Putting Action into DEI: Stephanie Wade

Episode 33 October 19, 2021 00:37:41
Putting Action into DEI: Stephanie Wade
The Edge: A Skillsoft Podcast
Putting Action into DEI: Stephanie Wade
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Hosted By

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek

Show Notes

On this two-part episode, we discuss a movement that’s been at the forefront over the past year: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). While 2020 brought an influx of knowledge and awareness to DEI, this is only the first step. So where do we go from here? To help answer this question, we invite two individuals who recently shared their stories to make Skillsoft’s new DEI courses so personal and powerful. The views expressed by guests are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Skillsoft. 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the edge, a Skillsoft podcast for learners and leaders alike. You know, this and every episode we are engaging in candid thought provoking conversation on the topic of learning and growth in the workplace. Now, this is a two-parter on the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion, featuring conversations with two guests who recently shared their stories as part of Skillsoft's new DEI curriculum. In part one, you listen to my discussion with guests, to shell loss and founder and president of fig strategy and consulting. And now in part two, we'll move on to my conversation with Stephanie Wade, a political organizer, transgender advocate, educator speaker, and former field representative, and veterans liaison to us, congressmen, Gilbert, our Cisneros Jr. Welcome Stephanie, and thank you for joining us on the edge. Speaker 1 00:00:55 Hi Michelle. It's so nice to be here. Thanks for inviting me. Speaker 0 00:01:00 Well, Stephanie, first and foremost, I want to thank you for your service to our country. You were one of the first transgender women to serve openly on a congressional staff. You have a deep and long term interest in military law enforcement, our veteran community, something I feel very strongly about as well. And LGBTQ plus policy. Could you just share a little bit more about your background with our audience? I think they're going to find it really insightful. Speaker 1 00:01:30 Sure. I mean, I grew up the most masculine person that anybody I met probably ever knew, um, cause I did, what's called hyper masculinizing. Um, and, and that wasn't entirely a strategy to hide my gender dysphoria and it was certainly not really a conscious thing, even though I knew I had these feelings that I repressed. It's just, it really was who I was. Um, and so I lived this very macho life and uh, my joined the Marines at 17, I enlisted, uh, graduated a year early from high school to do it and I was a combat engineer and I thought that was great. And then I decided to go to college and I was like captain of the rugby team. I mean, I had boxed and high school in college. Um, and I'm really glad I did all those things. It was a wonderful experience, but in a way it's kind of like having two lives because I live this one life. Speaker 1 00:02:20 And, um, you know, I was a teacher for many years, but I was also, you know, a coach rugby coach, a basketball coach. I was a bit of a fraud as basketball coach, but you know, so I did all these macho things, but I had this, this gender dysphoria that in my midlife just finally demanded it had been there always, but it was just, it had to be answered. And that was right about the time that, um, I decided to get very political, that I had always been political and interested in politics and an activist, but 2016 was really it for me. And so I left a long teaching career and um, went into full-time organizing first with swing left and then a group called groundworks. And then I wound up working for, um, a guy who was running for Congress who not only supported, you know, the equality act and a lot of things that were going to help LGBT people. Speaker 1 00:03:11 But in particular, he was a veteran. Like I was a veteran, I'd spent nine years in the Marines. I've been enlisted, I'd been an infantry officer. This is very core to my identity. And it was really difficult to watch what was happening at the time with the, the assault on transgender troops in particular. And this guy was fighting for transgender group troops and actually as a veteran, as a former Navy officer campaigning for it. So that was a really easy decision for me to go to work for him. And when we won, I looked for a job and was warmly embraced by the, by the Congo then congressmen and went to work in his office for two years until he didn't win reelection, which is what, Speaker 0 00:03:48 So what an amazing background and, and life experience. And, you know, I was, I spent some time watching and listening to some of the work that you've done. And in particular, in preparation for this discussion, I listened to your very open letter to us Supreme court, justice, Sonia Sotomayor. And you mentioned before that you've become a very vocal political organizer and advocate transgender rights, but I'd love to know a little bit more about your advocacy work and what that means to you. Speaker 1 00:04:22 Um, you know, that that's just always been what my life has been about. Um, public service. I mean, I, I was, uh, I was a public school teacher. I was an infantry officer. I was always an activist. I was a, an activist with the Surfrider foundation for a long time. Um, and I do a great deal of work around veterans. I think, you know, one of the areas that I'm particularly passionate about is, is very close to home and it's about what happens to LGBT people, especially LGBT veterans, but you mentioned the Sotomayor thing. The thing that incensed me in that case, that was the case that ultimately wound up the Supreme court in a decision that allowed transgender people to be protected under title IX or the civil rights act so that we have equal rights and employment, and we can't be fired simply for being transgender or gay. Speaker 1 00:05:05 Right. And, um, that really th the, the thing that set me off in particular besides there is that it wasn't a sure bet that sorta my Yara was going to vote with us. And she was obsessed with in her questioning that the real legal issue for her was. But what about the bathrooms? And the other thing that struck me was that the person who technically was probably putting on a very capable case in favor of our rights was the gentlemen from the ACLU who, um, assists who's gender conforming, you know, and, um, uh, and straight not gay. And, um, a man who's married to a woman. So here's this person, you know, nice guy from the ACLU, I'm sure his heart's in the right place, but the questions that were asked about bathrooms and the obsession that these jurists had about the bathrooms, what struck me is change. Speaker 1 00:05:59 Gender people have to speak for themselves and be out front, which is hard to do. And I don't criticize my, my brothers and sisters, but if, if the attorney who had argued that case had been transgender, nobody would have, would have gone to the bathrooms. And, and if they had, they would have done it delicately because they would realize, of course, this is a person who looks like a woman and she's going to use the women's restroom or who looks like a man is going to use the men's restroom. And they're a professional purse person, and they're clearly skilled in their field. And that's what needs to be seen. People don't get their rights because they're given to them, they get the rights because they stand up for them. They stand up for themselves. Nobody nobody's going to give you something you don't demand. That's part of the lesson here too. And I think the, the thing for allies to do, especially in the workplace setting is to make sure that there's a level playing field where people don't feel the decks completely stacked against them. And they feel forced into silence. Speaker 0 00:06:54 In some ways I agree completely, you know, people need to stand up for their rights, but in other ways, we need to make sure that allies and others are supportive of transgender rights that they are supportive of or understanding of why this is something that we need to understand and respect. I, it seems, it, it seems so easy. And yet the fact that you and others have to stand up for what we all know is right, is a challenge. Speaker 1 00:07:28 And that's one of the things I try to make in that video, um, that was addressed to sorta my, your, you know, I I've led, I think, um, a very good life. I've actually done a lot of good in the world. Um, but I didn't have a choice in being transgender. In fact, well, I take that back. I had a choice whether or not to suppress my gender dysphoria or, um, or to come out and that's really the choice faced by anybody who's trans. And it's a really hard choice. And for almost 50 years, I made the choice of suppressing it until I got to midlife. And then it, that, that gender dysphoria that had been with me my whole life, you know, I knew that I had had not only these feelings, but then when I was assured of absolute privacy, I, you know, there were times in my life going back to my childhood when I dressed, dressed in women's clothes, because it was, it was this overwhelming urge to express that side of myself. Speaker 1 00:08:22 And so my choice by midlife was either come out or I was literally getting suicidal. This is the thing that people should also understand the kind of path that most of us go through and coming out. I mean, when I made the decision finally to come out, um, I really believed that I was going to wind up living under the, the Venice 4 0 5 overpass, which was near where I was currently living that my then wife was going to, you know, fight and take every asset we had together that I would lose every relationship I'd been, I had ever built in particular because I'd led this hyper-masculine life. But I think this is an honest fear and not an unrealistic one I might add. And at the time I was working as a public school teacher and I was at a district that I probably couldn't leave because I was too senior to get probably hired anywhere else. Speaker 1 00:09:16 And it was an extremely homophobic and homophobic and transphobic environment. So even though I probably had the job protections to stay, I basically knew there was no way I could teach them. Right. So this is the number one issue for, you know, this, I think this is mostly about how we help people in the workplace. And boy, transgender people need an opportunity to work. I mean, it's, it's not just a nice to have it's the whole thing, right? And most of the problems that transgender people face are related to employment. Since I came out my transition when I talked to my transgender friends and peers in the community is so much easier than most people, most people have horror stories. I've been very privileged. You know, I have Ivy league degrees and I was able because I had skills and luckily my, my ex wife, she, she didn't want to stay married. Speaker 1 00:10:04 Luckily has been incredibly supportive in this lifetime. And so that made things entirely different. And so I felt lucky in a lot of ways, but even so I will tell you that, um, that I, you know, I faced a lot of, um, a lot of discrimination. It happens on a daily basis. I've had housing problems. It's very difficult to find housing often when you're not making a lot of money as a transgender person, you're in an expensive rental market. You're forced into rooming situations, which were all often extremely disadvantageous for us and homelessness. Isn't one single event. It's a, it's a path. And this is something that happens to a lot of transgender people. And then finally, I'll say in healthcare, mental health care housing, those things are all tied to work. And while I was really fortunate to have a job, I loved working for Congress for a Congressman that was really affirming and gave me lots of opportunities to, without even having to say it, to be in important public spaces, representing the transgender community in a really positive way that job came to an end. Speaker 1 00:11:10 Not because of anything on tour, just because of an election, right, right. Almost a year now. And I'm unemployed. And I will tell you that I've applied to probably 30 jobs, all of which have been really extremely cool. You know, maybe not all highly qualified, but certainly qualified for every one of them. And most of them highly qualified and I'm still employed now. I never had any problem with employment. Um, before I came out and unemployment is twice as high among the transgender community. And I think a lot of people who think that they would support a trans person when it comes to maybe hiring one would be like, they might not say it because they know it's illegal, especially now that the Supreme court has ruled the right way, but they're thinking, oh, well, this person's appearance, you know, this is a very forward facing job. I don't know. Or is this going to upset the team? Or so even people who might think that they're, you know, in their own self-conception are allies, um, or friendly to transgender people are often, I think, in matters of employment and in matters around children quite bigoted often without knowing it. And that's not to blame those people as much as it is to understand that's what systemic means. You know, that's what systemic transphobia means. And it's just like with racist. Speaker 0 00:12:28 So Stephanie, I have to ask you this because I think you've hit on what really is one of the biggest and core challenges that transgender people face. And that is the discrimination that comes, especially when they're seeking employment or perhaps in the workplace when it becomes untenable. Right. And so the question is, look, education plays a role. We know that, right. We can educate populations of people within the workplace, but what more can, and should we be doing? And, and what role specifically, can allies play in helping us address these challenges? Because we it's clear. We need to do more. Speaker 1 00:13:08 Yeah. So the first thing I want to do is I want to give a little vignette about something that happened that I think will shock. Most people. I actually had a meeting with a local city council person and the chief of police here in Southern California, where there have been an incident where, um, a very troubling trans, uh, transphobic incident that had occurred two transgender women who were assaulted. And so I was there representing them with a couple of other activists an hour. After that meeting, I happened to be taking care of some personal busy business at city hall, where I live in Anaheim. And I walked out of the city hall and went across the street yelling, hurry up, hurry up. As I crossed the street at a red light at the crosswalk, and then this individual in the must have noticed something about me and started screaming into the, his PA system on the car at the red light. Speaker 1 00:13:59 I can see your balls trigger warning. I'm sorry. I hope that's not a little off color, but that sort of thing happens to all transgender women, including me quite a lot. But what really struck me about it is the juxtaposition of having just been in this meeting where I was smelling. And the thing that occurs to me is that I would venture to say that most people are horrified by that. And that's what we think of as transphobic, right? That bothered me so much less than things I've encountered in the workplace from people who think they're allies and what I would, what I would challenge people who are listening to think of is that most Americans have just as much transphobia as, as the man, I just described the differences. They wouldn't act the same way. Most people aren't going to get on a PA system and start shouting at, you know, insults of people. Speaker 1 00:14:49 Right. But I think most people have just as much, you know, and it's not because they're terribly bad people it's because just about every representation you've ever seen them, transgender people in the media, especially if you're, you know, over 30 years old, is that we're the butter jokes that were sex workers, that the proper way to respond. If you find out that you've, you know, been romantically attracted to some, to a transgender person is revulsion or even violence, um, that these, these are archetypes that are played out over and over again. It's very rare. You interact with somebody. And, you know, when I speak to a group, how many, uh, of, you know, uh, somebody who's trans and very few hands will go up and then I'll say, all right. If, if I asked you to pull out your cell phone, I bet, you know, more than, you know, a hundred people probably there are a couple hundred contacts in there. Speaker 1 00:15:36 Well, you know, about, you know, a half a percent of the general population are transgender or gender nonconforming. So, you know, transgender people, they just haven't chosen to reveal themselves to you. And so that's an indication that you're not doing the right thing. So I know this has been a long-winded answer, but you asked what, what can we do in a workplace? Well, the first thing you can do is don't wait till somebody comes out. You know, don't wait until you have that first transgender interview. So I'll give you one quick, like thing that everybody can do right now. If you want to make it more, more welcoming workplace, you got an email go to your signature line and add your pronouns. And most people who are gender conforming, who've never had any of these issues find that they, you know, often they find that a little off putting, I will be Frank. Speaker 1 00:16:23 I had enough trans transphobia, internalized that even as I was coming out, I felt a little awkward about announcing my pronouns. Um, it seemed sort of unusual and pushy, but it's not. Let me explain to you why, how important it is. It's really powerful because, um, if you're a transgender person, maybe you won't even come out at that workplace. When you see that on somebody's email, you know, that's a person who's making conscious effort to try and be inclusive and friendly and open to people like myself who go through a very rough time. Right. And I would also say it extends beyond that to any LGBT person that sees that somebody who may be gender conforming, but they're gay or lesbian, or they're bisexual is going to say, ah, that's like a signal that this person is, you know, kind of, you know, trying to be inclusive. Speaker 1 00:17:15 Um, and I will say that I've spoken to friends of mine who are African-American, um, who feel the same way. They say that's a signal that you can send. Um, the other thing is don't wait, you know, especially if you're a manager, do not wait until you hire your first African-American or your first, um, we'll wheelchair bound, differently abled person, or your first transgender person to start having these discussions that's way too late, have them beforehand prepare the office first, because if you wait until that person comes in, you put them in an incredibly difficult position. And you also put a lot more stress on your, on your team and your staff, because now they're suddenly reacting to something that you haven't discussed, and you don't know what the company's values are. It's your responsibility as a leader to do that long before to address these kinds of issues long before they obviously affect one individual in the office. Speaker 0 00:18:12 I think that's so key and candidly, it's one of the reasons why we built this new diversity equity and inclusion curriculum, and you took, you took part in that, right? You provided both perspective and insight along with a number of other people, because if we're not addressing it now, then we've got individuals who are coming in, who yes, they may see more diversity. They may see some equity, but they may not feel as included. They may not feel as if they belong. And so we've got to do better and do more. And so this curriculum is designed, I think, to really help people, not only understand the challenges, but identify to your point, what are the things that I can do, not just in the future, but what can I do right now to make people feel more welcome to make people feel like they belong. And so thank you again for your perspective and insight there, but I have to ask. And when you did this, what also sort of prompted you to take part? Speaker 1 00:19:15 I have experienced in an office where I was subjected to a great deal of Harrison and administration did not handle it. Well, in fact, there was a mounted really, um, you know, retribution for my co coming forward. Um, and I will say that I take some ownership in this and that, um, I now know how to handle this better. Nobody, nobody hands you a manual that says here, you're trans. Now this is what you need to know and how you need to act. Um, so when I came out in this particular office, I said, all right, it's really important for me to, you know, win people over. Especially when I started to feel that people were uncomfortable with my transition. And when I started to get microaggressions, little things that people let me know that made me uncomfortable, or I felt like I was being put in my place, or I was being mis-gendered and slight of hand ways, my initial response was to not, I don't want to make waves. Speaker 1 00:20:15 And I said, well, let me just be hyper competent. And let me be a super colleague and let me win them over and make friends with these people. And really that strategy was the exact worst thing I could have done, right. Because what I did by not standing up and saying something and then trying to befriend this same people as they were treating me really badly was they learned that the way they were treating me was just fine. And remember that's their bias anyways. Right, right, right. Right. Eventually when things got worse and worse and worse, and I couldn't take it anymore. And I went to management, these people when they had to be investigated, felt this tremendous sense of betrayal and whiplash, because they'd been doing this for months and how dare I endangered their job. Um, but you know, you see it was endangering more than, you know, more than my job. Speaker 1 00:21:05 It was endangering myself. I didn't sleep for a period of a year. I had to get on antidepressants just to deal with the environment in this job. Um, and I will also say that when I went to management about it, um, the, especially the first time, you know, the supervisor said, oh, that's not true staff. Everybody here loves you. And by the way, I point out that many people who love you can abuse you. You know what I mean? Like I mentioned earlier in the conversation, I was talking about somebody who, you know, had arrest me in the street in a very obvious and nasty way that didn't bother me nearly as much as my coworkers who put me down, didn't treat me the same way, criticized me unfairly. Um, mis-gendered me gave me work assignments based on my gender that are based on my, uh, male gender that I did not have or express over and over again, that was far more painful and threatening to, you know, my, my own employment in my job. Speaker 1 00:22:13 And so I went to this manager and I gave him several examples of how this, and I did it again. I'm trying to win friends and influence people. I was very respectful and deferential and I said, no, no, it really, people are extremely uncomfortable. That's the way I phrased it. Yeah. I was uncomfortable. They were being nasty and they didn't know it, you know? Um, and his response was to say, well, we could do some kind of a training, you know, which I just asked for it. He goes, but I don't know how many trust falls I can do. Right. Make wider the whole thing and gaslighting me. And then he said, you know, or, um, I can just have everybody in my office and tell them what my expectations are. Well, thing one, you should have done that right away. Right. When somebody comes out as transgender, or you hire your first, you know, African-American in a division or a company that's never had an African-American. Speaker 1 00:23:09 Yeah. You should already been having those conversations, but definitely, especially about somebody in the middle of a transition, which is very tough. You gotta have that, you set those expectations overtly and in those private conversations and have a training you're in way over your head, this is a big deal. Um, but any event. So again, I was polite and I said to him, I said, well, you know, I really would. I think it would be great if you speak, if you have that conversation and talk about expectations with everyone. But I also think we need the training and he was very upset and, or he was very annoyed and he fine. He said, you pick the, um, you find the vendors and then you go to the office manager. He goes, you go to the office manage. Well, I just described that the office manager who was treating me the worst. Speaker 1 00:23:57 So I had to work through the office manager to set up this training. And then by the way, it took months before the training actually occurred. And then it only occurred when I went to my bosses boss. And then when it did happen, the training was held via somebody who is in another city who literally dialed it in. So the facilitator made a phone call. Now, remember when I tried to set this up, I found local, highly qualified presenters who were willing to give a whole day. And they thought that's what was appropriate. And they, and one of the problems why they couldn't get it set up is they were, they were insistent that the three levels of management above me and above the rest of the office needed to participate in the training in part, because that's the only way people are going to see it as really important and mission focused. If it's not worth the CEO or, or, or the boss's time, it's not worth the subordinates time. And they know it, right. That's how employees assign value to something. And so if you, if they aren't there, what they see is this is a pain in the ass and they resent the person they blame for having taken them away from their, their, their valuable work to do the stupidity. That's the way they see it. So you've actually that kind of training can make things worse. You got to have leadership buy-in yeah. Speaker 0 00:25:13 And it, you know, it sounds to me like, look, some companies they've already recognized the importance of DEI, but, you know, we, we hear from so many really good organizations that want to do the right thing stuff, but they're still grappling with what comes next. How, how do we ensure that the trainings we do that, the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, it's ingrained in the fabric of the way that we operate. And what I just heard you say is that it has to be pervasive throughout an organization. And it has to be recognized from the very top, all the way down and throughout. But is there anything more that that organizations need to be doing and thinking about as they evolve, because it's, this is a journey it's not just a one and done training to your point. Speaker 1 00:26:05 You're, you're really asking how you make the training meaningful and not just checking a box. That's exactly right. Counter, counter counterproductive. The first thing is obviously management buy-in and participation. You've got to show by voting with your feet and your presence that this is important to management, but, um, you know, then I would say another one is I mentioned, you know, using your pronouns in your subject line, if the boss does that, that sends a message across the organization and everybody sees it. And I think a nice way to do it is for the boss to just do it and let people see it and ripple it down, not say, oh, by the way, you know, not send out a memo that says, by the way, you can do this, if you want to, or we want everyone to do this, just build it into the culture. Speaker 1 00:26:46 It goes to a little bit of hiring and making sure that you have a diverse team before you hire somebody that's well outside the lack of diversity you create. So let me put it to you this way. First of all, we know that diversity works, that if you have true diversity, if no one group is dominant in an organization, um, that you get greater creativity and you get greater effort and you build stronger teams, right. But even when we're sometimes trying to practice or have kind of diversity, I think often miss the mark, it's something to be aware of at the very least that, you know, you think you're doing great with diversity, but if one, if there's one clique or group that becomes sort of too tight and close, that can often be a place where discrimination sort of begins. And so if nothing else sort of be aware of those things and look for ways to maybe mix that up a little, okay. Speaker 0 00:27:45 I think that's really good and, and sounded by us, you know, there, I think there are so many lessons stuff, um, from both you and, and, and our other guests that we had, uh, on the first episode to shell, um, about what organizations can do to really create that sense of belonging. And some of them are very small. It doesn't have to always be a massive initiative, but I think the thoughtfulness and the care with which we take and as leaders, the importance of modeling the behavior that we need, everyone in the organization to see that sort of rose to the fore for me, as I, as I heard you speak, Speaker 1 00:28:29 I, yeah, I think it's gotta be a value right. Of value of the organization so that anybody that's hired knows that, that, all right, well, I have some strong anti transgender or anti homophobic views, or I've got, you know, they get re real fast that if I'm going to work in this organization, I got to check that at the door. And I gotta be very aware of how I behave because this organization has values that are different from my own. And so that's gotta be clear at the outset and, and, and it's not. And I think if you do it the right way, maybe there's some group, some outgroup, some marginalized group that you haven't directly included. But I think, you know, the, the process of demonstrating, especially from, with leadership that you're open and you're inclusive, is going to really help you when there's something you didn't anticipate, something you hadn't worked on and prevent preventing you from having big problems and make your team. And ultimately, I think the advantages you're going to have a stronger team that performs better. You know, I mean, not just because it's good to create havoc, if somebody has a lawsuit or, you know, you just have dissension in the ranks, you're just going to get better results. When, you know, people are not necessarily completely tied in together, but there, they have different thought processes and different ways and different experiences, but they all feel comfortable sharing equally. And nobody feels like they're disadvantaged. Speaker 0 00:29:57 I love that. Steph, thank you so much for, you know, it was really powerful. I think we've, we've learned a lot from this conversation. And as we think about where organizations need to go, there, there's a lot that we need to contemplate. And I truly believe that in, you know, in having this conversation so much of effective and meaningful DEI learning revolves around listening and listening to the stories of others and, and being open and receptive to understanding. Um, so to continue this theme, I have one final question, and it's something that I've asked all my guests, it's a three parter. Uh, since I've asked, I've asked all my guests, you know, I started this, this podcast stuff back at the beginning of the pandemic. And I think it was a way for us to understand and be a part of this collective shared experience, which nobody had. Speaker 0 00:30:55 We know what we, we hadn't had before. And so, as we reflect on this past year, you know, we've each had not only this collective shared experience, but our own unique take on it, right. The way that the pandemic has impacted our lives. So here's the question, it's a three parter. So, number one, what have you learned about yourself throughout the pandemic? Part two is how you applied what you've learned in the flow of work and the flow of life. And then looking ahead, what advice might you share with others? And so it's, what have you learned about yourself? What have you applied and what advice would you give based on what you've learned? Speaker 1 00:31:46 Hm, well, the first thing, um, is cats got to have cats before I came out. I was, um, I was a crazy cat man. Now I'm just a cliche. I think one of the things I learned is that working from home works really well. Yeah. I know a lot of people of color and gender non-conforming and LGBT people that I know personally really feel it's a much safer or, you know, it's just much better on our emotional health. Um, I'm in an extremely gregarious person. And when the lockdown first happened, I was like, this is, can be bad for me. Um, and I found that, um, through teleconferencing, uh, like we're doing now and, um, and phone calls, I pretty much got what I needed. You know, I'm not saying I, I want to stay this way forever, but I think a work environment where people can work from home is really terrific. Speaker 1 00:32:43 And it's particularly terrific for people who are from marginalized groups. Um, for some reason, I think when we're on, uh, on, in two dimensions, on a screen, maybe we see people more. Three-dimensionally, it's sort of funny. I mean, yeah, it doesn't get as clique-ish, you know, and it's maybe a little bit more about the work, and I know that it's not always the best answer and it's hard to onboard, but if you can work in some significant, if you're fortunate enough to be in a business where you can work in some significant amount of telecommuting for people, a couple of days a week, you're doing great things for the environment. But I think you're also doing great things for people who probably have a tough time in an office environment and maybe the people in the east suite, they don't get that because the people who thrived in that environment, but I want to get the most out of their people. They should realize that a lot of people do a lot better work and can collaborate better often from home. And I know that seems counterintuitive, but I think it's often the case pandemic wise, I would say very much, you know, managers shouldn't be afraid to let people work from home. You know, I realized there's a value to the office and communal communal working at times, but a significant amount of, of work from home I think is actually quite healthy for an office culture. Speaker 0 00:33:54 Yeah. I think we've learned a lot about the ways in which people work. And one of the things that we've talked often about and on this podcast is now that we've separated, in fact work and workplace, which we have done, what do they mean? Right. So work workplace is not necessarily the place where you get work done. It may be the place in which you go to have those social interactions that maybe you've missed to, um, collaborate, um, in, in more of a, a different way, a different type of environment where it's not about, I've got to get my day-to-day work done. So we've learned a lot about, I think this separation or this notion of divorcing work and workplace from each other. Speaker 1 00:34:35 Yeah. I really, I hope it's something managers are really thinking about and not too quick to say, I need to bring everybody back in. This is, what's always worked pandemics over and get back in here, you know, and then maybe they can all save on office space and, you know, they still need an office, but not as big of what you know, Speaker 0 00:34:51 Well, we've done a lot of research. And what I will tell you stuff is that we know that most people that we surveyed at least one, at least one pandemic related policy, whether that's flexibility, whether that is, you know, adjustment and hours, whether that is working remotely, at least part of the time that, that, that people expect companies to put in place policies that reflect the way that we've been working, not necessarily the way that we were before the pandemic. And so I think it's, it's going to be interesting to see, but I, I would, um, you know, with every conversation that I've had, it seems as if we are moving down a path towards what is that balance and what's going to be best for our team members. And it's not necessarily being in an office five days a week. Speaker 1 00:35:38 Yeah. And I mean like the black death was sort of the catalyst, you know, people think for, for the Renaissance, right. Um, so you know, like a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Let's get some real lessons learned out of this. They're really meaningful and impactful and make things better than our office offices. Speaker 0 00:35:57 Well, thank you so much stuff. This has been a great conversation. I really appreciate you sharing over the past year. We've talked a lot about DEI training, but I think we're discovering that the word training it's too limited and perhaps might even be a misnomer. And I think that's because DEI programs address situations that are so systemic and complex and require more than just this point in time, annual certification DEI, isn't a destination. It is a journey. One that amplifies diverse voices and perspectives speaks to heads. And hearts educates on facts and inspires through stories. As I said, when we started Skillsoft is on a journey to one where we strategically invested in DEI for our own organization and for our customers and partners. And that's why we're focused on creating impactful learning experiences that are representative and inclusive of diversity through real life stories that allow for reflection and long-term adoption of new skills and concepts to shell and stuff. Speaker 0 00:37:07 I want to thank you for taking the time to be with us on the edge and for sharing your thoughts on the next steps. We all must take towards greater diversity, true equity and meaningful inclusion and to our listeners. Thank you for tuning into this into every episode. As we unleash our edge together on behalf of the entire Skillsoft team, we encourage you to keep learning and keep growing. And in light of our conversation today, consider the ways in which you personally can drive meaningful change from within your organization. I'm Michelle BB. This is the edge be well.

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