Biden Rescinds Diversity Training Restrictions: Shelley Willingham Explains

In September 2020, Donald Trump issued an executive order that banned the federal government – plus its contractors and subcontractors – from offering and participating in diversity training on racial and gender bias.  The next few months were filled with cancellations, stalled conversations, confusion, and lawsuits. But fortunately, on his first day as President, Joe Biden reversed the order. On today’s episode, The Diversity Movement VP of Business Strategy Shelley Willingham unpacks what happened and what it means to diversity training.

On the episode, Shelly mentions TDM’s new learning portal, which is available in beta – for free – at Portal.TheDiversityMovement.com.

Transcript

Jason Gillikin: Welcome to Diversity Beyond the Checkbox brought to you by thediversitymovement.com. On this podcast, we share diverse perspectives from leaders in their industries; explore diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts, and challenge our own assumptions and perspectives to take diversity beyond the checkbox.

Let’s get right to our guest. She is the Vice President of Business Strategy at the Diversity Movement. You may have seen her on CNBC shows, Squawk on the Street, the Small Business Playbook, and the Worldwide Exchange.

She has been in the diversity, equity, inclusion space since 2003, when she founded the National Organization for Diversity in Sales and Marketing. And it is my absolute privilege to welcome Shelley Willingham to the show. Shelley, how are you?

Shelley Willingham: I’m great. Thanks, Jason. Thanks for having me.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah, of course. I, I really wanted to have somebody come on and talk about, you know, what’s going on with the country right now.

So, you know, last week you shared an article on LinkedIn that was about Joe Biden rescinding the diversity training restrictions that Donald Trump put in place last year. So that’s what we’re going to talk about in our conversation today. What does that mean for business of diversity and inclusion and diversity training?

But before we get into that, I would love to know what it was like for you watching the Inauguration on Wednesday to see a woman, a black woman, sworn in as Vice President of the United States?

Shelley Willingham: Well, it was pretty amazing for several reasons. I have a daughter who’s nine years old and for her to be able to see that image was very powerful.

Vice President Harris and I were in the same sorority, so it was extra special there as well. But I felt very much like I did when we watched Obama, President Obama get inaugurated. And I remember at that time, my son was eight or nine, and just thinking that my children have grown up seeing people that look like them in the White House is just very powerful because representation, it matters so much.

And you know, I’m excited. I’m excited about the possibilities. You know, it’s a slow road, right? We’ve gone through so much in this country that we just need to kind of accept and just deal with. Doesn’t make America a bad place. I love America, but we have work to do. And that’s why the work around diversity, equity, and inclusion is so important.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah, for sure. We, we do have a lot of work to do, and same as far as your sentiments and being able to show your daughter, “Look what you can do.” So, you know, I’ve got three daughters. They’re eight, six, and three. The eight- and six-year-old were glued to the TV. Like they get a, they get a break from 11 to 1 in their virtual schooling. And so, it was perfect for them, you know, to be able to watch that. They’re asking questions, “Who’s that?” “That’s Kamala Harris”. “Who’s that walking down with her?” “That’s her husband.” And this is for the first time in history for little kids to be able to see that “Yes, I can do that.”

I’m sure they’ll remember this moment, but it meant a lot to me to be able to, to not just tell them–

Shelley Willingham: Right.

Jason Gillikin: — That they can do anything they want, but they can see for themselves.

Shelley Willingham: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah.

Shelley Willingham:  Well, it was a great week. It was a great week.

Jason Gillikin: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So, let’s talk about what wasn’t so great. So last year, Donald Trump put in diversity training restrictions. You know, you see the headlines and everything, and you’re like, “What is this guy doing?”

Can you attempt to unpack that? Like, what was he doing? What was the, what was it all about? What was the rationale for it?

Shelley Willingham: So, the previous administration made the decision that any training that talked about white privilege or unconscious bias was basically saying that we’re training people that America was a, a bad place. And that you know, those types of things were offensive to him and his base. And so, what happened was that federal agencies, even a lot of private corporations and contractors were told that they could not participate in this type of training. And they even set up hotlines for people to call if they felt like they were being forced to participate in these types of discussions and they could report their organizations through this hotline.

In December, so this is November 22nd, is when he initiated the order. In December, there was a federal judge, federal court out in California that basically put a stop to it because an LGBT group, they challenged this order, and there was a block put on it. And so, it was in effect for about a month, but I will tell you from the work that we do, there are several companies that we work with that are federal contractors and some of the conversations slow down.

You know, when you think about this being a law; something that you cannot do. You’re going to get in trouble if you do it. When I saw it, it just reinforced to me and the rest of us at the diversity movement, how important this work is. None of the work that we do when we work with our clients talks about America being a bad place or talks about “White people are bad.”

None of that is it. So, this work is even more important because if that is the sentiment, if that’s what some people view DEI work as being, they are mistaken. And so hopefully there’s been, you know, people that take a look at exactly what this work means. When we talk about privilege within the diversity movement; like we have an excellent privilege walk I’m sure you are well aware of. But it’s a great tool that we use to help people kind of level-set and understand that we all– white, black, it really doesn’t matter. But we all have privilege that we bring to work, that we bring to conversations, that we bring to relationships, not white privilege.

And so, there are a lot of assumptions about what diversity, equity, inclusion training is about. And the previous administration played on those assumptions, played on those fears, and tried to stop it. And so, when we saw this, I know when our team members saw this executive order, it was like, “Okay, game on.” Because we know we must be on to something.

And so, I was excited to see that President Biden and his very first day strip that order. Because he realizes and recognizes the importance of this work. You can look at his cabinet to see it’s reflective of America, of who we are. We are not a monolithic group. And when we talk about the issues of race, we talk about the issues of privilege.

Those things are real. They’re here. We, you know, we think about slavery. Why, is there any reckoning after slavery?  How do we come together after that after these years? There’s still effects of that. And those conversations need to be had. And we can’t ignore it. And by talking about it, it doesn’t make it worse or make people feel anti-American or that we don’t love America.

But what it does is it helps us understand each other. And it helps us come to terms with our history and try to write some of the wrongs that happened and give everybody a level playing field to be able to achieve The American Dream that we all want.

Jason Gillikin: Absolutely. Yeah. And there’s something about not having to apologize for being privileged, right? It’s just having the conversations and, and recognizing that you have that privilege. So, CEO of The Diversity Movement, a former host of, of this show, Donald Thompson, he had Gary Salamido on. He, he’s the President of the North Carolina Chamber. And he said to him, “Look, Gary, I don’t want anybody to feel like they have to apologize for being white. I don’t, that’s not how it is. We just need to recognize what has happened and then have the conversations about that. And so that we can bring our full selves, our authentic selves to work.”

Shelley Willingham: Yeah.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. So, it’s just shocking, not shocking because there was just so much that went on in that previous administration. But you look at the fact that they just wanted to turn a blind eye to what was going on. And, and we need to recognize that there is racism in this country still. That slavery did exist. And even beyond that, but people who are not racist by any means, but they do have these unconscious biases. And so like, how do you deal with that?

Well, shoot. I mean, it feels like it should be about this training and that, yet they, they didn’t want that to happen.

Shelley Willingham: And then there was such a, you know, diversity is so much more than just about race, right? So–

Jason Gillikin: There you go.

Shelley Willingham: The previous administration’s playing on this whole race thing and getting their base riled up about these topics, these conversations. It’s really shutting the door on the real conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion because it is so much broader than just race.

And so, those are discussions that we have as well with our clients to understand there are several dimensions to diversity. And a lot of times conversations start with race. And that’s what, you know, people think, “Okay, this is going to be a race conversation.” But again, it’s so much more than that.

And so, with us in The Diversity Movement, we think about approaching these types of conversations. You know, Jason, we know it’s the right thing to do, right? It, it is the right thing to do. But, we know we got to go beyond “Kumbaya.” How do we attach this to the business case? Why does it make good sense? So, providing to have a cabinet as diverse as he does, he’s going to have diversity of ideas and conversations.

And so, people will have different perspectives. He appointed the first African American to head the EPA. So, when we think about sustainability and we think about environmental issues that in most cases affect marginalized communities more than it does others, that’s important to have that representation; to have that voice of someone who may understand and be able to create programming and policy around those things to help address those issues.

So, it’s so much bigger than, you know, just this race conversation, but it makes companies more profitable when you have different ideas and innovation. And, you know, there’s stats that show that companies that embrace DEI as a business imperative. Not just the right thing to do, but a business imperative, have greater profits.

So, it just makes good business sense. And at The Diversity Movement, when we work with our clients, we look at DEI through a business lens. And so that helps us to be able to attach everything to the overall goals and strategies of the business to grow. When everything happened with George Floyd this summer, and Jason, you saw it. People were posting statements and, you know, emotions were high.

It was very emotional, and people had knee jerk type of reactions, but there were several reactions that were not followed up with any action. And so that’s what tends to happen with diversity programming. It’s very reactive. So, something happened, we got sued, there was a complaint, we got to do some diversity training. And they do the training, they check the box, okay, it’s done.

And those types of trainings and, and those types of strategies do not work long-term. So, you know, the excitement was around, the anger was around, George Floyd. But then it kind of, you know, people weren’t as angry anymore. Maybe they’re still angry, but they’re not, you know, “Oh, well, maybe we’ll put it off and do it later.”

We, I saw that in our business. So many calls, so many people wanting to do something, but then we talked about it, “Okay, this is the plan, this is what we do… you know what? We’re probably going to do it next year.” So, unless we can attach the business case; unless I can show an organization why it makes good business sense, it’s, it’s not going to be meaningful, it’s not going to be impactful, and it’s not going to be long lasting. And it ends up being that training they do. Once a year, they check off. It’s an HR function and they feel good about themselves.

Jason Gillikin: Wow. Yeah. Oh, now were any of those organizations scared off by what, what Trump did?

Shelley Willingham: I believe so. When I look back on the types of companies, I think a lot of them went completely dark because of the, of the order; of the executive order. And it’s not to say that the leadership at that company didn’t feel that diversity was important, but there was a fear factor there, right?

So, you know, again, they had a hotline for people to report, you know, if you’re forced to do this type of training or have these discussions, you can call this hotline, you know, we’ll address it. So, so yeah, there was a lot of fear around it. So, it’s like a sigh of relief that President Biden recognizes the importance of this work and you know, and hopefully the sigh of relief within corporate America as well.

Because if you think about it, Jason, even with the people that don’t support diversity and inclusion, and– they probably have very monolithic communities that they live in, right? So, they, their friends will probably all look the same, their family may all look the same. And so, coming to work might be the only place where they’re able to interact with people from different backgrounds and have different types of conversations.

So, you know, corporations should look at this as an opportunity to not only attach it to the business case, right? And impact the bottom line. But it’s a good thing to do because this might be the only place that people are having these conversations and where this change can be made at a culture level within an organization that they can then take back into their communities and say, “You know what, black people aren’t that bad,” or “Jewish people aren’t that bad.”

You’re thinking that because you’re listening to things that you’ve been told or, you know, whatever type of social media or whatever you may follow, but having a one-on-one interaction or conversation with someone that’s not like you are getting to hear their perspective about something, those are the ways, those one-on-one conversations that we break down this institutional racism and bias.

Jason Gillikin: That’s so interesting. You know, I actually just went to a, a Y Guides meeting and, you know, just to meet some of the, the dads. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s eight of us and they’re, they’re all like me. You know, white, late thirties or early forties. So, you know that, that’s, that happens to be who I’m, I’m hanging out with.

So, when I do go to work and have these conversations, you know, I learn so much more than what is that narrow focus of, of like the people that are very much similar to me. So, yeah. It’s so interesting that you, that you talk about that. So those companies that did stick with it and that, that kind of ignored, you know, what, what Trump had said, you know, what happened with them? Were there any ramifications of this? Did they express to you like, “Yes, we want to go through this, but we’re kind of nervous about it.” How did that all work?

Shelley Willingham: I think the, the thing that makes us different in the marketplace is that not only do we look at the eye through our business lens, but we don’t have a cookie cutter approach at all, Jason. So, everything that we do is very customized for our client. We want to make sure that whatever program we put in place is sensitive to the culture of that organization and that we have a really good understanding of, of what we’re dealing with. So, we always start with, you know, with discovery and assessments and kind of figuring out how people feel about working there or what leadership feels like; some of the issues or the problems may be.

Having executive-level conversations because those conversations are a little bit different than you may have with your managers or with your individual contributors. So, we take a lot of time upfront to make sure we have a great understanding of an organization before we make any recommendations for coming to work with us.

If someone reaches out to me and says, “Hey, we just want to do a training once a year.” I politely tell them, “You’re probably not the company for us.” We are focused not on giving information, but creating transformation within organizations. And so, to, to be committed to this work, what we’re finding is it’s that top-down approach.

So, when we do have the support from the C-suite, when they’re driving it, that’s when we know what’s going to be effective. And so, your employees want to see that the people at the top are serious about this. It’s not just for checking the box. Take a course. And you don’t have to know what you’re going to do, right?

So, most of the companies that we work with, they want to do the right thing and we’re helping them do the right thing, and they feel like, “Well, we have to have this all planned out, so our employees know.” And we help you with that communication. In most cases, your employees are fine. As long as they know you’re trying.

There’s a plan in place and you’re going to be moving through it. And so, we can help companies from just starting in their journey to building out a full chief diversity office within their organizations and anywhere in between. So that’s the value of working with The Diversity Movement. If you’re committed and you are really wanting to do this work, you know, our name says it, “The Diversity Movement” bring movement.

We are wanting to change the world and I am encouraged every day when, you know, all of these different companies are reaching out to us and they want to do the work, and they know it’s not going to be easy, and they don’t know what questions to ask, and I’m afraid if I say this, that’s going to be wrong. All of those conversations are okay because that’s how we get to understanding.

And we align the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives with core values and what their mission statements so they can make sure that it is impacted in their culture with everything that they do. Not just from the top, down, not just in the HR, you know, in HR, but all the way down to whoever it is that’s working on the frontline. So, everybody has an understanding of how they fit into the organization. And everybody understands how the “I” is an important part of everything that they do.

Jason Gillikin: Gosh, that is so important. And I was listening to Keith Pigues’ Luminas Strategy. Awesome guy.

Shelley Willingham: His wife and I are in an organization together.

Jason Gillikin: There you go. All right, great. But what he said is that 70% of the workforce by 2027 is going to be gen Z or millennial. And what they want is that mission to go along with the work. And if you don’t have a DEI initiative in place, if you don’t have a sustainable mission in place, if you don’t have all these things that are important, if you don’t have a societal impact–

Shelley Willingham: Yeah.

Jason Gillikin: You know, they are going to leave you.

Shelley Willingham: That’s right.

Jason Gillikin: So, you know, not only is it the right thing to do, not only do you get the best ideas by having diverse people in your company, but if you don’t, you are going to lose some of your best talent, a lot of your best talent.

Shelley Willingham: Absolutely. And you know, when I think about the far right, white supremacists, white nationalist groups, and they play on fear. So, they play on the fact that America is “browning.” America is changing and so, “Oh, they’re going to outnumber us. And they’re going to,” I mean, and, and it’s, it’s just that fear. And again, the not, not understanding, looking, looking at one point of view and thinking that’s the, that’s the worldview, that’s their worldview.

And that is, it’s so unfortunate. And so, when we think about the millennials, like you said, that’s the most diverse group. I mean, they, they don’t care about anything. They’re so open. And so, and I love it. I love to see it. And so, to your point, if companies are not embracing that, they’re not going to work for them.

And so how are we going to transfer that? How is there going to be a transfer of knowledge? And that’s another diversity point, right? So, you have somebody that’s worked at a company for 50 years, they’re about to retire. What’s that transfer of knowledge look like to the millennial? And how do we make sure that they’re having conversations and that they appreciate all the different things that they bring to the table?

That’s another dimension of, of inclusion and diversity. So, all of those things kind of work together to create an opportunity for companies to make sure that they’re positioning themselves for long-term growth. Making sure they’re positioning themselves to be competitive. And diversity, equity and inclusion allows you to do that.

And again, it’s not just that inside within your organization, but also for your external brand. So, your, your customers, your clients, your vendors are going to be looking at you to say, “Okay. How do you feel about diversity?” There are a lot of companies. Now that will say, “If you don’t have a diversity, equity and inclusion policy in place, we might not do business with you.”

You’re going to miss on great talent because they’ll go to your website, everybody looks the same, nobody in leadership looks like me, that’s probably not the best place for me to work, so I’m going to move on to something else and somebody else is going to get on my great, fantastic talent and wonderful idea.

So, again, it just makes good business sense. And if people would just kind of relax and exhale and just have the conversation and see why it just makes sense. Nobody’s trying to take anything from anybody, nobody’s trying to tell you you’re doing something wrong, but we’re just trying to, again, make sure that everybody feels like they belong in this America that’s so wonderful, that’s so great, that welcomes immigrants from all over, right? That it’s just a level, level playing field that everybody has the same opportunities for growth.

Jason Gillikin: Oh my gosh. And I cannot wait until we can feel like we have civil conversations again. And it’s not an “us versus them” approach.

Like, it’s not a “right versus left.” It’s, “Let’s have a real debate about this stuff. And then come together because we, we are a team.” Like, you know, we, we are all humans here. Gosh, it seems so basic, but it’s, it’s hard to believe that, you know, Joe Biden had to do something on his first day to roll back an initiative that was, anyway.

Shelley Willingham: Absolutely. And just one other thing I’d like to say just about those companies and organizations that are really trying to do the work and in a lot of cases, we’ll see, yeah, them taking the steps internally, right? They create a task force or a group, or have, you know, people that are focused on this work, but that’s kind of like asking the patient to heal themselves in a way.

So, working with a third party or working with experts in the space helps to navigate those conversations. So one, you know, and one of the reasons I don’t want to work with a company that just wants us to do a one-off training is because they would come in and do unconscious bias training. We do the training, we leave, and we’ve uncovered all these things.

So, all these people have all these feelings. Who’s going to help navigate those conversations? So, you may actually make a situation worse by not having a, a solid plan in place to help you navigate the situation, to help you navigate future conversations, and create future plans. So, there’s real benefit and value to reaching out to experts to help you manage these conversations.

And again, not just manage it from a “Kumbaya, we all need to get along,” but being able to attach metrics and key performance indicators to make sure that the work that you’re doing is impactful.

Jason Gillikin: That’s so great. Now, walk me through that. So after, let’s say, an initial unconscious bias training, and somebody wants to keep working with you. Like, you uncover all these, these problems. Like, how does that all work with, with the diversity movement? Is it, is it a lot of consulting? Like, is it you’re involved in more trainings with the teams? Like how, how does that work?

Shelley Willingham: It’s really specific to each company, Jason. Kind of what they need. So, you know, like I said, the assessment piece is so important. The discovery piece to find out where the company is. So how do we set a baseline? And we’re going to meet people where they are. That’s another thing that we’ll do, is some companies will call us and say, “Well, we really, we’re like at negative 50 when it comes to diversity and that’s okay. We can meet you where you are.” Or you may have done some work and you just need to move the needle.

It’s like, not going anywhere. We can meet you where you are, but we’ll work together and figure out what makes the most sense. And then collectively develop a plan that could include live training, that could include e-courses, because we do have e-learning. We have a mobile app. We have several different ways to impact the learning and to make sure that it’s meaningful and that it’s fixed. So again, there’s no one cookie cutter approach for everybody that we work with. We have various modes of learning and tools that they can use to continue to, to develop their program. And so, the program will evolve. You know, you’ll start at one place and we’ll figure out where we are in the beginning.

And then once we do a certain aspect of the program, we’ll reassess, maybe research, do another survey and assessment so we can get a baseline to see, “Okay. Employee sentiment has changed in these areas. This is great. We’ll continue to work on that.” So again, we’re very data-driven, right? We look at what the numbers are telling us. Where are the metrics? How are we measuring this? How are we making sure that this works?

So, we’re not doing anything just to do it, but again, attachment to that business case and making sure that we’re in lockstep with what your goals are for your business and how we’re helping you to integrate the eye throughout that.

Jason Gillikin: That’s so great that you’ve been able to take more than just a speech, right? Like you can give a speech about DEI and why it’s the right thing to do, but no, I mean, that’s, that’s not what you’re, you’re doing. You are training these companies, these executives from the top, down on how exactly to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. That’s awesome.

Shelley Willingham: And how it works for them, right? So, the executive conversation is going to be different because we are going to be talking more about, you know, from a business case standpoint, and why this makes sense for your business, but your individual contributors, that conversation might need to be more around how do you get along good with your, with your coworkers? Or if you’re dealing with your customers, what do you need to keep in mind when you’re doing those types of things? So, everything is very customed to again, the organization, but also every training or every conversation is not the same. It’s really based on how you’re showing up in the workplace, what your role is, how you can use DEI to navigate your role better.

Jason Gillikin: Thank you for sharing that. Because you know, I know a lot about what the diversity movement does, but not everything. So, you know, I was curious as well, and it’s good for our listeners to, to hear that too. So, I kind of wanted to, to dig into your background. So, I, I’ve been telling Jackie, I was like, “We’ve got to get Shelley on this podcast.” You know, “I’ve seen her on CNBC. She’s awesome. Let’s get her on.” And so, I’m so lucky to be able to talk to you today, but you have been in the DEI space since 2003. You’ve got your own company, a consulting company. Why did you choose to come on board with the diversity movement?

Shelley Willingham: That’s a great question, Jason. You know, it’s very interesting. Donald Thompson, CEO of The Diversity Movement reached out to me on LinkedIn in January of 2020, and we connected, and I think he connected with me because of my background in diversity. And we were just talking about partnering on doing some things together, just, you know, just networking, good conversation, great person, done some amazing things.

And then June or July, he said, “Listen, I would love for you to come join our team.” And I’m like, “Well, Don, I’m not looking for a job. I’ve got a business.” He said, “No, I understand all that, but let’s figure out how we can make it work.” And the wonderful thing about Don, you know, Don is that he’s an entrepreneur, so he, he gets it.

So, he understands I’m an entrepreneur as well. And we did figure it out. So, we figured out how, you know, I’ve got a team that runs my agency day to day, but I am, you know, knee deep into The Diversity Movement right now. And when everything happened with George Floyd, you know, I, I sat back and I asked myself, “How can I be a part of this movement?”

And this was before I had talked to Don. Before he, you know, made the offer to come join his team. I knew it wasn’t protesting, you know, I could write a check, but how could I really be impactful? And with the work that I’ve done in the diversity space, I knew that I could impact corporate America. I could help bridge the gap there.

And so, when the opportunity came and it just made sense for me, and there was no way I could, I could turn this down because one of the things that I decided to do in my life at one point, you know, at one point I lost everything that I owned, Jason. I had to rebuild from nothing. And I made the decision that whatever I do moving forward will be things that bring me absolute joy, things that I’m passionate about.

I’m not chasing money, not doing any of those things any more than I did in my, that I did before. And when you stop doing those things, it’s amazing how all the things you want still show up. And the diversity, equity, and inclusion discussion, and the movement is something that is so, so important to me. And so, it just makes perfect sense.

So, you know, I’m glad I made the transition. Is it difficult having a full-time gig and running a business? Yes, it’s very hard, but we make it work. You know, I’ve got a good team and you know, the team of The Diversity Movement is absolutely amazing. They are the most talented people I will say that I’ve ever worked with and we are all driven and focused on this mission to, to really change the world.

And so, you know, I’m going to say we’re the best out there. When I look at other companies out there where they’re doing this work, they’re not doing it the way that we are. We’re very innovative, again, very data-driven, we have great experts, a great team. And again, that business focus and that business lens really is a distinguisher for us.

So, for any of your listeners that need to take the next step as it relates to the “I”, I encourage you to reach out to us at The Diversity Movement. Let’s have a conversation so we can help.

Jason Gillikin: So, Shell, you mentioned the team, they are a great team. You mentioned that sometimes it’s, it’s challenging to keep up with everything. What’s most exciting for you right now about what’s going on at The Diversity Movement?

Shelley Willingham: So, you know, I mentioned the great team. So, Jackie has put in her team, put together amazing content, and then Kurt and his team, they’re doing some great product rollouts. And we’re really excited about a new portal that we’ve launched. It’s, think about LinkedIn, so it’s a peer learning portal where there’s a monthly membership.

You know, we can have a membership for your team or for your entire company. And we have diversity, equity, and inclusion content that’s curated there, we have coaching there. You know, it’s an environment where you can interact with other people that are doing the same work that you’re doing. You know, the DEI space. This is hard work, Jason, it’s not easy.

And sometimes it’s just, you know, a lot of, a lot of companies. You have one person that’s charged with doing all of these things. And so, having a group that is pure focus. You can go in and meet people from all over the, all over the world that are doing this type of work, but also having those conversations around particular topics. You can ask a question to one of our experts. They can get back to you if like, one of our clients had an issue with, during the election and someone was wearing something to work and wanted to know, “Is this, can I say anything about this?” Or is, you know, is that, “Is that right to wear that? I mean, how do I handle this situation?” Or “Are different comments being made on social media?” So, it’s a place where you can get the answers to those questions, like right away. We do have people that are there in this space moderating and that you have access to.

And it’s just a great place to, to gather, a great place to network, a great place to get information as, as you need it. And again, it can be customized for a particular company. We do have some companies that have their own private sections for their organizations. Awesome content. And it’s just a portal learning membership place where you can just log in, do what you need to do, log out, go back to it whenever you want to. So, we’re excited about it, it’s great, it’s Diversity Learning Portal. It’s in beta right now, but you can visit it and join for, at no charge. So, it’s portal.thediversitymovement.com.

And again, it’s a peer learning platform. Lots of great content and perfect for, especially for our diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioners that may need a little support and just want to network with other people, but also for people that are just doing the work with any of the organizations and want a little extra space to ask questions that you may not be comfortable asking. I want to get additional information about some of the things you’re trying to accomplish at your organization. So, make sure to check it out. We’re really excited about this platform.

Jason Gillikin: Wow. That is exciting. And you can join for free, portal.thediversitymovement.com. So, is there a place where people can reach you specifically?

Shelley Willingham: Yeah, shoot me an email. Shelley, S-H-E-L-L-E-Y@thediversitymovement.com. Or you can reach me on LinkedIn, you can reach me on Instagram, Clubhouse, Facebook. I’m everywhere. I’m everywhere, Jason, everywhere.

Jason Gillikin: Well, thank you so much, Shelly Willingham. This has been amazing. I’ve wanted to have a conversation with you for a while now, and I’m so excited and honored that I got to do this on this podcast.

Shelley Willingham: Me too, Jason. Thanks so much for asking me. This was fun.

Jason Gillikin: All right, for everybody, for more information on all things diversity and inclusion, head on over to thediversitymovement.com and of course, portal.thediversitymovement.com. That’s all for today. Jackie Ferguson will be back next week. Thanks for listening. And we’ll see you next time on Diversity Beyond the Checkbox.

Full Episode Transcript

This episode of Diversity Beyond the Checkbox is presented by The Diversity Movement and hosted by Jason Gillikin. For more information including the latest webinars and other DEI content, head over to TheDiversityMovement.com. Podcast production by Earfluence.

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