have to take time out from busy lives to make a special effort to fit into a homogenous organization.  Draining energy resources by expecting everyone to “fit in” is unwise and alienating.
  5. Diverse employees have different expectations. Appreciating this builds a more flexible workplace.  Stakeholder capitalism is the term to bear in mind, replacing a shareholder-focused approach with a more all-encompassing on, where staff, vendors, customers and even the wider environment are considered when key decisions are taken.  The largest drivers of this new culture are Gen Z / Millennial employees, who now make up 75% of the workplace.  It would be foolish to overlook their expectations.

Blog post here:
https://www.joyadass.com/how-can-i-be-more-inclusive-making-a-business-case-for-diversity-with-subha-barry/

Joya is currently enrolling members for international (Europe) and domestic (NYC) strategy days. She also leads a year-long intensive mastermind of C-Suite level women, which is accepting applications for 2024.

https://www.joyadass.com/

info@joyadass.com

Show Notes Transcript

The CEO of Seramount, Subha Barry here presents the business case of diversity, offering tips and insights into how to bring greater diversity into the workplace, in a way that is beneficial to all.

Barry begins by contrasting the situation in 2021 with how it was ten years ago, when she was a senior executive at investment bank Merrill Lynch.  Then, diversity was a governmentally mandated program, with EEOC Requirements forming a basis for a lot of the DE&I work.  Much of the focus was on the market side – targeting more diverse groups of customers and clients.

In 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a much more far-reaching project.  Following the disparities thrown up by the pandemic and by the deaths of George Floyd and other victims of violence, there has been a much greater focus on systemic racism and bias, both within organizations and processes.

An example she gives is the bias that may be exhibited by an all-male, all-white panel when interviewing employment candidates, even when there’s an explicit instruction to engage in more diverse hiring.


FIVE WAYS TO MAKE A BUSINESS CASE FOR DIVERSITY

Barry has five key tips for helping make the business case for more entrenched DE&I work:

  1. Speak the language of business leaders. Helping leaders see that the ethnic stereotypes they may have grown up with are wrong and there are valuable untapped resources in diverse communities.
  2. Utilize big data. There’s more evidence than ever before that diverse working groups, for example, beat homogenous ones hands down in problem solving, because they bring different insights and assumptions to the table.  Diversity drives innovation, and this can be backed up with data.
  3. Minimize Staff turnover. A recent study showed that more than 50% of women of color in large organizations are waiting out the pandemic to leave their organizations for better opportunities.  This shocking degree of turnover can be mitigated by building workplaces that respect differences and build a more tolerant culture.
  4. Diversity of Perspective Drives Innovation. Building on point two above, it can be shown that the different backgrounds and experiences that diverse employees have can increase creativity and innovation.  To leverage this, employers must recognize that employees from different backgrounds may have to take time out from busy lives to make a special effort to fit into a homogenous organization.  Draining energy resources by expecting everyone to “fit in” is unwise and alienating.
  5. Diverse employees have different expectations. Appreciating this builds a more flexible workplace.  Stakeholder capitalism is the term to bear in mind, replacing a shareholder-focused approach with a more all-encompassing on, where staff, vendors, customers and even the wider environment are considered when key decisions are taken.  The largest drivers of this new culture are Gen Z / Millennial employees, who now make up 75% of the workplace.  It would be foolish to overlook their expectations.

Blog post here:
https://www.joyadass.com/how-can-i-be-more-inclusive-making-a-business-case-for-diversity-with-subha-barry/

Joya is currently enrolling members for international (Europe) and domestic (NYC) strategy days. She also leads a year-long intensive mastermind of C-Suite level women, which is accepting applications for 2024.

https://www.joyadass.com/

info@joyadass.com

[00:00:02.280] - Joya

Welcome, everyone. Thank you for being on time. I'm just letting everybody into the room. We are going to get started. As you can see, our speaker today is Subha Barry, who is the CEO of Working Mother Media. But that is just like a modicum of her body of work that she has done in the diversity and inclusion space. And so given the pandemic, I feel like some of this conversation has taken a back seat, and I wanted to bring it forward once again and really share Subha's six tips for making a business case for diversity and inclusion as we move forward and transfer back into the workplace. So Subha, welcome.

[00:00:39.630] - Subha
Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here. And just as an FYI, we recently rebranded and announced I'm now CEO of Cereemount. Working Mother Media actually became Cereemount. We had been a group of entities, and now under one name, we are an end-to-end solutions provider in the D, E, and I space. I'm excited to be able to lead that transformation as well.

[00:01:08.270] - Joya
From where you sit, because you've been entrenched in this space for so long, what's important for us to know about D, E, and I today versus five years ago or 10 years ago, just to set this conversation up?

[00:01:20.620] - Subha
When you think about D, E, and I 10 years ago, it was far more based on government regulations. The EEOC requirements formed the basis for a lot of the work. A few companies that had really begun to understand that connectivity with the marketplace, the PepsiCOs of the world, the P&Gs of the world, really began to talk about how do you create products that are targeted towards these communities. Diversity became about multicultural marketing or being able to tap into that population to be able to build your business revenues. But for the majority of them, it was still about, we have to measure this for the government, so let's do it. That changed. It started to change about 10 years ago. And where we find ourselves today, especially following the issues and challenges that the black community has faced with the murders of George Floyd and numerous others, all of a sudden it's become about, do we have this bias that is built in systemic racism that exists in this culture that has caused so many inequities to creep in to our processes? Companies are now fundamentally looking at how do our recruiting process, how does it work?

[00:02:53.810] - Subha
I always used to say everybody wanted a diverse slate of candidates, great. But if you have a group of white men doing all the interviewing, who do you think they're going to actually hire? So like attracts like, that's the unconscious bias that exists in every one of us. Why is it that when I walk into a room and I see an Indian or South Asian woman, that's usually the first one I make a beeline to say hello? It's just who we are as human beings. Black folks do the same things. White folks do the same things. So how do you break that? And I think once we've started to get into that aspect of it, all of a sudden, that opened the floodgates about what was possible. So that's really been the evolution of where diversity, equity, and inclusion has grown to.

[00:03:42.500] - Joya
Awesome. All right. So the first point that you make for making a business case is that you've got to speak the language of business leaders. We've got a wide swath of industries represented here today. We've got Emily Nine, who is partner in a law firm, Marion Marrow, who is the CEO of a fintech concerned, Ritu Khandel, as well, who heads up business analytics for various consultancies that she works with. We've got a graphic design artist, a real estate person. We've got someone who heads up D&I for nonprofit, a wide swath of people here. What does that mean to speak the language of business leaders when it comes to D&I?

[00:04:15.960] - Subha
I think ultimately, when you fundamentally look at two elements of it. Number one, where do your business revenues come from? If you've always been focusing on one set of what are you missing? I'll give you the example that at Merrill Lynch, when I was there, I spent 21 years of my career at Merrill. I began as a commodities trader, then a wealth advisor, then ultimately built a multiculturalMulticultural Business Development Unit and then became Global Head of Diversity. So in building that Multicultural Business Development Unit, essentially had to show the leaders at Merrill that A, the models for where, quote-unquote, South Asian wealth, because that is the marketplace we started with. We started with South Asians, then Hispanics, then African-Americans, gays and lesbians, community of people with disabilities, then women. But in starting with the South Asian community, one of the things we had to say was, you know the caricatures you see on television, Apu and Simpsons? That is not who the South Asian community is. There are tech entrepreneurs. There are Indian physicians. So even in small business ownership, there is so much money there. That is speaking the language of the business leaders, getting them to see the market opportunity, not in terms of the broad or whatever media portrays them as successful, but really rather focusing on where the money is.

 


[00:05:56.480] - Subha
So the commitment to understand thethe not the social, not the political, but rather the business-linked organizations around any specific community are one of the best ways to speak the language of business, okay?

 


[00:06:15.000] - Joya
So point number two is we've just come through a pandemic and things are potentially starting to turn. But a lot of DEI has probably taken a back seat. But I think about Michelle, who comes to our meetings every week, and she's now trying to spearhead that movement at her company. How do you bring it to the forefront again? How do you get people to invest in it again?

 


[00:06:36.630] - Subha
The other big advantage we have today that we didn't have even 10 years ago was we have enormous amounts of data. Data that proves. Scott Page is a professor at the University of Michigan, and his research proved that you could take a homogenous group of white men or white women, high performing but homogenous group, and you took another group of diverse individuals that were average, not the highest intellect or highest performers, average. And you gave them both the same problem to solve. The diverse group came out with a better outcome every single time, without exception. So diversity has inherently got some advantages to it, whether it comes out of innovation, whether it is out of the ability actually to come out with better outcomes, et cetera, data around that is available. You also then begin to really see data around the cost of turnover, the need for there to be a certain culture to be able to attract and retain and create stickiness amongst your diverse employees. If you have that data and you can actually convert that into dollars and cents, all of a sudden, what you're able to do is prove that during these cycles of ups and downs, where diversity would come to the front, go to the back, come to the front, and go to the back, that you need to have sustained support for it.

 


[00:08:14.230] - Subha
One statistic that I will throw out at you is that women of color, which is a population that companies really traditionally have not focused on, and there's a lot being made of women of color start their own businesses in larger numbers than anybody else, all that is great and wonderful. The question that doesn't get asked often is why? Why is that that women of color, whether it's be Black, Hispanic, Asian, why is it that there is such a great level of turnover? Why do they prefer to start their own businesses? Because companies have not done a good job of building a sense of belonging. And what they lose by missing out on that population, that actually has now been quantified. And we did a recent survey in the middle of the pandemic that said well over 50 % of the women of color and organizations said that they were waiting for the pandemic to be done before they were going to leave the organizations. A 50 % turnover is a huge impact to the bottom line of companies. They can't afford to do it. And that is why focusing and investing in DENI through ups and downs is really important.

 


[00:09:23.940] - Joya
You bring up innovation. And how does DE&I drive innovation? What is the business case behind? So I.

 


[00:09:32.550] - Subha
Think one of the interesting parts about diversity is it's not just about the color of your skin or even your gender. It's not about the race and ethnicity. It really is around perspectives, thoughts, where you grew up, how you grew up, what were your experiences along the way, and the ability to create environments in the workplace where people bring that whole self to work, where they're not parking it at the entry door and coming in to fit into a model of who you're supposed to be, I think ultimately creates the ability for people to bring that whole self to work. And along with that comes creativity, innovation, and all of those other things that go into the mix. So you say something like, there's a lot made of Black women and their hair as an example. There's a lot of talk about why should their hair have to look a certain way? Why do corporations speak to it? Why can't they come with their hair as it is? I often think to myself, just like in schools, in high schools, where they now often have classes and practices with teenagers to get them to take care of a mock baby for a while just for them to know how difficult it is if you were to get pregnant while you were still at school and what you would have to do and so on.

 


[00:11:03.210] - Subha
In many ways, I almost wish you could say to everyone, you know what? If you're not black, you're going to have that hair and see how much time it takes for you to put the effort into styling it and getting it to look the way you want it to look when you come into work. So the reality is if somebody is spending so much time trying to fit in, what do they not give you? What are they not bringing to you? That is really a fundamental foundation that says attitudes and organizations need to change where you welcome people's opinions. You don't stifle people's views. And attracting that really allows you to then capitalize on every employee walking into the company, feeling like they own a piece of it, as opposed to their hired help needing to conform to the way things need to be. So there is an inherent connection between creating greater diversity, creating inclusive cultures, and driving greater innovation. And we have data to prove that now.

 


[00:12:05.860] - Joya
So when you talk about culture, how does that increase employees' satisfaction and retention? I cited someone last week, the VP of Digital Assets at Nike, talked about all the micro KPIs that we don't measure. We always look at revenue and like, Okay, that really determines the health of our company. But there is happiness, there's engagement, there's satisfaction. There's all these micro KPIs that we don't measure. So when... When you think about that in the context of DENI, how does that drive positive workplace cultures?

 


[00:12:35.530] - Subha
I always say to myself that you walk into an office, and the culture of that office is a huge determinant in how you feel about yourself as a part of that group. And if you are able to inspire a sense of belonging, where people feel like through good times and bad, I am supported, I am nurtured, I am challenged, I am asked to work really hard, I have to bring my A-game here. If you have an environment that really allows you to bring that whole self to work, what you then give to that organization is far more of you than if you were just checking the box, clicking the time card in, and checking out, and leaving. So I would say to you, culture matters and leadership matters. And I'm not just talking about the CEO and the C-suite. I'm talking about anybody who is a people manager within organizations. Being able to understand whether it's a working parent or somebody who's caregiving for the elderly, someone who may have health issues or issues with their family members' health. It may be around religious preferences. I once had an employee who went to mass every single day at lunch, showing that employee the consideration to say, you know that hour, you take 20 minutes to go to mass and come back, that time that you take, we won't schedule meetings then.

 


[00:14:21.670] - Subha
We will try our very best to cover for you if something happened. Think about what that engenders in an employee. The ability to create cultures that ultimately give employees a sense of belonging, increases your retention, allows them to become a recruiter on behalf of the company. The wins that come from it are so far outweigh anything that you would ever lose from it.

 


[00:14:51.790] - Joya
Then the final point is you talk about stakeholder capitalism. It demands that fairness and equity be the price of the entry for the corporation of the future. What does that mean?

 


[00:15:02.710] - Subha
So it used to be that most companies, when they would talk on any of the financial media outlets, they would speak about obligations to shareholders, earnings, focusing on managing the bottom line. That was the priority. Those days are long gone because all of a sudden, it's far more than just the shareholders. Stakeholders are your employees, are stakeholders in how your company wins at whatever it is doing. It is your vendors. It is your customers. It is the communities you serve. And some are saying it is even the environment. So if you have all of these different groups that actually help determine whether you succeed as a company, then no longer can you just say, I'm looking at shareholders now. You have to look at all of those stakeholders in helping determine how you act and behave. The biggest driver of this, believe it or not, has been your employees, the new millennials, Gen Z employees come into the workplace and they're saying, Guess what? If you really don't have a business that aligns with the values that we would like to see reflected, we're going to turn on our heel and we're going to walk out.

 


[00:16:26.630] - Subha
We'll go to some other place that does. Because75 % of the employee population globally now is now millennials. That is only going to continue with Gen Z now entering. Soon, you're not going to be able to use all of those old markers and measuring sticks to be able to say, this is what it takes to keep an employee on board here. And with the gig economy, all of a sudden, you have to think about work very differently. You're going to be grateful for getting a piece of somebody instead of all of somebody. So if you don't step up to understand what stakeholder capitalism is all about, then you're going to be lost in that game. You will be a dinosaur.

 


[00:17:14.720] - Joya
Subha, I'm going to start introducing each person on this call. And this is the most valuable piece where they get to ask you their questions. So I'm going to start with Jyoti Varia, who is the owner of a cosmetology school in New Jersey. Jyoti, what is your question? I Hi, how are you? Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you for the valuable. Thank you. I just want to say that I come across different types of employees, and they're Gen Z, they're my age, they're in different generations.

 


[00:17:45.570] - Subha
What are your thought process on bringing a team together when you're working with all different types of generations here coming together.

 


[00:17:52.980] - Joya
And.

 


[00:17:53.270] - Subha
Trying.

 


[00:17:53.680] - Joya
To trying to make a team as a whole?

 


[00:17:56.900] - Subha
You know, great question. I'm going to use my own example. I remember the first Gen Millennial employee I hired many years ago. She had her music. She was on two separate screens, one of which was her personal social media and multitasking, you wouldn't believe it, and I used to think I was the queen of multitasking, I was convinced that the work I had assigned to her would really not be as good as if she would just be just focusing on it. And so I actually did say that to her. This was someone far younger, probably the age of my daughter. And she said to me, she says, why don't you let me finish it and come back to you? And then you can judge whether it's good or not. So it tells you a little bit about that generation. And can you imagine what that must be like? I was at a financial services company, and you know, and I was a senior leader at that time. But what caused me to pause was, as I said, she was the same age as my daughter. And I thought to myself, we raised them. We taught them that their opinions are important.

 


[00:19:08.940] - Subha
We asked for their feedback. I grew up in a household where even whatever my mother was cooking for dinner, she cooked for dinner and you ate it. And some days it was something you liked, and some days it was something your sister or brother liked, and it didn't matter. And now we ask each person, what would you like? What would you like to eat for dinner? Where do you want to go for vacation? What do you... We ask them from a young age, we ask their opinion. And then we wonder why they're so eager to give their opinion when they come into the workplace. They're not going to change. We created them. So that's the first thing about having a baby boomer, a Gen X or a millennial and Gen Z in the workplace. So I think that everybody needs to have a little pause. And I said to her, think about how you deal with your mom. It's a little bit like that with me. So I cannot imagine how you would do a good job listening to music, chatting on the side with somebody, being on Facebook, doing this project I've given you and something else.

 


[00:20:14.870] - Subha
I'm sorry. I just can't see that. And she says, yeah, my mother always gets annoyed with me because I'm always listening to music. And then she said to me, I have ADD, ADHD, and this music actually calms me down, allows me to hyper-focus, something I didn't know and didn't understand. So it's also great when they're able to come and tell you she did not feel the obligation to hide the fact that she had ADD, ADHD. That's what we've created in the workplace. So if each one paused a little bit to listen to the other, that is one. The second one is being able to respect people for who they are and what they want to do. And I promise you, I expected a great work product. And guess what? It was flawless. It was flawless. So the bottom line is, but she had to challenge me to trust that she could do it, that my way of doing it was not just the only way. So it comes with a little bit of respect, a lot of trust, and each one thinking, I have my perspective, but let me learn about how I can walk into the other shoe and sit in it.

 


[00:21:27.100] - Subha
Does that help you? Yes.

 


[00:21:29.920] - Joya
Yes, thank you. I'll be tuned into that a little bit more. I try to do that now, but.

 


[00:21:34.510] - Subha
It's very hard given.

 


[00:21:36.030] - Joya
My generation, but I'll have.

 


[00:21:37.740] - Subha
To.

 


[00:21:38.190] - Joya
Keen in a little bit more. Thank you. You're welcome. Braima Roddam is an attorney at a firm called Chug. Braima, what is your question?

 


[00:21:47.430] - 
Thank you, Joy, and thank you so much for this. It's very interesting.

 


[00:21:52.530] - 
I've always been.

 


[00:21:54.660] - 
Drawn to this space and have also considered branching off into this.

 


[00:22:01.140] - 
Space as well from practicing law.

 


[00:22:04.190] -
But my question to you is, what are your thoughts on  treating people.

 


[00:22:10.760] - 

Who don't have.

 


[00:22:11.670] - 

Families or children at.

 


[00:22:13.030] -

Home or who are single.

 


[00:22:14.850] - 

Differently than people who have children or may have other obligations?

 


[00:22:20.360] - 

And this is not true.

 


[00:22:30.950] - 
I react to this. Oh, you have toSorry.

 


[00:22:45.240] - Joya
Prema, I think you're breaking up, but I.

 


[00:22:48.350] - 
Think- I thought it was my network. I'm sorry.

 


[00:22:50.920] - Joya
Prema, I'm sorry you're breaking up, but the question is, how do you treat people equitably when they clearly are feeling people at home? How do you address that? Okay.

 


[00:23:01.640] - Subha
It's a really great question. And as a young manager in one of my early roles, I had a team of six. I remember when I talked about this person that was uber-religious and really felt like they needed to go to mass every day, this was an older Hispanic man. I also had somebody that was really young. I had a few of us who had children. I had had some serious health issues, so I always had lots of doctor's appointments. And there was always this notion that the ones that were single were bearing the burden of having to pick up the slack every time somebody else had another obligation that they needed to attend to. And specifically, it related to children getting sick or daycare falling out, or et cetera, et cetera. And so what we did was we made a social contract. We got the group together and each one put on the table what it is that they wanted to be shown consideration for. And the other part of it is what was it that they could do in excess of what would be demanded of them. So for me, it was, look, my doctor's appointments are usually unpredictable, depending upon when I'm a six-time cancer survivor.

 


[00:24:32.400] - Subha

So you can imagine how many appointments I used to have. So whenever I got in was when I got in. So I used to say, I need to be shown consideration for that. Of course, I was the manager that almost gave me a position of power, but I didn't want to abuse that. So that was my request. What I gave back in return was I said to them, while I have children, I am really great at keeping on top of screening emails and looking at things that need to get done. And so I can be thrown things that I can do over the weekend. The young person wanted to exercise every day and they wanted to do it at lunch hour. So that was what they wanted to be shown consideration for. The person with young children, where daycare was unpredictable sometimes said, I need to be able to work from home and work flexibly. But guess what? I can I can take calls on behalf of the other. Each one puts something into the pot and asked to be shown consideration for something. And all of a sudden, it wasn't as though one person was bearing all the burden for it, we all shared.

 


[00:25:44.060] - Subha
And then on a monthly basis, we would review to see how responsive people were, what was going well and what wasn't. And it ultimately became one where it built so much trust in the team that we appreciated. Nobody said, well, why can't you work out later in the evening or earlier in the morning? Well, this person likes to sleep in late. They usually came in and they barely made it to work on time. So that is why lunch hour workouts were what they wanted to do. And they wanted evening to socialize and go out with friends. So that's not when they wanted to work out either. But it wasn't my job to question why they did things a certain way. It was my job to help show that consideration. And once everybody was in together on it, all of a sudden, it seemed to work out. Does that make sense to you? Absolutely. It's a brilliant way of addressing it. Thank you.

 


[00:26:35.600] - Joya

Marionne Morrow is CEO of FinTech Concern in Foster City, California. It's called ninth gear, and she's clearing foreign currency transactions in nanoseconds versus the usual settlement time. Marionne, what is your question?

 


[00:26:49.330] - 
Pleasure to meet you. Thank you so much for leading this topic. I am.

 


[00:26:53.410] - 
Often asked.

 


[00:26:54.770] - 
To be on panels to speak about either FX or blockchain distributed ledger technology. Oftentimes, I'm the token female, and I never want to be there just because I'm female. I want to be there because I am a badass and understand all of these different topics. What is the phraseology that you would use to say that the man or the all-male panel has to go? Do you have some wisdom on that? I would say to you, when I'm invited to the panel, I would say to them, Well, who else do you have in there? What is the diversity on your panel? Usually, they start out with saying, Well, there's not enough women in this space, and there's not enough people of color in this space. Part of what you need to do is have up your sleeve a few more who are diverse. So you can suggest some names. Yeah. The words that they use are, Do you know any competent women?

 


[00:27:54.260] - 
Which.

 


[00:27:54.800] - 
Would never have the word men come after the word competent. Do you know any competent men? That happens all the time. I know. Humor is a great way to be able to diffuse that. I would say, yeah, I know as many competent women as there are mediocre men in this space. So use humor. Use humor as a way to be able to diffuse it. I started my career as a commodities trader, and you can only imagine how many Indian women there were trading commodities. Not very many. You were the only bull on the bullpen, Suba.

 


[00:28:32.000] - Subha
Well, I was. But it is a token. You know what? When I was top of the leaderboard, it didn't matter. They didn't hire me ever because I was the token. Because remember, in the mid-80s, there was no reason. I wanted to do it, and I was persistent, and I was a badass. And so the reality is ultimately you prove it with the work you do. But they were... They were mean sometimes. I'd walk by and they'd say, Is that Curry we smell? Obviously, I'm Indian, and I'm not ever going to not be Indian. And it was hurtful. But what I realized was they were not doing it to hurt me. They were just doing it so they could get me off my game. So they would use whatever they could with anybody. They were equal opportunity abuses, no matter who was there. And the only way to get back at them was to be at the top of your game and to just shut them up with your numbers, which is what I did, and that worked. So I would say to you, have a few good women, people of color, ideas up your sleeve.

 


[00:29:48.610] - Subha
You become that ally. Say to them, I'm asking you the question, but I'm never going to ask you a question to which I don't know the answer. When you say to me, Do you know a few? I know many. And here is it, I'm going to give you four or five. Let's make sure we have a few more than just one, will we? And that can be a way you come back at them. And you keep doing that, you'd be surprised what happens.

 


[00:30:10.560] - Joya
Emily is partner at the Bellards Far, which is a law firm in Philadelphia. Emily, what is your question? Yeah, thank you. And this has been really interesting. What you said about office culture and needing to create belonging, I totally agree with that. And I also agree the importance of leadership and how it's the leader you deal with on a daily basis that makes a difference for our associates as opposed to top leadership. Do you have any advice now that we're remote? It's not so much about the office anymore locally. We run teams cross-departmentally or cross-office nationally, and that's new for a law firm. So I.

 


[00:30:54.070] - 
Just was curious about your advice. Law has been one area where I know that there was this FaceTime culture that we never thought could be in any ways contended with. And look what happened. Overnight, every law firm has figured out that you don't need to do all this whining and dining, and that you could do meetings on Zoom and still get the results. And remote work is completely not only possible, but it actually works really well. But there is still a way in which people can get included and excluded, even if you're on Zoom calls. And and the ability for people to be thoughtful and conscious about who speaks and who doesn't, who gets heard, whose ideas come to the fore. And so there needs to be this notion of allyship in that space that can absolutely make the difference. So I think just because you're virtual, and sooner than later, people are going to come back to work. And chances are that it's going to be the men who want to come back to work first. And so this question about added bias around women who choose to continue to work from home, knowing that work can be done and work can be done very effectively and efficiently, there will still be bias against location.

 


[00:32:19.760] - Subha
And I think we need to guard for that and watch for that. But I think that as you get to be senior, the ability, and your younger folk, your and Gen Z will absolutely speak up. They do not believe in staying quiet anymore. Just make sure that they get heard.

 


[00:32:40.850] - Joya
Melanie Curtis is a pro skydiver. She is an author, she is a coach, and she's been doing a series of demo jumps in this last year to raise awareness for women's issues. Melanie, what is your question? 

Hi. I don't know if I have a fully formed question, but I'm curious about your thoughts, your expanded thoughts on allyship.

 


[00:33:02.900] - 
Because.

 


[00:33:03.260] - 
I feel.

 


[00:33:03.740] - 
Like I engage.

 


[00:33:04.580] - 
Allyship from a couple of.

 


[00:33:06.410] - 
Different directions.

 


[00:33:07.760] - 
As a white ally, I'm always curious how I can learn more, what I can do more, how I can be a.

 


[00:33:14.620] - 
Better ally in that lane?

 


[00:33:17.020] -
And equally.

 


[00:33:18.120] - 
How can I enroll male.

 


[00:33:20.210] - 
Allies in the space of the women's rights work that I'm doing? So anyway, it's a lot in my brain. So I'm more just like, if you have any words of wisdom to speak to either of those, I would be grateful.

 


[00:33:34.440] - Subha
So one of my early experiences with allyship, both being a commodities trader and then a wealth advisor, was it was a very male-dominated business and predominantly white and male. What I realized was that allyship demands two qualities. I have found that men, white men actually have those in spades. Quality one is a sense of fairness and justice. And the quality two is courage. So just having a sense of fairness and justice isn't enough. You need to have the courage to speak up in a peer group setting where maybe many of your peers may be voicing something else. One of my earliest experiences with this was with the investment bankers at Merrill Lynch, where again, male-dominated culture. So when a woman was making her way up to become a managing director, very often there was mostly an all-male group that would weigh in on her preparedness, readiness, et cetera, for it, and they had to vote on it. There would be words thrown around like, I'm not sure she's just ready yet. She's not a fit with certain clients or she lacks this, I don't know. I can't even put a word to it. And those were the conversations.

 


[00:35:10.340] - Subha
It took sometimes one of their own that would say, You know, look at her performance. She's done an outstanding job. Look at the revenue she brought in over the course of last year. What are you really talking about? Sometimes it was appearance. Sometimes it was just their style. Men being as aggressive as that would be hailed as wonderful, amazing rainmakers and women being the same way were thought as being bitches. But it took one of their own to really step up to say and call them out. And usually, this happens in forums where simply the women aren't there to defend themselves or speak for themselves. So one of the things we did at Merrill was we polled the top 50 women about who their top three male allies were. I didn't expect 150 names, but I expected 100 names, and we got 80 names. So it seemed like the same 80 guys were running around helping all these different women. What was interesting about that was when we interviewed them and asked them about what did you have in common? Did you grow up with a mom who worked? Do you have a wife who works?

 


[00:36:27.440] - Subha
Do you have daughters who are going into the workforce. What was your motivation? It really didn't have anything to do with that a circumstance. There were many of them who had wives that were not working outside the home. So it came out of them having this strong sense of fairness and justice and the courage to speak up when other people said something that was unfair. Those are the two things I would ask you. In an ally, look for those.

 


[00:36:59.100] - Joya
Love it. Thank you so much. Michelle Gola-Pali sits in Philadelphia, and she is spearheading DNI for her organization. Michelle, I'm most interested in your question today. 

Thank you, Joya, and thank you so much for this. I find it

[00:37:13.130] - 
To be very helpful.

 


[00:37:15.240] - 
My question is really.

 


[00:37:16.840] - 

Quite specific to employee.

 


[00:37:19.240] - 
Resource groups that organizations almost always have. What do you see as the key factors that make them successful?

 


[00:37:28.900] - Subha
There are several factors, actually. But the first one is having a combination of a sense of purpose for what they are created for. Usually, these are grassroots. In my experience, they start out as people coming together because something is lacking for that particular group. So defining that and putting that sense of what is this group for and what are the wins for the employees and what are the wins for the companies as a result of having these groups, that's one. Second is a governance around the structure, and that can go to who is leading it? What are the committees? What is the financing for it? Who is the senior executive leader? Who is the sponsor for it? What are the term limits? How are things measured? All of those I put under the umbrella of governance, having a governance around it. And the last piece is really integrating the work they do into what the company is wanting to accomplish, whether it be a support in recruiting, in retention and development, in promotion, in business development, in community connection, in the philanthropy piece. It could actually have so many different tentacles. But defining them and creating metrics around them, having the proper leadership around it, and recognizing and rewarding these, because in most companies, it's like a second job.

 


[00:39:12.450] - Subha
I'm doing this as my... Well, I have my day job, and then I'm doing this. You know what? Say to them that 75 % of your compensation comes from your day job, and 25 % of your compensation comes from your leadership role in the employee resource groups. If you do that and you measure it accordingly and you reward them accordingly, you're going to get some real substance in return.

 


[00:39:36.690] - Joya
So amazing. Navina Chabria is a graphic design artist. She's also an illustrator. Navina, what is your question? Hi, Suval. I'm so happy to be here because I've enjoyed all your answers. It's been so great. My question to you is one of my practices as an illustrator is to reach.

 


[00:39:55.940] - 
Out to prospective clients almost every day. I'm wondering how I could represent myself as a Brown.

 


[00:40:02.290] - 
Woman better.

 


[00:40:06.230] - Subha
It's interesting. I use an example. When I first came from India, I came here as a student. I got my MBA and I was applying for jobs. If everybody else applied for 35, 40 jobs and got 10-12 second interviews and 2-3 offers, I had to send out 200 job applications to get to that same number. Then when I went in and actually was presenting myself, I did not have the benefit and advantage of having gone to high school or undergraduate university in this country, didn't have family and network, et cetera. The ability for me to take my skills and abilities and translate them in a way that positioned me as being value added as compared to my other classmates was what would make me stand out. So what did I speak about? I spoke about my global mindset. I had grown up in a different country. I had a different lens through which I saw the world. And that's what made me a value add and different. I also grew up in a culture where my undergrad degree was in accounting, math, and economics. So being good at data analytics and math, all of that was considered to be, it's innate.

 


[00:41:40.360] - Subha
So this notion of being able to use those bragging rights around that was valuable. So every single experience I had, my drive as an immigrant, I saw that as a value add. There was nothing that I could fall back on except myself. So what I did was I took each of those things I had considered a disadvantage, and I tried to look at the mirror face of it, which was an advantage, and encapsulated my pitch when I was going to these interviews around all of those advantages, turning it on its head and getting the interviewer to look at me very differently. So I would say to you that you have to learn to do the same with whatever it is that you do. And it wasn't that I was brown. It wasn't just that I was different, but I saw that as a value and not as a disadvantage.

 


[00:42:35.390] - Joya
I'm going to follow up on that. But how do you also do that as a woman? Going back to what Marianne was saying, you're being pitched to be on a panel, and it's all men. But now how do you add value as a woman given that you're still coming to the table with the same set of skills?

 


[00:42:51.300] - Subha
So it's really interesting, and I don't know how many of you watched that movie Trouble with the Curve. It's a movie about with Clint Eastwood made it with Amy Adams, who is his daughter. Clint Eastwood is a baseball scout. So typically in baseball, it's all mostly men that are these scouts. I don't think they have a single woman scout. If they do I don't know it. But the reality is that we look at things differently. We innately come, when you think about leadership qualities, women lead differently. They lead more collaboratively. They really seek a lot of the different opinions before forming the decision that needs to be made. They still make the decisions, but they are considering all the different viewpoints. We are not in command and control mode where we want to take the hill and plant the flag on top of it. So we are now at a point in time where that leadership competency is starting to be valued. What we are finding is that there are male leadership qualities and female leadership qualities. They are different. What we are finding now is we need both. You do need that risk-taking ability, that command and control.

 


[00:44:17.910] - Subha
You also need the empathy, the vulnerability, the ability to relate to people. And as a good leader, as a good CEO, knowing what to pull out when is what makes you a unique leader. Women are also, in my opinion, better at leading diversity. They are better and more comfortable with hearing deferring opinions and be able to synthesize it into what is needed going forward in a way that is different and better than the way men do. I'm not saying all the men are that way, but it's much more of a feminine quality in terms of leadership. So I would say to you, the ability to help shape the narrative around women's leadership, being more inclusive, being more empathetic, really allows you to position yourself that's going to be far more successful, because ultimately, what we want is the outcome. We don't want to leave scorched earth along the way. Ultimately, you want to bring people along as you move forward.

 


[00:45:25.490] - Joya
Ayesha Robinson is a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch, and she has been tasked with the yoke of implementing diversity and inclusion and getting more diverse candidates into the hallowed halls of Merrill Lynch. So Ayesha, what is your question today? Oh, good afternoon, everyone. I apologize for coming a little bit late. I was in my and I was in my boot camp for the eighth day straight.

 


[00:45:48.790] - 

So, Subha

 


[00:45:49.910] - 
Wonderful to hear you speak again. I have apologies for tapping in a little bit late, but I guess what I'm trying to frame around the conversation around diversity in my company is not just about opening the doors to those opportunities for more candidates, both female and people of other ethnicities, but more so how do we engage with them and help them and lift them up and provide them the opportunities to let them succeed?

 


[00:46:22.510] - 
Because it isn't just about.

 


[00:46:24.590] - 
Wanting your organization to reflect.

 


[00:46:27.310] - 
That culture.

 


[00:46:29.080] -
But.

 


[00:46:29.380] - 
Also the.

 


[00:46:30.230] - 
Recognizing and acknowledging the fact that they come from backgrounds that makes their ability to succeed a little bit more difficult, particularly in the fields of finance.

 


[00:46:40.840] - Subha
It's a great question. I would say to you that when you don't come from a background where financial literacy was core to the way you grew up, your learning curve is deeper. So I'll give you an example. I was a wealth advisor. I was a trader. And so my children grew up from a very young age knowing and understanding what that was, what savings meant. Very early on they knew how to have a bank account and balance their checkbook. And the first job I think my daughter got, she was freshman in high school, and she started working as the earliest she could, and putting money away and saving for something that she wanted, and knowing the value of that, knowing how to, in some ways, defer your sense of satisfaction around wanting something. You could spend it today on something. At that point in time, I think it was beanie babies, but deferring that to the longer term and saying, I'm going to put money away. And by the time I graduate high school, maybe I'll be able to get a car. Because I had said to her, for every dollar you save, I'm going to give you three, and you'll be able to buy yourself a nice car.

 


[00:48:15.150] - Subha
And I thought to myself over her few years after spending the money she did that she would put away, I was hoping she would put away about $3,000, $4,000. And so I would put in another three times as much, $12,000, along with this $4,000, it'd be $16,000, so about $18,000. She could get a nice used car. And she put away $20,000 in those four years. So I had to match it. And you can only imagine. Of course, then she said, I'm not actually going to buy a car for all that money. I'll buy a used BMW X3, which is what she got when she graduated high school, and put the bank the rest of the money, and then started to buy stocks, and she would buy products she used. So this is something that growing up in my household, she learned to do. She learned to save. She learned to invest. This doesn't happen with a lot of families, with a lot of communities of color. And so the ability to be able to bring them up to speed and helping them understand how to do it, which is really why I think it's important when you're going to communities of color, and especially socio economically disadvantaged communities, because I would say to you, socio economically disadvantaged Blacks and Hispanic are very much like socio economically disadvantaged YTS.

 


[00:49:44.070] - Subha
And soin financial services, I would say to you, there need to be programs like schools like the Lawrenceville School where my children both went. There are programs to bring in kids into a boot camp to begin with. They come for the summers starting once they've been accepted, they come in, I think, a month in advance to prep for it. And there is support structures during the course of their years in school. Universities do the same things for kids that are first time college boards. And I believe organizations like Merrill Lynch and other financial services companies should have similar types of support afforded to these people that they recruit from backgrounds where they may not have that understanding or that leg up.

 


[00:50:33.940] - Joya
Ritu Kandwal is in the business analytics space. She is a consultant. Ritu, what is your question? 

 


[00:50:41.370] - 
This is Very.

 


[00:50:41.710] - 
Helpful.

 


[00:50:44.700] - 
I want to.

 


[00:50:45.300] - 
Ask.

 


[00:50:46.150] - 
What conscious efforts at.

 


[00:50:48.330] - 
Working Mother's.

 


[00:50:49.710] - Subha
Media do you do to hire people who are not really a reflection of you or your thoughts? Because I also believe that diversity is not just about color or where are you coming from, but also about thinking and experiences. So what.

 


[00:51:08.500] - 
Efforts do.

 


[00:51:09.550] - 
You do at your own company to.

 


[00:51:13.440] - 
Reflect that?

 


[00:51:15.320] - Subha
It's a great question. We are a very mission-driven organization. Cereemount really focuses on helping organizations, primarily corporations. We have about 450 clients, most of them, Fortune 1,000 companies, that are looking to create inclusive work environments for their parents and caregivers that are employees of those companies, for women and women of color and for other dimensions of diversity. So that mission orientation, even though we are a for-profit company, that mission orientation forms the basis. So if somebody were to come in and really not believe in that mission, I'm going to say to you that that would be a deal breaker. If you don't really fundamentally believe in that mission, there's probably something else you're going to be very good at. It's just not here. But we hire people from all different races, ethnicities, we have two people in the organization that are on the autism spectrum. So we look for lots of different types of diversity dimensions, but the mission orientation has to be there at the fundamental foundation of it. Does that make sense to you?

 


[00:52:31.510] - Joya
It does. And why I asked you this question is, and I'll tell you this, as an Indian, we gravitate.

 


[00:52:37.460] - Subha
Towards more South Asian or Indian.

 


[00:52:39.820] - 
I.

 


[00:52:42.730] - 
Myself see that 90 %.

 


[00:52:45.170] - 
Of percent, 95 %.

 


[00:52:46.480] - Subha
Of friends are Indian. We feel that comfort level. I was just trying to understand those balance of where I 100 % believe in diversity.

 


[00:52:56.900] - 
But we.

 


[00:52:58.930] - 
Have.

 


[00:52:59.400] - 
This.

 


[00:53:00.050] - 
Internal things of.

 


[00:53:01.950] - 
Gravitating towards our own.

 


[00:53:03.760] - Subha
Roots and own people. You're right. I would say to you, each one of you should ask yourself, when was the last time? Who are my friends? What do they look like? When is the last time I had dinner? I'm not saying lunch because lunch you can eat with colleagues at work, dinner, this is pre-pandemic and this is post-pandemic. When is the last time you had dinner with someone who didn't look like you? What is your network like? See, I have a built-in advantage. My husband is a white man, so we have a very, very diverse mix of friends. Some are white, some are black, some are Indian, et cetera. But for most people, I look at my sister, she's married to another Indian man, and most of her friends are Indian. And I ask her, When have you made the actual effort to be good friends, close friends with somebody from the black community? How do you relate to and understand what they go through? What is systemic racism? And we are lucky because my son's best friends have been through grade school, high school, and even college, and even now are Black men. And they are socio economically quite advantage.

 


[00:54:18.700] - Subha
So that's not the issue there. But the question I ask my son very often is, when you get pulled over by a police officer, what do you do? And he goes, well, I probably was speeding. So that's why they pulled me over. I apologize. And I said, do you have to put your hands up on the steering wheel? What else do you have to do? And he goes, none of that. So the reality is that he takes certain things for granted that his other Black friends cannot. The ability for him to understand and empathize with that is really, really important. I've never had a conversation with my son about how to respect authority, et cetera. I tell him to be respectful, but I've never feared for his life. Most of my Black friends have feared for their children's lives, especially when they say they're in a nice car, they're driving a nice car through a nice neighborhood. People don't make the assumption that somehow they belong there. They make the assumption that they somehow got into that car when they shouldn't be there. So the ability to empathize and understand the other can only come out of getting to know them well.

 


[00:55:28.740] - Subha
And so I take it back to the question, when is the last time you had dinner with somebody who didn't look like you? Who do you socialize with? How have you tried to expand and grow that? Because how would this happen?

 


[00:55:41.450] - Joya
We have four minutes left, and I want to make sure the last two people get their questions in. So Shreya Meytha is a contemporary fine artist. And I suspect where her question is going to come from is that she's also a fourth generation diamond wholesaler. So she's got an entire team that reports into her for that. So Shreya, what is your question?

 


[00:55:59.620] -
Thank you so much.

 


[00:56:01.330] - 
So we are a family-owned business, and we are, I would say, mostly.

 


[00:56:08.020] - 
Asians.

 


[00:56:08.790] - 
Working in our company. So it's very hard. When we talk about diversity, it's actually.

 


[00:56:13.810] - 
Going the.

 


[00:56:14.490] - 
Other way. We don't have Caucasians. We do have just outsourced work, but in our physical location, it's just all Indians. We're all very family-oriented. So how do we attract the.

 


[00:56:28.410] - 
Other side? How do we...

 


[00:56:30.080] - 
When we have applicants, how do we not turn them off and they'll be like, oh, this is just.

 


[00:56:35.250] - 
Indian people in here and let me walk out? So I just.

 


[00:56:38.320] - 
Want to understand from another point of view, how would you tackle that?

 


[00:56:42.360] - Subha
It's a really interesting question. I don't know how often you may go in to talk about what you do to inner city schools as an example, because you make the assumption that somehow this gift and this ability to be expert gemologist can only come from having that seat inside you. But the reality is you may have kids from other communities who are very, very interested in this, but if they've never known it, how will they even imagine that they could be it? It's the same thing about a girl being a baseball scout. If you can't see it, you can't be it. So the idea that you start to... You have to build your own pipeline of diverse talent. So maybe some of what you do and your family members do is go out and speak about it at schools and start to really seed some interest and enthusiasm. Then maybe you create internships where people can come in and experience it and what it feels like. Now, it may have to have a longer tail in order for you to actually get critical mass for this. But if you never start, then you're never going to get there ever.

 


[00:57:55.740] - Joya
I love that. Taruna Sharma is our last person. Taruna is a real estate broker with Core. She, of course, deals with a very diverse clientele and that she services Manhattan. Taruna, what is your question? 

Hi, Super. My question is related to Navinas, and I'm going to flip it on the other side. I have diverse clients. But what advice would you give to someone like me, whose main job is to network and get to know people that I don't know? So what advice would you give to someone like that, being in sales and networking?

 


[00:58:27.230] - Subha
Well, part of it is money is green, and it doesn't matter who it comes from. So the ability for you to understand whether it is a certain area within Manhattan that you specialize in, yes, there are areas that are more ethnic than others. But if your reach is wider, then you need to be able to cast a net that is wider. And while you may have an advantage with a potential South Asian client, or whether it's in securing the sale of their house or selling it to them, the bottom line is you cannot afford to limit who you buy and sell homes from and to. So from that perspective, you need to think of it as being comfortable casting a wider net than just your own community from the perspective of the profile. But there is nothing wrong in saying, I know that other things being equal, that I probably will have a better shot at getting the listing from a South Asian or selling a house to a South Asian than my white counterpart. That may be the case. It may not be the case. In fact, sometimes Indians have a reverse bias. They would rather do business with somebody that's not from their own community.

 


[00:59:49.800] - Subha
So it goes both ways. But there's always a niche where you find that you have an affinity with somebody that you're more comfortable with. I always felt like when I was building my book of business, I was very comfortable with the Jewish community, really comfortable. I felt like we had so much in common and that I could relate to them. So guess what? You also have to know what comes a little more naturally to you and specialize in that. Nothing wrong with that. And I don't know what that niche may be for you, but it's yours to explore and find out so that you're able to cultivate that. I love that.

 


[01:00:26.960] - Joya
Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Subha, thank you. We are at one o'clock, and I want to be mindful and respectful of your time. This is wonderful. You're very inspirational to listen to. Any closing thoughts before we break here?

 


[01:00:40.880] - Subha
Well, I would say to you, whatever you do, there is a risk involved in it. If you've never taken that risk and you've never failed, then I'm going to say to you, you're leaving something out. So be a risk taker. Take risk often and learn from each of those successes or failures because they fuel you. That's one. Two, start to find your allies. You start to find your network or support structure of people that you're going to lean on who are going to help you in this journey, whatever it is that you're doing. Who do you lean on? Who are, whether you call it your board of directors, whether you call it your allies, you can name them anything. But you better have that group because nothing gets done just all by yourself. And if you are expecting people to advocate for you, to support you, to cheer you on, who are you cheering on? Who are you advocating for? Who are you supporting? Figure that out also, because you can receive, but it's always more fun to give, find a way to be able to do both. And I wish you all a lot of luck.

 


[01:01:52.160] - Joya
Thank you so much, Subha. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

 


[01:01:56.210] - Subha
Thank you.