Roberte Exantus had an unusual upbringing for a Haitian woman. Her parents made an extra effort to ensure that she was exposed to different cultures, and prepared to make a transition to living in the United States in her future. They knew that her opportunities in Haiti may have been limited, and wanted her to experience everything the world had to offer.
When Roberte came to the United States for her final year of high school and college, she was immediately surprised by the unique differences and opportunities available to her - and how little we, as Americans, think of them.
For example, it was clear to her that the United States is a beautiful mosaic of cultures. We have exposure to so many different people who all come from different backgrounds - far more than others in different countries. Yet, we tend to view finances and culture in a very homogenized way.
The standards of the Global North (the G-7 countries) are often what financial planners use to build their relationships with clients. However, with a large percentage of the American population made up of immigrants - some from the Global South - it’s time that we start to rethink how we approach finance. When we look at financial planning through a lens of culture, we’re able to better serve our clients.
Roberte also brings a unique perspective on financial planning and gender to the table. Just as financial planners view finances through a lens of the Global North, they often view money through a cis-gender lens, as well. Roberte’s work as a gender activist, often focusing on money and gender, has given her a lot of experience and background on how finances impact women.
In this episode, Roberte is offering a global perspective of how money and culture intersect. This season of 2050 TrailBlazers has focused on all things money and culture - and I’m so excited to end it with Roberte’s unique experience.
What You'll Learn:
How financial planning is impacted by the view of Global North finances
How gender impacts finances
How money is viewed in the Global South
Common misconceptions that Americans make about the Global South
What a Chief Diversity Officer is
How the immigrant population can take a stance in the world of personal finance
How financial planners can be allies
Rianka: 00:00 Roberte, welcome to 2050 TrailBlazers.
Roberte: 00:04 Thank you so much for having me.
Rianka: 00:06 Thank you. Thank you. Oh my goodness. This season we have been discussing the intersection of money and culture, how we as financial planners, coaches, advocates in the financial world, how can we become better advisors to our clients and to our community? How can we become better listeners and ask better questions without judgment. Honestly it's been a phenomenal season and I want it to close out season three with a global perspective, a global perspective of the intersection of money and culture. And Roberte, this is where you come in.
Roberte: 00:49 This is where I come in.
Rianka: 00:51 So we have a lot to cover. So I'm going to just jump right on in if that's okay with you
Roberte: 00:58 Perfectly fine with me.
Rianka: 00:59 So we met through a mutual friend. Honestly, we have so much to cover and so let, let me listeners, let me just set the stage for you. Okay. So we met through a mutual friend I knew before I met Roberte that she was Haitian. And that made me really excited because my husband's Haitian and, but when I met her, I got introduced to her as Robbie. And I was like, Robbie, she's Haitian. I know that's not her name. And so we had a conversation and I'm like, well, you say your name is Robbie, but is it really Robbie? And she was like, no, actually it's Roberte, but you know, the people have a hard time saying my name. And actually I was, the nickname was given to me, which we'll talk about. And then Game of Thrones was on. And so we were like, if they can say Daenerys Targaryen, they should be able to say Roberte, you know. And so then we started talking about that.
Rianka: 01:57 And then you mentioned how we are raised to see the world in a CIS gender way. And my mind was blown again. I was like, hold on, I keep hearing cis gendered and, and, and you know, pronouns. And which got me to ask, well, what are your pronouns? What do you want me to call you? Like, what is your name? And then we started getting talking. We were getting it. Good conversation. And then she was saying, yeah, you know, we have such a global north way of thinking about finances. I'm like, hold on, hold on, hold on. I'm gonna have to bring you on the podcast honey, because you are blowing my mind right now. And it's so many different levels. And things we talk about it at the dining room table or in our living rooms where I think there's that conversation needed to happen on 2050 TrailBlazers. So I just want to say thank you. You're not in the finance world and the finance and the financial services world per se, but you do work with women, on a global front and you know a lot about, you know, the global north way of thinking about finances.
Roberte: 03:09 Yeah, definitely. And I think one of the things is coming to live in the global north is what made me realize that if we teach people in the global south and the global south are all countries that are not considered the g seven, which is France, Germany, Canada, US. So all the countries that are not considered part of the huge g seven are considered the global north. I mean the global south. And in a way, nobody in the global north a lot of times think about how people in the global south do finances. They just think the only, the best way to do finances is how people do it here. And nothing blows my mind more than that aspect because not everybody has mobile banking. Not Everybody has 401k's stock options. That's not a thing in most global south countries. So why is it that we want to be the global leader in finances, but yet we don't take into consideration how do people in the global south does do finance? So that is one of the things that stand out to me the most when I've been living since I've been living here.
Rianka: 04:16 Yes. And which stood out to me to think, okay, well what can we be doing better in the financial service industry, specifically within the financial planning profession. What can we be doing better when we do work with, clients who come from the global south. And, and are, are we bringing our best self forward with the knowledge that we have again, which is why I'm so happy that you're here and going to be educating us today. And so, you know, just me know a little bit about you. You moved to the United States when you were 17. You spent one year here but you, you immigrated from Haiti. So tell me about that experience for you.
Roberte: 04:58 Let me just start by saying that I had a very atypical Haitian life. Meaning, I grew up in a country that not only is the 80% of the population living under the poverty line, but my father, my parents, very hardworking people have been able to give my siblings a life in Haiti. That was very atypical. We were able to get the best education. We were able to come to the United States every summer for summer camp. They literally set me up to be able to thrive in the global north and not everybody gets that. My parents knew that the global south, would not be enough to produce what they wanted to. So they, they set us up to be able to get a global north perspective as much as we can still embody our global south perspective. So coming here was interesting because it was just like, wow, I'm going to be in a different world and I'm going to be able to, I'm going to be dealing with stuff that I never thought that I would be dealing with.
Roberte: 05:52 Haiti is 95% black. So never I thought about racism before. That's something I had to deal with when I got here. Hati is a very, I would say monolithic nation in terms of culture. We don't, we don't have a diverse group of different cultures in one place. So coming to the United States I had to realize that this is a huge country of immigrants, people coming from different places. It was pretty awesome to see that because that's why it's important for me to talk about the diversity and, global south in their finances because America should be the leading country in understanding that because we have so many different groups of people that live here, not many countries get that. America is for real, has to be one the places where I've been to, I've seen and encountered almost every group. We're just not penetrating those groups. And we're not talking to these people because they are here.
Rianka: 06:48 And so what can we with, with your expansive knowledge and your work that you do in your private life, which we will, which we won't put, you know, on 2050 TrailBlazers, but you know, with the expanse of work that you do, what, what have you noticed, that we could be doing better as the global north or specifically within America when it comes to finances?
Roberte: 07:13 One first things first, and I'll say this again and I'll reiterate it. We need to stop thinking that people from the global south in every single global south country are poor, I will tell you this, I have encountered this countless amount of times. Oh, you're from Haiti. You have to be poor. And it's not necessarily an ignorant point of view per se, it's just that the media has a huge effect on people. And when people see Haiti in the media, what do they see? Poverty. When people see east African countries in the media, what did they see? Poverty. So a lot of times, first thing that we have to eradicate and that we have to tell ourselves, there's money everywhere. And we need to stop seeing the global south as countries that need a handout or some sort of aid because all we know is that the have to or must be or sometimes most of them are poor. And that's what I encounter all the time. How can we talk about finances and consistently go to the one aspect of finance in the global south is that people must be poor. Not that, oh, if there's poor people somewhere that has to be people that are doing well, we have to eradicate that notion.
Rianka: 08:24 That is true. And you mentioned your experience was atypical, coming to the United States, immigrating to the, to the United States, your family, pretty much set you up to succeed. Whereas, other people who may be first generation immigrants into the United States, their situation may not necessarily, be as privileged as yours.
Roberte: 08:52 I would, yeah, I would agree with that term. Yeah.
Rianka: 08:54 So what is the typical experience when it comes to finances and learning the financial systems when it comes to the United States?
Roberte: 09:03 So one of the things that we'll talk about that we always laugh about is we always say that American, the American way of living is living in debt. The reason why Haitian people are so afraid of debt is because we don't, that's not a big thing for us. So people have credit cards here and they take out loans and it's not necessarily a bad thing. But when I tell you that is not a way of life in the Global South, like people don't just take out loans. People don't just have credit cards it's not, it's not a way of life and we're always, we're always laughing about it that we've had to learn the hard way because when we moved here, the first thing people are not afraid of debt here as much as they are afraid of debt in the global south, because in Haiti to be owns to owe somebody money is to go, if you are not able to afford something is to go to the supermarket and say I'm going to grab this, this and that. And Just put it on my book. You know, I'll come back the next day and give you that money for an exact thing, not, oh, let me swipe this card in up here. So the idea of living off educational loans and credit card debt is almost not this, it's not that, it's unheard of. It's just not a huge part of our lifestyle.
Rianka: 10:15 You know, that's something that I have learned throughout the conversations that I've had just with the guests that have been on this season. You know, Catalina, who is from Columbia. She was sharing that too. And, and clients that she has that are also from either Central America or South America, how, they, they want to pay their home off as soon as they move here, and not take out a mortgage loan. Whereas we will probably see that as leveraging debt. And it just like, Oh, you know, let's just leverage that particular debt and let's just pay it off. You know, it's 3% a year. Like that's not too bad. But I can definitely understand consumer debt. Even. You know, Peter over in Ghana, he was sharing with us how, you know, just consumer debt is not a big thing to them as well. Like this, this, this notion of debt I think is definitely an American thing it's definitely an American thing for sure.
Rianka: 11:12 That is a conversation that transcends. It doesn't matter where you come from, but if you are in America, all Americans have debt. At least that's what the world is thinking.
Roberte: 11:22 Yes, that's true.
Rianka: 11:25 Yeah. So let's go back to the name. So you've explained, you know, with the listeners what the global north is and global south, and, you shared a really great article which I'll share in the show notes. And going back to the name of being an immigrant. And as you said in the beginning that America is just a nation of immigrants, which is so true. I like to say that we are a mosaic, which is something I learned, from Andrew in a, in a previous a season. How, you know, we represent beautiful, various diasporas and, and cultures and we're different and that's okay. And how we learn. We also have names that are not, I guess, easy to roll off the tongue, so to say for Americans,
Roberte: 12:19 Right, typical American names or you know, typical names that Americans are used to. I would say.
Rianka: 12:23 right? So typical American names and however your first identity is your name. So let's. So let's talk about why knowing someone's name and calling them by their name is important.
Roberte: 12:41 So for me, my name is, Roberte, my name is, Roberte because my dad's middle name is Robert, which is Robert, and they just added an e at the end and made it Roberte. So when, when I started getting or gaining consciousness of what my name meant, I thought to myself that my dad is so proud and loved me so much that he wanted me to carry literally the 99% of his name right. And it made me realize that I will cherish this. That's a part of my dad would always be part of me and Roberte is everything that he needed me to be. So I carried that name with pride. I never called myself a nickname, never called myself anything, but Roberte of course, growing up you have friends, you know, they can give you, you can have a nickname, but Roberte is basically what they called me.
Roberte: 13:33 So to move here to a country where people say Arnold Schwarzenegger. When people say, then Daenerys Targaryen where people see names that are like Nietzsche. And it's Sebastian Bach. And Beethoven, I mean these are not easy names by American standards, but these people respect these people enough to not just learn their names but to pronounce their names. So to move to a country like the US and the first thing people do is like, oh, this is too hard. We're just going to call you Robbie. Now granted, have I created an identity for Robbie? Absolutely. Because I, this is who I am, but I could not believe that people would not take the time to learn how to say Roberte, when they've taken the time to learn. So many other names that would be deemed or considered difficult to American standards.
Rianka: 14:20 Yes. And thank you for sharing that. And I want, I wanted you to share that for us to hear why it's important to call you by your name because you know, we go to speak into the financial planners, and pretty much anyone who goes to conferences, you're going to meet someone, you're going to start to meet people that are coming from different backgrounds, from different countries and to, to know their name and to try to be able to pronounce their name means so much, so much more to them than you actually know. And so that's why for Roberte, I call her Roberte. I don't call her Robbie and, and so that is important.
Roberte: 15:07 And it also shows me that you care about what I have to say if, if I come to your conference and you take your time to not only say my name, but to take whatever steps it is to pronounce it, say it time and time again until you get it. It shows me that you care about what I have to say and what will, what will I be saying in the future? But if you just ignore it, that says to me, am I here because you need to meet some sort of quota or am I here because you actually care about what I have to say? Cause if you can't even get my name right, do you really care what I have to say?
Rianka: 15:39 Hmm. That's, that's one of those deep pauses right there. And I'm gonna let, I'm gonna just let the listeners sit on that one. Okay. Something else you said, when we were talking this one late night and at the dining room table, you said something else? Yeah, I'm cis gender black woman and I'm like, okay, okay. Roberte, by that time I was still trying to pronounce her name and go, well thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And I was practicing even til that day because I was like, I know your name is not Robbie, like you Haitian I known your name not Robbie. And so you were like, it's Roberte. She even taught me ways to remember it and pronounce it. And I thank you for that. And I
Roberte: 16:28 I always help people, by the way, I don't have a problem doing that. Helping people to find better ways to pronounce my name. I'm okay with that.
Rianka: 16:34 So that's good as well. So that's not taken as an offense that's taken as, oh wow, you're really trying to learn my name, even with my name. My name is Rianka. It's just Rianka and somehow people always forget the k there is no longer is no longer Bianca, which I think was a very popular Spanish name back in the day. But so I would say Rianka they would say Bianca and I say Ri-anka they were like, Bi-anca like I know that's what you want to call me, but that is not the name my mother gave me. And so now it's Rihanna because of the singer Rihanna. I'm like, nope, nope, there's no h and there is a k. Alrighty. So, anyways, and I have some friends who, sorry, I'm going off on a tangent here. There's some friends I know who are, who are listening to this and they're like, but unless you go to Starbucks, then your name is Summer. And that's true. When I, when I go to Starbucks, you know, they, they butcher everybody's name and so I just, my name is based on the season that we're in. And so right now my name is Summer and in the fall, my name is Autumn and the winter it's Winter and then in the spring it's Spring. So now y'all know my trick,
Roberte: 17:54 I might have to use that myself.
Rianka: 17:56 Right? Cause it was like Summer. I'm like, Yep, that's me. All right. Sorry. Sorry. Went off on a tangent there. Let's take it back to, let me set the stage again. We were in the dining room table and Roberte said, I'm a cis-gender black woman. And I'm like, okay, hold on. I keep hearing cis gender, I keep hearing something else. And I was just like, alright, I'm going to be very vulnerable with you here. I think, I'm cis gender as well, but I'm not sure. So what does that mean? And we have a very open and honest, authentic, phenomenal conversation about this. So for the listeners who do not know what cis gender means, what is that and why is it so important to understand? What are your pronouns?
Roberte: 18:48 So I think whether we like to admit it or not or whether we do it purposely or not, we grow up most of, especially a lot of us in the global south. I think the global north, you guys are way light years ahead of us. We grew up in a very, you're born a female and society sees you as female. That's what you are. You're born male society sees you as male that's what you are, you're supposed to fit the standards of what society thinks you should be. So that's what cis gender is like. You are just, you know, you were born female and you're a female, you consider yourself female, that's pretty cis gender. And I think a lot of times we approach almost everything with that with that idea, even though we don't do it purposely, but we do it in the corporate world, we do it in the finance world, in many different worlds where we're like, oh, you know, we approach everybody without even thinking that, hey, maybe she doesn't want to be called she or he.
Roberte: 19:43 Have you asked that person that she, her and hers or her pronouns have you? How do you know if this person wants to be called she because you think they looked like she, we never have these discussions and we don't realize that if we continue to pretend that transgender people and gender non-binary people and all these people have this identity that they keep on trying to tell us exist, but we continue to ignore it because of what we see with our naked eye. We won't move. We're not going to be able to move completely in the right way that we should be moving in terms of approaching people individually, right? Because like I said, as I'm a cisgender black woman, so as a black woman, I already know what comes along with me existing in the work world. I know what comes along with that.
Roberte: 20:35 I know how I'm supposed to carry myself and I know what everybody has to see just solely based on my skin tone. But one of the things that I have to be aware of is that I still have a privilege. I have a privilege over the transgender black person I have privilege over the gender, non binary black person or Latina person or Asian person. It depends. It's just that I have to realize where my privilege extends and to open the door for those. So before I, before I talk to you, I speak with you or ask you what your pronouns are. People put that in their emails, in the signature of emails, and a lot of people pretend they don't see it. How can somebody tell you approaching by using her as her and her, but yet you replied the email by using he that already shows that person that you don't care about what they have to say you don't care about their humanity. You don't care about how they go by in the world because you don't because you being that cis gender person living in that cis gender world, you don't care about their humanity and their perception and their perspective. That's why it's so important.
Rianka: 21:37 Yeah. This made me so when you said cis gender and my pronouns, are she, her and her
Roberte: 21:42 Yes. My pronouns are she, her, and hers, yes.
Rianka: 21:46 And I was like, you know what? I was like, so I'm on a diversity advisory board and we are working with a, consultant group and in their signatures it, they tell us what their pronouns are. And I thought that was interesting. I saw it. I never brought it up. The next time I see them, I will, because we've had this conversation, it's made me aware. It's made me more conscious to let them know I see it. Like even if she does look like a, she, I want the, I want to acknowledge I see you and thank you for letting me know. So that's where, what are your pronouns came about? And you just again, so nicely just share it with me. Like what, what am I not seeing? Right. Because I am privileged, you know, I live my life how the world thinks I should, live my life, you know.
Rianka: 22:48 But it also made me start thinking about just the financial service industry and specifically the financial service industry that builds technology. And you know, the next day after our conversation, I started building out, you know, a client plan, and under gender. It just says male or female. All right, well this is going to be a problem because what if they don't want to be male or female? What if they want to binary or, or what if they want to explicitly state that I am transgender like we are not if again, so this is kind of like a call to the financial service industry. If we are truly moving towards a more inclusive way, serving all clients, who look like us, who don't look like us, who think like us, who do not think like us. I think we need to start thinking about this. Because we're not, or at least I haven't been a part of conversations who have been taken about this
Roberte: 23:50 and the people that are creating this, these softwares, those are some of the things that you also need to start thinking about. I get it. For the longest it was just male and female, but now we have to be in a process where we say to ourselves, okay, this is, this is not enough. Just going by your regular, what society have told you, time and time again, what you supposed to see, just male and female. Now let's do things differently. Let's realize that we want to be as the financial sector and the people that are in that sector, we want to be inclusive, we want to be really inclusive. Let's tackle those things that we have not tackled before. Let's create that software. Let's put, let's give you so many options that you always feel included in this conversation.
Rianka: 24:38 Hmm.
Roberte: 24:39 Let's give you so many options that you never feel left out or that you can't talk these person or you can't go back to this financial planner because I mean if they only think female and male are the only options, then maybe they won't serve me well as a financial planner
Rianka: 24:53 Through 2050 TrailBlazers, a lot of financial planners and financial advisors are becoming just more aware of being in their bubble, which I appreciate. They mention how they may be not necessarily in the LGBTQ community, however they want to show that they support the Lgbtq community. And so one of the conversations I was having in another episode was just, just put a same sex couple on your website to show that you are welcomed here. And in our firm we serve same sex couples. And so these are one of the, you know, one of the ways, that you can just show inclusivity a planner by the name of Kate Howerton. I just met her shout out to her. I just met her at the FPA retreat. She was a diversity scholarship recipient for 2019. She shared with me a article that she wrote and I'm going to share it, in the show notes.
Rianka: 25:51 It's titled Stonewall was a riot, not a marketing strategy, how to be a good ally and you know, it's pride month and a lot of companies are, you know, throwing up the pride flag and, and you know, solidarity and support. But it's like, all right, now when pride month is over with, how, how else are you going to show that you support, you know, the Lgbtq community. She wrote a really great article, just about the history of the Lgbtq community, some of the revolutionaries that, have been, in the community, transgender women. And there's a lot going on right now about, honestly the craziness that's going on in the community and people are dying left and right. So I just want it just shine some light on this article if want to learn more about the Lgbtq community. This is a great article to start with and so I'm gonna make sure I put that in the show notes
Roberte: 26:53 in a way too, is to hold these companies to a certain standard when you're done making money off the flag. Or you're donating to organizations that are helping LGBTQ youth or, Lgbtq people or are you, what are you doing after you're done making money off of that? Because honestly, a lot of times when I, I looked at capital one, your flag is changing your screen outside. I see all this flag on these different products in the target aisle. But when this is, when pride month is over and you're done collecting the money that you made, just off one of the symbols in general, what are you doing? Are you continuing to fund organizations? Are you standing by people when laws, sometimes are put in place to oppress the same people, are we going to hear your voices? Are you going to show us that you're really allies or are you just taking advantage of this specific month? Just like you do Easter and Christmas and Valentine's Day, we want to see you. We want to hear you when transgender black women are being murdered at a high rate, while you were putting that flag and that chocolate chocolate chip cookie bag, are we going to hear your voice? And I think that's the important part of it all this,
Rianka: 28:05 I am with you. That's why we are sharing this platform to give light to this community and in it's something that is extremely important. So I'm with you. I hear you. Let's hold these companies accountable.
Roberte: 28:18 Let's do it.
Rianka: 28:20 So I want to transition a little bit and something else that we chatted about. And something we know about gender, equality or the need of it and how there is an inequality with gender. You were shedding some light, how globally women are hit harder than men, like we see it in the United States. But you helped me see a perspective from a global view how culturally in a lot of households, men earn the money and women stay at home. Like that's the culture. Like, and sometimes it's by law. So from a culture perspective, by law, women have to stay home. And you gave, and you were giving some examples of some countries, but then you also gave an example of your mom and dad.
Roberte: 29:09 Yes, yes, yes. Well I'll start personal and then I'll go wide. I grew up in a very patriarchal country even though in Haiti women are called "poto mitan" of the Haitian, society, "poto mitan" meaning the backbone of Haitian society. I always say that Haiti's a woman and the reason that it's able to go through all that stuff and still shine is because women have a strength that nobody likes to admit. And Haiti's a woman, woman, I don't think when I talk about Haiti, I talk about her as a woman because I believe that we go left unattended to in Haiti because it's just a patriarchal country. I grew up in a home where my father was the main breadwinner and it's not just because it was weird, it was just cultural. Right now do I believe things and Haiti are changing and more women are in the workforce?
Roberte: 30:01 Absolutely. But I grew up in a very patriarchal country where women worked if they had no choice ie, there's no man in the house or the father is gone or so on and so forth. But if you are living in a place or in a, in a household where that father's there most of the time he's the main breadwinner also a way of being, of controlling you in a shape or form. You know, men had most of the control financially and physically in general, but it also happens in many countries. We had this thing the other day, where Saudi Arabia gave women the right to drive. I mean it was everywhere. Everybody was so happy about it. But you know why? Because eventually the more women that drive, the more women join the workforce. The more women that join the workforce, the more the GDP of that country rises it is given, the more women work, the more economy advances, the more women are able to fulfill what they are capable to do throughout just working, your economy rises.
Roberte: 31:03 And I think a lot of countries are starting to realize that they're saying, you know what, let's push those cultural norms to the side and let's do what we have to do to make sure our economy rises. And, and that's just that. At the end of the day, if you keep women from working, you will look around and say, Oh wow, we've made technological advancements. We've done all of that. Why is that our economies to stagnate? Because you have 50% of your workforce at home due to cultural norms. You have these women not working and you're wondering why your GDP is not rising. If women are not working, no matter what you do, your economy will not grow. Because women, when you give, when you give women money, they community. The community eats. Women, when you, when you pay women, the GDP rises because women spend money in their communities. Women go in there, local supermarkets, women go. Women literally with money absolutely raises the economy. But if you keep women from working, you know for a fact why a GDP stagnant, you might not want to admit it, but that's a fact.
Rianka: 32:11 Yes. In fact, a report from the Mckinsey Global Institute found that if women worldwide matched men and economy participation, the boom would increase the world's GDP by 28 trillion or 26% by 2025, that's six years away.
Roberte: 32:33 Mind blowing.
Rianka: 32:37 Wow. And I remember in our conversation also, you mentioned, we were talking about like Japan and its economy and how Japan's economy was static for so long, and it was because of the working hours, like they expect their workers to work from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM and it's like women can't do that because who, who's expected traditionally to kind of, you know, take care of the household. Yeah. Take care of the children, managed the household, do everything plus work. It's, it's women. And so, from what we were discussing, it was like, okay, well they change, you know, the, the, the culture of the working hours, women got back into the workforce and now Japan's economy is rising.
Roberte: 33:16 And also in a way, they also found different ways, like they've started to instill, daycares at workplaces and different things that will get women to be, to partake in the economy. I mean in the economy by working, so they're saying, you know, what can we do to make sure you guys are able to work? Let's start putting daycares in workplaces, but my thing is at the end of the day, one of the issues that they're facing as well is also pushing that cultural norm to decide like while we are creating these daycares and doing all that stuff now how do we eradicate that part of the culture where women were not given the chance to go and work like equally as men because now we can make all the moves and make everything that we need to do. Culture's hard to change. Culture is hard to change, so now that's one of the things that they've had to, they've had to work on. Now that we have these things in place, how can we start changing the culture of that? That women start feeling like they can go to work and they can work late and they can do all that stuff because culture, sometimes it takes generations for it to change, right?
Rianka: 34:27 The millennials, we get a lot of flack on a lot of things, but I'm telling you, we are making some strides and changes. We may love our avocado toast
Roberte: 34:41 and our work life balance
Rianka: 34:42 and our work life balance. But in between all of that, we are changing some things. We are changing some things. So, I feel very, I'm a, I'm an optimistic type of person anyway, so I feel very optimistic about the future. And, and where we're heading and just what we can do when we work together.
Roberte: 35:04 Yeah, absolutely.
Rianka: 35:05 So the bottom line is when you give women money, the community benefits period.
Roberte: 35:11 Yes. When women are able to fill their economic potential, GDP goes up and poverty, goes down. That's a given
Rianka: 35:17 period. All right. Again, so I'm gonna do it. Another transition. I think each one of these conversations could be an episode of its own. Again, this is the last episode for season three of 2050 TrailBlazers. So I'm trying to, I'm trying to, you know, give you all a taste of everything to, you know, to whet your palette, give you a little break over the summer, have you do some research, and then, and they come back, you know, late August, early September for a season four. Cause you know, we comin' with the fire, you know, we comin' with the fire. So to transition a little bit, something else that we talked about and we've seen this happen a lot, is that when there is a major, I want to say PR crisis and companies, they shut down like Starbucks had it. They shut down for a day.
Rianka: 36:12 H&M had it, and they have this cultural sensitivity, diversity training and then they opened back up. And while I do appreciate them taking a step back and just saying, hey, we, yes, we have some work to do. And, unfortunately one bad apple does spoil the batch. And so they have to close down, they have to, you know, do some sensitivity training. And, and then they, you know, come back up. And you know, businesses is as is as per uge. And then you know, sometimes they hire a chief diversity officer. We talked about this a little bit in another episode, I can't remember which one, I'll put it in the show notes if I remember. And then they hire a chief diversity officer and it's like, but they give them no power to actually change things and when they actually see things that need to be changed, they're like, oh, you're the problem. We're going to kick you out. And, and so then the world turns and nothing changes. Robbie, you can just jump in and see, oops Roberte,
Roberte: 37:22 if we're going to change a nickname, Robs is my favorite. So that's the one that I like. Yes. I'm ok with Robs. Robbie was given to me by Americans. Robs is what I had my friends call me back home when I didn't want to be, when Roberte was just like need something short. Robs is Robs is it.
Rianka: 37:41 I feel, I feel like we became just a step closer to each other. Robs.
Roberte: 37:48 So I think. I think with diversity positions, if we start treating them like we treat CEO's and chief information officers and we start treating them like the company cannot work without them, then this is when I know we're making a difference because I really do think that a lot of companies have CTOs, chief people officers, literally just to meet a quota, kill two birds with one stone. A lot of times the CEO of a company tends to black and a woman. That's a huge quota you're meeting, right? My thing is, are we giving CDOs the actual power to diversify the companies that we want them to be because almost every top law firm that you know has a Cdo, but why is it that we have issues with actually diversifying law firms? It's not that black and Latino and Asian lawyers are not graduating from law school.
Roberte: 38:49 Why is it that we can't see that diversity in law firms now when we want to talk about diversity too, we need to stop hiding behind gender diversity. That's one thing we are so comfortable hiding behind, we don't have enough women in the board rooms. Do I agree with that? Absolutely. But when are we going to talk about actual intersectionality in diversity, right? Like, oh, this is a very diverse law firm. Okay, we have 30 women, we have five women partners. Okay, that's great. We always want to see women represented in the workforce, but where are your Latino's? Where are your black lawyers? Where are your black partners? Where are, you Asian partners. So when we're talking about diversity are we really tackling every aspect of it and what does it mean to be a CDO? What does it mean to actually represent diversity in the company? Are we, are we giving the CDOs the actual power that they need to do the work that it requires to make diversity happen?
Rianka: 39:52 In your perspective with the work that you do from a, from a global standpoint with the women that you work with, not only in America, but literally the global north and global south. If we created just a new firm a new company and we did hire a CDO, a chief diversity officer, what power would you give this person?
Roberte: 40:13 The power that I would give a CDO in a company is to actually, you know how when you first walk into a corporate environment and they're training you, they train you in sexual harassment and they train you in all these different things actually create an environment where diversity is talked about. I don't know if you've ever realized how uncomfortable people get when we start talking about actual diversity. People get really uncomfortable
Rianka: 40:44 and people get mad.
Roberte: 40:45 Oh yes. You know if I walk into a room and I'm like, how are you guys meeting with us today in a room this wide in all these people are present and there are no women here. That is something I don't mind saying. That is something that I'm okay with saying if I walk into a room and I'm like, oh, oh wow, this is a meeting of 60 people about something that concerns everybody and there are no women in here and no people of color in here.
Roberte: 41:12 We need to start speaking up and I think and when we talk about diversity, we actually, it's a company wide discussion, right? Something that we talk about from get not something that, oh, something happened at H&M. Let's talk about diversity. Something I've been at Starbucks, let's, no, let's make it part of our company's culture. Let, let's make diversity part of our company's culture. Let's make the conversation about diversity part of our company's culture. Just like now with tackling pay gap, something that now we talk about like, Oh, you see articles everywhere. Women ask your colleagues how much they make. Women. Don't be afraid to ask that your male colleague that's in the same position as you that's been in the company, the same amount of time as you that does exactly what you do. Don't be afraid to ask him how much he makes. That's starting to be a part of the conversation is so many articles.
Roberte: 42:07 Okay, so let's talk about it. How about when we walk into an office, Hey, let's talk about how it's not okay to run your fingers through your black colleagues hair. It's okay to have that conversation. Let's talk about it. Let's make diversity part of our culture. That's what I would be doing differently. It's okay to ask questions that are uncomfortable. It's okay to want to talk about our differences because we're not all the same. I know we like to talk about this whole, I don't see color thing. Nothing boggles me more than that concept. Than that sentence. I don't see color. How could you not see color? But it's okay to talk about our differences. It's okay to talk about, you know, this transgendered woman wants you to address her by her proper pronoun. Let's that. Let's make that our company's culture. Let's start from that, not something that we had to talk about when there's a crisis and if you, if you infiltrate and coordinate and intertwine diversity as part of your company's culture, we will see a difference.
Rianka: 43:11 Yeah, so it sounds like in this company that you are creating, we are creating together, diversity will be a proactive approach, not an afterthought.
Roberte: 43:23 Yes. At the forefront of things like everything else including pay gap, gender mainstreaming, we are going to talk about it like it's not something that we whisper about.
Rianka: 43:32 Right? Or when we say a color, we don't go at a lower tone.
Roberte: 43:37 No, we don't. Don't start whispering
Rianka: 43:40 because we're, black, yeah, no, again, I don't believe your impact depends on your title. I believe you can be at any level. Yes. And make an impact. So I'm going to ask for all listeners to think about how are you making sure that you are making sure that your company is inclusively and proactively thinking about diversity beyond gender. And that's it. Roberte, we have chatted about a number of things in this episode. Oh my goodness. We talked about what are your pronouns? We talked about the transgender community. How can we be allies, the gender pay gap. But beyond that, how women participation in the economy can just boost
Roberte: 44:37 the GDP.
Rianka: 44:40 Yes. And then also to call you by your name.
Roberte: 44:44 Yes. Call me by my name. Because if you take your time to get to know my name and pronounce it right, that makes me feel like you care what I have to say. Honestly, honest to God, truth. If you can pronounce my name and you take your time to do it, then I know that everything I say after that you actually care about,
Rianka: 45:05 you know, this is reminding me of my very first client, that when I opened my firm almost four years ago, I won't say her name, but in our first conversation I said her name as she was just like, thank you for just for saying my name correctly. I'm like, I was just like, okay. I was like, let's talk about that. What do you mean? She was like, you know, I had a financial adviser before and he could never say my name right. And I was just like, wow, like that's Whoa, whoa. That speaks volumes right there. So, hopefully like the advisors listening take this at heed and like truly your clients want to not only, be seen, but they want you to know their name and call them by their name. That seems so like, oh, well Duh. But that's probably because you are working with a clientele that probably has American type names.
Roberte: 46:04 Right. And if we're talking about American type names and also names that people consider to be traditional, because I do think another aspect of names that we don't talk about is that as many black people in America that feel like, they want to give their kids names that are closer to some identity that they may feel connected to when it comes to Africa. And sometimes they tend to give their names, the mean their kid's name that people don't deem, you know, right or correct or are traditional. And we have to take our time to also learn to pronounce these names into, be okay with these names because our names are our humanity, our names are us and we want them to be pronounced the right way.
Rianka: 46:43 Yes. Well Robs, since you told me I can call you that I feel like we like a step closer, and our friendship that we're building, I just want to say thank you for joining me. And is there anything else that you want to share before I let you go before we close out season three of 2050 TrailBlazers.
Roberte: 47:06 I think there's one last thing I want to say and that is when you're in a position of privilege and somebody who has been oppressed is explaining to you how do you need feel, do not ever make them feel like their feelings are not valid. And the reason that I say this is because I've seen it time and time again, people taking a stance, a defensive stance. When people say certain things that meet that may, that may make them feel some kind of way. But always remember, if you're coming from a place of privilege, allow people that may be in a less privileged place than you to express to you, how they may feel. It can be hard for some of us, but seriously, the best way to be an ally is to never disregard that person's feelings.
Rianka: 47:56 Well thank you. This is a wonderful way to close out season three. Robs, thank you so much for joining us and helping us bring a global perspective to finances.
Roberte: 48:09 Thank you so much for having me.