S02 EP07: Becoming Intentional on the Road to Allyship

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Have you ever wondered how to build a diverse community of colleagues? Many people have a general idea that a diverse group of colleagues and support community is something to strive for - but they’re not sure how to go about it. In fact, one of the primary reasons that we stay siloed with colleagues who look like us, act like us, or come from our same type of background is because we’re afraid.
We’re afraid that we’ll hurt someone’s feelings if we have uncomfortable conversations or ask questions. We’re afraid that we won’t be viewed with grace if we fall down and make mistakes in our relationships.

Lazetta Rainey Braxton, CFP®,  and Kathleen Burns Kingsbury have a beautiful conversation in this episode on how to have honest conversations, make space for one another personally and professionally, and how to start conversations that make you uncomfortable - because, even if they’re uncomfortable, they’re always necessary if we want to make progress.

In this episode, we’re talking about the ups and downs that come with starting these conversations around diversity and inclusion - and why it’s still so important to pursue these conversations to grow ourselves and our community.

What You'll Learn:

  • How the importance of building a group of colleagues that reflects diversity in race and gender

  • How to start honest conversations with colleagues about inclusion

  • Why being vulnerable is so important when talking about allyship

  • How to show support if you have colleagues who are part of minority groups, and how to reach out to them with a heart for allyship

  • Why D&I is critical for the future of the finance profession - millennials and Gen Z are actively seeking diverse and inclusive organizations

  • How you can be intentional about reaching out to your colleagues with support and questions, or the intent to immerse yourself in other cultures, even if it’s uncomfortable

Show Notes:

Episode Transcript

Rianka: 00:00:01 Kathleen, welcome to 2050 trailblazers.

Kathleen: 00:00:03 Thank you. I'm excited to be here.

Lazetta: 00:00:06 Yes, I am too.

Rianka: 00:00:08 Well Lazetta I should say welcome back.

Lazetta: 00:00:11 You're so kind to have me back. I am honored.

Rianka: 00:00:16 Yes. And Kathleen, welcome. I'm pretty sure Lazetta, I can attest that this is a, this has got to be a fun conversation. Well fun. Probably a little bit of, you know, some, some good conversation happening and we may step in some bit of uncomfort, but we're here together to kind of grow and figure this out together.

Kathleen: 00:00:40 Well, I appreciate having the forum to do it and I've been, anticipating this interview for awhile in a positive way, but I understand it's a little bit of nerves that is not my usual MO and it's certainly something that uh, this is the first time I've talked publicly about it. So thank you for giving all of us the forum to do that.

Rianka: 00:00:57 Yes. And Kathleen, you have a phenomenal podcast called breaking money silence, where I've been honored to be a guest on your podcast where we talked about just, you know, the taboos around money. Though we'll be talking about taboos, it won't be about money, but now we're going to talk about just the taboos around talking about race, culture, in an open fashion and this season, as you both know is all about allyship and allyship takes on different forms and it looks different depending on where you are in your journey as an ally and you know, just knowing both of you and the journey that you two went through I thought was very inspiring to me to hear and I thought it would be just an awesome story to share with the listeners of 2050 TrailBlazers. So I am extremely honored that the journey that you all have shared in private over the past three years that you are open and willing to share that journey with the listeners because we could all learn something from each other.

Lazetta: 00:02:11 And I am so thrilled. I think to start off by saying that, you know, Kathleen has been just a wonderful, thoughtful and engaging colleague that I am also glad to call my friend and being an African American woman to be able to have a conversation with. You know, Kathleen identifies, you know, as being Caucasian, white woman to be able to have real conversations and her willingness to really kind of share the cost of having conversations about, about race, you know, we've said a lot about diversity and inclusion and as women we together share the issues of trying to have gender equality, but what we're also bringing to the conversation is the intersectionality between gender and race in the profession.

Rianka: 00:03:11 Yes.

Kathleen: 00:03:12 I appreciate Lazetta because, um, if we had not had this initial conversation four or five years ago, I wouldn't be sitting here with my eyes opened up a great deal and continuing to learn about race and about differences and you know, my role in changing the way things are not only in the profession but in our country and in the world.

Rianka: 00:03:36 Kathleen, can you share with us how it started with you and Lazetta, if I can recall correctly. It started with just a question like, Hey, I have a question. Can I ask.

Kathleen: 00:03:48 You know, it's funny because it was so long ago and the conversation and dialogue has been going on for awhile, but I do remember we didn't know each other very, very well and we were at a conference or I was at a conference in her hometown and we went out for lunch and I remember her talking and Lazetta, and maybe you can fill in the gaps if you remember, but I remember talking about a variety of different challenges in the business world and also a little bit about where Lazetta was at in terms of her career and something came up around that that led me to inquire a little bit more and then was feeling kind of anxious and said, you know, I'm, I'm hoping I can ask like stupid white person questions.

Kathleen: 00:04:31 I probably said something knowing me as blunt as that. And um, instead of getting offended, she said sure. And then that started this dialogue that really has been going on ever since. Um, I don't know Lazetta, do you remember the specifics?

Lazetta: 00:04:47 Um, what I do remember was that it was a beautiful day on the harbor and we decided to have tapas and it was great dining and we toasted to one another and in solidarity, you know, as, as women in the profession. And yes, I so admire your speaking and had said that, you know, that was something that I wanted to pursue as a subject matter expert. And then we kind of talked about how in terms of having a practice, you know, Financial Fountains and you know, what the speaking would be about. And I think I shared with you kind of the journey with Financial Fountains in terms of transitioning from a firm that did have a client that used a derogatory term and how Financial Fountains for me was just, you know, more than reaching the massive affluent because I had transitioned from a high net worth firm to massive affluent.

Lazetta: 00:05:50 And now I'm serving a broader population. But the point was, is that you heard from me that angst and excitement about just saying how do I want to grow my firm? How do I want to reach more people? And particularly with advisors as well too, because of the unfortunate situation, you know, that I, that I had, but it also had sparked me into being able to be on my own and set the terms of engagement for, for my firm and being a person who was comfortable with her voice because of my story. And so I appreciate your attentive listening and also taken that opportunity to dig deeper and to say, okay, what, what, what transpired? And then you asked, you know about your questions and I'm like, yes, you're interested. Yes. And then we continued our, our, our conversation that has grown significantly and matured

Kathleen: 00:06:55 and as you described that I can kind of picture us on that deck and that beautiful sunny day and really remember wanting to help you so much around, you know, it initially in my mind started really helping you around the business side. So I was in, you know, full coach mode, a friend slash coach mode of really asking those curious questions. And I think that openness, to be quite frank, I don't always have, but that openness led us to this place where the dialogue started. And, um, has allowed me to not only continue to talk to you, um, get to know people like Rianka and doing this great work. And then also, um, you know, and I'm sure we'll get into this a little bit later, but I've had some really interesting conversations with other women of color, um, and also more recently, um, some white women around white privilege and how, you know, we're not sure what to do, but we know there's something to be done.

Kathleen: 00:07:53 Um, so that's kind of where I'm at in this process. Um, and, and to be honest with you, I also even saying women of color, it always feels a little uncomfortable. Like, am I supposed to say African American? Am I supposed to say color? You know, yes, I am white. You know, there's just like, I could feel the anxiety even though I've been working at this for, for a number of years, there's still that, oh, am I going to mess up? Um, and I feel a very similar way when I'm talking to some of my friends and colleagues who helped me around other types of differences such as sexual orientation or thinking about, you know, different specialty is gender, so I tend to be comfortable in that realm. But anyway, uh, I just, I really do remember that openness and that conversation and that beautiful day. And now that you say it, I do remember toasting and, and if we were together I would say let's toast again, Lazetta.

Rianka: 00:08:52 Yes. And I think, you know, something that I've learned Kathleen throughout this season and honestly just throughout the year is that if we approach these conversations with, um, with authenticity and also just sharing like, hey, I'm, I, I am in a space where I want to help. However, I don't want to say the wrong thing but I know not saying anything is also bad. So here I am, I'm coming, you know, authentic, raw. And if I say something incorrectly, just please let me know. So I can learn. It can be a learning opportunity for me and then we can move forward and really get into some great dialogue. That's what I've learned. Even, you know, in a couple episodes prior I mentioned how I was sitting on the side of ally for the LGBTQ community and you know, I was again afraid of saying the wrong thing, but I have to speak up and ask questions and learning how to ask questions so that it doesn't feel like a very.

Rianka: 00:09:59 Interrogating sense, you know, from the client sitting across the table. So it's a learning Kathleen and um, I've, I've been pleasantly surprised on this journey and I think that's something that you witnessed with Lazetta as well as just you're pleasantly surprised when the person that you think you're going to offend actually is welcoming you with open arms because it's like, wow, you see me and you want to learn. Um, and that's something Lazetta, that you were starting to talk about of just being seen being heard and feeling appreciated with the value that you bring to this profession and overall industry.

Lazetta: 00:10:38 Yes. And I so appreciate when there're, our colleagues. Like Kathleen who genuinely care and genuinely want to know and see it as a, an American problem as we know for sure for sure. Right. And that's what we can speak about as, as Americans when people say, you know, I want to support your cause that gives me pause because this, it's just not my cause as an African American woman. It is all of our causes and as we look at the changing demographics and also the, the other populations as we've spoken about LGBTQ, you know, there are a lot of differences, religious differences. Um, we could, we could name them all is that if we don't have a way of integrating, um, who we are within this country than we cannot be successful within the realm of our profession as well too. So I, I just celebrate those who, who see these conversations as our collective challenge for which we can find collective solutions, integration, acceptance, and, you know, also allowing all of us to be our best selves.

Rianka: 00:12:06 Amen.

Kathleen: 00:12:10 I would, I want to jump in with one thing that, um, you know, it can be uncomfortable but it also, and I'm just a type of person who loves to learn, there's a part of it that's been really, and I mean this, I hope this doesn't sound, not respectful, but um, there's something been kind of fascinating about it in terms of not like I'm studying something, but for me it's been a journey personally and people probably won't know this, but at a high level, you know, in my twenties, trying to find my voice, trying to be comfortable with who I am. Then really encouraging other women to do the same. Then accepting differences. And so it feels like it's like the next layer of wow, you know, there's this whole other realm of difference that I was taught to not notice and I just learned from another podcast that you did a Rianka because I'm not only a guest today, I'm a fan, that

Kathleen: 00:13:08 That being raised to not see color, what's it like the 1970s, 1980s version of being accepting. But it isn't really accepting. And so really looking back and thinking about you know we traveled the world, I was raised in a military family. We went a lot of different places. My parents were very, um, accepting, given from the traditional generation. They were older parents for me. And then to go back and think about, Huh, when, you know, when we went and visited the Philippines, we went, you know, the joke was we're going where no man has gone before, but basically that means we were just in somebody else's culture. So it was, you know, and even the way we joked about it, you know, it has a whole different flavor than it did just a few years back. And I know that in this respect, you know, my parents were doing the best that they could given what they were taught. But wow, we have a long way to go. That's certainly a long way to go.

Rianka: 00:14:13 Yeah. I think, um, it was mentioned in one of the previous episodes to, not to say that you don't see color is very dismissive because you're not seeing that true person. You're not seeing that person for who they are and what they bring to the table, to the various cultures that they bring. Not all black people are African American, you know, and um, just some of the broad paint strokes that is given to, um, you know, from a diversity lens if we're just looking at race, you know, that, that, that racial, um, broad strokes that we give. And Kathleen you mentioned, you know, like what is my role in this and as a white woman, and I'm going to share with the listeners, Ellen Pompeo, I believe is her last name. She's from Grey's Anatomy and a Gabrielle Union and a couple other actresses. They sat down and chatted about you know what's their role in this conversation.

Rianka: 00:15:40 America is probably one of the most diverse places I think I may be misspeaking here, but um, we just don't see that within the financial service industry and we want to change that.

Kathleen: 00:15:50 Well, it is interesting to me that we all have chosen to be in a profession where difference not celebrated, but we're all committed to celebrating difference.

Rianka: 00:16:01 Wow.

Lazetta: 00:16:03 And it's interesting to me because it's, it's to me dealing with what could be the underlying root of it, which is economics and money. Um, so it, it is sometimes I wonder, you know, as we are thinking about what we know to be true about financial advisors, right? We know that there's the aging population of advisors and they're predominantly male. So it's wonderful that we have allyship on the gender basis because, you know, we're, we're trying to move forward in diversifying, if you will, the advisor population. And then I'm also kinda curious as to, as we're moving up the spectrum of more diversification among different populations with advisors to reflect our changing demographics in our country is, you know, how is, how is this, this, this, this cost, and I call it this cost of, of, of recognizing, of giving voice to things have to change.

Lazetta: 00:17:06 They are changing. And the fear that comes behind that. And in my position, you know, as a woman of color, African American female advisor, CFP, is that I don't get to hear a lot of the conversations that maybe had in a, in a boardroom, in a meeting room, executive level, right. Or I'm amongst my white female colleagues who may be able to hear a little bit more because they are more so in the room and then just wondering, you know, how are they engaging this tension among being a, a population who's also trying to advance and also seeing or maybe hearing what's going on for those who are kind of in the, in the line of rights. Um, follow often behind women who have made progress.

Kathleen: 00:17:56 It's interesting Lazetta that, uh, you know, one of the things, because I'm a consultant in the field, I'm not often in those rooms per se as well. Um, but one of the things I have noticed because I do work in the US as well as in Canada, is that my contracts in Canada often, especially a few years ago, would actually pull for me to be more accepting and more open open-minded from things like, well, all of those names, they didn't say all of those names you've used in the case scenario or in your webinar sound white, but looking back, I think that's what they meant. And so, you know, being encouraged to think about a more diverse population. Um, and you know, we live in a mosaic. I love that word, in a mosaic.

Kathleen: 00:18:47 I happen to live in Vermont, one of the widest, probably if not the whitest state. Um, and I also, you know, work in an environment where, you know, we're still struggling in the financial services industry to recognize that there's a difference between how male and female advisors invest and, and earlier, I think it was a Rianka when you mentioned things like, you know, that really, um, when you just don't look at color, there's a way in which it's very dismissive. The thing that I can relate to, and I'm sure it's much stronger for both of you, but how frustrated I get when I'm like, you can't see the difference between men and women. And so that, that extra layer and the pain that's associated that I haven't personally experienced, I can only imagine kind of what's that's like and, and where my responsibility lies in making sure that when I teach my graduate class, we're having Kathleen McQuiggin come in and talk about, okay, diversity, I'm having them listen to a podcast, one of your podcasts Rianka and making sure that that's built in the conversation. Even know I have to stand up there and, and be really transparent. Similar by the way too, when I talk about behavioral finance in a really academic way that, you know what, I'm not super comfortable with this, but here we go and my students primarily millennials have really asked for it in the last year. So, you know, those are little little things that I think I have try to give myself credit of. Like if you could just do one little thing a day, it's gonna add up.

Rianka: 00:20:25 Yes. Kathleen, yes. To all of that. And um, it was mentioned during the diversity advisory summit. I can't remember who said it, but it was, um, it was something like, you know, from a diversity lens, from a racial and cultural diversity Lens, millennials and Gen Z, so the generation that comes after millennials notice diversity in its absence. So the millennial generation is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation than our predecessor generations. And so we have been brought up to see of a mosaic and when we don't see it, something's wrong. So from a talent perspective, from a talent shortage perspective, the industry, the financial service industry, really, really needs to look at this from a, from a business perspective, like millennials and Gen z, they will not come to your firm. We are looking at your website, we're looking at the c suite, we're looking at the decision makers and if they're all homogeneous, we're not coming.

Lazetta: 00:21:35 So this, this brings me to a, I wrote an op-ed in Investment News called, is there the case for business diversity? Is there a case? Right? And so one of the questions, or I guess highlight was Roger Everette's the curve of innovation, right? So you have the innovators, you have the early adapters, mid-adapters kind of along this curve and I'm just just wondering, is it because of this, this fear and shift that, you know, firms are slow to adopt because are they really feeling the tension of the millennials and the Gen Z, like who is going to be proactive versus reactive or just not relevant anymore? So I appreciate what Kathleen has said because she is engaged with these populations. She is listening to them. She is noting the trends and what's important to them and that that is, that's a part of what we're supposed to do for client engagement, whether the clients are our employees or our clients are, you know, the people that we're advising.

Lazetta: 00:22:45 So this is kind of, you know, the time of the call to action and I appreciate you having these conversations because one, it is to acknowledge how the trends are changing and then two being equipped, having the cultural competency to be able to have these conversations. So with Kathleen and I, as we are comparing notes, if you will, because I want to know how best to show kind of how I'm feeling and all the angst that I feel as well too, as a black woman without being classified as an angry black woman, you know, I have a lot of hurt that is packed behind, uh, the things that I'm doing and I want to know how best to share these conversations with Kathleen, uh, uh, a white woman as well to know how it's going to be received and how I should kind of position my approach so it feels more collaborative and not that I'm attacking her in her race, in her gender.

Kathleen: 00:23:46 And I think Lazetta what you've done for me and what I really appreciate is making it safe to have the conversation to ask any question. And I know that even when we talk about something that maybe is new information to me, this happened the other day on a call where I hadn't thought about a particular situation a certain way and I have my white privileged lens on it. So it feels different to me. But then realizing, wow, there is so much that I haven't fully appreciated or, or the only way I'm going to learn it is by connecting with people who are different than me, who, you know, you have that pain and I've never seen, you know, as a quote unquote angry black woman. I've seen both of you as very proactive to be honest with you. And, you know, talk about being vulnerable.

Kathleen: 00:24:40 There's times where I was like, oh, I wish I was more like them. And so, um, yeah, it's true. And so, uh, you know, it, it's really interesting. Um, and, and also upsetting to learn how much this all still happens and how it's so it's so in the fabric of our society that in, unless you have somebody like a Lazetta to have a conversation with as a white woman or white man, um, it's gonna be hard for things to change. And the part that I like is I like facilitating change. And I also like the fact that I tend to not be quiet when I learned something. So I feel like I've positively impacted my husband who is a white man. And he knows he's a white man and occasionally says, I'm sorry, that was really white man thing to say, some of my girlfriends and, and really most recently kind of risked a having conversations with some of my contacts in diversity and inclusion that I wouldn't have had in the past had I not been able to try it out with you, Lazetta in a, in a safe way where I knew, you know, even when I mess up, she's still gonna care for me and she's still gonna respect me and we will survive. Our friendship will survive. A little messiness.

Rianka: 00:26:06 You mentioned Kathleen with some contacts with a in the DNI space, so diversity and inclusion space that you were able to try some, I guess conversations or you know, having conversations you normally wouldn't have. What, what did that look like?

Kathleen: 00:26:23 So this past fall, I've been doing a lot of speaking and a client events and you know, different types of departments hire me. This one particular bank, uh, hired me to do a client luncheon and it was, you know, women in wealth and it happened to be in the south and it happened to be, um, primarily African American women of color, um, audience. And also my contact who I admire greatly is also a woman of color. And so she was driving me around that day, you know, to meet the staff and then to go to the client luncheon and then later we were going to have dinner and I can remember thinking, you know, we're talking about gender and all the challenges around gender and gender initiatives and I'm going to be helping them out in a larger capacity in 2019.

Kathleen: 00:27:13 And I just said, you know, one of the things that I've realized is that it's gender, but it's also all different types of diversity. And then I usually tell my story about Lazetta and having a conversation and realizing or not realizing how much I didn't know and that I'm really working at learning more. And so that was, you know, we're driving to the event and we kind of had this dialogue and it wasn't til later the event's over. We, she's picking me up to go out to dinner and it's just the two of us. And we ended up having a great conversation about race, about, um, the challenges in this industry and the challenges in general. And I remember that the highlight of that was how similar we are in terms of our personality and our traits and what we hope to do, but how we have different challenges.

Kathleen: 00:28:02 And I know that this is a woman that as a result of this, um, you know, I had the business anyway to be honest with you. So, uh, but as a result of this, I think it's going to be a much richer contract. And I also feel like I, I met a new friend in a different way and I know just a year ago I would have never done that. Um, so I appreciated her willingness to have that conversation. I'm not that she would ever replace Lazetta, but I feel like building my community in a much more diverse way and um, I felt good that I took the risk. It was a little bit of a risk but it paid off and she shared some things that are, you know, up to her to share publicly, but we're really enlightening for me as well.

Rianka: 00:28:43 So this is when it goes great, but we don't want to just share when it goes great all the time. Right. So is there any point in time, whether it's been a family professional, it has, it went so good or it was a learning opportunity.

Kathleen: 00:29:00 I actually very early on after having a conversation with Lazetta and starting to think about these things and it was right around the time where Caitlyn Jenner had transitioned and there was something about, there was something in the news about the confederate flag. There was, there was a lot going on. I'm not that, there isn't a lot going on right now, but there was a lot going on and I think my eyes were open so I kind of took it all in and so a family member of mine made a comment on facebook, um, that I didn't really like because I saw it as very racist and uh, I am not recommending that you do this and this is where the learning is.

Kathleen: 00:29:37 I just wrote one word I wrote, Wow, I'm really disappointed and that blew up into a situation that has never been resolved. And I think the reason it's never been resolved is that I come from a family that doesn't tolerate differences. So if you're different and you have a different thought, then we just kind of shut you out. Not to say there is some responsibility for the other dynamics that I hold as well. By no means is it just a one sided thing, but when it comes to the racial component, when it comes to the difference component, there was a way in which, boy, if you're not gonna, see my behavior is okay. I was raised in the same family, then we're just not going to do this. And that was a couple of years ago. I was heartbroken, heartbroken. But I also had to come to peace with, first of all, I can speak up and I can speak up in a much better way.

Kathleen: 00:30:35 Facebook or social media is not the way for me to do it yet. You think I'd know that because I specialize in teaching people how to communicate, but you know, we teach what we need to know. And I also, um, decided for myself that, you know what, I can't look the other way anymore. I'm really sorry I can't. And you know, maybe someday we'll have that conversation. Maybe we won't. But what I learned was, you know, what, I have to be true to me and well, you know, we talk about, uh, both of you using your voice as being your authentic self. My authentic self was really disappointed. Ah, and I could've said it better, but I stand by the disappointment that, um, I believe all people should be treated fairly and equally and I can no longer spend time with people who don't believe that. And so I have a heavy heart about it. But I also know that being true to me and true to, where my work is headed and true to where I am going personally.

Lazetta: 00:31:36 I to had a situation where I thought it was a teachable moment and I'm not sure if it really was because in this case it was a person that I did not know, but she engaged me first. So I was doing a vendor booth for which I was sitting very close to electrical outlet. And we know that that is like prime location so you can be working on your computer while it's quiet and you're not getting a lot of foot traffic. And I, there was another, um, exhibitor who came to me. I'm a white woman and said, you know, kind of off kilter if, you know, I guess I can put my phone here and um, it won't get stolen. And so that really took me aback because first of all she didn't know me and then she kind of said it as a joke, but it really wasn't a joke to me because as a person of color I know a lot of people who were falsely accused of stealing and it's one of those derogatory stereotypes that is that is associated with black people.

Lazetta: 00:32:48 And so I didn't say anything back to her. I paused for a moment and I think I said something like, you know, maybe busy so I might not be able to watch it, you know, just to kind of let it go. And she was pretty much already gone back to her table and this, this fair was a couple of hours and I still was kind of brewing. And so as it was time to leave, I, I approached her and I said I would just would have appreciated if you would have asked me if it was okay, you know, to leave your phone there, noting that, you know, there is some kind of responsibility to me since it's close to me. Right. And I guess there would be some expectations that I would watch it. And I said, you know, in today's climate, you know, I didn't really appreciate that, um, your comment of, you know, associating me with being around a phone that can be stolen because, you know, that is something that is a negative stereotype of people of color, African Americans.

Lazetta: 00:33:49 And she just turned beet red and was almost like tearing up. And she said, you know, just screamed at me, I'm not like that. I can't believe, you know, you would insinuate that that's what I meant. And she was just livid. And I just kinda stepped away because I did it in this voice just as an opportunity for her to open her eyes, you know, to, to see that even as a human being that's not kind to make jokes in that way because it's negative and you don't know me. And then two, there's even a greater sensitivity, um, that I, that I have now, I have never seen her again. I'm not sure if she took it as an opportunity to grow and learn and wrestle with some other people. I did see her on her phone and I'm wondering, okay, is she going to take a picture of me?

Lazetta: 00:34:36 Is she going to post this on facebook? They say, this black woman said this to me and I can't believe it. I don't know. I don't know which way the scenario played itself out. Um, what I do it again, probably yes. Because so often, you know, as a black woman and even as a child we've been taught let things go, let certain things go and I just feel like by letting things go, it doesn't give people an opportunity to be their self best self and wrestle with these issues that are true and are visible. I mean anybody can tell you for what they see on the news and what they hear that, you know, particularly blacks are under attack and just because you think that I am of a different class, that it doesn't pertain to me. It does. You know, this, this is my race and it does affect me and people who are in my community.

Rianka: 00:35:32 It's been said by James Baldwin. Um, he famously said to be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be enraged almost all the time, and how I would bring that to today and our, and our conversation is to be a black woman in this country is to be enraged and almost all the time. And um, I, I say that with a fear of just like, oh, people are going to think I'm an angry black woman and it's just like, no, Kathleen, you kind of mentioned it before of just like, you know, and just in private conversations of just like the wow, I didn't know like you have to go through this every single day. And um, I've, I, I always mentioned hair, um, is as an example specifically within this profession in this industry because it's relative and it's being talked about more and more and I didn't know how much of an impact I know how much of an impact it had on me.

Rianka: 00:36:39 I've shared this a couple times in different episodes. So if you're a first time listener, I'll share it again really quickly. Basically a client that I've known for many years and this was at another firm before Your Greatest Contribution, but at another firm and I felt very comfortable with this person and I felt like I could just kind of peel back a layer and just bring my authentic self. Not that I was being un-authentic with my what I was sharing and saying, but just like, you know what, I'm aware of my hair curly today, how it naturally comes out of my scalp. I'm just going to wear it curly. I'm not going to wear it straight. I'm not gonna, you know, mind you, I had a suit on heels, makeup. I was, you know, very professional. The client comes in. We're about to start the meeting.

Rianka: 00:37:30 He hugs me and then he holds me at my shoulder and looks me up and down and said there's something different about you. He pauses and he's like, it's your hair. It's a bit more casual today, don't you think? I was like, wow, casual. Okay. And I shared and I shared that at the diversity advisory summit. We had like a Ted talk type of thing at the summit and when I mentioned that I shared that story and you would have thought, like I said something profound, but there was just like this resigning yes. Like, oh my gosh, yes. Because I guess it was just so many other women of color in there of just like, wow, they have to deal with this too. And then, um, I know there are white women with curly hair and one of them messaged me on twitter honestly, just two days ago and sent me this note and I reached out to her and I asked, can I share this on the podcast? And she said, absolutely. I won't share her name, but you know who

Rianka: 00:38:36 you are. Hey girl, thank you. She said, had a person comment on my grooming yesterday after I had heard your comment on curly hair, on being casual on your podcast. I am shocked that people think that they can say something like that. If I got this as much as y'all do, I would be filled with rage. I just can't even with this woman, grrr, I'm a 55 year old with wavy hair back off. I didn't say that in my out loud voice only in my head after the shock wore off, but Jeez, so yes. So here it is. This is a white woman with wavy hair and someone, it sounds like it was another woman who commented on her grooming. Um, and yeah, to be a black woman in America today, you would be filled with rage. I mean, so that, and that's just surface level of what you see and like what we're sharing, but I mean it's things on a daily basis that we're hit with, and good thing,Thank you Beyonce for showing us how to make a lemonade out of all them lemons.

Kathleen: 00:39:45 I want to jump in though, because I, I, I've heard that story before and I know Lazetta has a similar story and every time I hear it, my heart just feels so incredibly heavy. First of all, I'm kind of blown away, so kind of blown away at how if it's every day. Wow. And, and then. And it's hard to put it into words because it's definitely a sinking feeling in my heart and in my belly and you know, part of that could be prior to being in this field of financial services doing what I do. Um, I worked with women around, uh, food and body image, and so it was a lot about appearance and how we can be so quickly minimized or brushed aside for not looking the right quote unquote right way and that you know, that that's such a destructive force in our society. But then to hear both of you beautiful, intelligent, talented, smart women say that you have to deal with this every day. It's, I don't know why I don't get angry. I just incredibly sad. If there's something that concretely listeners can do, I can do to make that experience different. Love to know what it is.

Lazetta: 00:41:03 And I'm going to go back to your intentionality about wanting to know, right. Seeing that because of, of color specifically, there is different treatment. When you mentioned the concept of privilege, white privilege, one of the privileges is not being harassed on a daily basis based on your color necessarily. Right? And so we, and I'll speak for me, I hear stuff all the time constantly that is just not appropriate and I don't, I don't want anybody to be afraid of having, you know, the conversations and wondering and also I should be able to have the opportunity to share how that made me feel without someone coming back and being offended. Right? So if, if we're going to approach each other and, and I was very careful to say you may want to consider this angle, right? So that meant to me that she had never been exposed to having someone, a person of color say, um, you may want to rethink this.

Lazetta: 00:42:24 And I realized from my other colleagues that may have never spent any time with people of color because of where they lived, where they went to school where they work, right? So there has to be acknowledgement to say I need more exposure intentionally to to know where my blind sides may be and there is some validity to what I hear from this person because she's in the profession, she is credentialed, you know, she's spoken about these things. So I have colleagues that have come to me and not as victim does as a learning opportunity about immersion, right? That's how you best understand so that you can learn and grow in. I heard you say that Kathleen, that is significant and I don't see enough of that, that that is what our colleagues can, can do is be intentional about opening up these uncomfortable conversations because I can tell you our lives and this assimilation, allies being African American women, me specifically, we live in a constant state of being uncomfortable and and Rianka talked about the code switching, right? When we feel in our mind, we have clearance to be our full selves. We just asked for space for that and when that opportunity comes is that we can have conversations that move us all up. All boats are rising.

Kathleen: 00:44:10 Yeah. So being intentional, the intentionality then leads to, let me just quickly tell you this, this experience I had, I just got back from vacation. I had been in the Dominican Republic and I'd also been in Costa Rica and there was a flight that went from the DR to Costa Rica and we went through Panama City and it was an airline I had never taken before and it was jam packed and it was, it was absolutely full and I don't know if we were the only two. My husband was with me, the only two white people, but we certainly were not in the majority and I'm almost. Everybody also spoke Spanish primarily. And so I remember sitting on the plane and having that moment of like, wow. But my husband made some comment. I can't remember exactly what the comment was, but I thought this is what it must feel like.

Kathleen: 00:45:05 Like for all of these people on any other airline where there's not this, you know, I will not even say diversity. It's that I was in the minority. Um, and so, you know, having that experience as an adult and then I don't believe I've shared this with you two, but as a kid when we lived on Guam and I had the experience of being one of the few white kids actually on the bus and I can remember, you know, I don't know, I was 10, you know, so people were bullying and whatever and all I wanted to do was sit in the back of the bus with the cool kids, but all the people who were um, uh, Guamanian, um, and people of Color, um, this group wouldn't let me sit in the back of the bus and they made fun of me because I was the white kid and they wouldn't let me sit in the back of the bus and I can remember at the time going home to my mom and being upset.

Kathleen: 00:45:57 And to be honest with you, I don't remember the resolution. I don't remember really ever being able to sit in the back of the bus. And I do know how ironic that is. But it is kind of an interesting thing that there was a part of me, even from 10 to 18, that it took me until almost 50. I'm now over 50, but almost 50 to really find somebody who would have an honest conversation like you Lazetta and you Rianka about this thing that I always kind of sensed it wasn't right because I'm very, very intuitive. So I guess that intentionality, it doesn't feel like enough. Um, but if that's helpful to you two, and that's going to be helpful to my students and the audiences that I speak to, I certainly will continue to be intentional because it, it's just so frustrating that we live in a society where this stuff takes so long to change.

Rianka: 00:46:57 And to talk about intentionality. I mean, Sonya, she was a guest in a few episodes earlier. She named a few concrete examples of what she does, which I applaud, uh, you know, Sonya, she's a white woman. It was called using your privilege as a white woman. Ironically, it was the episode title and she mentioned that when she is asked to speak at conferences or be a moderator or any of that, um, she looks at the speakers if it's too white and too male. She says no, and she shares with why.

Kathleen: 00:47:37 Awesome. I love that.

Rianka: 00:47:39 Yes. And she says that she offers, she has a list of just people of color who are subject matter experts and she shares their names. It's like, Hey, let me help you out and let me offer some, some awesome diverse professionals who can add to this conversation. And so we talk about the costs of allyship. Right? So Sonya, she's a business owner, so speaking is part of her source of revenue is her as part of our source of her income and she's, is shutting that down. She's saying no, so that she can have so she can provide that opportunity or be, just provide that key to someone else to open a door for them and give them that platform, which I think is huge.

Kathleen: 00:48:33 It is huge. And it, it's interesting. Lazetta I want you to jump in here too. But, um, I have commented on how white male something is and how the white men are getting paid and they want me to volunteer to quote unquote get exposure, which is frustrating. I don't do that anymore, but this would also be something that I could very easily do, feel very comfortable doing. Um, and I, I love that as a concrete suggestion for people out there who are speaking. But Lazetta. What are your thoughts?

Lazetta: 00:49:03 I think it's phenomenal. Um, and, and I'm want to go back to the Gabrielle Union clip where there was also discussion about making sure these opportunities have a sense of equality to them. And that is sometimes to compensation disclosure, right? Because one, it's wonderful, right? To say, include and think about these other speakers that is significant, huge. And I'm also saying within that clip that we've listened to earlier is, is that that there is collaboration to make sure that no one, or everyone has on the same page, right? So if someone is willing to, to low ball and they say, well, you know, I'll, I'll take this person because I know them because of this. And that it doesn't help everybody if, if, if women and then people of color are not on the same page so that we don't have these gaps as well too. So we have the opportunity gap and then we have the pay gap.

Rianka: 00:50:08 Yes.

Kathleen: 00:50:10 And the pay gap is huge in this field, no matter where you slice and dice it, but you're right, I mean, I think Lazetta, uh, one of the things that you and I have talked about on and off, um, is certainly about, um, compensation as a speaker, what it means to be compensated as a speaker based on your level of expertise, not based on your gender or your color or some other factor, uh, and the fact that we, you know, we all deserve to be valued and that's one way in which we're valued. And obviously I feel very strong about it. It's, it's the essence of my work with Breaking Money Silence and women. Um, but you're right, we want to make sure that we're all having a conversation about how do you make a referral and how do you make a referral and set expectations that, that isn't, you know, the free option. It's just another option. And, and um, you know, often I don't refer free gigs to anybody because I feel like we shouldn't, uh, as, as women or as speakers, men too most of us have a business model where that doesn't actually make sense for the long term in terms of having a profitable business.

Kathleen: 00:51:14 So I, I tend to not refer those to anyone and then certainly the educational pieces easy for me to do. And I actually was struck by somebody I interviewed the other day on a podcast I host for a bank. So it's different than my own podcast. And she said that she was having a leadership summit and part of her commitment to moving the dial that was her organization in the tech industry was not only was she going to have 50 percent of the speakers be women, but she was going to have 50 percent of the speakers, be men and women of color. And I thought that is awesome. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak,

Lazetta: 00:51:47 Within the leadership of the Association of African American Financial Advisors. Also known as Quad A under my presidency we started the, the conferences back in 2015 and the idea was, you know, multifold, but one of them specifically was to offer a platform for our partners to showcase their African American talent. But also for us to showcase our members' talent as speakers as well too. Because oftentimes one of the barriers is that a lot of African American speakers don't have the opportunity to speak, so they can't build their portfolio to be competitive with other speakers as well too. So, you know, I'm, I'm delighted that this is another opportunity for African American financial advisors to show their expertise within our conference so they can add that to their resume as well too, because it's just hard getting opportunities to showcase what you're able to do as well.

Kathleen: 00:52:51 Well, and I remember Lazetta I was having a conversation about that conference and uh, you know, one of the steps I took that I didn't realize was allyship, but I guess it was, was introducing you to someone who could have had some budget that could sponsor. And so there's, there's all different ways.

Lazetta: 00:53:08 Yes you did, and that was our national sponsor. Woohoo. Cheers to that. That is real, real. Absolutely real dollars real when no one knew about Quad A and didn't know about our organization. Didn't know about me and yes you did Kathleen. And I wish I'd brought that up first. Yes you did. And I thank you so very much for that significant connection. You, you extended your contact, your deep contact for which you've, you know, has been a strong client of yours and she bought in, her firm, bought in and was certainly the foundation of that vision. So I thank you, that is real allyship and I thank you.

Kathleen: 00:53:57 You're welcome. And it was a pleasure to do and, you know, as we're talking today, what, what's hitting me is, you know, there's ways in which I was intentional that I didn't know I was intentional. So, um, that level of awareness, you know, hopefully will help people who are listening in. But I know for me, you know, if it's helpful, um, and it sounds like it certainly is to make sure that every time I teach a course that there's a mention of a people of color in the importance of that in the industry, that sharing episodes of this podcast, which I plan on, I did this morning, um, with some of my women colleagues who need a little education in this area. I said, hey, you know, if you have some time driving the kids to school, you might want to listen to this. And they agreed.

Rianka: 00:54:38 Awesome.

Kathleen: 00:54:39 And then to kind of use my voice to notice the lack of, you know, I noticed the lack of women all the time. So, you know, noticing the lack of other types of diversity, of color, of race, religion, whatever it might be. Um, you know, I'm actually getting a little excited that this is something I can do to advocate as opposed to feel like, oh my God, I live in a society right now that's really depressing. And every time I turned on the news I get upset, angry or sad, and I feel a little light hearted that, wow, these are steps that I can actually take, um, that are gonna help and make a difference, which is really why I do what I do.

Rianka: 00:55:17 Wow. I feel empowered listening to you and excited to see, you know, how it's, it's to me and it's filled. It feels like it's unfolding on this podcast is that you're finding your voice, Kathleen in this area and I'm so happy that you feel empowered to do what you feel like you can do to make a difference in that area. And that lens of intentionality

Lazetta: 00:55:44 and that you have done, I think for this moment, um, that we are affirming. You and you as a role model for what others can do and hopefully will do.

Kathleen: 00:56:00 Lazetta that's so sweet. I feel like that doesn't fit quite yet, but I will take the compliment and try to sit with it.

Rianka: 00:56:06 Receive it, Kathleen, because you definitely deserve it.

Lazetta: 00:56:08 Absolutely.

Rianka: 00:56:09 I want to touch on something really quick and then I'll. I'll ask a couple of my last few questions. I always have a problem with cutting conversations off because they're so good. It's like, oh my gosh, we have so much more to talk about, but I wanted to kind of circle back to the the snippet that we share and I'm going to share the full video in the show notes. Remember you can find the show notes at 2050trailblazers.com and find this particular episode and this link will be there, but in the conversation with Gabrielle Union and Ellen and Gina Rodriguez, she mentioned, well Gina in particular and I definitely feel this is how for people of color we’re raised to just feel grateful. When we do receive opportunities in a sense of just like, I don't want to make a lot of noise, I don't want people to think I'm ungrateful, so I'll just accept what I receive and go, going back to being compensated for speaking. That was a real struggle for me of figuring out my worth, so to say, and I'm saying that in air quotes and here recently, I started charging for my, you know, to do speaking engagements because I, um, I've found my voice and I, and I found my worth and sharing how much you earn from speaking engagements is so important.

Rianka: 00:57:44 And they talk about this. Gabrielle Union specifically talks about this, about, you know, we're going to continue to get low balled, if we don't share. And I shared with someone, I won't share her name, I shared it with someone, how much I was making for speaking engagements. She was like, oh no, no, no, you need to aim higher. And I was like, well, going back to this, what Gina was saying, well, but they're actually paying me like, you know, like, oh no. Oh No. She was like, you charge what you're worth, or you tack this onto pro pro Bono, but that is not enough with what you have, you know? And then she started giving me all these praises that I didn't feel comfortable receiving, kind of like what you just did, Kathleen. That's all might receive it, receive it because I have to practice that as well. When people give me compliments, I like, oh no, I'm just, I'm just here doing, doing what I gotta do in the world. Um, but yes, I think it's so important for us to, as a collective, um, as women, as people of color share, there's opportunities for all of us and if we come from a place of abundance and not scarcity, there will always be opportunities for each and every one of us.

Kathleen: 00:58:56 Either one of you. I love helping women make what they're worth can certainly give me a call and I'm more than happy to chat about how you can get to where you need to be financially. I certainly have struggled with that as well. Well, but, um, don't struggle nearly as much as I used to. And I think it's really important for all of us, especially women and women of color and, um, to have these conversations, men are having them and uh, we need to, uh, have pay equity. So I'm good for you, Rianka. I'm excited. You certainly do deserve to be paid what you're worth. And you too, Ms. Lazetta.

Rianka: 00:59:34 Oh yeah

Kathleen: 00:59:36 Just a little plug for Ms. Lazetta

Lazetta: 00:59:38 Yes. And I appreciate that. And this is the beauty of this, this, this moment in where we're saying about owning our worth and our, and our voice and whether it's the intentionality about, as you're saying Kathleen, um, being an ally and Rianka as we're talking about being paid for speaking, is that when we have that confidence, we attract other people to have that same degree of confidence or really, really, really rethink what they're doing. So Kathleen, yes, I'm with Rianka about receiving that affirmation that is real and authentic that we're sharing with you so that you can just radiate even more without having that subconscious. Am I doing enough? Because that subconscious keeps you from really living in exuding all that you are and all that you are committed to being and doing

Kathleen: 01:00:38 well. Thank you. I have a saying for my first workbook I ever wrote a book called creating wealth from the inside out and it's. I used to pass out buttons it had to do with financial receiving, but it's practice receiving. So I am going to put that button on today and practice receiving your affirmation.

Rianka: 01:01:00 I love this. I love buttons.

Lazetta: 01:01:00 I'll send you a virtual hug.

Rianka: 01:01:05 Virtual hug. All right, well I would just want to say thank you so much ladies for um, you know, just what you've shared on this episode, what you shared to me, you know, in my personal life. I just want to just share my gratitude and thanks. And before I let you two go, is there anything that you want to leave us with? Anything that you want to make sure that you share with the listeners of 2050 TrailBlazers?

Lazetta: 01:01:34 Yes. I just want to celebrate the conversation among women and among racially diverse women and I hope that this inspires others to do the same. To approach these conversations with compassion and openness and I am so happy that it is recorded that you can share and I hope that it will become con-tag-ious to spark conversation on this topic.

Kathleen: 01:02:11 Wow. Lazetta that was impressive.

Rianka: 01:02:16 Yes. Lazetta

Kathleen: 01:02:18 I will add to that and that I love hanging out with powerful women and so it's always fun whether it's virtual or in person to hang out with powerful women like you two and as somebody who is white and trying to figure this white privilege thing out and trying to be more intentional, I would encourage anybody who's listening in to think about how can you take a risk. Certainly if you're someone who lives with white privilege like I do, you know, take a risk and ask somebody a question. Be Curious. I always tell my audiences and my students and myself that if you're just truly curious and not attached to the answer, then you can find out a lot. And so I know as a result of this conversation and certainly other conversations I will continue to have with Lazetta and now other people Rianka and other people I've been reaching out to is, you know, be a little vulnerable. It's okay, you will survive. And I think as women specifically, although I welcome men to do this as well, I think we're really great once we get together of connecting and seeing each other and celebrating each other and cheering each other on. And if we could just do more of that, boy we could make a big difference.

Rianka: 01:03:30 Yes. Wow. Thank you two so much. I am so grateful for this conversation and I know it will not stop here. So thank you. And I'm looking for it to continue conversation.

Kathleen: 01:03:44 Thank you Rianka.

Lazetta: 01:03:46 Thank you Rianka. Thank you Kathleen.

Kathleen: 01:03:47 Thanks Lazetta