In this episode of Programming Leadership, Marcus and his guest, Kim Crayton, discuss how organizations are shaped by core values, and why values are integral for establishing true diversity and inclusion. Kim dives into some very uncomfortable truths in this episode, pointing out how most organizations are not actually ready for inclusion and diversity, because they are operating with misaligned values that make it impossible for stakeholders to thrive. Kim also explains how businesses can leverage diversity to effectively compete in the information economy, and explains why companies should rethink how they approach risk management.
- Why inclusion and diversity must be the bedrocks of an organization — and why they are essential for competing in the information economy. (2:16)
- The role that core values play in an organization, and how they are linked to processes, procedures, and policies. (1:43)
- Understanding shareholder value versus stakeholder value in an organization. (7:06)
- The core values of the #causeascene community: Tech is not neutral, intention without strategy is chaos, lack of inclusion is a risk management issue, and prioritizing the most vulnerable. (9:48)
- How most companies lack the diversity to identify the potential for harm — and as a result, they don’t understand harm until it happens. (13:43)
- Thinking beyond finance when considering risk management (16:38)
- How income sharing agreements (ISAs) often target and harm — instead of prioritize — people in marginalized communities.(18:50)
- Defining privilege, underrepresentation, marginalization, variety, and inclusion.(26:56)
- Redefining capitalism in a way that doesn’t cause harm to people by default. (34:51)
- Main site: https://hashtagcauseascene.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimCrayton1
- Coaching: https://hashtagcauseascene.com/coaching/
Announcer: Welcome to the Programming Leadership podcast, where we help great coders become skilled leaders, and build happy, high performing software teams.
Marcus: All right, welcome to the show. This is another episode of the Programming Leadership podcast. I’m Marcus. Today I am very excited to have Kim Crayton with me today. Kim is a business strategist and tech leader coach. And you know that’s a place in my heart I really love to work. So, I’m really excited to hear about what Kim is going to help me think through today. Kim, thank you so much for being on the show.
Kim: Thank you for having me.
Marcus: And Kim, as my listeners know—and I usually start every episode this way—we were in the middle of a great conversation when I said let’s actually make this the podcast. So, let’s rewind just a little bit. We were talking about taking the idea of core values really sign-on-the-wall, aspirational kinds of ideas and making them valuable, meaningful, ooh, maybe even the word measurable came up.
Kim: Not even maybe. Definitely. You cannot manage what you cannot measure.
Marcus: That sounds like Drucker. I’ve heard it over and over, and I completely believe it. Let’s back up a little bit. So, you mentioned that sometimes you and your clients start with core values—
Kim: Not sometimes. All the time.
Marcus: Why is that?
Kim: So, and we start with core values because as I said before we started, that most companies in the tech space are not businesses. What they are, are scaled—even if they’re profitable—scaled products or services. A business requires processes, procedures, and policies in place to help you get to a place where you can measure and manage. That’s what a business is. And so, I like to start with core values because—this also is something we talked about before we get started—most of your companies, the majority of your companies, I’m going to say the far majority of your companies aren’t ready to be competitive in the information economy, which necessitates knowledge because it requires inclusion and diversity. Inclusion and diversity are not some add-ons, nice to have, they should be the bedrocks of your organization. We’re no longer in a industrial age where we’re making widgets: when you give someone a manual, you put them on an assembly line, and they have to make widgets that are identical to the neighbors next to them because they go into a million different things. What we are as an information economy—and information is meaningless: it’s input. What you want is the output, which is knowledge. And knowledge is tacit knowledge. It’s that—so you input information, and I do my job; what I come up with is knowledge, which is actually tacit knowledge, which helps me do my job efficiently, which helps me—all those things about my lived experience that makes the job that I’m doing you unique, and allows, if organizational leaders are able to get me to explain—to share that tacit knowledge from my lived experience—then they’re able to use that for innovation, differentiation, and competitive advantage. This is why we need inclusion and diversity because it’s through my lived experience that I can take the same job as a white man, and come up with a totally different set of, “Hey, have you thought about this? Hey, have you thought about that? Hm, from my experience, how you’re thinking about that is going to harm people.” Blah, blah—that kind of thing. So, that’s what you need. And you need all of us at the table. And so, it can’t be these siloed things. This needs to be fundamental to how you do your businesses. This is why I am not a inclusion and diversity expert, I just find that the majority of the companies that I work with are not ready for D&I. They’re not ready for inclusion and diversity, and so they keep doing these things, these little one-offs—and this is why one of the #causeascene guiding principles is, “Intention without strategy is chaos.” Because you have an intention; it’s not rooted in anything, and you do these things, these initiatives, and then they fundamentally cause harm to the most vulnerable in our community. So, going back to core values—I had to give you that background—so I always start with core values because that helps a organization understand where we’re going. So, you can put these aspirational things on a wall, but for me, core values are the thing that every decision within a organization needs to be made from, and that needs to come from every person in the organization. Core values are the thing that scales; that helps you ensure that inclusion and diversity are fundamental to your organization and that you’re able to measure. So, the story I was telling is, I had a client early on who, one of her core values was beautiful things. So, many core values—most core values start with adjectives which are really squishy. She used to call them squishy. They’re these heart things. This is these things that make you feel good inside. This is these aspirational things that you want to bring into the world. But how do you do beautiful things if your job is a oil rig, right? You know, it’s like, how does that make sense? So, based on her business that she was trying to build, or her ideas, she was trying to iterate on—oh, let me stop here. Also, the Lean Model Canvas does not make you a business. This is how you iterate a product or service. I have to say that.
Marcus: I’ve heard you say that. Yeah.
Kim: Because I’m so sick of people acting as if. We’re using it for something it was not designed for. The lean model canvas was designed to help you iterate product or service; go to market stuff. It’s not about putting a business structure in place, so you do not have a business if you don’t have procedures, policies, and processes. So, with her business—like I said—core values was beautiful things. She’s like, “How do I keep the essence of what that is?” So, by the time we got into the process she saw, for her, everything that she did had to be viewed through the lens of beautiful things because she had three core values; that was one of them. So, how she and her team craft an email is more important to her in her business than somebody else’s business. If that’s the first contact someone as a customer or client has with her, that email has to be beautifully written. It has to mean something to her. If she has an on-site location, the toilet paper, she has to think about what kind of toilet paper she’s going to have in the bathroom because she wants customers who have that experience of beautiful things when they even go into the bathroom. That’s different from somebody else who doesn’t have that. You come into my place, whatever I use, you use, you know? [laughs].
Marcus: [laughs]. So, in her case—and I’m curious, the first thing that came to mind, you mentioned oil rig, right? I’m guessing she wasn’t an oil drilling company.
Kim: But let’s pull that out. Let’s say it was an oil drilling company.
Kim: So, I talk about shareholder value versus stakeholder value. So, shareholder value is what is legally in the law for what most people are running for these IPOs. It is shareholders are the only thing that matters. It’s actually written in the law if the company leaders do something or make decisions that shareholders feel is not going to help with shareholder value, they can actually be sued. So, this is where I take issue with politicians making these grand statements about keeping jobs in America and what they’re going to do, da da da da. The average layperson who doesn’t understand this believes that because they’re speaking to your emotion. That is not how this actually works. If the board of directors is in place, the CEO is in place to serve shareholder value, period. And they’ve got to figure out how to do that to increase shareholder value. Versus stakeholder value—and this is the order it goes in, and you need all four of these: first, you have to prioritize who works for you because the people who work for you, if they’re prioritized, they feel psychological safety, again, in this information economy, in this knowledge economy, then they are going to produce the best; they’re going to provide you with the tacit knowledge you need to innovate, differentiate, and compete. Then you have to think about who you partner with because we see constantly how organizations who are trying to align to make decisions based on their core values end up partnering with organizations who do things that mess up their reputation, and all kinds of things. Then you have to think about your customer, or your client because when you think about that, they may start using your product or service in ways you had not even thought about, which could cause harm. So, you have to think about them next. The last is, who’s invest in you because if all the, who works for you, who partners with you, who buys from you is taken care of, investment happens. Shareholders have the investment they thought about. So, going back to the oil rig example. We haven’t seen it. And again, this is where we talked offline about—and I want to redefine capitalism without white supremacy: the economics of being anti-racist. We haven’t seen it because there has been no incentive to do this. So, if I was imagining a oil rig, if I was in the oil business and I wanted to create a business that spoke to my core values, so the core values of the #causeascene—well I call them guiding principles, but they could be seen as core values of the #causeascene community. One is: tech is not neutral. Two is: intention without strategy is chaos. Three is: lack of inclusion is a risk management issue, and four is: prioritizing the most vulnerable because they flow down. Once you understand the tech is not neutral—that’s a big one because everybody keeps thinking tech is neutral, so that’s the biggest one, we got to get over that hump. Then we get to intention without strategy is chaos. Don’t care about your intention, it’s impact that we need to be thinking about. We need to be thinking about how all the hypothetical ways, all the edge cases—because that’s another thing, we don’t want to talk about edge cases. Edge cases are where the harm comes, so we need to think about who can be harmed by that. So, it’s not about intention, it’s about impact. Then we need to think about lack of inclusion as a risk management issue. And we’re seeing a lot of that now. At some point, we’re really going to start seeing people getting sued over the lack of inclusion. And then, once you understand that, then you understand why we have to prioritize the most vulnerable. Okay? And so, I want to stop here and give two definitions. Diversity, I define diversity as variety. It’s that simple. I have a Crayola box. If I have a four-count, there’s not much diversity here. I’m an artist. I am not that good with four-count Crayola. It’s going to be an ugly picture. Sixty-four box Crayola is where the variety is. I’m still going to have an ugly picture, but it’s going to be a colorful picture. I can make up colors, I can combine, I can create something with sixty-four that I couldn’t create before. So, that’s about recruitment. So, this is how you need to think about—when you think about diversity, that’s where your recruitment comes in. And what are you putting in place? What communities are you being uncomfortable in, so that you can build relationships so that you have the diversity that you need? And then, I define inclusion as my lived experience, how comfortable, how safe, I feel; psychological safety. And you as a person can’t tell me that I’m included. I can only tell you that I’m included, and that’s about retention. That’s about once you get me in the door, how safe and welcoming I feel is how long I stay, and how willing I am to provide the tacit knowledge from my lived experience that you can use to scale, innovate, competitive advantage, differentiate. So, it’s no longer you give me a manual and I follow. No, you need to be prioritizing me so I can help you. And this is where we’re missing out. If you’re not failing on the first one, which is recruitment, they’re quickly leaving because you’re expecting culture fit. Culture fit is the antithesis, is the opposite, is the killer of inclusion. It is no longer about assimilation, it is about accommodation. Every time you bring someone new into your organization, your organization should be expected to change. It needs to change. So, said that. So, if I decide, hey, I see an opportunity in the oil industry. I’m going to think about, based on my core values of the #causeascene guiding principles, what is the strategy for ensuring that the most vulnerable are protected? Yes, I want to make a profit. Yes, all of these things, but I need to think about mitigating harm; that’s going to be a priority for me. That is not—as we’ve seen in years, and years, and decades, and decades of the oil industry, that is not a priority for them because it hits on—the third one is lack of inclusion as a risk management issue. For them, they have a risk management strategy that says—and they have lawyers, and if we do this, how much is this going to cost us? Are we willing to take that hit?
Kim: So, their risk management strategy is based on reacting. We screw something up, this is what it’s going to cost. This is why we have insurance, you know? This is what it’s going to cost. And we’re willing to do that so we can keep doing our own thing. For me, I’m going to say, what is the potential for harm? I’m going to put more money in the front end to minimize that. Not saying that I’m ever going to eliminate it. But I’m going to minimize that so that in the long run, my legacy of harm is substantially lower in an industry that has historically been harmful. Now, if I’m looking at my stakeholders, and particularly with how people are socially conscious now, think about what kind of investment I can get versus someone who’s causing harm.
Kim: Think about the kinds of people who are now re-envisioning how we can do things that have been traditionally harmful, and want to be a part of that, and financially support that. I’m not going to have a problem getting funded.
Marcus: I want to go back to something and ask you about this idea of, “Minimize the potential for harm,” Because you mentioned that was going to be one of the first things you thought about as you designed your business strategy.
Kim: Specifically in the oil—when we was talking about oil.
Marcus: As we were talking about. And yeah, I’m really curious, and you can use the oil industry or any more practical example you want, but what are some, sort of, practical ways that companies that you’ve seen or you’ve helped people actually minimize the potential of harm? What are some things that get put in place that have that impact?
Kim: Well, I’m going to be honest, many of them don’t even think about it. Because it’s not in their perspective. They do not have the diversity at the table to even help them identify potential for harm. Most companies don’t understand harm until it happens. And unfortunately, it requires—and I say this all the time, just in the #causeascene community, it’s a shame that I have to be harmed in order for the white folx in the community to recognize that there is racism. I have to be physically in a video crying, explaining a situation that happened to me, for folx to say, “Wow, we’re not having the same lived experience,” because nothing about your experience you question, but you question mine because you’ve never had it, so you don’t believe it. And so, this is the problem. You don’t have the canaries that you keep throwing down the minefield at the table. You just keep throwing them down because they’re expendable to you. Again, it’s that calculated risk management that I have insurance for.
Marcus: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. And you used a really interesting term. You said risk management in terms of, well, how much will it cost us? And you actually put it in the context of getting sued—
Marcus:—and I’ve been in companies that absolutely think that way. I know that that is the, sort of, default stance of, “Well, what will it cost us if someone brings a lawsuit against us?” And I have other questions about this, that I’ll hold, around is that the only real risk, or is that just the risk that we, sort of, see on the books because that’s the one we’re the most used to think of?
Kim: That’s the risk that people with limited perspective see.
Marcus: Yeah. And now you’re bringing up the risk of competition. Are we competing as well? You brought up the risk of ideas, right?
Kim: What’s so interesting is—even in that, that brings up an issue with MBAs to me. I can go in several companies—and you see it all the time—they are not businesses, and this is why I call them companies or organizations. They have nothing in place, absolutely nothing in place, but they have a NDA.
Kim: Because they know they’re causing harm, so that’s a risk management insurance that they’ve learned that they need to put in place, but that doesn’t change behavior. They’re mitigating the sharing of the harm that they cause by silencing those who are most vulnerable.
Marcus: I mean, my perspective on that is, like, I’ve talked to so many people who say, “I’d love to tell you my idea; you just have to sign this piece of paper.” And going back to, you don’t have anything.
Kim: A idea is not unique. Implementation is how you differentiate. And see, again, but that’s the industrial thinking. We’re in a knowledge economy.
Marcus: So, ideas aren’t where value is.
Kim: No, I didn’t mean that. But—ah, you hit it. You hit it. This is where a white man keep getting funded for VC money. They—look at WeWork. Look at Uber. Look at Lyft. Look at all these freaking scooter companies. Look at—
Kim: They have never been profitable. They had a idea—they had the privilege to have an idea and to get funding to help them iterate to create something that many people—like I don’t get that opportunity. I have to come in the door with a product. I don’t get funding on a idea. If I give funding, it is on a scalable, profitable product already, service already. That right there tells you that you don’t even see my perspective. So, no, a idea is of the privileged. And then, let’s talk about societal, period. Because all of this stuff is connected. We’re seeing this right now. We have been talking about, on my podcast and in the community, about how bad these ISAs—which are income sharing agreements—are within the coding boot camp industry.
Marcus: Can you define that a tiny bit for us.
Kim: Yes. And ISA is what they’re considering alternative funding solution for college. So, they’re pitching this as a way, so you don’t have to get college debt. So, what it is just, very basically, is you don’t pay upfront. You pay based on a percentage of your income down the line. Sounds great on paper. Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Marcus: Yeah. They can’t see this, this isn’t video, but I’m grimacing. [laughs].
Kim: Yes. And they refuse to call them loans. Okay? So, they’re unregulated, and so an ISA is this thing. So, now you have all these people, these white men with these ideas, so the business model is actually the ISA. They’re trying to test what actual industries it works in. So, they’ve hit on boot camps because they realize that there are people transitioning, they don’t have the money for boot camps, da da da da, so it sounds good on paper, and it says we’ll only be charged if you get a job making this amount of money and it’ll be capped at, they make some arbitrary years, after three years or whatever. Folx thinks that’s my only issue—first of all, I’m not going into something, and I don’t know what I’m going to end up having to pay at the end. I got a problem with that. There are also a lot of other caveats. And so, what happens is, they’re also targeting the most vulnerable. They’re targeting people in marginalized communities. And when I define marginalized, I mean people—these are not individual, I don’t talk about the individual, I talk about people who’s society systems have negatively impacted. So, they target these individuals, give them this hope—and okay, let me—this is a whole other thing—I come from education. So, when I first saw the bootcamp model, I started asking questions then because there’s no one size fits all for education. Many of the ones I’ve seen, the majority of the ones I’ve seen, do not have qualified instructors, do not have qualified curriculum developers, do not have qualified support systems afterwards, do not understand adult learning theory. None of this is about education for me. So, they’re slapping this education model around these ISA, where the business model is ISAs because what they’re doing is once you sign a contract, they’re bundling these things up and selling them as investment instruments. So, they’re selling them off.
Kim: Yeah, ex—oh, yeah. It’s a whole, whole other thing. So, individuals, we’ve been having this conversation for a very long time, and people think it’s just the ISAs. To me, like I say, the ISA is just a shitty cherry on a shitty cake because the curriculum sucks. There’s so many fail points in this. This is not a better alternative than college. I walk away if I finish with a degree. Yes, I have student loans, but I can negotiate with—I might not like these people, but I can negotiate. I can get forbearance, I can get income-based, there’s a whole bunch of options I have. Not when I’m dealing with investors who have this loan, there have been stories of people, this stuff is so bad they drop out, and because they given these individuals permission and look at their tax returns, let’s say you drop out and you get a job in a whole other industry, meeting that threshold, they’re coming after you for that money.
Marcus: Even though the bootcamp didn’t teach you what you’re now using in your work?
Kim: You’re not even in the industry. You just left.
Marcus: So, you’re the product at that point?
Kim: Yes, you’ve been the product.
Kim: And no one wants to talk about that. So, that’s not prioritizing the most vulnerable. So, I’m not going to ever create something where I see the potential for harm. Going back to that: that is a potential for harm. And it’s a potential for harm, and they know it’s a potential for harm because, as I’ve said before, I’ve not seen—there are people who succeed in boot camps, but the overwhelming majority of people who succeed in boot camps already have some kind of technology background; they’re engineering; they’ve been doing it on the side. You know, like, very seldom is it somebody who does not know a variable when they walk into a boot camp. So, because it’s not enough for them to be successful and for VC money, now you have to bring in the spin doctors for the sales, and the marketing department, and pitch this for everybody. Oh, everybody, this works for everybody because you don’t have enough of the people who you know are going to be successful. That right there is understanding, you already know the potential for harm, and yet you’re still moving forward.
Marcus: Hmm. Oh, that sparked in my brain, like, I wonder if we analyzed companies, and we looked at how much that proportionally they were spending on sales and marketing to bring people in, is that an indicator that you know you have to polish the turd that you have?
Kim: Yep. Think about—I just saw something recently with 23andMe. So, when these things first came out—all of them: ancestry, all of those things, when they first came out, they were pitched at get to know your lineage, da da da da da da da, right? Those lineage ones have been debunked as there’s no way you can know where somebody is exactly. So, that’s that one. So, that’s how they started, was—because my mom did one for National Geographic trying to figure out where we are because as Black people, we don’t know, you know? Black folx in the United States have no clue. If the slave owner kept good records, maybe. But we don’t know. But then you get into the DNA ones. And I was first cautioned—first red flag went up when I saw that Spotify was using were your regional DNA thing was to create playlists. Yeah, exactly.
Kim: So, if mine is Ethiopian, West African, Native American, or whatever, they were going to create a playlist based on the regions of my thing. So, people are just handing over—so when you sign these things with these organizations, they don’t say, we’re only going to use it for this, and we’re going to destroy it—like, just to test this for you, and go and destroy it. No: they hold on to this information. So, what just came up with 23andme is, they’re selling it to medical places. Your DNA is the most personal thing I think we ever own, and now it’s being commoditized, for-profit for organizations that you never intended. So, this is how when you say polish a turd when there’s something new like AI, machine learning, drones, they always bring it out is this fun thing first. The first thing we hear is the fun thing. So, everybody wants this thing for Christmas, and pass out because this is going to be fun. It gets quiet when they start using it for medical, military, all of these for-profit things that can potentially harm us and they’re using our personal data for that information. Yeah, exactly. But again, that’s industrial thinking. Think about pharmaceutical. When you get a new product, you bring out the sales and marketing team to get their product going. And then, you whisper the side effects.
Marcus: Spoken very quickly, in fine print.
Kim: Yes. And death is -psh- [laughs].
Marcus: Yeah, death. [laughs]. And we all know that some of those side effects sound far worse than whatever it is you’re trying to cure.
Kim: And, let’s talk about silos. Again, this is all these things about systems. It doesn’t talk about—in that commercial, how that medication is going to interact with other medications you may be taking, how it’s going to interact with your lifestyle. It doesn’t talk about those things because we don’t have the research for that. It makes it as this one thing is this magic bullet, and we don’t think, again, about the potential for harm. I can pop this up in every place, but that’s because I’m from a marginalized community. And these are the things we think about on a daily basis.
Marcus: So, let’s rewind. You gave two really beautiful definitions for us. And I’ve written them down here. So, diversity is variety. And inclusion is lived experience. Did I get those right, roughly?
Kim: Well then, let me break down how I do the whole thing. So, I start with privilege. Privilege is only about access. It’s about who has access and who gets to yield access. So, people with privilege have access and they can decide: eh, I want to use it today; eh, I don’t want to use it today. That’s what privilege is. And then, I go down to underrepresented. Underrepresented is only about numbers. I have five oranges; I have 20 pineapples; the oranges are underrepresented. That’s what that is. So, I’m saying this because people get all upset about terms. Diversity, like I said, is just about variety. Marginalize is about treatment of people, groups of people. The poor, oppressive treatment of people and inclusion is about my lived experience.
Marcus: So, I think we kind of started with the idea that many companies that are thinking about these things aren’t ready to really—
Kim: Oh, no, there—mm-mm.
Marcus: They’re, they’re far from it. So, and we started with, if we rewind back to values, we’ve come a very interesting path. But how can somebody who’s listening, who’s saying, okay, we’ve got some values on the wall? I don’t really think they matter a whole lot, because some executive put them there, and they’re in a nice poster.
Kim: And that’s when I used to start hurting client’s feelings when I break them down because if they can’t be measured, they mean absolutely nothing.
Marcus: Can you talk us through that process of how somebody starts to change their thinking? How do we move from aspirational—I think that beautiful things—to something that is measurable and meaningful?
Kim: So, again, I gave you an example. It may seem trivial to you, but what toilet papers you use is measurable.
Marcus: Hmm. That’s true.
Kim: That’s measurable. The email she receives, and the responses that people—that’s measurable. We got to stop looking for simple solutions to complex problems. Each situation is going to be absolutely different. So, if your core value is delight, which is one of my customer’s core values, is delight. But it’s balanced off to other core values that they have. They’re looking at, does this delight? Does this make—again, they’re looking at the stakeholders? Let’s go through the stakeholders; who works for you? Does doing this thing or implementing this thing on a website, does it bring delight to the people in our organization as we implement this thing? Are they happy to see it? Is this something that they’re proud of, and they can say, “Hey, we did that.” Then you look at the partners, the second level of stakeholders. Are they saying, “Hey, this thing that you implemented, we can align with that. That aligns with our core values. That aligns with how we’re—oh, my God, that fits with this product we have over here that we didn’t even know we could—we’re trying to figure out how we can do something with, that totally aligns with that. So, now we can bring that thing in to support what you’re doing.” Then you look at the next level is customers and clients. Are they having a delightful time using this thing? Are they having a delight interacting with this thing? And then, you have investors. Has this delight trickled down to touch their pockets? Are they—not just money-wise, are they excited? Does it bring them delight and say, “Hey, I am an investor in this company. Oh my God, I just received this delightful, or this beautiful email of beautiful things. I just received this beautiful email from the company I invested in. Let me show you that.” Or they’re just around in conversations at church, at the synagogue, at the coffee shop, and they just want to tell somebody about this organization that they support. That’s how delight can be—and there are millions of different ways that delight can show up within that hierarchy of stakeholders.
Marcus: And in each of those, we could put measurements in place.
Kim: Yes, exactly. So, the first one is with the employees. How many errors, implementing this? Are we learning from the errors? Because that was the whole thing about move fast; break things. I have no problem move fast; break things, but there has to be a point where you have to move fast; break things, and let’s learn from what we broke, so we don’t do that same thing. So, we’re improving each time. If you’re doing a sprint, is the process of doing the sprint—oh my God, you just really breaking it down for me. Okay so, if you know you do stand-ups. Do I feel psychological safety in a stand-up, in this open environment, that, “Hey, I see a problem on the horizon?” Do I feel safe enough to say that, or I’m going to bite my tongue because every time I open my mouth, somebody says something smart. I get silenced. That’s delight. That’s one place. So, with partners, do they feel delight and safe in saying, “Hey, I see what you’re trying to build here,” so that going back to that standup, that can be measured. So, now we’re talking about the partners. Okay, I decided that, “Oh, I see a partnership here.” Do they feel comfortable in saying, “Hey, can we partner on this thing? I know we have this partnership over here, but oh my God, I see the value in doing this over here.” Do they feel okay in saying that? Or they say, we’ve been playing around with this thing a little bit and we see this hole. Or we’ve partner with you, and we’re getting a lot of pushback from our customers based on this thing. That’s measured. So, now, customers. Do customers have an easy way to give you feedback? And are you listening there? Are you getting back to them based on 100 blah, blah, blah, this is what the da da da. And are you being transparent about that? That’s measurable. And investors? So, not just the pocket, but you can see, let’s say you have shares out there. Hmm, let’s give them a code. How many of your current shareholders are bringing in new shareholders? What stories are they telling? Are they writing blog posts? Are they talking about you in the press? That’s measurable.
Marcus: My head is spinning. There’s a lot here. There’s so many directions we could go and it made me think of a—maybe our slogan should be, “Move fast and learn things.” But I suppose—
Marcus:—that—I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me. I like to learn things.
Kim: Well, okay, let me talk about that because I’m finishing up my doctorate program. And my theory that I’m couching my research in is called learning organizations.
Marcus: Ooh, now, I’m excited about that.
Kim: Yeah. It’s a theory from Peter Senge.
Marcus: Yes. Fifth Discipline.
Kim: Yes. And so, it’s about, not organizational learning people. It’s about learning organizations, and a learning organization is all about learning. And so, when you’re in a space where the culture supports learning: good, better, and different, people feel safe. So, if the priority is learning, then you structure a business around supporting that, which means the inclusion/diversity piece has to be there. People have to have the psychological safety to feel that whatever they’re learning, they can share, whether they made a mistake, whether anything.
Marcus: Yeah, absolutely. And we know that psychological safety is a very popular topic these days. Not only is it popular and important, but I think most companies are talking about it; I don’t know that a lot of companies are doing anything about it.
Kim: Most aren’t doing it. Again, it’s like inclusion and diversity. Like you said, it’s the thing to talk about right now. Like, we’re talking about empathy, compassion. It’s these buzzwords, but when I actually sit people down and ask them questions, they can’t answer them.
Marcus: I remember reading—after I read Fifth Discipline, I did some more reading—and if you haven’t read the book—I know you have, but if listeners haven’t read it, I highly recommend it as kind of an introduction to learning organizations—but I remember them saying—and it’s been a while—but they said, we really haven’t seen companies do this. And we’ve been looking.
Kim: And this book was in 1990.
Marcus: Yeah, it’s old.
Kim: And so, yeah, and this is why, again—so let’s talk about the conversation we were having offline, this is why I want to redefine capitalism. We have not seen capitalism in a way that doesn’t cause harm. People, by default, ascribe these harmful oppressive things to what capitalism is. Capitalism is just a theory. It’s how we’ve implemented capitalism that is oppressive. And that goes for socialism, fascism, Marxism, communism. They’re all rooted in white supremacy. I want to—based on what I’ve learned, we haven’t seen it. None of what we’re trying to create now was supposed to happen. So, we’re all making this up. So, this is the thing I want—we’re all going to make mistakes. We’re trying to figure this out. I am a descendant of slaves. I should not exist. Based on the system that was put in place, I should either not exist, or I should still be in slavery. Things change.
Marcus: In unexpected ways, every day.
Kim: Exactly. And I get it. And what led to emancipation. It wasn’t that Lincoln had some strong belief against—no, he was going to do whatever it took to keep the union in place. He don’t have a strong feeling about the morality. He wasn’t a abolitionist. For him, it was keeping the union in place. It said, “If I could keep the union in place and still keep slavery, I would. If I can get the union in place and get rid of slavery, I would.”
Marcus: Because that was the number one goal.
Marcus: Unification. I’m going to ask you a hard question, and I think—well, not hard for you; maybe hard for me.
Kim: I was about to say please don’t project that on me. What is it?
Marcus: No, this is my hard question for me. You’ve used this term a few times, it is not a term I’m super comfortable with, so I’m just going to own my discomfort. White supremacy sounds like the other person, not me.
Kim: Nope. And this is why—okay, so now, I hope your guests are ready, your audience is ready for this.
Marcus: Here we go.
Kim: Here is my default. All whiteness is racist by design, and cannot be trusted by default without consistent demonstrated anti-racist behavior. And I say that because you are raised in a system—and this is a global system—that does not question or examine whiteness. You have been taught that you’re a individual, I am a group. You have been taught that your individual efforts make you who you are. You have not examined that there are systems in place that make you not mediocre. But you also do not translate that to me, as I am a representation of a group of Black people. And if one of us makes a mistake, it’s the whole group of Black people that makes a mistake. I’m not an individual. I am based on this system. I’m a Black woman, which means in this system, I’m an animal; I’m not even human. This is why people can say what they want to me, or they think they can. People can approach me and say—it’s so—it is by design. Also, I say in a system of white supremacy—so there’s levels. All whiteness is racist by design. You had no choice in it. Then there’s underneath there, it’s called the model minority myth, and that is, the minorities that are allowed to come in this country only if they behave in such ways and are in service to white supremacy. Which means there’s a whole lot of anti-Blackness there. You can do anything as long as you’re not one of them. And then, Black folx don’t escape it either. We have a whole lot of internalized white supremacy and anti-Blackness within ourselves because we are also a part of a system that told us we were nothing. So, that’s why you see colorism in our community. That’s why you see, assimilation. That’s why you see President Obama talking about, “pull your pants up,” and all this other stuff. They’re talking about a group of people, and we never talk about the systems that are in place to create these things. If we were all equal—and this is why I could care less about equality; it’s about equity. If we were all equal, and the research has proven, all women in childbirth or childbearing age—pregnancy would have the same outcomes. We’re not. Black women, no matter the education level, or the amount of money they make are still disproportionately dying in childbirth, and their babies are dying in childbirth compared to white babies, and that is even compared to what we consider poor white people. So, yeah, it’s very uncomfortable, it’s very uncomfortable for a lot of white people because, for many of you, 2016 was the eye-opener for you. You thought we were in post-racial, just because you gave your vote to a Black person. Oh my God, we’re post-racial. No, he was the perfect Black man for you. He was like the Michael Jordan. He was like the Beyonce. They’re different from everybody else. So, yeah, it’s very uncomfortable for you, but think about what I have to do every single day. So, I could care less about your discomfort. This is another reason why I no longer recommend White Fragility by Robyn D’Angelo because white people have used this to learn the vocabulary of wokeness without taking responsibility of the harm that they cause. Everything has cause and effect. So, when I say something—and I’m going to use this as an example. So, white fragility is an academic term. And that’s another thing. She used it as an academic term, but in the wilds, people are using it totally different. So, she used white fragility as a way to explain white people’s reaction to when race conversations come up. They get defensive and that’s all it was. And I’m going to be cautious about—because I don’t know if her research was to talk about the cause and effect of white fragility; it was just to explain. People have taken that as the Bible, and have run with it, and they don’t talk about when white fragility is engaged, there’s an effect of that. You get defensive; you do something. It does not just sit there. If you get defensive, you attack, and I get harmed. So, that’s what people aren’t talking about. So, again, it’s intention versus impact. And all I care about is impact. I could care less about your intention. So, right now how people are using white fragility, as you’ll see it on Twitter, somebody say something, and like, “Oh, they’re white fragility.” No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We’re going to stop using that because it absolves a white person from taking responsibility for what they did or what they see.
Marcus: Has it become an excuse?
Kim: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. “Oh, it’s my white fragility. So, I don’t have to apologize. I don’t have to make amends. I don’t have to do anything I’ve caused active harm, but I didn’t mean to because it was my white fragility.”
Marcus: So, when we do harm—you just named a couple of things that I think I learned in kindergarten is pretty good steps when we’ve hurt someone: taking responsibility, apologizing. Is there—and like—I’m trying to form words right now because my brain is going in so many different directions. But I opened up this box here. So—
Marcus:—I am here and I did it knowingly. And actually, it was one of the things I was looking forward to, Kim, to talk about. Because it is an area that a good friend of mine and I are challenging each other to—and you might know him, but I won’t say his name on here. But when we do find we’ve harmed if we stop saying, “Well, it’s my white fragility,” or, “Here is my excuse,” what is even a reasonable next step?
Kim: So, it’s about owning that, first of all—okay, so let me back up. I have, and people get mad at me, but I have five white friends. I have five people, maybe six—I like to keep it on one hand—white people that I seriously, seriously, call friends. Literally. And these are people who have consistently shown me that I can trust them when they see me getting beat up, and they can tell by the tone of my tweet, they’ll DM, “Hey, let’s have a conversation. I know you need to unpack this—” because I’m an external processor. And they just take whatever. They’re what I call power allies. There are people who are willing to make themselves uncomfortable so that I can be comfortable. Not many of you are willing to do that. But even then, they know that because of whiteness—and this is why I put whiteness and Blackness on the same level because if I can’t have a conversation with your individual because that, again, is superiority right there, you treating me as a group. So, even the languaging is about white supremacy. So, note, we’re not going to talk about white people—a white person as an individual. I’m going to talk—if you talk about Black people as a group, we going to talk about white people as a group. Right? So, I talk about whiteness versus Blackness. Even in your whiteness because you are designed based on the systems—oh, particularly school. We tweeted about this recently, how different—and there’s an article about this—how different California textbooks are compared to Texas textbooks. And reinforcing white supremacy. And Texas textbooks are used around the country. They are—yes schools. Districts around the country are using—have traditionally uses Texas books as the staple. So problem right there. So, they know as friends, that they can actively cause me harm. Know it off the bat. So, they know that they’re racist and that they can cause me harm. So, what they do is—and this happens—I am comfortable enough—and it’s again, I say it’s unfortunate that I have to be in pain for them to see the harm that they’ve caused. So, they see the look on my face. They hear the pain in my voice. They don’t want that. Most people don’t want to be complicit in the harming of people that they care about, or even the people they don’t know. They don’t want to be complicit. And so, what they do is actively understand that once that happens, it’s not picking up where you left. And this is where the problem—they’re like, “Oh, I said, I apologize. Let’s go on.” Mm-mm. No, you starting back from square one building that trust over again. And if you’re not willing to start back at square one, then you’re absolutely of no service. So, let me give you an example. I also have privilege that others don’t have. So, there was a conversation that I was trying to have, and people kept coming to me, and I didn’t know how to have it without causing harm, but I went in it conscious that I was going to cause harm and it was about trans women. White trans women, and the harm they’re causing to brown and Black trans women as well as brown and Black women in lesbian, non-binary communities because when whiteness comes into the room, it centers itself, which causes harm. And so, in having the conversation, I retweeted something because it was in the thread. And I was only talking about one piece of the tweet. But the thread was harmful. The languaging was harmful for trans individuals, trans women. When they brought that to my attention, I deleted it—and I was understanding, I deleted the tweet—because it was just a top part, and I didn’t even know you could delete parts of a thread without deleting the whole thing, and I immediately went to one of the women who was helping me understand that—also, let me do a caveat. I don’t have to understand, to know that there’s potential to harm. All I need is for you to tell me that there’s potential to harm and I’m going to stop. I’m going to do whatever I can to minimize it. That’s another thing of whiteness and that’s why I don’t get into debates with people. I’m not going to debate my lived experience. Not going to do that. Just because you don’t have the lived experience, you’re not going to put me in a situation where I’m debating my existence with you. Not going to happen. So, as soon as I become aware of there’s a problem, I recognized causing harm, I was back at square one. Immediately, I went to one of the women who was explaining the situation to me, “Hey, can we do a podcast episode?” That happened on a Thursday or Friday. That podcast episode came out there following Wednesday, explaining it all. So, it goes back to your move fast; learn something. So, I was like, I made this mistake. I did it publicly. Let’s talk about this publicly.
Marcus: That really puts your money where your mouth is, right?
Kim: Yes, exactly. And it also helps us understand that we all have privileges, and we all have a responsibility, and this is what pisses me off with these white dudes and white women in tech who have these huge followings on social media based on some technology they know, whatever it is, and then they want to wade into what people call the [unintelligible], so justice issues and they go and fuck up everything. And then, when they get called out, they’re like, [wails]. No. No, you’re not expert in this. Stay in your damn lane. Then they go and delete their Twitter for a few days because they know when they come back and do this apology after they deleted the tweet, it’s going to be totally out of context. People going to be like, oh, you learned, but they’re not going to know what the hell happened before. And so, they get pats on the back, and then they go on about their lives. That is harmful. That’s toxic, and that’s causing harm, and I’m no longer, no longer standing for it.
Marcus: It sounds a little bit like PR. Like, you leave and you say this kind of a, yeah, you go through the motions in a certain way, and you expect it to have a certain outcome.
Kim: Well, it is because we’ve heard people who pissed off because now they’re losing income from it because we’re calling them out. So, yeah, it’s part PR, but it also is that whiteness thing. I’m going to protect whiteness and my reputation at all costs. I don’t care about who I throw under the bus for this. And that is why I say no one escapes white supremacy and whiteness unharmed, and then includes white people.
Marcus: Mmm. I think that is such a wonderful way to end the show. To be honest, like that one statement is a nugget. I know it’s going to be ringing in my head all day. Kim, where can people find you, and engage your work online; engage your services?
Kim: Okay, so let me make this caveat. I’m found on Twitter at @KimCrayton1, that’s K-I-M-C-R-A-Y-T-O-N-1, and I’m spelling it out because I vet every follower I get. I cannot afford to have people come in the space who are going to cause harm to my community. So, I’m going to look at your timeline. I’m going to look at your followers. I’m going to look at who you’re following. And as an educator, I didn’t do this early on—and I wish I had. But I created a echo chamber for myself and for my community because we deserve to be safe. I owe you absolutely nothing. So, your voice does not need to be heard. So, if you want to come in, learn, sit down, and listen, watch. But you don’t get to question anybody’s lived experience. If you don’t understand, do your homework. I am on a doctorate level, I have no time to be teaching pre-k anymore. That’s why we don’t get anywhere because we continue to have to teach white people the basics of racism, and that slows us down, and it’s a distraction. So, that’s the one part. That’s the advocacy work I do. If you are a business leader, and you’re looking for coaching, you can go to hashtagcauseascene.com/coaching, and I work in a minimum of six-month contracts because I’m no longer doing workshops, and whatever because you cannot change this in a workshop, and I will not have my name used to say, “Well, we worked with Kim.” Nope, it’s not going to happen. If you’re not willing to do the real work, do not waste my time. I have a huge vetting process that many people get very offended by which shows me their fragility. They just hit it right at the beginning. It’s very obvious at the beginning, that you’re not ready for me, unless you’re ready to be honest, and create a product or service, create a business that allows all your stakeholders to thrive. If that’s not what you want, then don’t bother me.
Marcus: Kim, thank you so much for being on the show.
Kim: Thank you and have a wonderful day.
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