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S1E4 Episode Notes | How to Create More Inclusive Workplaces With Dalia Katan

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

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Episode Notes:

Innovation strategist and entrepreneur, Dalia Katan is leading the conversation on how diversity and human connection can unlock untapped growth for organizations. Dalia joins us to share her practical research-based tips for creating workplace environments that can reduce prejudice and improve social cohesion across gender, race, ethnicity, and political ideologies. We also start to ask what it looks like to be a champion for underrepresented folks when we have a seat at the table. 

  • 01:03 Introducing Dalia Katan.

  • 01:37 Born to do inclusion and bridge building work.

  • 04:03 The corporate competition that served as a catalyst for a $450,000 grant to build refugee workplace integration programs.

  • 06:18 What is diversity and inclusion anyway?

  • 08:23 What does the research say about inclusion in the workplace?

  • 10:28 What are the practical strategies companies can apply to drive inclusion?

  • 16:24 The business case for investing the time, energy and resources to developing inclusion and diversity initiatives.

  • 18:54 How to measure success when it comes to a diversity inclusion initiatives.

  • 21:08 Why Refugee inclusion is something every company should care about.

  • 23:55 Giving employees the space to be humans as well as workers.

  • 27:25 From environmental to social upheaval, we need to start preparing our society for new types of refugees.

  • 28:45 What new managers can do to be more inclusive.

  • 34:46 What allyship means to Dalia.

  • 36:00 Launching into the future of work.

  • 38:38 Gaby and Jenelle reflect on what they learned and on their insecurities about where they could do better.

References & Links:

Full Transcript:

Dalia: (00:00)

The private sector has a really massive opportunity to help with one of the world's most pressing crises and given that the crisis is so widespread with over 25 million displaced individuals, we have to consider our responsibility as a nation of immigrants to see how can we support this next wave of immigration. Whether migrants, refugees, asylees to ensure that they can really integrate not only into our society, but also into our economy to build a better life.

Gaby: (00:31)

[Music plays] Hola Hola, it's Gaby Acosta

Jenelle: (00:33)

And me, Jenelle Acosta. We're high school sweethearts on a journey to be better allies.

Gaby: (00:39)

You're listening to The Way We Lead were we talk about inclusive leadership allyship and advocacy with folks across identities, industries and experiences.

Jenelle: (00:49)

If you're new here, Welcome! You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the handle @thewaywelead.

Gaby: (00:56)

We're glad you're here. Let's jump in. [Music Ends]

Dalia: (01:03)

I'm Dalia Katan. I'm a freelance strategist. I help companies think through how to grow and innovate through human-centered design lens. I'm also a published author on the future of work space, on diversity inclusion and a huge advocate for how inclusion can be used to not only improve business outcomes but also improve societal cohesion.

Jenelle: (01:21)

So my thing is I'm always really interested in why people got to where they are today, why people believe, think, do the things that they do. Um, so I'm curious from your own personal experience, why did you want to get into D&I in the first place?

Dalia: (01:37)

Mm, yeah, it's a great question and I think in a way I was kind of like primed for this from childhood. Um, I come from a very diverse family. My mom, her side were refugees in 1989 from Central Asia. My Dad was a, um, also sort of refugee, but he came as an immigrant to the U.S. Uh, he was a Middle Eastern Jew and he came to chase the American dream. So there was always a ton of language and food and culture and music and tradition in my house that was like totally different from one another. So I'd always kind of been fascinated by like what happens when you put all those things together, like when you coalesce all that diversity within a person or a family or a community or workplace in this case. Um, so yeah, I feel like it was kind of meant to be in a way.

But fast forward 20 years, um, I am writing my undergraduate thesis at Princeton and that's when I really started to explore ethnic integration, diversity and inclusion. I was actually focusing on Israel, Palestine at the time. And I remember being there for one of my research sprints, interviewing Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Arabs, and it was so, um, heartwarming and, and moving to me that every side kind of saw me, inside I say with air quotes, saw me as is one of theirs and I'd never fully appreciated that both my name and my image as a Middle Eastern Jew was fully Middle Eastern and fully Jewish. And so there was that immediate trust that was built, uh, with everyone that I spoke to.

And I kind of realized at that point like, okay, maybe I'm meant to do some work in the inclusion space in the integration space. Um, maybe literally I'm meant to do bridge building in the Middle East. Like maybe that's kind of what my image and my, uh, family name kind of gave me as a gift. But fast forward, again, I was at that time an innovation consultant at Deloitte and Roblin and there was a social impact competition in the New York office. So a peer and I entered, we wanted to tackle several of the UN's sustainable development goals. Um, I think we had chosen a decent work, economic growth, um, economic equality or reducing inequalities. And so we run won, we won our regional competition. We were semi-finalists nationally.

Jenelle: (04:02)

That's amazing.

Dalia: (04:03)

I think. Yeah. And I think that for us is kind of the launch pad that we needed to really, uh, take on this passion project and then later secure a $450,000 grant to build out our various refugee workplace integration programs.

Gaby: (04:17)


Dalia: (04:18)

Yeah. For anyone who's a corporate leader who's listening here, like competitions work and it's definitely a great way to engage people outside of their day to day and bring more innovation to a company so long as there are resources to support that continued work past the competition. And that was kind of a uphill battle for us. Even with the competition there.

Jenelle: (04:38)

This, this was a competition at Deloitte to, that you participated in with a coworker that also worked at Deloitte?

Dalia: (04:48)


Jenelle: (04:48)


Dalia: (04:48)

We were both junior staff and kind of wanted to shake things up a little bit and do something different from just helping companies make more money.

Jenelle: (04:56)

Yeah. That's amazing. And was this, so you, you did this at Deloitte and was that sort of the [catalyst] for you to write your book and everything that came afterwards or, or was this sort of part of your journey and there was more before that?

Dalia: (05:09)

I think it was a big inflection point for us. So it was, again, I mentioned, um, we'd raised a huge chunk of money to conduct the research with Deloitte. And so that was like really great cause we had partnered up with the Tent Partnership for Refugees. Uh, we had, uh, engaged a network of different corporations who were doing really great work in this space already. And so to be able to have a corporations network and financial support to go forth and, you know, build those relationships, gather all those best practices, um, package them up into a report that other corporate leaders and employees could use in their day to day. I think that for us was a huge turning point.

Jenelle: (05:50)

Wow, that's great.

Gaby: (05:51)

That's phenomenal. And this is such important work that we're going to dig into in a minute, but I'm if you can pull us back and for those listeners who aren't familiar with the diversity and inclusion space, can you break it down a little bit for us in a way that anybody can understand? What is inclusion? What is integration? What do those mean and why is it important to understand?

Dalia: (06:18)

I think that's a great question. And my team and I did a lot of back and forth trying to define this because it is such a broad topic. Um, where we landed was we really see workplace inclusion as a two way process where both employers and employees are jointly building a multicultural environment that enables both the organization and the individuals that comprise it to thrive.

So if you look at a composition of an organization, they're really like three main configurations you might see from a diversity lens: there's homogenous or monolithic where most people kind of fit a similar profile. There is a diverse or pluralistic where diversity, as defined by a number of different characteristics such as race, gender, age, physical ability, orientation, life experiences, personality, etc. Um, all those different characteristics are present in numbers, but minorities tend to be concentrated either within a certain role such as administrative or certain level in the company such as entry level. Um, and you don't really see much distribution across the hierarchy of a company. And then you have multicultural where companies not only have diversity but also value it and celebrate it are willing to utilize it and encourage it. And that's when you see true inclusion, uh, equal opportunities, social cohesion. And you see companies that engage minorities in ways that incorporate them without losing their distinctiveness and their intersectional identities. Um, and also without denying them participation fully across the spectrum of what a company offers.

Gaby: (07:52)

Hmm. I, so that last one obviously is something that we are definitely striving for to help promote in this podcast. That's something that we really care about, not just in our work environments but are also in our communities. So I'm wondering, based on all of your research and, and the conclusions that you garnered from all of your reports, what does it really take to, in your opinion, what does it take to make this work in a work environment or in a community?

There is a psychology or sociology theory called intergroup contact theory. It essentially states that if you meet five conditions, you're guaranteed to have each side view the other in a more positive light and eventually reduce prejudice and improved social cohesion.

Dalia: (08:23)

Sure. Um, the, what does it take part, there's a, there's the theory behind it and then there's the, what you can do in practice. Um, and I think sharing the theory behind it is really interesting because it can apply, it can be applied so broadly. Um, and definitely there are more tactical things that employers and also non minority employees can use to create a culture of inclusion. But I have a feeling we'll circle back to that later in the interview. Um, but as far as the, what it takes in theory, uh, this was actually the premise of my original thesis at Princeton. There is a psychology or sociology theory called intergroup contact theory. Um, it was first designed in I think the 50s by a psychologist named Gordon Allport. But it essentially states that if you meet five conditions, you're guaranteed to have each, quote unquote, against side view the other in a more positive light and eventually reduce prejudice and improved social cohesion. So those five conditions are feeling equal status in the environment, having a shared goal, working together toward that shared goal, uh, as opposed to competition, uh, having the support of authorities and coming together and then finally having the potential to build friendship that extends outside of that environment. So if you think about that, uh, in a number of applications that could be afterschool activities, that could be a sports leagues, that could be the workplace. Um, and I think applying it to the workplace and really making sure that work environments meet all those things, which in essence they already do, right? Everyone's equal at a company, if done right. Um, even within hierarchical structures, uh, you have a shared goal, whether it's the mission of the company or it's the success of the company and you're working together toward it. To answer your question of what it takes in theory to make a work environment more inclusive, if you're able to design your workplace culture and workplace practices in a way that ensures those five conditions are met, I think you're on the right track for creating inclusion, for creating cohesion in the workplace.

Gaby: (10:28)

So that's in theory, and what does that look like in practice?

Broadly speaking, I think executive leadership can be visible champions of diversity and inclusion. They can design inclusion into their accountability metrics and even designate champions for different diversity groups.

Dalia: (10:33)

Yeah, so in practice, um, it really depends on who you're talking to, right? Um, there are leaders across the company in different roles and different levels that each play a part. So, um, I'm going to focus on some of the practices that we identified during our refugee inclusion research. But I think this is beneficial to all employees and applies to all minorities more broadly. Broadly speaking, I think executive leadership can be visible champions of diversity and inclusion. Uh, they can design inclusion into their accountability metrics and even designate champions for different diversity groups. So for example, a champion for refugee inclusion is one of the things that we proposed. Um, those champions can serve as advocates for inclusion efforts. They're responsible for deeply understanding the needs of those diversity groups, um, and they work with HR and managers to actually create initiatives and track impact. Then you have the managers and the HR leaders who can drive the design and delivery of those various initiatives where relevant, um, and share best practices both within the company and also to other companies. I think that cross company learning is super, super important in the space of diversity and inclusion. Um, and then finally, leaders should 100% engage minority employees and not just sharing their perspectives after programs are designed but including them before programs are designed and during the implementation of those programs. Because there's a lot of feedback, um, and if you want to be true to human-centered design, including the people that you want to design for early on in the design process is so crucial to designing for that audience.

Jenelle: (12:04)

Two things that really stood out to me there was one, uh, including other companies. I think that that's so vital because, with the employer that I work for, um, we're very unique in what we do in a lot of ways. And so we sort of feel like we've become this bubble. Um, and it's actually very hard for us to get outside perspective. And so we are constantly in a state of trying to understand, can outsiders help us be better at what we do? And I think that there's a lot of value in that. So I think that that's great. And then the third piece that you were mentioning was having the population that you're trying to get involved to actually have them a part of the conversation of the policies that you are creating. Is that what you're saying?

Dalia: (12:48)

Yeah, exactly. Engaging them early.

Jenelle: (12:50)

Right. I think that that part gets missed so often. Um, cause I tend to work with leaders who are relatively new to leadership and management and the thought process tends to be we need to make these decisions as a leadership or a management team rather than including outsiders in. And I think that that really stems from this fear that it's not going to go well or you're going to get too much push back or it's not going to go the way that you want it to. But in my experience, I've always found that when you include the people that what you're building is for, you actually get a better outcome and you also get more buy-in into what is going to be put in place in the first place.

Dalia: (13:31)

Totally. I 100% agree with that.

Gaby: (13:34)

That's actually something, so until very recently, Jenelle and I worked at the same company and a few years ago we launched our first inaugural diversity inclusion committee. And it was all built from various leaders from across different levels and identities in the entire organization. And it was volunteer base, but it was a lot of dedication and hard work to dig deep into these topics of how do we ensure that we're building an inclusive community. One of the major things that we did was bring in an outside agency that was focused primarily on the analytics and the data and, and sourcing interviews from other folks within the company to understand better what it was that we needed and what it was that we were lacking. Um, and also what, where, we were doing really well where I would say there were several spaces where we were doing incredibly well, but the fact that we were listening to our own employees I think was really critical and I don't think that we would have been as successful with what happened this year was we launched our employee resource groups. So those identity based organizations that help create a supportive environment for folks who are LGBTQ or, um, based on their ethnicity or gender, whatever it might be. And I don't think it would have gone as well if we hadn't had that buy in from both the committee itself and also, later on, from the entire populace, the employee community, because they had been interviewed and they said very loudly like, we want this, we actually want to follow through.

Dalia: (15:15)

Congratulations, first of all. I think what you created is super impressive and also super meaningful and important. Um, so cool to hear about that. But yeah, I totally agree. I think there were a few really great points in what you said and there's the listening portion, right? Um, and it's not just to what employees are saying, but also what they're not saying, which is why I think it's great that you guys brought in an external team to like actually come and analyze, I'm not sure how much ethnographic research that they did, but I'm sure they went around and spoke to people one on one and kind of got their, um, confidential input that made the program so successful. So that's great. But then there's also the point about, you know, you really do need buy in from the entire employee base and managers alike. And I think once you engage all employees and not just the minority populations that you're talking to, you're creating a culture where, you know, we're all family. We're all here to take care of each other. We really feel like our voice matters, which, whether you're a minority or not, I think is so important to creating a company that, um, keeps their employees for longer than just one or two years, which is the normal turnover in most industries. Um, so yeah.

Gaby: (16:24)

What does it take in terms of convincing an organization that's been more established and has already scaled and has a large organization that is, quote unquote, successful in a business case to convince them that it's worth investing the time and the energy and resources to developing inclusion and diversity initiatives?

Dalia: (16:48)

Yeah. And I think it's especially difficult for more mature companies that already have diversity and inclusion programs. Um, who, you know, like you said, it's already working our businesses doing great. Like we've checked all the boxes to get them to see how the definition of diversity and inclusion has changed over the past five years, even past two years. Um, is difficult. I know this often follows to grassroots efforts, um, but going around and getting a poll of, uh, the people that you want to design new programs for I think is a great place to start. Um, seeing how people feel, uh, the diversity and inclusion programs that are existing tailored to them or don't. There was a really interesting study that was recently published, um, 25% of Deloitte employees left because they wanted to find more inclusive workplaces. And for a company that puts so much emphasis on diversity and inclusion, to hear that is like pretty alarming. Right? So I think talking to employees and getting feedback often and you know, kind of getting a lay of the land of how people feel current programs do or don't include them or, or give them what they need, I think is a great data point to give to leadership at a company and say, Hey, well this actually isn't working the way that it used to. Like let's take the time to think why and what can we do differently?

Jenelle: (18:10)

Right. It's one thing to have maybe the groups or the policies in place for diversity inclusion, but if you're not checking in on how they're going, then you don't know how to adapt and you don't know how they're affecting your employees. That's really interesting.

Dalia: (18:24)

Yeah. Yeah.

Gaby: (18:26)

That's actually one of the questions I really struggled with when we were launching our employee resource groups. What are the, the KPIs, the key performance indicators or the analytics, the data that we should be looking at to determine whether something is successful. Because once it's launched, you know, it can be easy to say, okay, it's live, it's happening. Look at all the activities going on. We are so inclusive, but how do we measure success when it comes to a diversity inclusion initiative?

Dalia: (18:58)

Yeah, that's a great question. And KPI's are changing all the time in the D&I space. Um, for me it always comes back to the basic line of a simple poll of employees asking them, do you feel like you can bring your whole self to work? And as that question changes and as the responses to that change over time, I think that's when you know that the impact that diversity inclusion programs seek to have are getting less and less efficient over time. So I always come back to that because I think there's so many ways to, to kind of measure impact and, and track that, uh, in ways that are serving the business. But I think just going back to is it serving the people in the business is the best way to do it.

Gaby: (19:44)

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Jenelle: (20:21)

One of the areas that you've focused on is, uh, refugees in the workplace. Um, so as, as a leader at my organization, uh, I've always been very thoughtful about the makeup of my team. We used to have a lot more control over the people that we could hire on our team. It's changed a little bit, but when I had that control, I was always paying pretty close attention to what was the makeup of my team, was my team diverse, uh, not only in race and sexual orientation and ethnicity, in gender. Um, but refugee was never something that I would consider or keep in mind when I was looking at that. So what, what kinds of organizations or industries does refugee status specifically impact and how?

Dalia: (21:08)

Yeah, and I, I want to point out that refugee status is a legal status and no more, right at the end of the day, they're still human beings with incredible backgrounds and um, skills that are a value to all types of organizations. So I would say this impacts every organization and every industry because refugees come from all sorts of professional backgrounds, whether business, medicine, manufacturing, science, technology, you name it. So if companies are constantly seeking top talent, super practically the refugee population offers a really great pool of highly skilled, highly motivated, um, super loyal and super hardworking talent to pull from. And I think aside from the business need alone, there's also the question of responsibility. And you know, I think the private sector has a really massive opportunity to help with one of the world's most pressing crises. And given that the crisis is so widespread with over 25 million displaced individuals, um, I think this is a statistic from even last year, so it's probably even greater this year. We have to consider our responsibility as a nation of immigrants to see how can we support this next wave of immigration. Whether migrants, refugees, asylees, um, to ensure that they can really integrate not only into our society, but also into our economy to build a better life. And, uh, someone I really admire, the CEO of Chobani Hamdi Ulukaya, um, he's first of all, just an amazing human being and I'm super lucky I got to work with his team, uh, during the refugee project that we did, but he's trying to change the narrative around what it means to be a business in 2019, he was recently quoted in an interview saying something along the lines of like, uh, businesses don't exist only to make a profit for shareholders. We have responsibilities to our communities, uh, toward our employees and their families. And we have a responsibility as businesses to help grow humanity and community. So I think the narrative is really shifting, um, on, you know, why businesses should care about this. And I think it really comes down to the fact that the role of businesses in society is changing and we need to think more collectively and less, uh, from personal gain or financial gain.

Jenelle: (23:21)

Yeah, I think that that's so important because in business world you tend to think of your stakeholders as your shareholders and the profit that you're making and your stakeholders are much more than that to make sure that you're building a healthy, uh, company. Whether that's just from an employee standpoint, but also from a financial standpoint. A follow up question is, is there something inherently about the type of support, uh, in order to do, create a cohesion, cohesive environment for refugees versus other marginalized groups?

Dalia: (23:55)

Uh, yes and no. So, um, something that we found through our research was that, um, across the almost a hundred refugees and employees and employers that we spoke to, there was both agreement that many of the resources needed already exist, but rather it's an access and understanding issue. Um, which then leads to the flip side of, okay, so then we need to create more resources to improve understanding and access. So that might be, um, adding language programs. Maybe it's a buddy that speaks your language that works in your, in your team or somewhere in the company. Um, maybe it's literally hiring translators, like some of the companies that we interviewed did, um, when you realize that your employees have the skills that you need and it's only language barrier that like holds them back from reaching that full potential and giving your company the full benefit of diversity, it's a pretty simple investment to make. Right? Um, and I think that once businesses see that inclusion and cohesion both with refugees and other minority populations are an opportunity to drive positive business outcomes, then they start to realize that investing in inclusion is a very rewarding business investment. Um, and a huge competitive advantage. So I mentioned language might be one of them. I think also understanding the flexibility needs of some of these refugee populations is super important. Um, they may have family abroad that they need to speak to at certain times of day or family at home that they need to take care of. And I think, um, more and more, you know, there's conversations around flexibility and predictability in companies, but when you really take a step back to listen to what your employees need, whether refugees or not, um, and give them the space to be humans as well as workers, I think that's when you really get to unlock the benefits of diversity in the workplace.

Jenelle: (25:40)

I love that. Be humans as well as workers. Very true.

Gaby: (25:43)

This is something that really touched my life and my family's life directly because my, my parents, my, my dad in particular and his side of the family were all refugees and asylum seekers during the civil war in El Salvador, which ended in the mid nineties and they all ended up in 13 different countries. 15 brothers and sisters.

Dalia: (26:04)

Wow, dang!

Gaby: (26:04)

Yeah, it's pretty incredible. And in particular, you know, they, they ended up here in the United States and Canada and um, Costa Rica and Venezuela, like really anywhere that would give them refugee status. But one of the hardest things once you're displaced and then in a diaspora community is finding work in the line that you've actually studied. And also feeling like you belong and I think this research is critical to ensuring that we, especially today, right? There's going to be a huge need there already is for including and creating a sense of belonging and cohesion not only in our workplaces but also in our everyday lives. Especially with the crisis at the border going on right now. I think this is a topic that people are really going to want to listen to. It, It's going to just continue to be an issue because we know that with climate change there will be further exacerbation of the amount of folks who have to leave their home in search for resources, natural resources and access to water, access to food and this is going to be an issue that will continue to come back over and over again.

Dalia: (27:25)

I think that emphasizes the urgency of really figuring out how to engage the private sector in building solutions around this now because as you alluded to, there will be new types of refugees emerging in our country and in the world over the next 50 years. And if we can't figure out a way to make it work now, we won't be able to handle it when it's exacerbated.

Jenelle: (27:50)

So I work, like I said before with a lot of brand new managers, um, and I find new managers quite fun because they're really eager and they want to learn and they wanted to really well. Um, but there's also a lot of fear and being a new manager of, you know, are, am I gonna do well? Are People gonna like me? Um, and those are some of my favorite people to work with cause I really like to kind of break down what that fear is and getting them to be in a place where they are able to be a little bit more vulnerable. Um, but it can be really scary in that position to try to figure out how, not just to be a good manager and a good leader, but how to build that inclusive environment. So if you were to speak to a brand new manager, are there specific things that you believe they can do to foster inclusion or are there specific resources that you would point them to?

Dalia: (28:45)

Great question. Um, I would say first, and this is something I would say to anyone, uh, look around you look side to side. How many people in your team are on your level look and sound like you? And I think answering that question honestly is a great first step. Um, and then looking up and down. So how many minorities are there entering your company in entry level positions as well as progressing into positions of leadership? Always start by looking around you.

Second, we mentioned this a little bit before, but making sure that there's awareness, understanding and access to various company resources, whether it's programs, initiatives, services, um, more mature companies have a lot of diversity and inclusion resources available. But whether it's onboarding, learning and development, mentorship, et Cetera, some groups need a little bit extra help to learn about and understand and access these programs. So figure out where there might be a gap between what's offered and what's used and figure out if it's disinterest or if it's truly just not being aware of it.

Third, I'd say really listen, and this is something that's come up a few times in this conversation, right? It's not just when employees are saying, but also what they're not saying or might be great to say and see how you can alleviate some of the external circumstances that might get in the way of them doing their best work, whether it's language or family responsibilities or something else. But the role of employers are changing and it's increasingly important for employers to see how they might enable the success of the entire acumen. And not just the worker, as we already said. And I'd say finally, um, open up a platform for storytelling, whether it's empowering your team members to share their journeys or bringing in external diversity and inclusion experts to educate or facilitate fun workshops. Um, create a safe space for authentic expression in a way that's not just to educate, but also to build empathy and make people feel closer. All of these things are things that non-managerial employees can do as well. I think inclusion is a collective effort and engaging the entire team in the workplace, uh, to create inclusion makes them also feel included.

And it's important to not only prepare the minority employees to succeed and do well, but also make sure that the non minority populations who can be some of the most influential people in creating inclusion at work feel like they have the support, the tools, the voice that they need to be a part of the company's decisions. And then as far as resources, um, if new managers are looking for resources to draw upon as they design their teams or their workplaces to better utilize and nurture the talents of minorities, I'm also happy to be a resource to anyone, of course, they can feel free to reach out to me on my website. It's, they can also check out forward slash inclusion and let me know what questions you have. I'm happy to point you in the right direction. You can also check out some of the reports that I coauthored, um, including a report on how to include refugees in the workplace. Um, and again, while I've written with refugees at heart, these are really principles that can benefit any employee. Um, also a report on how leaders and teams can improve their performance in an increasingly fast changing world. Other resources for refugee related issues. I couldn't recommend enough, The Tent Partnership for Refugees. They put out some really incredible reports on the intersection of refugees and inclusion and for resources on team dynamics and the future of work. Check out The Center For The Edge. It's an innovation think tank that I worked for and they've produced some really cool content on productive friction team, dynamics, the future of work, et Cetera.

Jenelle: (32:20)

I love the statement of, um, not, it's not just managers who can help foster this relationship, right? It's everybody. Um, the one thing that I throw back is I'm always trying to get my managers to think about this more because they can also be the ones to halt it, halt progression, um, when they're not seeing the need. And I think the biggest thing that I'm constantly trying to make my managers and the people that I have mentored is to make them aware of what their team makeup looks like. Just the sentence of look to your left, look to your right, look up, look down who's around you, and what's needed is really important. And I think it's, it's this practice of trying to get managers and leaders to look outside of themselves, um, and not just what is the goal at hand, but how do you do that with your team and is your team supported as a human being in order to make that happen? Because if they're not supported as a human being first, then you're never gonna really reach the true potential of whatever that goal could be. So I love all of that. That's really tangible stuff that I think people can use.

Gaby: (33:28)

You also talked about the importance of storytelling, which to be honest, that's probably my favorite thing that you've said today, surprise, being coming from a journalism background and also from a marketing communications background, there's such a power in oral histories and telling your story and passing that forward and being able to feel visible by telling your story. And that this is really a big part of why we are doing this podcast is helping people have a platform where they can share their stories, share their resources, their expertise, and support others in trying to be more visible. Um, and using our power essentially to lift other people up. So this is just so critical, not just as an employee, as a peer, but as, as a human being. I think being able to not only tell your own story and be vulnerable and honest about your experience and being able to listen, truly, deeply listen to other people's stories and authentically engaging in empathy and understanding and growing from there. So something that we like to ask every single interviewee is, what allyship means to you and how can we be allies to you?

Dalia: (34:46)

I think the first thing is always speaking up. So being a champion or advocate for someone who's constantly overlooked for a leadership role that they might be qualified for, um, or pointing out homogeny to a manager, uh, and offering help with recruiting I think is always a great place to start. Stepping aside, and sometimes that means shutting up if I can curse on a podcast. Um, recognizing when you are not making room for others to share their opinions. Um, giving up a part of your privilege to lift others up, um, and sometimes making yourself a little bit uncomfortable so that those who might not have the same opportunity can succeed in the workplace. Um, I would say what it's not is it's not mentorship. Um, it's not just, you know, giving people advice or saying, Hey, I'm here for you if you need it. It's also a champion. It's going above and beyond giving advice and really leveraging your network and being invested in their success. Um, putting their interests and the group interests over sometimes your own personal interests.

Gaby: (35:49)

That's a wonderful definition of allyship. I love it.

Jenelle: (35:53)

Last, before we let you go, is there anything that you're up to right now that you want to let our audience know about?

Dalia: (36:00)

Thanks for asking. Um, a lot of fun stuff. I've been thinking a lot more about the future of work. I'm actually coauthoring a book called Part-Time Wild, which is a guide to help employers redefine their relationship with employees and support their whole, or human selves as we've spoken about today. Um, and also helping employees navigate conversations around part time work. And our hypothesis there really is that the future work is not full time jobs and it's not necessarily freelance either. I think it's this new, uh, it's actually not completely new, but we're trying to redefine what part-time means and kind of shed some of the stigma behind it, um, and create this part time lifestyle that's actually liberating to employees while also maximizing the benefit that employers can get from their employees. So if any of you listeners have a great story you want to share about your own part time journeys, um, please feel free to reach out to me at, um, I've also been coaching others on designing their lives around curiosity and creativity, um, and helping them create space for creative sabbaticals. Work's been keeping you pretty busy, when I'm not doing diversity and inclusion stuff. I'm usually helping startups and incorporations redesign their growth and innovation strategies. So that's been taking up a lot of my bandwidth, I'd say.

Gaby: (37:19)

Congratulations. That's amazing. Sounds like you've got a lot of irons in the fire. It's really cool to hear that you have such a passion for diversity, inclusion and hearing your experience with research and sharing your personal perspective as well with us. Really can't thank you enough for being here and for sharing your story with us and sharing some of your resources with our community. Really, thank you so much for being with us.

Dalia: (37:42)

Oh, this is really fun. Thank you ladies for making this space for me to share all this stuff. You both are such amazing co-hosts. I'm excited to share this. Again, I told you two this before, but like because I've been writing reports, it's so inaccessible. Like I wouldn't even sit and read a hundred page report someone wrote like even if it was exactly what I was interested in. So it's important what you gals are doing to make this work more accessible, and to like share, I think things that people may or may not read otherwise in a way that's easy to digest and easy to kind of like listen to you on the road while you're going to work. So this is super important work.

Gaby: (38:20)

That's the dream.

Jenelle: (38:21)

Yeah, that is the dream.

Gaby: (38:21)

Trying to make it more accessible. Here we go. Let's see how it works. Well, congrats on the work that you have coming. It sounds like you, you've got this amazing book and I'm going to read it the second it comes out. Yeah.

Dalia: (38:33)

Thank you, I'll send you guys a copy.

Gaby: (38:35)

Yes, please do. Please do.

Jenelle: (38:38)

[Beep Beep] When when she finished with allyship is not mentorship. I was like, oh no, I talked about being a mentor. Is this bad?

Dalia: (38:44)

No, I like that because what she's saying is it's, it goes beyond mentorship. Right? It's not just mentorship.

Jenelle: (38:52)


Gaby: (38:52)

Mentorship is one element that can help, but it's about making sure that you're being a champion also, which I think you do really well. That's something that I've noticed in your work. You're not just a mentor to people giving them advice and guidance. You're there for them in the room when they're not there to promote them and celebrate them and, and put them in positions where they can learn themselves. Right. Like that to me is championing somebody versus just mentoring somebody.

Jenelle: (39:23)

Yeah. What is a champion is so hard to define in some way because it can be really specific to the person or the instance, right? Like what, what somebody needs as a champion really depends upon the circumstances. And so I like to think that I'm a champion, but I get nervous that I need to be doing more or that I'm not doing enough. And so I don't know, it's just a good reminder for me that talking about this stuff is one thing, but making sure that I'm actionable in that. So for example, like I had to bring up to one of our SVPs a few months ago, the fact that because I'm not allowed to pick who's on my team anymore, that means that I've lost the opportunity to make sure that my team is diverse. Um, and so I had to bring that up and make sure that they were aware of it so they can add that in. And so I want to make sure that that is championship, if that makes sense.

Gaby: (40:25)

Yeah, that's advocacy to me that seems like something that if you were passively trying to provide the optics of being an inclusive leader, that's not something that you would do. You're actually asking for something, but you know what, maybe this'll help us both. Let's look for somebody who can talk about what it looks like to be a champion in the room because I think that's a cool topic and it's something that people ask all the time. I have had several folks ask me what it looks like to be a champion in a room and I have been able to provide my own opinion, my own thoughts on it. But definitely not based on any expertise in any way. So, Yeah. Let's look for somebody.

Jenelle: (41:05)

I think her topics right, the, the overarching of what she's talking about is so great and so important. Um, I loved her, like what are the five pieces that create a community where people feel like they are included in there, they want to be there and how there were sort of these five things to think about. I love that as a starting point, but then it's not just the policies that you're doing, it's what you're doing in the room. So yeah, I think that that would be really interesting to take this from sort of a larger topic to something a little bit more focused.

Gaby: (41:38)

Yeah, I agree. I think it would be really cool. This is a nice place to start. This is a first conversation, right? Like this is our first more formal starting from the macro understanding

Jenelle: (41:48)

[Singing] Started from the bottom now we're here.

Gaby: (41:50)

Starting from the top here. Theoretical.

Jenelle: (41:52)

Yeah, sure.

Dalia: (41:52)

Let's, let's make our way down to the more practical and try to dig into the niche topics that we just touched on today.

Gaby: (42:01)

Thank you so much for joining us for this fabulous interview with the incredible and brilliant Dalia Katan. Are you somebody who has a seat at the table and actively champions for people, especially for minorities or underrepresented folks in your organization, in your company or in your community? Or are you somebody who has personally experienced having a champion in that room advocating for you? We want to hear from you. What does that look like in practice? While you're leaving your voice memo on our website, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for some additional behind the scenes material. It comes out every other week alternating with our episodes. If you want access to bonus materials like funny bloopers and also some vulnerable reflections on what it looks like and feels like to try to become better allies, make sure to sign up to be a monthly patron by clicking on our patreon button on the top right of the websites. This episode was produced by me, Gaby Acosta, and co-hosted by my boo, Jenelle Acosta. Our music was written and produced by the talented Emily Henry. Here's Jenelle singing this week's list of seed fund sponsors.

Jenelle: (43:14)

David Leme, I like you a lot. I also like David Winship. Dawn Andreas, you are my friend. I also like [inaudible] Dutcher-Stoy family, hi Amelia! Emily Henry, you wrote our theme song. Emily Jorgensen, you are great.

Gaby: (43:30)


Jenelle: (43:31)

30 for 30 baby, yeah. [Dog Barks] Every time.


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