In this podcast, I talk to my friend, Joy Mason, CEO and founder of Optimist Business Solutions, and the founder of The Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute™ (SSREI), which is an innovative leadership program designed to upskill Black Women to be complex problem solvers.
We discuss her background in continuous improvement, why she started Optimist after her retirement (and why she named it Optimist), what led to the creation of SSREI, along with some project examples. We discussed the importance of data, especially for identifying and reducing inequities. She discusses some of the books she’s written and why she wrote them. She also provides excellent suggestions for others looking to tackle equity issues in their company or local community by focusing on processes, instead of trying to drive out bias from every individual.
I apologize in advance for the audio, my WiFi was poor, and I had to call into our interview, so the video does not match my audio, and it can get choppy at times. Fortunately, the audio was much better for Joy, which is the most important part of this episode.
The full video can be seen below, or go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev6o8tMMXcU
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joy Mason – LinkedIn
- Optimist Business Solutions
- The Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute™
- Article about Joy’s grandfather’s award: Article #1 | Article #2 | Photo
- Recent article about SSREI
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Brion (B): Hey. Welcome, everyone. Today, I’ve got Joy Mason here. Joy, can you give us a little bit of background on your process improvement history and work history, and then lead us into your current work with your Six Sigma program that you’ve got going on in Indiana?
Joy (J): Okay, I’d love to, Brion. I just want to start by thanking you for even asking me to be a part of your podcast because I also follow your work, so I know you’re doing good things in the community as well, as I am, trying to apply continuous improvement and Lean, different strategies to try to make the world a better place. So thank you for asking me to be here.
Just to give you a little background about me, I’m from Indianapolis, Indiana so I’m a Hoosier. And again, don’t ask me what that is, but I’m proud to be one. So born and raised here, but I went to college in Oxford, Ohio. I went to Miami University, and I always knew I wanted to go into the sciences, the biological sciences, so my undergraduate degree from Miami is in microbiology. When I graduated, I went straight to Eli Lilly and Company. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the company, but it’s a major pharmaceutical company, global company, and headquarters is in Indianapolis.
I started in different roles like technical services, quality instruments, and quality control supporting commercial manufacturing. The middle of my career was being a leader, a manager, over microbiological testing and environmental monitoring, and the last 10 years of my career was doing global project management for our international laboratories. During that period of time, that’s when I became certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt. I’ll tell you, Brion, I think that is the most significant thing that I did for my career– not just for my career, but for my life and life purpose was to get that certification because I apply it, as you would say, for good, for good purposes in our community.
So that’s my background, but I retired in 2017 from Lilly, I had been there 30 years, and that’s when I started to organizations, and I’m sure we’ll talk about both of them. But the first one, it’s Optimist Business Solutions, and it’s a training and consulting business that helps different firms, nonprofit and for-profit, to be more efficient and more effective. I use all that project management, change management, continuous improvement, all those different types of skills to help these businesses. And then I think it was in 2021 where I started the Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute. That’s where we teach the participants in the institute, they earn a Green Belt, a Six Sigma Green Belt, but their project is an equity project in the community. I’m very excited about that and there’s a lot of excitement in the community about that institute. So that’s kind of my background there.
B: It sounds like you had some family history with process improvement?
J: Yes, that’s right. I’ve probably been involved in continuous improvement in one way or another since my first role at Lilly in technical services. I was already recommending improvements, but it took me digging into my family history to discover that– I knew my grandfather had worked at Lilly, and he worked there during a time where everything was so segregated. Cafeterias were segregated and everything was, so there were only certain jobs that Black people could work, like a maintenance or working with the animals. And so he was involved in continuous improvement and suggestions on how to make the mechanism that they had for feeding the animals– he made a recommendation for changing that mechanism so less food was wasted. Because animals would throw the food out of the cage and onto the floor and a lot of food was wasted, and when you’re wasting stuff, that costs money.
So he recommended a change, that’s continuous improvement. It was very ineffective, and in fact, he got a bonus for that suggestion, and I think it was the second largest bonus that big companies were giving when people made continuous improvement suggestions that were actually implemented. It made the local paper and I have that little clip in the paper because my mom and my uncle, I think they were maybe 10 or 12 at the time, and the picture is my family in front of their new house. They got that new house from the money from that bonus from his continuous improvement suggestion, and they used some of that money for a down payment on a new house, so we’ve got continuous improvement in the genes.
B: That’s amazing, wow.
J: Yeah, it’s a cool story that I’m very proud of.
B: Maybe you could, if you feel comfortable sharing that photo, we could put that in the notes.
J: Okay, I will do that.
B: I think people would like to see that. I think that would be really cool. I would at least.
J: Yeah, I can share that with you.
B: You talked about your work in Lilly for so many years, then you retired and then you went out on your own and started continuing some of this work because you weren’t quite done yet. Tell us a little bit about that transition and also what led into the new program you talked about.
J: Okay. Well, the year that I retired from Lilly, I knew I was going to leave. I did have a vision for myself doing something different. I didn’t know exactly what that would be, but I knew I wanted to do something different. I knew I wanted a different phase to my career. So I was actually working with a business development coach my last year at Lilly, and then they offered a package, yay, so I was able– I was leaving anyway. They were giving packages, and so I look at it this way, Lilly was paying me to live my dream.
So I left and I started Optimist Business Solutions and it really allowed me to continue that continuous improvement type work that I had always enjoyed. My business, Optimist Business Solutions, that name, optimist, is really based on the optimism that I have. I really think, as a continuous improvement professional, don’t you have to be an optimist? because you always see opportunities to make things better and you have a vision that things can be even better and we can improve and you see the best of who we can be. So that’s how I made my business, Optimist Business Solutions. It started with nonprofit businesses, nonprofit agencies and organizations, that either were growing or they weren’t getting the outputs or outcomes that they were really being funded to achieve. And so that’s how I was brought in to help with their processes, a lot of Lean value stream mapping, process mapping type work to help them identify opportunities for improvement.
I did that for a couple of years. I’m still doing it, but I pivoted a little, in 2021, and started using that same type of change management, project management, continuous improvement approach and started applying that to diversity, equity, inclusion. It turns out that there was a really positive uptake from different organizations for that type of approach because it was different. You’ll find that a lot of D & I organizations, they focus on the soft skills and go back in history and revisit history. While that is meaningful and important, it’s hard to measure are we making progress? what is the roadmap to making progress? and if we’ve made progress, what does that look like? If you use some standard approaches, whether it’s kaizen or DMAIC or maybe it’s kata because I do have a friend who leverages kata for diversity and equity. I use the DMAIC framework, and with the DMAIC framework, you can tell if you’re making progress because you’re very clear about a problem statement. You include data, find, measure, analyze, improve, control. That can be applied to diversity and equity, and so that’s what I have done. I’ve gotten about I think four or five between nonprofit, for-profits, state agencies, so a diverse portfolio of clients that really appreciate that approach to diversity and equity.
So I started doing that in 2021, and that also led to the creation of my Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute. I contract with a local university to teach the women Six Sigma so they can earn their Green Belt, but then their project is an equity project in the community. I just totally believe in this approach. I’m very excited about it. It feels very purpose-driven and, in the community, we have I call them sector leaders, like the superintendent of a school district or we have people who are leaders over homeless shelters for women, those types of sector leaders are just very excited about having a team of women come in. And the women benefit because they earn their Green Belt. The organization benefits because here you have a group that’s coming in and the organization does not pay. I raise money to get all this paid for, so you’re getting this team of three or four women, and they’re coming in and they are spending about four or five months really focused on an equity gap that is impacting the community.
So really, everybody wins. The women, there’s a benefit for them, the agency, those that the agency serves benefit, and then the funders benefit too because they can actually see, in a concrete way, how their money is being leveraged to make a difference in the community. So, yeah, very excited about the institute.
B: Yeah, that’s great. I think just being able to measure the impact, and I think you’re right that there’s a lot of great ideas being put forward to solve challenges and issues that are going on right now, but it’s unique, in fact, to bring that data to it that says here’s the proof that this is working or we’re going in the right direction. Even if it seems intuitive, like that sounds like a good idea, that sounds like that will work, we all know that, from experience, that doesn’t always work. There’s a whole lot of other things. You could have a really good program and the buy-in just isn’t there or an okay program that actually has strong support and buy-in and it makes it happen.
So I think that’s really good that we always have that feedback loop that says what does the data say, and making sure we’re measuring the right thing too so it’s not driving bad behaviors or taking us the wrong direction. I think that’s what I think is really powerful on the Six Sigma side is to focus on the data.
J: Brion, you hit it on the head. That focus on the data, I would say, is probably the biggest piece here that we have spent the most time on and probably has been the most challenging because when you’ve been in the field of continues improvement and you’re using data, and I come out of a pharmaceutical company where it’s data, data, data when it comes to our commercial products and being able to release them, and I was in quality control, so it was data all day long and analyzing data all day long, and the data integrity and the data pedigree had to be solid because we’re regulated.
But then coming out of pharma and working with other organizations, especially when they’re nonregulated, that understanding of the data, the robustness, the integrity, how to analyze it to inform strategic decision-making, it’s just not there compared to, let’s say, a hospital or pharma. So this whole concept of applying a data lens to equity when you don’t necessarily have a strong data culture within an organization, this has been a lot of work to work with organizations and do some education. So it’s not just solving a problem; it’s really also educating the external project team and the organization that we’re working with on not only DMAIC, but the data part is huge.
So something that I am seeing, and we’re not even done with the projects for Cohort 2, is a huge opportunity to support and come alongside these organizations that we’re working with and help them really build a data culture, so whether it’s for equity or other purposes within their organization. I think the more robust that data culture will be, it will help them with the outputs and outcomes that they’re looking for. So it’s also about impacting the mindset and how data is used.
B: I think that you see that in organizations that are more mature, these long-standing manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies that have been either regulated or just, for years, have realized they need detailed data in their process. And you go into the other areas where there hasn’t been the case, that’s a big change to try and implement and trying to explain and show how that is worthwhile. Because they weren’t doing it before, and they feel like they’ve gotten by already, but it’s helping them see that it can be a lot easier or more effective to take that little bit of extra time to put that data in or collect it or organize it, and then use it for something helpful, or just even helping them solve the issue that they’re struggling with that they haven’t had because that data was not present. And so, yeah, I think that’s a big hurdle to overcome.
That’s something I think a lot of us with a lot of industry experience struggle a little bit with like what do you mean you don’t keep track of how long it takes you to do certain office stuff or feedback of customer complaints in the system somewhere? that seems very antiquated, but when you see the history of the organization, it makes sense because it hasn’t really been a focus.
J: Absolutely, you’ve got it, Brion. Speaking of data, something that this is a lessons learned because even with this institute, I’m about continuous improvement, so with every cohort every year, we’re taking those lessons learned and making adjustments. So with this Cohort 2 where I identified the projects this time, as opposed to Cohort 1, they identified their own, but with this year when I was identifying the projects and working with the project sponsors, I have discovered that for next year, 2023, we need to spend more time with the sponsors so they understand what are some of the basic what I want to call criteria or requirements that we need for a good Six Sigma project. Because, as you know, Lean or Six Sigma, it does not fit every situation, and that data is a big part of what we need because if data isn’t there– but it’s not just the data, Brion.
If you’re an organization and you say you’re focused on equity, you have to have data that can be disaggregated by ethnicity and race. Same thing around, this is a good example, we know that there is a gap in pay, so there’s unequal, inequitable pay for women and men, and then when you look at Black women and Hispanic women, then we’re paid even less compared to a White man. If you’re an organization and you say I want to close the pay equity gap, then you have to be collecting data by gender. So if someone comes in and you tell them, “Yeah, we’re trying to close the pay equity gap,” and then that entity says, “Can I see your data?” and then you hand over data that’s not disaggregated by gender and by race, then how do you close the gap?
That’s something that we’re going to take more time next year and do an overview with the project sponsors so we take more time and explain some of the basic things that are needed to have a project, and again, disaggregated data is one of those basic things that we need. That’s something that, when I say disaggregated data, being around data for so long in my career, I take it for granted that folks know what that means and I may say it very quickly and move on. And so that’s what I’ve learned, that I and my team, we need to take more time and walk through some operational definitions and not make assumptions, because of our experience, about what people already know.
I think the more time that we can take with the project sponsors and really answer their questions, then that will make for a better starting point for project teams. Because it was really me, I’ll take the responsibility, didn’t take enough time, that means, with our project teams, they had a little bit of a rockier start because, with the project sponsor, that foundation was not laid for what we were trying to really do and the requirements for us to come in and actually do the work, so that’s on me. That’s on me to make sure that I’ve got good systems, good processes, and I’m continually evolving the program so I set everybody up for success. That’s my responsibility, but it’s fun.
B: That’s a challenge a lot of organizations have, like especially trying to figure out what is my primary improvement metric, and if that is unclear or not available. I think, traditionally, people just still move forward with it and we’re saying you’ve got to back up and try to get some of that information, so we can see how bad is it. We’re never going to improve it if we don’t start some of this data collection now, and especially keeping in mind, how are we going to separate and aggregate out this data later. If that’s missing, yeah, I could see where that would create a lot of rocky starts. But I run across that everywhere, even mature organizations that have been doing this and have data. It still might not be the right data for that process.
J: Yeah, so it’s all a learning process. It’s a learning process for everybody and, Brion, I really think that’s what we’re here for. So we have the skill set, we enjoy it. It’s not only a skill, but after a while, it’s our talent, it’s over superpower. And so bringing that superpower into spaces to help make things better, that really excites me. And so this is just really a dream come true.
And, Brion, I’ll tell you, the second project that I had once I had my own business coming out of Lilly, my second project was working with different agencies in the city who are focused on homelessness. So between the mayor’s office and I think there were like three or four other agencies, and then we have I think it’s called the Indianapolis Housing Authority, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It’s just like, oh my goodness, I can use my superpower to help agencies that are trying to help people who are homeless. It doesn’t get better than that. So I just love what you’re doing too because it’s the same thing, how can you use your superpower and show everybody how we can use it for good and make the world a better place, and we have a skill set that can contribute to that effort.
B: Yup, and that, just your discussion there, is so powerful to talk about the stumbling blocks you ran across already, so that as others like us are starting to look for opportunities to use our superpowers, I like that term, what things do they need to keep an eye out for and be aware of so that they don’t struggle as much either, so I really appreciate you sharing some of that. So, yeah, as more people get involved, we learn from each other, which is great. Do you want to talk about any other projects that have gone through either in the cohort or other?
J: Sure. Well, I can share with you a few of the projects that we’re working on with Cohort 2, and it’s a nice, I think, diversity of projects. I mentioned, when I started my business, I had a project focused on homelessness. Well, now for Cohort 2, since I’m familiar with the individuals and agencies who are in that space, I did identify a project that is focused on women and their children who are homeless and go into this specific shelter. So we are working with them and looking at do we have some equity issues between White families and Black families. And I know there are other families, but we’re really focused on Black families compared to their counterparts because that’s where the biggest equity gap would be.
Because the agency is focused on housing, and they take in the women, but the goal is to place them in single housing, so the question is are there inequities in that process where the Black women take longer to be housed. That’s what we understood to be the case in the beginning when we started the project, but the team just told me this morning, during office hours, they’re exposing data where that may not be the case. But again, that’s what all this data mining is for. So that’s one project.
Another one we are very excited to see what comes out of this, and that is FAFSA completion. I’m trying to remember what the acronym stands for. Was it financial aid something? it’s what you have to complete in order to go to college, and determines your family’s affordability for college and whether or not you can be eligible for scholarships. I should know the acronym but it’s not coming to me. But we have a FAFSA project and we’re working with a local large school district. There is data that says that Black students and families do not complete the FAFSA at the same rate as their White counterparts.
Brion, what we’re trying to get people away from, and that is blaming people because, as continuous improvement professionals, we know to look at the system and the processes first. Now, we’re not saying that you don’t have a people issue somewhere in there or an HR problem, but that’s not our superpower. We focus on the processes and the systems first, so when I received this information, my first thought was what is the process that the school district is using? We have a team that’s on that, and they have made some recommendations that they are piloting right now. So I’m trying not to get too excited about what could come out of that because that has a lot of implications. And, Brion, even if we make that much improvement, even if we had just 20 more families, and while that may not be statistically significant, it will be meaningful for those 10 to 20 additional families that we have gotten to complete FAFSA as a result of this project, so very eager to see how that one turns out.
And then I’ll just mention one other because this one is different, and that a supplier diversity. We’re working with a local entity, and they thought, in the beginning, that the– when organizations contract with an entity, you have the prime contractor, so that’s the initial contractor that has the contract with the entity. Oftentimes, that prime will get contractors, and those contractors are called subs, subcontractors. A lot of times, Black and female organizations end up being subcontractors because we’re not big enough to be primes. It’s harder for us to get the contracts, so oftentimes, minority businesses, we are the subs. Well, the thought is, with this entity, is that it is taking too long for subcontractors to get paid. I have been a subcontractor, Brion, and when you have a small business and a lot of minority businesses, we don’t have much capital. We don’t have much in the bank. We just don’t have much, so if it takes you 90 days to pay me, I don’t have much reserves to be able to handle that. I’ve got to be paid as soon as possible because I’ve got bills to pay.
So that is really the project, to look at how much time it’s taking for- the entity pays the prime and the prime pays the sub, how long is that taking, and we want to shorten that if at all possible. So there are a lot of good ideas around that because you would think– that’s another thing with solutions, we need to make sure that it’s within the control of the entity because we can’t look for solutions that aren’t within their control. So you would think that the entity cannot control when or how fast the prime pays the sub, but that is not necessarily the case. There are some things that the entity can put in place process-wise, and that’s what we’re looking at so it’s not just dependent on prime, would you please pay the subcontractor in a timely fashion? so again, that’s a very exciting one where we have come up, the team has come up with some things that the entity had not considered process-wise where you’re less dependent on the prime, and you’ve got a system that tracks everything, which provides a little bit more incentive for everyone to move through progressive payment where everybody benefits.
So those are three of the five. I like the diversity and the projects, and again, even if we make some small improvements, it could lead to another project for Cohort 3 in 2023, but also what I’m trying to do, Brion, what our mission is, is not only to provide the Six Sigma credentialing opportunity for Black people who, a lot of times, we’re not exposed to that opportunity for this type of certification, but also what I’m trying to do, what is part of the mission is to change the thinking when it comes to diversity and equity and take a little bit of the emotion out of it because I think that’s part of it. It tends to be a very emotional issue, and you can see that around the country. When it comes to politics and race, it just gets really emotional.
So with this scientific-like framework for approaching diversity and equity issues, I just haven’t seen that emotion. It’s like we’re trying to get to this same end but doing it in a different way that allows for more collaboration, and taking a little bit of the volatility and the emotion and blame out of it. So again, it’s an approach that not only I’m excited about, our instructor, the ladies who are participating, the sponsors, the members of the external team, and the community, we’re just generating a lot of excitement about an innovative approach to diversity and equity.
B: That’s great. I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but that’s, yeah, [inaudible]. I think something else popped in my head when you were talking about helping to let’s say aid the subcontractors a little quicker. And I’ve heard this many times too, that when you address some of the inequity gaps, it’s actually a help for everybody. It’s not only just helping Black-owned businesses; it’s actually helping all those small businesses. So it’s like it’s lifting up everybody in this attempt to deal with some of the gaps that are there already, so I think that’s also really awesome that it is a good thing across the board.
J: Brion, there’s a saying, and I’m going to tell you right now I am really bad with sayings. You would think I– or idioms. Yeah, you call them idioms. You would think I did not grow up in the US. I don’t know, I just grew up in a neighborhood where we didn’t use these idioms, but there’s a saying or an idiom, and I may get it wrong, but it’s something like a rising tide lifts all ships or boats.
B: Boats, yeah.
J: Yeah, a rising tide lifts all boats. And so I say that a lot, even though I’m a butcher it, but that’s what you’re saying is that if we can make improvements to this process, yeah, the subs are going to print benefit, but the primes will benefit too. The same with FAFSA. If we can shore up let’s say, for example, the communication, what is the process for how we communicate to parents about the need to complete this FAFSA, if we can improve that process even though our focus is on those who are not completing the FAFSA, Black families and Hispanic, that process improvement is going to positively impact everybody. So, hopefully, because again, I know when it comes to race, I know people are on various parts of the spectrum, but hopefully, we can get people there, Brion, in terms of what you just said in that it helps everybody and that’s, hopefully, what we all want.
B: When putting together a consulting business, I think you have for your books available? Do you want to share anything about those books, maybe something the audience might be interested in?
J: Yes, thank you, Brion. I appreciate you bringing that up. I should be talking about my own book, shouldn’t I? so thank you for that little push to talk about my books. Well, I have a workbook, and it’s– let’s see if I– yes, I have it. So I have a workbook, here it is, and it’s called– it starts by saying the optimist because, again, as continuous improvement professionals, we’re optimists. So it’s called The Optimist: 5 Steps to Sustainable Solutions for Women in Business, and I’m going to go ahead and tell the secret. It’s not until you get to the end that I tell you it’s the Six Sigma framework because I didn’t want to run people off. You know, you say Six Sigma, and there’s some people and they go, “Ahh!” and they run from it. But it’s basically some worksheets and it’s very simple where, for each phase, define, measure, analyze, improve, control, you just get these questions that a team can work together and ask themselves these questions to work through that DMAIC framework, but it’s very simple and it’s thin. See, very thin. So I think it’s easy for a team to follow if they’re trying to solve problems. So that’s The Optimist: 5 Steps to Sustainable Solutions for Women in Business. That is available on Amazon.
And then I’ve got another book. I don’t have that with me, but it’s called Purpose: A Shift from Driving It to Embracing It. And so that’s a very different book, and I’ll just share with you I wrote that book, I don’t know if anybody can relate to this, I had turned 50, I was at my 30-year mark with Lilly, I knew I was about to retire, and my adult kids didn’t need me anymore, so I was at a crossroads. I tell people 20, 30, 50. My kids were 20 and out of the house, I had been with the company 30 years, and I turned 50, and so I just kind of paused trying to reevaluate like, okay, if I’m not taking care of my kids and my 30-year career is kind of coming to an end, then kind of what’s my purpose, what am I doing? And so with that book, you’re really walking with me through my thoughts as I’m trying to figure it out. I mean, every chapter is me trying to refigure out my purpose, and hopefully, you can tell, by the time I got to the end of the book, I re-found it. I’m okay now.
B: It has a happy ending.
J: Yeah, it’s a happy ending. So both books are on Amazon, and they’re very different. One is more about life purpose and then the other is a workbook, which is more similar to the DMAIC framework that we’ve been talking about. And I do have two websites, if you want to check out more, because there is more than what I can describe here on the podcast. But for Optimist Business Solutions, the website is optimistindy.com, and then for the Six Sigma, it has its own website now, and it’s called sixsigmaindy.org, so you can get more information. And I will share with you, Brion, what we– I’ve talked to the instructor, we’ve got the Green Belt program, we did add another program this year, and that is the Yellow Belt.
What is different with our Yellow Belt is we’re focused on equity because, again, we’re an equity institute. So you could say, well, I can get a Yellow Belt anywhere. Yes, you can and you can get it online almost anywhere, but ours is specifically set up to focus on equity and you cannot get that anywhere. So we just introduced that as a pilot this year, and so based on that pilot, we’re going to make some changes and then roll it out next year, and that program, Brion, is not based on you– don’t have to be a woman, because with the Green Belt, you do. You have to be a Black woman because we’re trying to give them opportunities they don’t normally get. But for the Yellow Belt, you know, Brion, there’s no project requirement, there’s no geographic requirement where it has to be someone in Indianapolis or Indiana, no race or gender or anything. It’s just wide open to people who are interested in the DMAIC framework. And it’s a day and a half, you know, much shorter than the Green, and so it’s less of a time commitment, but you can get a taste of what it’s like and how we’re applying that to equity. So next year, we’re hoping to expand that beyond Indiana because that would be virtual. So those are the kind of things that we’re looking out to just add to our program.
J: Yeah, very excited about that. But again, you can see that Yellow Belt program, I briefly mention that on the sixsigmaindy.org website as well.
B: Perfect. Anything else that you wanted to share in terms of just thinking about someone who wants to go tackle an equity problem? Anything else? You’ve given us great tips already and things to consider. Anything else that comes to mind that you’d like to share for people wanting to get in this space or work on challenges like this at their company? Maybe they have hiring practices that aren’t quite on par and there’s differences by race or gender there, or salary differences with people with similar experience in similar job positions. Anything else that you could recommend for them if they’re going to go try and tackle that, or take that on as a project?
J: Brion, the things that you said are perfect because what we talk about and [inaudible] is getting everyone focused on processes, not trying to– let me back up. I read somewhere, and I know Wikipedia is not probably the most reliable source, right, but I think, on Wikipedia, I saw that there were 188 cognitive biases. So to go about diversity and equity where I’m trying to beat the biases out of you, I just don’t think that’s effective. In fact, I have two books that talk about the diversity and equity training that’s been done over the last 30 to 40 years where it’s focused on I’m going to expose your biases and, you know, we’re going to just keep beating it, and before you know it, you come out of class and you don’t have the biases anymore. That just doesn’t work. So you hit it on the head, and that’s not just me saying it, I’ve got a book with 30, 40 years of research and examples that talk about why it doesn’t work, and they support that conclusion.
But, Brion, you hit it on the head when you talked about the compensation process, the hiring process, the recruiting process, the compensation process, the promotion process. That is golden right there. After you’ve done your book reading or you’ve formed your ERGs, Employee Resource Groups, and you’ve had somebody come in and do the basic diversity training, after you’re done with that stuff, now focus on a process where there is an inequity. And it doesn’t have to be DMAIC. I love DMAIC because I think it’s so intuitive. It’s just so intuitive. But like I said, I have a friend and she is using, Deondra Wardelle, you can check out her website if you just put in her name, she’s using kata for some of the same purposes. But having a standard approach that’s almost scientific-like to a process that is prone to inequities, I think, right there, that is golden.
That’s the golden nugget I would like to leave with your audience, Brion, because the traditional way we approach it it’s just very emotional, so we’ve got to find another way to do it. Because if you look in our communities and our society, it’s just very divided, it’s very emotional, and it’s very volatile, so we need to find different ways to bring people together to solve big problems to help make our communities just, you know, better. So yeah, that’s my golden nugget, processes within the company.
B: I think that’s a perfect place to end. Well said. Can I get your LinkedIn and any other contact information from your optimistindy website?
J: Brion, if I can answer some questions or be a resource, again you have my websites, and then also, you can reach out to email@example.com. You know, my operations person, she helps me monitor those emails to make sure that we get back to everyone in a timely fashion, but I can answer more questions. We love to come and speak about this because we, you know, would love to see the same approach in other areas, even with the Yellow Belt., you know, as we talk about expanding that, that’s something that we can also talk about.
On LinkedIn, my LinkedIn page is under Joy E. my middle initial is E, Joy E. Mason, and I don’t have a business page because I just go back and forth between Optimist and Six Sigma on the personal page. That’s all I talk about is one or the other. I do have Facebook and Instagram, and that’s @optimistindy. I don’t use those as much, but I do respond pretty quickly to the email. So again, I would love to talk to anyone who’s interested to attain the possibility of a Yellow Belt in your community.
B: Excellent, and I’ll include all the links to the websites and your books in the notes for the show.
J: Great. Thank you so much, Brion. I appreciate the opportunity to share.
B: Thank you so much. It was really insightful and I really appreciate your time and keep up the great work.
J: Okay. Thank you, Brion.