How Emotional Tax is Impacting the Workplace
All. Right how's. Everybody doing, good. Yeah you enjoying, your business, summit, okay. Have a good lunch, okay. Good you ready for your meaty beefy topic here yeah. All. Right so if I can ask by a show of hands if you are a person of color if you, have ever felt this, emotional, tax do you even understand, the topic. Okay. All right so, this is a topic that's really, real, so. I'm honored here to be here with two of my most favorite, colleagues, just having a discussion with you guys about about. Diversity about inclusion and about this emotional tax issue so, let me let me just share with you a little bit about for those of you who may be like emotional texts it sounds really sounds. Really daunting right none of us like taxes, do we no we don't that's why some of us live in Texas all right one of the many reasons why many, reasons why but. Um you know one of the you, know one of the topics that has surfaced over, the you know recent years has, been the topic of unconscious, bias right, and when you think about the topic of unconscious, bias it is really about that individual. Who. Is a receipt, of that person, of diversity. Or difference, and what, they have, and their filter right emotional. Tax is different emotional. Tax is about the. The. Feeling, the pressure the pain the anxiety. The, conflict, within that actual person, who is different and what, they carry with them and how, they feel they need to behave or not behave, as. They attempt. To bring their full self right, forward, you, know and so it. Is a very, very. Very real issue okay, you, know when when. You think about even just the discussions, that we had with you, know with with Michelle Obama yesterday and the importance, of authenticity and the fact that none, of us can actually bring, forth our best, performance. Right as a leader as a contributor, you, know arguably even as a person in the community unless we are really. Ourselves. This. Emotional tax issue is one, that is so, important it's so serious for us to address here together right and not only those people who are people of color but but. Those who are our allies and, who are supporters, and I want to say a special thanks to those of you you, know in in the who are not people of color because you're here because you're very much interested in the topic and I know you will be part of the solution. With us so, a couple of a, couple of stats around this so. A majority, of women and men across, racial, and ethnic groups. 58. Percent report, to being highly, on guard. Forty percent of women are significantly more likely 40%. Of women. Versus. Twenty six percent of men report, to being on guard in anticipation, of gender. Bias. Okay, so put color aside there's, also an emotional tax, as relates, to being a woman. Okay. Women. Of color are. More likely, than men of color to, be on guard because, they expect, both. Gender, and racial. Bias. And. You know one of the things that all I'll mention, on that in terms of women. Of color and those of you who know me in the audience you know that women, of color is a. Particular. Passion. Cause, cause, of mine and at 18 t we've launched, an initiative that I'm just so proud of you.
Know Focused specifically on women of color I heard, it once described, that you know if you think about leadership. And the demographic, of of people, in business you, know whether it's in tech in Hollywood. In in in finance, you, know it's a white, male dominated, environment, right and so if you are a white. Woman, you have one bridge to cross which. Is the, gender bridge right if you, are a man, of color you have one bridge to cross cross, and that's the ethnic bridge but. If you are a woman of color you. Have two bridges that you need to cross and that, is two. Bridges to many okay, and just this just give you a thought process around that and. So here's. Here's another important, stat, around this topic respondents, who experience higher levels, of being on guard are more, likely to. Frequently. Consider, leaving their jobs than. Those being lower, on guard that, shouldn't, actually be a surprise for that right if you feel like you're having to suppress yourself, and you're not bringing your full self to work you're, not going to enjoy that environment, and, so you. Know this is a big issue you. Know with. The LGBTQIA. Community right, nearly, 50%, of this. Community, of in America are in the closet, at work. All. Right and, you, know workers. Cited various reasons, for not coming out to colleagues. 38%. That they said they hid their sexuality. Because. Of the possibility, of being stereotyped. 36. Percent said they didn't want to make people feel uncomfortable. 31. Percent said that they worried about the possibility of losing connections. And relationships. With coworkers. Okay. So. This, emotional, tax issue is real all right so maybe what I'll start out with is you, know and helps I'll start with you and this doesn't go to you is if. You could start out with sharing, with the audience a, personal. Experience you've had. About. Emotional. Tax whether it's something, that you experience the new career, or something, that somebody very close to you experience just describe what this emotional, tax means, for, you with a real live example sure, first. Of all thank you for an, opportunity to to. Share I am, I've, been with AT&T 35, years. That's. Right 35, that's good so yeah Sophie, she's. Been 29, I've been 35, you've. Been 39 so, so. Back, in the, early 80s, coming. Up and, joining Wisconsin. Bell as, an engineering, student. From the University of Wisconsin, the environment. At, that point in time was quite different than. It is today you know you and you immediately felt, as, though you had to prove yourself because. You. Thought that people. Believed. That you were a token. You. Know now as a Bell scholar AT&T. Paid for my engineering school so, I wasn't stupid, right, and so, I came out and I just felt the need to prove. Myself in that, in and of itself. Was. Emotionally. Taxing. Over. The next 35 years, with. Support. Of folks who don't necessarily look, like me and. Delivering. And performing, at a. High, level I was, provided, opportunities. And so, over time that. Emotional. Tax alright, though I know. That. I'm a black man there's. No doubt I can't hide that I think, you all can see. That right, I truly became more comfortable in my skin.skin my. Abilities, and who I was as a as a person and in. 1999. I had an opportunity to work for a, young, man his name was John stinky in. One of the things that he he said to all of us the very first, meeting I met with him was who. Are you what. Guides you every, day and I. Came with those things that were near and dear to me calling, my guiding principles, that are unwavering and so. As I kind of moved forward in my career and now after, 35, years I, don't have an. Emotional. Tax around, being accepted, I have. More of a, attacks. Around ensuring that what, I do. Provides. Opportunities. For folks who followed me that, that looked like me so I want to make sure that. There is no reason, no, one has a reason, to question the capabilities, of a, black man in corporate. America, or person, of color and, corporate, America so that's kind of a burden that you feel it's not a bad burden, it's actually a great responsibility, that I cherish. So, that's. Thanks. For sharing, and, I like your talking about one bridge and two bridge I'm, gonna tell a different, bridge story, maybe. One of my biggest failures, in my career as a leader. I, hired. Somebody, for, a job in, San. Antonio. Who, came from California and, was, a gay male and he. Was awesome at his job and I was so excited to have him on my team and I, moved him across the country, and I. Kind, of just assumed I don't. Really. Care.
That You're gay I don't notice that you're gay but I didn't, really own the, issues, of him integrating, in a new community in South Texas and. I. Did, his a miserable, failure, when, he came to me about 18 months into the job and said I can't. Do this anymore. I'm, gonna leave I'm, gonna move back to California I of course was devastated. But shame on me for not asking some of the questions I, hadn't. Noticed in that 18 month period that he. Was hiding. Who he was to the rest of the company and I. Should, have been much more aware I should, have helped him through that situation. And, it's, part of the reason that, I am so passionate about how helping. The. LGBTQ. Community right. Now because it's one of the failures I look back on that I have, learned as a leader, of one of my biggest failures, and how do I make sure I never repeat, that for, anyone that is coming around my table or part of my team that, has a different. Authentic, shell itself that they're not showing and how do I recognize that earlier, mm-hmm, it's, such a powerful story because you know you know we as leaders we. Have a responsibility to support the, the person is a member of our team but. We have a deeper responsibility, to support that person as a person first the only yeah so, powerful so so. Using, you know kind of you know I think that that experience and, you know you you have both been really, storied, leaders throughout your career, because, you are passionate about your people not, just the business you. Know how how, do we help organizations understand. The, impact of this tax you, know what. Would, you give this set of leaders arounds, making. Sure that, we create, an environment where people, can bring forth their, uniqueness, where. We can openly, talk about differences, in a. Safe. Productive, progressive. Way. Well. Okay. All right good. So I think, yesterday. When. Beth Povetkin. Bernard, were, on stage is is interesting. The. Dialogue, they. Had right, and, when. Bernard talked about being. Accepted. Trying. To fit in. He. Was talking about emotional, emotional. Tax, and I think as leaders what. We we, need to do is a few things I think first. You, just have to acknowledge that, it. Exists, that, though. We have made progress over the years there. Is still behavior. In our. Business, that is bias that, is discriminatory. And, that, is exclusionary. I think. The the other thing that we need to do is make sure that, people. Are. Educated. Right. I think that we have unconscious, bias training, I think, there's cultural awareness training, and I think people need to be equipped to have these, conversations. Around. Around. Different differences. Awareness. Is another thing that I think is is is fairly. Important. As. Well you just have to be aware of, your. Surroundings like Susan you just talked about a situation, where you just weren't necessarily, not a bad thing but you just weren't necessarily, aware. Of how this. Individual, and your team. Felt. Right, and then, I think two more things is is that I was. Reading this article a. Few. Months ago. By. Kyle quarter, basketball. Player, for the Utah Jazz and, he talked. About privilege and he. Talked about, the. Ability to opt-in, and opt-out. So. I believe, that if we're going to acknowledge, we're. Going to ensure people. Are educated. Right, and aware, you.
Know The majority have to happen out then right to, supporting. The. Challenges, that we have as people of color in in. Women. And then, I think just just. Lastly. You. Have to be accountable, right. And when Randall talked a few years ago at the end of the day when he talked about moving from toilets to understand he's talking about being accountable, not necessarily, accepting. It but, calling it what, it what, it is and if, you don't, hold people accountable you, somehow, create an environment, where. Bias. Discriminate. And exclusionary, behaviors, it's, acceptable, and it's okay so, those are the things that I think as leaders we, need to embrace and as leaders we need to make sure that our people, understand. Just. How. About you I mean any any best practices, that you would share or how do we create this environment where. We. Can catapult. Even greater openness. An understanding. Yeah, it's such a good question how. Many of you show, of hands how many of you feel comfortable, sitting down with someone that you work with regularly, and saying to them how. Does it feel to be black, at this company what's, it like to be a lesbian, female, at this company what's it like to be a homosexual, how, many of you have those, authentic. Conversations. Anyone willing to share okay. Good seeing some hands okay I wish. Everybody's, hand was up you. Know it's really hard, because we were having this dialogue. When. Is it inappropriate and, when is it appropriate to have that dialogue, how. Do you get to know somebody well enough to let them know that is a caring, conversation. And not a oh my. Gosh what, are you asking, me that that. Is such a delicate. Balance. And so I've. Really worked to try first of all for everyone that I interface, with work or non work let. Them know you care about them tell, me about your family, tell. Me about your significant, other try. To get them to open up and then as you build that personal. Rapport. Try. To push, the converse, and, push, it in a way of caring, how. Does it feel to, be in this workplace, being the unique individual, you are because. I have, found those real, conversations, let's, get real, have. Taught me so much I had, a conversation with, a black female. A, couple, of years ago where, I was asking, her that question what's it like to be here, and where, are you finding that. You are accepted, where are you finding put off and she, told me that she sometimes has, a hard time engaging, in some, dialogue, because, she is afraid to come off as an angry black person, and. I would never even have thought of that but. There are some things she's carrying that weight on her shoulders of. Feeling, kind, of angry I've been mistreated, sometimes and, how. Do I not, engage, in a way where I bring that anger and so she pulls. Back from sharing, she, steps out of the conversation. And and, I learned a lot from just that dialogue, from, her and. I really think it's something, we can all do better including, myself how do you have that real dialogue, mmhmm yeah that's, that's, great advice you know I think about you. Know what's it take to strike up that relationship with somebody right and we're, we are always looking for that connection right where, can I best relate to that person then they can relate to me you. Know one, of the things that you know that I learned was we were launching this woman of color initiative a at AT&T was there. Were more. Similarities. That we were experiencing. Than, differences, you know and you know some of you may be wondering well why you know why and were you so passionate about of women of color one. Of the things that I saw was, that there. Were new, silos, being created, right and so you know we're kind of talking about that more classically. Oriented, silos, here but you know I saw you, know my my black sisters really, having, great solidarity, right, you, know the, Latina community having great solidarity, right the. The Asian women having great solidarity but not linkage, across right and I thought to myself gosh, there's so much more we could learn from each other you, know and you know Susan I I love, what you said about you, know your approach to this because what, I learned in, that was, that we, there. There are very common, things that we have experienced, and therefore when we come together we, can become. Stronger, and learn from them and in case you're wondering about an example. One. Example that. You. Know that that I that, I learned that Asian, women largely. Share with black women was a. Stereotype. Right and, therefore a tax is that we are not able to articulate, ourselves. Or, speak, in public right. So the number of times somebody has said to to, me or, you. Know men and many of you know my black, female colleagues, is wow you can, speak really well right.
Or Wow, you're actually such a good public, speaker and it's well why right and when you think about the burden of that Wow, the orientation, is you're, not gonna be one but. Then that means you have to actually be five, times better right. Because there's this expectation, was. Really, you know it's really really amazing if that's an, example of that tax, and that shared common, tax, that we fill let's. Pivot to let's. Pivot to the, the. Advice right, the guidance, the coaching that we would give to someone out there who feels like they have, that, emotional. Tax right for whatever, reason. That they're carrying around. And. I even hate saying this because it's horrible, but it's true the, burden, of not being able to be themselves right. The burden, of not being able to be who, they are. You. Know whether it's because of their sexuality their, gender, whatever, you, know their their color what, what advice do you guys have to. To. Those folks right individually, about how to. How. To work through this. I'm. Always one who looks to sell. First. And. So, just do, some introspection on, what. Is driving this. This. Tax, and. Try. To assess is this something, that I. Can. Address. Within. The confines of who I am where, I'm not necessarily changing. Who I am because there's certain things that we all can do that, at the end of the day we're, causing some of our art, right so first thing is internal. And then the second thing is that when. You have these situations. Or encounters, where. You, feel as though there, is a bias. Right. Have the discussion, right, not not. Wait. 5. Days 10 days but. Have the discussion, with the individual, because I think it's it's kind of it's, cyclical you you you have to share and have. The dialogue in, a constructive, way where. The individual doesn't feel as though you are attacking them and that you, are debating, with them you just sharing a feeling, and a thought so, it's important, that you have, have. Have have that dialogue. With. With the individual, and then the other thing around, personal. Kind. Of taxes when you're not prepared, right so forget whether you're going in a room where you're the only person or not that's, enough so you're comfortable with that but if you are not prepared, right. For what it is that you are about to do be it a public, speaking, engagement, or walking into a room, you. Have to prepare and be prepared to do do, your job and do it well and whatever that opportunity, is Excel and do. It well because I think those are some of the things and some of the personal tax when I look back at my career times. When I was comfortable in my skin and when I was a little nervous and anxious it. Was because I probably hadn't prepared well. Enough for the interaction that I was supposed to that, I was about to have so those, are the things that I would say. Prepare. Self-reflection. And then, if you have a situation that, hits. On one of those three things of discrimination. Bias. Or. Exclusion. Very kind of behavior than out the discussion to make sure people understand, it because you, know no one's perfect and sometimes they don't even know. Yeah. I'll probably key off of what Thomas, said and I I think my, first advice is always assume it's ignorance, if, you're in a situation at, work where. You feel, like someone, is, doing. Something to. Discriminate. Against you I always like to assume it's ignorance and I will readily. Admit as much as it breaks my heart I have done things in my past that are just ignorant and shame. On me but, it takes people to teach me to not say stupid things like, are. You bringing your husband oh I'm, sorry are you bringing your significant, other hello, that took me long enough. Ask, questions. In an open way that lets them feel like they can share, whatever their situation is, and. There. Is an education, that needs to happen on both sides. Explain. To me that I you feel that your and I'm not being inclusive when, I ask a question a certain way and I, know has her favorite questions. She's. Gonna tell and, so sometimes we just say things that are ignorant and, I like to tell people assume, it's ignorance please. Take the time to have a real relationship and. Have the real conversation and, I, hope on, both sides of it in a workplace environment or, any environment, people are open to learning tell. Me what I say that makes you feel put off and let me apologize, let, me grow with you help me understand, your situation in, a way where I can be a better communicator. Or a better person, a better leader, I'd. Like to think that we are all open to that but sometimes without that dialogue, I keep, saying stupid, things and, it took me a long time for somebody said you know what you're, saying this you're saying this and if you could just change, your questioning, a little bit it would be much more inclusive, yeah.
That's That's that's great Susan thank you for that you know it's the this whole. The. You can't reinforce, enough, the importance, of not. Assuming. Malicious, intent, right, just, do not assume malicious, intent because the reality is that every single one of us I mean we're human we, all have biases, we, are all a function of how we grew up where we were raised what media we you, know consumed, who we hang out with right, we're, all a function of that and so bias is a natural, normal, human, thing right. Malicious. Bias racism. Bigotry right, is, not, okay, and so, you. Know just it's. Just so important, to look at each opportunity. As a learning opportunity and, if you happen to be that person who has that emotional, tax you. Know take, a step forward and. Try. To help educate and expand, the mind of the person you know I will, tell a story since Susan prompted, hit of. One. Of the it shows up in one, of the top five questions you should never ask an Asian person okay so. You. Know okay so listen, you're listening, cuz Thomas Thomas, gonna say hey where I first met her did I ask her language okay. And by, the way through. Our woman of color initiative I learned that my you, know you, know Latino. Hispanic, sisters, had. This same one, okay. It's one of the top five that you also should not ask you, know you, know you, know so and it is where. Are you from. Okay. I'll, tell you about three people asked me this over the last two days already okay, so, here's, how it, goes with me and. Where, are you from, oh you. Mean where I live I live in Dallas right now no no where are you really from I'm. From Jersey that's, actually where I grew up no. Where are you really really. From oh you. Were you mean where I was born, well I was actually born in the Midwest and then I then I say I know exactly what they're after Wyatt by the way I knew exactly what they were after when they first asked the question oh you, mean my ethnicity, my. Parents immigrated to United States from Taiwan so I'm actually Taiwanese, American or Chinese American, depending on how and then out then I will ask where, are you really from right. Now, I will tell you I have friends so we answer that question this following way the, answer is so where are you from I'm from my, mother's womb, haha. Okay, but think. About it is that a teaching moment it is not a teaching moment right, because, you can bet whoever I've taken, through that rope-a-dope of where you from where you're really from nowhere you really really love that they will never ask it that way again if they've actually been listening right and, so it's a little bit of tongue in cheek right and it's 9:00 you, 99%, of the time the person is not asking it it's a cure because they're trying to be ignorant stupid. Or they don't actually think I'm less, American than they are right. They're, just truly curious about my ethnic, background is like what Thomas said he can't hide the fact that he's a black, man I can't hide, the fact nor do I want to that I'm an Asian female right. And so there would be a natural curiosity right. So, you, know so I think that the whole the whole thing about intent is is, uh is, so, important, I like the rope-a-dope rope-a-dope. Yeah right you know like you know a likes, that kickboxing. And stuff so you, know this this little rope ago. Yeah. So. And, I'm gonna open it up to the audience so I want know what you guys said Sharon. Maybe ask us what you saw on your guys mine, so, um what tips do you have to. Combat, the pressure of knowing, you might be the only one right Tom's you actually touched on this a moment, ago which is there. Are too many times and by the way still now, today, right in the dawn of a new decade where. You're, the only one you're the, only person of color you're, the only female right. Right. You know, all. Right you're the only lesbian right, you're the only of whatever right, so, what, what, tips do you have.
To. To. Those in the audience here about how, to deal with that. Natural, pressure. Of being. The only one in the room. Let. Me go, okay. All, right I think I answered it now now. I'm just kidding with you no, you know I've been when. We were preparing for this and I got the series, of questions I'm gonna give my little story out and I think it's somewhat applicable, but, I think, no. Matter what you have to prepare I've, kind, of talked. Talked about that know your subject and things of that sort, also, know that you. Have to be confident, in, who. You are and, and talked, about it earlier and Bernard. Talked about being authentic self, and knowing. That you are different and that, you, have. Different. Opinions different, ways, of doing things different ways of approaching approaching, problems, and know that those, differences, are are of. Value though they may not be a perceived, value at the time but they are of their. Value, I was bringing. My daughter to. The airport this, morning Kayla, she came in and visited and, I have this routine. How many of us are just like creatures. Of habit like. You get up in the morning you get in the car, you. Do this now I'm taking my daughter to the airport so I get up put. Her stuff in the car and, I. Turn on the radio so. I flipped between news channels. Driving. And she says dad you, listening to the same thing you go channel the channel so she turned it off. Are. You doing you turn it off you messed, your. Mess you're messing with my. My. Routine so. I. Drop, her off and I said okay I'm gonna go to MPR so. I go to the NPR and this. Joshua, Johnson y'all heard of Joshua, Johnson a 1 right. He, has this, he. Is interviewing. The. Secretary. Of Smithsonian. In the first. Director. Of the. National. Museum of, African. American history. And. Culture and, he, talked about hey the first time Joshua, said the first time I went through I was just so emotionally, attached when I got through the second level I was done right then. They have this section where they allow feedback, from people who, kind of call into the radio station so it was this. Mennonite. From. Pennsylvania. Said that we had gone and we. Had visited. The. Museum and that. She, was just. Touched. And. As, she came back she started, to reflect and. What. She began to ask herself is what, don't I know. Right. And so, what I would ask you guys not that necessarily when you go into a meeting but. Does you think about this. Whole biased. Kind. Of discussion, we're having what, don't you know about your black. Compared, to what does what don't you know about your female compiled, you what don't you know about your LBGT. Q+. Compadre. What, don't I know about my. Unconscious, bias, so, those are the things that we have to look at and if we can kind of absorb. All, of that I think and as you enter these. Situations. Where you think you are the only one, understanding. That. I think at the end of the day will help you be, able to to. Deal with those those, situations, so yeah. Thank you so much Susan how about you y'all say that um I'll tell two stories because, what I think I used to do was to try to fit in and so I, am, often the only female in the room and, what. I used to do is I'm, just gonna be honest I hate golf but I tell you what if, you're going to hang out and be a senior executive you, kind of need to know what's going on golf so my husband's job is to make sure he informed me before went. Into meetings on Monday morning what, actually were the outcome of the golf was and. Or the big football game and, so I take. Precipitous. Notes and go in and say know exactly what happened and I he'd. Get me in here the highlights and I'd go in and pretending i watch golf I hate golf that. Was me ten years ago golf I hate golf it's a waste of time. So. Let's have an honest dialogue. Change. And so I've gone from trying to fit in and pretend that I am one of everyone. Else now. When I go into a room and I'm the only woman which happens, a lot I just got back from Mobile, World Congress and you. Know even walking around any tech, conference, I can sit down with, a lot of my, vendors, because I do all of the you know procurement. And supply, chain, for AT&T and, I am regularly the only any woman in the room so. What I've tried to do and one of them is here one hire more women in my organization. I'm actively, working on that and now. I think it's really fun I walk into a room where, the vendor is there with 12 people and they're all men and I, say hmm, looks. Like you guys got a lot of work to do you. Gotta get on hiring some women and I just stand there and they all look at me and I wait for a response and, I, wait till they get really uncomfortable. And. I just wait and I just wait and then they'll all go oh we have diversity, initiatives, we're doing this we're doing this and I just watch and kind of giggle and go yeah you guys got some work to do.
So. It's, fun to try and turn the tables and sort of say we. Need more diversity, around, this table right right. Yeah speak the truth absolutely. The. Two thoughts that I'd share with you guys about this about. How to work through this is one the, role of allies, right, in any environment cannot. Be overstated. Right and so you. Know we, all need others, to help, lift us up to help support, us they. You. Know they do not need to look or. Be exactly, like us in fact if, you. Know if we get more support from people who are different than us we actually, can, be more successful and grow much more effectively right so I think that making, sure you have allies right, whether it's in that meeting you know whether it's in that roundtable, for that presentation somebody. That will help you practice or you, know just allies. Are critical, the, second piece, of advice that I'd give on this topic on being the only is do, not play into the stereotype, right all right I'll. Tell, you one quick story and this happens way too frequently, and. I wish I would be there all the time to catch it but you, know I was in a meeting with you, know in my last job with you, know bosses. Staff meeting and there. Were two. Other two other women there you, know around the table. They. Were there on time of course okay, and then, a bunch of the dudes relate they, walk in there, are no more seats at the table so who do you think volunteered to give up their seat both. The women none, of the dudes in the room sitting at the table even noticed, that the other guys had no seats right, and I was sitting next to one of the women saying do not give up your seat you. Stay right there right. You're animating I'm serious I'm in entirely serious right, because, don't, play into the stereotype, it's really it's difficult. By the way I never volunteer. To take notes why because. People, expect. Me to take the notes all. Right now. Do I think I think there knows better than most people yeah sure. Okay. But. I'm not going to go take the notes because if you fall into. But you feed the, stereotype, right so resist, that urge that. You have to. Fall into the stereotype. Thanks. For watching for, more videos from AT&T, business, click Subscribe.