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Episode 092: A Conversation on Activating Equity with T. Tara Turk-Haynes

Episode 092_T. Tara Turk-Haynes (1)

Join Sarah Noll Wilson and guest T. Tara Turk-Haynes for a deep dive into the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). T. Tara shares the power of truly integrating DEI practices into an organization’s processes and operations for greater impact and measurable results.

T. Tara Turk-Haynes is a passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. In her role at Leaf Group, she spearheaded the company’s DEI journey, introducing impactful programs and resources for individual and group learning. She expanded global awareness of issues affecting underrepresented communities across the company’s digital media and marketplace brands. T. Tara chaired Graham Holdings Company’s DEI Council and has been recognized as a trusted leader offering valuable perspectives and advice. She has also made significant contributions through virtual events, panel discussions, and featured appearances at prominent conferences and publications.

TRANSCRIPT

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of Conversations on Conversations where each week we explore a topic to help us have more powerful conversations with ourselves and others. As always, I am your host Sarah Noll Wilson. And joining me today is one of my dear friends, colleagues, T Tara Turk-Haynes, and I’m so excited for you to hear this conversation. But first, let’s hear a little bit about who she is. T Tara Turk-Haynes is the founder of Equity Activations, where she works with organizations to help them embed equity into their systems. She is a passionate advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. In her former role at Leaf Group she spearheaded the company’s DEI journey, introducing impactful programs and resources for individual and group learning. She expanded global awareness of issues affecting underrepresented communities across the company’s digital media and marketplace brands. She’s chaired the Graham’s Holding Companies DEI Council, and has been recognized as a trusted leader offering valuable perspectives and advice. She has also made significant contributions through virtual events, panel discussions and featured appearances at prominent conferences and publications. T Tara Turk-Haynes, welcome to the show!

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Thank you so much. This is a long time coming.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

It’s been a very, I should have gone back into my old Twitter direct messages with you of how many times I either said we need to have you on the show, we need to invite you, we need to make this happen. And and then, you know, that became X and –

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

And then you left.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And we became – and then I left.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

And then I brought you back. (laughs)

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, you did. I do have you to blame. Sort of, I’m sort of back. Before we go into how we met and our relationship and learning more about you. What else do you want folks to know about you beyond your bio? 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Oh, my invisible identities you mean? (laughter)

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Whatever you want to share?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Keeping it like on theme 100%. Cowboy Carter fan. Wearing my Beyonce t-shirt. Granted it’s Renaissance, but that’s okay. My Cowboy Carter swag hasn’t come yet. I’m a wife. I’m a dog mom. I’m a playwright. I’m a first gen college grad, first gen corporate worker. I, I love to read and I love to travel. This is all my stuff back here for, sure. It’s not like a – like you can touch this stuff. (laughter) For better for worse, you can touch this stuff. Yeah, and yeah, that’s that those are good things to know about me I think.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

It’s, your description of, you know, first gen college, but first gen corporate. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I have never thought about that before. And I’ve never thought to describe myself as that before. 

 

It’s, it’s a real thing. It’s, yeah.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

It’s a whole thing. And I started thinking about this probably like last year because when we start examining privilege, I started thinking about like, okay, I, my last job I was VP of DE and I and Talent, Leaf Group, which is no longer around. But it was the first time someone in my family was an executive. And so I started thinking like, wow, the first time executive and I was like, wait, rewind the tape. You’re the first person to actually work like in an office in this kind of work. Like it hasn’t been. Like my mom was worked accounts receivable for most of her life. But like, she wasn’t, you know, a supervisor or a manager and my dad worked on the line at Ford for, all of his life until he passed away. So, you know, my grandmother was a librarian. My grandfather was like a car mechanic. So if you think about this ecosystem, for me entering the workplace, I didn’t have a handbook. I didn’t know like, I was temping, I started temping to support myself through college and, and I had to learn as I went, because nobody told me stuff.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, yeah. It’s, yeah, it’s just it’s a lens. It’s a lens of privilege I haven’t, I haven’t thought about it.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yes.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

It is very different. I’m thinking about a good friend of mine who his dad was VP of a massive company. And so for him, it was just assumed that he would, he would never question that he would be a CEO someday. Because I mean, essentially he was raised to do that. Whereas I remember being in the workforce being like, I don’t know what, what’s a 401k. I’m a I’m a theater major, and my dad was a truck driver. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

That’s right! You and I were both theater majors. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

That’s, and my parents being like, go to college. And I was like, cool, but I’m going to do theater. And they’re like, Wait, what! What? 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

(laughs) 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Not like that, but not like that. (laughter) Because I, I mean I graduated, and I got a master’s degree. And I was like, you can’t argue I went to school, I just did what I wanted to do. And I was like, trust the process and figure it out. But they set me up for this path, I think, even early on, because I only went to like magnet schools and only, you know, the gifted student, which you know, now we know is probably code for burnout and run yourself ragged. (laughter)

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And probably undiagnosed anxiety.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

One hundred percent.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And (laughter)

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Literally, all of that, but I was only surrounded by people whose parents – and like, this is interesting, because I grew up in Detroit, which is predominantly black at the time, but surrounded by very successful black students and families. Like they were like, you know, teachers. Like I went to, you know, I knew the mayor’s son, like these kinds of things. But my parents were not like that, you know, my best friend growing up, her dad was a state rep for many years, and so surrounded, but not really feeling like I belonged there. Because my you know, that’s not where we kind of resided. So, it’s been a lifetime of acknowledging what belonging really kind of means for me.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, so talk, take us on that journey a bit of one, let’s start with, what are you doing today? 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And then what was that journey to that, to the point of that?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

It’s a great question. So I, right now, I have my own consulting company, which I don’t even know anyone in my family who has their own business, I’m sure there are but like the cousins, the cousins are more successful than our parents. But I help companies embed DEI into their operational practices. So there’s some stickiness there’s, there’s some really true impact. It’s not an initiative or performative. You know, especially in this environment, where I just feel like there’s a lot under attack. So if you really want to make space for people to be successful and have a great company, then you can’t avoid some of this work, even though you may want to, that you can’t. So I help companies do that. Before that I was the like I said the vice president of talent acquisition and DE and I at Leaf Group. How did I get there? I was in talent acquisition for probably 14 years at that point. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Oh wow.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Before that I took a little detour. I worked a Variety magazine and editorial for three years but I –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

What!

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I know! I helped get Ava DuVernay on the Power of Women lists when they were not really checking for her at that time. So like, I’ve always been passionate about representation, but um, I got into talent acquisition because I was an executive assistant for many years. Like that’s how I supported myself, and was privileged enough to work for some really great people. Like when I graduated from theater school, you know, you don’t get a job being a playwright like right off the bat unless you go to like Juilliard or something. But like I didn’t, so I went to Sarah Lawrence, which is still great. But nonetheless, it wasn’t like they were like, here’s a check. So I had to feed myself. And what I knew was, you know, how to type and be pleasant to people and answer phones. And like, I started off at the second EA to the CEO of Penguin Putnam. So I started a big, but like, –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Got it. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah, I was grateful. And I’m still really friends with the first EA to this day. (unintelligible) Heading who has been amazing to me. He was a great mentor, also a great writer, and then just worked in EA jobs, Sundance Channel. But it wasn’t until I was at Ticketmaster and Beverly Carmichael, who was the chief people officer at that time was like, I really feel like you’d be great at talent acquisition, because you’re really good with people. You have a good sense of people. You’re very engaging. And I just want you to try it out. So she had me be a corporate TA coordinator. And that’s how I learned the ropes. And I just kept doing it from there. But it took someone to say –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

That’s what I was gonna say. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah, like, Hey, you might be good at this other thing, because I never imagined that for myself. Like, I didn’t know I could do that, at all.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Right. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I didn’t. So, yeah. So it’s that sort of, I’m a, I’be been a beneficiary of people who have been able to seek other things in me that I did not imagine for myself.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

That’s so well stated. Yeah, as you were telling me a story I went oh, right, right. That was that was a path. And and especially knowing that you didn’t have a lot of experience, right, from your family, –

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

No! 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

In the corporate world, like, who even know, I feel like you know, (laughs) when you have a family, where that’s not the experience like so what do you do again? 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Oh my gosh. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

So what exactly is this? What, what, how do I describe what you do to people and like, so you don’t even realize that’s an option for you.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

One hundred percent. And to be quite honest, like, I don’t know if my family even completely understand what I do now. But if I say like I’m recruiting, they’re like, Oh, you’re the one who keeps us from getting jobs. (laughs) I’m like, no, no, but you know, like, there’s it, there’s this, it’s a privilege to even understand the inner workings of what you do, right, and to be able to, and that’s why I told you, I’m still on X because there’s a group of people who will not leave that platform, because that’s how they communicate. And they feel like other social platforms that are professional, exclude them. So I feel like I can’t leave, leave that community because there’s, it’s rife with misinformation and people and there are groups that count on that misinformation. So how do I help?

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

It was, that was a conversation, for people who are listening, that we had when we first met up in person, or virtually. Yeah, that point of I mean, obviously, there’s there’s in groups out groups, inclusion and exclusion everywhere we go. And, you know, especially when you think about a platform like LinkedIn. There are people who have needs and support who don’t feel safe there. Don’t feel seen there. Don’t feel that that’s their platform. And you know, and that was a good perspective for me to say, Oh, right. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And I’m even just hearing you now say, and there’s a lot of misinformation and some people are depending on that misinformation.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Depending on it. Yes. Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

So accurate. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

It because it’s a lot, you know, and I was talking to some colleagues, and they’re like, oh, you’re a trooper for, you know, sticking it out. And I’m like, there’s some great people there, they just won’t, they don’t feel comfortable. They don’t feel like they’re, they feel like LinkedIn is an elite sort of platform that really is not for them. So at some point, how do we not talk into an echo chamber and keep talking to ourselves? Like, how do we talk to other people?

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So let’s, let’s talk about the work that you do. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And why it’s so critical, especially now. I mean, it does, it feels cliche almost to say DEI is under attack. But it’s true, it’s not, I mean, it’s, we’ve, we, the pendulum swung so far, right, after George Floyd’s murder, and the recognition that happened for so many people. And then the timing of that, all, right? And now it’s starting to swing back. And the thing that I’m noticing is, there’s a real, what do I want to say identity shift or not even that, but you know, there are companies who want to invest, and they don’t know how to, and they’re a little nervous because of maybe laws and statutes. And then there are companies that are like, finally, we don’t need to worry about this. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

One hundred percent.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And then there are some companies that are like, we don’t care. This is what’s important. What are you seeing from your world?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Exactly that. I think, you know, if you’re a student of history, and if you study any marginalized groups and their experiences, especially in this country, pendulums switch, you know, they they go back and forth all the time. I was just reading a really great book about the Grimke family, which was an abolitionist family, post reconstruction. And a lot of people don’t realize like, right after slavery, you know, there were groups of black people who were thriving, who were able to do all of these amazing things. And just like what’s, you know, kind of happening now, this awareness happened of scarcity and fear. And so laws were used to basically scale down any freedoms or a personal freedoms or any kind of access or progress that we would get. But, you know, all that to say marginalized groups tend to be used to this kind of thing, right? Like, everybody was very excited after you know, the the black boxes started to appear on social media and like, fine, yeah!

 

But I was always cautiously optimistic because there was no structure at that time. Like we weren’t, when we said DEI, we didn’t all collectively come together and say, “This is what we mean when we say diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging.” We didn’t have a shared definition. There were a lot of companies who hired people who were probably not like skill wise equipped to actually kind of put these programs together, they just had the desire which, great but also like this work is really hard. This is work that’s like, sometimes not sexy. It’s not about talking to people. And, you know, having fun book topic discussions and talking to speakers, it’s like tough conversations. It’s data audit, it’s really kind of getting through other people’s personal sort of experiences and how they apply them to other people, right? Like, you can only speak about your lived experience. And if you don’t have a lived experience that encounters any kind of strife, then you think everybody’s having that experience, and you can’t possibly relate to what that other experience is. And so it’s more about, how do you make space for other people telling you what, what they’re what they’re experiencing, specifically in the workplace? Which I think is really important for any leader. So, you know, I’m kind of, like I said, I’m not surprised. I feel like there’s a lot, I don’t want to work with companies who are just like, Oh, finally, we’ll have to do this thing. Well then you showed yourself that’s totally fine. One of the biggest mistakes I think I made in my career is spending most of my time trying to convince the unconvincible, right?

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

(exhales) Yeah. Yeah.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I need to focus on the people who are curious, still open, not sure, on the fence. And you know, the people who are really gung ho about it. Those are my two groups that I kind of care about, like everybody else. I mean, you know, all the best to you and yours. But I also would say, it comes down to, you know, how does your company operate? Like, you know, I’m speaking to some students at Loyola Marymount, they’re business students, and I was saying, you know, making the case for DE and I, which, you know, I don’t always love to do because I’m kind of tired of doing that. But I will do that for students. Students are different, but leaders no. But I’m saying like, unless you have a magical bucket of money, for your sexual discrimination and your gender, you know, and like your race discrimination lawsuits that will come up, because those are still very viable laws, then this is a business decision, like to do it equitably, so that you’re not like throwing money out there. You know, that money could go back into the business. So how do you kind of justify not doing it? Because you can’t, your feelings aren’t facts, right? If you feel like your environment is, “Oh, everything’s great here. We have no problems.” How are you measuring that? Like, what data are you using? 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, it’s always you know, you’re having the conversation around like psychological safety. It’s always the push for me of, it’s not are you safe or aren’t you, but who gets to be safe.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yes.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And to your point, how are you measuring and how are you assessing that? And, and there’s a couple of things that came up as you were talking that I wanted to go, go deeper on? 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I have to slow down my brain a second. Well, one of the things, one of the things that you mentioned early on, is that there, there was a missing structure. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Of – Oh, well, two things. Sorry. Let me – now I caught my brain up. You’ll be, tomorrow you’ll be recording with our mutual friend, Dr. Nika White. And that was something that she talked about when we are in conversation of, I want to, I want the quiet person who’s sitting on the side, who’s watching, but unsure. And you know, and if you – I mean, honestly, when company are like, what’s the business case? Like, listen, if you don’t understand that, by this point, I’m not gonna like (laughs) nothing that you’re going to tell is going to convince but, you know, but the reality is that you will always underperform a company that values equity. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

One hundred percent.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

You just will always underperform. But one of the things that you were saying was this idea of a lack of structure. Of not just the the movement, but clarity around what it is, what it looks like? What are the, what are the traps that you see, the patterns? And you already spoke to him a little bit, but let’s get really explicit so people can maybe see themselves or see their companies through this lens. But, what are the traps people fall into, and organization’s fall into when they when they decide, we’re going to do this? So let’s not, we’re not even going to talk about the folks that are like, No.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

They decide they’re going to do it. And then what are they doing that they think they’re doing? (laughs)

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Right.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

When they think they’re done and they’re not.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

We’re like, we did this!

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, we did this. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Well, the first thing is, did you do a root cause analysis in your organization to actually figure out what is working and what’s not working? Right? So like, and what does that look like? That looks like are you actually using your engagement surveys to, you know, to have actionable strategic items for you to do. Like, what, are you listening to your people, right? Even if you don’t use engagement surveys, how are you listening to your people to find out what is their experience within the, you know, the environment that you have? That will tell you a lot, right? And then are you doing a demographic audit? Like, who is having what financial experience, like, you know, age, race, gender, what is your company made up of, and I think, originally when I started doing this work, and I saw a lot of companies do the PR spin, right? Where they’re just like, and we’re 40% female managers, and I’m like, we can do math, we know that that’s, you know, not, you know, 50, you know. Or we, you know, we have over 80%, you know, a over 20% BIPOC. And for me, like, I don’t particularly use word BIPOC because I do feel like it’s a very grouped word that doesn’t kind of give everybody in that group, the kind of respect to that they need and break that down. Because some, some companies were using that word to group everybody together, right. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, yeah.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

So a lot of companies did the PR spin, which I think is like, the, the most impactful thing you can do is be very honest with where you are in your journey. To tell people you’re on a journey. And then here are the things we’re doing on this journey, and come with us as we go along with it. So we can see what happens on us really trying to better the experience of all of our people in this organization. Just come with us on this journey, right? I we’ll talk about this journey. And then the other thing is, like, you know, thinking that the nice to haves, which are the book clubs and the speakers, and you know, the, the events are the core of your program, those are nice to have, those are not your program. These are, these are, you know, this is the other thing I think also thinking about, like how companies will just say, ERGs are going to save our whole company too, right? Like, we’ve got five ERGs. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

We’re not gonna give them any money, we’re not gonna give them authority, but they’re gonna, –

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

What do you think they’re doing then? Do you? What do you want them to do? And I talked with Pat Kibin a lot about this, as well as like, using your ERGs as a community voice that you amplify rather than as a solo resource for the company to learn about that group. Like, how do you make them feel like they can be very proud about talking about their experiences as a collective, and then be a resource to each other? And then you support that resource, rather than saying, like, hey, it’s Pride Month, and we’re just gonna, you know, bring out our LGBTQ ERG, and they’re gonna, they’re gonna educate us. Like, no, they shouldn’t, that’s not what their purpose is. Partnering with them, and saying, like, let’s amplify this voice, what do y’all want to hear? What do you want us to know? And how can we put money behind it, put resources behind it? You know, what is the impact of that? Are those ERG members, you know, allowed to be part of interview panels when you’re interviewing new candidates for your company that might belong to those particular groups, right? So they can really say like, here’s how it is in this company, if I am a mom, a single mom, right? Like I just, you know, I’m part of the parent group. I’m a single mom, this is how I balance everything. Like, the whole goal is to then make your company fuller, right? Like, that’s the, that’s what we’re doing here. To fill out your company so that people know what it’s like, know what you’re doing. You want to be strong. You want to be a very strong company and perform well, and your people want to be happy. That’s it.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

It’s a, there’s so much, there’s so much power in the sense of, of rethinking how do we use those Employee Resource Groups? 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yes. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Because more often than not, and that was my experience also, in my time, so I never, I never knew any difference. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Right?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Right. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And I think that’s part of it, too, is they don’t – and I’ve had the privilege now of seeing how my colleague Gilmara works with companies and it’s the same thing. It’s like, they’re not here to educate you about it, they’re here to help you understand the direct challenges, but they’re here to support each other. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Like this is what this looks like. And it’s such a it’s such a common thing that it’s just it’s an example of asking people to do labor without being rewarded, without it being viewed, you know. Somebody leading an ERG isn’t the same, often isn’t viewed the same as prestige or promotional opportunities as somebody leading another type of project, and then people aren’t compensated for it. And, and it’s like, sometimes it’s I see it positioned as you should be grateful that we’re giving you this opportunity. You know what I mean? 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

And what is that? And then you have to be like, Well, what is that opportunity actually entail? Like, what am I? What am I getting that you’re getting? Because, you know, at the end of the day, they’re going to be some people from marginalized backgrounds, because they’ve been burned so much. All they want to do is come to work, do their work, have a great environment, solid psychologically safe, checked out when they need to, collect their paycheck and their benefits. And that’s fine for them. They don’t owe you participatory, sort of like extracurricular activities. So what are you giving them? But if you’re saying to them, we value your voice, right? Here’s another way for us to help develop you. If you want to be an ERG lead, we will give you training when it comes to, you know, difficult conversations or we’ll allow you to participate in programs that give you more visibility to C suite, or like, what are you giving them for the work that they’re doing if you if you can’t pay them? Because a lot of companies can’t pay them. And that’s, you know, that’s the truth of it. But like, it’s, it’s, it’s a give and take situation. It’s not just to be grateful. But that’s a, that’s a workplace mind shift across the board, I think, for all companies, because they shifted during the pandemic so quickly, to realizing that people are like, no, I actually want to decide where I want to work and what that work looks like. Because we almost maybe died. (laughs) Like collectively.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Right. And some people in leadership are still struggling with that. They’re still struggling with the fact that people found a voice, people started to get clear about what they didn’t want to tolerate anymore. What they were willing to fight for. And, and I know that there’s a, there’s a number of people we see anyway, where, Gosh, why can’t we just go back to how it was? (laughs) And I was like, but that worked for you. –

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

It only worked for –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Because you had the most power, authority and autonomy. That doesn’t work for the single mother, it doesn’t work for the neurodivergent. It doesn’t work for the person who every day has to live in a sea of aggression and micro aggressions. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

And like, and you’re selective about what you want to go back to, because that was comfortable for you, like you said, but you never ever, ever actually say that about like your computer systems. It’s not like you’re like, man, you know what, I would really love to work on a Macintosh again, I miss those days.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

(laughs)

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Like, no, you don’t ever –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Apple IIc v. (laughter) That’s, yeah, that’s such a –

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

You never say that about your systems, you only say that about your people because – and I have this theory, where I think that a lot of leaders, it’s the last place that they feel like they can exert some level of unquestioned power, which is actually not the case anymore. But you’re, because they think support functions, and all these other functions that deal with people are administrative, I just don’t feel like they think – I have control over this. And it’s not as sexy as like product marketing, creative. You know what I mean? Like, these things aren’t gonna get me on to the like, you know, like, you know, magazine covers, or blogs or whatever. I just feel like they’re just like, No, we’re gonna keep this pocket of the business the same. That’s it? 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. Yeah. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Why? (laughs)

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Because you don’t know how to control it. That’s why.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Well, right. And you want to you.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

You want to, but you can’t control people, –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

You can’t.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

You can control people. And they, you know, I’m a huge fan of Michelle, Michelle MiJung Kim, you know, The Wake Up like, that was one of my favorite books when it came out. And yep, it’s over here somewhere. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

It’s back here. It’s back on that side. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

But I heard her speak at a Culture First conference. And that was the thing she said is like people can no longer afford to compartmentalize who they are at work anymore. And this was before the pandemic, by the way. So she was already talking about this pre pandemic, where we’re talking about actual real world problems affecting your workplace. And you can’t continue to pretend like they’re supposed to shove this in a filing cabinet from nine to five, and not be affected by it. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, it’s you and you would I think you’ll appreciate this. A couple episodes ago, we had my good friend and coaching mentor. His name is Paul Ruiz, and he’s based out of the Philippines and he’s just an incredible guy. And one of the things that he said was, I just loved how he said it was, when you hire somebody, you hire all of them. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

You hire all of them, you hire, you hire their health or lack of health, you hire their emotions, you hire their lived experiences, you hire – you know, you do hire all of them.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I love that.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And I think that this – there was something, right? It’s like, no, you get it all. You don’t get to choose, you don’t get to choose that if, if, as a middle aged women, woman, I’m going through perimenopause, like you don’t get to shut that down. Or if you’re taking care of a sick parent, or you’re a single mom, or you’re, right, the only LGBTQ person in that room or whatever the you know, circumstance are, you don’t get to control any of that. But, but that is such a, I mean, this is the work that we’re so passionate about is understanding the complexity of the humans you server, you know, and part part of it – well, there’s lots of layers to this. I’m oversimplifying it, right? But man, people are getting promoted without any understanding of that. And also, they’re being rewarded for it. And they’re being, you know, and the same kind of people are getting promoted. And, and then we give them people and we say, good luck, don’t mess them up too much. –

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

You’re barely –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And then they want them to be machines.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Right! And you barely understand yourself. And then you’re given this population of people that you’re supposed to be managing, and there’s no resources or support, and I think, and then, and then the further up you go, because it’s not like you suddenly you, so you’re a manager, you get five people, you’re like, oh, this is stressful, I’m just gonna figure this out. You might be doing it badly, you might be doing it well, somewhere in between, you keep getting promoted. And you never go back and say, I never really learned how to do this one thing. So let me as a senior vice president, go back and understand how to manage people. Nine times out of 10, after you know, a certain level, those executives feel like, I’ve done it. I’m good. I made it here. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I’ve got it! Oh man.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Checked the form, done. I don’t have to –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I’ve – yep.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I don’t have to, I don’t have to continuously learn how to be a better leader. Because why would I do that? So they read a ton of books about business. And they read a ton of books about like, AI and like, they’re just staying on top of trends that are business related, but not people related. Because they don’t necessarily think they have to do that anymore. And they’re and your biggest outlier is actually going to be people. Right?

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. It’s yeah, it’s your it will be your competitive advantage. Well, and then just playing on the idea of books. I feel like I’m a broken record around this is – or they read the books on leadership. Well, okay. They read the books on leadership, but they’re only reading the books on leadership written by, right? I mean, I’ll throw myself into it, right, like white authors, or white male authors. And even if they’re, even if they’re reading other books, –

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

The, one of, one of the biggest things that, and I was just talking to my good friend Nick Papadopoulos was also just on the show, yesterday about is this this overestimation that because you know something intellectually, then you know how to do it. It’s kind of going back to the conversation around equity. Doing a half day training on unchecked bias is valuable so you can get information and insight. But that’s not what the work is. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

No!

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

The work is hard and constant and consistent and ongoing. And that’s such a common trap that, like, and part of it is also performative. Like we did it, we’re good, 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

We’re good. I think it’s really interesting, because that is a privilege of being able to say like, I feel like I’ve done this thing. And then and then selecting the books that you know, oh, I read, you know, this football coach’s book about leadership. So I think I’m good, when you don’t really run a football team, you run a company full of people who may not even like sports, you know what I mean? Or like, and I think the the other thing, too, is like, when you think about cultures like that, and marginalized people – I was explaining this to someone the other day is just like, as a black girl grew up in Detroit, I’m very familiar with white centered pop culture references, because that dominated my life. But I also can get real down with the cultural references of my own people. So I’m fluent in multicultural conversations, whereas there are people within the organization who only know that one dominant culture, right, and that’s the only language they speak and if that’s the only language they speak, then the rest of us are, you know, you know, they don’t, since they don’t have that familiarity, then we’re the ones who are the outliers. But we’ve been, we’ve had to experience these cultures because we live here in America, and that has been the white dominant culture. So, you know, I’m gonna be able to know every 80s, you know, MTV reference, and like, (laughs) I can do all of that. But I also can go and by the way, I’m very fluent in BET references too. Like, I, you know, like, who else can say that?

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, yeah, it’s the that, well, that language you’re using of language is very provocative for me. And, I quote, my colleague, Gilmara, often on this. And I feel like you just leveled it up for me. So I just want to, like, reflect on it for myself too from the standpoint of we were having a conversation one day and she said, you know, the reality is, if you only know how to lead people who look and sound like you, you’ll never be a great leader. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Never. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And, and that idea of fluency and different languages. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yes! 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Just, I really appreciate how you, the visual of that of, you know, like, yeah, I can speak. I can speak white woman really, really well. I can speak Midwest white woman really, really well. And, you know, and then that limits you and then other people who, like, if you don’t understand you dismiss, you minimize you. Right? Or some people do, right?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Some people do. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

The dominate culture definitely does.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Oh, you know, that’s not professional, we start using code words. That’s not professional. That’s woke. Speak English, you know, all of those different code words. But here’s the kicker is that the world is changing, populations are growing. Soon, you will not be able to ignore this anymore, or use code words to, you know, disenfranchised people. Soon, you’re going to have to know multiple languages, as a business, as a leader in order to capture your perceived customer, your perceived candidate, sometimes they’re the same person, right? They have a long memory, how did you treat them? So like, is your business setup to exist in this world that’s coming towards us whether you like it or not? And that’s the case, that’s the business case for diversity. Do you want to be around when that happens and still thriving?

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. Yeah. I want to put this out into the universe. If you’ll receive it?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yes! 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I just was writing down the fallacy of management. And I feel like that’s an article you and I need a co-author and pitch to Harvard. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Oh my God, let’s do it! 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Can we make that happen? 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

It’s – Yes, because it’s true. Like the I’ve used the word the emperor has no clothes for many, many times over the past few weeks when I think about, like, talk to other people about this. But like, again, going back to bringing it back to where we started being first generation corporate, right. Like, I feel like we notice when people might be faking it until they make it because we don’t get we don’t go along with the status quo. Like, oh, we don’t know what you’re not supposed to mention. So they’re gonna be (laughter) or you’re just like, I’m sorry, I don’t know what circle back means. Does that mean we’re actually going to do this thing, are we supposed to talk about, like, we, there’s a beautiful naivete and genuineness when you are entering the workforce, if that is not your background to call out things that are not familiar to you. And like, and then that’s disrupting. So like, that is the whole reason why we should probably be opening these conversations to be like, Wait, did I just say something that’s just like completely, like cliche and we’re never going to do this? Like, what’s the real meaning behind this? Right? 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, yeah. What, um, what, I want to make sure that we spend some time and clearly we just need another conversation because as I’m looking at the clock and like. This might be a 55 minute conversation. (laughter) This is just, we are going to keep going. (laughter) When we, so, so when we think about doing this work, because this is – I’ll just speak from my experience, on my journey through diversity, equity and inclusion. I thought I was doing the work. And then I realized I had no clue. The interrogation that I needed to do, the, just everything wrapped into it. And, and so, you know, and again, like there’s a whole lot of protection of power, there’s a whole lot of protection of dominance. So I really want to make sure I’m explicit with that. But that’s a lot of a lot of it. And and I think even for the people who may feel passionate about it, it’s like an unawareness of what does it actually look like? So when you think about the work that you do, and I love how you, you, you talk about the embedding in the systems, in the operation. Why is that so important? And what does that look like in practice for people who are listening to this going, Okay, like I’m following and how do I do that in my world?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

It’s important, because if you want something that’s going to stick, then you have to make it stick within what you do from a day to day perspective, right? A lot of these DE and I, a lot of actually all across the board, a lot of initiatives, if you want to say ESG, if you want to say all these other things, they have no stickiness, because you haven’t attached it to business strategies or initiatives. You just have the passion and like passion goes wands, it’s like, I’m great. I’m not like you, it can’t be a personal whimsy. So how do we attach this to a strategic initiative? So, for example, you know, you want to do this work? Can you start off by doing an audit? Like I said, a data audit? What are your what is your managerial pull look like? Who’s get promoted? Who the who’s getting promoted? How are they getting promoted? Is their structure? You know, a lot of times people think, you know, HR, and then they think, Oh, my gosh, it’s all red tape and structure. And some of that completely is, it, some of it really is, it depends. But if you are putting in structured, for example, interview questions, where everybody, you know, at different stages, you have structured questions like, this is what we’re asking, because, as a talent professional, I will tell you, everybody thinks they know a great way to interview and a lot of times, they’re probably gonna land you in court, or, you know. I’m like, “Don’t ask that.”

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

(laughs) Yeah, yeah.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Don’t ask that. That’s not a great question. Making sure everybody is having the same experience in your interview pipeline. So like, we are recording these questions in the same way, we are making sure these questions are being asked, when we talk about these candidates, we are sticking to these points, the answers that they gave the job that we have open. A lot of, you know, removing the bias of your processes require you to audit, right? It’s the same way as like, when you have like, auditors come in for your books, right? Like they’re supposed to come in and make sure you’re not like doing some shams, or you know, doing the wrong thing that’s gonna get you in hot water. That’s what DE and I departments should be doing as well. How are you using performance management? Right? You know, I hear so many people say like, wait, I’m supposed to meet with my manager, like, weekly? I had no idea like, or they’re just meeting to talk about, like, project updates. What about you updates? Like, how is your manager checking in to say, like, Okay, what’s your experience? How are you doing? What can I do to help you? How are you growing, right? And really kind of stop using the ambiguity of how a company runs, and really get very specific about how your company is running, but just get specific, it only benefits you in the long run. Then you don’t have to worry about like, what people are doing, oh, my goodness, how did I not know this XYZ,? So I come up with strategies for – and every company is different. Like every, the size, the industry, the, you know, the leaders, they’re all very different. And that’s why I believe in doing a root cause analysis, talking to your people, looking at your data, how do you function? You know, what are your job descriptions look like? Like, you know, how are people, what’s, what’s the experience people are having? And then can we come up with a plan to make sure that it’s better?

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. Well, and just to, you know, I want to I want to echo and amplify the work you’re doing because one of the – there’s a lot of danger to having an audit done like that internally. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Where there’s, A bias. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah, yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I mean, we all have bias, right. So I’m not saying that, but there’s but and then you also have the reality of, right, existing relationships, maybe the person in HR who’s running it is worried about their own job, so they’re not going to be as honest. You know, when you’re a part of the system, it is hard to see the system, which is why it’s so valuable to work with somebody like you to say, “Hey,” and the other thing is, you know, for folks listening, I know you know this, is – and this was, I forget what the stat was, we had Jen Fisher from Deloitte on, but essentially the, the experience of senior leaders and their perception of how people are experiencing the company, there is always a massive gap. Always a massive gap. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

It’s a vast, vast difference. You are literally like – just, just take that data point if you’re a leader, just know how you think you’re, you know, everyone’s experiences is, is not your own, right? And I think one of the things that leaders get trapped into is a prioritization. Right? So I’ve talked to some leaders and they go, “You know, this work is really important, but I got to get us profitable first.” How do you, you can use this work to get profitable, right? Actually, they go hand-in-hand if you’re ready to sort of take that journey, right? Because this only is going to help your bottom line in the end, because you want to, you want to, you want to fix your foundation? Right? Fix your foundation, make your house stronger. Why does this hurt? This does not hurt. It doesn’t, you know, don’t – stop fixating on painting the house and making it curb, you know, you know, curb appeal, fix the foundation.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I firmly believe that care is a competitive advantage. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yes. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I just –

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yes. Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

It just, it just is and, and, you know, and that extends to safety. And that extends to equity. And that extends to inclusion and belonging. And care, care isn’t just that I care about you. But it’s I care enough about you to understand you and to understand your lived experience and, right, and to account for that. What? But okay, like this, I don’t know if this is, I don’t think this is a big question. But if it is, you’re like, you can take time to think about it. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

But for people. So for people who are listening, we know that largely our audience is in the HR field, or they’re in formal leadership positions, or they aspire to, what would be the one or two things that you wished? Like, what would be the questions you wished all people who had formal authority were asking and thinking about, like thinking about and asking and honestly listening to?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I think that the questions that really need to be asked are about I almost want to turn it internally and ask them how authentic they’re being with themselves. Right? Like how, I know that it’s really hard to be vulnerable, and no one’s asking you to reveal your innermost, deepest, darkest secrets. When we say vulnerability, I think that’s immediately where people go, and they’re just like, I’m not ready to be out yet. That’s fine. No one that I don’t want. I don’t want to do that. That’s fine. I’m asking you to be vulnerable in a way that allows you to show up as a human being in front of people, and not a leader, not just like, you know, I’m your new boss, or whatever. But like, what can you tell people like the questions you asked me when we started? Like, what can you tell people that will allow them to connect to you in a way that’s really helpful as you go forward? And this and this goes to like this. It’s like, How best do you communicate? Like, are you sad? Or you’re a morning person? Do you really hate when people slack? You do hours of XY and Z because you have kids? Or you have a caregiver? Or you know, whatever? Or do you know what your own challenges are as a person like, Hey, here’s some things as a leader, I really – or as a person to show up at work that I really want to work on. How authentic can you be when you’re sharing and being vulnerable with people that will allow them to go, Okay, I have a manual for this person, right? I’m actually working on an authenticity tool for my website that will be free for people when they visit. But like, just the questions that you can answer for yourself. And if you feel very comfortable sharing them with other people so that they get they get a heads up on who you are. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. I suspect. My observation is that most people aren’t authentic. Many people aren’t. I shouldn’t say most. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

But many leaders aren’t because there’s this idea of what leader should be and this is this idea of what a CEO should be. And I also think that there’s people who don’t even know what it feels like, because they’ve been so conditioned by societal standards or gender norms or age norms or what, all of it, religious influences of I don’t even know myself. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah, yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

To be able to show up.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

And I think that’s the key is like the future of work depends on you finding a balance for yourself, so that you can show up authentically because we’re not going to go backwards where that won’t be necessary anymore, right? So can you feel comfortable saying like, Hey, I’m It’s Ramadan. So I need to pray five times a day, by the way, or, you know, like, you know, I’m taking high holidays off or whatever, like, how do we normalize just who we are? And it doesn’t take these massive shifts in our comfortability. But they’re the things we would probably tell colleagues on the street that we probably don’t even tell people we work with.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. So beautiful. That feels like a really lovely place to wrap up. But, we can’t can’t close out yet. Tara. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Okay. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Because this, your a first, your a first time guest on the show, which means we ask a question of all of our first time guests, and then we come back on we won’t because there will be a second time. But the question that I always am curious to hear from people, right, the whole reason we started this was to help us think about the conversations we have with selves and others. What was the conversation that you’ve had personally, with yourself or with someone else that was transformative for you?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I’ll be candid and pretty vulnerable. So I started therapy a year ago, because I was stressed out and burnt out having anxiety. And the therapist that I had was asking how I felt about something. And I answered with how I thought about the thing rather than how I felt. And she called me out. And she was like, did you notice that I asked you how you feel? And you said how, what you think. And I was like, holy moly. That is a mind shift for me, for many reasons of like, how I have how I am as like how I’ve gotten to be this person, right? All of the all have the like defense mechanisms and the coping mechanisms and how I like have put on all this armor to show up in the world. I don’t, I didn’t feel vulnerable enough to say how I felt about something because thinking removes the, the attachment. Right? And, and we pride ourselves with intellect rather than feelings, too. Right? 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

So like, we don’t find a balance for those things. But I realized that there’s a space for everything.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. So beautiful. For – thank you for sharing that. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

For people who are listening who want to connect with you to learn more about the work you do and how you could support them and their growth as a an equity driven leader, or building equity driven organizations? What’s the best place for them to connect with you and learn about your work? 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yes, go to Equity Activations dot com, you can get in touch with me there. And some of my, the samples of my work will be there. I’ll probably add a link to this podcast so that they can actually listen to this again, too. But yeah, there’s a there’s a ton of resources and ways to contact me there.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Awesome. T Tara Turk-Haynes, you’re such a gift. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

This is wonderful!

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I’m so glad. I’m so glad that Twitter, now X, but Twitter. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

It’ll be, it will always be Twitter for me.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

But I’m so glad, I don’t know when our paths crossed. But it was, you know, right. At the heat of the pandemic, and just finding each other, and then realizing we’ve been trying to meet. And then when we met, it was like, Oh, right. You’re like, –

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I know!

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

You were exactly what I was hoping. (laughs)

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I just remember, like, I have this very distinct memory of your book coming out. And then I remember actually taking your book to my first vacation to Mexico. I was reading your book in Mexico,

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Like on the poolside or something?

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Exactly, exactly. And being like, oh my gosh, how do I do this for a living where I could just like, read this book and be in Mexico. (laughter)

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Let’s make that happen!

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Yes!

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Let’s figure, let’s figure that out. (laughter) Because I’m on board with all of that. Thank you so much for being on the show and sharing your talents and wisdom with us.

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

I love talking to you so much. And I’m so glad that we got to do this and I hope we get to do it again soon.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Oh, yeah, no, we’re gonna, Fallacy of Managers. As soon as we stop we’re gonna talk about this. So – all right we’re gonna let everyone else go. We’re gonna stop recording so we can talk, plot our articles. 

 

T Tara Turk-Haynes  

Bye everybody!

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Our guests this week has been T Tara Turk-Haynes. And while there’s a number of things I wrote down, that that idea of being able to speak and be fluent in different languages, is hitting me in a different and new way. And honestly sitting heavy on my heart a bit because I’m not. I’m not as fluent in other languages, and that’s something that I keep working towards. But we want to hear from you. What resonated for you, what came up for you? What questions do you have? Please know you can always send those thoughts at podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com, where I read and respond to all of them, and we do love to hear from you. And if you’d like to support the show, there’s two ways you can do it. First, go to your preferred podcast platform and rate and review the show. This helps us be able to gain exposure so that we can continue to bring on great guests like T Tara Turk-Haynes. And if you haven’t already become a patron, you can go to patreon dot com slash conversations on conversations, where your financial support supports the team that makes this show possible. And a couple of cool things you get from it. Not only do you support the team, but you get some swag and you get early episodes that are ad free. What’s not to love about that. 

 

Speaking of the team, let’s give them some love. Big shout out and thank you to our producer Nick Wilson, to our sound editor Drew Noll, to our transcriptionist Becky Reinert, our marketing consultant Jessica Burdg and the rest of the SNoWCo crew. And then just a big, big thank you to T Tara Turk-Haynes. It’s been a journey of us knowing each other online and it has been a gift to know her offline. That concludes this episode of Conversations on Conversations. Thank you all so much for listening, for showing up for yourself and others and showing up for us as well. And remember, when we change the conversations we have with ourselves and others we can change the world. So till next week, my friends, please be sure to rest, rehydrate and I’ll see you again soon.

 

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Sarah Noll Wilson is on a mission to help leaders build and rebuild teams. She aims to empower leaders to understand and honor the beautiful complexity of the humans they serve. Through her work as an Executive Coach, an in-demand Keynote Speaker, Researcher, Contributor to Harvard Business Review, and Bestselling Author of “Don’t Feed the Elephants”, Sarah helps leaders close the gap between what they intend to do and the actual impact they make. She hosts the podcast “Conversations on Conversations”, is certified in Co-Active Coaching and Conversational Intelligence, and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities. In addition to her work with organizations, Sarah is a passionate advocate for mental health.

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