Bringing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to the Future of Work

March 11, 2021 | 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST


Featured Speakers


McLean Robbins, Vice President of Enterprise Marketing, MBO Partners


Aassia Haq, Vice President of Talent Marketing, MBO Partners


Mandy Price, Co-Founder, and CEO, Kanarys, Inc.

Frida Polli, Co-Founder, and CEO, Pymetrics

Miles Everson, CEO of MBO Partners

00:00 Introducing the Speakers and Welcoming the Participants

00:57 MBO’s 2020 Commitment: “Opportunity For All”

05:37 Fitting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into a Data-Driven Measurable and Actionable Framework

07:55  The Function of Hiring Tools to Advance Equity and Inclusion in a Diverse Workforce

17:01  The Story of Change and Increase in Opportunity of Hiring Tools

23:24 Systematic Tools Used to Achieve Transformational Change

36:58  Measuring Well-Being in an Extended Workforce

41:11 Q & A: How to Use Salary and Pay Band Data to Ensure Equality in the Workforce

45:35 Q & A: One Actionable Thing that People Can Do to Make an Impact on DEI 

50:22 Closing Remarks

The workforce landscape is never constant. It is always evolving and changing in ways you can never imagine. This MBO Future of Work Roundtable March series had business leaders and experts discuss fundamental strategies for an effective workplace system. Key stories of successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives inside large organizations in 2021 were also featured in this program.

Panelists Mandy Price, co-founder and CEO of Kanarys, Inc., Dr. Frida Polli, co-founder and CEO of Pymetrics, and Miles Everson, Chief Executive Officer of MBO Partners covered the following topics:

  • What diversity, equity, and inclusion means for your organization as part of an ongoing labor conversation
  • Key stories of successful DEI initiatives inside large organizations
  • What MBO is doing to bring Opportunity for All to 10,000 Diverse Business Owners in 2021

Interested in attending the next roundtable discussion? Click here to view our upcoming events

McLean Robbins I am going to turn this over now to Aassia and remind everybody to please put their questions in the Q&A box throughout. Take it away.

Aassia Haq Thank you so much, McLean, and so pleased to welcome you, Mandy and Frida, to this really interesting discussion. Miles and I are really looking forward to this conversation. I think it's going to be very meaningful, very rich, and something that should educate our audience on the phone as to how to think differently about DEI and how to plan for the future. So I'm going to kick it off with a little bit of a story in 2020. MBO made a commitment which we called an opportunity for all. It was a commitment to increase awareness of diversity, of business ownership inside the independent workforce and discuss the obstacles and challenges that owners face when they're trying to grow their 100 percent diversely owned firms. We started this journey with data, so we first surveyed and we are actively analyzing the data that we collected on our population and to share it out. We committed to using our insights to build a business case and advocacy through the form of a campaign which we call opportunity for all. And we set ourselves an audacious goal. That goal was to increase diverse owner opportunities by 10,000 more within our client, partner, and individual ecosystems. The reason that I share this is that I'm very curious to understand you are female founders. Miles, I'm curious to hear from you on this as well. What data or business case or advocacy drove the creation of each of your firms? What is your audacious goal? And I'd love to ask this question first of you, Freeda, and then if you, Mandy.

Frida Polli That's a great question. I mean, I think that an audacious goal that I have for the world at large is that in this time of huge transformation, we really take the idea of equality seriously and start to really make meaningful movement in that direction, which I think we'll we'll need to require some discomfort on the part of people who have been sort of been advantaged positions to date. And for us, a lot of that report means really that people start to feel comfortable divulging diversity data that historically had been white and not even historically, but remains tightly, tightly guarded. And I think we can't make meaningful change in this area without more transparency. So the audacious goal is that we take equality seriously and start to produce transparent data so that we can all achieve that goal.

Aassia Haq Beautiful.

McLean Robbins Mandy, I'd love to hear from you?

Aassia Haq Yeah, I know, thanks. So when we talk about some of the data, right. That allowed us or that drove us to do some of the advocacy work that we're doing is it was my own experience. And I know we'll talk about that a little bit later, but we talk about the data. It was looking at research from a lot of groups, Boston Consulting Group being one saying that 97% of midsize and large enterprises had formal diversity equity inclusion initiatives, 75% of the underrepresented professionals, that's women, that's people of color, that's LGBT, the way they've defined it did not feel that they benefited from the programs at all. And so we knew that these programs, although enterprises were putting a lot of money behind them, that we weren't seeing the results that we would anticipate, given that the funds and the effort that was that had been put behind the initiatives. And so really wanting to understand why, why were we not seeing success when there was so much effort and starting to realize the approach in the way organizations were approaching these issues is really the reason why we weren't seeing that success. And so how should we really be analyzing, measuring, diagnosing diversity and inclusion issues? I know Frida talked about some of the reluctance to share some of the diversity goals, but I also think there's been too much of a focus on companies, on just diversity, that the reason we haven't seen the increases that we would expect is because, we've just now started to have this awareness around inclusion and equity. Right. And so we see more organizations talking about belonging and inclusion and equity and understanding that the individual interventions aren't the only things that we have to look at. We have to look at our system wide approach as well as far as how the organization is tackling these issues. So that is the data that really drove us to do this work. And when we think of our audacious goal, it's to create a workplace where everyone belongs, where we really are seeing equity within the workplace, that the workplace becomes the meritocracy, that I think many people think it is. But we all know it's not where everyone in town, it has a chance to really thrive within the workplace.

Aassia Haq That's a great framework, and both of you have laid out really important and thoughtful objectives, what I want to do now is to pose a question to Miles that I think will be a really interesting way to take this conversation forward for our audience, much of which is a C-Suite audience. Right. And Miles is a CEO yourself. When you think about diversity, equity and inclusion is a great framework of belonging. How do you fit it into a data-driven, measurable, and actionable framework? You know, you've been a leader that has taken a holistic global view of workforces and you're also an expert on workforce transformation. What is the lens you bring to this conversation?

Miles Everson Thanks, Aassia, and thanks, Frida and Mandy, for joining today and for your commentary on that and the first question. You know, I guess I'm a pretty pragmatic kind of thinker and speaker. And so what I've seen for decades, it's obviously evolved in a good direction. But there's so much more progress that needs to be made.

Miles Everson But for me as a leader, I think about what I'm going to say, gauging the authenticity of a leader's commentary. By looking at where they're actually having the most granular impact, because aggregate impact merely is an aggregation of individual impacts.

Miles Everson Right. And so at MBO, when I came to MBO and you Aassia and I talked about it a good but, the question is, MBO has 150 to 200 employees so we can influence it with that employee base, but our real ability to impact society.

Miles Everson Is how we impact, you know, over 50,000 independent solo entrepreneurs that have chosen to be independent, and are we doing everything that we can do to help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion? At the very front coalface of the way the world is functioning and the world we operate in, so we're primarily a US business today. But so I could stand up and talk about it. Diversity, equity, inclusion, but without having the metrics to say, well, how are we going to measure that? So are we going to be able to help? A hundred diverse people have more equity and more inclusion? Or are we going to have it for a thousand, which is why we've got to the ten thousand number, which I think is an audacious goal given the size of our company. But having said that, we can very clearly measure whether we're actually having a direct impact. So, you know, one of the things I run into today and so there's diversity supplier objectives that people have. So the way you can address that, though, is you can go out. And hire a firm that is owned by a minority or diverse. Person, but everybody employed by him could be. Not the first. And what I'm saying is we're trying to impact it at the most granular level, and I say that because, every successful person that I've run into figures out how you measure and the tightest unit, smallest, most granular unit over the shortest time frame. And then they get good at doing that many, many, many times. And you wake up someday and you say, we actually had a really demonstrable impact. And so in answering your question about what leaders can do, it's not just about the platitudes, it's about to me, it's about what is the most granular action you're taking right now? To advance. More equity and inclusion of the diverse workforce, and that's my authenticity point, is it's really only authentic when you're taking action that is actually making a difference today. Talking is easy.

Aassia Haq It's a great point, and I think I'm going to sort of cue something because I had thought both for you, Mandy, and for you, Frida, as I heard Mel speaking, which is each of you within your businesses solves a very small and specific problem using technology and a platform approach to effect change sort of one individual at a time, but it aggregates up to be something very meaningful. Mandy, could you speak a little bit about what it is that your platform does and how what Miles was describing might be something that you're achieving step by step through your listening tools? Reactionary.

Mandy Prince Yeah, no great question, so you know, what we see a lot of times is organizations want to do better, right? They want to move the needle on diversity and inclusion, but they don't know-how. And so a lot of times what we will get is organizations coming to us saying, can you do it unconscious bias training. And what we try to do is change their mind frame right around these issues and around how we approach diversity, equity, inclusion. And I know Frida and I have talked about this before. There's a lot of research that shows unconscious bias training is not the way to approach these issues and it actually can cause more harm. So the first thing we do when we're working with an organization, as we help them diagnose the actual issues that exist within the organization, having someone come and do an off-the-shelf training is not going to lead to impact within your organization. You have to have a prescribed prescription plan that's laid out for your organization that's going to ensure success within your organization. So when we work with companies, what we do is we help them diagnose the issues. So we do a workplace equity assessment not only on their systems so that we can understand how their talent acquisition, their performance management, the way their pay policies are working, whether those are perpetuating inequities within their workplace. And then we also do an assessment with their employees to understand the challenges that their employees are going through. So that's all done in a way where the employees are providing confidential information so they feel safe to provide that feedback. Once we have that, then you put together a precise recommendation plan for the company based on the data that we've seen. So that's the way we work with organizations because we don't think just coming in and having someone do a speech or doing a training that really isn't hitting and honing in on the issues that your organization has is effective. And that's the reason why we haven't seen success when it comes to diversity and inclusion over the past few decades.

Frida Polli Can I share a slide? OK, because I have to just put the slide up. So this is the problem. OK, so I know I completely agree with what Mandy said. Inclusion is a huge problem. However, I just want to be super clear. The EOC makes disparate impacts technically illegal. However, it is not illegal if a tool shows validity. OK, and so I would say that basically and you can see the numbers here in terms of employers that are reporting the number of these percent of employers reporting the use of these tools. This is a disparate impact. This is 80 percent. Show me one tool that passes disparate impact, OK? And up to 70 percent of employers are using these tools. OK, so, unfortunately, hiring is still a massive problem. I mean, because most employers are using and by the way, Human Resume Review doesn't meet disparate impact even because of unconscious bias. This is her ordered studies that are done when you submit the same resume and you put John versus Jamal. So the point I'm trying to make and look, there are new tools like metrics that come along and do better. And again, there are other tools as well. But the vast majority of tools are currently in widespread use, right. This is tens of millions of people being evaluated by these procedures every year. This is not a small problem. This is a big component of why we don't have the worst workforce in this country. And so I think that so again, how do we try to address this? I mean, we don't process tens or hundreds of millions of people. We process a few million.

Frida Polli We ensure that our tool has a much better impact on communities of color and women than any of the other tools that are commonly used. And we're actually supportive of legislation in a couple of municipalities right now that promote that. Basically, that would basically say that all tools, all automated systems used in hiring need to report disparate impact. So disparate impact for people that don't know it means if you have one hundred men applying and one hundred women, how many men are you selecting and how many women are you selecting? And if the ratio falls below 80 percent. So if you're selecting 10 men but five women, that's a five-point five. That's a 50 percent ratio that would fall below disparate impact.

Frida Polli So, again, I do think that we have to address the hiring issue. It's not a small issue at all. Like automated systems are only becoming more prevalent, not less prevalent. And right now, the state of affairs is pretty abysmal. So,

Aassia Haq Wow. Well, this leads to a question that I was proposing to ask of you. And I think you've already partially.

Frida Polli By the way, I didn't write that slide for different presentations today. But I have to show this because I don't think people realize people think disparate impact is illegal. And I'm like, not really. It's legal. Right. I mean, if you can show that you're a tool, then predict performance, you can have a tool that doesn't select people fairly. But the problem is, if the people that you've trained it off of our particular group, men, Caucasians, it will actually predict performance in those groups. So it's kind of like a never-ending cycle that you can't get out of because it's like, oh, well, this tool only selects white people, but oh, by the way, those white people do well. So it predicts performance, but it still leaves the remainder of the population kind of screwed, you know what I mean? So we have to get beyond this idea that, like, that's a valid way of evaluating hiring tools. So sorry I interrupted you.

Miles Everson Frida, can I ask you a question? So that slide that you put up is just on the selection. It doesn't factor in if you said, yeah, OK, that's what I was that's how I was reading it.

Frida Polli Well, I mean, it just factors in selection. And then if you were to make a comparable slide for some of the other things like promotion and this and then the other than just imagine that that slide looks the same, you don't I mean, the reason it only focuses on hiring is just, generally speaking, the automated tool is generally used in the hiring process. Not so much in promotion right? Promotion, you're going to have more of a manual process. Right. So we focused on places where there was data in the literature to allow us to understand the impact that these automated processes are having. Right. And then you get to what Mandy was talking about, that a lot of the stuff that happens inside a company is less about automation. It's more about the human inclusion of things. So absolutely.

Aassia Haq One of the questions and mandate this question I think I will pose to you. So we've talked about how to scale down. DNI is a piece about technology, about platforms, about data, but it's also a very human scale opportunity for companies. So what is a story of change and increase in opportunity that has been driven by platforms so it becomes more and more real for people what a platform can do to drive change?

Mandy Prince Yeah, it sure. And so. I think it also helps to think of the use of technology in this way is becoming more prevalent, right. But it's still a new concept and a new idea for folks. And so a lot of the challenges we have is helping people to understand that technology can assist them. Right. And so Frida obviously just hit on that in some of the ways where the tools can help in the hiring process. But I think one of the challenges that many enterprises and organizations still struggle with is they think that kind of traditional DNI compliance or unconscious bias training is the only way to tackle those issues. And so I think what a lot of some of my peers and counterparts are doing is trying to really help companies understand that we don't have to continue to operate with the status quo, that there are other ways in that technology can actually help elevate those voices and help us to have more widespread change throughout our organization. And so this is what I mean when I talk about individual interventions if we're talking about how we train our staff up. Right. Which is needed. And I don't want to minimize that and think that that's not a part of the process, but that's just one piece of the puzzle. And what we've seen is organizations have struggled to understand that their organizational processes, the way the systems are operating, also perpetuate and cause these inequities. And so we have to attack it from both angles where we're looking at our systems and we are equipping our employees with the tools that they need as well. Right. To ensure that they are aware of bias, that everyone has bias and tackling that from both in. So what we've seen from success from our clients, right, is when we look at annual engagement surveys, which is what most people use, that does not address the issues, most of the time you'll usually see a handful of DI questions, but you don't really get a sense of how underrepresented populations are struggling in the day to day issues that they have within the workplace. And so what we're able to do is help bring those issues to the forefront, help them put in place strategies around that to actually deal with those issues. And what we see, as I said, is that a lot of the interventions that we recommend are going to be different for those different population groups. We look at everything through an intersectionality lens. It's going to also be different for different departments and locations. And so I think just like we have very honed and specific techniques on the way we deploy marketing and look at our digital media and sales and things like that, we have to think of it the same, that it's not something that we can just do once a year.

Mandy Prince When we bring in someone to train we have to ensure that we have a long-term strategy and we're measuring the effectiveness of that strategy.

Frida Polli Yeah, I mean, I'm actually curious, Mandy, if I can make a comment and ask a question. So I totally agree that it's back to again, as cognitive scientists always say, we have to change our systems, not our brains, because our brains, unfortunately, are not very good at being changed, let's put it that way. Whereas our systems have more, we have more hope. Right. So I completely agree with you. Can you give me an example of, like, a system that, for example, perpetuates a lack of inclusion? Because I'd love to I don't know the space nearly as well as hiring, for example,

Mandy Prince Yeah, so I won't hit on hiring because I know you know that. But there are lots of things in hiring, right? Just the way job description, working together, all that. Yeah. And I think that even on that front. Right, we're still educating folks because I can't tell you how many companies I've talked to that just think. What do you mean we just put out a job description. How is that discriminatory? Know, but then they talk about how they have pipeline issues and we know it's because of the way that their entire talent acquisition process is put together. Think about that, that the same systems replicate. So let me give an example. And we started to see legislation around this, right. The way companies do their pay practices also perpetuates a lot of the services that we see now. So when we look at pay, pay should not be based on someone's previous salary history because we have disparities within the society. It should be based on the job itself to see a lot of companies make pay, salaries based on someone's previous pay history.

Mandy Prince And so those are the types of things when we talk about the systems, the way other organizations operate, that we do those analysis and help them understand how they really should be structured to ensure that they're not perpetuating these inequities.

Frida Polli And we have this concept of what we call it the. Biased mitigation text stack or the diversity text stack, OK, but essentially we're there, so, for example, you name two areas, right, writing job descriptions and pay equity. So text you shout out to text you, helps you with your job description. Syndio, If you have heard or have not heard of. Syndio is a pay equity platform. So I do think that like there and I'm sure there are and there are others that we haven't even mentioned here in terms of things that can help. But I mean, I think it goes back to this idea that I think technologists, you know, at least the ones I know are actively building technology that can help unbiased spies mitigate these systems. So I think we have to again, I mean, I think we have to move outside of thinking like, oh, if we just change enough people's minds being on the table loud enough, like we're going to fix something, because that's just not I don't think how we think of any other thing you want to change in life.

Frida Polli You have transparency around the metrics, you have accountability, you know, the goals you're shooting for, and so on. So, anyways, thanks for that clarification.

Aassia Haq So one of the questions I have is because I'm curious and fascinated by the fact that both of your companies and this is true of MBO's as well. So I think it's something that we share that our audience might not understand, that we share, which is that each of us is working on workforce transformation. Each of us is using a platform-based, technology-based, approach. And then we're using new and innovative tools like A.I. And so I want to speak specifically to systemic change or die. At one level, it happens on a human person-by-person level, but on another level, you make the greatest impact when you change the system. So let's speak about how each of you and for all three panelists I've done have used systemic tools to make transformational change. We'd like to go for speed. Do you want to do more, Miles?

Miles Everson I bet you in a way I'm happy to go first.

Miles Everson Sometimes it's the things you don't do, which is kind of interesting. And since I got to MBO. We did extensive research. The quality of matching, so I matched people to the job, et cetera. And when you step back and you put them. The islands on it, you said, well, let me think about this.

Miles Everson If I'm training my A.I. engine. Based on historical data and historical human judgment. Now, I know I can be biased at scale. It actually can have a very important unintended consequence, and so we spent a lot of time talking about that, me and our data scientist, because it's. Because when I dug into it. Well, how do you know you're going to get the best candidate? And the way you disposition the match is you ask a recruiter, what if you match these three people or not? And they tell you and then you say, well, they should match, but by definition, you have an unconscious bias in that process. OK, so we haven't deployed any magic. OK, and so. We apply it to what I'll say, structured mechanical decisions, but not on who to match to a job. And so I just highlight that because I think a lot of the way that I get deployed is the way I just described it. I'm not saying all of it does, but a lot of aid gets deployed. But how do I dispose of a human judgment? So when you're using it to make decisions about humans, you really got to be careful of the unconscious bias that comes in from unintended consequences what I'm saying.

Frida Polli And actually, can I just rip off of that? Because there's also a question saying, how do you counter bias in hiring? So, I mean, I can speak to some of the practices we use and we've seen other issues. So the first thing that you're talking about, you're absolutely right. To some extent, you are mirroring Human Decision-Making. Now, I don't think all human decision-making is bad. I just think parts of it are bad. Right. It's a little bit like system one and two. Thinking the system one thinks is the unconscious bias. System two, is sort of a less thoughtful part, more so. So how do you mitigate bias in algorithms, given what you just said? So I think the first thing and we do about this and other platforms is you look for proxy variables in your data, right? So what that means is that whatever data you're using to make the prediction, if one of one or more of your variables is tightly correlated with race or gender, you have a problem, right? It's very challenging to then use that data in your algorithm. And so that's one thing that pemetrexed solves by you. Don't look at resumes. We look at what we call soft skills, cognitive, social, and emotional aptitudes. And they don't have they don't it's not like I have no proxy variables. They have very few. And they're very small, not very correlated as opposed to a lot of resume data is it's rife with proxy variables because women play different sports during different organizations. So do people of color. I mean, all right, that is a huge thing. You have to interrogate your data, look at it, look at, are there proxy hurdles and try to eliminate that as much as possible. And then the second piece is you can actually test. I mean, this is what's great about algorithms. If you build them this way, unlike human decisions, you can actually test your algorithm and say, are you discriminating? Do you have statistical differences in your match rates for different people? Right. And so we took the position early on that we were not going to release any algorithms that didn't have statistical parity between groups. Right. And again, that's pretty unique. Not many folks are doing that. I think that's unwise to be doing that. But that's the other way. Unlike you, unleash Frida Polli on society and you cannot test my brain when not only that, you can't fix my brain. Even if you determine it's not, you know, treating people fairly, you can't be like, oh, let's just get in there with a scalpel and do something about it. So those are the two ways that we and others, I think, are very creating sort of what we call fairness, optimized artificial intelligence. Those are two critical components.

Aassia Haq So, Mandy, do you have any components of AI or other kinds of algorithmic pieces to how your listening platform works for employee well-being? I'm really curious about how tech fits into your solution.

Mandy Prince Yeah, so a lot of our assessments that we do with the employees, we do have natural language processing and some other things that we've built into to really get a better sense of what's going on with the employees with respect to their opportunities exist and lived experiences. They're within the workplace. One of the things that are really important, especially with underrepresented groups, right, is that we're able to kind of bubble that to the top. And unfortunately, sometimes people are not just aggregating the data in a way where they can really understand what's going on. And so we view the work that we're doing, especially those long-term feedback loops where we're providing that safe way is critical to ensure that individuals that may be the only in their workplace. Right. Or have such low numbers are able to really express what's going on and so that we can identify the obstacles that they're having throughout the employee lifecycle so that we can help the organizations really address those from a systems-based approach. And so, again, we think it's both critical that we have to look at the systems. We have to create a way for employees to provide that feedback. So we actually know the true challenges that exist, because a lot of the times we're guessing, we're guessing what we think are the challenges when we really need to be looking at the data to tell us where the challenges exist for the employees and using that to drive our strategy and the recommendations that we advise the companies to change within their systems, in the structures and the policies and the culture of the organization as well, in order to ensure that they're creating that inclusive and equitable work environment.

Aassia Haq That's fascinating, and I think it kind of leads into an issue that is one that we've talked about a lot inside MBO as we think about the broader community that we serve. Miles mentioned this, that there's your court employee base and then there are all those people that you interact with. And for MBO, that's a massive community of providers. There are these individual business owners. And so when we talk about well-being, we take a really broad view, sort of workforce well-being that I think goes beyond maybe what companies have traditionally measured for. So they've measured for employee well-being. But in fact, there's a multiple set of stakeholders that they interact with. And in our data through the state of Independence that McClain mentioned at the beginning of this webinar, we have been tracking independent work for more than 10 years. And our data shows that one in two of the members of our workforce will be outside of the traditional roles of an employer, but be a contributor either as an owner or a freelancer in the very near future. If not, we're not already quite close to that turning point. So how do we measure well-being in this kind of an extended workforce? And what do you each feel? And the question is for each of you, is the right methodology to have that belonging game as you measure in a broader way?

Frida Polli And I speak first because I am not an expert. Therefore, what I'm going to say on this is I have no idea. And I would love to learn from people that are experts because in many I'm looking at you because I think it's a great point. And that's not a subject we have any expertise in. So I'd love to learn from others who will play.

Mandy Prince Yeah, no. So we do measure inclusion and belonging within our platform. That's one of the things we do when we and inclusion and belonging. Do we have to hear that from the employees? Right. So when we look at equity, we can look at more systems. Right. Because we can do systems that are equitable, but that comes from employees. And that's where we talk about where a lot of the annual engagement surveys really miss the mark. Right. As far as really knowing which questions to ask, really understanding how to diagnose these issues.

Mandy Prince And so when we talk about diversity and inclusion and well-being as part of that, you could not feel included if you do not have psychological safety if you do not feel like you belong within the organization if you do not feel that you are valued. And so all of those things are very important and definitely go into creating inclusion in that atmosphere of psychological belonging and safety within our organization. So that is something absolutely we look at and work with, with organizations and measure and assess and we measure and assess it not just in a broad-based say. This is what we see within your organization in order for any of these things to be implemented and to be taken out of the idea that this is only our shop. We have metrics that help to track this within the division's department, who people are reporting to so that ownership can be taken by those respective individuals and they have metrics that they can work against.

Frida Polli And can you give an example of some questions or surveys or whatever you've developed to measure to get at that inclusion and psychological safety? I'm just curious.

Mandy Prince I have to try to think off the top of my head. I mean, we have over two hundred and fifty questions that roll up into these various categories. So there's many, many things that we look at where we're measuring inclusion of.

Miles Everson So I'm going to be less sophisticated than manly. But early on in my career, I was fortunate to come across the founder of Select Research Institute, which ultimately bought Gallup. So everyone thinks Gallup is a polling company. They actually have massive amounts of data on human behavior. And so I was fortunate to talk to a gentleman, Don Clifton, who was the founder, and he gave me advice and he said. You'll be more successful, Miles, if you always think of the inverse question to what everybody else is asking in the room. You said, for example. People do exit surveys and they ask people why they are leaving. Because we focused on asking people why they stay. And the number one reason that people will stay at a company is not complicated. It's because they have friends, it's not about pay. And so today we're calling it inclusion this twenty-five years ago, we're calling it inclusion. But he said if you look around with the people you're working with, see who has a friend and who doesn't. And I'm telling you, the people that don't have friends will leave. And it's very basic, but it's also just over my 30 years is right, if there's a lot of merit in his statement. And then to switch gears. Maybe it relates more to the last question, Aasia, but most companies will talk about. DEI. But one of the first things they do when they hire employees is they put training in place, practices in place, et cetera. to make the employee base more homogeneous. They give them training on methods, they give them training on the policy on the way. In other words. I would submit that there's not enough celebration and encouragement of being heterogeneous. Because diversity, inclusion is not that I have to be like Mandy and Frida or that they need to be like me, it's that we're embracing and celebrating the differences that we have and we leverage them to our advantage. And I think some of the systems and companies are trying to drive out the heterogeneous nature of people and make them more homogeneous. And so that's something that can systematically be addressed as well.

Aassia Haq That's a really thoughtful point, and it kind of leads me to this conversation I know we've had repeatedly inside MBO given that we deal with individuals that are creating project-based outcomes, which is the thing that you can measure that is unbiased is the outcome. Right. How you get there is where the biases sort of come into it. Meaning? OK, you're only allowed to arrive at this outcome using these three methods that I feel comfortable with as a manager, which is where the heterogeneity versus homogenous approach comes in. If we were to remove that set of assumptions about how you receive the outcome and say, you know, it really doesn't matter how you receive the outcome, as long as the outcome is something that is good for business, good for the company, we shouldn't care how you got there. Right. And that then allows a lot of different contributors to come to the table. And I know Friday you and I talked about this in our podcast on state of Independence, and I was fascinated with some of the science behind how you do this, which is really the gamification of how you discover who's going to be successful. Right. And when you don't have a bias to what is the person's name, what is the color of their skin, where did they go to school, you could suddenly find that somebody is a perfect fit for a business challenge, that you would have never picked them for a little bit about that.

Frida Polli Yeah. And I think you're just talking about the value of soft skills. Right. So I think soft skills being sort of social, emotional, and cognitive aspects of human beings that I think historically we've thought of them as sort of intangible and not being able to be measured. And I think modern science says, no, that's not true. We can measure them. They are objective data points that you can use. And I think, you know, really allows people to understand their workforce holistically. I think that unfortunately because a resume is so easy to produce or now LinkedIn or whatever, you know, we've really over-indexed on that. And again, that's a backward-facing document. Doesn't tell you anything about what some of these potentials is, what they could do in the future. And again, as we've mentioned before, unfortunately, resumes are rife with proxy variables versus soft skills are equally distributed. Right. I mean, men and women have the same soft of profile people of different racial groups. So I think that and to your point, it helps people discover things they would have never known otherwise. Right. We have this great case study coming out of some reskilling work that we're doing with the state of Ohio, where there was a woman who had been sorting a customer in sort of live events, customer service for a long time, not even customer service. The sort of beverage standard kind of thing became homeless because of the pandemic, as the mother of two went through a reskilling platform that the first step was pediatrics and got recommended for her in health care. And now she's successfully employed in that career. Even though she had no experience, I had never sort of crossed her mind. That's something that she could do. But that just goes to show that if you're using something that is an equitable measurement system, and it will forward in its future-facing you can discover so much about individuals that you wouldn't know otherwise. And that's really powerful.

Aassia Haq That's a great story. And I enjoyed hearing that story when we kind of went into it earlier on the podcast. So we're about ten minutes out from where we're going to sort of start to wrap up. I know both of you are busy founders that need to get to your next customer meeting. And I love that you celebrate the fact that you're both such successful young mothers and female founders. I mean, as somebody who's launched a startup or two in the past myself, I really believe that that's very important to change. But I do want to leave sometime. I bet you that they're going to be some really interesting questions from our audience. And we have an audience very diverse, a lot of people within this biodiversity landscape, C-suite executives, those that run workforce transformation programs. I'd love to give them a chance to pose questions to you and McLean, if there's any that we want to address. Would love to hear them.

McLean Robbins Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you, ladies, both and Miles, of course, for your insights today. This has been really, really illuminating. So we do have one intro question here that I want to tap. We touched on it a little bit, but you guys have mentioned the data and I'm going to read the whole question because I think it offers some context. The question reads "Employees from marginalized communities are often hired at lower salaries and then given lower paybacks. Money in salary is often considered an impolite discussion. But it's the lack of discussion that perpetuates discrimination. So the speaker is curious as to how you use salary and pay data to ensure equity and parity within your organizations, and then asks, do you set goals for transparency in this area?" So I would like to posit that both Mandy and Frida and Miles, I ask you to weigh in. We're talking about how we can think about this in the contingent workforce. So Mandy, you want to get started?

Mandy Prince Yes, sure, I know when we were speaking earlier about some examples, right. This is another one that we flag when we're doing the systems assessments of not only not basing salary off someone's previous salary history, but we also flag disclosing pay payments. Right. Usually, folks have different kinds of plans within the director level, senior VP or as far as what is the pay range for these different job descriptions. And that's something that we tell folks and organizations that we're working with that should be disclosed, because as the person that posed the question and noted if you don't know. Right. What the pay range is, how do you know if you are outside and if you're not being paid fairly? So this is one of the system's based recommendations that we also make is that these things should be disclosed. Right. You're not disclosing or giving up someone's private salary information. You're just saying this is the range for people within this position, this kind of level within the organization. This is what their pay is. Now, I know the question also asked internally, like what are we doing within our organizations? And we do. We have very clear guidelines on not only just equity compensation. Right. But with monetary compensation as well to ensure that the equity and the monetary compensation we're playing, paying folks is fair and that we're not creating these pay disparities. So I'll turn it over to Frida. But yes, we do recommend that all organizations disclose this information for the payments and to set goals as well. 

Frida Polli I don't really have anything to add. We do have similar practices, and I think those are best practices. 

McLean Robbins Excellent. Thank you to both, Miles, do you have anything you'd like to add to this one? 

McLean Robbins Miles, you're on mute.

Miles Everson Oh, that was so good. Now I said I don't have a lot of what we recently went to pay bands at MBO. Right. And so our next step is to disclose those to the employee base and then use those, obviously in the hiring process. But, you know, I will say that we're not really a large company. It takes a lot of thoughtful processes to come up with the pay bands because we also want those pay bands to mean something can be done. Right. So I'm a big supporter of that. It came from a place where we were maniacal about it. And so I support that. And I think as it relates to the independents because that's what you're asking about as well. Yeah, you know, the way that we're contributing to it with independents is there's transparency basically on the pay for the job before anyone says they're interested in pursuing it. And that's regardless of any kind of race or gender, any other assessment of the person. So I think the independent workforce, just the way it's structured and working on a platform like that, the platforms create transparency and that transparency is good for everyone involved.

Aassia Haq Thank you so much.

Mandy Prince Can I just say one other thing, because the question also talked about impoliteness, right? And I know that we sometimes hear this kind of fallacy that women don't negotiate, which is not true. Right. There's been so much room for such women to negotiate when it comes to salary, but women are penalized in a way that men are when they negotiate their salary. So I think it's so important, again, that we have these best practices and systems in place so that we can guard against the, again, human bias that enters into the system.

McLean Robbins Excellent. So the last question is a quick lightning round, which it would be for each of you, what is one actionable thing that people can do on the phone today to make an impact as it relates to initiatives either existing or, hopefully to be soon in place at their own company? And I'm going to start with you, Frida. You're on the far under my script.

Frida Polli Sure. Just get data, whatever question you have. If you don't have the data, it's going to be really, really hard to have an answer.

McLean Robbins Thank you, Mandy?

Mandy Prince I would say to be courageous, so many people are free to get the data, as Frida said, to really understand what's going on, and I would encourage people to be more courageous with respect to these issues. These issues exist within your workplace, whether you want to delve into them or not. And so I think it's so much more important to really understand what's going on so you can solve the issues and get ahead of them as opposed to, kind of continue to, kind of walk in the mind frame of this doesn't exist or I don't want to I don't really want to bring these issues to the forefront.

McLean Robbins And I really love your point about going beyond simply doing unconscious bias training. I think you guys are both hitting hard on solutions that feel more actionable. What about yourself, Miles?

Miles Everson So I won't repeat the data point to incremental ones. One is what I talked about earlier is identifying the incremental, very specific steps you can take that are granular in terms of seeing observability because I think as company leaders, you need that to hit the second point, which is it? You need to be authentic and genuine in what you're doing here. And the platitudes at the top actually can serve a disservice if you're not executing in your own authentic way. And the authenticity starts with each of us individually not telling a bunch of other people to be authentic. And so start with thyself. 

McLean Robbins Very good piece of advice, Aassia anything you'd like to add before we wrap?

Aassia Haq Absolutely. So certainly a question close to my heart as I've been working with Miles and the broader team at MBO. We have so many people inside our company with such a heart for doing something good. And I truly appreciate that, that a group of people have come together of all backgrounds, all genders, all races to try kind of make change. And I think what we've learned is that, one, you need to be comfortable getting a little uncomfortable as you identify champions. And it was uncomfortable for me to step forward to try to start a conversation. It's risky, right? Where you move outside of your comfort zone. It's not my job title. I don't run DEI for MBO. I am a vice president of marketing. And my core job is just to do great work for our talent. But I heard something and I appreciated that the organization sponsored that journey as first and foremost a listening journey with our clients. We did not come forward with a packaged solution. We came forward with an opportunity and a challenge that they could participate in, and we've been learning from them ever since. So we've sat down with many of our enterprise clients and we've just listened to what they're struggling with. OK, what do I think about this? What can I do differently? How can I measure? And I think that is the humbling part of this is what you learn when you start listening to the market. And that is one of the reasons I was so excited to invite both of you to this conversation because it just increases how we listen and learn from each other. And the second thing is to get uncomfortable. The concept of data is at the center of this, get uncomfortable with or get comfortable with sharing out uncomfortable data. So if we have discovered something that isn't where we want to be ten years from now, that's OK. Share it out and sort of ask your community why. Why, for example, is it hard for an independent business owner to be successful with a large firm? We actually learned very quickly the answer, which is it's really hard to get certified as a sole supplier, and that's something MBO can do something about. We're experts at getting individuals to go work with very large firms. It's a problem we could solve, but we first got to understand that that was the problem. And so I think that is what I would leave us with, which is we continue to really listen to our constituents and then come forward with something that is something we're good at. Right. So not platitudes Jamal's point, but something we can actually do with technology at scale to make a change. So thank you, MacLane, for putting this together. It sounds great.

McLean Robbins Of course. Well, thank you, Mandy. Thank you, Frida. Thank you, Miles, Aasia for joining us today. Everybody, I hope you enjoyed the panel. We will send out the recording afterward, and please do join us in April on April 8 for our panel on direct sourcing in the future of work, which will be our next topic coming up. Have a wonderful afternoon, everyone.

Aassia Haq Thanks, everyone.