TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast

Ep. 13 - Torin Ellis

October 08, 2020 Fuel50 / Torin Ellis Season 1 Episode 13
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 13 - Torin Ellis
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 13 - Torin Ellis
Oct 08, 2020 Season 1 Episode 13
Fuel50 / Torin Ellis

Torin Ellis is a powerful speaker. This is an important conversation that will move you and motivate you to strive for greater humanity. Torin is empowering and encouraging and speaks so many truths about the representation of people in technology development, about building empathy through proximity, and about whether AI is a help or hindrance to creating more equal opportunities. As you will discover, diversity and inclusion is not a zero-sum game! Torin shares proof of that with host Rhonda Taylor and highlights that there is a lot we can all be doing within our workplaces to spark a global shift towards change for the better. After all, the ROI of D&I is greater humanity.

Torin Ellis leads a nimble boutique with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) strategy through the lens of recruiting. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/torinellis/ or Twitter @torinellis.

For more insightful conversations, visit www.talentxpodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the TalentX podcast!

Show Notes Transcript

Torin Ellis is a powerful speaker. This is an important conversation that will move you and motivate you to strive for greater humanity. Torin is empowering and encouraging and speaks so many truths about the representation of people in technology development, about building empathy through proximity, and about whether AI is a help or hindrance to creating more equal opportunities. As you will discover, diversity and inclusion is not a zero-sum game! Torin shares proof of that with host Rhonda Taylor and highlights that there is a lot we can all be doing within our workplaces to spark a global shift towards change for the better. After all, the ROI of D&I is greater humanity.

Torin Ellis leads a nimble boutique with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) strategy through the lens of recruiting. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/torinellis/ or Twitter @torinellis.

For more insightful conversations, visit www.talentxpodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the TalentX podcast!

Rhonda Taylor  00:25
Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening, wherever you are in the world today. It's Rhonda Taylor and I'm the host of TalentX. TalentX is a podcast that focuses on the talent experience. And today we have a incredible guest with us, no stranger to a lot of you, Torin Ellis. Hi Torin.  

Torin Ellis  00:48
And you know, no stranger to you either Rhonda, thanks for trusting my voice. How are you? 

Rhonda Taylor  00:53
I'm doing well. And Torin is a human capital strategist. He focuses on the art of recruiting diverse talent using various creative methods. Torin has had an accomplished background that includes 17 years of human capital efforts, military service, several Board of Directors appointments, and unwavering spirit of giving back to youth in the community. Today, he is a strategic practitioner, that partners with companies leadership to help identify inhibitors that stall consistent achievement of diversity, equity and inclusion. He's also the the author of Rip the Resume job search and interview power prep, and a co-host of Crazy and the King with Julie Sowash, and I won't say, who are you crazy or the king?

Torin Ellis  01:54
I'm the king. Actually, you know, there's a story behind that Rhonda. Julie has a hidden disability. And so when we were exploring names of the podcast, we were wondering whether or not that would come across as offensive, particularly to Julie and Julie said, no, I want people to really know that I have a disability. So Crazy and the King.

Rhonda Taylor  02:17
Hats off to her for making that public. So you know, a lot has changed in the past while. Torin when you and I were young, and we got our degree, we got our diploma, it kind of meant that we were on our way to a successful career. But today's talent space is focusing more on ones agility, communication skills, flexibility, resilience, and other capabilities. What pathway is this creating for equality do you believe?

Torin Ellis  02:52
Well, first and foremost, minor correction. I do not hold a degree. When I graduated from high school, I went straight into the military. As a matter of fact, I'm not even in my high school yearbook, because I graduated in December and then I was off to the Air Force late January, early February. And then my high school senior class graduated that May and so I was already I think I was on my way to the Philippines or certainly about to be on my way to the Philippines when they were walking across the stage. So in some regards, I felt like you know, I had gotten a head start on life, in others Rhonda, there've certainly been a couple of instances where I wish that I may have done things a little bit differently. 

But to your question around equality and access and opportunity, and our divorcing ourselves from having to have a degree. I don't necessarily know if it had ever been a good thing. You know, because again, if we're not talking about certain professions, like the medical profession, and certainly there are others but if we're, maybe the legal profession, there are other professions where the degree really is a stamp of approval to show that you have committed yourself to a learning journey, and that you are going to show up and be a professional representation within that particular space. But what I've shown you is that and many millions others, we can operate at a very high degree without a piece of paper. 

In the Air Force at 18 I was a communications analyst carrying a top secret security clearance. There was no degree in that equation. People with the degrees were the officers in the military. But my point is, I'm the person doing the work. And at some point, I had enough acumen that I could have led others and did lead others in doing that work. And so I believe that right now with us being inside of this gig economy, with us being propelled into the future of work because of COVID, with the inordinate amount of social unrest because of social injustice, racial injustice, I believe that we are all in a unique, but vital position to make a difference in how we show up in workplaces. And I firmly believe that it's going to provide a lot of opportunity, as long as people are willing to fairly give that opportunity to a broader audience of individuals.

Rhonda Taylor  05:36
Oh, exactly. Our company mantra is that we all want to come out in this fitter, faster and stronger. This is a great opportunity for all of us to be opportunists, because anything goes at this stage of the game right now.

Torin Ellis  05:57
What did COVID show us Rhonda? I mean, it showed us all when we think about diversity and inclusion, and the nascent, I mean, the minor progress that we've made over the last 55 years, in some equations over the last 100 years. When you think about what minor progress has been made, yet, juxtapose that against COVID in March, what happened? Every single company on the planet, certainly here in the US, changed how they showed up to do work within two weeks. 

Every. Single. Company. Small, medium, large, geography, or geographic and industry agnostic. Every single company, in two weeks, showed you that they could go from a headquarters location, a whatever physical and be equally as effective from home. So what I know, is that much of what we see as an impediment, whatever that impediment is, has everything to do with the people in their lack of desire, their lack of will in making it happen, versus it not being able to happen.

Rhonda Taylor  07:18
Yep. And resilience is the number one word right now in the workforce, and the companies that are resilient, are making great strides. 

Torin Ellis  07:30
I agree. I absolutely agree. 

Rhonda Taylor  07:32
Yeah. Speaking of companies, we need to ensure that our talent pipeline is fair, and free of prejudices. And that's an open ended, I know, that's an open ended question, but we all have to start somewhere. Where do, how do people start?

Torin Ellis  08:01
Well, first, I'd say let's diversify our sourcing and recruiting team. That's what I'd say. And if you can do that, then do it. Diversify the representation, the contribution, the people performing the sourcing and the recruiting function in your organization. The second thing that I say is, no matter who you are, get some degree of proximity to audiences that you are not accustomed to being around, that proximity is going to help you build up that emotional EQ, or that emotional intelligence that I think is so incredibly important. It will help you. Proximity will help you build up that empathy muscle that too many of us are lacking, or it's not strong enough. Proximity will allow us to develop our feeling of empowerment. Like I think that you know, if I know what a person or a group or audience is experiencing, it might change how I show up in the workplace. It might change what it is that I advocate for. It might change how I say I want to have a diverse slate of talent.

But we got to be willing to do something different. And so if we're not willing to do something different, if we're not willing to build our sourcing recruiting teams differently, if we're not willing to build our leadership teams, executive leadership teams, our boards of directors differently, if we're not willing to hold our hiring managers accountable, then we're going to continue to get the results that we've gotten as it relates to inclusion and representation. We'll continue Rhonda to experience Me Too and Time's Up if we allow HR professionals off the hook. HR professionals over the last 40 years have focused more on the corporation and not the employee. Flat out. They got to change their relationship with power and that relationship with empathy and proximity. That's what we do to try to mitigate the bias, the systemic racism that may be built into some of our organizations and maybe even some of our processes.

Rhonda Taylor  10:23
Yeah. And they say that empathy is very prevalent in today's pandemic work world. We see it in our Zoom meetings, you know, where the family dog is barking at the door, because the FedEx man is here and like, in the old days, it would be 'Oh, no!' you know, or the little one climbs up on your lap wanting attention. We're all learning to have empathy with each other, with our peers. But the blinders have to come off, is that what you're saying?

Torin Ellis  11:03
No, absolutely. And unfortunately, we all haven't even learned that, you know, I was on a call a couple, not I, I was. Let me rephrase that. A friend was on a call a couple of weeks ago and told me about a Zoom session that they were on, where the men on the Zoom call chastised a woman. The reason they chastise the woman is because throughout the week, different days, different times, she would be in different locations to take her Zoom call. She'd have her laptop, everything's professional, she's dressed professionally, but she moved to different places in her home, because the lighting was better, the sound was better, whatever the scenario was better for her to participate. And there were men on the call, who said you need to find a place to work in your house, and just stay in that one place, like patriarchy and aggressive, even in a Zoom call. While the men on the call are showing up, tattered t-shirts, if you will, dishevelled backgrounds, if you will. So not everyone has learned that empathy that we feel is so extremely important, we still have to put some folks through the wringer of education. But the bottom line is I just think that people need to be intentional about being different. If you say that diversity, inclusion, equity, belonging, if you say those things are important, then you have to be willing to do something different in your workplace.

Rhonda Taylor  12:42
Exactly and what we're seeing now is AI coming into the hiring processes, coming into talent mobility within organizations. Will this make it a more equal opportunity, do you believe? Is AI going to solve problems, or is it going to create problems?

Torin Ellis  13:09
It's six in one hand, half a dozen in another. Certainly AI, the technology is going to solve a number of problems, an abundance of problems. It's going to usher in all types of life changing, lifestyle changing, application services up. It's going to do all of that. As all of technology has done. But it also has the potential of excluding individuals as well. Whether it be in how the service is leveraged, whether it be in how the service is being developed in the first place. So we most certainly have to make sure that we are not losing sight of the duality of its impact. We want its presence, but we want to be present in how it's being developed. And not enough organizations are working hard enough to disrupt the representation in the development of AI. They're just pursuing the journey, the course of let's keep the solution in the marketplace and I don't think enough of them have strongly had their eye on, but we're missing the voices of people. 

We're missing the voices of individuals that have a disability, as we started the conversation. If I know that AI is going to be deployed, dispersed in cities and it's going to impact how lights are changing, it's going to impact how billboards are changing, it's going to impact, it's just going to impact everything around the city and movement. Why am I not thinking about or having and including the voice of people with a disability or a sight impairment or a hearing impairment, a physical impairment, why am I not doing that in the development? I don't want to just talk to them. I don't want to just do a focus group. Let me include them in the development. They may not be able to do the development but let one sit next to me, and tell them what it is that I'm doing so that they can help me real-time develop a solution that includes more than the way that it's being produced right now. So I see a gift and a curse six in one hand, half a dozen in another. I want it to happen, but I want it to happen with full representation.

Rhonda Taylor  15:19
Exactly, and we have to catch some bad habits and not let them go on into AI. Like if the position within a company has been held by a male, you know, an older male for the past four generations of employees. We have to catch that that's not a requirement. It's like, I wrote a book, I wrote a book on hockey, on women's hockey. Women's hockey is driving hockey in Canada right now, male hockey is dwindling in numbers, but the girls hockey program is growing. But yet, who sits at the board level, stale pale old white males. So it's not reflective of what's going on. And we want to make sure and that's what you were talking about earlier about being reflective of what is in the workforce already. Plus what needs to happen for full diversity and inclusion to occur.

Torin Ellis  16:30
And let me tell you, this is not a zero sum game. Citibank, just put out a report. You know, I don't know when this is airing, but Citibank put out a report the fourth week of or third week of September, depending on how you'd like to look at it, you can find the report, I don't have the title of it. But if you just Google, 16 trillion dollars in GDP is what the United States has lost since the year 2000 because of racism. $16 trillion. $16 trillion. So when I think about representation, when I think about changing and adding, it's not a zero sum game. $16 trillion added to GDP means that we didn't need to get rid of anyone, we had the opportunity to add a whole bunch of someone's. 

So it's really about perspective and how we look at the narrative, the story around D&I, the criticality, the value around D&I. Too many people have that concept, that notion that it's a zero sum game, it's at my expense, these people are less talented, those people are unqualified, these people got special preference, whatever. It’s none of that, in some cases, it might be all of that. But the point is there's enough for all of us. So if I look at COVID, and look at where we're going right now, and in 2021, I see a runway of opportunity, and my hope is that your listeners see the same.

Rhonda Taylor  18:04
Oh, exactly. I, as any woman I love to cook. Well one of my favorite chefs is Deborah VonTrece and I don't know if you know her, but she's a woman, obviously, she's black and she's a lesbian, which is totally, an under representation of what the chef world is like today. And she said that as she got recognized as a world class chef, she realized that she became a threat to the establishment, and so how do we go about removing the emotional side of the jealousies and insecurities? You already spoke about this a bit but, gosh, we're getting some really great people at the top and, boy, they're being beaten up.

Torin Ellis  18:59
Yeah, I think Rhonda, we're in that moment right now. And George Floyd and so many other egregious actions have taken place here in the US that have sparked social unrest in cities all across this country. And I firmly believe that if we hold on to this moment, and we declare how important it is, that we treat the summer of 2020 the very same way that we treat September of 2001, the same way that others might treat the Holocaust, the same way that some would treat the Trail of Tears. If we treat this moment, as important as it is, then I think that it will serve as embers if you will, for all of us to have a spark in we can do better, we can do different. 

And we will do better and different, but it requires that we all are together, more of us are together the way that we have been over the summer of 2020. And so for your chef, that's your favorite chef who is disrupting the power structure and, you know, the establishment, if you will, the establishment needs to be shaken up. Because quite frankly, if we are honest. If we are honest. Take a look at any industry, take a look at any geography and just evaluate its condition. And then see or ask yourself who's been in power? Or who's made the decisions up to this point? Or who had the most influence? It's two things just look and ask a question. And I think most of us would say, there's a lot that can be changed. There's a lot that can be better. 

Now, am I going to wait for them to do it, whoever them is, or am I going to be a part of changing that myself? And I submit to you, Rhonda, that many of us are willing to be a part of what we want that future to look like. I've been on this path of D&I since 2012. I've been on it longer than that, but officially put a flag in the ground 2012. So I've been almost a decade in trying to change the narrative, and shift the results and the progress around inclusion and representation. The beautiful thing for me is that I'm not tired. The unfortunate thing for them is that I'm not tired. 

Rhonda Taylor  21:38
And you have just begun.  

Torin Ellis  21:40

Rhonda Taylor  21:42
Torin, as we wrap up, we always ask our guests the same question. And we always love the variety of answers. You're great at what you do. What drives you, what gets Torin to get up out of bed every morning, and say, today, I got to do this? What makes you the success that you are?

Torin Ellis  22:09
It's simple for me, love. I tell people Rhonda that the two most powerful words in our lexicon are love and process. That if I love you, when I say something to you, if I tap you on the shoulder, if I cut you off in traffic, if I run down the hallway and get in front of you, or grab a chair before you, if I do any of these things, and you know that I love you, you don't tend to question why did Torin do it. In your mind, you immediately go to, it's probably for my benefit. He's helping me to avoid something. He's protected me from something. He's shortening my learning curve as it relates to something. If I love you, and you know that, then your judgment, your reflex from me is different. 

When you don't know that I love you, you got to process everything that I said. You process how I cut you off, you process if I'm talking over you as a woman, you process whether or not I agitated someone to get to promotion and didn't advocate for you, you gotta process. And sometimes you'll end up, oftentimes you'll end up still feeling with or with the same conclusion that the person who holds love concludes. But there are those times when you don't. 

And so for me, I am driven by a love for humanity. Like I could care less what color you are, and I see your color. I could care less about your ethnicity and I see that as well. I don't care about your political or your religious leanings, your sexual preference or identity. None of those things matter enough to me, to make me divorce myself from being an advocate, a warrior for you. I want you to have everything that I want. And I want you to know that me wanting those things, takes nothing away from you. I want you Rhonda to know that the ROI of D&I is greater humanity. I close with the ROI of D&I is greater humanity.

Rhonda Taylor  24:24
Wow. That's an amazing statement and I can't think of a better way to wrap up this TalentX podcast. Torin, you are a great speaker. And I want to thank you for participating in this podcast.

Torin Ellis  24:45
You know I thank you and the entire team for having me. I appreciate it. And my hope is that those that listen, find value in what it is that they listen to, and that they share it far and wide with their social and digital tribes.

Rhonda Taylor  25:00
Thank you, Torin. This is Rhonda Taylor from TalentX. And with this pandemic, remember, we're all in this together. Take care.