“What does it take to be a good ally and accomplice?”
In this episode host Portia Mount talks to three dynamic founders; Jennifer Martineau, President of Leap and Inspire Global, Tiffany Waddell Tate, CEO of Career Maven and Amy C. Waninger, founder and CEO of Lead at Any Level. We are going deep on allyship among women, and specifically allyship among Black women, women of color and white women. In this no holds barred conversation we talk about the barriers that keep us from being better allies to one another and what being a good accomplice and ally looks like.
Have a question or comment? Email us at email@example.com.
Instagram and websites:
Leap and Inspire Global
Career Maven Consulting
Lead at Any Level
Rachel Cargle on Instagram
Layla Saad on Instagram
Books and Articles:
Article on white women's tears
The Memo by Minda Harts
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Kick Some Glass by Portia Mount and Jennifer Martineau
Little Allies by Julie Kratz
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
How to be an Antiracist by Ibrahim Kendi
White Feminism by Koa Beck
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Network Beyond Bias by Amy C Waninger
Classes and workshops:
David Campt - White Ally Toolkit
How to Ally for Black Women at Work by Career Maven Consulting
Courses at Lead at Any Level
Transcript - Allyship among Women at Work
So this episode is about allyship among women, and allyship, among women of color, and white women. And I have been thinking about doing this episode for a long time. And I wanted to find the right women to have this conversation. And I wanted to have an honest conversation about women in general, with a dive into women of color and white women, and how we can be better allies to one another, especially during a time when women are, you know, being the most impacted by the fall out of the pandemic. But first of all, I want to introduce you to our fabulous group of women. So, Tiffany, Jennifer and Amy, I'd love for each of you just to introduce yourselves to our listeners, Tiffany.
Tiffany Waddell 1:02
Hi, Portia. My name is Tiffany Waddell Tate CEO and founder of Career Maven Consulting, where I spend a lot of time helping women really lean into clarity, confidence and agency as it relates to their career journey. And I'm excited to be here in this chat about what it means to really show up for black women at work.
Portia Mount 1:23
Welcome, Tiffany. Jennifer.
Jennifer Martineau 1:26
Jennifer Martineau, I am the president and founder of Leap & Inspire Global Consulting firm that is focused on helping organizations create the environments, the cultures that are inclusive and diverse, so that all leaders are advanced through leadership levels.
Portia Mount 2:11
Thank you, Jennifer, welcome. And Amy.
Amy Waninger 2:14
Hello, I am Amy C. Waninger. I am the founder and CEO of Lead At Any Level, where I work with organizations around the world to build inclusive cultures and diverse leadership pipelines, so they can see a sustainable competitive advantage in their industries.
Portia Mount 2:30
Welcome, Amy. So I'm so happy to have each of you here. And I can't think of a better group of women. Let's jump into it. Whenever I talk about women and allyship to other groups of women, I don't know if you all hear this, like I literally hear grunts in the audience. Like I literally see women clutch their heads shake their heads. And I can't, I am always surprised at how many women tell me that other women have been the worst professional allies to them. And each of you are shaking your heads to this. You know, that's like, they don't trust the women in their companies to have their backs. And then of course, you add race into that the level of mistrust between or among women of color, black women, and white women is pretty staggering. And we won't even get to the part where people talk about women as bosses. So what do you think is going on here? And I'd love to just kind of pull that thread a little bit. Amy, what do you think?
Amy Waninger 3:52
Well, I think there's a lot going on here. So first of all, I believe that, you know, women are not, we tend to get wrapped up in our own oppression, right, we tend to get wrapped up in the opportunities that aren't available to us, we get wrapped up into whatever obstacles are in our own way. And when we're focusing on those, it's really hard for us to see the things that weren't in our path that allowed us to get as far as we did. So we don't look back and say, Oh, you know what, my friends and sisters are not with me. We're so busy looking ahead. And I think if we would just stop for a moment and say, Wow, you know, I was able to get a lot further than some of my friends. I was able to get a lot further than some of the people that I graduated with or, you know, people who were in my leadership cohort when I started. Why is that? And maybe instead of keeping, keep pushing forward, maybe we go back and clear some of those obstacles first. I think that's one of the things that happens, right? I've even talked to black women who said Look, it never occurred to me that I could be an ally for somebody else, right, when we start talking about things like ableism, or homophobia in the workplace, because we're also focused on our own obstacles. And the thing that I think white women's especially don't realize, is that for every conversation we've had with a younger woman at the office, where we've, we've pulled a woman aside to say, Hey, you know, look out for so and so. Right? If we go out for drinks later, you want to make sure you're not left alone with him. You want to make sure that he doesn't, you know, invite you out to dinner when you're traveling together. Whenever we have those conversations, and I think what white women don't realize is that women of color are having the same conversations about us.
Portia Mount 5:41
Yeah, Tiffany, so I see you smiling and shaking your head, what's going on for you?
Tiffany Waddell 5:48
So as I was listening to Amy talk, I was just thinking like, there is sort of this overwhelming challenge around scarcity mindset for women in general, right. It's like, we've spent a lot of years, hundreds of years, sort of addressing patriarchy and manhood and how it shows up and creates really challenging environments for us, especially in the context of work. I think I read something about how, in corporations, the temperatures that are set are literally based on men wearing suits or something. And I'm like...
Portia Mount 6:22
I totally saw that article. Yeah, New York Times, like a couple of years ago.
Tiffany Waddell 6:25
What? Okay, so if you think about just how much we've had to kind of jump through hoops and barriers, just to be in professional spaces and step into some leadership spaces, great. But then when you drill down into the race part, it's like, women are internalizing that patriarchy. And it's like, I think I have a little bit of southeast in me, so crabs in a barrel. That is what I think of when I think of just women not being willing to reach back and help another woman along. And, you know, when Amy said women are having, women of color having conversations about us, I'm like, Yeah, we are.
Portia Mount 7:02
Yeah, we really are. We really are.
Tiffany Waddell 7:05
Yeah, because the women's movement, feminism, that didn't include us. The suffragists movement, it didn't include us. We were asked to stand in the back, we weren't considered full citizens. So that trauma, and that history shows up at work. And I think a lot of black women especially have mistrust around sort of how or why a white woman might be interested in investing in us if we don't see consistency, if we don't see social proof that they really mean what they say, and that they are willing to get uncomfortable because allyship is not comfortable work.
Portia Mount 7:44
Yeah, it really isn't. And, Jennifer, I'm wondering, as you're listening to this, what comes to mind for you, because you've been thinking about this a lot as well talking, and you've been really actually calling out white women, pretty strongly, especially I've noticed over the last, you know, the last sessions you and I have done together. What comes to mind for you on this?
Jennifer Martineau 8:06
Yeah, so for me, I really agree with, you know, Tiffany in terms of this sort of limited pie perspective, that we have fought so hard for so long to have a seat at the table. And when we see, you know, we celebrate the women who are coming into the fortune 500 CEO roles, we celebrate that we're getting one and two and three and four, and I think we're up to 41 or so. Right? But that's 41 out of 500 people. So there's this limited pie perspective that says, Well, you know, we're at 41, that's a whole lot better than it used to be, and how much better will it actually get? And so maybe 50 is going to be the, you know, the topping out number rather than, Why are we not thinking it should be 250? Right? Women in those seats. So when we're looking at those seats and going well, there's limited space there, then I think people start to feel like they have to compete for those seats. And, and so when they're competing against each other, they're not necessarily, they're certainly not advocating for each other, and doing what's necessary in order to support other women. So, you know, you mentioned what I talked about in terms of calling out white women and saying we need to step up and stepping up it means, it means that people don't have the same experiences and understanding and recognizing that you and I Portia have not you know lived our lives having the same experiences and getting to know that right? So asking questions, asking how can I support you? Asking for help. Here's how I need you to support me. White women need to proactively advocate and amplify and promote and defend women of color and black women because we, you know, as we've been talking about the white women got a seat at the table a lot sooner than women of color and black women and we need to recognize that and we need to make space at that table. And see it as it's all of us. It's not a competitive thing of you versus me.
Portia Mount 10:27
Yes, Tiffany it looks like you wanted to say something?
Tiffany Waddell 10:29
Well, I think I would also offer to add to everything that Jennifer is saying that why women also have to spend some time doing deep work around guilt and shame. Because in my experience, women are, I have had a lot of I mean, I've worked in all white spaces. I mean, let me just say my whole career, I've been the only black woman on every team I've been on for the last...
Portia Mount 10:50
Me too. And that's my current existence. And it has been my, my entire career.
Tiffany Waddell 10:55
Yeah, so I think you know, it's really important for white women, especially to do that self work, because it can become a really big barrier to real relationship, and trust. Much like those themes, like guilt and shame show up in any other type of relationship, if someone isn't doing that work, and they're just sort of dumping it on you. It's an added layer of emotional labor and risk that we take on at work, because the stakes are so high, it's I'm not dating you like we're working together. And so I can't just break up with you. I'm stuck here unless I leave. And you know, and that has real implications for myself and my family. And I think coupled with that advocacy work, and that amplification, you really have to do that deeply rooted work that's continual, because it's a, it's a long history, and it's not going to be solved by taking a couple of classes, like you have to also deal with yourself. And like the feelings that are coming up when you see someone excelling and you, and you feel sort of tingling and sad. You don't know why you gotta kind of unpack that.
Jennifer Martineau 12:02
Yeah, Tiffany, I totally agree with you there. It is absolutely work that white women have to do to understand what's going on in their own heads, in their own hearts, and where it's coming from, and not put that burden on black women and women of color. It has to be worth the hard work that we do. You're absolutely right.
Portia Mount 12:26
I think what this conversation brings up for me is, so many of our leadership models are still built around a very hierarchical white male leadership model. And so part of me is like, why are we surprised that so many women leaders, white women in particular are quote, unquote, getting it wrong, right? Because we've all been socialized in this model. And it makes me think about, you know, women own businesses, of which I'm talking to three women business owners, right? so there have been incredible strides around women owned businesses, women founders of tech startups. And the interesting thing to me, so you know, the whole rise of the girl boss, right, which by the way, I hate that term, girl boss. Like with the fire of 1000 suns. I just gotta put that out there. I just hate, I hate that term, girl boss. One is because we are women. We are not girls. I have a five year old girl. I don't, you know, and I certainly wouldn't call her a woman and I don't expect anyone to call me a girl. So okay, thank you for letting me get on my soapbox about this.
Jennifer Martineau 13:56
Portia Mount 13:57
Yeah, like let's stop using the term girl for God's sakes. But what's interesting to me and I'd love for you all to talk about this because I think it's relevant. So women have gone off and created their own businesses in record numbers. A small tiny, tiny percentage of those companies are getting venture funding right, a tiny percentage 2% Amy your...
Amy Waninger 14:21
Portia Mount 14:22
2.8. Okay, so that's crap right? And so what I'm curious about is, so we've seen Refinery 29, founder of Thinx, The Wing, there been all these companies that were founded on the idea of women, allyship, equity, diversity, creating a progressive, inclusive culture, and then wham, the employer, the employees of these companies, particularly women of color, come out with some really harrowing stories, right? And we'll link to a few not because we're trying to say, hey, these women are horrible. But what we're trying to do, I think it's like there's something happening again, it's this idea of like, what are we expecting of women? I'd love to just unpack a little bit about what's happening here? Are we being unfair to these in there primarily white women who are getting at least getting the venture funds. But are we being unfair to them? Or are we seeing something, seeing something else? Amy, you look like you have a thought.
Amy Waninger 16:28
Yeah, it's interesting to me, because, you know, a lot of people that I talked to, they say, well, who's doing this well, right? Because then we want to emulate somebody who's doing it well. When you're trying something new, you want to look at an example of what's working, and emulate it. Right? And I guess the thing that's frustrating for me is where do we even go to learn that? Because the people who are supposed to be doing it well, where would they have learned it?
Portia Mount 16:54
Right. Well, even Ellen, right.
Amy Waninger 16:57
What a disappointment that was.
Portia Mount 16:58
...the model. She's not.
Amy Waninger 17:01
No, no. And so yeah, it's so frustrating, right? We want to do better. We want to see other people doing better, so we can model it. And there are just so few examples to look to and where would they learn it? You know, it's like, you can't let me start that over. In the same way that a fish wouldn't go to another fish to learn how to breathe air. Right? White women cannot look to white men to be inclusive leaders or egalitarian leaders, or, you know, antiracist, right? Because we are all swimming in this water. It's been here, you know, since we existed, personally and culturally. And, you know, it's trailblazing to try to do better every day, we try to do better. We're trailblazing. And I know that's not good enough. Right. I mean, I'm looking at you and Tiffany. And you're like, yes. So what, what models do we follow?
Portia Mount 18:12
So Amy, I think you know what, though, I love that you say that. And I guess I would go back to something that Tiffany said, which is, you know, I do think white women have to do their own work. And part of doing your own work, like being in therapy, is you're going to get it wrong sometimes, right. And so I think as a black woman, when I see a white woman who's really trying, I am going to give her grace, because I know that she's trying to undo maybe a lifetime of socialization, about how the world should be, who should be in charge of it. I know that I'm potentially dealing with somebody who maybe hasn't even really had, like, sustained contact with another black person or person of color their entire life. Now, does that mean that we're going to be homegirls and best friends? No, it does not. Like I'm at a stage in my life where I don't need more friends. And I'm not in the business of educating people. But it also means that I am not going to continue to buy for you in the back of your head for doing work that means that sometimes you're going to say and do things that frankly, are going to be tone deaf and silly. But I will give you credit for trying especially if you tell me Hey, Portia, I'm trying. I'm like, I can do that. By the way I'm speaking for Portia black woman, not all black women. Let me just be super clear about that. Because I know we each have our own experience and our own traumas that sometimes limit or expand how much grace we can give other people. That's the other piece of that.
Tiffany Waddell 19:54
I think Portia, you know, when you talk about these women who are leading these like wicked impactful in huge organizations like at Refinery 29 or the Wing or whatever, I think what people forget is because there are so few women in these positions in the first place, that when one woman messes up, it's like, all women are trash.
Portia Mount 20:16
It's so true. It's so true.
Tiffany Waddell 20:17
If Chad messes up, we don't say like, oh, all men are horrible.
Portia Mount 20:22
Chad ruined it for white guys.
Tiffany Waddell 20:25
It happened, you know, and so, not to say that, you know, these women were not sort of operating without good faith or whatever. But I think those are big jobs. That's high stress. And what we know, right? Like even in regular work, land business ownership, what makes you really good in that type of environment is not usually the squishy people leadership stuff, it is the hard, I'm taking big risks big gamble, you are essentially running an organization and you probably have a lot of the same traits as someone standing on a sales and trading floor. That is not warm and fuzzy. It's not sexy, and people do not want to be around you. Right, but that's not the job. So when you drop that type of personality or style into a huge space of influence, then it's gonna get ugly, unfortunately, I don't think it has to. And I mean, we are all here and we do training and development, you know, but no, it does not have to be that way. But I think, on some level, you know, some of these women are definitely getting scrutinized in a way that their male counterparts would not be. But it's, then when you think about or if you were to splice that with race, it's like, if I do something that is classified as bad behavior, then I am all of a sudden representative of all black women.
Portia Mount 21:55
Yeah, it's so true, right? When like, sometimes, like when there's something really horrible that happens, like black people are thinking like was this person black? Oh, thank God, thank God, they're not black. Thank God, they're not black like, who thinks like that? Well, we do. Because we know that when we, because we are under a spotlight, because there are so few of us, anything we do that's, quote unquote, bad gets magnified onto our entire community. It sucks, but it's true, right.
Jennifer Martineau 22:21
And part of it right is human nature and the media and, you know, follows that we all love a good story. And, and the media loves a story that sells and what sells it's not that, you know, one more white guy failed. It's that the you know, the one person that you would put a whole lot of hope into, because it was the first black woman in this role, or was the first woman in this role has failed and we have to, we have to pick it apart and understand where that was coming from and what happened. So, you know, how do we break that cycle? And, and not focus on the, on the glass cliff kinds of situations, but focus on equally on both successes and failures of all kinds of leaders?
Portia Mount 23:07
Yeah, I mean, part of the goal probably is to normalize more women, women of color, black women in those founder leadership positions, right? Like it's such a rare like, they're all unicorns. I don't mean in the venture, in the startup phrase of the word, but they're in terms of they're so rare, that they invite hyper scrutiny, because we're not used to it right. Like, you know, we just talked about, Jennifer talked about, you know, how many, how many women's CEOs do we have in the fortune 500 right now, five?
Jennifer Martineau 23:42
Fortune 500 we, there's 41. But there's two black women.
Portia Mount 23:48
Two black women, right? It's such a small number. And yes, two black women, and both of whom are pretty recent appointees. But again, that rarity invites scrutiny. I think part of what's getting them jammed up, though, is that they're purporting to be so much more progressive than the other startups that are out there, and also because their products often are aimed at women. And so I think it's inviting a double amount of scrutiny because they're saying, Hey, we're a new kind of, a different kind of company. We're all women lead. We are tailored to women. But the reality is, these are, you know, hardcore business people who learn their skills. Again, we go back to that model. They are using the same outdated leadership models that white men have been trained in and we see but they're getting punished for it a lot more. Probably severely because of it.
Amy Waninger 24:54
I think they're getting punished in part for the hypocrisy.
Portia Mount 24:58
For the hypocrisy, yes.
Amy Waninger 24:59
Right, because if you never claimed to be right, if you never claimed the woke, then you don't have to be held to that. You're not held to that bar. Right?
Portia Mount 25:08
Don't claim woke if you ain't.
Amy Waninger 25:11
Right. But, and so I was talking to Dr. Nika White for my podcast earlier this week, and it was we were talking about you have to do the work before you sell the woke.
Portia Mount 25:25
Praise hand, I'm putting my praise hands up there. I mean...
Amy Waninger 25:29
I need to, I need to go trademark that.
Portia Mount 25:32
Amy Waninger 25:33
But a lot of companies are out there, you know, touting, right? And they’re advertising and they’re marketing. I mean, how many ads do we see with, you know, we’ll kind of count at dinner, right, or after dinner and watching TV, right? We’ll count the number of like interracial gay dads, couples on the on the...
Portia Mount 25:52
Think about segmentation.
Amy Waninger 25:54
Right, and they're really like, it's clear that they're really trying to get as much intersectionality into this thing as they can, right. I mean, there's even like a waffle commercial with like two gay moms with, you know, like, the black mom and the kid and the kid won't put on pants. I don't know what it's for, if it's for waffles or something, but, but like, you have to kind of look for it. But when you see it, you're like, Oh, I see what they're doing. Right? They're trying to, they're trying to kind of very quietly say, Well, you know, we understand that our markets are changing. We understand that, you know, our buyers don't look like our buyers did 50 years ago. Well, I got news for you. Queer women and queer women of color have been here forever. Gonna be here forever, right? This isn't new. But you know, you have to wonder like, okay, so they've got the tone, right? So somebody in their marketing team knows what they're doing. But outside of that marketing team, have they done any work? Do they have the right people in place? And my guess is no. And I would much rather see companies just like white women do the work internally, before they start advertising. You know, how, how hip and progressive and, you know, today their brand is.
Tiffany Waddell 27:05
Or don't advertise it at all. Just do it. Right?
Amy Waninger 27:09
Yeah, just do it. And then you don't have to worry.
Tiffany Waddell 27:11
Yeah, right. It will happen. Like Clorox is always on the top list of companies to work for, you know, because of their culture. They don't have to tell us the culture is amazing. Their people do it. So just, yeah, the whole woke thing. I could talk about that all day. Like, just let it go. You know?
Portia Mount 27:33
So first of all I think if we step back and think about what's happened in the last year, right, which was, you know, the Black Lives Matters, protests, the fact that we, you know, we uncovered a massive, or I should say, maybe we rediscovered a massive system of inequality when it comes to women, right? When all these children, our children, came home, oh, my God, and were staring at us for days on end, because we were homeschooling and working. You know, we think that childcare fell through the bottom, you know, all of a sudden, we start talking about unpaid labor. So really important things. I think this country, we're speaking in the United States right now, awaken to. I think the challenge is, and I'd love to talk about this a little bit is the way in which black women and women of color and white women experienced this was very different, right. And depending on where you sat, whether you were an independent, you know, business owner versus like, I work I have a corporate job during the day. And I could talk all day long about the sort of things that I saw, how we had those conversations. I think what we're trying to figure out now is how do we have this conversation in a way that we recognize we don't have this monolithic experience right now? And so I'd love to talk a little bit and let me let me frame just a little bit more of this. So employee resource groups, ERG's is the short version. Our people are talking a lot about ERG's right now and the opportunity to continue to drive corporate and societal transformation by mobilizing corporate employees. The limitation that I see as someone who's involved in ERG's in my company, which by the way, I think on the whole is a good idea is I'll take women's ERG's for example. I've noticed and I'd love to hear you guys talk about this, I have noticed that a lot of women's ERG's are all white women. And I'm like, Where are the black people, where and there are some women of color. And by the way, for our listeners, we are being very intentional about talking about black women and women of color, I do not use these terms interchangeably as an openly black woman, I am openly black. Stealing that term, that became a meme on Twitter, I am openly black, I do not mix those terms at all, because I think they are different, they have different historical contexts. And it's also important to see women for the communities they come from. And so I have noticed that ERG's, which are getting a lot of airtime right now. But the women's ERG's are very, tend to be I see a lot of white women leading this, I, when I have brought this up, I have gotten, like, criticized and kind of like, well, Portia, you know, we can't, you know, we were covering so many different women's issues. We can't talk about black women, or we can't talk about women of color. And I'm like, well, but our issues are not the same. And so again, I'm kind of circling back to sort of as we think about allyship, and what this really means and what it looks like and how we go forward. Amy.
Amy Waninger 31:28
So many things to say, so many things to say. So last year, last year was the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. And all these companies had these big celebrations planned for how they were going to celebrate 100 years of women having the right to vote. And companies, people running companies, people running women's ERG's because they're the white women. And I'll get to that in a second, thought, Oh, this will be a great opportunity to show how inclusive we are. With absolutely no brainspace given to the fact that black women did not get the right to vote in this country until 1965. Right? And it just blew my mind. Right? They thought, oh, we're doing something that's going to show right, we're gonna show how, how attuned to this issue we are with absolutely no idea that they were excluding a huge portion of the women in their companies. And, and that gets back to Portia that the women's ERG is the white women ERG the LGBTQ ERG is the white LGBTQ ERG. And this was really front and center for me in my last corporate job. When I was working in ERG leadership. I was involved in the LGBTQ ERG. Because it was the first one. And I jumped in and said, you know, put me in coach like, this is where I want to be. And so I just kind of, you know, put my roots down there. And then I met the people who were leading the Asian America, or the Asian American and Pacific Islander ERG, the black ERG, the Hispanic ERG. All three of them women, two of them queer. And when I realized this, oh, no, wait, all three of them queer two of them women. I got that backwards. And I thought, well, I don't see them in the pride ERG Why is that? And I started looking around and I realized I wasn't seeing any people of color. Asian, Hispanic or black, or indigenous or any other you know, it was the white people's pride ERG, which is really disturbing. Because there's so much I mean, the only reason we have pride is because of a black trans women. So how do you decouple your whole movement from the people who started it?
Jennifer Martineau 34:08
Yeah, and how do ERG's address and fix that? So, you know, so I'm sitting here, as you know, as a white woman, and I certainly am..
..openly white Jennifer?
I'm openly white. Yes, I'm openly straight, like I have, I have nothing going for me in the sense of, you know, I have the problem. Right. And so how do people like me who want a woman's ERG in this case, to be fully, fully integrated, fully intersectional. How does that happen? How do you know what's the, what's happening right now that's keeping it as white women, and probably white straight women, and how can we reverse that?
Portia Mount 34:58
It's great. It's a great question. Tiffany, you're shaking your, I don't know if you're shaking your head or you're just like, hm, what is this?
Tiffany Waddell 35:05
I feel like I have no answers for this right? Like sometimes. Sometimes it's, I think there, it's important to note that there are going to be spaces that are just the way they are. And not and it's not for lack of trying, sometimes we don't want to be, we don't want to jump into these spaces to make them more colorful and do all of this, this xxx work, right, there's that I think it's important to know, it doesn't mean that all of these groups can't effectively partner, can't work strategically together. So there's one piece, I think there's also this other piece around, I think it was last year, maybe the year before there was this share the mic movement happening on Instagram, where a lot of...
Portia Mount 35:51
Oh, yeah, what do we think about that? Yeah, yeah, talk more about that Tiffany.
Tiffany Waddell 35:55
Today, we're sort of celebrity, you know, white women saying, Hey, I'm going to actually share my platform, share the airspace that I have, and give another woman of color, the opportunity to take over my, my handle for the day and talk about issues and themes that are deeply important for communities of color. And that comes to mind because I think when you're talking about these ERG structures, if women can't truly create open space that's sort of undefined, unstructured in some ways to invite other ERG groups in to actually share a mic, share a platform and you know, create some type of mechanism to say, Hey, I know we're celebrating, you know, the 19th amendment. But guess who was missing from that conversation, or, hey, it's equal pay day, that's great. But also, these statistics are largely calling out the pay disparity for white women only how we actually expand what we're showcasing, the data that we're sharing, and the people that we're centering, like, those little steps can go a long way to making people feel like it is a safe and trustworthy space to step into. And then I think, I think people of color, or, you know, queer people, like whoever that did not identify as white are much more likely to want to turn up or support or engage, I should say, you know, and, and I think I think that takes time. I think the unfortunate part is companies tend to create these ERG groups in response to sort of some culture gaps, but it doesn't get fixed overnight, right? Like, ERG groups are fantastic. What power do these organizations have within industry to influence policy change? Are they actually, you know, having FaceTime with the board or C-suite? If they're not, then they're sororities, they're glorified sororities. And we just need to call it that. And that's fine. You know, virtual potlucks are great, virtual happy hours are fantastic. And those spaces are important for people to build relationships. But I think it's also important to think about how these pockets of identity based groups influencing change within a company, because that also will get people to show up, right? Like, because I think we forget that people of color at work, tend to have a whole lot of extra invisible labor on top of their work. So the thought of stepping into an all white ERG space that isn't mobilizing change sounds like something we probably don't want to do.
Portia Mount 36:35
Yeah, like, don't sign me up for that. Amy, you look like you, like you got a thought?
Amy Waninger 38:40
Yeah, so I think Jennifer has the right question, right? Why aren't people here, why aren't there different people here. If we think about the C-suite as a white male ERG for just a moment.
Portia Mount 38:53
Bam, like, I'm, you're blowing my mind Amy.
Amy Waninger 38:56
Go with me on this thought experiment. I know, it's far fetched, but let's just for a moment..
Portia Mount 39:00
We're gonna, we're gonna, we're rolling with you.
Amy Waninger 39:02
You're rolling with me. What keeps us out as women in that space? Now, take those same answers and apply them to the white women ERG. Take them and apply them. Right. Because it's the same barriers. When we're, again, when we're only focused on our own barriers, we're ignoring the ones of the people who can't even get to where we are.
Portia Mount 39:26
Jennifer Martineau 39:26
Portia Mount 39:27
Yeah, that is that is like that's, that's a gem right there. And, you know, and I, you know, we've been talking a lot about black and white women, you know, who's not represented here in this conversation, but I you know, I talk a lot to Asian American women, South Asian women, you know, so, you know, the, the AAPI community, Asian American Pacific Islander, for those of our listeners who maybe don't know what that acronym means, has kind of taken a more front and center approach for unfortune for sad reasons because of the recent attacks of violence on AAPI elderly individuals and then of course that horrible shooting in Georgia has kind of raised the issue of the visibility among AAPI and I was just reflecting on a conversation I had with a woman that I know who is of south asian descent. I was very moved by what she was sharing with me were her struggles in corporate America which really in so many ways mirror that of black women in terms of being pigeonholed of being stereotyped and and I wonder you know this is a question for us all as women who are not in that community how can we better center women in the AAPI community knowing that they deal with a lot of similar and different issues right around a discrimination objectification and or being put in a box of model minority right and you know they they don't rock the boat and they go along to get along and I have to say if you've been on instagram in the last two weeks there and on twitter like it's I would say AAPI youth in particular young women men and women have been very vocal and so I'm just wondering you know as members of not in that I'm you know I'm certainly let me speak to myself here not in that community but what do we think about how do we create more space how can we create more space there?
Jennifer Martineau 42:01
Well i think it all comes back to recognizing that white supremacy is meant to divide us all it's meant to divide anyone who doesn't fit into the, into the white mold and so and particularly the white male mode mold and so you know one of the things i think we can do again is recognize we've all got different experiences we are all human beings we all bleed red blood and we breathe the same air and so what what can you know what's the role that i can play to support someone in a community that's different than my community and not see that community as competing with me for limited resources.
Portia Mount 42:53
Yeah I mean I love that Jennifer and I rarely get asked about what is your experience working in this environment? and when people ask me that question i said do you really want to know because i will tell you and they're always surprised and so the and so what surprised me and talking to my Asian colleagues is some of the stuff they were dealing with i was like man i'm going through the same thing and it's like and you there's some i don't know if you want to call it trauma bonding but it's like what you find is like there is some very clear linkages between our community especially as you know in the in the face of like well meaning but patriarchal corporate code, and we're talking corporate cultures here right now. Tiffany, you look like you wanted to say something?
Tiffany Waddell 43:53
Yeah i mean i think i talked about this sometimes but it really is flipping from sort of individual actor just floating through the world to ally to what i think is the most powerful work which is accomplice right being an accomplice to others and to be an accomplice i think there is this sort of one to one absolutely talking to our peers or people within the organization just to ask them how their experiences are what support they need and all of that and i think going a step further whether or not you have AAPI individuals within your organization that you even have a close enough relationship to ask that question it is you know really pushing HR leaders for data like let's talk about recruiting data what's happening there what does that look like what are these pools look like how are we you know recruiting outside of the usual suspects i think that there's also it's really important for us i think as people to curate our life really intentionally so that means like who you follow online what type of media you're consuming, like, I know that's an area and an opportunity for me to just upskill and, and hear more stories and more narratives from people within the AAPI community, right? Like, I cannot sit here and say, oh, my goodness, I know this deep history, I can quote back, that's an opportunity for me and acknowledging that and owning it. And doing that work is really important. So that I can advocate for another community from the right place, not just because I know it's the right thing to do, but so that I'm not stepping into something that might actually create more harm. And then I think finally, just tapping into your influence, whatever, whatever your function is, within a corporation, you have some type of influence, like you have a sphere of influence to ask really difficult questions of the people you report into or manage, you have the opportunity to maybe not make it mandatory, but encouraged reading, to participate, and you know, something that's not like, I love me some Malcolm Gladwell, but like, we can read other things, too, you know, you can do that.
Portia Mount 46:08
Yeah, we love Malcolm Gladwell, too. But yeah, there are other things to read.
Tiffany Waddell 46:11
But like, we got to do more than just blink out here. Like we really need to be consuming content from other voices, and finally, I'll get off my soapbox. But I think remembering that what we're, what we're doing when we're sort of doing accomplice work, is remembering that we're starting at racial identity. But that's not the sum total of people's lived experience at work. And we bring we being, you know, non white people bring a lot more than our racial sort of story to the table. We are skilled, we are excellent. And we need to be doing that. And like yelling that from the mountaintops for other communities as well. So that we're not I mean, essentially, so that we're doing the opposite of tokenizing.
Portia Mount 46:56
Amy Waninger 47:09
So three, three things I think we can all do. Number one, going back to what Tiffany said about, you know, recruiting and retention data, I think we need to take that even a step further. Because if all the Asians are in the IT department, and all the black women are in the hourly roles in the call center, that's not diversity.
Portia Mount 47:26
Or their chief, or their chief diversity officer, right? I'm sorry, don't get me started.
Amy Waninger 47:30
I call that the squint test. If I can look at your, if I can look at your C-suite online and squint and know whose jobs are with who has what jobs without reading. Because the white woman is the head of HR and the black woman is the head of diversity. You've got a big problem in your org, despite what you think you're projecting. So one is not just are you getting the people but where are you, are you corralling them? Right? Are you segregating your workforce, in certain ways that are making it impossible for people to move around? So that's number one. Number two, is we need to be actively providing counter examples to combat these stereotypes, particularly for Asian American women, as passives, passive submissive, and you know, objectified right, we need to be putting high powered AAPI women on our conference stages in our boardrooms, right showing just like we need to do with black women, by the way, not because they're there to talk about diversity, but because they're there to talk about data and analytics, or they're there to talk about, you know, business strategy, or they're there to talk about, you know, incorporating your marketing strategy, you know, your go to market strategy, or launch strategy or whatever. Right, whatever the topic of expertise is, we need to be putting people front and center to counter the stereotypes. And I think, you know, the third is that we need to be sure that we are engaging to Tiffany's point, in our own professional networks. I mean, you know, I've spent the past three years trying to get people to expand their networks and look at who's missing. So they can bring those folks in, not to tokenize. But to add to their own perspectives to understand that, you know, it's like that, for those that are old enough to remember Seinfeld. Tiffany and I had a joke about this on Twitter the other day, about my cultural references ending at Friends and Seinfeld, and I'm done. But, you know, there was this whole Bizarro episode Bizarro world episode of Seinfeld, right, where Elaine finds this whole other group of friends. And they're out doing something. And George is like, Well, can I come? And she looks at him, she looks at her new friends. And she's like, well, we already have George and so many of us in our networks. Right? We just keep replicating the same people over and over the same perspectives, the same personalities, the same job titles, industries, whatever. We don't need more George's right? We need, sure, have 10 George's if you want, but have other people too.
Portia Mount 50:06
I love that, Amy. And I think that there is a lot of truth to, some of the root of helping us be better allies is rooted in who's in our networks. I also want to point something out here that we've all done, just in this session, which amplifies things that other people have said. I can't tell you how, like when we talk about like, what's some of the solution, like simple things like amplification, so that other women can be seen and heard, is really powerful, especially when those women are in majority irrespective of race, amplifying other women,gassing other women up when they're not in the room, right, like saying, I think you want to take a look at this person. And I don't see, at least in my current work setting, I see it a lot outside and I love, I love what has happened in the last year, as social media has brought us at least a subset of women together much more closely and watching the amplification that happens, whether it's people's businesses or their books, or it's been really amazing. And, you know, that seems kind of Pollyanna, but I think it's really important to give voice to others who you know have something to say but maybe don't have the platform to do it. So I hope that more men and women will think more about doing that, because it's a very generous thing to do and it takes no effort.
Jennifer Martineau 52:59
For me that also connects back to a conversation that we've had earlier. Portia, you talked about undoing, you know, generations of, of what we've learned culturally, that's that historically, that's wrong. And Tiffany, you talked about it, as well. And, you know, our, in the US, our textbooks have been written by white people who want to tell a certain story. And, and so what we can do through amplifying is first learn those other stories. And, and then make a point to, to use them and to share them, and to call out the, you know, the great successes and failures that have been that we never knew about, because they were not in our textbooks. We didn't learn about them. And so and so it's it. I don't know, I guess I come from kind of an ongoing learning kind of perspective. So you know, Tiffany and Amy and Portia, what can I learn from you all, from what you're doing, and then amplify it so that other people can learn from it, too. So, anyway, taking that kind of tactic, I think it's important for us.
Tiffany Waddell 54:15
That's so good. And I think I think in the context of work, or professional spaces, right, like ad hoc things that you might be doing outside of your company, I think, you know, things like talking about compensation, like making it extremely transparent is an opportunity. And no, close the wage gap. Y'all know, really despise it. So like quite literally showing people the money can make or break. Even sort of in the small business world. I know Amy has been such a great resource for me, like I've called her and said, hey, how much do you think I should get paid to do that? These are some things you should think about, you know, and that meant the world to me, because that has directly impacted the way I've shown up in my business and the way that I don't. Yeah, that's, that's allyship, accomplice work. I believe sponsoring people at work or sponsoring opportunities, like it costs pretty much nothing to say, Hey, I went to this really cool, you know, workshop on blah, blah, blah, I think this will be a great opportunity for the entire team, if we can weave it into, you know, the next quarter stuff, whatever, right? Like, the worst thing that can happen is they'll say no, but you sort of amplify an opportunity or a person or whatever, can sort of change the course of how sort of the culture is evolving. And I think we talked a little bit about data and like asking hard questions of recruiting leads and things like that. But I think also bystander intervention, right? Like, if you see someone say something wild, even if it's like, when I say wild, I mean, microaggressions. Let me clarify, slowing it down and saying like, hey, Chad, what did you mean by that? You know, because that can, you don't have to, I think blow everything up or like totally thrash through your relationships to do really important work to help marginalized communities, I think you can ask curious questions and sort of push just enough to make the boat wobble a little bit like when people say rock the boat, it's like, you can do a wobble the boat a little bit. And that can make a really big impact and set the foundation for more people to join you, then you can flip the boat over later.
Portia Mount 56:43
You know, I love that Tiffany, because I think sometimes people and I've thought about this a lot. And I wonder, I wonder if allyship feels scary for some people to your point, because it's like, oh, I'm going to tip this boat over in the process, torpedo my own career, or I can't be a good ally until I'm at a certain level in the company. And I think the way I hear you talking about accompliceship is that is that the word? Is that, it can be small, and it can still be as impactful. Right? And so the example you gave of calling up Amy and saying, Hey, you know, I'm thinking about doing x, like, what would you typically charge for this, like, I can't tell you how important that is, especially when we know the data around pay disparity between men and women. Okay, and then when you segment that black women, Asian, Asian women, Latin x women, so that, like, you have the ability to make a material difference, and how much money someone earns, by being super candid, or by saying, Let me introduce you to these people in my network, right? That's a call, that's an email. You know, that's simple, but the knock on effect of that is massive. And so definitely want listeners to hear that there are big and small ways you can do this, and that we can do this for one another, so that we can raise all the boats right in the tide.
Amy Waninger 58:36
So going back to this quiet, quiet disruption, right, this wobbling the boat, I was reading a story on Twitter a while back about a woman who worked at Pixar. And she was in charge, her job was to prepare the script for the readings, right when people come in and do table readings of scripts. And when she would do that she made all the copies and got everything ready. She would just put a note on the scripts that women had 12% of the lines in this script. Women had 8% of the lines in this script. Women spoke, you know, 15% of the words in this script. And over time, it made people uncomfortable enough that now they're at 50/50. But she wasn't there banging on the CEOs door. Right? She wasn't setting things on fire. Right? She was just saying here are the scripts where 8% of the words are spoken by women characters, female characters. Here are the scripts where 12% of the words are spoken by female characters. And just calling attention to it right. Because to Tiffany's point, you know, you don't have to, you don't have to upset the whole boat. Right? But if you wobble it a little people will wake up.
I will share a super quick example last year this before the pandemic hit I was preparing to speak and I the for a corporation and they ask the booker that who was the head of i think she was like maybe in she actually was in the she was an IT executive and so she asked me my fee and I told her and she got really quiet and I said and she said um we have another speaker before you that's getting paid this i'm going to pretend that you did not tell me the fee that you just told me and I think you need to raise it right now i was like I was like oh i'm so she's like so what's your fee again so i saw i was like i just pulled a random number out of the sky I will not lie to you but it was true it was basically triple what i was saying what i had initially and she's like great that's a great she's like that's great okay I'll put it through in front of the committee and I am forever grateful to this woman who i had only just met and didn't have to do this but who said i just want to tell you that there's another speaker who's a white woman and she's getting paid a lot more than this and you are you're you know your credentials are amazing you should be charging more. This is what we're talking about right and that's the and she didn't have to do that and I would challenge all of us and our listeners to think about times because again you can be at any level you don't have to be the CEO or the Chief Diversity Officer or Chief HR Officer, think about all those moments where you could make a material difference for another woman and that's being, that's being an accomplice ally.
Tiffany Waddell 1:02:05
That is huge Portia, like, and it didn't cost her anything. Right?
Portia Mount 1:02:10
Didn't cost her, it didn't cost, well it cost the company something but yeah but it did but no it did it and i was really grateful and i also just thought about like how do i pay you know it really impacted me in a personal way i'm not talking about the money part but in the part of like how do i do this for other women right that's the carry that is the carry as you climb piece of this that you know and you know we started this conversation talking about sometimes scarcity mentality can make us be be those crabs right crabs in a bucket pulling other people down but the reality is is like what we're trying to do as women is and it's hard work right let's not we're not kidding ourselves we're we're living during unprecedented just time with multiple kinds of traumas but we can increase the pie and we can put women in positions where we have the ability to impact the lives of others in a very very profound way just by taking small steps.
Jennifer Martineau 1:03:18
Yeah i think that it's a it's a powerful story and it and i want to ask Tiffany i love the term accomplice there's i had a great conversation with a really good friend and colleague who's also a black woman who were talking about allyship and whether the term ally holds power and and you know it's like if i'm going to be an ally to someone does that automatically put me in a position of higher power and i don't want to be in one so does accomplice put us in in partnership because that's where we were getting to is you know we really want to be in partnership and help each other along through partnership using whatever the gifts the influence that we have so i wonder if if accomplice is sort of coming from that kind of direction Tiffany?
Tiffany Waddell 1:04:12
Yeah no that's a really good question and i think i mean i think ally or accomplice at core really depends on your mindset i differentiate the two because i think accomplice has just as a term more gravity or connection to action right like i think often people will sort of put the word ally or allyship on like a cloak it's like oh i've arrived i'm super woke i'm down for the cause and then it's like okay great you know but accomplice is like.
Portia Mount 1:04:44
Right and then they put like a black square on their instagram, and that's it.
Tiffany Waddell 1:04:48
Yeah, and then you hear nothing else you're like alright.
Portia Mount 1:04:52
And then there's nothing else, there's just like a black square.
Tiffany Waddell 1:04:54
Yes but accomplice is like oh it's like we're bonnie and bonnie jump In the car, and we're going to do some things. And...
Portia Mount 1:05:03
I love that.
Tiffany Waddell 1:05:04
I think I think either way, Jennifer, it's really important to remember that it's not sort of this. It's not like old school missionary work. It's not like, Oh, I'm like pouring favor upon you like the Pope, it's like, quite literally, you're awesome, you should have this opportunity, right? Like, the reason that we're sort of catalyzing this work is because you are on the margins, or you might be pushed on the margins, or you might be overlooked or underpaid, or, you know, fill in the blank. But once we get past that, it's like, we really should be doing this for all women, you know, like, talking about when I say like, amplifying someone, I consider myself an ally or accomplice to other really smart women who are not women of color, because I'm the only one at work, you know, I'm like, hey, wait, don't don't talk over her. She said something really interesting. And I think we should, like sit with that for a moment. Once you like, are activating that and your person, it becomes a muscle that you don't even really have to think about. You're just moving that way. So I think that's a really important question. Because when you are when you are, when you do think of it as I'm better than or I have more of and therefore I owe it to you. Like I think you can have that in your pocket, maybe. But again, that's that guilt and shame driving action rather than equity. There's a big difference for me when Amy says, Yeah, okay, put some time on my calendar, we're going to talk about this, and work through it. And also, like, let's value each other's time, compared to Oh, well, honey, no, like, you need to be making more, that would not have been a conversation I would have entered, right. Like that's not, you know, I know, I can trust Amy to share, share things with her, I think we are often on the same wavelength. And I also know that it's not going to become this thing that she's going to go. And I'm saying this because I've seen other women do this and like to pat themselves on the back on social, like, Hey, I talked to this woman today. And this, you know, once that happens, the trust is out the door, and you're not gonna you're not going there anymore. And that's what I meant earlier, when I said the term woke is fine. But when people put these terms on themselves, like you don't get to name yourself as woke, you don't get to name yourself as an ally. That's the work of some of the communities that you're serving to say, hey, she's an ally. And I think it really is a really important mindset differentiation.
Portia Mount 1:08:09
Maybe the undercurrent of this is around relationship, right, which is, when you have an honest relationship with people, you have the ability to go so much deeper, you get the grace to make mistakes, knowing that your intentions and your impact sometimes don't always match because we're human beings, but that we believe in the power and potential and talent of the other person. And to me, like the best accomplices, don't just see me as a black woman. I mean, that is who I am. I can't ignore that I'm a black woman, because I am often the only one and it's not anything I can hide. And it's also not all it's not just who it's not who I am. And in fact, in fact, I've had to work really hard to get super good at what I do. Because I know that people first and foremost will think, they may think, oh, she's here because we need a black person, right? We need a black woman, we need to, we need a two box checker. She's a black woman, she's black, and she's a woman. But I know that the people who really know me know, you know, and we have a real relationship. It has enabled us to, you know, get so far together and to support one another, and to help other women And to me, that's that is what I'm super hopeful for is that we focus on the relationship that allows us to be accomplices, because when I know you, I know you're gonna screw up, like, just like I'm going to. But I also know that like, you're, you know, like, I want to be with women who are about some shit, as I say, right? Like, you're trying like, each of you, I know, like, you're trying to do stuff and like, you push me, and the women in my circle push me to get better. And that's what I'm like, ultimately, that's what I really, really am out for. And I want women to succeed. Because I know that when we get into high places, you cannot stop us from making change. Like you can't we do incredible things. And that's what I hope women can takeaway is like, it's so additive to your life, when you are truly allies.
Amy Waninger 1:10:52
So you know, it's interesting, because and thank you, Tiffany, I'm, I'm honored that you, you called out anything that I might have done that have been helpful to you. But I want to make it clear that, for women who white women, especially, who are trying to find their way on this journey, I think it's important for us to realize, you know, I was able to help Tiffany, I was able to, you know, because I was like five minutes ahead of her in something right? That doesn't mean that every black woman is going to trust me. And it doesn't mean that I should be out there proclaiming to all black women. Well, you should trust me because my black friend..
Portia Mount 1:11:35
No, don't do that. Right?
Amy Waninger 1:11:36
Like that's, that's some bullshit, right? Don't do that. But I see I see women doing that, right. They're like, Well, you know, I was helpful once. So now I'm an ally. No, no, each person, not one person for the group. It's not like, there's not like a delegation system, like the UN where they send somebody and they say, okay, you're an ally now, and then you get to wear that crown for the rest of your life. No, no, I get to do that for Tiffany, with Tiffany, right? I get to help her I get to, you know, be her business partner, or whatever it is that we're doing together. And then when Portia calls me, I got to prove myself again. And then, you know, every single time because this is about consistency, not about swooping in being a hero, and then like wearing your badge, like, you know, like your COVID vaccine sticker that you got, you know, you're like, ooh, now I'm an ally, like certified ally by the CDC. That does not work. So you know. There is no ally shot. And, and it is, it's everyday being intentional about, you know, am I, am I doing outreach? Right, am I, am I including the right people? Am I including the right mix of people in the work that I'm doing? Am I making sure that, you know, that I'm bringing the right voices to the table that I'm giving the right opportunity to everyone? This is ongoing, this is not, you know, just because I had a call with Tiffany now, I'm done than work that way. And, you know, and I will say, I think I think there are two things that keep people from being well, three really, things that keep people from being allies. Number one is Portia to your point, they're afraid they're gonna give up something, right, they're gonna lose some position of power or some privilege that they have. The second is, they don't know what to do. So they just don't do anything. But the third is, I hear a lot of people say that I'm so afraid to eff this up. That I'm just gonna sit here and be quiet because I can't take the criticism if I do it wrong. And I'm here to tell you, like, I screw up all the time. And when people point out to me, in my mind, I'm like, Well, if you don't want my help, and I won't even help, and then I sit there and my feelings for him. And I'm like, Okay, I'm kind of being an ass, right? Like, I need to, like figure out like, what did I do? Right? This isn't about me as a person. This is about a behavior or something I said. How not what I intended, but how was it received? What was the impact? How did it land? Right, was I, you know, was I speaking from a place of privilege was a speaking for people. Instead of amplifying someone, right? What is the thing that I did that cocked this all up so that I don't do it again? And then I apologize, and I go do better. But I think a lot of people are so afraid of getting that feedback. They don't see the feedback as a gift. Right? They see it as like touching a hot stove. Oh, I'll never do that again. No, if a black woman says what you did wasn't helpful. It's because she trusts you enough to give you that feedback.
Portia Mount 1:14:35
Yes. Yes. That's my prayer. I'm raising my praise hands, Amy. Take the feedback. And we could do a whole session just on feedback, right but i do i have seen I have experienced, white women react negatively to my giving them feedback which I by the way, many black women I know, I myself included, we know when we give you feedback that there is a better than likely chance it's going to land negatively with you. Like, we know that and so but we're giving it to you, especially if we think you can do something with it. I'm gonna be honest, at this stage of my life and career, sometimes I don't give white women feedback, because one, I know they're not going to change. And two, I know, it makes them hostile, it will make them even more hostile and aggressive than they already are. And so I just think, you know, what, like, as black women, we are doing the mental calculus, if you're worth it, right, if or if the fallout of what we tell you, again, I'm speaking in corporate spaces now, we are thinking about whether about the potential fallout of what we tell you, if you can handle it, and what kind of repercussions that might be right? Because we are the, we are the only ones usually in our space. And that is, you know, and Minda Harts has talked about this very movingly in The Memo and I can't wait to read her, her next book around, I think racial trauma in the workplace. We know the impact on us is actually far more significant than the impact on you. So trust and believe for the white women listening to this, if we give you feedback, we have thought about whether we should give you that feedback. Like we don't just we're not just pulling it out of nowhere and deciding like I gotta I'm in my feelings, I gotta get this off my chest, we're doing something we're saying is because you're either harming us, you're harming other people. And we know that you continuing to behave in a certain way is not sustainable for our survival. But we let a lot of shit blow past us for the sake of keeping the peace in our corporate spaces. And that's what I, you know, I don't know that white women understand enough. And again, I'm so glad that there are so many women who a black women and women of color, who are talking about this more openly because with that relationship comes the need to hear about the trauma, I'm using that word you may be inadvertently inflicting on your colleagues of color. And when we get that in the open, then we can have real discussions about racial inequities in the workplace, and all the other things that we all want to fix. But it starts from being able to have those conversations, which is really hard. Right, it's really, really hard. But necessary.
Jennifer Martineau 1:17:46
Yeah, it takes a level of trust. And, and I think that's really important for white women to hear what you just said, Portia. We have to earn the trust of black women and women of color. And we have to do that by again, you know, doing our own work, doing our own hard work, but also sustainably, you know, consistently demonstrating that we have that woman's interest in in, you know, in our heart in our mind, and that we really are about that woman and and that we will put her first before we will put ourselves we have got you know, there's it's I don't I think you're right. I don't think that white women understand that.
Portia Mount 1:18:44
No, and then they start crying when you tell them you give the feedback, then there's crying.
Jennifer Martineau 1:18:55
Yeah, that's a conversation you and I have had because it's happened with us.
Portia Mount 1:18:59
Yes, I wasn't gonna bring that up.
Jennifer Martineau 1:19:02
I don't mind bringing it up. Because, because it was something.
Portia Mount 1:19:06
I wasn't talking about you crying, I was talking about people crying.
Jennifer Martineau 1:19:10
...and so I'm being open here because you know, I have learned a lot through being able to talk with you through those tears and understand the impact that those tears are having on you. And feeling heard as well about where my tears were coming from that level of trust is what it really takes.
Portia Mount 1:19:32
Yeah, I commend you Jennifer, because this you know, especially during when we Jennifer and I worked together and she, you know, I think as a black woman you kind of develop a sort of steely exterior as a mode of protection in these primarily white spaces so I don't get to cry. And I would get exceedingly angry inside that Jennifer could cry, but I couldn't cry, like, I cry at home, I cry in my car, you know, or better yet, I'm just gonna outperform you and I'm gonna make you cry harder. Right. But, you know, it's like we don't get, we don't get that emotional release and did I send you an article on white women's tears? I feel like it's an article, it's an article I keep, and I send it, again to the women I think who can handle it, and who I care about the relationship. There are far more women who should have got the white woman tears article than I could send it to you that I don't send it to where. By the way, we will link to that article. But I genuinely what I have come to learn as a black woman is that many white women did not truly, did not understand what their tears in the workplace were doing. I came to understand is they did not understand how they were centering themselves in whatever feedback I would like I black woman was giving to them because all of a sudden, now it's about you crying and me trying to pass make you feel less bad about what I just told you versus dealing with the really foul shit you just pulled on me that we need to we need to rectify and so it has been an education, both ways. One in thinking about feedback, how I give that feedback. But also understanding that, you know, I don't need to subvert my feelings like I rarely subvert my feelings anymore in the corporate space. Now I check myself. I am highly composed. But trust and believe if I'm saying something very direct, and that probably feels kind of yucky. Again, I have thought about it. I've thought about it. And I know it needs to be said not, especially because I'm a very senior woman and I know I can make a change for the women who are coming, the women of color behind me. And so a lot of times I do it knowing I have got a clear I am bushwhacking new territory here, that some young woman who is 10 or 15 years younger than I am, is coming up behind it is my job to make her life easier. I want you to hear me when I say this, I truly take it as my job to help the women behind me. The woman who may even leapfrog me who I may be working for one day, that is my job. Just like it was the job of the women who came before me. And so I feel strongly that even though you're crying, a white woman's crying, I gotta let you know this. And I also need you to like have some introspection about why it is that you're in the position where you're melting down? What's going on for you? Are you embarrassed? Is it shame? Tiffany, you talked about that earlier. Is it an issue of shame and embarrassment? A lot of times it is I think, but anyway, I could go on. Thoughts?
Tiffany Waddell 1:23:33
What's really interesting about sort of the immediacy of the shame and like, sort of digging through that work or in personal relationships, is that there's also this sort of historical context of white womanhood and default innocence and what that means, right, like when you think about, I don't know, all the things, child slavery, for example, and what happens, you know, or Emmett Till or hundreds, 1000s of other stories of what happens when white women start crying, whether or not there's an actual reason to be crying or not leave that aside. And...
Portia Mount 1:24:06
Yeah, that historical context is very, is very real.
Tiffany Waddell 1:24:44
Yeah. And, you know, it's, it's emotional violence is still violence, and I, you know, so Portia you when you said, we've thought about it, we've thought about it, we've thought about it, we played it out in our minds. We've talked to our partners and our friends, we’ve workshopped it. We've, we've like, run through the conversation before we even consider saying anything. And that's something that we learned very early in our lives, I think most of us probably do. Because we know that it is a calculated risk that we have to take, whether it's a personal conversation or one in the context of work. And I've felt it. And I think, especially when you do have a relationship with someone, I'll also say that we not only do we have to experience the implications of what happens, or the discomfort in that conversation, or you know, potentially losing that professional relationship, but we also have to grieve because we poured enough trust and thought into going there in the first place, which takes a lot I mean, it's a lot of work unless you, you know, are sociopath and don't care, then it's a lot of work and, and it's scary. So when women, oh my gosh, it's so scary to be an ally. It's so scary to like, be an accomplice and I get it. It's hard. It's heavy lifting, but imagine how much fear we have just for existing and it's like you've just got to lean into it because your discomfort in those tears more than likely will not cost you your job. It will not cost you an opportunity. But it means everything to us.
Portia Mount 1:26:29
So maybe a final, final question for you all we've we've put a lot of, we've put a lot on the table. We've put some solutions but it's this is a it's a big it's a big topic for us. Uhm one that I know that we will continue offline. Resources, I am sure there are a number of our listeners who are like okay, what can I read? What can I do, so I wonder if each of you can just go and just share a few resources that you think would be important for, you know, to get better educated on ally, accomplish. Tiffany got me all wrapped up around this word.
Amy Waninger 1:27:23
Portia Mount 1:27:24
Accomplicitude. I like that, I like that. Tiffany?
Tiffany Waddell 1:27:35
I think you've mentioned Minda Harts and The Memo. I think that's a really good one because it really outlays a lot of specifically black women's experience in corporate America. I think it's not specifically around racial equity but having difficult conversations. I love Kim Scott's Radical Candor. I'm gonna side plug you all's book. It's not about allyship but it's all about succeeding as a woman at work so just gonna say that.
Portia Mount 1:28:08
Kick Some Glass, hey.
Tiffany Waddell 1:28:10
Yeah, there are a couple people I think that are deep resources around sort of racial equity and accomplice work specifically. Rachel Cargle on Instagram and Layla Saad both have sort of self driven challenges that you can do around white supremacy and how it shows up sort of in the world, but also in the context of work. That is a heavy lift emotionally, but I think it's worth every moment. And so I would recommend those two as a follow and for resources as well.
Portia Mount 1:28:46
Thank you, Tiffany. Amy.
Amy Waninger 1:28:47
So, I will plug Karen Fleshman. She is an activist, she's everywhere. She's amazing. She's out there holding white women accountable for the damage that we cause and she's doing a remarkable job at that. I have so much respect for Karen. Julie Kratz has a new book on allyship. And she even has a children's book on allyship called Little Allies that just came out. And Julie, she's the real deal and she's really, really amazing in the space. If I can plug my own stuff I will do so. All right. So my book Network Beyond Bias kind of takes you through a journey of for everyone right of all the different ways that we can show up for each other and include each other. And I just launched an online learning platform at courses.leadatanylevel.com that has all of, all of my all my conference sessions, all my everything is out there with more instructors to come. So...
Portia Mount 1:29:58
Thank you, Amy. And Jennifer.
Jennifer Martineau 1:30:01
So, I'm going to mention one that does get criticism and I understand the criticism, but I think when people are in an early stage of readiness, it can meet them where they are, and that is White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. I think there's some important messages in there, including a chapter on white women's tears. So I think it's a starting place for people who are beginning to do some of their own work. I would also call out Ibrahim Kendi, the “How to be an Antiracist”, very, very good. And also David Campt works on white allyship, he's got a toolkit that's online, and a lot of resources that you can access, I would call out all of those. And Amy, I was gonna mention your books so I'm glad you did.
Portia Mount 1:30:47
And I would just add to the mix, Koa Beck’s White Feminism, which is outstanding. I can't recall the full title. But it is really enlightening. And she's also a Mills College alum so we share that. But we will link to all of these resources. Oh, Tiffany had one more she wanted to mention.
Tiffany Waddell 1:31:12
Yeah, so Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall is really good and digs into some of the gaps around or the feminist movement and white womanhood and who was left behind. And then since Amy plugged her book, I also want to plug I have an online course and companion workbook called How to Ally for Black Women at Work, you can find it on my site, self directed, really accessible, especially for people who are early in this journey as well.
Portia Mount 1:31:50
I love it. So, Tiffany Waddell Tate, Amy C Waninger, Jennifer Martineau, thank you so much for an honest and open conversation. This is a conversation we need to keep having. I hope it encourages listeners to take it, you know, to take action on their own home front, there's a lot of work to be done. There's a lot of room for I think, room for optimism, and I look forward to having you all back maybe in a few months. And it's been, it's been really, it's been an honor to to have the three of you here for this important discussion. Thank you.