In the United States, we have always lived with the history and realities of racism.
Whether we have lived with it as an active part of our life or have had the privilege to ignore it and deny it, it has shaped our understanding of our country and each other.
Since racism has always been a loaded, hot-button, triggering topic to discuss, many leaders have flatly avoided talking about it. Since the summer of 2020, however, organizations are realizing that this issue is not going away.
Workers want organizations that are inclusive and equitable. As such, the avoidance strategy that has allowed leaders to manage this issue in the past is emerging as the biggest problem of all.
Fortunately for all of us, Gena Cox has taken the time to think deeply about how to open the door to these important conversations.
Listen in for compassionate, insightful, and practical advice to help all of us navigate conversations about creating inclusion in the workplace.
Join us as we discuss:
- How the root cause of the failure of most DEI initiatives is avoidance driven by a lack of skills on the part of even the most well-meaning leaders
- How respect is the opposite of grandstanding and is the foundation of our only viable path forward to create inclusive workplaces
- How to have respectful relationships with your employees even when difficult conversations and decisions are needed
Get Gena’s Book: https://genacox.com/book/
Grab Gena’s script: genacox.com/script
About The Guest:
Dr. Gena Cox, CEO of Feels Human, LLC, is an organizational psychologist, executive coach, and author of Leading Inclusion, an award-winning guidebook for corporate leaders who want to build inclusive organizations from the top down. Before this, at IBM and Perceptyx, Gena advised leaders in the Fortune 500 and other large global companies to build psychologically healthy and engaging organizational cultures that drive business outcomes. A noted voice on human-centered leadership, Gena shows executives how to stop using 2019 behavior to address 2022 workplace challenges.
About The Host:
Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist, speaker, author, and coach focused on changing our perspective on the world of work. It IS possible to do Great Work—the work that calls to you from the inside– without sacrificing your health, happiness, and relationships.
Amanda is the Author of the book, Great Work: Do What Matters Most Without Sacrificing Everything Else, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda’s TEDx talk has received almost two million views and has been featured on TED’s Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.
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But I'm hell bent and determined that I can bring along some people who don't look like me to be part of the solution.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Welcome to unleashing your great work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to you. I'm your host, Dr. Amanda Crowell, a cognitive psychologist, coach, author of the book, great work, and the creator of the great work journals. Every week on this podcast, we're here asking the big questions. What is your great work? How do you find it? And why does it matter? Whether we do it? What does it actually take to do more of your great work without sacrificing everything else? And how does the world change when more people are doing more of the work that matters the most to them? Stay tuned for answers to these questions, and so much more.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Gena book leading inclusion was one of my favorite books of 2022. It is well written, insightful, and very practically useful. And yet, despite reading and loving her book, when we recorded this interview, I was still very surprised at how tactical and hopeful she is about what's possible. In the United States, we have always lived with the history and the realities of racism, whether we have lived with it as an active part of our life, or have had the privilege to ignore it and deny it. It has shaped our understanding of our country and each other. As Gena says, In this interview, racism has always been a loaded hot button triggering topic to discuss, and it never gets any smaller. Nothing about it feels like it's ever truly resolved or soothe or healed. And this can cause leaders of any kind, whether we're talking about organizational leaders, political leaders, or even thought leaders, to just flatly avoid talking about it. And while that as a strategy has worked for the last 50 years, as issues around race have flared up and then went out and flared up and went out, it simply isn't working anymore. The experience of organizations post the summer of 2020 is that workers are saying enough is enough. We want organizations that are inclusive and equitable. And so the avoidance strategy that has worked to navigate this issue is emerging now as the real problem. Fortunately for all of us, Gina has taken the time to think deeply about how to open the door to these important conversations. Who is Gena Cox, you ask? Well, Dr. Gena Cox is an organizational psychologist and executive coach and the author of the book leading inclusion. It is already an award winning guidebook for corporate leaders who want to build inclusive organizations from the top down. Before this, Gena was at IBM and per septics, and Gena has advised leaders in Fortune 500 and other large global companies to build psychologically healthy and engaging organizational cultures that drive business outcomes. Let's welcome Gena to the podcast.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Welcome everybody to unleashing your great work. Today I have my good friend, Dr. Gena Cox, who is the CEO of feels human. She's an organizational psychologist and executive coach and the author of the amazing brand new book leading inclusion. It's already award winning, and it's for corporate leaders who want to build inclusive organizations from the top down. Before this she was at IBM and per septics. Gena has advised leaders and fortune 500 and other large global companies to build psychologically healthy and engaging organizational cultures that drive business outcomes. Welcome to the podcast, Genna.Gena Cox:
Oh, it's so exciting to be here. Amanda.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
I, first of all, just want to say that your book is one of my favorite books that came out this year. I so needed and so important. So I just want to thank you for taking the time to write that because it's no easy feat to write a book especially one so personally meaningfulGena Cox:
thing. Oh, wow. Well, thank you. Because, you know, I the book came out October 11. And it's still so early that whenever someone says that they read my book, I get like, are they gonna say something good, but what are they gonna say? And then they say something good. And I go, Oh, because I'm still it's like a baby for sure. It's like, all of my hopes and dreams and aspirations for how I want to change the world are bound up in this book. And I am just delighted whenever one person says they got it, you know, they understood.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yes, absolutely. Well, why don't we start with you giving us just an relative to the book, but also your larger journey. Tell us just a little bit about your great work.Gena Cox:
Well, my great work is indeed great just like everybody else's because we all want good things to happen in the world. And what I really want is I want workplace aces to be so great that it would be easy for anybody to show up in any workplace and have a wonderful positive experience where they can thrive, you know, as they're doing their jobs, they can feel like, they can feel comfort, and I call it or even ease as they're doing it so that they aren't things that get in the way. So that's, that's what I aspire to have for the world. And I think about my daughter and my daughters daughters that she doesn't yet have about the next generations, and how we kind of all instinctively know that things could be better. And we know that in the broader community too, and not just in the workplace. So I wrote a book that is really for business leaders, who want to build inclusive organizations, but are maybe a little unsure about how to go about that, or maybe a little disappointed that the things they've tried so far haven't generated, you know, significant outcomes. Or haven't, you know, a lot, one of the things I've learned over the years over the last couple of years is that sometimes leaders aren't focused on this issue, because they're afraid of creating stepping into a landmine, they don't, they would rather do maybe a little bit or nothing than run the risk of doing something that people think isn't that good, or whatever. So I want to make workplaces better.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. And how do you address? Because I think you're absolutely right. It's, it's classic psychology, right? Like, if you don't want to face it, then you ignore it, and pretend it's not really a problem. It's a problem over there. That's a problem here. So how do you really address that? How do you help people to to slow down and have the courage and believe in their skills enough to do this work?Gena Cox:
Yeah, well, I do I, it does require some sort of education process that isn't obvious. Because, you know, it's sort of a little sad to discover, as you are working on something like this, and you try to really get to what is the root cause. And there are two root causes of that one, of course, of the, either the hesitation or the lack of effort, part of it is just our overall society. And how we think about these issues that they have, they have, they're like an elephant in the room every time, it never seems to get any smaller. It's also taboo and bound up with history, and tradition, and power and all these things, that it's almost like, oh, my gosh, just, it's too big, I don't even want to touch it, it might be hot. So there's that. And of course, there's just the other root cause issue that I have really landed upon is that it's the way we train our leaders, you know, you can go get an MBA from the fanciest school, and they're gonna teach you about operations, research and finance and marketing and sales. In the human part, they'll call it soft skills, it'll be a teeny, weeny little optional thing, you don't even have to do it traditionally. And so you come out, and you're gonna be running a big enterprise, and you really haven't developed skills that are I would call human leadership skills, you think you can run an enterprise because you're only focused on these levers. And then you have these humans that actually ideate create, you know, distribute, so I mean, delivered directly to your customers and clients. And you don't really understand anything about that aspect of the business. It's not human centered. So I try to talk about these issues, first of all, by saying, something that's true for me, I don't believe in diversity and inclusion. And that's like, what, I don't believe in it, I just do not believe there is such a thing. It's a sort of a contrived idea, to take an issue that we think of as an elephant, put it in a box and push it over to the side, hopefully, to make it smaller. And we've done that for decades. And we hire people, and we call them diversity and inclusion specialists of different kinds. And we say, go fix it and tell me when it's fixed. Right? So I don't believe in that I, because the minute you handle it that way, it's something over to the side, first of all, the people who are doing it have the sense that you know, we're not that important, you know, because they were not giving us the money, the political clout, the things we need to do it. You're just saying kind of do it. And then if we fail, we quit. Or you fire us. And then we start all over from zero. And it's bizarre. I don't so I think that the stuff we're talking about when we talk about inclusion is really a leadership. Imperative is a subset of effective leadership. That's all it is. So if you're gonna tell me you're an effective leader, you're gonna tell me Oh, I know a lot about finance, marketing, the sales. I'm gonna say, Well, do you know something about the human experience and about is an inclusion a subset? Is it within that? Have you studied these things? Have you thought about the impact that your ideas have in your vision and have you incorporated into your business? If you say, Yes, I say you're on the right track. You don't have to be perfect, you'll make mistakes, but guess what people will cheer you on even the very Colleagues are waiting to see what you're doing. They'll say, I can see things I can see and feel some changes, they're doing something, and you'll get lots of points, and you don't have to be perfect. But if you say, Well, I don't think that belongs on my plate, or my advisor said, you know, don't touch it be very careful, you know, this is a no win situation, do nothing or do very little before you get burned. Or if you say, well, well, I don't know that people who are meant to be the beneficiaries of this, and I don't understand what they want. If you do those things, that sounds like avoidance. And so I talk about this, and I say, you know, in the summer of 2020, did a survey of about 500 workers, including 149, black women, and I say, what would you want leaders to know about this issue? And they say, Well, we already know that there's the standard operating procedure is to avoid or, you know, avoid us and avoid this issue. And so we that makes us feel disrespected, because you don't care enough to be curious enough, then connect to understand so that you can solve the problem. So So I helped leaders to see that avoidance is negatively perceived by the very people who, with hopefully whom they're trying to have a on whom they're trained to have a positive impact. So I talk about those kinds of things in a variety of other things. But Amanda, I mean, the bottom line of your question is that what I don't do and what I want leaders to understand is something they should avoid is I don't tell them what to do, because you run your enterprise, but I think give you some guidance. I don't know your enterprise to but you know it. And I don't think one size fits all either. So I don't bring a solution from what the here's a here, do this magically, you know, the, I need to understand your organization, what you're trying to accomplish, and then I can give you some guidance. So that's a little bit about how I go about it in such a way that I can let it be clear that I just want to be a partner a support to help you deal with something that maybe you haven't dealt with before.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And, you know, obviously, avoiding an issue like this one, I mean, worked for 50 years, and now it just doesn't work anymore. And I honestly think that that's the moment that people are waking up to where it's like, Wait, this has always like flamed up and went out and flamed up and went out. And it is flamed up and it is just growing right? So you can't actually avoid it. So that's not a good strategy. When somebody says, Okay, I don't know how, but I want to somehow engage with this. as afraid as I am of being cancelled, both in my company and online, maybe. And as much as I feel super awkward bringing it up, especially to a person of color, like, but I want to do it. What are the skills, one of the beliefs they have to take on are the skills that they need to develop in order to be in space effectively?Gena Cox:
Yeah, so I hear that a lot. And I totally understand it. I don't like understand it academically or intellectually, because obviously, I'm a black woman. So I have that perspective. And I also am an immigrant. And I have that perspective.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yes, that was one of my favorite parts about your book was actually what an interesting experience to go from being, like everyone and fully respected. And you know, like, absolutely none of this and this and in this as an adult, basically. Like, that's like, that's unheard of like there. I mean, I guess there's probably lots of immigrant black women who have had this experience, but for you to talk about, it really was like a, an interesting opportunity for someone to really see the difference as an adult. Yes. Clearly,Gena Cox:
Amanda, I think of it as almost like a natural experiment, because, well, because that's how it's been for me a pre and post, you know, and so it is easier than to see what doesn't, what isn't the norm globally, or in other places you have lived, see that contrast? And then think about, well, what do I do about that? And so, you know, I do think that, you know, that helps me then as well, to think about what it feels like for people who've lived in this country, and do want to make a positive impact, but aren't quite sure I understand that it requires a learning process, because I had to go through that. I understand that music, they would make mistakes, because they would say this when it was really that. And then I also understand that at some point, once they have put in enough, you know, they've done enough things. It sort of becomes like second nature a habit. Eventually they will get past that stage and they will feel like they're just living their lives as they always have been. But when I say that to people who you know that I coach or advise is I say first of all, if you're a leader, you can't you can't hide because actually people are waiting and watching to see what you're going to do and the more all you're doing is delaying the inevitable. And in that time, the problem is still there, and people are still feeling bad about it. So there's that. So I think it requires a certain mindset that first of all says you believe this belongs on the leadership patch. And then it requires courage. Yeah, because what I see as the hindrances, apart from the ones I've talked about before, is that often you could have you could have a C suite, you could have, you know, senior level managers and a VP level or whatever, people on a board who are saying, we're not going to do this, this is not our thing. let somebody else deal with it. It's not for us, we don't need to deal with it. But yet you personally might be thinking, Well, I think I showed them CEO or whatever. What what do you do? You probably have to have those difficult conversations with your direct reports, and so on, and say what you believe and why. And you know, what, there might actually be some people in your organization who shouldn't be in those roles where they have impact over 1000 people that they don't respect. Right, right. You know what I mean? So sometimes it calls for hard for difficult decisions and difficult, difficult actions. But I mostly try to encourage leaders to believe me when I say to them, that no one is expecting you to be perfect, and that when you make mistakes, people will just say, you are on a journey. They're not going to. That's my belief.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. I like that concept, also, because I mean, I think that there's a fear, probably an outsize fear unless you're living your life online, that you will be that you will have the worst moment of your life that you will be canceled, and you wouldn't have been if you hadn't said anything. That's that seems to be. And that certainly does happen online. Like we watch it happen, right? Yeah. So so like, out of control online towards each other. But I feel like what you're saying about sort of awkward conversations, or uncomfortable ones are ones that you have to say I'm gonna say this and probably sound terrible, but it's the only words I have right now. Here's what I'm worried about. Here's what I'm noticing. Here's what I'm seeing helped me understand. Yeah, that that is such a different stance from the bravado thing that happens now where it's like, if we just barrel forward, it will resolve itself somehow.Gena Cox:
Yes. Right. And I tell people who look like me. Yeah, that this is a two way street. Okay. So we all know the horrible history. And we might even be having negative experiences today, as I have had very, you know, but ultimately, I believe I have, I believe that the way that humans solve problems is always together with an agreement that this is the challenge we're going after, we want to find solutions for it. And sometimes I see a lot of grandstanding on both sides of this conversation, right? I am not. So I'm anti grandstanding. If I'm anti anything, it's grandstanding. I am for let's be thoughtful. And let's also give one another the grace to know we're going to all of us are going to make mistakes about this because there is no perfect answer that anybody has. And I know, I do have a script, they call it a starting script, which by the way, I'll mention for your listeners at the end again. But I do have a little starting script that I say that reminds people that, okay, let's agree that difficult conversations are part of this journey, we're going to all find ourselves in them. Or we might need to initiate them. Well, what would you say? I think people just sometimes I say if I, let's talk about that, let's work through that. And when I have these conversations with people, and they figure out what I could say this or that, at least if we look at they have a way forward. Yeah. And they go,Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Oh, that's great. Yeah, you kind of shared language, where really what it does is if you say it enough times people immediately understand like, Oh, we're entering into a space where we all have to sit up, pay attention, not over assume not, you know, attack, give people the grace to say it and fix it or whatever. I like that you're saying you have some kind of thing that people can download from your website?Gena Cox:
Yeah, from Gina cox.com/script.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Love it will stick it out. For sure. Yeah.Gena Cox:
But um, it's just, it's not even anything. It's just in fact, I intentionally keep it simple. Because what I want people to recognize is that this is just language and connection and communication. So for example, if I were having something happen to me that at this point in my life, that I wanted to then say to somebody, you know, to let them know that I would wish that they would change something I would say to that person, you know, would you mind that you always want along, you know, would you mind if we, you know, maybe had a few minutes that we could talk and whatever and most people would say yes, and then I would say, you know, you probably don't realize it, but when you did X or when x happen Here's the impact that had on me, or here's the impact it had on my colleagues or on my family or whatever it is right that you care about this causing you this angst. And first of all, I would never do it in the moment because I humans were not good in the moment on emotional issues. We need a little distance, little time. So by the time days, and you know, two days, now we have the meeting, I would be able to say, you know, you probably don't realize it, the most reasonable people in response to that would say, oh, my gosh, I have no idea. I did not intend to do that. Or they might even say, oh, I need to think about that. Now, some people will say, Oh, no, they'll get defensive, overreacting. Why are you overreacted? I never said that. I never meant that. I think you're blown out of proportion, they'll go down that path, either path, and there could be a third path and fourth, fourth path, but anticipating all the paths, and then deciding what will you do in response to that, where you keep the upper hand, meaning, the hand of civility, the hand of respect that you want to get back? And also the handle solution focused, you know, solution focused? And you would say, you know, you might say, you know, the person might say, Well, gosh, I didn't intend that at all. I say, Well, I didn't think you did, you know, but now you're starting a conversation where likely what you can then say it was a, you know, the person might even say, Well, what do you think I could do differently? Most people would say that, well, what do you think? If they're on that path, the ones that are more defensive and say, well, you're making a mountain out of a molehill, and I don't know what you're talking about? Yeah, then what you probably have to do in those situations is just give that person a little time, because you've been processing this for three days and stewing about it. They're hearing it in the moment for the first time. So you do probably want to give them that emotional time to think so you might say to that person, I understand why you might not, you know, be seeing it my way or something. But would you mind and then we can talk about this next Tuesday at three o'clock, or whatever you want? Is that okay? With you? Do you have some time, you can talk about it next week. And what you're really doing is just giving them some time to think about what you said, because if you force them in the moment to give you a reaction, it's likely to be negative just because they're humans, right? You know what I mean? That's about him. Anyway. So the script is very simple. It's that kind of thing. But it is intended to encourage people to think about what they would say and what they would do, because that is actually I think, what stops people from saying or doing anything? It's not knowDr. Amanda Crowell:
how to start? Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, you said, Well, it's just language, it's just connection, and relationship. And I think that what you said there is like, it's just the best of humankind, because what what do we, what do we really as a species, or as a people or as a society or whatever, however you want to describe that? What do we most need to get back to? We need to get back to connection, where it's like, you're human, I'm a human. I want you to be healthy and happy. You want me to be healthy and happy? How can we just have a relationship where there's respect and differences of opinion that we can talk about? Language, of course, is the way to do that. And then we're in relationship with each other as opposed to in a polarized sort of positional standoff?Gena Cox:
Yes. Which is why I have my like an acronym in my book, a model called ready our EDI and the R. It's respect, equity, diversity and inclusion. But the R stands for respect. And I say put respect first. Because even in your response, just now I bet you didn't notice it. But you use the word respect when you were describing that Nirvana, right? That's what all humans do that word. So instead of using a word like belonging, which is much more contrived, and what does it really mean, and how do I met? I like the word respect, because we all know what it is. We know we're getting it. We know what it feels like, we know what's getting in the way we know what we want the person to do differently, we can talk about this thing. So I talk about respect more than anything else. And I say yes, because what respect means is, I show up as a human and I automatically get it. There's no looking down your nose, making a weird face, whatever. There's just that human that shows up. Right? And you don't give them that on the basis of their rank or, you know, anything. You just give it to them because they're human. That's it,Dr. Amanda Crowell:
right. Yeah, that's so great. That reminds me a lot of a person that I respect greatly Bryan Stevenson, you probably have you have to read his books. Yes. Yeah. Oh, my God. That book changed my life. And the thing that I think about the most from that book is the argument that if you get proximate, like if you just get close, and I found that even when we're sitting in the same room with someone, and we're on a team with them, and we're trying to do something together, we may still not be proximate to them. men experience and that makes it almost impossible to treat them with respect. Yeah, yeah, if they're just like you, even if it's another like white woman, I'm a white woman. And it's another way. Sure, we're not truly proximate and honest and like, I don't know, like, respectful and ask questions and curious and that good stuff, we're still not proximate to each other's experience.Gena Cox:
It's a point of view for sure. And some people do it naturally. And you can, you know, in in our society, they get extra points for being sort of outgoing and, and the person who brings the team together and great for them. But most people aren't built that way. And most people would rather avoid the risk of something going south, then, as we just said earlier, than to be the initiator. But you know, I have I over because I'm an introvert. I came out as an introvert many years ago to myself, coming out experience, because I say that way on purpose because I realized that people I realized how people experience me and I know that when people experience an introvert, often they misinterpret the client or aloofness as an example, right? So I when I, when I figured that out, and it was working against me, then I figured out how to counter that well, in life, then I could say, well, I'm an introvert, I'm just gonna be an introvert. And if people just don't want to deal, they just have to deal with me as an introvert, I could say that I am on my own. And it is true. But here's the thing, I'm working in an enterprise and a business, I need to influence people, they need to get things done with them, right? So do the math. What makes the most sense? So I just said, Look, I'm an introvert, you have to take me as I am? Or do I figure out how can I still be effective, still be an introvert, but find ways that are comfortable for me to interact with other people more often, so that they feel like I'm bringing them along, or like I'm interested in them, because I am, I just wasn't showing it. So I learned how to do it. It's similar in a way because of course, race and ethnicity and gender are things that you can't change. And clearly, they're not just trivial things. But the truth is that there are some things that all of us can do, you know, to make it a little bit easier. And the one thing that I you know, I say this to my daughter, I said, you know, and my daughter is lucky because she's had the opportunity in school in different places to be around a variety of people. But I think that separating ourselves from other people on any basis, including socio economic usually doesn't result in a good outcome. That's right. Yeah, it's very difficult to get past that again. So look for ways to connect, I tell a story in the book about the guy down the street, who had a flag I didn't understand. And I had, I had, you know, I've come to learn by the way that the flag I had in my yard, which I still have, which is like a peace sign and the LGBTQ plus flag and a heart and it says, you know, hate has no home here. And now I hear that people say that people will put signs like that are signaling virtue. We are phony because we're trying to tell the world we're good. We're just good people. So we have a good flag. And I think that's the weirdest thing. Because if you attempt to put good vibes out, I thought you would get good vibes back, but it doesn't necessarily work. But my point is that, you know, we have to look for the connection. So finally, one day, I kept looking at this flag, and I said, Oh, I bet that guy that have nothing in common. And then one day I finally when asked him about his flag, and we talked and, you know, bottom line is we waved now when we see each other, it's not a big deal. But I feel much better waving at him than not waving at him or having me. Right. Right. Exactly. Connection. Well,Dr. Amanda Crowell:
I think that the problem like the difference, the opposite of getting proximate is just reading people's signals. Yes, right. Oh, I see. Or I see you're a Democrat sign in your yard. And you're, we have a during whatever, Gay Pride Month, we have like American flag that's in like a rainbow of colors or whatever. So we're signaling away over here to Yes. And yet, like if that's it, if that's the only interaction and it isn't, let's talk about it, and you've got a different flag and you have regular American flag and, you know, like, whatever, if we're not in relationship around our signals, then it is the opposite of being proximate. It is,Gena Cox:
it is it really is and effect. It absolutely is. It's almost better to have no signal. Because you still have you have to find a way to get to the other side. To have a connection. Yeah, to have the connection. So So I say curiosity connection breeds are what generate comfort and ease and I think we all want the comfort and ease I think we all prefer to be able to just sit in the room feel comfortable, do our jobs, make eye contact, crack a joke, do whatever and just be like, that's what we would want.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
I mean, what and I mean, not to you know, not to be a capitalist about it, but if you have ease, then you have you're gonna make more money. Your team's done. to work better, you're gonna get people, they're really expensive to rehire. It's just better for everyone actually,Gena Cox:
it is it is. But again, you know, who's gonna save us from ourselves is going to be Generation Z, to some extent, I'm putting all my pressure and all my hopes on. But for real, I do think younger people is strange, because they didn't learn it from us. Well, maybe they didn't necessarily learn this from their parents, they learned this in some other way, the value of community the importance of thinking about the future, you know, I think that, you know, unfortunately, the climate change, challenges are, are so evident to younger people who say, Well, wait, you're not doing anything? What are you living? Are you seeing the same things I'm seeing? Or are we living in a different world? And then they say, wait a minute, these only these older people are irrational. They're in denial. And then they go, Well, they're irrational in denial. We're the ones that are gonna suffer for it. Let's, so all of that, I think is helping all of us, everybody. Because I, the UN, you know, there was cop 27 That was held like this last week, right? Yeah. Everybody talks about this international climate change in protection conference. Fantastic. There was a very funny clip that I saw on CNN for like, one day, they had it up where they were, I think it was the UN Secretary General. And I might be wrong about the title of the person. But it was someone in that kind of a role. He had two speeches, he had the speech that was for the general audience, and he had a speech that was going to be for the young folk, that a separate like a sub event that we're going to have for just young people, someone put the young people's speech in front of him. So he's standing in front of the big open room, and he starts his speech, and he says something like this, thank you all, you've been holding our feet to the fire. And you have been doing such a great job at advocating for things like wait a minute, the right speech, is the absolute opposite of what we have the right speech for this audience. Because the people in front of me are not doing that it was, to me the juxtaposition of that was bizarre, because those younger people are saying, you know, so they will be the ones that will say, Okay, this race thing, and this, all of this stuff that you guys are so obsessed with in terms of separating people, it just doesn't make any sense. And we're not going to do it. That's my hope.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
I live with that hope to Yeah, but I also find one of the interesting, I also find that when even grown adults began to actually talk to each other with an idea towards understanding the perspective. One of my favorite experience of this was a guy who does you know, the guy who does Humans of New York, do you know? Yes, yes, yes. He went to like, right after Trump was elected, he went to Michigan to talk to people in Michigan about it, and he's very humanizing. And you, you realize that, really, and truly, so much of what we want is exactly the same for exactly the same reasons. And we really, genuinely just spoke to each other. A lot of this stuff that's this constructed polarity would dissolve, because it's just, it's not really true.Gena Cox:
Yeah. That's right. And we know, the reason humans in New York is so powerful, is because when we read those stories, in fact, recently, there was one that I read about this guy, very bizarre story, one of the ones that came up this month, and this guy said that it was like a cold open, they just jumped right into the article. And this guy talked about, he was like a surrogate dad, or whatever the right word is. And so he was impregnating many women. And his goal was to have, like, 60 children, he said these words in the article, it was very early on. And so everybody in the response was like, wait, what, what what, what did he just say, there was no lead up, but they missed them. And then the, the, the editors came in to the, to the feed, and they said, We need to remind you that Humans of New York in this in this work, we talk about ideas, and we introduce you to people, even when we you don't agree with them, you still the whole point is for you to at least hear them out and hear what they have to say and why they say or what they sing, and you will it doesn't mean you have to be like them. But the whole point of this is that we will have this automatic respect for this person and you know, whatever. But to your you know, to your point. It's, it's, it's, we felt it even though the people reading Humans of New York, most of whom would be people like me who are relatively liberal in our views in the first place. I can almost automatically feel myself going, what an idiot. What does he want to do that for air? And then I saw people putting in there I would never write that but I saw people writing it and then I was like, Gina, you say that you are not judging people. Why are you judging this guy? You don't know anything about him? You don't know why maybe? You don't know. So it's it's a human thing. thing, but but we all want the same thing in that when we read him as a New Yorker stories that get the big responses and make us light as we tell our friends about them, for all of us about the little old lady who's 80 years old in a wheelchair, and yet she's still dresses up and put on makeup and a wig and drives around in her wheelchair and makes it talks about the good old, whatever is like you. Yeah, because you could see yourselfDr. Amanda Crowell:
like you could wish you feel the humanity of it, feel it? Exactly, exactly. Yeah. Well, and what I love about your work is sort of a softening, right? Like, it's what we're asking is for a softening? Can we soften towards each other? Can we understand? Can we put in a script in place so we can get into the conversation? Can we give people a little grace with some time, if their reaction is immediately defensive? Like what are the processes that we can put into place so that we can begin to get back in relationship with each other events about this?Gena Cox:
Yeah. And even you know, even in my, with my book, I know, and the cover and all the decisions that I made on purpose, to make it clear that people that I, my goal was to open a dialogue not to close it. I, I realized that not everybody agrees with that point of view, right. There are people who feel like you should go into this work with a very strident perspective. And in fact, I even hear some people using the word justice in conversations. And the word justice to me is a word love the word itself is just over it not that there shouldn't be justice is it's a valid word. But in a in a work and business context, where what you're really trying to do is to you have to get people to come together to do something. I think all it does is it puts up a wall. Yeah. So so. So I, so I do have a point of view. And my point of view is that it is possible for us to come together. And it doesn't mean I that I don't still have bad experiences, or that I don't I'm not realistic about the fact that I have a lot of privilege by virtue of my education and my training and so many things about me that give me advantages, that there are many other people who don't have those experiences, and who knows what their lives are alike. So I'm not. I don't have rose colored glasses on about this. And when somebody tells me a horrible story, I lament, and I empathize. And I, you know, we talk about it, but I am always trying to figure out how can we get to the other side? Yeah, you know, trying to anyway,Dr. Amanda Crowell:
yeah, me too. I think that the thing I think about a lot is the gay, lesbian, the LGBTQ Alliance idea, right. So when I was growing up, in the 90s, it was very much a US in them kind of thing. The idea of being a gay Ally was, like, new, right. But over time, over the course of maybe 1520 years, it became to be this joyous thing, where if you were in they call them friends of the family, when I first started hearing about it, like if you were a friend of the family and onboard, and you were allowed to, you know, fly the flags and stand out for it. And you were welcomed into that community, even though it was people like me, heterosexual kind of straight people who were causing the oppression. And I wonder if there's a way for us to, to get to where a white person with a lot of enthusiasm for race equality and race relations or like whatever the right words are now, to be kind of joyously in that because I find that the one of the things that people I talk to worry about is that we won't be allowed to, we'll do it wrong. We're not really on the team. You're really you're an oppressor, even if you don't think you are like, so I wonder like, that's what I hope for. I feel like that's sort of like a base camp one, can we can we come together? Can we be on the same team? Can we name a team, that we can all be on that as a starting point that allows us to heal individually and collectively?Gena Cox:
Right? And I will certainly I believe that we can. And I also think but I also think it requires intentionality. Because I do think that there are people in this country whose job every morning when they wake up is to say, how do I keep dividing people? I'm not 100% Sure, I know. Well, sometimes it's political gain. And I see it very clearly that I'm not even talking about those people. I I'm just talking about people who either because they're so they've been so badly hurt, and have no no other experience and that they cannot imagine that a person of another race could be an ally there and they are some people who truly can't believe it because they don't they've never had that positive experience. And I talk a lot of in my book about history and about social segregation, because I don't think you can understand how we got here without understanding that. So there are people in this country who have been so segregated and have not been part of the of the great Whatever American adventure, you know, they haven't, they've just been, there's all of that. But then there are people who feel like their job is to take those people put them in a ball and use them as another group. And so yes, all of that is real. And all I can say, because I don't know the answer. I know you're not asking me to speak, uh, you know, I don't know the answer, except what I do know is think of this as a one to one problem. In other words, when I walk into the grocery store, when I walk into the drugstore, when I go into the school, I have to, I have to, I can't have my guard up all the time, I have to be willing to look in somebody else's eyes, I have to be willing to be receptive to that. I don't think that's easy. But I do think it's at the one to one level, I don't think anybody so you have to your heart, or whatever it is in your in your human body that enables you to do that you have to leave some space for that to happen. You really do you really, really do. So some people think that I'm just people who some people who look like me think, Oh, you're just you're full of it. You know, because you know, you're well educated or you might have you know, you're comfortable in relative comparison to some of the people but I say, that is not true. I know exactly about these experiences, because I live them I have them to this day. But I'm hell bent and determined that I can bring along some people who don't look like me to be part of the solution. I that is because you know what, we're still only 13% of the population black people in America. Like, it isn't even numerically possible any other way. It's irrational. Right? So we've got to find a way.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. Well, and you are leading the way to the way which is not I wouldn't call it thankless work. I hope you've got lots and lots of things. But it you know, it puts you out there. AndGena Cox:
I'm lucky enough to have a lot of now I here's the thing, a lot of people who have bought my book and who have reached out to me specifically to say something that they liked, or that resonated have not looked like me. But that is exactly right. Because I wrote this book for people who don't like me, right? So I have I my my reach is to people who don't look like me. Because I absolutely know from my own personal experiences, it is that it is possible for us to work together and get something done. So I am I'm not backing away from that.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
I love it. I love it. Well, I want to encourage anybody to get a copy of this book, because it I am, I have to admit to being in the process of reading it because I need to read and think and read and think. But that's a big compliment. For me. I think that not a lot of books are substantive and moving enough that you want us to sort of savor it. So So I encourage everybody, go get it and join me on that journey. But I bet people are wondering like, how can they get more of you? Surely they can buy the book. But are there other other ways to get to know you?Gena Cox:
Yeah, I mean, if you I'm primarily an advisor and a coach. And all that means is that I work one on one with individuals or groups of people who are wanting to primarily leaders who want to be more impactful in some way. And so I'm a general executive coach, but then specifically, if you're talking about within that, if you want to focus on inclusion, I also do coaching for that working directly with individuals to help, I don't have to be in your company in the face of as a consultant. In fact, I prefer not to be, I want you to be able to do it. But I certainly coach my clients with best practices, and also behavioral change for themselves and for people around them, and so on. So they can be more impactful and really move the needle and get something done. So I'm available, you can go to my website, which is my name, je e n a cox.com. And you can learn more about me and I got a little script, just a few ideas to get you started on those difficult conversations. So it's Gena cox.com/script. And if you want to go and take a little look at that, just to get you thinking about what what would you do to handle the difficult conversations that are an inevitable part of this, but that we can all master and you can find me on LinkedIn using my name,Dr. Amanda Crowell:
love and yes, thank you so much. And I I just want to really again, tell you what an honor, it's been to talk to you about this. I so appreciate your time. Thank you for coming on the podcast.Gena Cox:
Oh, it has been a pleasure. And just to spend a little more time with you just is a wonderful thing.