Leslie Short navigates uncharted waters

Leslie Short studies workplace dynamics and to identify how diversity, equity and inclusion can be better woven in–sometimes in places where it has never been considered. Her approach is practical, pragmatic. I was fortunate to speak with her and learn more about the questions she asks, and how she addresses some of the biggest challenges in this space.

For more information on Leslie Short, visit The Cavu Group.

The Strategy Inside Everything is the podcast for people who think  for a  living. If you have an idea, a question or you want to push back  on  something you hear in this episode, go to https://thatsnotaninsight.com and leave a message or a voicemail for me. The best and most   interesting messages will be added to future episodes. And I can’t wait   to hear from you. Music for The Strategy Inside Everything is by   Sawsquarenoise. Host Adam Pierno is an author, speaker and strategy consultant. Learn more at adampierno.com.

Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/leslie-short-navigates-uncharted-waters/id1269432601?i=1000546067942

Transcript:
Adam Pierno 0:03
All right, welcome back to another episode of the strategy inside everything. I’m very excited. My guest today and I have been up since 5am. We are raring to go. And we haven’t been talking since by the end, but it kind of feels like we’ve been talking for a while. Yeah. I think we’ve been, we’ve been having we had to remember to hit record here, get the episode started. So I am really pleased to welcome today, the owner of the Cavu group, Leslie short. Leslie, welcome.

Leslie Short 0:41
Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Adam Pierno 0:44
I want to talk about, there’s so many topics you and I are going to jump into I think it would help people for them to have a sense of your background and kind of what your focus is at Cavu.

Leslie Short 0:55
Absolutely. So I work with business, corporations, organizations and brands to expand beyond their current culture. And I do that through the Diversity Equity Inclusion lens, and really how they build their company culture. The DEI efforts are not an add on, like the foundation of any company brand organization. I like to say all of those because people like to categorize themselves and what they are, if you are dealing with people both in theirs culture, and we need to discuss how you will build it in What does inclusive look like feel like? And what is equity look like? And feel like?

Adam Pierno 1:30
How did you get to that focus point? You know, like, what? When did you recognize there was an opportunity that brands and businesses were really receptive to doing it in a way that you knew you could add value to?

Leslie Short 1:44
So that’s the tricky part. It wasn’t that there was a moment, when I recognized they would say, hey, let’s see, what are you doing? Everything I’ve ever done? In my career, I’ve always been the person who saw something differently. I’ve always been the person to jump in and go, Well, why does it have to be that way? Have we thought about? And when I kept hearing diversity, equity inclusion, being not even equity at that point, diversity and inclusion being like, Ah, it’s a mystery. It’s a black box, we can’t do it. And I would be like, What is wrong with you? Just stop and get out of the way?

Adam Pierno 2:24
Is it? Is it that simple? Is it like the figuring out which door to open it from your perspective? I know, it’s I know, it’s not as simple as that, because we don’t let it be that simple.

Leslie Short 2:35
But in some sense, it is that simple. Because we want to make it so much bigger. Oh my god, we need diversity. So let’s have it let’s break it down. What does diversity mean to you? Because everyone’s confused that diversity is just black and white. Now everyone’s gotten a little smarter Nico, and I hate to say throw but throw disabilities there. They, you know, gender. I’m like, you know, honestly, white women can’t be the face of diversity. Like, you know, that’s that was the one thing before the pandemic that was we have diversity on the board now. And so it’s breaking down what diversity means to a brand. It then it is What does inclusion look like and feel like for someone that doesn’t look like you? And then what is the equity, which is not dollars, but can be dollars that you can build so that people can invest in what you’re doing.

Adam Pierno 3:30
You just use the powerful word, you said throw when you were referencing disability as part as then what I kind of sensed is as if diversity is an old trunk, and they’re trying to stuff things in it, or it’s like, I don’t know what to do with this. How do I how do I handle this, I will put it over here in this pile is is that the experience that you’ve had when you go in? Is it like cleaning out the garage and a way for old policies and old modes of thought

Leslie Short 3:59
I was using that, by the way, and I’m just letting you know now on air. So everybody hears when I say old truck and tree is coming from? Absolutely, that is perfect for what it is. I go in and I lift up the old Trump and I start pulling things out. And it’s almost like Hoarders. Do we really need this? Does this make sense? Now, who are you speaking to about this? Why is this important to you is always the why? And then the how? And then the who? And so I’m going through those things, the handbooks, the code of conduct. Most people don’t have code of conduct some people conduct way before we ever speak about bringing in diversity, which by the way is gender race, LGBTQ plus disability site seen and unseen. And veterans because everyone wants to put veterans under their belt which I believe that should be a separate thing, but I don’t fight the industry on that at this moment. So we have to break down We use terminology to understand what you’re actually trying to do. Or we’re throwing stuff in the truck.

Adam Pierno 5:07
And yeah, and I’ve, I’ve observed that. And I think for a long time it is because before the dam started to show some cracks, and people really started to embrace the understand and embrace the spirit behind the AI. And the benefits, which I want to ask you about. It was kind of like, well, I don’t want to deal with it. And if I asked somebody, I’m going to have to deal with it. So what I’m going to do is put it all in this one spot. And so then I can check the box and say, I’ve addressed it. And whatever they bring to me, Oh, we have someone who’s visually impaired? Well, I have I have a line for that in my di policy. So if we’re covered.

Leslie Short 5:47
Well, it’s not only that, yeah. But because it was, although we can’t hire anyone with disabilities, because then we have to make exceptions. Even though on their website and all their little pretty paper, they say they will make exception, there was always an excuse why someone couldn’t work from home number one, like you can’t work remote, where so many. They’re like anyone there those with, that are able that have disabilities to work in office, you just may need to move a desk and clear away and make sure that there’s proper ABA, beyond the checkbox of what legally happens in the building. And what that meant taking effort. And then also means is not about you. And that’s what I say about leaders is not about you.

Adam Pierno 6:38
Yeah, yes. And it’s about it’s about that. dissenter.

Leslie Short 6:44
Absolutely, it’s about if you are saying you’re inclusive, you also can’t decide who you’re going to be inclusive with. See, because people will hand pick and say, Well, I only want this well, we have one black, one Asian one this so we’re good. And those are disabilities maybe too much trouble or let’s bring in one person. But we don’t want to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month. Well, we don’t really want to do this. And I’m like, no, no, no, that’s not being inclusive. That segregation within inclusion. And that’s unacceptable.

Adam Pierno 7:18
Let’s dive into that. Yeah, that’s, that’s something that I’ve thought about I’ve encountered and brands I’ve worked with where they choose. I’ll say hashtag holidays, more than actual holidays. Or they’ve choose events, they’ve chosen events to get behind. And then blatantly said, No, that one’s not that one that’s the day after is not part of what we want to celebrate. And we all have to make choices. And especially if it’s a hashtag holiday and not a national holiday, you do get some degree of choice. But from from your work. What does that look like to consumers of the brand or for prospective customers? What’s their what do they take away from that?

Leslie Short 8:05
Let’s talk twofold. Yeah, please, before I get to the consumer, right, I have to deal with those internal. And so I I work with companies and brands to build that cultural calendar, I call it a cultural account. Okay, that’s outside of the holidays on a normal calendar, right? And so if you’re going to hire people, what are those other days in? Even if you’re, how do you recognize or celebrate that intern, because then that speaks volumes to how you actually mark it? External. And so you can pick the hashtag holidays if you want. But we we as the consumer want to say we now on to step two, the consumer side, know when you’re just hashtagging. And I received a, a text yesterday morning at seven o’clock, as a professor was on their way to school going, I have a topic I need you to cover. Why are these grants? And what about brands? And I thought of you why are these brands jumping into Hispanic Heritage Month? And I said, well, one of them has not jumped in. I know that they are committed to diversity of culture. 365 days a year. Yeah. From their vendor process to the way they speak to consumers. So that’s a different conversation than this one. Yeah. At some point, it’s how you jump in. Yes. Is it real? Is it authentic? Because here’s the issue. I am black. I never needed never need to say that up until 18 months ago. So just in case anyone’s listening don’t at all I am black. But I have something to say 365 days a year, not just on Black History Month. Right? Right. And so that’s where brands get lost. It’s probably most of us put a rainbow up.

Adam Pierno 9:58
That’s the worst. That’s the worst one.

Leslie Short 10:00
It’s Black History Month now this duty. Yeah. Why now? Everybody’s celebrating Juneteenth.

Adam Pierno 10:05
Yeah, don’t don’t celebrate it. If you don’t understand it, if you can’t celebrate it and honor what it is, if you don’t really have a part, you weren’t invited to the party like, a long time ago, but you’ve turned it down 20 years in a row, don’t come

Leslie Short 10:18
and don’t come in and want to make it your own. And then what are you know what to whitewash it down? Because it needs to fit what you need to fit or it needs to be a luncheon. That’s an hour in the break room. Yeah. And then you’re done.

Adam Pierno 10:33
Yeah, I mean, you referenced Hispanic Heritage Month, which is happening right now while we’re recording. And you’ll see a lot of kind of Day of the Dead. As you say, Hispanic heritage is not a Day of the Dead. That’s not don’t boil everything down. Don’t boil down black history to Juneteenth because it’s a day that you can understand on a calendar.

Leslie Short 10:55
Oh, I’m sorry. So sorry to interrupt. No, please. 18. They just learned about 18 months. Yeah, yeah, it was Martin Luther King Day. Let’s go back to what, how this flip flop is happening? I’m sorry. Go ahead. No, no,

Adam Pierno 11:09
I, I would rather hear from you than from me, believe me. I want to touch I want to talk more about that. And we can talk about Juneteenth, this specific example, or we can talk more broadly about if you’re a brand, and new doors have opened up in the past year and a half, as you said, across the board, I think there’s been more of an embrace of diversity, equity inclusion, I think the conversation has bubbled up in a way that this this time feels different, I think there will be lasting change. And that’s great. So for a lot of brands, they have maybe not had the leadership that was empowered to enabled bold enough, understood enough. So they just said no to those holidays, or they they passed they let them go by or maybe there was leaders that didn’t want to actively participate. How, what is a good way for them to think about jumping into any of those holidays without feeling like they are brand Washington and just trying to, you know, make it a capitalist advertising endeavor?

Leslie Short 12:13
Who is sitting at the table? And then who has valid voices at the table? Because see, I have never been someone that’s been happy to just sit at the table. I’ve always been in the room. So I’ve been one of those must be I’ve always been in the room. But I don’t sit in the room. I have a valid voice within the room. Whether I’m invited to speak or not. I’m going to have that conversation about, well, why? What is the why to this? Why are you doing this? Who are we speaking to? And then who is the voice that speaking to this consumer? And there are some times you need more than one voice? Because we can celebrate these months. But there’s more as you said, there’s more to each month than just what has been commercialized. Yeah. So if you’re going to honestly celebrate this month, who is guiding you within your brand to do that? And most of them just like, I here’s my favorite. We’re all inclusive, and we’re all diverse. Well, 100%, you’re not lying on that, like you are not diverse in culture. And that’s where there is a difference to understand culture.

Adam Pierno 13:30
Yeah. So it is hard for people that are an organization that has no Asian people to weigh in on a very Asian holiday, and said, look at our ad buy this product. 1099. Because in celebration of our Asian customers,

Leslie Short 13:47
right, there should be guidance, but then there should be guidance along the way all year long. Yeah, it shouldn’t just feed on the Asia Ma. So to look at me, you would not think that I have been called the Asian expert. Not I didn’t, myself there. But I had never even firm where I did all the luxury, huge branded events. And so I was sitting at the table, which, you know, it’s very Chinese with 10 men that were very powerful, and me. And they would say, Leslie, and they couldn’t say Leslie. Lilly is our expert. And I will be like, Leslie knows how to produce events that understand the culture. I’ve studied this holiday. And there’s always someone with me, that is Chinese that guides me along the way to make sure I’m not making a cultural mistake, which I did make.

Adam Pierno 14:41
Yeah, we’ve all We’ve all made mistakes, but it’s not. So it’s not necessarily you don’t have to command all the information and be the expert in it. You have to be a good listener and be receptive to and aware of the traditions, the mores, what’s valuable and what’s what’s not acceptable within a culture

Leslie Short 14:59
and you’re not I’m going to know that, can you, right? So therefore that’s where partnerships, brand partnerships should be aligned. That’s where even in for some companies, I’m building a lot of ambassadorships. Even in your staff, you know, there’s so many people that want to be involved building ambassadorship. So when things are happening, you can pull your own internal voices in. And that’s what’s lacking. They don’t want to listen to the voices inside. And then sometimes they don’t want to pay to bring voices from outside in you. You gotta have to

Adam Pierno 15:36
do something. Yeah, you can’t do it the same way you’ve been doing it, that’s for sure. Not at all. What? So when you get a new client calls you, someone wants to hire you, and they say, We need your expertise. We need your understanding, we need your perspective. What is the event? Is there an event that triggers that for them? Is there something that you’re typically walking into or speak to me about what what usually happens just before they pick up the phone or send you that email?

Leslie Short 16:01
It’s funny, it depends on what it is. So one person called me and they had two clients for me. And they said, one is a cleanup job. And I also hear you’re very good at cleaning up. And I have always been that. And when I was doing corporate operations, strategist, that’s what I did, I would go into companies and that one has to be fired, that needs to be this, this person should get promoted, you’re missing this. So there’s that right, something’s happened in lawsuits coming. Yeah, I need to go in and help clean up and reshape and rebuilt, others are going, we know that this is important. But we also know that we don’t have the capacity to actually build this properly.

Adam Pierno 16:45
So they there’s a recognition part, is there something that is a new leadership? Is it new? You know what I mean, I’m wakes them up to it.

Leslie Short 16:57
In the last 18 months, I’m gonna I’m gonna use this as an example. Sure, their staff has said, You’ve got to get on the ball staff that has now kind of revolted on leadership. There are some companies I working with that it was not leadership that was like, oh, go find me endlessly. They were like, Oh, we got to find somebody quick. Yeah. And, you know, and I had the conversation with leadership, because I will not come in without having that conversation. And I did that once. And I will not do that, again, because there was a block. And I say to them, you’re so concerned about me coming in and speaking about race or doing an uproar. There’s already an uproar. Race conversations, and race theory is different than Dei. They are kissing cousins. It’s not the same conversations is not protected, same sessions. And I break that down, and I’m like, we’re not going to call them trainings. Because you train animals, we’re going to have conversations and sessions with people. We’re gonna, I’m going to need to look at this from the mailroom to the boardroom. And they recognize that I’m not coming in trying to jam something down someone’s throat, but help the organization or the brand actually build on having a better, not just understanding, but awareness of their strengths and their weaknesses to continue to grow up.

Adam Pierno 18:23
Yeah, that’s interesting. So the the cleanup jobs, if I’m hearing you correctly, are usually a result of some sort of an overflow. That happened as some kind of a violation or some of the race conversations that bubble up. And I’m saying race, but that also includes disability and other areas where somebody recognized I’m not included, and I’ve had enough, and now we’re going to have an uproar. Yes, that’s a cleanup job.

Leslie Short 18:47
That’s a cleanup job.

Adam Pierno 18:49
So part of it is from the other side of it is do you have what? What role do you think the greater cultural conversation about dei is having is that opening doors and letting leaders finally let their guard down or finally move them? Or is there a business imperative that they finally get

Leslie Short 19:12
depends on who the leader is? See, now I have leaders that I’ve worked with, before the pandemic before this, that I came in, because they they personally said, this is important. But when you have to start doing the work, the work is hard. And the work is who you are, What’s in your bag is what I like to call it. So you know, some of them were like, well, not ready, not ready, not ready. Deal with the staff and I’m like I do with the staff. But you’re the fish and you’re the head fish. So it stinks from the head and it goes down. So therefore, you need to get ready. And if you’re not, then I don’t need to be here. And I’ve received calls back. I’m ready Let’s do this. I’ve sent myself on what my responsibility is to move forward with

Adam Pierno 20:05
this. It won’t work if they’re not ready at all. So it’s not like they can just call Lesley and have a bandaid put on it.

Leslie Short 20:13
No, I’m not the person you call for that. Yeah. There may be others. But I’m not the person because I come in and I go, I need to speak to whoever’s in charge. I need to speak to HR. And I have a whole list of people that I want to speak to including social media, your marketing, your advertising, your PR firms, I want to speak to everyone. And then there’s times where I say I want to have one on ones with staff that had issues I need to hear from them. And so if you’re not ready to open up the curtain, and know that I’m coming in as a sacred holder of your culture of your brand for you, then it doesn’t make sense.

Adam Pierno 21:00
And what kind of understanding what kind of work do you do to understand their

Leslie Short 21:04
company culture? I asked for their handbook. I asked for their mission. I asked for the vision, I get all that normal stuff. Yeah. But I also have one on one conversations with the HR person with this person with that one, I asked to meet with different groups on recorded with no execs that have been having issues. If they have a D, I asked to speak to them. And I gather and I also do a cultural assessment. And I’m always like, interesting.

Adam Pierno 21:36
Because you’re trying to apply a solution that will work for that culture. Yes. Not just you don’t have a one size fits all. Here’s my one pager on how to do this. That wouldn’t make any sense.

Leslie Short 21:46
Well, I will be sitting under a palm tree. island right now, if I had a one pager especially after this 18 months. I wish that client the other day, they called and said, We would like for you to facilitate they were doing a whole series and they’re like, Well, we know that you can facilitate the entire series, will you start the opening of the festival? And then we will take notes of what you said to look for. And then we will share that throughout the opening of each one. Yeah, that’s what I did. And they had, you know that six corners of people to look at. And I was able to do that. But when they asked, they’re like, Do you have a one? sheeter? Well, we know you don’t? Can you just come in? This is individual. Yeah, every culture is different. Every leader is different. And we have a leader that’s 32. And we have a leader that 72. That’s a big difference.

Adam Pierno 22:43
Yeah. Is that why these programs don’t always go the way we want them to go? Is it is it coming in with a here’s our canned approach to solving this?

Leslie Short 22:53
Yes, or you have to speak about this, or this is what the sessions though. My session is switched on what I see as necessary, there is one that everyone has to do. And that I created a I call it celebrating difference. And it’s my version of a bias quiz. And but it’s not the very John, you shouldn’t say that. This is who are you as a human being? What are you bringing to this place every day? Because see, if you don’t understand that, when you have business culture, I want to take a break that if you don’t mind one second, when you show up, and you are very diverse at work. But when you go home to your neighborhood, to where you live, and the zero diversity on how you move your life. You’re not diverse, right? And therefore, when you’re coming saying you’re trying to do something, you still don’t have the understanding. Beyond there’s diversity, to really break down culture and cultural understanding. Let alone everyone speaks about privilege. There’s privilege and this privileges that come along with privilege. And if you don’t have that, you don’t see that in your everyday life. How you move. How are you as a brand coming in making decisions for community for what you don’t touch?

Adam Pierno 24:19
Right? Right. You’re just looking at slides about it? Yes, that’s a different animal.

Leslie Short 24:25
It’s a different animal PowerPoints are cute. They’re not they can’t help you.

Adam Pierno 24:29
You’re the first person who’s ever described a PowerPoint is cute, and I won’t stand for it. They’re not they’re the enemy. And I will not stand for you praising PowerPoint in any way.

Leslie Short 24:40
Let me explain to you, the PowerPoint girl. And then I started working for the Board of Education. While working with the teachers, guidance counselors and parents Yeah. I have been forced to become the PowerPoint girl. And there’s one that has the quiz has I think like 32 pages and I’m like this is the longest PowerPoint you will ever see. me, yeah, ever present,

Adam Pierno 25:03
ever. That’s a miracle. But most of

Leslie Short 25:05
my PowerPoints are photos. And I tell stories that time for reading small print,

Adam Pierno 25:10
that’s the way to do it. I want to talk about brands. So you are a brand strategist for diversity, equity and inclusion. Yes. And what was intriguing to me why why I wanted to talk to you, in part was how you think those efforts around diversity, equity inclusion, improve a brand. And you can speak from experience of brands that you’ve helped, or you can speak theoretically or both. Hopefully, we can get into some examples. But how, how are those brands benefited? That you’ve observed?

Leslie Short 25:48
Once they understand most people show up to work, and they think that everybody is feeling the same way they’re feeling. unless someone’s really does struggle outside, everyone has the same path. What I’ve been able to do for brands is really break down first internal, that you may all have the same mission, right? But that how you get to that mission is very different for every individual. And then add on culture, add on gender, add those other things on top of it, the path is not the same. And so it’s allowed people that had this assumption that everyone should just go along, get a lot, you know, go along and get along, that that’s not the case. And when they recognize that they recognize that the piece of the work that they have to do for that brand, must be looked at beyond themselves of what they know and understand. And that allows them then when you’re looking at vendors to partner with, to ask the question, what diversity are you bringing to us? What’s your added value outside of yes, you’re smart, and you’re the expert. What? And so it starts to question, those vendors, that photographer, the set the stores, the supply chains, it opens that up, because that’s how we build it. It’s not about just building the brand itself. Because when that person that’s invested in dei leaves, it doesn’t do anything. So I must build it from the foundation of within the company within the people that are working. So that when they sit in these meetings, and they’re building it, there’s always at least one that goes Wait a minute, did we think about who are we speaking to? Are we the right people to actually speak this? How do we have someone else also speak about our brand, the way that we need? What understands that community, that culture, that place? And that’s that’s what I’ve been able to do.

Adam Pierno 27:51
Interesting. When we think about how diversity programs inside corporations have been handled traditionally, there tend to be what I a client that I used to have would call the m&ms approach, which would be you know, like, make sure we have one of everything, you know, that’ll that’ll cover it. And okay, that’s not great. Yeah, we’re not checking the box. That’s not going to work. But for a brand, where we’re trying to limit a target audience and be really focused, it’s retraining people that diversity is not inclusive of the psychographic. The psychographic is your target audience. And if you’re selling soap, to teen boys, you’re X. It’s the psychographic of teen boys that want to smell good, most likely to get a date. Right? We’re not being laughed at for being the stinky kid in gym class, whatever, whatever their motivator is, whatever the key driver is. And so does that trickle down into the brand work? Are you are you focused on that? Or are you more focused on the structure? Do you take it all the way through to what it means to the brand itself and expressions of the brand or the brand brief

Leslie Short 29:04
it to sometimes some for some companies? Yes. For some brands I do. Because I also have an advertising marketing and PR background, right? So I, whether they kind of want me to or not, I inserted myself as part of that. And so for a lot of, of companies, when we get down to the brand portion of it, I’m being asked to sit in those meetings. And I’m taking sometimes I’m just sitting taking notes, and I’ll go back and go did you hear how they explain that? Does that make sense to you? Right? Is that who you’re speaking to? Because the last time I checked all green and all plastic is what you want to come over that register on that thing, but you can assume that everyone is skiing and that that that 20 some year old vacation guys ski. So how are you and we don’t need to do that stop maybe black people start spinning and If it’s random people don’t need it to be at the barbecue. How are we speaking to the consumer of today? And that age? And that’s it. And then where are you speaking to them? Is it Instagram? Is it Tik Tok? Is it ads? What is that? What is that by looking like?

Adam Pierno 30:18
Yeah, so it’s the same, it’s the same three things we’d be focused on anyway. It’s customer culture context, right? But it’s around, you’re connecting someone with the same need to the same benefit that you offer. And not pandering in a way that has been the traditional approach.

Leslie Short 30:36
Absolutely. Like to dig deeper?

Adam Pierno 30:39
Yeah. Do you prefer that? Let’s say you’re working with a with a brand? I assume I know the answer to this. So I may be leading you. But do you prefer that there is a Hispanic Heritage Month brief, for example, that sits on top of the brand brief? Or do you prefer that? No, it’s the the brand brief is inclusive of the cultures of the people we serve. And our brand is in fact designed to accommodate and work and be that big tent? Is there maybe there’s not a hard answer to that question?

Leslie Short 31:14
Well, let’s just be honest, uh, where we are as society today. For most brands, the brief is still the brand brief. And then I come in, and I go, well, where’s your culture calendar. And so I make them create, what that’s going to look like inside of the brand. Right? And so for this first year, now, some brands have gotten it. And I believe it is part of their calendar, very few, but some target as well, for most, it’s still separate. But I’m waiting in. So that’s what part of what I have to do now, like, if you’re going to do this, what are you doing for this? How does that play with this? Where does that go with this launch? Does it look disjoint? It shouldn’t,

Adam Pierno 32:05
you should not be able to detect it unless there’s a real good story that you’re telling or a really good reason why.

Leslie Short 32:11
Right? And so I will say the brand, which I just said, Target, and no, they’re not a client, and no, I do not get paid by them. But the commitment that they have made in regards to not only doing Black History Month, Hispanic History Month, like that’s what someone called me about upset about that. I said, here’s why I respect them. I walk in and I see the ads, and it’s not advertising the, you know, the, the displays, and I see those with disabilities in the stores on a regular basis. Now, I see that vendor, they have made sure that their vendor outreach includes black people of color brands in the store, and that not only are they in the store, they’ve also made sure that they have made a pipeline for them to understand the system of how to be a vendor within the store. Yeah, that’s an investment in a commitment that they have made. Yep. And so when I see Black History Month or Hispanic history onto our music month that they also do, then it makes sense to me. Yeah, it’s all connected. And also all connected for our commitment that they have decided will be true commitment from bottle level top.

Adam Pierno 33:28
That’s a great example. You mentioned, we talked a little bit about Juneteenth. But there’s a lot of examples of those those days that are of cultural significance to key groups. Over the past year, year and a half, there’s been ample opportunity for brands to come out and say we stand with we support we protest this outlandish behavior, and we won’t we won’t have it. How do those brands? A because then invariably, what happens is the hit piece from BuzzFeed and others that’s like, oh, yeah, go look at their board, you know, go look at the picture of their executives, which is fair. How do those brands that want to make a stand, make that stand? And then what’s expected from them? On they make that they make that claim on January 1? What are they supposed to do on January 2, so that, that BuzzFeed doesn’t go write that article or consumers don’t say, Oh, Jesus, wasn’t it just two days ago? I liked your post about this.

Leslie Short 34:38
Well, you can’t be tired. Christina has LSVT now. Am I hear about LSVT one more time? All day long. You’re tired.

Adam Pierno 34:51
I’ve never heard about that. Oh, yeah.

Leslie Short 34:53
So everyone’s ally fatigue. Now. So half of the brands that took that pledge that commitment that we support We do have actually backed out of the commitment that was just written about about four weeks ago formally backed

Adam Pierno 35:05
out or just didn’t hold it there ended up for me. Yeah.

Leslie Short 35:12
I don’t I don’t know. This is hard.

Adam Pierno 35:14
Yeah, I didn’t realize it was gonna be work.

Leslie Short 35:17
I thought I could just say, Oh, and do a post. No, you can’t put the black box up. No, you’re not selling Juneteenth in Hispanic month. Like, that’s cute. No one’s looking for cuteness. Right now we’re looking for a commitment to be accountable. Accountability is what’s necessary. And you mentioned the board, I say, from the mailroom to the boardroom, what are we doing? And then for those, like stop telling, like that the hot spot for brands, where will we hire a DI person, that will be the thing. So you know, black women for about a good two weeks, probably could get any job he wanted? Yeah. But then it was the setup. So I’m the person that goes, please don’t hire anybody black or brown, please stop that. Because you’re not ready, internally, to be equitable or inclusive. So in to you build a pipeline of how people can advance until you have you understand that equity is is understanding how you get to move up the ladder and that there is a way to move up the ladder. That inclusive does not mean ping pong tables and beer pong and donut think that it that it really means that someone is not belonging because a book belongs in a bookstore, it really means that someone gets to come in and have a valid voice for what they are working on, that they have a valid voice with that brand, that when they tell you do not put the rainbow across the African flag. That’s really the Jamaican flag for Black History Month, and you’re wrong. And you don’t listen. There’s an issue because that actually happened. I am not kidding. And so the frustration, and then they leave the DI people, and then the brand new people go I see I told you it didn’t work. So if you’re going to commit, you have accountability, to continue to learn and understand and be willing to listen and invest in the people for what you bring in. Therefore that will be flipped how you speak to your consumers. Externally, your insides have to match your outsides.

Adam Pierno 37:24
How? Yeah, totally. How do you position that I think something we’ve learned about sustainability, which may be applicable here is that for 30 years, individuals have been trained that sustainability is something where you have to sacrifice to save the planet, you have to now have another garbage bin and you have to recycle. And you have to have this new behavior and it’s a pain in the butt. And you can’t use this product, you can only use this product because of the container. And you have to pick up the thing and look for the triangle five underneath it. And you’re giving up in order to protect something that you probably haven’t had that big of a role in damaging. But there’s a new thing a new look at that a new insight around it, which is no actually there’s opportunity in how we work together to save the planet. And there’s new innovation that will come that will provide benefits that we haven’t even imagined yet versus being trapped in the system. When I hear approaches to dei inside corporations, especially large corporations, where there is a structure and there’s a system and there is a model, and I you referenced any black woman could get hired for those two weeks, and I know the exact frequent two weeks you’re talking about. And it was great to see people get those opportunities, but you knew that those people were going to be there for six months. You wouldn’t hear from them for three after until their NDA expired. And then they would be written about and you know, in the times where it says former di head says she wasn’t empowered to do anything. Yeah, right. Kind of see that coming? Do you think it is the same? I am if you’re listening to this and don’t know me, I white man, I have all that privilege that comes with that description. I recognize it and I’m not doing everything flawlessly, but I’m trying to learn it is troubling to me sometimes I admit to say like, Well, I would do center myself. But what does that mean to me? What does that mean to me? You know, what am I giving up? Am I willing to give that up? I really reckon with that sometimes. Is that? Is that part of the messaging and part of the challenge is showing people that it’s not a sacrifice, Adam It’s not what you’re giving up? Right? It’s you’re not even thinking about the growth that we’re going to experience together when you do this.

Leslie Short 39:43
So let me ask you a question. I noticed your podcast

Adam Pierno 39:49
this is a conversation that’s good.

Leslie Short 39:51
What what are you giving up? That’s what I always ask everyone what what

Adam Pierno 39:55
I feel that’s the thing when I really think about it. Yeah, when I when I realized Has it like nothing? Yeah, it doesn’t really change anything for me.

Leslie Short 40:03
No one asks you to hand me your pie. I don’t ask for your pie. I asked for a piece of the pie for which you at this moment, have the responsibility to hold it not drop. That’s the brand. Yep. So I’m asking for a slice of that, where I can be in the as part of the pie, and not the box that you just tossed and took the pie out of. Yeah. And so therefore, I have to break it down like that, too, sometimes with people, not one black or brown person said, Give me your pie. We said, where is our slice that we can not own? In regards to our position to having a voice to own it to contribute to the brand to help continue to build a brand to be profitable to having valid voice within various communities and various cultures? Because let’s be honest, yes. Like you said, everybody. Nobody tells how great a brand is when they work for a great brand, right? Like, yeah, it was cool. I have a great time. The moment something goes wrong. Twitter blows up what how horrible you are. I always go Which way would you like to be? Let’s say to do, it’s easy.

Adam Pierno 41:22
It’s an easy choice.

Leslie Short 41:24
When leaders come, they’re like, I don’t know, let’s see, I don’t know if I have a budget. I said, Well, here’s your new thing. You have a line item for a DI agency. Now, even if it’s not me, or you have an extra line item for attorneys,

Adam Pierno 41:38
and crisis communications, yes. Yeah. Yeah. That that the opportunity that you just presented, his voice is given letting people more people have a voice and giving them not, not handing over everything to them, but giving them a voice as they know that what you’re doing there is not the right way to do that.

Leslie Short 41:57
No one asked anyone to give them a promotion. There are people that have rightfully own promotions, and have been told they’ll get another degree. And you go in, they give the other degree, and they come back and there’s another post in the way. And then they get around that post. And there’s something else in the way. So stop blocking the talent for what you have that’s already invested in you. Yeah. And build that talent. Oh, and stop acting like you’re doing someone a favor?

Adam Pierno 42:30
Yeah. Do you get? We’re coming up on time, but I’m, I’m enjoying this too much. Sorry, I’m keeping you do you get when you look at the vision, the mission, the values, are you able to really align hiring practices to that. So that again, go into the psychographic of, we’re going to hire people that really get this vision. And that can achieve this mission? And look at your values. I don’t see a value in here that says we are all going to be one we’re not we’re all going to look the same? No. Do you? Do you go back to those core documents with them? And to help get them to understand it?

Leslie Short 43:11
100%? Not to I only go back to it, I break it down? What does this word mean? When you say that? What does this word mean? Stop saying it family, you and not anybody’s family, like it? bugs me? I really break those words down. And then with one company we’re doing, like, for every line that’s in there, what’s the subtitle? That means it underneath? How do you live it? Because it’s not about having something printed on the wall or on a piece of paper? How do you expect your employees to live it? And how are you as leadership living? How does everyone come together? And though you may not hit every single box? How do you live this as an organization as a brand?

Adam Pierno 43:55
And if not, if you’re not, can we take it off here?

Leslie Short 43:58
100% and I have removed things I helped I helped them remove things, or we worded them

Adam Pierno 44:05
is? Do you find in those docs that having some of those bullets or some of those points are actually roadblocks that by saying like the word family is problematic, because my understanding of a nuclear family from my own experiences, you know, people that look like me and my case. So if I’m hiring people to hear the word family, it’s going to be filtered through that. Also, family is problematic for a bunch of reasons, but it’s not true. is the biggest one. Right? So do you help them remove those things? When you say are you really doing this? Are you sure you want to put it up on the lobby? You know is that that makes sense.

Leslie Short 44:44
We go through all of that. I do it with their attorneys. I do it with HR, I do it with if there’s Chief of Staff. If there’s di committee, I’m doing it with them. So I really do work through everyone and everything to get that idea and I’ve had extra things at Did I have the crown Act has been put into handbooks? Are you familiar with the Crown act? Oh, no, no. So the crown that allows black people of color to wear their natural hair to work, and not be penalized because black women were told you can’t wear apples or you don’t look professional, if you have waves or if you have braids and black men were told you have to shave every day. Well, if you know black skin, some black skin when they shave every day they ki Lloyd. So would you like to have a nice groomed beard? Or would you like to have someone that has folks all over their face? You didn’t care? Think about that? Because you did not know? And how about someone from the Muslim that you can wear your beard, you can wear your natural hair to work, less interferes with your shoot. And you know, let’s cover everything.

Adam Pierno 45:48
These are simple. These are simple things.

Leslie Short 45:51
If I go to a job, and I get that, and I see that in the handle, and I see the crown at written in for a company that may not have many that looked like me, I’m like somebody’s in. You’re telling somebody something? Yeah. somebody’s listening.

Adam Pierno 46:04
These are little things. No, no, let people be their full self at work, or at least it moved towards it.

Leslie Short 46:09
Yes. And I want to add one more thing. Not only do I help, right, I go, who’s responsible for making sure this is?

Adam Pierno 46:16
And then they bring in the black woman that they hired two months ago? Absolutely. So you make sure that when you when you get to a decision, there’s someone assigned to be responsible to make sure it’s happening. Make sure that the rules were setting rules. Let’s make sure there’s a process to follow them.

Leslie Short 46:33
Absolutely.

Adam Pierno 46:36
Excellent. Well, let’s say we didn’t we went over a few minutes. I hope that’s okay.

Leslie Short 46:40
Absolutely. I could speak to you all day. This has been amazing. Yeah, this was

Adam Pierno 46:43
this was a lot of fun. And I learned a lot as well. So thank you for making time for me. Where can people find you online?

Leslie Short 46:51
You get the cargo group. And make sure you put the cargo group CVU because there’s a construction cargo group, not me. And so you can reach me there from the website or any of the social media and LinkedIn. I’m under Leslie short.

Adam Pierno 47:08
I will I will link to all that in the show notes. But Leslie has been fantastic talking with you. Thank you so much for making time.

Leslie Short 47:14
Thank you have a great day, too.

Adam Pierno 47:27
Strategy inside, everything is produced by me, Adam pure. If you liked what you heard, please leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts really helps. If someone shared this with you, and you’re just not sure where you could find it. You can go to specific debt substack.com and sign up there you get episodes before everybody else. For more information about me Adam pure note you can go to Adam pure no.com There’s information about my books, my speaking and my strategy work. Have an idea for a guest send it my way just go to Adam pure no.com You’ll find a form there that will help you connect. Thanks for listening

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