It’s easy for public corporations to talk about moving the needle on diversity, equity, and inclusion. But what happens when the curtain is pulled back and there’s full transparency? For JUST Capital (founded in 2013 by Paul Tudor Jones, Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington and Alan Fleischmann among others), the mission is to build an economy that works for all Americans. And with its 241 point evaluation system, the organization is finding the companies that are truly making a difference.
Jackie Ferguson: You’re listening to the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox podcast. I’m your host Jackie Ferguson, certified diversity executive, writer, human rights advocate, and co-founder of the diversity movement. On this podcast, I’m talking to trailblazers, game changers and glass ceiling breakers who share their inspiring stories, lessons learned and insights on business, inclusion, and personal development.
My guest for this episode is Ashley Marchand Orme. Ashley is the director of corporate equity at Just Capital. She’s responsible for overseeing the development, implementation and strategy of the organization’s equity portfolio. Prior to joining Just Capital, Ashley served most recently as the associate director of governance content at the National Association of Corporate Directors or NACD. There, she led thought leadership and education efforts for board level oversight of diversity, equity and inclusion.
While at NACD, she also launched the Future Fluency Podcast, educating the corporate director community about a variety of emerging issues related to DE&I, the future of work and organizational culture. Ashley, thank you so much for being here today.
Ashley Marchand Orme: Thank you so much for having me, Jackie. It’s just so good to be with you and your listeners.
Jackie: Of course. Thank you again. Ashley, tell us a little bit about your background, your family, your identity, whatever you’d like to share.
Ashley: Sure. Well, I come from a family where both my parents are Black folks from the deep south, from Louisiana, descended from African people who were enslaved and the European Americans who enslaved them. So I’m grateful for my parents and their parents before them, grandparents’ great grandparents, who’ve been part of centuries long efforts to help this country increasingly live up to its ideals.
And I think about my parents, both of whom took part in the civil rights movement in their youth. My dad, who did lunch counter sit-ins my mom integrated her high school. And, you know, beyond just thinking about my past, you know, my parents and their adulthood moved to Houston, Texas, which is where I was raised. And by the way, fun fact, the Peer Research Institute says that Texas is actually the state with the largest Black population in the US, followed closely behind by Florida and Georgia. Now, Houston is home for many oil and gas companies.
So for several years, my mom worked for Enron. So growing up, I remember experiencing things like, Enron day at our local theme park. Take your child to work days at Enron, but I also then remember starkly different situations, the downfall of Enron, when you could drive by the beautiful glass skyscraper in downtown, and you would see scores of people outside with boxes to take home personal items, cause they’ve been laid off. I remember very clearly when in the wake of all the accounting fraud, improper trading, unethical leadership, on both the board and C-suite, how my mom had friends who weren’t far from retirement, whose retirement plans were completely upended, wiped out because their stock was no longer valuable.
You know, we lucked out because the division of the company that my mom worked for was actually sold to another company right before everything went completely downhill, but we saw very closely how devastating all of this was for workers and really for Houston overall.
Jackie: Wow, well thank you for sharing that Ashley. It’s so great, your parents being so involved in the civil rights movement and the integration and wow, that’s so amazing. Tell me, how did that affect your mom?
The Inclusive Language Handbook: A Guide to Better Communication and Transformational Leadership, by Jackie Ferguson and Roxanne Bellamy
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