Cascading Leadership - The Show

If You Want to Be a Destination Employer, Stop Treating People as if They're Disposable

February 09, 2023 Jim Season 3 Episode 6
Cascading Leadership - The Show
If You Want to Be a Destination Employer, Stop Treating People as if They're Disposable
Show Notes Transcript


John Graham Jr. joined Dr. Jim for a conversation about creating a talent attraction flywheel and how cultural intelligence for the C-suite to recruitment is critical for sustained success. They discussed the importance of the question who benefits and the need for everyone in the enterprise to own the A-word if they want to solve turnover.  The conversation provided insights into how to create an effective talent attraction flywheel.

John is a specialist in employer branding and recruitment marketing. He helps organizations reflectively hold up a mirror to their culture and employees' lived experiences, and then articulate this experience to attract, engage, and retain talent. Employer brand is important because it is the way that people experience and perceive your organization. 

When candidates are looking for a place to work, they are exposed to your employer brand through a multitude of touchpoints and it speaks on your behalf before they even get to a recruiter. Therefore, it is important to shape the narrative and the story of who you are.

John and Jim discuss the importance of understanding the needs of marginalized talent in the job market. Graham Jr. is the author of the book Plantation Theory: The Black Professional Struggle Between Freedom and Security, which examines the daily experiences of black professionals in the corporate world, as well as the epigenetic programming that affects their autonomy and control over labor. The book encourages better conversations and provides better questions to help shape better outcomes for marginalized communities.

John and Jim discussed the importance of advancing constructive conversation in organizations. To do this, John suggests that executive leadership must confront their own insecurities and be willing to address them in order to make substantial change. 



"Interview with John Graham Jr. on Creating a Talent Attraction Flywheel"


Exploring the Importance of Employer Branding and DEI Initiatives 


Conversation on Advancing Constructive Conversations for Meaningful Change


Moving Beyond the Attraction Hamster Wheel


Exploring the Challenges of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace


"Exploring the Impact of Unconscious Bias on Hiring Decisions"


 Building Cultural Intelligence and Increasing Representation of Marginalized Communities in the Workplace


"Creating a Culture of Inclusion and Employee Advocacy"


"Creating an Inclusive Culture Through Accountability and Authenticity"


"Creating an Inclusive Recruitment Model"


"Creating an Attraction Model for Talent Acquisition: Key Considerations for HR Leaders"

Music Credit: Music Credit: Maarten Schellekens - Riviera

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 Author Spotlight - John Graham Jr. 

Author Spotlight - John Graham Jr. 

[00:00:00] Dr. Jim: I am your friendly neighborhood talent strategy nerd, Dr. Jim. And today we have a great show in store with a lot of phenomenal learning that we're gonna have in the uh, in the episode. Hopefully I don't butcher much more of my questions or comments throughout the conversation, so there's that too.

[00:00:18] Dr. Jim: The topic is gonna be on creating a talent attraction fly with. We're gonna cover a lot of ground, but there's some particular things that I want to pay. That I want to draw attention to.

[00:00:26] Dr. Jim: So in this conversation, we're going to learn why, how cultural intelligence for the C-suite to recruitment is critical for sustained success. And we're gonna, we're gonna talk in depth about that. We're gonna learn why the question, who benefits is arguably the most critical question that you should be asking in a talent, capacity. And then we're also gonna learn that if you want to solve for turnover, what "A-word" needs to be owned by [00:01:00] everybody at the enterprise. So lot of stuff that we're gonna cover and the Yoda for today. Sorry, I didn't mean to call you a Yoda, but the person that is going to guide us through this entire conversation joining us is John Graham Jr.

[00:01:14] Dr. Jim: John, welcome to the show. 

[00:01:15] John Graham Jr.: Thank you so much. Dr. Jim and accurate, your label was Yoda for sure. 

[00:01:21] Dr. Jim: You're hitting all of the nerd areas and I appreciate that you're, and it's just plain old Jim. It's only Dr. Jim in the bubble and on my signature panel. So we're all friends here.

[00:01:33] Dr. Jim: John, I want you to share with the audience for those that are not familiar with who you are and a lot of the great things that you've done throughout your career, share with us a little bit about your background and experience and then we'll dive into the conversation.

[00:01:47] John Graham Jr.: Certainly. Thank you again for having me, first and foremost, husband, father, son. An only child, but a brother to many. I am a leader in the employer [00:02:00] brand, global employer brand diversity and culture space, and an active participant in the advancement of this industry at Shaker Recruitment Marketing. So my work centers on helping organizations define who they are as a.

[00:02:16] John Graham Jr.: Hold up the mirror to them reflectively in terms of what their employees lived experiences are, and then help them articulate that experience to attract, engage, and retain through the levers and mechanisms of employer branding and recruitment marketing. So ensuring that d e I is interlaced into. Your culture, cultural expression, not as a lead tack on at the back end, but at the very fundamental beginnings through quantitative and qualitative approaches.

[00:02:45] Dr. Jim: Thanks for sharing that. There's a couple of things that I want to dive into right away before we get to the meat of the conversation. I think when we think about the concept of employer branding and what Shaker does, can you share a little bit about why that's important [00:03:00] in general, but especially today?

[00:03:01] Dr. Jim: If you're an organization that really cares about your D E I B initiatives and advancing those initiatives, 

[00:03:08] John Graham Jr.: first and foremost, employer brand is extremely important because who you are as an organization is not. Necessarily defined by you. It's experienced by people who come into contact with your brand and through an employer brand.

[00:03:23] John Graham Jr.: It's their lived experiences while working there. And so when candidates are seeking to find a new place to lend their time and talents and expertise, they're hitting a multitude of touchpoints across the digital footprint, personal networks, and To formulate and be informed on where they're going to go change their talents for remuneration.

[00:03:43] John Graham Jr.: And your employer brand speaks on your behalf before they even get to a recruiter. And so it's important to be able to at least shape that narrative, shape, that story, and that reflection of who you are. As a culture, as an organization so that candidates can make the most informed decision [00:04:00] possible, and it's even more so important as we think about what marginalized talent in the marketplace are experiencing up your brand and whether or not your brand matches reality.

[00:04:10] John Graham Jr.: Meaning is what you're selling going to be reflective of what I'll experience once I become an employee? 

[00:04:15] Dr. Jim: I think one of the other things that I'm gonna say this out loud. I'm a little disappointed you didn't mention this in the early part of the conversation.

[00:04:22] Dr. Jim: There's a, there's another aspect of advancing the conversation about marginalized communities that you left out in the intro, and that's your book. So tell us a little bit about, we have a bestselling author. Who didn't talk about his book in his interest, eh? So 

[00:04:38] John Graham Jr.: I'm all about Ali. Oops, Jen. I don't want to take all of the dunks.

[00:04:42] John Graham Jr.: Yes. I'm also a bestselling author of the book that you can see behind me, plantation Theory, the Black Professional Struggle between Freedom and Security, and obviously available wherever books are sold but preferred. If you want to sign copies, go to plantation now. [00:05:00] That book is effectively connecting the dots between history and the modern day lived experiences of black professionals, the nuances that are navigated within corporate drugs on a daily basis, and the world alike, as well as challenging some of the epigenetic programming.

[00:05:19] John Graham Jr.: That we have yet to wrestle with in terms of decoding to alter the course and change in terms of our autonomy and control of our outcomes and outputs of labor. A lot of meat packed into, or vegetables packed into a 150 page book, but it is certainly a dialogue advancer and a supplier of better questions so that we can at least start to broach some better 

[00:05:44] John Graham Jr.: solutions.

[00:05:45] Dr. Jim: I really what you just said right there, About advancing the dialogue, and I think that's so important because I think the more conversations that you can create with as many people as you can, the more [00:06:00] progress that it's made. What I know this isn't part of the main conversation that we're about to have, but one of the things that I'm curious about, , if the goal is to advance conversations and the goal is to advance more constructive conversations, what are the things that organizations should be thinking about to purely create the environment, to have those conversations and have it be productive?

[00:06:24] John Graham Jr.: Yeah. Yeah. That's a phenomenal question. And at base level, you have to first and foremost wrestle with your own insecurities if you are in an executive leadership position, and what I mean by that, I've seen some of the most well thought out, brilliantly constructed strategies for d e I run into brick walls based on the discomfort and insecurity of one person with enough power and decision making.

[00:06:51] John Graham Jr.: Authority to halt it. And when you think about that one person's, Ooh, we're just not there yet, or I don't think we're ready [00:07:00] yet, can determine the daily lived experiences for hundreds, if not thousands of people. And so if you don't attack. Poor choice of words. If you don't acknowledge and phase head on what your insecurities are as a leader in a power dominant, highly statused and privileged position within your organization, then any initiative you support is going to stall at the point of substantial change because you yourself have not identified what you're comfortable with, what you're not comfortable with, and why.

[00:07:33] John Graham Jr.: And so I think that is first and foremost a requisite. For approaching this for meaningful change.

[00:07:38] Dr. Jim: I think the way that I heard it, and you can a, absolutely correct me if I'm wrong, the way that I interpreted what you just said is that a lot of senior leaders or executives let the perfect be the enemy of the good and don't start the conversation at all.

[00:07:53] Dr. Jim: And that's how I interpreted it. And you gotta start somewhere. Let's be real. We're all. Let's have these [00:08:00] conversations because that's how you move the ball forward. What's your response to that? 

[00:08:03] John Graham Jr.: I would say that perfect being the enemy of good would actually be great problem to have. What I think is that there's still been no defined destination.

[00:08:11] John Graham Jr.: What you hear consistently is, this is a journey, but I'm like, all journeys should have a destination. Or else the price of gas being what it is today. If we were to just get in a car and go some. It's not too economically efficient, number one, but number two, you're wasting time. So if we're on a journey together, truly, let's have some conversation about what is the defined destination?

[00:08:32] John Graham Jr.: When will we know we've arrived? When do we take the off ramp to say, oh, you know what? This might not be the right direction. There's a detour, there's a better way. And we still haven't had that honest conversation about what does this destination look like for all parties, especially those most margin.

[00:08:48] Dr. Jim: that, that makes a lot of sense. And when you mentioned the destination and framing out exactly what that looks like, something that just popped into my mind, and this is from my work on the podcast that I do an organization [00:09:00] locally that's doing a really good job and it starts just like what you mentioned from the top down.

[00:09:04] Dr. Jim: Yeah. Molson Coors beverage company in Milwaukee. Gavin Hattersley is the ceo and I've had several people on his team. On my show. So I've had Mary Beth Berg who is very active in women in technology, in creating a women-centric leadership bench within her organization. We recently had Whitney Goins, who was a marketing professional who transitioned within the organization to be a D E I leader, and they all pointed to people like Gavin, who's the C E O, Steven Brown, who is the C H R O.

[00:09:37] Dr. Jim: Had a finger on the pulse and created the space for people to advance the conversations where they needed to be and to the point. When elements of the population might have raised questions about why are we doing this? I said, this has to be done and if you have a problem, and this came out in Whitney's conversation that I had, if you have a problem, take it up with me.

[00:09:58] Dr. Jim: And that's like a [00:10:00] level of boldness coming from the C-suite that I thought was phenomenal. And what you just mentioned in terms of starting the conversation and having a destination, it immediately popped into my head. The experiences that were shared with me about people that are at Molsen course.

[00:10:15] Dr. Jim: So shout out to Molsen Coors 

[00:10:17] John Graham Jr.: absolutely. For the work they're doing. Yes. 

[00:10:19] Dr. Jim: It's phenomenal stuff. So let's dive into the conversation. I wanna lay out the landscape. You're in recruitment marketing and employer branding and doing a lot of the work. When it comes to advancing d e I within organizations, I'm in similar work. Being an employee of Circa, we're in similar spaces.

[00:10:38] Dr. Jim: One of the things that I've observed, when you look at the talent strategy landscape and you look at how tooling in general, Is distributed in the talent strategy landscape. A lot of the effort seems to be focused on the acquisition side versus taking a holistic element or holistic view of talent strategy in general.

[00:10:58] Dr. Jim: And one of the things [00:11:00] that I often talk about when I'm writing or on various talent specific topics that I talk about. Shouldn't the objective be to get off the talent attraction hamster wheel? Because all of the solution sets seems to be focused on how do we find more people and then once they're in the doors, whatever happens, you just need to go find more people.

[00:11:21] Dr. Jim: How is that misguided from a talent strategy perspective? 

[00:11:24] John Graham Jr.: Yeah, it's a great question. One that we spend a lot of time thinking about and talking about as well with the firm and the way that I like to put it is if you are so focused on attraction that you don't acknowledge and approach resolving your culture issues, then you are essentially spending a lot of money to drive up your attrition rate.

[00:11:48] John Graham Jr.: right? If at the end of the day if you think that your solution is throwing more bodies into burning buildings to put a fire out, then I think we're misguided. And so attraction [00:12:00] can be, of course, the spend in putting your brand in front of people to consider, but then there's a internal voice and brand experience.

[00:12:12] John Graham Jr.: Super in value and off invaluable and often overlooked, and not just, and when I say that, I don't mean telling the stories through heartstring pulling emotional, authentic video or content. That is a tactic and that's an element, but understanding very clearly who's not having the greatest. Why they're not having that experience, the experience that you would desire for them to have and how can you mitigate those issues?

[00:12:39] John Graham Jr.: And I think there's a lot less time spent there because historically we've always said we can just hire more people. And what you end up seeing is, especially for some of the most marginalized populations within your organization, at best you're flat in terms of numerical representation increases cuz you're just replacing those who've.

[00:12:59] John Graham Jr.: or even at [00:13:00] deficit, there has to be a new approach to how we think about talent attraction, and I think it, a lot of it is on the engagement of existing employees and retention. Efforts that are put in place. Cuz my God, what a story that is to tell about how you're doing some of the most amazing things to retain people rather than just going out to try and get people to join.

[00:13:20] Dr. Jim: So let's talk about it. You just said it. You said what a great story would that be to talk about all the things that you're doing from a engagement and retention perspective. If you don't wanna, if you want to get off the talent attraction hamster. Trademark. Own that. Yeah. If you wanna get off the talent attraction hamster wheel, and you really want to focus on the employee engagement and retention side of the equation, which I agree.

[00:13:49] Dr. Jim: How do you eat that elephant? What advice would you give to talent acquisition professionals that are. Tuning in or will tune in and HR [00:14:00] professionals. Yeah. How do you break that down and have that become real? 

[00:14:03] John Graham Jr.: So I have a lot of thoughts on that. Even, I'll throw one out here. Even the nomenclature talent acquisition, it's cold.

[00:14:11] John Graham Jr.: It is devoid of humanity, right? We are going to acquire people for our labor force efforts to increase productivity. It's a very. and dehumanizing statement unto itself, and I suggest, why isn't it talent partnership? Because at the end of the day, these people are lending their talent to you for a fee right, to advance your aims as your enterprise and your mission.

[00:14:35] John Graham Jr.: It's, where I'm going with this is really examining the construct itself and finding those points of inhumanity and putting humanity into them where they were. But they were never designed to be or baked in. That's one. Tactically I try and stay away from tactics because I think we have to get on a certain equal playing field in terms of the language we're using and the concepts I'm throwing out here.

[00:14:57] John Graham Jr.: But generally, when we think about what are [00:15:00] you doing to address, let me back up. Do you know quantifiably what the lived experiences are of those who are turning over the most? If the answer to that question is no, or we have some exit interview data, or we're looking at glass door, then the answer is no, you don't.

[00:15:18] John Graham Jr.: And I think that is where you start. In which case, we actually designed a quantitative survey instrument to do just. To understand what are those gaps in lived experience between what your H R I S data says are the most marginalized people in your organization, in contrast to their majority counterpart.

[00:15:36] John Graham Jr.: And then we can have a meaningful conversation about, okay, where does representation matter the most in this process versus where does cultural identity expression matter the most? Or access in proximity to power and leadership to build informal networks and relationships instead of. Here's d e I, here's a bunch of money, go do something and bring me a great story.

[00:15:57] John Graham Jr.: And that's been historically the move. So we've got a [00:16:00] lot of places we could start. 

[00:16:00] Dr. Jim: Even in the answer that you gave there, there are so many different, like tan, not tangents, but drill downs that we could go on. But I wanna to touch on something that you just mentioned. Sure. And you mentioned in the last part of your co your answer that a lot of organizations opt for options that are performative. That's the word that comes to. They, that's what they just do. Correct. And the reason why I'm calling that out is if you're trying to solve a problem, if you're trying to understand something, you just referenced it, there's a quantitative survey instrument that you've built.

[00:16:35] Dr. Jim: . I'm a sales guy who pretends to be a marketer on LinkedIn, and I always talk about, if you want to find out what's important to your customer, ask them. your comment about how do we get visibility into, or your question and answer, how do you get visibility into the lived experience of your underrepresented communities that, that, that are within your organization?

[00:16:57] Dr. Jim: The answer's pretty simple. Ask them. So [00:17:00] my question to that Yeah. Is why is there such a Hess. To simply ask your internal people what matters, why it matters, what could be different, why does that exist or what's your sense on why that exists? 

[00:17:15] John Graham Jr.: You tap dancing on the third rail, Jim, here we go. 

[00:17:18] Dr. Jim: Hey I'm just a guy that runs his mouth all the time, so that's just what I do.

[00:17:22] John Graham Jr.: Yeah, the question is a profound one, but it's actually quite simple to answer because there's. because they don't have to. That's why simple and plain, there is no motivation. In fact, let me back up. There is no reference point in the history of society where those who are most powerful, most privileged and highly statused gave those things up willingly.

[00:17:47] John Graham Jr.: It's never happened. And so d e I unto itself becomes an anomaly. Where do we now have, why would we expect, let me just say that for an executive leadership team or leader themselves [00:18:00] who are the most powerful, highly status, and most privileged in the organization, to now seed some of that, and that's ultimately what D e I is asking, not only them to do, but those in power positions, period, so that you can have this inclusive, Where people feel like they belong and there's equity and so forth.

[00:18:18] John Graham Jr.: So we're working within a framework that's built on an anomaly. That's one. Number two, if the goal of your organization at base level is to increase profitability and productivity with low cost and overhead, then introducing anything that interrupts or disrupts repeatable and predictable profitability is a risk.

[00:18:39] John Graham Jr.: So to ask those who are most margin, What their lived experiences are in certain people's mind. I won't say legal introduces risk to an organization, right? Potentially. However, the reality is if you take the steps to ask the questions around people's experiences, now you have [00:19:00] data to support the efforts and initiatives that you're gonna fund to resolve those issues, which actually is highly defensible in court.

[00:19:07] John Graham Jr.: These are the things that we have to be honest about. Is it a risk or is it a perceived risk? Is it I'm uncomfortable versus I'm willing to sit in the discomfort to improve the lived experience. . And so that lived experience survey that we've developed actually gives people a starting point to ask better questions about hell.

[00:19:27] John Graham Jr.: What have we been doing for the last two and a half years? Did we even define who was supposed to benefit from all of these efforts and initiatives? Or was this just, this should uh, improve everyone's lived experience? We know that if you create solutions for all, you're actually creating solutions for nobody.

[00:19:42] Dr. Jim: I'm gonna keep tap dancing on that third rail, John, go for it. I'm gonna make, I'm gonna make people uncomfortable. I love it. So if my, my, my question is this, if you're not gonna be compelled to advance and engage, Your existing employees, especially if they're from marginalized or underrepresented [00:20:00] communities, on what matters to them if you're not gonna address the moral imperative to do it, what about the business imperative to do it?

[00:20:07] Dr. Jim: Because by ignoring the business imperative, let's just talk dollars and cents. We're talking about the talent attraction hamster wheel. You mm-hmm. ,, you and I both know the cost of turn. The replacement cost for one person can, depending on the role and the circumstances, can be up to 200% of their annual salary.

[00:20:26] Dr. Jim: I have multiple sources in my dissertation that reference that. Yeah. So if the object of the exercise is to be as profitable as possible and as lean as possible and as efficient as possible, why are people glossing over the business and profitability imperative to engage in this conversation? 

[00:20:44] John Graham Jr.: Yeah.

[00:20:45] John Graham Jr.: Again, simple answer because people don't stop being who they. Based on their title at work the belief System, the societal reinforcements of a construct. Don't stop the moment you are tapped, leader or put in positions of power and leadership. In fact, a [00:21:00] lot of times they amplify and so there is no moral or business imperative.

[00:21:05] John Graham Jr.: That's gonna connect or intersect at the perfect time of anybody's leadership tenure that now creates sustainable change potential. What has to happen is the way that people's behaviors have always changed biologically is consequence or reward. Pure and simple. We still move for motives. Or repercussions, carrots or sticks.

[00:21:26] John Graham Jr.: And so what you're finding is we're trying to do these things and get behavioral change without introducing a mechanism that's actually gonna support it, or a structural mechanism that's gonna support the behavioral change. And that is, again, a tall order. Who in their right mind would put in a constraint on themselves to operate how they want to?

[00:21:49] John Graham Jr.: In the name of fairness, equity, and right. Inclusion, these are tall orders that's not been in. Again you have a tough time finding a historical reference for that.

[00:21:58] Dr. Jim: That's a really good [00:22:00] counterpoint and it makes a lot of sense and I'm gonna tie it to. Pop culture reference that people seem to slough off.

[00:22:06] Dr. Jim: I actually posted about this earlier this week or maybe late last week. Big nerd. You can tell by all the tchotchkes I have behind me, big comic book fan and all that sort of stuff. And if you're paying attention to some of the stuff in pop culture over the last couple of weeks, people are complaining about brown and black hobbits and elves and Yeah.

[00:22:26] Dr. Jim: And that too. Yep. And there's a segment of the population. , what's the big deal? But to your point about people don't change based on title, that's why that's important because the people that are potentially getting upset because there are brown elves or brown mermaids or whatever are also in positions of power across the or across the entire country and are in charge of hiring.

[00:22:52] Dr. Jim: So those biases about how a fictional character should. The, to me it seems like it's a pretty [00:23:00] straight line down to what does an engineer look like or what should a CFO F O look like, or what should a C E O look like? And those decisions are made all the time. What should a sales professional look like?

[00:23:10] Dr. Jim: Think drilling it down to the most basic function. If you look at sales as a function, predominantly male, predominantly moch, Very few women in in, in the function. Very few women in leadership. And what's interesting in Carrie Anne Janowski Simpson, one of my, one of my old friends, she's a sales leader at Sartorius, she brought some data in front of me that women led sales organizations tend to outperform male led sales organizations, but somewhere between four and 8%.

[00:23:40] Dr. Jim: And you talk about the monetary impact if we're in the business of making. what CEO wouldn't look at that and say, Hey, if I wanted to just automatically give myself a four to 8% bump in my. I should hire more women, but that doesn't get done. So these, all these things about who, about perceptions [00:24:00] and not having to act even in the face of real business results is an important one that people need to be aware of through these conversations.

[00:24:07] Dr. Jim: So I appreciate you sharing that. How do you, b I guess one of the things that I'm wondering, and we'll get to the WHO benefits portion of the conversation, but before we can talk about who benefits, you need to build the intelligence across the entire enter. So how do you tackle that? Where do you start in terms of building that out?

[00:24:26] John Graham Jr.: Sure. The cultural intelligence or cultural competency at the intersections of power and decision making are critical. So where I like to start is by encouraging the executive leadership team to fully examine their own back. Where they grew up, who they grew up around, what did their communities look like, the schools they went to, the schools their children go to.

[00:24:48] John Graham Jr.: All of these things that make up their daily lived reality. And then I ask them a simple question. How many people here are interested in increasing numerical representation of people [00:25:00] from historically marginalized communities? Hands go. Hands go up. How many people do you know from those communities that you can call right now and make a referral to, or four?

[00:25:09] John Graham Jr.: Not so many hands are up. So what I encourage is to examine, right? I always suggest that we need to stop building bridges and start crossing the ones that are already in existence. So if historically people have had to come to your side of the bridge, because that's where access, that's where social socioeconomic mobility opportunities reside.

[00:25:30] John Graham Jr.: Now it's time for you to start crossing over the other side of the bridge and understanding those nuances, the cultural nuances, the economic circumstances, the historical, familial, cultural expressions, all of those things so that you can have a better understanding of. This is who I say I want to bring into the organization and rise by this percentage.

[00:25:50] John Graham Jr.: What would it look like for them to be here and what do they have to give up or reduce or suppress or hide in order to assimilate or be accepted? And that's a whole different [00:26:00] conversation for leadership, right? Because they're again, thinking in the historical business model concept. Running a successful business and a lot of that is devoid of humanity.

[00:26:11] John Graham Jr.: So now I'm introducing more of the humanity, and that's where you start introducing yourself in there is where you are not in the majority, where you do not hold the most power in the room and understanding what that feels like. In doing it at a leisurely level, go to a restaurant in a neighborhood you don't normally go to.

[00:26:27] John Graham Jr.: Go to a venue for a concert of music that you wouldn't necessarily listen to, but somebody that you know does be a, not a fly on the wall, but be an observer and seek to understand rather than seek to exploit or benefit from. 

[00:26:41] Dr. Jim: So the way I understand what you just said, and it just struck me, Another podcast that I was listening to earlier, but this was a sales effectiveness podcast that I was listening to.

[00:26:51] Dr. Jim: When you're examining anything that you want to tackle in your life, you should take a look at whatever that stimulus is, and if it makes you uncomfortable, absolutely run [00:27:00] towards it. . That's right. And that's how I interpreted what you said. It's building that comfort with discomfort that opens the door to a lot of these conversations and a lot of these, the, these openings.

[00:27:12] Dr. Jim: The other thing that you said that was, that I thought was particularly interesting is that on your point about going to a neighborhood that you normally wouldn't go to and have a meal there, and the reason why I it struck me is that I'm one of those people that I'm a big foodie. , I eat anything and we'll try anything and it there.

[00:27:32] Dr. Jim: There is nothing better in terms of building a connection with a person and a culture than digging into a meal. and hearing the stories about how it was made, what the origins are, where do this flavor profiles come from. So all of that stuff, people sound, there's a reason why food shows and especially international food shows do so well because it gives you a feel for the people and the stories behind the people.

[00:27:59] Dr. Jim: And if [00:28:00] you connect things at a human level like that makes it a lot easier to move the needle on these. 

[00:28:05] John Graham Jr.: So real. Yeah. One of my favorite documentaries on Netflix is High on the Home, which is tremendous at connecting the history of African food culture through food, how it was transported through the transatlantic slave trade, and then becoming the undertone for all food or cuisine in this country, which most people don't realize.

[00:28:23] John Graham Jr.: Yes, you can learn a lot through experiences where you are. in the majority, number one, but also say having a power majority, excuse me. Having a power minority experience as a power majority member. And that is, that can be life changing for some people to understand and really sit in it. So yes, that is where I suggest starting.

[00:28:43] John Graham Jr.: Yes, there's curriculums. , there's excellent trainers, speakers that you can add as part of that curriculum, but I think experience is the best teacher in life and you have to step into it. 

[00:28:54] Dr. Jim: Let's talk about who benefits and why that question should be, [00:29:00] that would make the argument that it should be central.

[00:29:03] Dr. Jim: to any initiative that you're trying to drive, but when we're looking at these issues of creating a talent attraction flywheel that who benefits question needs to be really examined, why would you argue that is the case? 

[00:29:18] John Graham Jr.: Yeah. First and foremost, if you are embarking on any substantial change initiative, you have to define an audience who's going to feel and benefit from the change.

[00:29:28] John Graham Jr.: obviously as a company you are going to benefit. That's goes without saying this de facto, but you should be making informed decisions like you do in all matters of business based on the data and what the data tells you. So for instance, we just shouldn't say celebrated it, but we just acknowledged black women's equal pay day.

[00:29:46] John Graham Jr.: Black women are still paid 58 cents on the dollar to their white male counter. How is that possible? Unless there's still active participation in knowing that section of the labor force, you can get at a discount [00:30:00] for twice the output. So if we're talking about really creating substantial change, and we have the date, now the question is, are we going to acknowledge the data and then make decisions based on it, or are we going to continue.

[00:30:11] John Graham Jr.: Status quo. These aren't magnanimous questions that can't be answered. It's who's willing to answer them. So who are the intended beneficiaries should not only define the word, also define the accountability mechanisms. If the work that's being done isn't adhered to or advanced or embraced by those who are in leadership positions and are responsible for ensuring that this culture of inclusion that we all say we want to.

[00:30:37] John Graham Jr.: Is not being fostered, and that will drive everything, right? It drives a lot. When we think about talent attraction companies have a very clear idea of who they want to attract. For specific roles, functions, sites, so forth. So they have an intended beneficiary in mind, which is them as an organization.

[00:30:55] John Graham Jr.: What if that were to flip and say, okay, based on who we need to attract [00:31:00] based on our business need or business functional need, what can we do to provide those people who we want to attract? And our H R I S data says we're numerically underrepresented here. What are the things that we can do internally to ensure that, number one, the people who look like who we want to attract are having the best experience possible?

[00:31:18] John Graham Jr.: Because then what ends up or tends to happen is your organic reach to communities that you have historically had to pay a lot of money for. , right? Paid media now becomes infinitely or exponentially higher because you have people reaching out internally to their own networks proactively to say, this is the most amazing company and experience that I've had.

[00:31:40] John Graham Jr.: They live their culture. Not only are the values on the wall, but my leader espouses them and reflects them on a daily basis. I feel psychologically safe here. Not only that I'm recognized, I'm. Commensurately to my market value, if not more. Who wouldn't want somebody else to join them in an experience like that, but yet [00:32:00] there conversation starts

[00:32:01] Dr. Jim: Yeah, it man, there is so much to unpack and I'm gonna try to get all of this responded to. So your point about black women equal payday, the thing that stood out about that comment was, I have a lot of unicorns in my. And there are several senior women leaders who are African American, black in my network in sales.

[00:32:22] Dr. Jim: So there is like a list of unicorns right there. And one of them actually recently posted about, I wasn't even aware. That was an actual day. But now that I'm actually aware of it, I'm posting about what this actually means in the context of sales. So I think, again, creating the conversation, and at least the dialogue brings awareness to things that even if you're the one that's impacted by the inequality, you might not realize it.

[00:32:49] Dr. Jim: It actually opens your eyes even more. I appreciate you calling that part out. Yeah. But I wanna dig into one area that you just mentioned when we're talking about what can we do [00:33:00] to attract X? And you talked about, hey, you want to create an environment where your people are evangelizing and that creates its own attraction model.

[00:33:10] Dr. Jim: And I think that is, Phenomenally powerful. I talk about it in the context of employee advocacy. This is why I'm so loud about the things that Circa does as an organization because like seriously, like we're an organization that is d e I first, that's going to market. That helps you solve some of your end-to-end talent strategy solutions.

[00:33:30] Dr. Jim: When you look at what you just mentioned, why, how do you create a culture of internal employee advocate? Who are going to evangelize for your brand? What are the things that leaders within organizations need to be paying attention to, to create that buzz and that reach organically through their networks?

[00:33:51] John Graham Jr.: So I'll be specific if we're thinking about black professionals, One of the biggest reasons why attrition has gone up in the past two years [00:34:00] post George Floyd's murder is because the overwhelming amount of company commitments that were made publicly and internally, the amount of headcount and funding allocated towards the initiatives, the amount of money that was spent in community with community organizations and activist organization.

[00:34:19] John Graham Jr.: , all of those factors being what they are. When you would a, when you ask somebody who is a black professional in these companies, if you ask them specifically, have you seen a material change in your daily lived experience? Sense all of those commitments, money, headcount, all of those things. And the answer is still overwhelmingly no.

[00:34:37] John Graham Jr.: Right? 99.9 0.9999%, no. And okay, so if that's the case, then why is it then, and I'm gathering the thought here, but if that is the case, then it's not necessarily how much you spend or who you put in place or elevating these roles, what it comes down to. At the end of the day, we still [00:35:00] have to count for is somebody living what they're espousing?

[00:35:05] John Graham Jr.: Are the commitments seen, felt, believed? By, by the employee. And if those things don't align, then of course you've gotten really good PR stories and that's great content. Don't get me wrong, these initiatives are not, they're not in vain, right? Not say you shouldn't do all these things, but what's more impactful is when somebody on a daily lived experience, Feel safe with their manager, psychologically safe.

[00:35:33] John Graham Jr.: They feel as if their contributions are not only valued, but they're paid commensurately for that. They feel that and they can see that their performance review is reflective of the efforts, not only that they've put forth, but the impact that they've had for the organization and then recognize.

[00:35:50] John Graham Jr.: Commensurately, whether that's through promotion or salary increase, or both and or both. That's seen through pay equity studies that not only [00:36:00] reveal, but then action is taken to correct. There's so many things that can be done to make sure that the experience matches the marketing, and that is where we have to get to.

[00:36:10] John Graham Jr.: In suggesting that, yes, we have a ton of great content, a great lot of great stories, lot of great initiatives, and activit. But are you committed to activities and initiatives or are you committed to substantial or sustainable change? And there is a difference. And that gap is where people are turning over and not feeling the difference.

[00:36:29] Dr. Jim: It draws me back to something that you mentioned in the opening of the show, which is you can go and put all the effort into bringing people into the organization, but if you're not solving the structural cultural issues, you're bringing them into a burning building and they're gonna walk right out.

[00:36:48] Dr. Jim: So when you look at. impact. Sure. And marginalized communities coming into the organization, underrepresented communities coming into the organization. What do those [00:37:00] populations need to see that demonstrates your commitment? To those communities for the long term.

[00:37:06] John Graham Jr.: That's, we've touched on this a bit, but it's. There's a couple of points there. So starting with data, you have to understand the landscape, right? So call me, bring me in. We'll assess your landscape. We'll give you a lived experience survey with the results that showcase in three core focus areas of representation, authenticity, and development, where your gaps are for whom.

[00:37:28] John Graham Jr.: And we deploy this to everybody. So it's not just going to a marginalized talent group, it's marginalized plus major. and across demographics of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability status. When you have that information and now you can concretely look at where those culture gaps lie, now you start to put initiatives together that address those very specific things.

[00:37:51] John Graham Jr.: None of this works unless you have, again, an accountability me. That is the one thing when people ask me who's doing it? Who's doing it right, who [00:38:00] should we emulate or who is the model or the golden standard? I say, nobody's achieved that yet. Why? Because you still don't have a company that has an A, an accountability mechanism that says, if this doesn't work, if this isn't working, or if people aren't embracing or adhering to the values that we are putting forth, then there is a consequence, whether that's in performance hits or bonuses.

[00:38:21] John Graham Jr.: Termination. I'm not saying that if you don't create an inclusive culture, you're fired first. Infraction. No, but there has to be a meaningful accountability mechanism in play. That's one. Secondly, you have to be able to ask better questions of those coming into the organization as leaders, for instance.

[00:38:40] John Graham Jr.: if you don't have questions like for anybody in a people leadership role, all the way up to executive, right? A frontline manager, all the way to executive. If you're not asking your potential leaders to provide examples of how they have created an inclusive culture. Managed inclusive teams built a psychologically safe environment for people to [00:39:00] thrive and produce their best.

[00:39:01] John Graham Jr.: What? One of the questions that I ask often on my interviews is, regardless of who they are, what have you done to reconcile your own privilege and what are you doing to mitigate your biases? It's very easy question, straightforward, and we'll give you a lot of information on how these potential employees or leaders, Are thinking about very important issues that have been identified by leadership, but also are they going to come in and promote or perpetuate status quo, or are they gonna come in and be additive to your culture in a way that helps you match the marketing and lived experience?

[00:39:37] Dr. Jim: Man, I could that could be a an entire sub show on how to interview effectively when you're looking to create a culture that is focused and committed to D E I B. So that's good. I wrote 'em all down and you actually hit at something. And this is you mentioned it a couple times, the concept of accountability.

[00:39:59] Dr. Jim: Sure. [00:40:00] Why is that critical? And we talked a little bit about it. Say a little bit more about why accountability is actually more critical to business results than the other a word, which is authenticity. What's your position on that? Explain a little bit about that.

[00:40:14] John Graham Jr.: Yeah, I suggest that. Especially in the employer brand world, that authenticity has been the buzzword for probably about the last five to seven years, creating these authentic moments of content and communication with target audiences.

[00:40:30] John Graham Jr.: The challenge with that is authenticity plays to an emotional heartstring, right? It's trying to connect at a psychological or emotional, to convey whatever you want to convey, safety, appeal, whatever. But here's the thing, accountability is also an expression of authenticity, right? If I do something wrong to you, Jim, and you say, damn, John, did you not?

[00:40:53] John Graham Jr.: Even think about, and I just keep it pushing. I'm like, whatever. Get over it. I've taken no accountability. I've told you to deal with it [00:41:00] yourself and I'm moving on. That's certainly gonna affect your perspective of me. If you continue to see that happen, and when you read my book or when you speak to black, any black professional who's been in corporate America for any longer than a year, then you will hear experiences where they have experienced some of the most traumatic experiences in their professional, but in their personal lives at work and been.

[00:41:22] John Graham Jr.: Sorry, we investigated and couldn't find any instance of wrongdoing or even probably more insulting that person has been recommended for sensitivity training, right? These are things that don't necessarily showcase a consequence, but rather a means of the company trying to give more chances. To people who are causing harm psychologically to other people.

[00:41:45] John Graham Jr.: And so if you don't have, again, a clearly defined, there is clearly defined policies for sexual harassment, right? There are mandatory trainings for sexual harassment every year. , but you don't hear this wave of [00:42:00] men saying, I don't feel like I should have to take this. I don't sexually, I've never sexually harassed anybody.

[00:42:04] John Graham Jr.: No. We've all coalesced as a culture of professionals to suggest that behavior is not welcomed within the organization that, that we work for. And we have compliance mechanisms and all of these things that have very defined and clearly defined processes. The challenges, racism is not. Discrimination is the burden of proof is on those who are being discriminated against and their systems in place to, to really hinder that process.

[00:42:27] John Graham Jr.: So I say unless you can feel like if I'm going to experience something, cuz we're all human beings, this shit's gonna happen whether there's a defined policy or not. You want to have the safety and comfort in knowing that if this does happen, then this is the prescribed consequence or accountability mechanism to be able to define that and present that in a, in an authentic manner through your recruitment marketing, through your career website, through your executive leadership's thought leadership in various platforms and so forth, to showcase not only all of the great initiatives we're [00:43:00] doing, but here's what we're doing to make sure that we hold our.

[00:43:03] John Graham Jr.: Our own feet to the fire on this to make sure that it really becomes embedded and practice throughout the organization. That's the most powerful a part of authenticity I would say. We're going to see coming. 

[00:43:14] Dr. Jim: That's a great breakdown and I wanna bring these concepts that we've been talking about.

[00:43:20] Dr. Jim: Full circle, the conversation is centered around creating a talent attraction flywheel. Yep. And the idea is creating an organization that's built an attraction model. where people are breaking down your doors to work in your organization. Yeah, and we've spent most of our conversation not really talking about the tactical side of talent attraction.

[00:43:41] Dr. Jim: We've talked about the backend post hiring side. So connect all those dots and walk us through why the perspective on the end of the hiring process is more critical to success when you're creating that talent attraction flywheel. 

[00:43:56] John Graham Jr.: Yeah, I think they're all connected, obviously. [00:44:00] One of the things that I pro Project prescribe for those who are really intent on in building an inclusive recruitment marketing or recruitment staffing model is really examine who do you have as your gatekeepers.

[00:44:13] John Graham Jr.: I think a lot of times the function and the industry of recruiting talent necessitates a certain level of skills, right? It's very much a sales role. It is certainly a people-centric role, right? You have to like people. But then when we think about these new mandate, not even mandates, but these new imperatives that leadership are pushing down through to talent acquisition to say, we need to.

[00:44:38] John Graham Jr.: Numerical representation of X population. What have you done to train or upskill or expand the consciousness and competency of those who are gatekeeping that have the front end decision making? Ability of who's going to get into to meet or interview with a hiring manager, especially if they don't come from the communities that [00:45:00] they have now been told they need to increase representation for it.

[00:45:03] John Graham Jr.: So again, what are we, who are the people who are making the decisions of who gets to interview then? Then you also have to say, okay, what are the audit? The audits, checks and balances within that process to number one, ensure that there's dignity through the process, that there's an understanding of cultural nuance, even down to does a southern draw or accent or a very prominent Southeast Asian accent.

[00:45:28] John Graham Jr.: Indicate lack of intelligence, or is it just a cultural norm that you are unfamiliar with and you have to overstep your own bias to now really value or evaluate the value that this talent can bring to the organization? These are questions that historically have not been asked. and now this is where we're getting into really pushing the boundaries of our stated commitments to cultures of inclusion.

[00:45:52] John Graham Jr.: It starts at who is at the gate. 

[00:45:54] Dr. Jim: I think some of the technology advances in the marketplace are addressing that by. [00:46:00] De-biasing the front end of the process by anonymizing candidate inflow, taking out identifying information, and that's all great.

[00:46:07] Dr. Jim: I think it, it works. But when you're looking at the type of transformation that you're talking about, transformation involves three things. It involves. People, process and technology. . And my argument is usually if you're looking at executing any transformation, you need to look at your people and process first before you look at a technology solution.

[00:46:24] Dr. Jim: Because the technology solution isn't going to solve any of the structural issues that you have. At the people level, so you referenced gatekeeper component. Who's actually in charge of deciding who gets to come in the house and who stays out on the yard. That's really the key issue. You have to solve the people and process issue first.

[00:46:44] Dr. Jim: Yeah, before looking at the technology component, yeah, I could probably talk to you for six hours. I don't know how interesting that would be for, it's a marathon. I don't know how interesting that would be for you or anybody else in the AU audience, but I'd learn a lot, so that'd be pretty cool. . I love it.

[00:46:59] Dr. Jim: I uh, I [00:47:00] want to kind, we've probably had. 25 takeaways in this conversation. But when you think about the stuff that we talked about in this discussion, and our audience is primarily HR leaders, talent acquisition leaders, and they're looking at creating a an attraction model from a talent perspective, what are the two or three most important things that they need to consider from an enterprise level that's gonna best impact their ability to hire, not just more overall talent, but more.

[00:47:29] Dr. Jim: Talent from underrepresented communities or marginalized communities? 

[00:47:32] John Graham Jr.: Yeah, num number one, and it's a great question. Number one is you have to understand the landscape in which you are seeking to attract people into thoroughly understand. And so processes like developing an employee value proposition, number one, is a great exercise to hold up the mirror to your organization, which expresses who you are as told by your employee.

[00:47:53] John Graham Jr.: Your leadership and even the market. Once you have that employee value proposition and that undeniable [00:48:00] reflection of who you are now, you can build a brand around not only the attractive and appealing elements of who you are, but also acknowledging your flaws where you aren't yet and what you aspire to be, and incorporate that into a solid brand expression to be articulated across your social, digital, and internal footprints.

[00:48:19] John Graham Jr.: Next, you have to again, Once you've addressed the culture, defining who are the intended beneficiaries of the work and the initiatives that you have now set out based on data you've collected, that will give you not only great stories to tell, but also help improve, and I think most importantly, improve the lived experiences of the people who historically have not, and ideally reduce your attrition.

[00:48:44] John Graham Jr.: And then thirdly, again, accountability mechanisms, right? What are the guardrails? What are the tangible, reasonable. Reactive, not reactive mechanisms for accountability. What are the carrots and the sticks that we're going to [00:49:00] incorporate into our initiatives, into our frameworks that really get us to a point of people understanding what is desirable in terms of behavior.

[00:49:10] John Graham Jr.: And the structural support to reinforce it. 

[00:49:12] Dr. Jim: Great stuff. John, before we sign off, where can people find you? Where can people get your book? 

[00:49:18] John Graham Jr.: Yes, I'm everywhere. I'm, I've achieved omnipotence now. I . I am most easily reachable via LinkedIn, so certainly connect there. You can buy the book anywhere books are sold.

[00:49:30] John Graham Jr.: But I always encourage you to support Black book sellers or, and, or. go directly to plantation so I can send my children to space and not Mr. Bezos. Yep. 

[00:49:41] Dr. Jim: I think there's probably gonna be repeat appearances somewhere down the road on a panel discussion.

[00:49:47] Dr. Jim: Just a little birdie told me. So just keep that on your radar. And now it's time for my 15 calls to action in terms of on my end. So I appreciate everybody that registered for the show. You can cast this on demand through [00:50:00] my LinkedIn feed through the talent strategy page. It will also be broadcast on the cascading leadership, the YouTube page, so we are also everywhere.

[00:50:10] Dr. Jim: . Certainly if you're looking at solving. Your talent strategy challenges, I would definitely suggest finding John at Shaker Recruitment marketing that you can certainly contact me at circa and follow that page as well.

[00:50:24] Dr. Jim: Circa works, not the casino, cuz that's a whole different thing. So we appreciate everybody joining. Joining and watching the livestream, the comments in the chat were great. And John, awesome having you on. And thank you for your time. 

[00:50:37] John Graham Jr.: My pleasure, man. Thanks for having me, Jim. And uh, again, definitely reach out to

[00:50:42] John Graham Jr.: Definitely we're doing some amazing work to advance this uh, this industry and function, so it's been awesome to be on the platform with you in a phenomenal conversation. Jim, thank you. 

[00:50:50] Dr. Jim: Thank you. Until next time. Cheers.