Think People CEO Judy Ellis is interviewed by Yvan Demosthenes for the Hamilton Demo vlog.

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Updated: Dec 9, 2020

Judy Ellis, Think People's CEO, was quoted in this September 17, 2020 Forbes article

How is your self-confidence these days?

Perhaps you have lost your job. Or maybe you are working from home without a clear and compelling structure. Even if you are operating in a public workspace, the current conditions may have altered your job's nature and limited your interactions with others.

Who wouldn't be feeling disoriented?

Nevertheless, you don't have to wait for the pandemic to end to regain some footing. You can find a way forward through simple yet powerful acts:

Thoughts Affect Mental Health: Time to Refresh Yours

Mindsets are stubborn and often resist inspection. Nevertheless, now is the time to examine yours. Do you need some inspiration? Consider the declaration of purpose issued in 2019 by the Washington-based Business Roundtable (BRT). Yes, their statements refer to companies. However, the underlying themes can apply to individuals as well. BRT stated every corporation has its unique reason for existing. However, the corporation's fundamental purpose is to serve all stakeholders, not just shareholders, while supporting the dignity and meaning of all lives. Consider how to translate these pledges into your personal commitments. Here are some suggestions:

Consider All Stakeholders

Perhaps your first reaction to this BRT statement is to ask what this has to do with you. After all, you don't have stakeholders, do you?

Refresh your way of thinking.

According to the dictionary, a stakeholder is "one who is involved in or affected by a course of action." Unquestionably, all of us affect others through our actions. Therefore, we have stakeholders! Your next steps regarding stakeholders:

  • Identify them. Think about who is involved in or affected by your course of action. Most of us will name family, friends, employers, and customers. And include your community and society at large in your list. We all have the power to affect our world.

  • Examine how you bring them value. Now is the time for a checkup. What do you contribute to the lives of your stakeholders?

Support Meaning and Dignity for All

BRT stated every person has the right to succeed through hard work and creativity. And all of us should be able to live with meaning and dignity. In our polarized and hateful world, this commitment is more important than ever. Examine what do you do to honor this pledge.

A Black professional woman describes the unassessed assumption concerning the "rightness" of white values, norms, and rituals. She argues convincingly that white presumptions of intellect and right and wrong win the day. Often white people do not appreciate how much Black people have to understand the white culture to maneuver in their daily lives. What are you doing to refresh your mindset concerning the cultures and life experiences of others?

Your next step regarding meaning and dignity:

  • Consider how you can uncover your assumptions about diverse others and increase your empathy for your stakeholders.

Act Now

You have identified your stakeholders and thought about how you can increase your understanding and appreciation of them. Now consider how you can increase the value you deliver to them.

This is the time for action!

The Business Roundtable pledged to meet or exceed the expectations of their customers. They promised to invest in their employees, treat their suppliers ethically, support the communities where they work, and generate long-term value for shareholders.

What equivalent commitments are you willing to make? Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Invest in your relationships with your stakeholders. Your life satisfaction is likely to increase when you shift your dealings with others to more than mere transactions. Focus on what you give rather than what you get as you reflect on your relationships. Increase the energy you apply to help your family, friends, and colleagues address their problems and celebrate their successes.

  • Expand your network. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion expert Judy Ellis suggests identifying the ten people you seek out the most, and if you do not have diverse voices in your network, reach out. Why? Because, in Ellis's words, "empathy and understanding happens most powerfully in one-on-one interactions." And no excuses, please. These days we can build relationships with almost anyone we choose in our communities and world.

  • View movies in Netflix's Black Lives Matter category to understand the history of bias and discrimination. Ellis says this activity will be far from painful. The movies are excellent. And, let's face it, most of us are seeking some entertainment at home right now.

  • Acknowledge and use your power and influence to contribute to your culture, whether professional, organizational, municipal, or societal. Don't leave the hard work to others. You might consider volunteering in your community. Or perhaps you can participate in an affinity group or ERG through your workplace.

  • Join a movement that shares your hopes and values. For example, WeTheChange is a movement started by a group of women CEOS running purpose-driven enterprises. They drafted a declaration claiming that business must be a force for good focused on generating abundance and prosperity for all. They support Black Lives Matter by organizing financial support for Black-led groups. They formed a political action advocacy group that is spearheading a get-out-the vote campaign. And they established a working group to explore shifting capital to sustainable, women-owned businesses. 

Failure to Act Affects Our Mental Health

When we give in to our anxiety and fail to act, we suffer the personal consequences, and our stakeholders lose out. In a recent New York Times article, When Good People Don't Act, Evil Reigns, Charles Blow argues that each of us must take a stand. He asks us to relinquish our magical thinking that the "horrors of the world will simply work themselves out." If we worry and wait for catastrophes to pass and uncertainties to resolve, our circumstances are likely to deteriorate along with our mental health. Remember that your career doesn’t define you. Don’t delay. Make a positive difference in the world now. The pandemic won’t keep us down forever. In the meantime, lead your life with purpose and meaning. Refresh your mindset and take action.

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  • Think People Admin

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

Focus on Inclusion – With Judy Ellis

Or listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts.

Aren’t we human beings hilarious? The ways we can find to discount and disqualify others, especially in competitive environments, is sometimes stunning.”

Judy Ellis, my guest knows what she is talking about. She has been working with corporations on culture, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for 20+ years. Yet many companies miss opportunities to realize a positive bottom-line impact.

Judy has seen all kinds of DEI efforts. She reports when businesses engage in a watered-down versions of DEI, they are missing tremendous opportunities for harnessing the full capabilities of their workforce which would increase their competitive edge. Empowering and caring for all employees ––not only customers––is key, she says.

Judy Ellis

Inclusion, when authentic, can have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Why? Because when diverse points of view are listened to and respected, it can bring innovation.

For example, Judy talks about her work with P&G many years ago.

Case in point: the consumer products firm was missing out on the lucrative ethnic hair care market because their homogenous thinkers didn’t know anything about this consumer need.

Judy recounts the following aha:

“Leaders were saying things like, 'Is that really a market? Are you kidding me? It’s worth $3 billion and we’re not in it. How could that be?'" It took years of collaboration and advocacy by Black female researchers and marketers to get their product idea to market. Fast forward 10 years and the company now has a leading brand in the ethnic hair care space. It's bringing lots of money into the company because different people have different experiences––some populations see consumer insights that others may not.”

Judy advises on how to overcome our very natural biases or blind spots that conveniently allow us to protect ourselves. Sometimes we can’t see all that’s right in front of us. But, according to Judy, we can learn to uncover and correct for our blind spots.

She talks about “Learning ways to unlearn the way we look at life to begin to see how others see." Judy says this perspective-taking, along with empathy, is a BIG leadership skill that "helps not only with diversity, equity, and inclusion, but with being a good people leader.”

Here is a snapshot of a few topics we cover in this podcast…..

  • The difference between an assimilation framework for diversity and a deeper and more beneficial approach to differences and inclusion

  • How to approach DEI for an impact on the company’s bottom line.

  • How to move from diversity measured by the numbers to inclusion that provides opportunities for true seats at the table of power and decision-making

  • Ways to introduce diversity and inclusion to avoid organizational resistance

More about Judy Ellis, M.A.

Judy is a coach, business consultant, and facilitator with decades of experience in untangling complex interpersonal and organizational dynamics; particularly those related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Whether the need is organizational consulting or one-on-one coaching, Judy’s focused and warm approach delivers practical solutions in which both leaders and their organizations discover their best results.

Judy and her teams' work quickens the untangling that’s necessary for progress, whether the knots are within individuals, among team members, or arise from the complexities of the organization as a whole. Coaching with leaders enables solid advances whether the need is developing increased cultural competence, higher emotional intelligence, stronger leadership ability, or improved conflict management skills.

Judy's practical approach is built on a foundation of 10 years of management experience in Human Resources and Corporate Communications at Procter & Gamble; combined with serving 10+ years as an external consultant and coach in her own business. Judy and her companies have received recognition and awards from the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council, and Make-A-Wish of Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana. Judy serves as an Adjunct Professor in the University of Cincinnati’s Applied Psychology Program, where she's taught Workforce Diversity to students pursuing their Master's degrees in Applied Psychology. She has a B.S. in Management and Organizations from Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business, and a B.A. and M.A. in Theology. Judy holds a certificate in Diversity & Inclusion from Cornell University and is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory®. She holds an ICF certificate for Coaching from the Enneagram in Business. She is a member of the Association of Training & Development (ATD) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is active in nonprofit leadership boards, including Make-A-Wish, where she serves as DEI Committee Advisor and the Indiana University Alumni Association, where she serves as Co-President of the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club.

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