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The Inclusive Value Chain with David Edgerton Jr

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Talk-Commerce David Edgerton Jr

Commerce running, talking geek

Do you have the best available people for each part of your supply chain and within your own organization? David Edgerton Jr helps to debunk the myth that there isn’t talent in this low unemployment economy and maybe we are just overlooking it or worse excluding it because of bias.

David is the founder and managing principal of The DEJ Group LLC, an executive search and recruiting firm dedicated to uncovering the real needs of organizations and bringing forward a diverse set of candidates with an array of backgrounds and experiences. The company focuses on increasing the economic inclusion of people from underrepresented communities through employment.


Brent: Welcome to this episode of talk commerce today, I have David Edgerton Jr. He is the managing principal at D E J group, LLC. David, go ahead and do an introduction much better than I did. Tell us what you’re doing day to day and maybe one of your passions in life. Oh, 

David: absolutely. Again, I’m David Eton, Jr.

David: And thank you so much for this opportunity to be a part of your podcast. I appreciate the invitation I’m the managing principal of the DEJ group, LLC, which is an executive search firm that I started. About, eh, I’ll say about two years ago working on two years now before that I was doing management consulting and working with minority business owners to help them grow and scale their businesses.

David: And we’ve pivoted into executive search because. That is the space that we have found a passion in for our own business. And it helps when you’re coaching others, that own businesses that actually have a business yourself. There’s an integrity part of that that we wanted to make sure came out and it is very transparent open with our audience and who we work with.

David: What we say we do is we match diverse talent with inclusive companies. So there’s a DEI piece of that, where we do some consulting with firms on their workplace inclusion practices and we try to make sure that as we go out and find talent, that the organizations are ready to receive that talent as well as cultivate that talent so that they stay there.

David: And also help the organization really bring the right people in to put ’em in the right seats so they can grow and scale themselves. So that’s what we do overall. We’ve been successful in doing several searches in the non-profit space, in the retail space where we operate and the manufacturing space and the healthcare space.

David: So those are the industries we try to hang around. And have some success. Most of our business so far has been coming from the nonprofit space, especially in the philanthropy and the development areas. So we’ve been doing a few searches in that space here in the Twin Cities and we do national searches.

David: By the way, we don’t just focus here in the Twin Cities, we the clients we have are here, but the search range goes all the way from coast to coast. So that’s what we do. We also. Do some adjunct work in several universities in the business and entrepreneurial space. And yeah we are busy right now, especially in this job market.

David: So just like other firms are really scrambling, trying to find talent. We’re just as busy trying to find the right talent for our clients. So that’s what we do. 

Brent: I saw a statistic this week that the Minnesota unemployment rate is at about 2% historic lows, the lowest it’s ever been so it must be a challenge to, to find anybody for any job right now.

Brent: It 

David: is a challenge. Now what’s interesting about that fact is that 2% rate is what it is, for everybody, but for people of color, it’s three times as much. So it’s somewhere around five to 6%, which is above the national average. So it just depends on, the demographic that you’re going after.

David: And so that’s what makes it really interesting. because there are people there. There’s talent out there. That’s ready to go to work. But it seems that in some cases we’re not finding that talent. So one of the things we talk about as a part of our business is that we want to debunk the myth that the talent doesn’t exist, especially when you hear numbers like that.

David: So for us it’s not just, finding the talent to fill these roles. It’s also making sure there’s a diverse state that you can choose from. So that’s the main thing that we focus on. 

Brent: We met in a diversity training session, which I attended. Yes. And that was very good. Thank you very much.

Brent: Thank you. And I, you had some great points about entitlement and some of the reasons why people of color and other less non-white bald guys. Aren’t. even getting the opportunity to go to jobs. Yeah. Maybe we could talk about that. I thought that was very interesting in a in that as an employer, as an entrepreneur, we should always be aware of that.

David: Yeah. And one of the things I could get into as you asked that and make that point where I ask that question is this concept of an inclusive value chain that I have actually done a talk on and what it is. What you could do is look at your supplier, your supplier, you, your customer and your customer’s customer.

David: That really is like the, what we call it, the supply chain right overall. But the reason we are using the term value chain is that value is created from upstream and it flows downstream. So in the way that value is created, there are opportunities where you could look at that whole entire process and say, you know what?

David: Do I have the best available resources for each part of the chain, whether that’s suppliers, as far as now, we get into supplier diversity, right? Channels that we sell through world that’s channel diversity. And then inside the organization is where we should really focus on, are we hiring the right kinds of talent?

David: Where are they coming from? And things of that nature. So one of the things that we talk about there is. When you are looking at your personal and professional networks, this is where we derive a lot of our talent choices referrals, things like that. I think in that session that we were talking about earlier I mentioned that.

David: If you are listening to people that look like you sound like you and are connecting with people that are very similar to you, which we naturally do as human beings. And we don’t consciously look for the differences and we don’t consciously look for opinions that oppose us. We tend to acquiesce if that’s the right word to a certain kind of think and a certain kind of decision making.

David: which limits what’s very possible. So one of the things that I wanna do as a part of our firm was why we focus on trying to bring diverse talent is we only wanna, not only want to bring people that look different and sound different to, but with different perspectives as well. Because when you do that, you end up with a more superior product or superior service, especially if you’re creating one yourself.

David: So you need that to sharpen what you’re offering. You need that to help you with any blind spots or any, biases that you might have that tend to. To bleed into how you make decisions. So if you’re already, if you’re always working with and connecting with people that always agree with you or like you there’s so much, you’re leaving.

David: On a table that could actually make you better. So that’s why we focus on it more so than anything else. Plus, a lot of people say that’s just the right thing to do. People have different perspectives on right or wrong. So I don’t usually just go with, it is just the right thing to do well to whom.

David: Right. the thing about it is at the end of the day, if you want the very best product, you need to get the, all the perspectives possible on it, on your service, how it’s being sold, how it’s been marketed, how it’s being consumed, how it’s been used, you need all the perspectives you can to make it the very best product it could possibly be.

David: So as an entrepreneur, that’s what I actually look for that kind of feedback and that kind of perspective to help me be better. 

Brent: I’m a board member on EO, Minnesota, one of our goals and we have a diversity and inclusion committee now. Yeah. One of our goals is to increase diversity and that’s not just for people of color, it’s just women, everybody just diversity across the board.

Brent: Yep. I know that some other chapters have. Automatically put white males on a wait list to join. Are those type of strategies, something that you would recommend or is there certain strategies to become more diverse? 

David: Oh, here’s yeah, 

Brent: I get where you go. I’ll let you go. And then I’ll have another question to follow up.

David: that’s a great question, actually. Here’s the thing you can’t do any of this without everybody involved and I think people have made this mistake. a lot across the conversations we’re having across the initiatives. If you leave white men out, you’re actually making it worse. Because if you look at the numbers, there are more of them so what you gotta do is you’ve gotta make it so that

David: everyone can be included including white men. I was at a company and I was the diversity director for this company. And one of the things we did was we created these groups called ERN employee resource networks based on the different types of groups that wanted to get together and be represented and be able to support each other.

David: And one town hall, one of the guys got up and asked me questions about this. He said, can we have a white men’s ERN? And I said, yes. And people looked at me like I was crazy and it was because I said, yeah, because you should be able to connect with other men like yourself and white men and be able to have a conversation.

David: Here’s the thing though. What type of conversation are you having that helps with diversity? That helps be more inclusive? Now what we’ve had historically before we’re white men getting together and not having that kind of conversation, which is why we got what we got now. So it’s not that, there’s a challenge with white men getting together.

David: that’s not the issue. The question is the target of the conversation and what you actually come up with that will help the situation versus take shots at the situation and make it worse. So there to leave white men out of it, I think is very detrimental, because we need everybody to really contribute and have a perspective and really look at it for what it is.

David: See the problem with, excluding white people and white men specifically. Is that it makes it feel like, oh, so now we have to punish people for where we are instead of saying, oh now that everybody hopefully has taken the right attitude about this to say, yeah, we have a problem collectively.

David: We need to solve that problem. And usually they’re more white men that have influence that have finances that have all the other things that have traditionally been helpful in making change. You need them as partners. So if you can help with some of the mentality around, it, it should be good for everybody.

David: It should help everybody. Or at least everyone should have the same fair shot. That’s really what I focus on. It’s not that you should just give people a color stuff. That’s not where I’m coming from. You should give underrepresented. And I don’t like to use that term underrepresented, cuz I I did a post on this a few weeks, a few days ago.

David: I said underrepresented is not the right term. Excluded is the right term because underrepresented says, Hey, I just went out and I invited everybody to come. And only one black person showed up. Okay. That’s underrepresented because you asked everybody to come and you made it so everybody could come.

David: But the reason one person showing up in most cases, because you put some stuff in place, so they couldn’t show up. That’s not underrepresented, that’s excluded. So let’s be open and transparent about that. But to exclude people that could help you is the wrong thing. So those strategies, I don’t suggest those.

David: I suggest things like let’s make sure that people understand what it means to truly be, for example, and ally and what the parameters are around that. Because allies today, can step into a situation and help, but they can also step right back out. And sometimes they don’t think about that part. when they’re talking about, Hey, I’m an ally.

David: I stand with you. Yeah. But tomorrow you don’t have to stand with me. You can step right back out and the situation doesn’t change. So are you really having an impact? I know that’s a long answer, , but as far as excluding white men from the conversation you just can’t do that.

David: That’s just not helpful. You won’t go for it. 

Brent: You brought up some great points in there. So the first thought that I have is employers who just give lip service to to being diverse or saying we’re posting out there on LinkedIn. Yeah. I wanna be diverse.

Brent: So I’m gonna hire a more diverse group of people for our company. Yep. And then they never do anything. That’s right. Is there, like we talked about that whole pipeline or that journey of the opportunities that you have to get to a job. And then when you’re in that job, how do you feel included or excluded and then the total makeup of that company is there a way to hold leaders accountable

Brent: who just give lip service?

David: I have a statistic. I might have shared that in that session that we had since, and I’ll use George Floyd’s murder as a point in time since that incident, when a lot of companies and a lot of leaders started to say, okay, wait a minute. We’ve had enough. We’ve seen this too many times.

David: And this is major. This event affected the planet. You saw protests in Belgium, , about what just happened, not like a few miles from where we are. So with that, 50 billion dollars, I think was promised through the media from very large companies. A lot of folks said, Hey, we need to, do something about this and we’re gonna pledge this money.

David: Only 250 million of that 50 billion at the time that I checked on this, which might have been a few months ago, was actually received and actually went to those places. So here’s what happens. People will say, Hey, we’re together and we’re gonna give this money and we’re gonna make this better, but no one follows up to see if they actually did it.

David: They hang on the fact it was said by these large companies, another one the CEOs of all these companies getting together, saying we’re gonna sign this petition. and we are gonna stand together against, an racism and white supremacy, all these things. So we see that in the media.

David: Okay, great. So you signed a piece of paper that says you’re with this, but we don’t see. And we don’t follow up to say what came out of you signing that . So sometimes it feels like these things are happening. In the moment where the attention is, and companies are leveraging this to, I’ll say, position themselves to be on the right side of the discussion yet what they’re not doing is sharing with you

David: what they’ve done since then. and the, any improvements that they may have made since then. So we call that performative marketing. There’s a term for that performative marketing, and it’s performative because it is a performance. You put stuff out there to say, Hey, you’re doing this. You put stuff out there to say, oh we’re with you.

David: We’re doing this. But then when you look at the numbers don’t move. So when you started going back to the thing about accountability, , it’s very hard to hold some of these companies accountable because at the end of the day, unless the board’s involved, unless the senior leadership team is involved and they’re committed to some of these things, unless you’ve got some folks who can just say, you know what, this is what you said you were gonna do.

David: This is what you did. What happened unless you have folks in that position to do that, it’s very hard to hold people accountable because in some cases, They don’t really have to do anything. And I think that’s the piece that people don’t wanna really, accept and really understand companies don’t have to do anything about diversity and inclusion.

David: They don’t. And the reason why it’s such an issue is because they don’t, it’s hard to enforce something it’s hard to, get traction on it because if you have a few people in the right places, That don’t agree with it. They’ll stop any kind of initial they’ll stop any kind of project, any kind of improvement, because they don’t agree with it and nothing will be done.

David: So the answer to that is one of the things we’re gonna talk about when we talk about entrepreneurs, my thing that about that, and the answer to that is to help companies who are diverse, who have diverse leaders, usually startups and smaller and middle size companies. Help them grow because if you help them grow, they create the cultures that attract the right type of diversity.

David: They also build out and invest in the communities where the founders come from. So now you’ve got that investment going back to those communities that need it right. And as they continue to grow. They continue to help with the conversation, cuz it proves that the people that are in those organizations that come from those diverse backgrounds actually can do what they say.

David: They can do what they say. They’re doing and they actually do bring a good product of service to market, but they get crushed by the big guys. Because, ah yeah we don’t want to innovate anymore. We now going, we’re now gonna buy our innovation. That’s what Microsoft Google, and some of these bigger companies doing though.

David: They don’t innovate as much or really any anymore. They wait for a startup hot startup to come along with something that’s disruptive that they could not organize their teams. To, go do, and then they go just swallow ’em up. And there’s nothing wrong with a nice exit. Don’t get me wrong entrepreneurs out there who might be saying, wait a minute.

David: I’m thinking about selling my company one day. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is to really solve the problem. From my perspective, let’s get some companies that have founders that look like me and others. The opportunity to really have a chance to survive and thrive and actually take off.

David: And I think that would help with the conversation and actually help with the gaps that we have and the challenges. 

Brent: So circling back to the discussion about the $50 billion. Yeah. You’re saying, or it is really. A one could say a PR stunt and I’m sure that the idea behind it or the motivation behind it, wasn’t a PR stunt.

Brent: Yeah. But it was certainly an opportunity taken from marketing to raise the awareness of some brand, whatever brand that is. And and then after that PR has been done there. Really no motivation to follow through on it. 

David: Right there, there isn’t. Because it’s like the latest news, you hear the news, you read it.

David: Great. What’s the next story kind of thing. And we’re starting to see a little bit of that, but in the challenge of, for example, the George Floyd murder, we keep seeing in the news. Unarmed black men being killed by police. In other situations, we keep seeing injustices, for example, that keep happening.

David: So what companies are doing is saying, okay, that’s why they want to be on the right side of it. But at the same time, we don’t have some overarching accountability partner or for to say, okay this is what you said you were gonna do. You did not do it. Therefore. So the only thing that you have is I guess we’ll have to wait till the next thing to happen, to see what people are gonna do and see what band ride we gonna jump on.

David: But here’s an example that I would go back to the sixties to tell you why I think it can work if we do it the right way. The when Martin Luther king was in, I think it was Alabama Selma, Alabama, 1965. I think first time we went over to. Pettus bridge. It was all black pastors and they stopped and they didn’t go any further.

David: And they went back three days later, they came back to do the March again, but this time he had white pastors and black pastors and they went over the bridge and they kept going and it was successful. The reason I used that in a lot of my talks, especially DDI type talks, I say it takes all of us to do this.

David: It takes all of us to do this because the freedom is supposed to be for everybody, not just the minorities, just not people who have been disenfranchised. It’s supposed to be freedom for everybody. So just as you are free enough to start this podcast and have your own business and do everything that you’re doing, I should have the same freedom.

David: And you wanna hire who you wanna hire. It doesn’t matter who they. so should I that’s the land we live in, right? Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be framed. that? That’s the case. So for us, it’s more about, we really need to figure out the best way to engage with incumbents, large institutions who were built using.

David: Some of the things that we’re actually now fighting against , but at the same time they have the resources and they have the things that we need in order to make a change. So to make that change I say, I don’t wanna say start at the bottom up, cuz we’re not at the bottom, but I would say start from a different part of the discussion for me.

David: It is. let’s help. Small business, medium business, be large businesses. Let’s help small businesses, medium businesses be larger businesses that are more inclusive because they’ll do just based on research and just based on what I’ve seen in myself, they’ll do the hiring of other. People of color, they’ll promote people of color to the right kind of roles.

David: They will give them opportunities to have their own franchises, have their own kinds of, startups and things like that. That’s the way to get to it. And I think if we were able to invest more into that, there’s a stat somewhere. I’m trying to remember how it goes. I think we would add.

David: 2.5 trillion to our GDP. If we only allowed businesses of color that are owned by people of color, to just have the same rates of success that white businesses have. Now, when I say have the same rates of success, I’m not saying do anything different, but what I’m saying is. If a black business goes to a bank and asks for a loan or asks for money, they should have the same probability of getting that money as a white business.

David: And we all know that businesses of color, lack in getting access to capital. from structural things that have been put into the financial industry in institutions and into the financial industries. What I’m try to say there. So if we just let everybody have the same shot, that’s why I keep going back to that.

David: If everybody had the same shot of success, without any of the things being put in place to keep certain groups from having success, then we would add that to the economy, which would create jobs, which would probably solve a lot of the problems that we’re having right now. So that’s how I would look at that.

Brent: Yesterday I heard guy Jeffrey Brown talk. Yeah. About the fact that as a white guy , he gets in front of leaders and he can talk about diversity, where there may be less opportunities for somebody of color to get in front of some of these leaders. How do you then trickle that down to getting the opportunities for everybody?

Brent: I thought he made a compelling, not an argument, but he. Make a reason of why he does that. Because sometimes people might not even listen. I think you said oh yes. Earlier people only listen to what they wanna listen to. And they listen to the people they agree with.

Brent: And our current political climate it’s more fragmented, right? We’re not hearing anybody. And if we are, we’re gonna tell ’em, they’re some kind of horrible expletive and then we’re gonna, we’re gonna kill ’em on Facebook and whatever, put all kinds of horrible comments on a post, which is no, that’s not what we should be doing.

Brent: So no, for what sort of advice would you give to a white person that wants to. help. Raise the awareness, I think is the first step. Make sure that everybody’s aware and then actually start taking some actions. Yeah, that’s a 

David: great question. I tell you there’s a lot, I think some people may not agree with this, but I’m just gonna say it I think there’s a lot one.

David: The first thing you gotta do is I think you have to, before you try to help somebody that doesn’t look like you, first thing you have to do is understand. How we got here, the biggest problem that I see, and it’s usually one of my big frustrations actually is when you talk about the conversation of, okay why do we have the gaps we have?

David: Why do we have the challenges we have? Why. Some folks don’t want to talk about how we got here systematically, historically, and don’t want to acknowledge those things. In fact, you’ve got now I hate to be political, but Hey I am who I am. You’ve got folks now writing laws that say that you can’t talk about certain things in school and getting them passed right.

David: That are really. History, not making anybody feel guilty as they put it, but it’s history. These things happen. So when you acknowledge these things that have happened, things that have been put in place that have disenfranchised certain people and certain types of groups, you’re saying, okay, we, we can agree that it happened, but now here’s the hard part though.

David: On both sides, you have to now say, okay, it happened, what do we do together going forward? And that’s the challenge. So if you don’t acknowledge what happened, you can’t come to some common ground to say, okay, now what do we do to go forward? So a person like you just mentioned, who’s says, Hey, I talk about racism and white supremacy.

David: And I talk about the things that have happened and I’m white. When I do this, I am white, for example. The reason it’s good is because the folks that don’t want to have the conversation with somebody that looks like me, they can at least have a conversation. So the question there would be, can you hold each other accountable now?

David: That would be a good outcome. So when you start talking about the performing of things that we talked about earlier with these companies and leaders they should hold each other accountable. Actually, the CEO of Target, for example, should hold the CEO Best Buy accountable for what Best Buy said it was going to do.

David: And Best Buy, gave $10 million to an organization recently that I’m familiar with to support black and brown businesses being, funded. They said they were gonna do that. Target said we’re gonna, support black and brown business. so somebody else should hold them a account. So what they said they was, going to go to do hopefully fortune five, something like that.

David: There’s this initiative, I think it was 1 million black jobs or something from saying that that was signed by, I think it was. 10 big companies said, Hey, we’re gonna hire I think 1 million black people in the next 10 years or something create jobs for them because we realize they’re one of the groups that have been disenfranchised.

David: Okay. Somebody should host those companies accountable to, to do with that. Since you put it out there and then you did the marketing and did the YouTube and the tos and all that stuff to talk about it, where somebody should hold them accountable to that, but that but getting to the point. White people being allies.

David: Yes. We need white people to talk to other white people about what white people have done and hold people accountable and say, this is what we should be doing now. And not be afraid. Here’s a key piece though. Not being afraid that they’re going to lose something. because the fear of loss is one of the reasons why some folks are very complicit.

David: And here’s another thing I saw the other day that might, speak to this when you’re talking about this. And my brother said this while back it’s sometimes, and I hate to keep saying white people, but it’s just the easiest thing to say. but sometimes white people don’t realize that they’re acting as a group.

David: my brother said that one time. And I thought about that just before I really started doing DEI work. And I kept that thought like right here. And it’s an interesting thing. When you see how whenever something happens with a certain protected group or a certain community, if someone does something, let’s say it’s negative, then it reflects on the entire community that they’re coming from.

David: This is where we get this thing where people talk about black on black crime, and say, oh this person did this and they murdered this person. So now it’s a black on black thing. You fix your own problem. You’ve heard that you’ve heard that. What’s interesting is no one ever talks about white on white crime.

David: because when crime happens and it happens to be Caucasians in the mix of that, no one looks at it as that’s white people. They look at it as that’s an individual, you notice that, think about all of the shootings that have happened recently. They look at that and say, oh, that white person, oh yeah, that, that person did this, not the group did this.

David: So that interesting dynamic that I heard and it’s one that I’ve been said of steadying out. That’s one that needs to change. Either it’s everybody’s an individual or everybody’s part of the group it’s one or the other, not the middle, which is, oh if a black person does this, then it’s black people.

David: So now we’re gonna just look at the group and say, this is what they do. And when white people do it, oh it’s an individual that doesn’t reflect on the group. So that group dynamic piece. that’s the thing that if we tapped into a little bit more and say, wait a minute, now, if you did something well, we’re all white.

David: So you made all white people look bad. Imagine if that was the conversation. . If you did that, you just made all of us look bad. That’s not what we want. We want it to look like this. That could be the start of something really cool. Actually, just that little dynamic of, Hey, no, that, that person looks like me to, they could think that’s me doing that mass shooting or that , whatever the thing might be, that embezzlement of millions and millions dollars, Hey, that made all the white people look bad.

David: So we don’t see that as much, but it’d be neat to see something like that. 

Brent: Yeah. I think one thing that that I heard yesterday was that entrepreneurs are change leaders. They embrace change. And part of that is feeling uncomfortable in where you’re at.

Brent: And a lot of conversations like this make white people as a group, feel uncomfortable. Yep. Cause it’s not comfortable to talk about anything other than what is comfortable. As a definition. If we were to say that the, maybe the top three things and I hate to put it that way, that’s okay.

Brent: Somebody like me could do to help increase the awareness of diversity and I’m. And again, I’m gonna go back to EO Minnesota. We’re not diverse in terms we’re all white males. We’re not all white males, but I bet it’s, I bet we’re at 85 or 87% male. And then it’s probably, yeah. The per the numbers.

Brent: Aren’t great. How would we go about, and I’ll say we as a group, white men go. doing those, some of those things. And I think the, for me anyways, the first step is being able to have those conversations and feeling a little uncomfortable in it. Yeah. And if you don’t feel uncomfortable either, you’ve made it past that mark of it’s we’re all one big group.

Brent: Yeah. Which I doubt there’s a lot of anybody out there that feels that way, or you’re gonna feel uncomfortable and you should embrace the uncomfortableness and then start working on ways that we can work together. 

David: One of the things I always ask people when they say. , I’m uncomfortable.

David: Let’s talk about why you’re uncomfortable. See nobody asked that question, right? They don’t say, okay like I’ve been in sessions and people say I don’t feel comfortable not even talking about this. But we never asked the question why don’t you feel uncomfortable? What is that?

David: And what you will see in the root of a lot of these is one white people don’t want to be labeled as racist. They don’t and they’ll say I’m not racist. That’s the first thing that pops up. I’m not racist. Nobody’s saying you’re racist. As far as you are a bad person, you grew up wrong. None of that’s not the challenge.

David: In fact, when we start talking about racist and racism, it’s a system. See you and I both have biases and we have I’ll call it. Prejudices I’ll even go that far. Because we’re individual. But racism. Is a system. It is a systematic way to disenfranchise a group of people, especially people of color. So what have you put in place in covenants and laws and regulations that say that this group of people are less than, or they can’t have the same God given rates as Americans that you have when you put stuff in place that makes it so that people cannot live the way you live.

David: That is a racist system. And if you don’t do anything about the racist systems you’re benefiting from, now I can call you racist, but realize the context around why I’m calling you that now it’s not that, oh, I have black friends because you get that all the time. I have black friends and I go to, different organizations and I support black people.

David: Yeah. But what have you done to take down? The laws and the regulations that kept black people from owning homes, whatever you said about, for example, when they did the interstate system and they built all of those interstates from the fifties through black neighborhoods and displaced them, what’s your opinion on that?

David: Whatever you done about that, there’s this new thing now called the reconnect Rondo, for example, in St. Paul, we’re just talking about, Hey, let’s build a land bridge. 94 on that stretch because that’s where black people in their neighborhoods used to be thriving, not bothering anybody, but, Hey President Eisenhower said, we need the, our interstate system to happen in 19.

David: I think 51 is when that was. And they in several cities, not just here, several, I just hear several cities. They built those interstates right through black neighborhood. So the question is, what are you doing about that? What do you, first of all, do you know that? Go back to the knowledge and the history and stuff you need to know, but then what are you doing now to write the wrong.

David: and are you writing wrong or are you just saying, oh, that just happened. My grandfather, my great grandfather. They might have been a part of that, but that’s not me. Yeah. But guess what you got trust fund that or you have some investments coming to you and inherit just coming to you because they benefited off of that system.

David: So in other words, you kinda are indirectly tied to that. so the question is, what are you going to use that for, to make it right? If you truly call yourself high or truly call yourself a friend of the movement, if you will. So that’s the kind of stuff that, if you’re talking to other people that look like you about and holding each other accountable, that’s where the change starts.

David: It’s very wrong to look at the folks that you’ve disenfranchised and tell them to fix it. But at the same time, we can’t stay the victim either. So there’s the other balancing part of that. We can’t just say, oh this happened to us. This happened to us. This happened to us. Woe is us?

David: No, we have to have, we also have to say, okay, this happened to us. What are we doing now? To make it better, which is why it’s gotta be a partnership between both sides to really get to where it needs to go. 

Brent: Yeah. I really like that. Are you are you, why are you uncomfortable? That’s a great question to ask.

Brent: Yeah. And it’s a great question to ask of everybody of themselves. Yeah. So we have a little bit of time left. Sure. I, and this conversation could go on and on and I’m very, I’m really enjoying it. I think that making sure that let’s just call it a change agent. I think that’s a great word.

Brent: For anybody to, to spark change and to feel uncomfortable for a bit and then ask those questions. I think moving forward, it would be great if if people would embrace some of this and I also like the term that you said, ally create allies and work across people and genders and everything.

Brent: Yeah. and I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna make a blanket statement that it, that yeah, I think we all have to start doing one thing at a time. Yeah. 

David: We do one person and bring it home to like the EO, for example. One of the things, when you talk about, being more diverse and things like that, I think you have to look at.

David: I’m gonna tell you why it is what it is. It is what it is because most of the people have similar experiences. Therefore they have similar expectations, right? And when you have similar expectations, the first thing that happens is, and I’m not gonna call this privilege, even though some people define this as privilege, but I might as well I’ll use word, now that I said that but here’s the privilege you have. You can say, Hey, Johnny, struggled got his business off the ground. Now it’s $2 million a year. He’s headed towards 5 million had these type of opportunities to get it going. Great. So did Bob, right? Larry too, we throw Larry in that too.

David: So you look around and if everybody looks the same, you automatically think. There’s a bias for what I’m talking about now. I can’t remember the name of it, but cuz they’re like 16 or 17, but there’s a bias that I’m about to describe to you. You look around and you say, okay, it’s a confirmation bias is really what it is.

David: Everybody looks like me. And we all have very similar experiences to how we got our business to where it is. And our business is at a certain level. This is how it should be for everybody. That right there, as soon as you say that and think that way you’ve just excluded a whole lot of people that could potentially be in the organization.

David: And if you make your rules around that, for example a million dollars revenue is the minimum you have to make to even be a part, for example. And I’m making that up. I don’t know if that’s a rule or not, but let’s say that is right. You just cut out a lot of people that could be in, because you got a million dollars as the nut, you gotta crack just to be a member.

David: But here’s the thing. If everybody around the room looks like you and they made that million dollars, then they think that’s what it should be. See what I mean? So that’s how that bias piece starts to creep in because you’re around people that are like, you. Who may have similar experiences, yet you’re not just demonstrating true empathy. Here’s what empathy is. Empathy is I don’t have to go through what you have gone through to understand what you’re going through, but I can still support you. sympathy is when we go through the same thing I say, oh yeah, you started your business and you struggled and all that.

David: I did the same thing and I, so now I understand you that’s sympathy. We need empathy. And I talk about in one of my talks, how empathy is a strategic, competitive advantage, when you can help people and see people where they are based on what they need. And it has nothing to do with you now, you that’s called de privileged.

David: If you want to use a term, I might have invented a term right then. That’s de-privilege. That’s saying, Hey, let me take all of that out and really look at the situation for what it really is. That’s how you begin to diversify your organization though, because you’re now saying I’m not gonna put into this, the perspectives and thoughts of how I got here and now make that the requirement, because there are people around you that look different from you sound different from you come from different ways of life.

David: they don’t have that exposure. They don’t have that experience. They don’t have some of those things, but they would be awesome members in your organization if you could meet ’em where they are. So that’s what I would say a about that. How do you make sure that you are empathetic, truly empathetic?

David: To all walks of life and how you’re truly empathetic in how you build your networks and build your connections, your circles, your stuff like that, because it’ll make you better. it just will. Once you see that, oh wait a minute. It’s not the way I thought it was. Or at least for everybody it’s not.

David: But you just learned something that just makes you better. And the same thing with me, I try to find people who do things differently and have different perspectives, cuz it just makes you better. And it lets you know that there’s still some human in humanity. 

Brent: I’m gonna close us out here with some coincidences, because yesterday empathy was one of the topics that was talked about.

Brent: And I have a quote because it really struck me. Empathy is one of the qualities, young businesses, lack, most entrepreneurs build things and solve problems for people in hopes of a return on investment, which people with high empathy do not generally expect. And I thought I actually took a picture of the slide down the screen.

Brent: Because there are definitely two different types of entrepreneurs. There’s one that are empathetic to their employees. And this can then fall into everything, right? Yeah. The empathy for diversity for having gender, any type of thing. Or just having empathy for that individual who’s in your company.

Brent: And then the other side of it, that is just that, Hey, we need to get our billing out of that person. And if they’re not gonna be around, we’ll find somebody who can do it. I don’t care about that person. I care about the return on investment of that person. Yeah. And to slide, the scale at a slide, the needle, or however you wanna say it is that we all have to have some empathy for our fellow human beings, no matter what they look like, no matter what gender they are.

Brent: And. And see them as they are, instead of seeing them as a 

David: number or seeing them how we want them to be . Yes, exactly. See, that’s the thing. If you see them, how you want ’em to be or how you think they should be, that’s the problem. That’s not empathy at all. And that’s, you’re right. That’s why it’s lacking because we wanna see people how we wanna see ’em versus see them for what they are.

David: And what they can do and what they can become. And it takes a sacrifice from yourself. You have to deny yourself in order to really help somebody be what they’re supposed to be irregardless of what you think and how you process. So that’s being selfless. And in business, we are taught and have been taught, especially in the United States, since the beginning, it’s all about what we want and who we are and what we’re after.

David: So it’s almost dally opposed, from being an entrepreneur in some cases, unless you’re one of those ones like the ones that are coming up now in the social space and the B Corp kind of thing, where you’re like, I’m gonna create this because it’s solving their problem, regardless of what I think, the more that we have, some of that kind of thinking, I think that gets us on the right path.

Brent: Yeah. And that we could keep going David on and on. But so we’re, as I close out every podcast I give I give my guests an opportunity to do a shameless plug about anything you would like to plug 

David: shapeless plug. Would you like to plug the. I’ll tell you our executive search firm is, has been, really doing well.

David: You can follow us. The DEJ group.com. That’s our website. You can follow me at David Edon jr.com. So I have a little site that I keep and I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn and Instagram and all those things. So if you ever wanna follow me and see what’s up, what we’re up to, you could do that as well.

David: But no, we just appreciate the opportunity to have the conversation and we’re gonna. Looking for the talent that people say that’s not there and it’s gonna keep showing up cuz I’m gonna show them where they are. And hopefully they’ll take a chance of these wonderful people and make their organizations better.

David: And I just appreciate you inviting me to be a part of this. So 

Brent: thank you. And David, I’m gonna invite you back again because I feel like this is a conversation that could keep going and we could have spent probably three hours oh yeah, we should definitely plan on the, another future topic around this.

Brent: And. And figure out how can we all feel more 

David: comfortable. Absolutely. I I tell you, I can help you with that now, but the thing about it’ll be painful at first . Yeah. It’s like that, it’s like that first shot you get when you’re little, you realize every 10 years you need a shot to keep that back, keep that immunity up.

David: So it’ll be something like that. 

Brent: All right. Thank you so much. All right.

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Episode 1