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Workplace Inclusion

U.S. Department of Commerce Presents Guest Speaker - Dr. Wingfield

On March 19, 2024, DOC hosted the first session of the Safe & Inclusive Workplace Campaign with Guest Speaker, Dr. Adia Harvey Wingfield. The March session focused on workplace inclusion and psychological safety. This video features an interview with special guest speaker, leading sociologist and award-winning author, Adia Harvey Wingfield, Ph.D., Vice Dean of Faculty Development and Diversity and Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor of Arts & Sciences Washington University, St Louis. Professor Wingfield shared her research and data on how the intersections of race, gender, and class affect social processes at work. Wingfield offered actionable solutions leaders, supervisors, and employees can take to create a truly inclusive work environment. Junish Arora, Chief, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, served as the moderator..

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    I'll continue getting us going. My name is Jessica  Francis and I am a DEIA program analyst within the  


    Office of Civil Rights. Thank you for taking  time out of your busy schedules to join us for   today's program hosted by the Office of Civil  Rights. Today's program is the first in the  


    lunch and learn series for the safe and Inclusive  Workplace campaign, and will focus on creating  


    psychological safety and building inclusion  in the workplace to kick off our program,  


    we have opening remarks provided by Larry J. Beat  the director of the Office of Civil Rights, Larry.


    Thank you, Jessica, and good afternoon  to everybody. I hear people jumping on.  This is great. So as Jessica mentioned, my name is  Jerry Beat and I'm the Director for the Office of  


    Civil Rights at the US Department of Commerce. My  pronouns are he and him, so thank you for joining  


    us today for the first deep dive, as I like to  say lunch and learn session, which is part of  


    our the department's Safe and Inclusive Workplace  campaign, which we kicked off in January with a  


    panel discussion featuring all the departmental  offices who play a role in creating a safe and  


    inclusive work environment for our employees. With  the rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in our  


    country, OCR decided to launch this campaign  to affirm our commitment to DEIA or diversity,  


    equity, inclusion and accessibility, and to  ensure our to help ensure our employees, uh,  


    that we are taking steps to keep them safe and  that they feel safe and included and feel like  


    they belong here at the Department of Commerce.  Whether they work in the Herbert C Hoover Building   in Washington, DC, or whether they work at a  Weather Service forecast office in Billings,  


    Mt or Anchorage, AK, today, we kick off the first  of these deep dives into the elements that make  


    up a safe and inclusive workplace. You will hear  from esteemed Professor Adia Harvey Wingfield,  


    PHD from the University of Washington University  in Saint Louis, who has a lot to say about  


    psychological safety, and particularly its  importance to the wellbeing and success of African  


    Americans and other employees from underserved  communities. Psychological safety means people  


    feel free to speak up, challenge other ideas,  take risks and admit mistakes without fear of  


    repercussions. To be clear, psychological safety  isn't always about feeling comfortable. It's  


    about embracing discomfort and feeling supported  when taking risks. Trust is also the antecedent  


    to psychological safety. Our interview with  Doctor Winfield is a great place to start.  


    Our monthly discussions at build building a safe  and inclusive workplace. I believe within Doctor  


    Wingfield's research there is a treasure trove of  promising practices that are born out of the lived  


    experiences of African Americans in the workplace.  I also think a research shows just how important  


    psychological safety is in creating a work  environment that is inclusive and where everybody  


    feels valued, feel they belong, productive and  they're in a place where they can be authentic  


    and bring their full selves to work. Plus, the  stories about the lived experiences of African  


    Americans spotlighted in Doctor Wingfield's  research is that's rich and insightful and can  


    help point to us at the department help point us  in the right direction. And now I would like to  


    turn the virtual podium over to Monique Dismuke,  the Departments Disability Employment Program  


    manager and our Black Employment Program Manager.  Through Monique and her partner, the Employee  


    Resources Group Group, B-Bold, today's interview  with Doctor Wingfield is possible. So Monique,  


    over to you. Thank you, Jerry. Thank you  so much. So I wanna take a moment just to  


    introduce the participants in this session today  and our moderator is Mr Junish Aurora. Junish is  


    the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion  officer here at the Department of Commerce. 


    In this capacity, he promotes DEIA in the  department's externally focused mission   areas and service delivery, including supporting  outreach to historically underserved communities,  


    and develops and implements an internal DEIA  strategy to fully integrate and sustain DEIA.  


    And that belongs within the agency's workforce. Junish will have the opportunity to lead the  


    discussion with Doctor Adia Harvey Wingfield,  who is the Mary Tilston Hamway Professor of Arts  


    and Sciences at Washington University in Saint  Louis, where she's also Vice Dean for Faculty  


    Development and Diversity and Co Director of  the Program for Public Scholarship. Her research  


    examines how and why racial and gender inequality  persist in professional occupations, and has been  


    published in numerous peer reviewed journals  journals, including annual review of sociology,  


    the American Journal of Sociology, and American,  the American Sociological Review In addition to  


    her academic scholarship, Professor Wingfield  contributes regularly to mainstream outlets,   including Slate, the Atlantic Box, and Harvard  Business Review. She is the recipient of multiple  


    awards, including the 2013 Richard A Lester Award  from Princeton University for her book No More  


    Invisible Man, Race and Gender and Men's Work. The  2018 Public Understanding of Sociology Award from  


    the American Sociological Association and the 2019  C Wright Mills Award from the Society, from the  


    Study of Social Problems for her book flatlining,  Race Work and Healthcare In A New Economy and 2023  


    she was elected the 116th President President  of the American Sociological Association. It  


    is my pleasure to turn the program over now to  doctor to Mr. Junish Arora and Doctor Wingfield.


    Thank you, Monique. And I have not yet seen  Doctor Wingfield on camera. Here she is.


    Good afternoon, Doctor Wingfield, and thank you  for joining us as we launch the Department of  


    Commerce Safe and Inclusive Workplace Campaign.  We're really honored to have such an esteemed  


    scholar and speaker such as yourself provide us  with really a launching pad for this campaign and  


    the opportunity to talk about the importance  of psychological safety in the workplace. We  


    have a great turn out out today. We have about 130  participants, so I'm really excited to have this,  


    this audience for you. Thanks. It's great to be  here. OK. Alright, so why don't we get started?  


    The title of your your latest book and you've  written a number of books, but the the latest book   is called Gray Areas, it’s a really intriguing  title. What exactly do you mean by Gray areas?  


    Right. So when I write about gray areas, I'm  referring to the social, cultural, and relational   parts of work. These are the parts of work that  are not formally identified but still matter for  


    how we get our jobs done. So for instance, my  job as a college professor requires research,   teaching, and service, and these are all spelled  out in my contract. So it's pretty clear, but what  


    my contract doesn't specify is that if I want to  know about opportunities for fellowships or grants   or awards, I have to have the social connections.  Umm. Wherein people pass on that information and  


    are willing to write recommendation letters for  me. My contract doesn't state that if I want to   make sure that I fit in at work, I have to  understand the organizational culture here  


    at my university, and I have to avoid behaviors  or actions that would violate it. Nothing in my   contract specifically indicates that if I want  to advance, I need to develop relationships with  


    mentors and sponsors. Who can aid in that process?  But all of these are central parts of how we work   today. And because they are amorphous, undefined  and unregulated. In other words, gray areas. They  


    are the parts of work that can easily exacerbate  racial inequalities. OK, so they’re they’re,  


    as you said, amorphous, undefined, unregulated  kind of the the social cultural relation will part  


    of works the the informal networks that this and  sometimes they hidden networks it intriguing. Yes.  


    So I I think 1 aspect about your research I I find  so interesting as as a sociologist is just how you  


    conducted over 200 interviews with people over  the last couple of decades for your work, you  


    really rely heavily on on qualitative data. How  do you find the people that you interviewed? How  


    did you decide like who you're gonna, you know,  include in your book. Like what? What are your  


    selection criteria? Sure, I have found respondents  through a range of approaches. So sometimes I've  


    used a strategy called snowball sampling, which  is when you ask respondents to refer you to others   who might be interested in participating in your  study. Umm. This approach does risk skewing our  


    sample with similar respondents, but it can  also be helpful in finding underrepresented   populations, and that makes this approach very  valuable for me, given the groups that I study.  


    Black professional workers are significantly  underrepresented in many occupations. OK. I also   use professional associations, alumni associations  and sometimes even cold calling to determine which  


    narratives I would include in the book. Umm. I  thought a lot about which stories I wanted to   tell and how they showcased larger issues. So for  example, I wanted to use Constance, the professor  


    of chemical engineering to be able to highlight  how black women in STEM face specific challenges.  


    Alex, another person in the book who's currently  making ends meet by driving for Uber Eats,   is important to hear from because contract  work of this kind is becoming increasingly  


    common. And then there's Darren, who is a success.  There's Darren, who's story is essential because  


    he represents sort of a success story. And what  it takes for companies to elevate workers like   him. And he's a vice president in the financial  industry. So each of these respondents represents  


    a narrative that tells a larger story about race  and work. Interesting. Interesting and typically,  


    how how long are these interviews out of  curiosity? It varies. They typically range  


    about an hour. There are some that will go a  little longer. I've had ones that have gone   up to almost 2 hours. An hour is pretty much the  average. It really just depends on the respondent  


    and how much information they would like to  share with me. So a lot of active listening.


    Yes, very much so. So you're at the Department  of Commerce, the the well-being, the inclusion,  


    the safety, and security of it's almost 50,000  employees is paramount. We launched the DOC Safe  


    and Inclusive Workplace campaign earlier in  January 2024 to really focus on the physical  


    safety and the psychological safety of  our employees. In your interviews with  


    African American professionals, did the topic of  psychological safety come up? Yes, it definitely  


    did, but not necessarily using those specific  words or that precise language. Mm-hmm. So for   example, Amalia is a journalist that I spoke to  and she spoke very eloquently about the ways that  


    success in her chosen fields came with significant  costs and elaborating. She described the mental  


    and emotional toll of being on the receiving end  of a barrage of racist hate mail and the struggle   of trying to manage the encroaching depression  under those circumstances. Additionally Constance,  


    who I mentioned before as a Professor of chemical  engineering and she talked openly about engaging   in what she described as a masquerade where  she concealed aspects of her life that she felt  


    would make her a spectacle. Among her mostly white  colleagues. So these details range from her taste   in music to her hobbies to her activities with  her family. And even though neither respondent  


    used the specific phrasing of psychological  safety, but they were talking about were the   ways that being black, and their work environments  led to feeling unsafe, conspicuous, and very  


    vulnerable. So this this notion of masquerade  goes to these African American professionals,  


    not necessarily bringing their authentic selves  to to work, and we often talk about the importance  


    of inclusion and and psychological safety, is  bringing that authenticity. But they these some  


    of these professionals are are literally finding  themselves wearing these these masks and sort of  


    engaging in this masquerade. Yes, I found that  to be the case for most of the respondents that   I interviewed to some to some degree or another, I  liken it to the famous poet Paul Laurence Dunbar's  


    poem where he starts it with. We wear the mask and  I found that's what a lot of the respondents are   doing. Yeah. And just some of the examples you  gave, I mean it they seem relatively innocuous,  


    like my taste in music or some of the hobbies.  Why would those need to be hidden and not shared?  


    Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up because I do  think that to some degree, in many workplaces,   it's not uncommon for workers to try to shape how  they come across in workspaces. Yeah. Yeah. The  


    challenge for black workers, though, is that they  are often engaged in this process of anticipatory  


    reacting. In other words, they are aware that  there are a broad variety of racial stereotypes  


    that delegitimize them in the eyes of their  colleagues, their supervisors, even their   clients. Being. Hmm. in some cases. That they are  aware that racial stereotypes of black people as  


    unintelligent, as unprofessional, as unqualified,  are very abundant. And so, in many cases, black  


    workers are aware of those stereotypes and they go  out of their way to try to make sure that they are   not engaging in any behaviors that fit into those  stereotypes. And that can mean trying to avoid  


    seemingly innocuous behaviors. For Constance It  might mean avoiding musical preferences if those  


    musical preferences seem to be too stereotypically  aligned with black people and black culture. Hmm.  


    Yeah. Umm. Not because there's anything wrong with  their musical preferences, but because that could   then activate stereotypes in her colleagues’ minds  that could then legitimately delegitimize her in  


    her career path. Umm. Interesting. So in a way,  they are, they're concerned that a it's a musical  


    preference could indicate a stereotype  which is linked to other kinds of racial   stereotypes that could negatively impact their  professional demeanor persona. Right, exactly.


    You mentioned in your book that you've been the  first black hire or tenured black professor,  


    in every department you've worked in. Here  in the department we're we're examining our   career development efforts and and gathering some  qualitative data from various groups within the  


    department. In your book, you mentioned that  African American employees are more likely to   stall out in those middle levels and rarely  progress to senior leadership positions. How  


    do you think you broke through that that glass  ceiling to achieve your professional goals for   advancement? So that's a great question. Well,  in the book I make the sarcastic comment that  


    clearly my personal charm had a lot to do with  it, but in reality I think there were several  


    factors at play. One, honestly, with serendipity.  Yeah. In my own case, I was willing and able to  


    move for an opportunity. Umm. My current job at  Wash U that became available at the right time,  


    and that certainly was a stepping stone to some  career mobility for me. Yeah. But the other has   to do with the organizational leadership here  at Wash U. I've benefited enormously from senior  


    administrators who acted on their commitment  to diversity. Yeah. They were, and still are,   determined to identify and eradicate the types  of common barriers that make it more difficult  


    for black workers to advance. Like I describe  in my book and my experience highlights how much   leadership matters and how much leaders who are  committed to diversity really make a difference in  


    creating organizations that reflect this principle  and create more opportunities. Thank you. Umm,  


    so you mentioned relocating as as one aspect  of of of your advancement.What was that like  


    for you? Was there a network that was there at at  Saint Louis or did you have kind of go into this,  


    this new environment with without that  network? So that's another great question   and it it's it's a point that I talk about in the  introduction to the second section of the book,  


    because I talk about how these Gray Areas in terms  of the networks and connections that we have are   really a critical part of how we find jobs in the  1st place. Yeah. Mm-hmm. And certainly for me,  


    that was definitely how I got here to Wash U.  Yeah. I didn't know anyone personally at the   university or even in Saint Louis when I applied,  but my father actually is a semi, at the time,  


    was semi-retired from academic work and so when  I told him that I was interested in the position,  


    I asked him if he knew anyone here and it turned  out that he knew someone who happened to be on the   search committee who referred me to the search  committee chair and mentioned that they might  


    want to take a look at my vita. Umm. Yeah. Umm  yeah. Yeah. I also knew several colleagues who   were willing to write really strong letters of  recommendation for me to make me a solid candidate  


    for here. Mm-hmm. So it's important to highlight  that I met all the qualifications for this  


    job. Yeah. I had the record on paper that made  me a good candidate for this position, but it's  


    not ever just that it's not ever just what's on  paper. Yeah. It is often these Gray Areas, these   social ties, these connections, these references  and networks that can make a make a determination  


    for who moves ahead in a job search process  and ultimately who is hired versus who is not.


    Yeah. And you also talked about the importance  of senior leadership commitment to diversity,  


    equity, inclusion and accessibility. Uh. Were  there certain demonstrable behaviors from from  


    senior leadership at at Wash U, that sort of  stand out. Yes, I think in my case I've been  


    very fortunate to be the beneficiary of various  sponsors at the university level and this is  


    the thing that again matters significantly in  workplaces. That is an area, The. Yes. this is one   of these Gray areas where disparities are often  present and black workers, the research shows,  


    are less likely to benefit from these types of  sponsorship and mentorship relationships that   can really move their career along. And my case,  I had several sponsors and have several sponsors  


    at the university who have recommended me for  leadership roles, who have seen potential that I   had for administrative work and made it a point to  advocate for me and to make sure that I knew about  


    opportunities in the university system that they  thought would be good at good fits for me. So the  


    leadership matters enormously in terms of these  types of informal networks, but it also matters  


    a lot when leaders are aware of the structural  challenges that can be present in workplaces  


    and when these leaders can put into place  evidence based data to address those types of challenges. Yeah. So you talked about sponsorship  and a lot of times people conflate sponsorship  


    with coaching and mentoring. Can you, what,  what did sponsorship mean to you or in the  


    context of the research that you did? Right. So the way that I I differentiate between  


    mentorship and sponsorship is that a mentor  is the person who can give you guidance and   information generally speaking about your  career. So in my case, as an academic,  


    a mentor would be the person that I would go to  and say, can you take a look at this article and   provide some feedback on it? Yeah. Or can you  tell me if it's a good idea for me to join this  


    committee or that committee at work and the mentor  gives information about those types of things,   but a sponsor is different. Sponsor is the person  who is often very highly placed in an organization  


    and is in meetings and conversations that you  don't have access to. Yeah. Umm. And so the   mentor is the person who says behind closed doors,  you know, we've got this important project coming  


    up. I want to recommend such and such for it. I  think that they could really shine. And so I've   been the beneficiary of both mentors and sponsors,  but sponsors have really been the people who have  


    tracked my role into administrative leadership  because they have been the people who have said   we have an opportunity coming up for someone to  serve in the Vice Dean role. Yeah. I think Adia  


    would really do well in that role or we have  the opportunity to start a new Programs for   Public Scholarship. I think Adia would be a good  Co-Director for that type of initiative and those  


    weren't things that those conversations were not  ones that I was a part of, but there were people   in those rooms that knew me and knew of my work  and believed in me and my work enough to feel that  


    I would be a good candidate for the positions that  I hold. Yeah. Umm. So these were the individuals,   these sponsors, that were empowering you behind  the scenes that had full faith and confidence and  


    trust in your your abilities. Right. Uh and newer?  Right, exactly. And this is also why I refer to,  


    sorry, go ahead. No, please. I was just gonna  say that this is again going back to this point   of these being Grey Areas, right, because those  types of relationships often emerge organically,  


    they may often emerge indirectly. Yeah. Mm-hmm.  Organizations can put into place policies to try  


    to highlight and address that and expand  sponsorship and mentorship opportunities   more broadly to a variety of workers.  But the way that they typically unfold  


    in organizations is that they simply just  happen, and when they simply just happen,   unfortunately, they can often happen  in ways that I don't include all


    workers. That's so interesting because we we often  think about organic relationships as as being more  


    natural as being. Right. More, you know, like  deeper and and and richer. But even with these  


    organic relationships, there could be some some  inherent biases. Right, it's true. And one of the  


    things that again we know from the research is  that we assume that organic relationships will   be deeper and richer. That's actually not always  the case. And the research does document that when  


    mentoring programs are a bit more formalized, and  when they are a bit more available to everybody,  


    people on both sides benefit from these mentoring  relationships in ways that they hadn't expected   because they form new relationships that they  would not otherwise have that then they realize  


    are actually really valuable and give them  opportunities to connect with people that   they otherwise would not have before. You know.  It's umm. Yeah. And it really has benefits across  


    the board. Yes, those relationships would have  the access to divergent, you know perspectives,  


    whereas an organic relationship might  be based more on similarity and similar  


    backgrounds. Yes. Similar hobbies.  Yes, precisely. Umm. In your book,  


    you look at lots of different African American  professionals from from different fields. I mean,  


    you look at academia such as the field you're in,  but you also look at medicine and film. Are there  


    certain takeaways you think apply to the audience  that we have right here, the federal sector? And I  


    believe we have almost 200 participants now. So  the audience has grown. But yeah, are there any  


    certain takeaways for the federal sector? Right. Yeah, I think that's a really interesting   question. One of the organizational cultures that  I described in the book is hierarchical culture,  


    and this is generally defined as when the  organizational norms are centered around adhering  


    to existing processes and rules, and my guess  would be that some federal institutions are more   akin to this culture than market based adhocracy,  or clan cultures, and those cultures are different  


    in that market based cultures prioritize  profits. Yeah. Adhocracy cultures prioritize   breaking rules and clan cultures prioritize  really close knit family feeling environments  


    respectively. Hmm, OK. So hierarchy cultures  may seem to be more equitable in that everyone   has held to the same standards and expectations.  But again, one of the potential issues here is  


    that when the standards are constructed without  consideration of how different workers will have   varied experiences in the workplace hierarchy  cultures can institutionalize expectations  


    that are more difficult for black employees to  achieve. Umm. So, for instance, a work setting in   the public sector, my mandate, for example, that  employees at a certain rank get to make decisions  


    about particular matters. But those mandates may  not take into consideration that black workers,   even those in leadership roles, commonly face  undermining and harassment from colleagues and  


    sometimes even subordinates that can make it  harder to execute tasks. So a hierarchical   work culture that is blind to this is inherently  going to produce some barriers for black workers,  


    even when they advance to top positions.  Yeah. Umm. And I think that this might   be an issue that could be particularly  pressing for some in the federal sector.


    Yes, a hierarchical culture within the the  federal sector. We certainly have a great  


    structure that's that's that's a ladder based.  Umm, we are often the largest federal agencies  


    are the Department of Defense and VA. So we  have a lot of leadership coming from those  


    organizations that are even more sort of  hierarchical. So you mentioned one culture,  


    advocacy. I don't Could you describe that term? I don't think most of us are familiar with that  


    sort of organizational culture. Sure, sure.  So the adhocracy culture I think of as one   that's more commonly found among startups or  newer, often flatter and smaller organizations,  


    and I described these as consistent with what  I believe was once the Facebook motto of Move  


    Fast and Break Things. Umm. That's OK. So  the idea behind that adhocracy culture is   finding new and unorthodox ways to do things.  Not necessarily being constrained by rules,  


    thinking outside of the box. A culture  that really rewards and encourages uh  


    divergent thinking and just a really  freewheeling type of type of place. 


    And to me, that's very much of a contrast  to the hierarchical culture where the   expectation is this is the hierarchy.  Yeah. These are the rules that we follow. 


    These are the norms that we follow. The culture  is that everybody needs to be on board with the   structured expectations. Adhocracy cultures are  kind of the opposite and they are much more.  


    Yeah. Broad and open in terms of expectations  that people are going to go their own way   and do their own thing as long as they produce  results. So certainly with with the bureaucracy,  


    there's sort of that built in hierarchy. Um,  did you find when you interviewed the the the  


    200 African American professionals for your book  that there there was a specific culture that was  


    that allowed them to succeed more so than another?  Whether the adhocracy, the hierarchy, the market  


    based, the clan based cultures? So that's a great  question. In the first section of the book, one   of the things that I spell out is how all four of  those cultures present varied challenges for black  


    workers, particularly if they are also steeped  in what we refer to in sociology as a color blind  


    ideology. And what that means specifically, is  that when these organizational cultures are also  


    grounded upon trying to make sure that there's  no mention of or discussion of or acknowledgement  


    of the reality of racial disparities, then that  creates inherent problems for these organizations  


    in terms of their success and opportunities to  be places where black Yeah. workers can thrive   because what that creates is kind of a silencing  effect where the challenge is like I describe in  


    the book, that black workers encounter. Umm. It's  very difficult for those to be aired. It's very   difficult for those to be resolved because the  organization is more focused on making sure that  


    those discussions and those conversations don't  happen rather than identifying those issues when   they are present and trying to resolve them.  Yeah. So it's not so much that any one of  


    those four cultures kind of really works per  se for black workers. Yeah. OK. It's more so   that each of them presents different challenges,  especially if they are undergirded by a colorblind


    orientation. Hmm. And and that that certainly  doesn't lend itself to psychological safety  


    if if these, if there's no discussion of race in  the workplace. No, uh, and it's sort of just just  


    silenced. Umm, now it it's really impressive.  Not only have you written like one book,  


    you've written several books over the years, and  again, congratulations on becoming the President   of the American Sociological Association. That  must be quite the uh, the the, that proverbial  


    feather in the cap. How do you come up with topics  and questions for what should be included in your  


    books? You know, actually these usually are  things that feed from the study that came  


    before it in in most cases. Yeah. So my first book  was called Doing Business with Duty Black Women,   Hair Salons and The Racial Enclave Economy. And  that book is actually based on my dissertation,  


    which was a study of black women entrepreneurs.  And when I finished that project and was finally  


    done, put my dissertation behind me, I knew I  wanted to think more about salaried workers and   the employment challenges that they faced as paid  workers. Yeah. And I was also really interested in  


    thinking about how race and gender affected  groups who hadn't been extensively studied,  


    and that actually led to a project that I did in  some work on black men in the nursing profession.   And my findings that unlike other men, in this  particular women dominated profession, black  


    men encountered blocked routes to advancement  that specifically resulted from their status as   black men. Umm. And this work is published in the  academic journal Gender and Society. Hmm. But once  


    that project was complete, I started thinking  OK, next question and I thought to myself,  


    what would I find if I looked at black men working  in male dominated professions like engineering or  


    law? Yeah. Umm. And those questions led to my book  No More Invisible Man, Race and Gender in Men's   Work. And that was where I found, among other  things, that black men in these professions are  


    actually more likely to champion women's progress  because they recognize the parallels between   women's experiences and the ones that they have  in these spaces. So as that project concluded,  


    I then started thinking more about bigger, more  systemic changes to how we work and the impact   that those broader changes were having on black  professionals. Hmm. And that was the impetus  


    behind Flatlining: Race Work In Healthcare In  The New Economy, which showed how organizations   engage in a process of racial outsourcing where  they tasked black professionals with the unpaid  


    labor of making organizations more accommodating  to communities of color. Hmm. So in each case,   what ends up happening is I finish a project and  then I think about what I didn't get to in that  


    project. Mm-hmm. I still had questions. Yeah. And  then those questions became the guide into the   next book and the next project. Hmm, talk about  a different sort of snowball effect, where one  


    project leads to another, and so this book. Yeah.  No Invisible Man: Race And Gender And Men's Work,  


    I think is interesting because you talk about men  as being allies to women because they recognize  


    some of the parallels between their experiences as  black male professionals and women's experiences  


    as professionals. Could you talk a little bit more  about what the allyship concept that you might   have seen that both are even in Gray matters?  Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So that was one of the  


    most interesting things that came out of No More  Invisible Man for me. And so what I found when I   so No More Invisible Man, focuses on black men in  four occupational categories as lawyers, doctors,  


    engineers and in the financial world. Umm. And  I wanted those fields because those are fields  


    that have a history of being more dominated by  white men. But where black men would be part  


    of the majority because of gender, Yeah. but in  the minority, because of race. And I was really   curious about just what that configuration looks  like and what that meant for different aspects of  


    their work experiences. You know. And so one of  the things that I found for these men was that  


    they often identified ways that being men gave  them some advance being men allowed them to fit  


    into those workplaces in certain ways. Hmm.  It provided fodder for talking about sports,   and it provided kind of an ease of comfort and  dealing with many of their other coworkers who  


    were men. Umm yeah. But they also realize that  there were still ways that they never fit in   completely. They still got excluded in certain  ways. Yeah. They still faced uphill battles and  


    not being taken seriously. They felt they had  less margin for error. They were always worried   about coming across as the angry black man, so to  speak. Umm. And what that meant was that they were  


    very attuned in many ways to the ways that women's  experiences often paralleled theirs, but because  


    they were able to fit in some ways with other men  more easily. Umm. Yeah. What a lot of men tried  


    to do was to create more opportunities for women,  and so they did that, either through mentoring,   they did that through trying to work in affinity  groups. There was this fantastic account that I  


    use in No More Invisible Man from an engineering  professor. Yeah. I still remember this to this   day and he told me that when he was designing  questions for tests exams he would say things  


    like suppose a biker wants to stop her bike  in the quickest amount of time. How does she   calculate the formula to do that? Or he would  give a test to his students and he would say,  


    OK, so this exam is going to separate the women  from the girls instead of saying the men from   the boys. And he said, you know, I might  have three women out of 100 in my class,  


    but the point is to make sure that they know  that they're included and that they know they   belong because I've seen firsthand how much  that matters for me as a black man in this  


    field. OK. Yeah. Umm.Yeah. Umm. So that's  one example, and there are many others,   but this type of approach really came from these  men being aware of the parallels between their  


    experiences and those of women, and to your  theme of psychological safety, and also came   from them wanting to make sure that they could  do as much as they could to instill a sense of  


    psychological safety in women who were in these  fields that they recognized could often be very   unwelcoming and very difficult to navigate because  women are so underrepresented in many of these


    occupations. Yeah. So they had had deep, deep  empathy in terms of being able to see the  


    parallel experiences. Umm this this other book  Flatlining: Race Work In Healthcare In The New  


    Economy,. So here you you're talking about um  black professionals getting tasked with unpaid  


    labor of making organizations more accommodating  to communities of color. Could you talk?,   What what exactly is that unpaid laborer? Yeah.  So Flatlining again, looks at multiple groups of  


    workers in healthcare. Black doctors, nurses,  physician assistants and technicians, and part  


    of the argument that I make there is that when  these workers are employed in facilities that say  


    that they want more diversity and that diversity  matters, but they don't devote the resources to   actually creating more diversity, what happens is  that in many cases, black professionals who are  


    already underrepresented do a lot of that work on  their own. Yeah. You know. They do not get credit   for it necessarily. Yeah. They do not get paid for  it, but organizations rely on them to do a lot of  


    this labor of making these organizational spaces  more available to communities of color. Umm. And   So what that looks like precisely in some cases  is that these workers may, if they're doctors,  


    may set up nonprofits, they may go out of their  way to be available as mentors or sponsors to not  


    just people who are already in the workplace,  but available to anybody who's interested in  


    healthcare. Hmm. Yeah. Career in healthcare when  it comes to nurses, they may go out of their   way to make sure that they are trying to change  systems that they see as adversely affecting black  


    patients and maximizing or exacerbating racial  health disparities. Thank. Yeah. When it comes   to technicians, they may also try to do a bit to  make sure that they are creating more conditions  


    of comfort for black patients. But ultimately what  I found writ large was that these black healthcare  


    workers are doing a lot of the diversity work  that organizations rely on, and they're doing  


    it on top of it, are already very demanding, very  time consuming jobs, right. Yeah.Umm. Yeah. And  


    they're essentially just taking on this  extra work because it matters to them.   And this extra work allows for organizations  to highlight how they are kind of taking the  


    statement and doing this work on diversity. Umm.  But the work is coming from a few individuals in  


    the organizational structure. Umm. The work is  not necessarily embedded in the organization's   practices. It's almost like a a tax on these these  employees and and and it isn't necessarily like,  


    you know, career enhancing like them doing this  unpaid labor. Is it necessarily gonna lead to a  


    promotion? Is it gonna lead to more opportunities?  No, and in many cases, it's quite the opposite,  


    especially if we were talking about doctors  who are again doing this very doing a very  


    time consuming job that is measured through  particular metrics that often don't include this  


    additional work. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. This doesn't  factor into their promotions or to their pay or  


    anything like that. They do it because they  believe in it, but they are also again doing   an additional amount of work that benefits the  organization without commensurate recognition or


    compensation. Mm-hmm. We we sometimes say, you  know, for diversity efforts to be effective,  


    everyone has to own, you know, diversity.  Yes. Everyone has to own DEIA, but I think  


    it's it's clear that certain people own it  more. Yes. Umm, the burden falls more to them,  


    More so on them than others, so it does go  to, you know, resources, adequate resource  


    allocation having, uh, you know, I'd say as  you said some perhaps some KPI, some measures  


    that account for that unpaid labor having that in  your performance plan you're starting, you know,   this nonprofit that's sort of written into some  of your programs, plan language or metrics.  


    Right. So you use research based storytelling  in in your book. Um here at the Department of  


    Commerce we are fortunate in that we have a wealth  of researchers, scientists, economists, engineers. 


    Can you talk about your approach to  collecting this qualitative data? Sure. 


    Uh, so the most common data collection  technique that I use is intensive,   semi structured interviews. And I like this  approach because it allows respondents to  


    define their experiences and their own terms.  And I find this really important when it comes   to talking with black professionals about their  work experiences and the ways that they believe  


    race shapes their occupational outcomes. But I  also like to couple this qualitative data with   broader statistical data that can give context  to respondents experiences. Umm. So for example,  


    we know as of most recent census data that  black Americans are 13% of the population.  


    But Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates that  black workers constitute only 5% of physicians,  


    5% of lawyers and 4% of engineers. And these  numbers numbers actually get worse the higher  


    we go up the corporate ladder. Black workers  are about 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs. They are  


    4% of the US Senate and to my knowledge they  are 0% of the CEOs of Wall Street banks. So  


    knowing this information helps to put  black workers experiences in context,   and it underscores just how isolated and  underrepresented they are. Yeah. Umm. And for me,  


    it prompts questions of why why those numbers look  that way and what experiences are for people who  


    are living those actual numbers. So wedding both  the qualitative and the quantitative. Umm. And  


    just just that that notion of of isolation in  in the workplace. Umm. In addition to the the  


    and and the underrepresentation.Uh, that wouldn't  lend itself to a psychologically safe environment.  


    It does not. There are reams of data that document  this. That those feelings of underrepresentation,  


    of being isolated, of being consistently  on guard of anticipating discriminatory  


    behavior. Yeah. None of those things are  conducive to psychological safety in the workplace. Umm, so professional isolation, since  we're talking about that a little bit that can,  


    it sounds like that can probably hinder some  career development and advancement. How can  


    allies of diverse talent provide support for  their colleagues, particularly those that  


    might feel isolated? Yes.Great question. Uh, so  I discussed this in a lot of depth in Gray Areas,  


    because one of the things I want is for people to  take away some specifics about what they can do.  


    And there are different approaches that people  can take depending on where they're situated   in the organization, right? So the leaders have  a different role and responsibility than entry  


    level workers, but in general I recommend three  steps. When it comes to hiring and getting a   job, Umm. I think allies can be a reference.Just  recommending workers of color for open positions  


    can go a long way towards reducing some of  the hiring disparities that persist in our   workplaces. Thank you. This is when it comes  to organizational culture, Umm. I think it's  


    really important for allies to speak up. They can  highlight the data that shows that diverse work   groups have a clear advantage, which underscores  why diversity itself is so important. And finally,  


    in the case of advancement, I recommend that  allies think about the ways that mentorship   and sponsorship like we talked about before,  are really critical for advancement, Yeah. and  


    widen the pool of those with whom they have  relationships. And there are other policies that   I recommend that organizations implement in the  book, but these are some of the things that you're  


    every day worker and layperson can do in pretty  much any company in any organization. Umm. Kind  


    of. So the you're the second recommendation  you had, highlighting the data that shows that  


    diverse work groups have a clear advantage. Can  you talk about that that data? Yeah.So with that,  


    data shows. Uh, mostly in for profit companies,  however, is that when we look at corporations  


    and companies that are more diverse, they are  better. Yeah. They have a higher market share   and they are better able to anticipate and to grow  than companies that are less diverse. And again,  


    this is data that's broadly indicative of the  private sector. But I think if we also look at  


    individual industries, for example, one of the  people that I interviewed in the book is Brian,   a film director. Umm. Yeah. And so I marshalled  some data to show that I even in that industry  


    in entertainment films that are more racially  diverse, actually tend to outperform expectations  


    and have higher market returns than do films that  are less diverse, particularly if these are films   that are more diverse both in front of and behind  the camera. Umm. Umm. So the data show that this  


    is true. Broadly speaking, in the private sector,  but they also show that in a number of different  


    industries, more diversity is an asset. It is a  boon and it helps for more workers to have access  


    to more ideas, more different types of thoughts  and more of a variety of strategies and approaches  


    that can help teams to perform better. Yeah. So  the business case for for diversity and inclusion,  


    excellent. Your your research also gives us  some some insights on how to improve hiring,  


    rethink organizational cultures and and  build pathways for leadership roles.   Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can you talk a little bit  more about some of those insightful practices  


    and and any specific recommendations you have for  employers to build safe and inclusive workplaces?  


    Sure. Yes. One of the exciting things about doing  research in this area is that we actually have   data that shows what works and what doesn't, when  it comes to to diversity. So we know, for example,  


    that companies that mandate diversity trainings  generally do not see commensurate improvement in  


    the numbers of underrepresented workers who are  in leadership roles. Yeah. And this is because   these mandated trainings often instill resentment  in white workers. And perhaps counterintuitively,  


    also instill mistrust among black workers.  Umm. So we do not recommend based on the data   mandating diversity trainings because they  just don't yield improvements in leadership  


    that they are supposed to. Instead,  companies that institute diversity Task forces (lost vocal quality) levels of the  organization actually do better at creating  


    different apps, yes. Ohh, doctor Wingfield. Do  you mind repeating that? I think you froze for a   second. Uh. I think you were on. Uh, talking about  diversity task forces? Yes, sorry about that. Oh,  


    no, no, it was just the tech. Umm. what I  was saying was that companies that institute  


    diversity task forces that include workers from  all levels of an organization actually do better  


    at yielding results. And the reason for this is  that these task forces are comprised of a variety  


    of workers, again from different levels of the  organization who can identify organizational pain   points. Umm. But perhaps more importantly, are  also given a mandate to come up with solutions. 


    So when these workers in a task force are  identifying internally challenges that are   present in the organization, but tasked with ways  to solve those challenges, that actually does a  


    much better job in moving the needle. Yeah. And  in addressing these issues. Companies can also  


    institute mentoring programs that are open to  all. You and I talked about this a bit already,   and some of the benefits of this approach is  that it eliminates potential biases that can  


    arise for invitation only mentoring approaches.  And companies can also create mentor team programs  


    where mentees are matched with a variety of  leaders across the organization and a benefit   of that, again, is that it widens these social  networks and gives more people more opportunities  


    to connect across the company. Hmm. Hmm. Yeah.  So a mentor team approach uh as opposed to one  


    on one mentorship relationship. The mentee  is matched with multiple mentors, so even  


    if one relationship doesn't necessarily click,  there are opportunities for other relationships   to bear fruit. Umm. And then, as you mentioned,  diversity task forces, so diversity councils. So  


    out of curiosity are there certain kinds of task  forces or diversity councils that are were more  


    successful than others? Right. I think the key  point for success for these task forces is one  


    for them to have the support of leadership and  for them to include workers who are coming from  


    a variety of levels in the organization who may  see things that people in other levels and other   places may not. Yeah. Yeah. So if the organizer,  if the task force is comprised entirely of mid  


    level workers, that's not necessarily ideal,  right? And. Yeah. Because they may not be as   aware of things that entry level workers  are experiencing, there may be challenges,  


    right? So having the supportive leadership, having  a mandate to identify change in resources is  


    really critical. But also having a task force that  pulls from all levels of the organization to make  


    sure it's broadly representative is really key.  Yes. Umm. Elevating the the voice of the employee,  


    the uh the entry level employee. Yes. But  then of course, having senior leadership   commitment to allocate for resources, to have  strategic vision and then the the mid level,  


    those supervisors are leading intact teams and  and building culture. Sure. Umm, as we are coming  


    to close just a couple more questions. So what  do you think were some of the most significant  


    overall lessons learned from from this research on  Gray Areas? Yeah.That's another great question. I  


    think one of the biggest lessons from Gray Areas  for me is how the barriers that present obstacles   for black workers are rarely due to individuals  explicit or openly expressed biases. There are  


    much more likely to be a result of structural  obstacles, such as an organizational culture   that doesn't take black workers experiences into  consideration, or advancement channels that rely  


    on relationships rather than transparent criteria,  or even hiring processes that favor those who are   already connected to the firm. We. But I hope a  major takeaway that readers have from this work  


    is that the processes that I'm describing here can  be changed in ways that she and create workplaces  


    to that allow companies to do a better job drawing  from the broad array of talent in our labor force,   and ultimately that benefits everyone when we all  have opportunities to come to jobs and to thrive  


    and to succeed without dealing with barriers  that may be present, even if those barriers  


    are not located in one individual's particular  bias. Yeah. So we're not talking about individual  


    actors as opposed to broad systems, structures,  processes, policies. Umm fortunately I here at  


    at the department and the federal sector, we we do  have a an Equal Employment Opportunity Management  


    Directive 715 process that does barrier analysis  that looks for some of these workplace anomalies  


    and triggers and then we have a Diversity,  Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Strategic  


    Plan thatlooks at the equity of those policies,  programs and practices. So where is this research  


    gonna take you next? Where is the snowball  gonna drift off to? Or do you already have   another research project lined up? I have some  projects that are going to be more in peer review  


    article form that I'm working on with some of the  graduate students at Wash U. Yeah. At this point,   I've not necessarily committing to the next  book. Yeah. At this point, I'm not sure yet  


    where that's going, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, that  this book was just released and I'm sure you  


    need some time to to regroup and think about the  the next great project in your queue. Um doctor  


    Wingfield do you have a time for any questions  from the audience? If you have a moment, OK,  


    so I think we'll open it up to questions  from the audience. Yes, absolutely. Sure.