Coaching For African American Audiences And Teams Transcript


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African Americans have had major influence on societal/cultural trends and business innovations, yet this group remains largely underrepresented in the corporate world.

The group makes up just a small fraction of Fortune 500 company leadership, major college campus populations, and business school graduates.

How can coaching help companies find, attract and retain African American talent?

What issues are important for coaching African American business teams or marketing to African American audiences?


* Dr. Joel Freeman, President, Freeman Institute

* Patricia Harris, Vice President, McDonald's USA

* Pat Perkins, CEO, Exodus Coaching, Inc.

* Pat Thomas, Founder, Thomas Coaching Company, Inc.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1st, 2006, the estimated population of African Americans in the United States is 40.2 million, making up 13.4 percent of the total U.S. population.

However when looking across the business landscape, many experts note that African Americans still remain largely underrepresented in the corporate world.

In 2006, the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), a professional network for senior-level African American executives, found that 32% of the top 500 publicly traded companies do not have African American board directors and 68% have at least one.

Why is this group under-represented within Corporate America today?

And how are coaches who specialize in working with African American audiences and teams helping to cultivate and grow leaders within this group?

Our panel of experts address these questions and more.

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Coaching For African American Audiences And Teams Transcript

  1. 1. Insight on Coaching Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript Prepared for: Prepared by: Insight Educational Consulting Ubiqus Reporting (IEC)
  2. 2. Time Speaker Transcript 0:29 Tom Floyd Hello, everyone and welcome to Inside on Coaching. Inside on Coaching explores the many facets, flavors and sides of the emerging professional coaching field. I’m Tom Floyd, I’m the CEO of Inside Educational Consulting and your host for today’s show. This week our topic is Coaching African American Audiences and Teams. We will discuss the influences that African Americans have had on societal and cultural trend and business innovations. We will discuss some of the reasons why this group is under represented within Corporate America today and, of course, we will discuss both how coaches are helping companies find, attract and retain African American talent as well as the work coaches who specialize in working with African American audiences and teams are doing to help cultivate and grow leaders within this group. With me to explore this topic today are four guests, and let me give you a quick overview of who we have with us today. Our first guest, Dr. Joel Freeman, is an accomplished author, professional behavioral analyst and organizational culture change specialist. Joel is also the president of the Freeman Institute, which offers corporate training with a special expertise in Black history, diversity, cultural awareness and understanding. With well over half a million copies in print, his six books and three DVDs have received rave reviews worldwide. His most recent book, Return to Glory, analyzes examples of African American success stories and offers a process for individual healing, hoping and cross-cultural understanding Welcome to the show, Joel. 2:00 Dr. Joel Thank you very much, Tom. It is a pleasure to be here. Freeman 2 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 2 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  3. 3. Time Speaker Transcript 2:03 Tom Floyd Our second guest, Patricia Harris, is a Vice President of McDonald’s USA and Global Chief Diversity Officer of McDonald’s Corporation. Under her leadership, McDonald’s has won several diversity awards including being voted as one of thequot;35 Great Places to Workquot; by Essence Magazine and one of the quot;30 Best Companies for Diversityquot; by Black Enterprise Magazine. Harris has also received several individual awards including being named one of the “Top 10 Diversity Champions in the Country” by Working Mother Magazine and the Dr. Martin Luther King “Shining Light Award.” The President of McDonald’s North America recently introduced the “Pat Harris Diversity Award” which is presented each year to the McDonald’s Officer with the highest diversity results within McDonald’s USA. Welcome to the show, Patricia. 2:50 Patricia Harris Thank you, Tom. I’m glad to be here. 2:53 Tom Floyd Our next guest, Pat Perkins, is an executive coach, professional speaker, and CEO of Exodus Coaching, Inc., a company dedicated to assisting individuals and teams in maximizing performance through creating and achieving desired sustainable results. She is also the Co-Chair of Strategic Partnerships for the Black Professional Coaches Alliance (BPCA), a nationwide network of African-American personal and executive coaches dedicated to the transformation of the African-American community. Pat has a track record of achieving results, and a unique background in management, coaching, training and development, and program management. Welcome to the show, Pat. 3:32 Pat Perkins Tom, it is a pleasure to be here. 3 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 3 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  4. 4. Time Speaker Transcript 3:34 Tom Floyd Last but not least, our fourth guest, Pat Thomas, is the founder and lead executive coach of Thomas Coaching Company, Inc. Pat is a regular speaker at several African American professional alliances, networks and conferences including Essence Magazine’s “Women Who Are Shaping the World” Leadership Conference on the topic of strategies for accelerating your career. She also brings 20 years first-hand experience as a black professional in Corporate America, having held a variety of executive management positions at AT&T prior to becoming a coach. Pat’s articles on coaching topics have appeared in several publications, including The Network Journal, Healthwise Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine. She has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and Black Enterprise Magazine. Welcome to the show, Pat. 4:20 Pat Thomas Thank you, Tom. It’s a pleasure. 4 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 4 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  5. 5. Time Speaker Transcript 4:22 Tom Floyd Well, as we do with each show, I would like to start out by sharing some data that our research team pulled together to set the stage. Our nation celebrates Martin Luther King day next week on January 21, in celebration of diversity and in recognition of the legendary African American leader of the civil rights movement. Next month, the national also will celebrate Black History Month to commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1st, 2006, the estimated population of Black residents in the United States is 40.2 million, making up 13.4 percent of the total U.S. population. African-Americans have had major influence on societal and cultural trends and business innovations, yet this group remains largely underrepresented in the corporate world. The group makes up just a small fraction of Fortune 500 company leadership, major college campus populations, and business school graduates. In 2006, the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), a professional network for senior-level African American executives, found that 32% of the top 500 publicly traded companies do not have African American board directors and 68% have at least one. Of the 260 blacks who serve on the board of a top 500 publicly traded company, 78% are men and 22% women. In 2003, all the top 100 companies had at least one white female director; 31 top 100 firms had at least one black female director. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 18% of blacks 25 and older hold bachelor’s degrees or higher, and just 26% of blacks 16 and older work in management, professional and related occupations. Joel, I would like to start with you, a very big picture question. How are these figures landing on you so far in terms of the current state of the state and progress of African American in the community today? 5 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 5 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  6. 6. Time Speaker Transcript 6:32 Joel Freeman While there have been tremendous gains when we look at the historical picture and the landscape, there have been wonderful gains. There’s still so much more to go. I know I talk with many individuals in Corporate America and government agencies, and the story I get back is that it’s very hard to break into the upper echelon of the workforce and for women in minorities, so to speak. It just becomes a situation where many times there’s a fair amount of frustration. I worked with one government agency, and we had the 50 senior-most people in the room talking about opening the doors to women and minorities. Out of the 50 people, there were 47 white males, 3 women, 1 African American woman. It was just a fascinating thing just to see the landscape before me and to be able to speak to it. It’s a very challenging situation celebrating the gains but still looking at so many things that need to change. 7:48 Tom Floyd It is focused on diversity and really the need to do more around that, yet when you looked around the room itself, it doesn’t sound like you necessarily saw a diverse audience? 7:59 Joel Freeman No. One of the things that I find interesting is that anytime when people call me, my first question is, “why are you calling me?” “Is it a proactive or a reactive decision?” If it’s reactive, it could be because of the fear of some kind of a lawsuit or they’re in the process of a lawsuit or some situation that is uncomfortable from a marketing perspective. If it’s proactive, then it’s something that, from the top down, there is a desire to train more in this area. Regardless of what it is, I am a big fan of gateways. I look for the gateway, and then we begin to proceed with the situation at hand. 6 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 6 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  7. 7. Time Speaker Transcript 8:48 Tom Floyd Another question I would ask around that, “do you see that this is regionalized at all?” Do you see certain areas of our country where African Americans in particular are underrepresented more than in others? An example that I would use just in general from a diversity perspective is that I moved and I live in California. We’re based in California. I grew up in the Midwest. Growing up in the Midwest in the middle of Ohio, diversity was something that I didn’t really see much at all. Living in California for seven years now, going on eight years now, that has been one of the things that I have enjoyed most. It has just been a cultural melting pot here in the Silicon Valley because we are exposed to so many different groups with so many different values. That is one of the things I love most about living here. When I go back to other parts of the country, sometimes it is one of the first things that I notice when I get off the plane in Dallas, Fort Worth or Chicago O’Hare. I look around and think, “wow, I am not seeing as a diverse group as I would like to here.” o you see any of that at all? 10:04 Joel Freeman Is that for me? 10:06 Tom Floyd Yes. 7 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 7 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  8. 8. Time Speaker Transcript 10:07 Joel Freeman Basically, I do see that as I travel around the country and travel around the world. I think it’s reflective. I know there’s some regions of the country, for instance, I was recently working with a group up in Upper State New York. There’s quite an influx of Latinos, Hispanics and just different groups—going into a Wal-Mart or something like that and there are people speaking in Spanish. A lot of the people who are living in that area and that region are really freaking out. When you get them alone and you start talking on a more honest level, they are just saying, “what is happening? This is so totally different for us.” I think that that is changing in many parts of the country. In Lewiston, Maine, I have a friend that lives there. A whole lot of people, refugees from Somalia, have moved into the region. It’s causing some of the local people to wonder, “what’s happening here?” Of course, as time goes by, there will be a reflective change in people working in the workforce. 11:20 Tom Floyd Is that because it’s sounding like that there’s alarm that things are changing, and is it because from a human nature perspective alone, people are saying, “oh my God, I’m seeing a change and I’m not sure what this means for me?” 8 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 8 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  9. 9. Time Speaker Transcript 11:36 Joel Freeman I think that all of us deal with change in different ways. We have to adjust and move with it. Sometimes it takes a generation or two or three for that change to take place. It’s just an area where every one of us is challenged. I know I struggle and have struggled with my own stereotypical thinking. I think that’s part in partial of our human nature, and that’s where education comes in and intentionality, people wanting to move in this direction, trying to understand. Like St. Augustine said back in the fourth century, “seek to understand before seeking to be understood.” I think that’s a wonderful axiom that can help all of us as we move forward in this global society. 12:24 Tom Floyd I love that. Can you tell just briefly too about some of the topics and findings within your book, ‘Return to Glory, the Powerful Stirring of the Black Man’? 9 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 9 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  10. 10. Time Speaker Transcript 12:34 Joel Freeman Well, what’s fascinating to me about this is this is—I spent 20 years as a mentor chaplain for the Washington Bullets. I grew up in Alberta, Canada. I met a gentleman by the name of Don Griffin, and very quickly we became friends. He began to communicate some things about history, ancient African history and African American history. As a white man, this was information that was brand new to me. It wasn’t even a blip on my radar screen. Ultimately, I challenged him to write a book. He came back and said it would be powerful for a white man and a black man to do this together. What he did in the first half, he wrote about the ancient historical information. What I did, because of my training, my PhD work in psychology, I began to interview African American men. That was our primary target. Even though it has had a wide application, the response has been wonderful. I just began to interview and you can imagine on a suspicion scale, from somewhat to extremely suspicious, it was quite a fascinating experiencing talking to about 40 or 50 men. I asked a question that changed the tone of every single interview. The question is this; “do you remember the moment when you realized that because of the color of your skin, that the rules are somehow different for you?” To have a 65-year-old man pause and then tell me with brilliant clarity what happened when he was five years of age, it had a profound effect upon me. Because of my training in psychology, I began to see the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross grieving process as it associated with the areas of racism and prejudice. So the second half of the book is taking the mental, emotional and spiritual road map to wholeness and walking through the grieving process. We made a film out of it. Billy Cosby, Julius Erving, Ben Carson, Joe Frasier all endorsed the book. The film now has been translated into French, Portuguese and Spanish. The international response to the film and the book have been quite phenomenal. I just can’t get over it. 10 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 10 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  11. 11. Time Speaker Transcript 14:50 Tom Floyd That’s fantastic! What would you say would be the biggest thing that you learned writing the book and having that experience? What was the biggest thing that you learned from it? 15:03 Joel Freeman Having worked as a chaplain and talking with a lot of the players, they would ask questions that weren’t a blip on my radar screen. It was a gentle force for me to start to study and to research things that weren’t even something I was aware of. As I mentioned before, I’m a big fan of gateways. When I go into corporations or I talk with one individual, I try to find what the gateway is to open up the door. For some young people I talk with, it’s the gateway of the entrepreneurial journey, and so that becomes a gateway. “What do you want to be when you grow older?” Then I bring in diversity issues in the process as a side door that helps them to understand how they can become more successful and to create a desire within them to want to grow in that area. To answer your question, it has caused me to grow and expand in ways I didn’t even know I needed to grow. I didn’t know the right questions to ask. It’s been very, very exciting, and I’m very passionate about it. My desire and my goal is to ultimately have a black history collection of over 2500 pieces and to develop black history galleries all around the country and in selected cities internationally, designed to educate and inspire young people and using history as a gateway to then start talking about life-changing principles. 11 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 11 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  12. 12. Time Speaker Transcript 16:40 Tom Floyd That’s a powerful vision. I love that. Patricia Harris, I would like to loop you in on the conversation next. McDonald’s has had a tremendous amount of success, to say the least, in becoming a global leader in diversity. Just a few facts I wanted to share with our listeners about McDonald’s, the combined sales of McDonald’s African American licensees, being the largest African American enterprise in the country when looking at those numbers together, and McDonald’s having the largest number of minority and female franchisees in the quick-service industry. More than 40.7 percent of all McDonald’s US owners and operators are women and minorities. Patricia, can you just tell us about both McDonald’s success really in terms of how the organization has become a diversity leader? 12 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 12 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  13. 13. Time Speaker Transcript 17:33 Patricia Harris Absolutely. Thanks, Tom. I think it starts at the top. It has to start at the top, and it starts with our leadership. Today when I look at our leadership, our CEO being Jim Skinner, Ralph Alvarez being the president of our global company, Don Thompson, African American, being the president of our US business, which is the largest area of the world and his number two person or COO being Jan Fields, a white female, I would say we have quite a diverse leadership team. I think it starts there. We talked about our board of directors who is very engaged with what’s happening with our diversity as well. We have about 12 board members, 2 are African American, 2 are women, 2 are white women and 1 Hispanic. So out of that 12, we have five. I think that the support I get from our leadership team here within McDonald's, our board of directors, as well as all the leaders around the country—I say “around the country” because I say it’s not the work that me and my team are doing alone. It’s the work of everybody within McDonald's that makes it real. I say that diversity at McDonald's is everybody’s business. It can’t be the job of a diversity department or an HR department. Everyone has to be involved and engaged and held accountable for it. I think that’s what we have done a great job of doing through the leadership here within McDonald's. I want to take you back to Columbus, Ohio. The next time you go back to Ohio, know that our Ohio region is lead by an African American female, and her number two person is a white female. I just wanted to point that out. 19:28 Tom Floyd Fantastic. 13 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 13 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  14. 14. Time Speaker Transcript 19:29 Patricia Harris Yes. We are very proud of the progress. Obviously, we are not done. I think it all began early with the diversity education that we put in place in the mid 1970s. I think that was the core of how we began to really look at what we needed to do. It was through that and the support from our leadership. 19:52 Tom Floyd It sounds like it really has been both starting at the top and making sure that at the highest level within the organization, that it was reflected of truly how McDonald's wants the organization to look and then also just really having diversity as a value that is solid within the organizational culture itself. 20:45 Patricia Harris Absolutely. It is educating our people early on about the value of diversity, the impact on our business. We have a very large, a very diverse customer-base. We respond to our customers, and our customers are very diverse. Obviously, we have to reflect that diversity at every level at the organization. We are very proud of that. When you talk about Black History Month, yes, we are absolutely going to celebrate Black History Month. I don't know, if you listen to us closely, we celebrate Black History at McDonald's 365 days a year, and we talk about that. There are things that go on within the organization. We celebrate all of our cultures, whether it’s Hispanic, Asian, etc. throughout the year. It is that ongoing support that we get throughout the organization that makes it real. It is real within our organization. 14 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 14 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  15. 15. Time Speaker Transcript 21:12 Tom Floyd Phenomenal. That is absolutely outstanding. What was your reaction coming from such a diverse environment and really feeling that at McDonald's and living it on a daily basis? What was your reaction to hearing the statistics that I shared, for example, from the Executive Leadership Council when it said that 32 percent of the top 500 publicly traded companies do not have African American board directors and 68 percent only have one? What was your reaction to that? 21:45 Patricia Harris My reaction is I wish companies would do more. I encourage my CEO, and he does a lot of meetings. He goes out, whether it’s with Haussaire or some of the other organizations, out there sharing our story. We are very involved with Catalyst and some of the other women’s’ organizations. We are members of ELC. We are doing what we can, obviously, to help talk about and share how we do it. I think we benchmark. We got a lot of benchmark calls. I hold benchmark sessions here at McDonald's. We tell our story. We share what we are doing with other organizations. My sense is I know we’re doing great and we can do more, and we will do more. I wish other companies would do the same. While I think many of them are, I think that more could do more. That is sometimes depressing when I hear some of my counterparts talk about the fact that they don’t have any women or minorities on their boards or they don’t have employee affinity groups and those kinds of things that are just a natural part of what we do. 15 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 15 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  16. 16. Time Speaker Transcript 23:00 Tom Floyd Understood. Pat Perkins, I would like to loop you in on the discussion. What is your reaction to some of the things that we discussed so far? Anything that you would add? 16 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 16 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  17. 17. Time Speaker Transcript 23:11 Pat Perkins Sure, absolutely. First I just want to acknowledge the panel. It is an extraordinary panel, and I’m just glad to be a part of it here. One of the things that I thought was very interesting, I’m familiar with ELC and I’m really familiar with the statistics that you read off there. My reaction is that it is, what it is. It is really a perspective of where stand in terms of our belief system and in terms of how we look at those perspectives, those statistics as it relates to African American individuals, women or men. One example here is that a friend of mine who actually is a leader at US Cellular indicated that he wanted to get more involved in boards. We were sitting there talking about coaching opportunities within his organization. I recommended him to Boardroom Bound. Boardroom Bound is an organization that helps women, men, diverse individuals to really move and accelerate their knowledge of how to be candidates for boards. The interesting thing is that a year later, he came back and said that was one of the best referrals that he had ever gotten from an individual related to an organization. I think that one thing is we need to really get educated on our own personal responsibility in terms of educating ourselves on what is available and what is possible to move our careers along and to really own a space in those areas. I think also that we need to take action so that we can get into those opportunities and expose ourselves to those opportunities and then also promote others and refer others as it relates to these opportunities. I think it was said loudly that we are not here just to serve ourselves. We have to take personal responsibility and ownership. We are here really to serve each other and to help and promote each other. That’s how I see those statistics, as an opportunity more so than a setback. 17 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 17 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  18. 18. Time Speaker Transcript 25:28 Tom Floyd When you said that the experience that the gentleman that you referenced had when he went to the board training, he said that it was the best that he had been to. What were some of the things that—did he highlight any examples or anything like that that really made it impactful for him or truly made it stand out like, “wow, not only did I learn something, but I grew as a result of this”? 25:49 Pat Perkins Sure. It is the information and the exposure. I think that one of the things that supports any culture or any race to be able to move forward is an opportunity to identify with someone else that is in that same situation or who has been in that situation and has been able to move beyond the situation, no matter what it may be. One thing is clearly information, workshops on really what does it really take to model yourself as a candidate for a board? What does it take to really get sponsored? How do you really get into those conversations and really be able to articulate your knowledge and your value as it relates to being accepted on a board? Clearly, again, the relatedness, the relationships that you can build and the opportunities that will come out of that, I think, were the biggest advantages to being connected to Boardroom Bound. 26:46 Tom Floyd I got it. I wanted to ask a question specific to coaching. Really what that question is comes from your experience as a coach. Are there challenges that African American professionals face in the workplace that are unique from a coaching perspective? When I asked that question a few weeks ago on the show that we did on Coaching Latinos in the workplace, the answer really was, yes, there are some, but there are also the same challenges that all of us face as individuals too. What are your thoughts? 18 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 18 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  19. 19. Time Speaker Transcript 27:23 Pat Perkins I would agree to what you said in terms of the show that you just held. I would really agree with that. I also say that specifically it’s around being heard, really having a voice that can create influence in a world that you may not have had influence in before. For example, when you think about being in a room and that example that was given that Dr. Joel mentioned in terms of those demographics, 47 men, 3 women, 1 African American women, I think that was the demographics of that meeting, it’s really “how do I get heard? How does my voice make an impact and be seen as a valuable player in this room where I’m out-numbered?” Maybe there’s certain perceptions, biases that may already exist. Maybe there’s not enough trust in the room. Maybe there’s some issues with credibility just because I don't look like you. Those are some of the things that I have personally coached around. S ome part of the spectrum, it is out belief system. When we walk in the room, what do I say as the only person being a female or being an African American? What do I say to myself first? Do I see it as an opportunity or do I see myself already defeated? 28:59 Tom Floyd Pat Thomas, from a coaching perspective, I want to get your take on this as well. What are your thoughts? Are there challenges that African American professionals face in the workplace that are unique from a coaching perspective? It sounds like, from what Pat Perkins is saying, that it is particularly important to feel, as an African American, that you have a voice. That is very, very, very, very important. What would you add? 19 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 19 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  20. 20. Time Speaker Transcript 29:29 Pat Thomas Yes. I would absolutely agree, Tom, with what Pat Perkins has said. I agree that all leaders have the same challenges at leadership no matter what the company is or even the size of the company. The smallest small business or even in a large non-profit as well as a major corporation, inside of those organizations, leaders face some of the same challenges with the complexity of the marketplace and competition and the need to push the envelope on their products and services to their customer base. That being said, no matter what your demographic, you have got those challenges to deal with. I would agree that there are some specific sensitivities that African American have that might be greater than other groups. Perhaps, because of the tenure of African American in the corporate world, there may be even more heightened sensitivity to these. Some of them are certainly being heard, having your voice heard, being able to be acknowledged for your thoughts and what you offer. Also, there is some sensitivity to exclusion. One of the key things in any sales group is that people buy from people. I understand there are studies that show that many times people are driven to hire people who look like them or have a similar background to them. There is the whole issue of the possibility of being excluded or not considered as viable that African American would tend to be sensitive to. Also, perhaps it’s not being in the inner circle. Sometimes you may not live in the same communities where other leaders live, and that is certainly not across the board. There are examples where you might not play golf or be a member of a country club with some of those who are the decision-makers or the thought leaders. There is a sense that you’re not in the inner circle and it is tough to get in or you don't know how to get in. That is an additional sensitivity, I think, that African Americans face in the corporate world as well as the experience of having been passed over, seeming to be equally qualified with other candidates of other demographics but not getting the chance to get promoted. The sensitivities sometimes are very much on the sleeves, very much present for African Americans. 20 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 20 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  21. 21. Time Speaker Transcript I think the challenge of leadership or those who would be leaders is to learn how to focus not on the feelings that some of those sensitivities are likely to generate but to focus on the issues, to focus on their contribution, to focus on how they can align with people who can, in fact, influence thoughts about them and their contribution and their potential so that they are really focusing on what they can do to move the business forward. 32:27 Tom Floyd Just to quickly summarize there, it sounds like it is initially being heard. It is also being acknowledged and then also being sensitive to exclusion, really feeling as an African American that that individual is part of an inner circle and not excluded. A lot of good stuff here, a lot of things I want to come back to. I am starting to hear the music for our first commercial break though. Let’s go ahead and go on pause. Stay tuned, everyone, more from Insight on Coaching when we return. 35:15 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Inside on Coaching. I’m Tom Floyd. Today the topic is Coaching African American Audiences and Teams. With me are Dr. Joel Freeman, author of Return to Glory, the Powerful Stirring of the Black Man and President of the Freeman Institute, Patricia Harris, Vice President of McDonald's USA and Global Chief Diversity Officer of McDonald's Corporation, Pat Perkins, Executive Coach and CEO of Exodus Coaching and also the coach heir of strategic partnerships for the Black Professionals Coaching Alliance, and Pat Thomas, Founder and lead Executive Coach of Thomas Coaching Company, Incorporated. In this segment of our show, I would like to focus on some of the challenges that African American employees face in the workplace. Some more data to quickly set the stage: According to the 2004 census conducted by ELC: In more than 40 years, the number of African American board seats has risen consistently from -0- in the 1960s to 260 in 2004. However, of all the board seats, overall, black women only hold 2% of board positions within the top 500 publicly traded companies. In comparison, white women hold over five times more board seats (approximately 10.6%) -- evidence of a clear double burden of race 21 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 21 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  22. 22. Time Speaker Transcript and gender. The report suggests that although black women are comparable to their male and female white counterparts in every dimension, they are not aggressively sought for board positions. In Cracking the Corporate Code: The Revealing Success Stories of 32 African-American Executives, which was published in 2003, authors Price Cobbs and Judith Turnock note that, “African-Americans still face very real obstacles along the path to professional success.” The authors further identify those obstacles as: 1) insensitivity, 2) change-averse corporate cultures, 3) socio-economic factors, and 4) outright racism Our panelist Dr. Freeman identifies unique characteristics about the African American cultural group that translate into the business world: Communication differences Racial ignorance Busting through the glass ceiling Discrimination issues Patricia Harris, I would like to start with you for this segment. Between some of the examples that I just highlighted and then what we just heard from Pat Perkins and Pat Thomas at the end of our last segment about some of the things that are particularly important and unique to an African American professional in terms of being heard and being acknowledged and really feeling that he or she is part of the inner circle, what are your reactions and thoughts so far? 38:01 Patricia Harris I agree with both Pats in saying that I think there is accountability on the African American manager to make sure we are doing what we need to do to get in the inner circle, to meet the appropriate people, to make sure we are included. On the other hand, the question I would ask is in their coaching, are there times when they have to coach non-African American leaders or the bosses of those leaders to make sure that they have the right mindsets and are doing the right things to make sure they are building an inclusive environment for these African American managers to be successful? 22 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 22 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  23. 23. Time Speaker Transcript 38:48 Pat Thomas Yes. This is Pat Thomas. I would like to just confirm that I have had the benefit of having both African American and non-African American clients in a variety of companies that I have worked with. Clearly, the opportunity for non-African American leaders and managers to work through, when they have teams that are comprised of diverse managers to team members, is to first uncover or unconceal their own paradigms, their own limiting beliefs in some cases about the potential of those team members and perhaps ignorance of what is possible for them or a biased or a negative approach to them in the day-to-day operation. It is important to identify those paradigms, unconceal them and have the manager or leader work through them with me as a coach to ensure that they are aware of the belief, first of all. Many times for non-African American people and for all people, with respect to paradigms, they are unconscious. Identifying them and then tracking those paradigms to their behavior so they can see that there is an opportunity to shift or change the way in which they respond to their diverse team members to show that there are limited differences, if any, between the performances of those members and then to be accountable, meaning showing specific efforts to embrace, to support and to really develop their team members on a consistent level regardless of their background. It is important first to make the manager and leader aware of what may be a limiting belief about a diverse member of their team, whether it is at a senior level or at a middle or entry level management group level, and to work through that so that they can actually see the opportunity to shift and see the impact that some of their limiting beliefs may be having on their teams. 23 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 23 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  24. 24. Time Speaker Transcript 40:46 Tom Floyd On a coaching note, Pat, one question that I would have around that is I would think—I love the question that Patricia asked because I can definitely see coaching being in the role both as a coach and then as a facilitator and not necessarily as always focused on coaching African American so much as it is helping other people and the organization understand how to work with an African American employee and things like that about their own beliefs that may be limiting to really keep in mind. I would also think that it would be important, and I’m really curious to hear your feedback here, is that I would think that having that coaching experience with those managers that are non-African American, that that would have to be an expectation that is done up front. The reason that I ask that, and I’m curious to hear if this happens, is that one of the things that comes up constantly on this show, regardless of the topic that we’re talking about, is that when it comes to coaching, that it is very important that people don’t feel like it’s corrective in nature, that it is about growth. It is about development. It is about understanding and those things. Are you finding, in terms of working with non-African American audiences, that it’s really at the beginning, as managers are coming in, that it is important to get them to reveal their own paradigms as you put it then? Are there cases where you have got a company or a manager coming to you where it is almost sounding more correct when they say, “look, we have got a diversity problem here, and I need you to work with some of my managers because I don't feel that they are handling things the best way that they could”? 24 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 24 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  25. 25. Time Speaker Transcript 42:45 Pat Thomas In my experience, I tend to have more opportunities to coach leaders and managers that are developmental in nature. So the objective for the engagement is set at the beginning. There are critical points in the coaching where progress is checked and validated and even results in terms of tangible outcomes for the leader are discussed and reviewed and confirmed. However, even in a developmental situation, there is some feedback that feeds that process. There may be an issue where someone is a difficult personality overall to get along with, and it is just exacerbated by their interactions with diverse members of the team. That will be a theme that is developed. The approach is less feedback, which would be more corrective of mistakes made in the past. The focus for me, at least, is more feed forward. How can we identify what may be in the way? What can we do going forward to address it significantly and tangibly enough so that it no longer remains a major issue for you? That would be for any manager or leader that I coach. 43:56 Tom Floyd Understood. Pat Perkins, is there anything that you would add? 25 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 25 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  26. 26. Time Speaker Transcript 44:00 Pat Perkins Sure. One thing I would add here is what is seen as the elephant in the room. Sometimes there is a real hesitancy to have this candid conversation. One thing I am considering here, when Dr. Joel mentioned the things that he learned as in respect to writing his book and some of the questions he was asking and the opportunity for personal growth, we do all have personal growth. I think one of the things that non-diverse leaders have an opportunity to do is to say, “I don't know how to ask the right questions. I don't know what real questions to ask that would get us in a conversation to put things out on the table so that I can really lead most effectively with individuals who don’t look like me, with those who I don't necessarily have a natural affinity to or connection with or understanding of.” As Patricia Harris was mentioning, there is a responsibility for all leaders to really say what is so, what is really true about their personal awareness, their personal understanding and their knowledge as it relates to leading others who do not look like them and so not to be hesitant any longer and to really face the truth. I think there is an opportunity there to grow. 45:29 Tom Floyd Got it. 26 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 26 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  27. 27. Time Speaker Transcript 45:29 Pat Thomas This is Pat Thomas. I would like to just add something to what Pat Perkins just said. It also triggers back to a point that Patricia Harris made. That is the issue of accountability. When I think of the word accountability, I think of it as relating to being about to count something. You are accounting for your ability, and that suggests there’s skin in the game. One of the challenges I think we and this country have among many companies and certainly not—the companies that we have talked about today are certainly not those represented on this panel. There has been a moving away from tangible results with respect to diversity in man companies because there is no skin in the game relative to performance objectives that have measurement that lead to financial connections for the people in leadership positions that may make it less of a concern and less of a focus for a lot of leaders. There is a need to build in that accountability at a very significant level so people know that the company is serious about making some changes and some progress in that area. 45:46 Tom Floyd Patricia Harris, what are some of the ways that McDonald's has helped address the issue of accountability? 27 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 27 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  28. 28. Time Speaker Transcript 46:53 Patricia Harris I think that one of the ways we do it is just working with the different leaders in the different regions. We have 22 regions. We have 22 networks of all of our groups. Whether it is women, African American, Hispanic, Asian, Gay, Lesbian, employee networks, we have connected our leaders across the country with all of these groups. In each group, they have a leadership team. We actually use those leaders as the role models for the others within the organization to say that this is what it looks like. Their behaviors are what we are looking at. They get involved, they’re engaged. One of our leaders spoke last week. I was at a meeting. He said, “no more pretty diversity brochures. We don’t want to see those anymore.” He said that the organizations show these beautiful brochures, but what is beneath all of that? T hat is kind of where I am. It is about really happening. How many women and people of color do you really have in leadership positions? How many do you really have on your board of directors? Even if they are not there, what are you really doing to make it real within the organization? I think that we have to make it real. We just can’t do brochures anymore and say that this is what we want to do. I think it has to be training or education around inclusion and diversity. We have to have a dialogue. As Pat Perkins just mentioned, it has to be open, candid dialogue. Don’t be afraid to talk about what it is that needs to be done and what the issues are around inclusion within our organization and be open and candid about it. I think the dialogue sessions are critical. Create the environment that allows us to talk about the things that need to get done and make it happen. 28 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 28 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  29. 29. Time Speaker Transcript 49:05 Tom Floyd That is almost a perfect dovetail into my next question, which really is how can companies and individual leaders attract and retain African American talent? It sounds like, from what you are saying, Patricia, that it really is by proving it. It is not just by showing pretty brochures, so to speak, that have these beautiful images of what the workplace should like. It is really proving it. 49:40 Pat Thomas Could I just add one thing, Tom? I think this is a best practice, and I would offer it to anyone that is listening in any corporation. 49:46 Tom Floyd Absolutely. 49:47 Pat Harris This year we had our African American conference in Detroit, over 600 African American managers and leaders from across the country. We brought in our CEO and we had a session with him. He was on the stage. It was a moderated session by Haddy Hill, one of our consultants. It was called Jim Skinner, Unplugged. Jim Skinner, literally, sat on the stage. Employees came up to the mic, and they were not afraid to ask questions and say things that were on their minds to our CEO. I think we have to have more sessions like that with leaders throughout the organizations so that African American and other employees can really let them know what is happening and what is on their minds. 29 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 29 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  30. 30. Time Speaker Transcript 50:33 Tom Floyd Relating to that best practice, what is the best way that you would say for leaders out there to handle that too? I love that example. I think it is great. There are times when I have seen leaders put in that situation, and they gave canned answers. You kind of look out across the audience then and you can tell by the reaction that people are having that they didn’t think that was very genuine. It seems like to me, in those situations, what I am thinking is to keep it real. Give an authentic answer. If that answer is, “I don't know but I am working on it” or “I heard you and I would like to talk with you further to address that,” that is the best answer to be human. What is your advice? 51:14 Patricia Harris Absolutely. He did not have all the answers, and he is quick to say that. If he doesn’t have the answers, he tells us, “I don't have all the answers.” You know what it did, it generated an opportunity for other leaders, non African American leaders who are in the room, to get a sense of his leadership style. To me, he was setting the tone for what he wanted to have throughout the organization, and that is exactly what happened. There was a lot of dialogue that happened after that with other leaders and other African American managers throughout the organization because of that. 51:52 Tom Floyd It sounds like it really helped to open up the entire conversation then. 51:57 Patricia Harris Absolutely. 51:58 Joel Freeman Tom, if I could just interject something? This is Joel here. 30 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 30 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  31. 31. Time Speaker Transcript 52:00 Tom Floyd Sure, yes, absolutely. 52:01 Joel Freeman I work with a lot of diverse situations, one-on-one coaching with organizations. I find that when I talk with leaders, high-level leaders, these are individuals who gargle with high test every morning and are not accustomed to the word no, it is “we can do this and we will do this in a timely fashion.” Sometimes the self-awareness quotation or the level is not extremely high. What happens is that I figure we can see about what is 70 degrees in front of us and about 35 degrees on either side for blind spots, that’s 150 degrees. It really begs the question of who have I invited into my life both personally and professionally to cover the 210 degrees behind me? Many high level leaders who are Caucasian many times don’t want to say something stupid, so they just shut up about diversity issues. Sometimes I have heard from them that they don’t want to get beat-up. Sometimes to appeal to them and to find a gateway, it is return on investment, the ROI involved, and sometimes just breaking down the numbers of having a proactive view versus a reactive view or a non-active view. I can't remember where I saw this, but there is actually an equation, a whole mathematical formula, that one can work through with a company to show them the benefits of diversity. Sometimes it is just so much more wonderful when there is a genuineness. The gentleman that Pat mentioned, was it Jim Skinner? 53:46 Patricia Harris Yes. 31 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 31 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript
  32. 32. Time Speaker Transcript 53:47 Joel Freeman That is a rare situation to have the CEO of a company sit on a stage and get questions fired at him. As a white man, I co-authored this book and this film. I get on stages a lot and have a wide-open mic where people can fire questions. I tell people that I can explain only about a thimbleful of what I am going to talk about here, but I can report what I am hearing. We are not going to call this Q and A because I don't have any answers. We are going to call it Q and R because I can respond. I think that somehow there is some way to begin to work through this in a genuine fashion. I don't know how to do this. It is almost custom-fit per person. It is a rare and wonderful thing to have a Jim Skinner do what he did. 54:34 Tom Floyd Definitely. I can't believe this, but we are at the end of our show today. A huge thank you to the four of you for being on the show today. As always, thank you for our listeners. For more information about our show, you can look us up on the Voice America business channel, and don’t forget that you can also download the podcast version of this show in Apple iTunes. Thanks again everyone, we will see you next week! 32 | Confidential May 16, 2008 Page 32 Coaching for African American Audiences and Teams Transcript