Jennifer Brown’s personal diversity story isn’t obvious at a glance. A blond, white woman, she admits people are often confused to find out she’s the diversity & inclusion keynote for the day and they wonder why she was hired to speak about the challenges people of colour or other visible minorities have in the workplace. As a member of the LGBTQ community, Jennifer says she separated her true self from her work until she couldn’t anymore.
Jennifer believes everyone has a diversity story – for some it’s visible, for others it’s more hidden like socio-economic disadvantage, or mental illness or even a physical disability. Today’s episode is your opportunity to learn from one of North America’s leading diversity & inclusion speakers and thinkers about how important it is for all of us to bring our whole selves to work.
Jennifer is an award-winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker and diversity and inclusion expert. She is the founder, president and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting (JBC), a strategic leadership and diversity consulting firm that coaches business leaders worldwide on critical issues of talent and workplace strategy. Brown is a passionate advocate for social equality who helps businesses foster healthier, more productive workplace cultures. Her book Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace & the Will to Change will inspire leadership to embrace the opportunity that diversity represents and empower advocates to drive change that resonates in today’s world. Jennifer is a highly sought-after expert on changing demographics, specific communities of identity including women, people of color, LGBT individuals, generations like Millennials, and the role of male leaders in change efforts.
I’ve been a fan of Jennifer’s for a long time and I was thrilled when she generously agreed to come on the podcast and share her wisdom with us. In her own words, on owning and sharing our stories:
I almost didn’t tell my story about losing my voice [more in the episode] on the TED stage. I thought it wouldn’t matter, that it was irrelevant…because I was kid of privilege. So I almost didn’t share it. But don’t kill your story before it has a chance to leave you and make a difference to someone else in ways you can’t predict. Now I know if I hadn’t told it, somebody else might not feel seen and heard in their own way because of it.
Jennifer shares so much in this episode – I hope you’ll give yourself the time and space to absorb it all. It’s a long episode but filled with so much advice, wisdom and goodness starting with: how she found her current voice after losing the one that provided the work she was originally trained for, how diversity & inclusion efforts are working in the corporate world, what we need to admit to and find in ourselves to really meet people where they are and change hearts & minds, and how holding space for our very real anger, if we’re a person who lacks privilege in any way, is so important.
What you’ll learn from Jennifer in this episode:
- The difference between ALLY and ACCOMPLICE behaviour – this is a juicy conversation and worthy of some serious thought after listening. How can you be/do either (or both) by using your power, platform and privilege in your work or for issues that don’t affect you personally?
- The pros and cons of diversity & inclusion as a C-level responsibility
- Our chat about what Starbucks did well/not so well in their efforts to address racism and diversity in their corporate culture
- How we, as women, can offer space and acknowledgement to men who try, and initially fail, when trying to be allies or accomplices for issues that affect us
- What Jennifer means by “meeting people where they are” to change hearts & minds, and why that doesn’t mean we’re not entitled to express anger, distrust or disillusionment at improper treatment
- The role of ambition in women’s fight for social and workplace justice – whether that be personal ambition or ambition for a cause
- The power of sharing our personal stories and opportunities we miss to help others by holding them back
- Why, as an activist, Jennifer says campus-style activism doesn’t work in the business world and what she recommends instead
Jennifer is ambitious for:
“The diverse voices at the top of organizations who may not feel we’ve made enough progress. I want them to hang in there so the legions of other talent that looks like them can see them in leadership roles”….more in the episode.
Links to organizations/articles/books mentioned in this episode: