Becoming Accidental DEI Experts: Challenges And Triumphs Of Effective Workplace Allyship with Jen O’Ryan

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

TAC Jen | Effective Workplace Allyship

 

Diversity and Inclusion are two important issues today, not just in the workplace but outside of it as well. So how do we develop effective workplace allyship? We answer this question and more as Robin Colucci interviews DEI Expert Jen O’Ryan. Jen discusses the need for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and how you can make a difference. Tune in and learn more from Jen and Robin.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here

Becoming Accidental DEI Experts: Challenges And Triumphs Of Effective Workplace Allyship with Jen O’Ryan

I have with us, Dr. Jen O’Ryan. She is an inclusion, diversity and equity strategist focused on helping people build authentically inclusive and welcoming companies. She brings a unique perspective to organizational change, combining a PhD in Human Behavior with many years of experience in leading global launches of new products as well as evaluating policy and consumer experiences. She understands the challenges leaders can face in developing a culture of inclusiveness for employees, clients and customers.

She is the author of Inclusive AF: A Field Guide for Accidental Diversity Experts that she published in 2020. This book is designed for anyone who is thinking about inclusion and diversity. It explains how to cultivate a more welcoming workplace. In this episode, we discuss not only the need for DEI initiatives but Jen also addresses some of the challenges of figuring out how to be an effective ally and she gives us some pointers on that. Relax and enjoy.

Jen, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much for having me.

I have been excited to speak with you. I’m going to jump right in because the burning question that I would love and I imagine for many of our readers would be a similar question is how did you come up with the label for yourself as the Accidental DEI Expert?

TAC Jen | Effective Workplace Allyship
Effective Workplace Allyship: Many people who work in inclusion, equity, and diversity got into it accidentally. They saw a need and a skill set they had, and they wanted to go out and change their part of the world.

 

It is a loving term of endearment and a term that’s fairly common in the tech industry. I spent the first twenty years of my career working primarily in tech, leading product launches and global initiatives. The accidental expert is always the person on the team who is good at research and a need will come up somebody that needs to learn how to use some coding language or something like that or needs to be a specialist in a visa issue.

That person will do some preliminary research and then, all of a sudden, becomes the expert accidentally on the subject. It’s the go-to person for everybody in the department. It was like, “I heard that you’re an expert.” I was like, “I am because I can Google search.” Honestly, a lot of the people I talk to who work in inclusion, equity and diversity got into it accidentally. They didn’t set out intentionally to do this. They saw a need and a skillset that they had. They wanted to go out and change their part of the world.

It helped me out also because I was looking at your book and it says Inclusive AF. I haven’t heard of what AF is. What is AF?

I do like to give readers plausible deniability that they can pretend that I thought field guide was two words. It’s Inclusive A Field Guide. It’s also slang for “as heck.” This is a working title of my book long before it was published. I was working on it in 2020. With everything going on, I was like, “We can’t be polite about this anymore. We have to be all-in on inclusion. We need to stop having these polite conversations about it and talk in real terms. That’s where we get to the meaningful change.”

I get it now. I was thinking, “Is it something like a play on AI since she is out of tech?” I was completely going in the wrong direction there.

One of the other things I picked up from tech is using profanity judiciously but sometimes like glitter.

It can work very nicely like that.

A field guide is a PG version.

How much do you invest in your research and development? That's how much you should be investing in your inclusion and diversity because it's not ever done. Click To Tweet

One of the reasons why I was so excited to have you on to talk about diversity and inclusion is because it’s something that has almost been somewhat on my radar. You probably heard of #PublishingPaidMe with Jesmyn Ward. That put it front and center for me. You can’t be in the publishing industry and not have a sense that it has not been thoroughly diversified. It’s not necessarily equitable.

There were some things that I learned through reading about #PublishingPaidMe, seeing the actual spreadsheet and some of the details. I was shocked at how much disparity there was. Do you find generally that when people start to look at the issue in their particular area, that there’s a similar experience? How do people generally respond when they first start to encounter this topic?

It’s oftentimes a lot of panic. It tends to be a very stark realization. It happens in a moment, for the most part, where somebody will realize that walking through the world the way that you look and appear changes drastically how your environment interacts with you and how you see yourself in the world. Honestly, it’s typically somebody who has never had to think about their ideas being diminished, talked over in a meeting, disregarded, assumed that you are the secretary or you are in marketing because of how you look.

It’s that sudden realization and that clicking of empathy. It’s like, “I can see how this person is experiencing the moment and that would have never happened to me because of the way I look.” Once you see that, you can’t unsee it. It can happen in big, powerful ways. It can happen in a workshop where you say, “Instead of using he or she, use they,” and then give them concrete examples of how that lands and then they are like, “It’s cringeworthy. We got to stop doing that.” That’s where we get some of the best accidental experts.

That’s the thing too because right behind the realization is that awareness, at least for me, of utter incompetence to feel like I could even talk about it without inadvertently stepping in it and then shoving a crap-covered foot right in my mouth. Talk to us a little bit about that because I have a feeling I’m not alone here.

It’s interesting because it follows similar change cycles. I liken it to the stages of grief. You have that realization and then you have that moment where you realize, “How many times have I done something horrible to somebody and made them feel this way, maybe less than or other without even knowing?” You go through that whole existential crisis.

The next stage is typically, “I want to pick up my shield and sword, go charge up the hill and make all of these wrongs right.” It’s not sustainable. Honestly, it can cause a lot of unintended harm to the population that they are trying to serve. You have to go through the process. Once you see it, you own it and own being part of the solution. That requires a lot of heavy work and a lot of being humble and humility and realizing that you don’t know what that lived experience is like.

Until you sit down and listen to what the problem is within that community and how you can address it, that’s where the magic happens. It’s when you sit down and learn how you can support rather than identifying a problem through your own world perspective what you think is a problem, going in and try to fix it where it gets difficult. That’s one of the reasons why those movements like that, #PublishingPaidMe is so effective because it resonates with people. It’s very clear and difficult to push back and say, “You’re being hysterical. You’re overreacting.”

There will always still be those people.

What you need is ambivalence. My favorite is the people who are ambivalent that have never had to think about it because those people we can have a conversation with. Once they see it, you hear them and respect them, it becomes a conversation and then you bring them slowly over.

I feel like that has to be a cultivated skillset even that to be able to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t want to see it necessarily, help them see it and then get them to the point where they could agree that maybe something needs to change.

That’s one of the reasons where publishing is a little bit more specific because it is so ingrained. We are so hung up on the rules of grammar, cohesive narrative and the way that a story is told. When we have something that disrupts that, people don’t know what to do with it. One of the reasons why it is important to amplify those voices and different stories that either is not told broadly or told through the lens of somebody who doesn’t have the lived experience.

Even the publishers that are recognizing that we need to amplify these underrepresented voices still have in their minds a limit like, “We’re already doing a book on injustice in this particular area. We have got that covered this year. Nobody ever says that about business books for White guys.” Everyone thought of those.

TAC Jen | Effective Workplace Allyship
Effective Workplace Allyship: You don’t gain any ground by telling somebody that everything they fundamentally believe is wrong.

 

We got to build bigger shelves for that. It’s definitely that because it seems like a favor. Whoever they should be published should just be, “I have been elevated to the status of everybody else.” You should not look at it that way. That is difficult too because it’s a scarcity mentality. I do so much work around the experience of gender and orientation. It’s not an erasure. We’re building a stage that’s big enough for everybody. That’s oftentimes how I have to position the work that I do with publishers around inclusive reading. You’re enhancing your message and making it available to a broader audience.

It’s interesting to me because I have worked across different industries in the I&D work. Some of the industries that, in my perspective, would be more conservative or slower to move as the financial wealth management industry are light years ahead largely because their clients are transitioning. Their clients have a kid or family member who is gender diverse and that builds that empathy. They come to them with questions and the industry has to adjust. I don’t know that that has landed as broadly with publishing as far as bringing in these different worldviews and different types of telling stories.

It’s interesting because publishing views itself as a vehicle for social change and it has been. Publishing views itself as helping to move the conversation forward and open our minds to new ideas. That’s something that the industry values. At the same time, I also have detected these arbitrary limitations in the minds of editors and publishers of how many books we can do on a particular issue.

The work that I have put together is is that for inclusion diversity experts? Is it for a healthy, functional workplace? There are a lot of different ways that that could be looked at. When we are looking at all these different voices, there is a tendency we put them into silos and strict categories where it’s like, “There is an underlying thread that is valuable for so many different people here.”

It’s not like the only readers are going to be the people who are impacted. There are a lot of people involved.

There are a lot of people that are being underrepresented because they don’t buy on a large internet bookselling reader platform. It’s publicly traded. We all know what I’m talking about. It’s interesting because it’s that ability to take in new information and ideas. That level of innovation is always going to be the differentiator between the more established, slow-to-move publishing houses and the smaller ones that can see that immediate lead potential.

In fairness to the Big Five, they all have moved more than they haven’t probably the 30 years prior. They have all employed different initiatives but they have all done something, which is encouraging. I can still see plenty of room for improvement, which I believe they probably can as well. Tell me a little bit more about your work and what role you play in helping to further diversity, equity and inclusion in the world and the workplace. Tell us more about what you do.

I started my company in 2016. It was because having spent so much time navigating the corporate space and learning how to figure out how to launch safely and effectively. I saw companies that were struggling with their I&D initiatives and getting a handle on how this isn’t a separate thing that lives in HR that is separate from our values and organizational health. They all go in together.

What I do is come in and help them get from that good aspirational goal or maybe they don’t even know where to start. Maybe it’s the level setting of, “What does diversity even mean to you as an individual human and as an organization?” I’m helping them align that, even if it’s a two-sentence narrative of what it is. From that, it builds out all the other places that I&D can be infused into the organization, which sounds like a lot of jargon and buzzwords.

Effectively, I&D isn’t a thing that lives on a shelf. It touches every single point in the life cycle of every employee, client, consumer and everybody. If you lose them at one stage along the way, you have lost them forever. It has to be part of that planning. A lot of it is coaching, counseling and educating but the underlying thing is, “How do we get your initiatives off the ground?” It’s not one program that you’re launched. It’s not a six-week unconscious bias course that executives are going to take and then it will work itself out.

How much do you invest in your research and development? That’s how much you should be investing in your I&D because it’s not ever done. That’s what I do. Your organization is a collection of humans whether it’s 8 or 80,000. They will organize themselves based on the written and unwritten rules that they see. That’s where you get the change.

You were saying if it falls down at one point, it’s going to completely fall down. Can you give us a good example of what that looks like?

My all-time favorite example was a new app that was being launched. Knowing how these schedules go, there’s a period of market research, proof of concept, beta testing, development, marketing, all the outreach and everything. All of this huge what must have been a 12 to 18-month initiative before it launched, there was one little tiny aspect of their app that had been outsourced to a third party. Part of the onboarding was the listing of gender. They had male, female and other.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal in the midst of all the storm of everything else that had happened but when I showed that to a client, I was like, “Here’s a snapshot of what your end-user sees that they are picking male, female or other.” Humans aren’t other. They are never others. No matter what your marketing slogan is or what you’re recruiting with all people, they can see that other and then roll their eyes. They swipe left or whatever it is they do with the app and they are going to move on with their life. You will never know. It’s all those tiny points.

Who would check the box, other? Nobody.

Things that are subtle and a little bit more insidious, in my opinion, where they have a women’s health icon will be a pregnant human with long flowing hair standing in a garden. That’s not women’s health. We could get into all the humans get pregnant and all the things but I will leave it at that. Those are two of my favorite examples. In the big picture of setting up your new health and wellness program for your employees, that little tiny icon isn’t even a blip on the radar but that’s what your end-users are going to see and that’s all they are going to see. It’s going to tell them everything they need to know about working with you.

When you say the end-user, we’re not just talking about the customers. We’re talking about your employees, team and potential partners. Everyone is going to see it.

There is no pressure but everybody is going to see that. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. This isn’t something that I have to review with people every single time. Once they see it, they will start looking for it. Once they start looking for it, it becomes very evident and then that changes their entire philosophy and strategy to go-to-market.

You must get pushbacks. What is the number one objection? There’s always got to be some eel in the organization, right?

Another reason that I called the book what I did is that it’s always, “That sounds expensive. That is the number one.” I’m like, “I bet it does. I bet that sounds horribly expensive. Do you know what else is expensive? Going out of business,” which they won’t necessarily. The other thing that I get is that, “We have got a DEI team and HR team. We’re on the West Coast and we all have it figured out. There is no problem.”

I’m like, “It’s never figured out. I don’t have it figured out.” Nobody has it figured out because it’s constantly changing and we’re dealing with humans. Humans are notoriously messy. If you take your thumb off the policy, you have lost it. Everybody likes change until it impacts them. The people who get it and the companies who say, “I don’t know what else to do here, let’s partner and develop something cool.” They see the change and value. That’s where people tend to go.

If you take your thumb off the policy, you have lost it. Everybody likes change until it impacts them. Click To Tweet

I wrote an article about why DE&I is good for publishing and I got a little pushback from some of my subscribers. I don’t even know if you ended up talking to people at this level. There was like, “They should start their own publishing company if they want to publish more of their books.” What would you say to that? I’m going to measure it in my mind about what I said without necessarily adding glitter.

If I was standing in a coffee shop and that occurred spontaneously, it would be a very different response to what you’re going to get now. That’s the thing too because you don’t gain any ground by telling somebody that everything they fundamentally believe is wrong. They don’t like that. It’s always a balance because my go-to is educating but it’s also coming from a place of curiosity. Oftentimes, if it’s a situation where I can ask them to talk more about it, it gets the process started because it’s an automatic response to dig in your heels and say, “I’m right.” Once you make it more conversational and they can talk about what it is they feel and why they feel that way then that opens up the door to say, “What is the core value of the organization? If it’s a publishing house, what are our core values? Amplifying new voices. Here’s how that ties in.” It’s making it more of a logical connection rather than an emotionally charged argument where a table gets flipped over or something like that.

What I find challenging is it’s not even necessarily talking to people in the publishing industry. It’s more of the people on the sidelines who have an opinion. It might be like, “They are not involved.” On the other hand, I feel like if there’s this pervasive attitude about efforts around diversity and inclusion that is either stated or unstated but definitely exists, how do we cope with that in this increasingly polarized society that we have? This is a sore point generally in our society. Give us a little bit more insight into that because I feel like that’s something that any of us are likely to encounter on any day of the week.

I always look at it like it’s a spectrum. On one end, we have the people who are advocates, champions and accidental diversity experts. They are 100% onboard. They are ready, educating and doing the work. I can geek out with those individuals all day long but that’s not going to get us any change. On the other end of that spectrum, there are people who are resistant either resistant to change or I&D for myriad reasons. They are unable to take in new information.

There’s a huge amount of people in the middle. Those ones in the middle, if we can create a place where people can express a different opinion and way of thinking, not to the point that it’s toxic and damaging. We all know those individuals. It’s not at that level but in an open discourse so I can have a conversation. I had an epiphany one time when I was at a coffee shop. I was talking to somebody that we had bonded over coffee. Our mutual love of coffee told a stranger.

All of a sudden, we were on completely different sides of every possible measurable aspect except coffee. He started getting a little tense and I realized I was like, “This person is experiencing me saying, how on Earth can you believe that?” I was looking back at them saying, “How on Earth could you believe that? It’s so obvious.” At that moment, I realized, “It’s everything we have ever been told since we were brought home from the hospital that shapes our understanding of what the truth is.” Once you connect in a human way and peel that back, it opens up the doors to more conversations.

When I say small incremental changes, I’m a huge fan of those. Small incremental doesn’t mean meaningful and not impactful. You can make small changes like opening up the door to somebody who might consider things differently in the future or might view something a different way. That’s where we get that gravitational pull and that societal change. Part of that has to be that we have representation.

It’s like marriage equality. When marriage equality first became a thing, California got so much publicity and generalization was forthcoming. Generally speaking, that was the first real exposure. The LGBTQ+ community is largely closeted. That could have been the first time they saw gay couples getting married and it wasn’t something scandalous. It was, “Bob from the marketing department is marrying his partner of 30 years. They want to file taxes together and be there until the end.”

It changed for a lot of people what that looked like and what it felt like and it wasn’t scary anymore. Those are the conversations and that’s the approach I try to take. It’s not 100%. I have my moments and I can be blindsided. I have my own limitations as well. That’s why I say this is part of the journey and nobody has got it figured out.

You’re right that may be a big factor in not expecting someone to completely do a 180 in one conversation and to recognize that it’s a process of peeling back the different layers and inviting someone to think differently about even a little thing that is a tiny piece of the picture. It’s not even suggesting that they think differently but to share a different perspective.

Oftentimes, how that happens as a series of events that leads up to that is somebody who has access that somebody else doesn’t. That person with the access stands up and says, “What you’re saying is not okay,” and doing something about it at the moment. The balance there is making sure that they aren’t doing something that is going to put somebody else at harm later down the road, standing up when you see somebody who is being dismissed or talked over and interrupting at the moment if you have access to that.

We are very much of a tendency. If you look like me, you probably think like me. I’m curious to see if you have similar experiences that I have. People say horribly offensive things to me in an airport or a movie theater because they are like, “You look like me. You must think like me.” I’m like, “How are you saying this to a perfect stranger with your face?” You interrupt that and it gives that flash like a shock to the system of, “Not everybody thinks like me.” It’s not going to change everything they believe but it’s a stop. If it prevents them from saying something horrible in front of other people, take the win.

When you were sharing, I almost didn’t even want to tell the story because I didn’t want it to seem like I was great. I hadn’t thought of this story in probably 40 years. I was in high school and we were in a speech class. It was mostly a White high school and there was a Black young man in my class. An assignment was we had to teach someone how to do something and that was a form of speech.

He took us down to the gym and explained how to do a free throw. The teacher lambasted him and said, “I couldn’t understand what you were saying. You did not explain how to do a free throw. This is terrible. “I raised my hand and said, “Excuse me. He did a great job of explaining how to do a free throw.” She goes, “Really? Do one.” I did and I made the basket.

TAC Jen | Effective Workplace Allyship
Effective Workplace Allyship: People will stay where they are valued as a human and contributor and they are given cool things to work on, and it meets their needs.

 

That’s what I’m talking about. You might not ever change that teacher’s mind but the other people in the class are going to look at that and say, “I need to write that down because I’m saying that next time,” and then they go out into the university and do it. As much as we talk about this and I like to make it accessible and easy for people to talk about, we’re all thinking about it. We need to learn how to talk about it and interact with each other in authentic ways.

It’s exhausting to be that one person in the class, especially if it’s a non-observable diverse human. It’s compartmentalizing and having to be in the closet at work because you can’t be out safely because you might get fired. Now you’re working from home and you have to move all the pictures and everything. Imagine if all that exhaustion and all that having to prove it was channeled into creative innovation, all that energy is focused on moving.

The minute I had stopped worrying about what shoes I had on, I could do things now that were creative. If I want to put cute shoes on, I can. That’s where I go. That’s what drives me home. I feel like this is my calling to help people make their organizations more inclusive because it’s better for humans, innovation, your ROI and your retention. People are more engaged. Every measurable thing is better.

A school is an important place. We were talking about how our worldviews are formed by everything that we see and are exposed to from birth. There is so much going on. There are many opportunities when someone is going through their educational experience. You’re never going to be out of work.

I have noticed that the work that I’m being asked to do is changing. In 2017 and 2018, people had questions about gender and the experience of gender. There are lots of factors going into that. Everybody I talked to was like, “Please come in. Let me ask you embarrassing questions.” I was like, “They are not embarrassing. Don’t be embarrassed.” It’s that educational component and people still struggle with it. There’s still a lot of confusion about the nuance.

Now, I’m getting a lot of questions on, “We’re going to return to work. How does that go? How do we continue to include diverse talent and perspectives if everybody is coming back to the office?” It’s interesting to see something like that. In 2020, that was all the uncertainty, chaos, racial tension and social justice. I will never be out of a job but it’s interesting to see how it evolves and how people start to understand and stop asking those questions to start asking new ones. That’s the good stuff.

I was curious when you mentioned the pandemic and people working remotely. It sounds like maybe it forwarded the conversation a bit. What is the concern about going back? I was detecting maybe there’s a concern of losing ground or something like that when you go back or how do we keep going forward when we go back. Was there something about the remote work that helped facilitate this in some way?

It’s in a couple of different ways. For one, it opened up an entire pool of talented humans who have been largely ignored or excluded because they couldn’t physically get into an office from 8:00 to 5:00. They have got mobility issues, depression, anxiety, mental health, PTSD, neuro-diverse humans, people with ADD and all these different things. There are so many different things that make it hard to do your best work and be creative. Human beings are not meant to sit under fluorescent lights for eight hours that are uncomfortable.

Those suck the life out of me. I can’t do it.

I was talking to a colleague and I was like, “If you think Zoom fatigue is bad, that’s because you have forgotten what it’s like to sit in a planning meeting and not be able to go to the bathroom because people will judge you for having a biology.” The other side of that is that I did a lot of work. I’m from Seattle and a lot of tech companies had the ability and benefit to be able to send everybody home like, “Do you work remotely and figure it out.” What that did was it introduced a lot of work into one’s home.

I mentioned the LGBTQ+ community. If I have pictures of my family and I’m not out at work, now I have to go through my home. There was a term for it, straightening up the house. You’re moving anything that could be considered controversial. That’s what I have to do. All the microaggressions and slights like can I touch your hair, horrible looks and everything else. The people no longer have to deal with.

That’s where it’s going to be an interesting switch to see because there are also people who want to come back to the office for myriad reasons. It’s going to be interesting to see how that all plays out. I’m favoring the companies that take a more individualistic, “We’re going to filter this through inclusion and diversity and our core values as we bring people back and that’s also science.”

Another phenomenon is a shortage of workers. In what ways would you say that issues with diversity, equity and inclusion are impacting the worker shortage?

This is speculation. I think the individuals who are at that stage where they are like, “I’m not going back into an office. I will either find something on my own. I will continue to freelance because I have had to find a way to do it for a while.” That has opened up a lot of things of, “Here are the alternatives that are possible.” People will stay where they are valued as human, contributors, they are given cool things to work on and it meets their needs. If that’s not the environment and there’s a viable option somewhere else, even if that viable option is riskier, people will take it.

I honestly think that they don’t have as much to lose. It’s almost like when my father had a pension. My generation is all about 401(k). Nobody stayed in a career, especially as a consultant. It’s 2 to 5 years max. That has entirely shifted. I see the more a little bit older and more hierarchical companies saying, “It makes sense to come back to the office.” The people who aren’t from that generational cohort necessarily are saying, “I don’t need to do anything.”

Here’s what people aren’t considering yet and they should be. This generation who is in the 5th, 6th or 7th grade and for the last few years didn’t go to school. I’m not saying this is a value judgment. It’s not good or bad. It’s an environmental change from a scientific perspective. That socialization has been disrupted from the way that it was done in previous generations. People who are looking at the workplace model now need to start predicting for these kiddos who were going to start graduating at university, apprenticeships, getting into the workforce and having an entirely different mind map than any of us could ever be predicted.

Even being raised with the internet, there are significant shifts in attitudes, expectations and behaviors.

It’s going to be interesting to watch. I would love to have somebody do a longitudinal study on the kiddos who were 12 to 18 months old when the lockdown happened and didn’t ever have a play day until they were four.

I have two kids that are now grown but I find them to be so much savvier and more aware of the world. Frankly, my best teacher on DE&I has been my daughter. Thank God for her, I would be upside down. It seems to me that the younger generations generally are more woke to these things. Do you think the internet has something to do with it? They seemed on top of it way before anyone and twenty years older than them. We were left in the dust. We’re trying to catch up.

It has everything to do with the fact that they grew up with a computer in their pockets. When I was growing up, it was a range of encyclopedias and you had to find A through K. It was already years out of date by the time I was even looking at it. They have got this expanded global library and access to people around the world that are part of their community. The way that our minds work is very different.

To them, they have already met people from different countries and cultures and already has been exposed to so many other ideas and cultures.

If we go back talking about everything we have learned since we were born, you have your family of origin or whatever that circle is like, as kids go out into the world, they are more into the community and then eventually into school. Everything that they pick up from that extended environment either confirm or refute what they have grown up as the truth at home, when they get that element of this immediate access to everything then they have those exchanges and discussions around what is capital truth on a much higher level than we ever were.

Never underestimate your ability to change the universe. You are not just one person. You are one person, but you can make a change in people's lives that you will never meet. Click To Tweet

Do you think that means that there’s hope for humanity for humans?

I do but it’s the equal and opposite reaction. I do a lot of work, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. We were so glad that does a study every two years. It shows the progression of tolerance and acceptance for LGBTQ+ and there’s a very extensive methodology around it. For the first time ever in the 2019 data, they saw a decline in the rates of acceptance among youth, primarily around non-LGBTQ+ male-identified use. It goes back to that very same thing. The conversations that people are having around their dining tables and living rooms are not always the same.

There’s always backlash after progress. There was that crazy theory when we finally got a Black president that racism was over.

It’s that equal and opposite reaction. It always pulls back and then it goes the other way. I do have a lot of faith and confidence. The kiddos are out there doing amazing things. What we need to focus on is giving them that platform, visibility and making it accessible to them so that they can see themselves as part of this larger solution.

This has been informative. I appreciate you coming to share. I always like to end my interviews with what’s the question I should have asked or you would have liked me to ask that I missed.

If the question was, “What advice do you have for anybody out there who feels that they are at risk of becoming an accidental diversity expert?” I would say, “Never underestimate your ability to change the universe. You are not just one person. You are one person but you can make a change in people’s lives that you will never need by saying something or modeling behavior in a grocery store or at the bank. People are watching. Your impact to make change is not limited by your budget.

It’s always worth it to ask that question. Jen, thank you so much for being here with us on the show.

Thank you so much. I have enjoyed this tremendously.

Important Links:

About Jen O’Ryan

TAC Jen | Effective Workplace AllyshipDr. Jen O’Ryan is an Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity strategist focused on helping people build authentically inclusive and welcoming companies.
She brings a unique perspective to organizational change, combining a PhD in Human Behavior with over 20 years of experience in leading global launches of new products, policy, and consumer experiences.
Jen understands the challenges leaders can face in developing a culture of inclusiveness for employees, clients, and customers.
A data geek at heart, Jen brings an extensive grasp of how people interact with technology, with each other, and with change. She frequently speaks on podcasts, panels, and at events related to Inclusion and Diversity, organizational behavior, and humaning.
Jen is also the author of Inclusive AF: A Field Guide for “Accidental” Diversity Experts (2020). Designed for anyone thinking about Inclusion and Diversity, IAF explains how to cultivate a more welcoming workplace.
Outside of I&D work, Jen is a travel enthusiast and avid runner. She also has a strange affinity for bad 80’s music, getting lost in new cities, and scary movies.

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join The Author’s Corner Community today: