A Framework for Inclusivity – Ep.87

Empowering DEI – Ep.86
April 26, 2023
Practicing Conscious Leadership – Ep.88
May 10, 2023

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence discusses creating a platform for businesses to repair their “broken systems” and develop a framework for integrating DEI to thrive in network marketing and the global marketplace. 

Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to the Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in the space. Let’s get started.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence is the founder and CEO of Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence-Coaching LLC. She’s a speaker, coach, consultant and strategist for network marketing and direct sales companies and consultants. Dr. Raymona is a certified diversity executive whose life’s work and heartfelt mission is to prepare network marketing, direct sales companies and their consultants to compete in the global marketplace. Her engaging frameworks help them incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into their business strategy. So they authentically connect with, recruit, and retain diverse networks of customers and consultants.

She’s delivered engaging and thought-provoking, DEI speeches and training to thousands of network marketers across the United States and globally. She’s facilitated DEI training and consulted within companies such as Arban International, Rodan + Fields, and Forma Therapeutics. Dr. Raymona is a disruptor of the systems that keep people from reaching their highest potential. She uses her proven recruitment, onboarding, accountability, and retention framework to teach network marketing, direct sales companies and consultants, systems that support business growth in diverse communities. She believes that networking is one of the most underused and most powerful strategies for social reform and the secret sauce for business growth.

All right. I am so excited this week as I am every week, but this week I have Dr. Raymona Lawrence with me, and she is phenomenal. So everybody who’s ever thought about networking or network marketing, you have got to connect with this woman. She is amazing, and of course, she’s a soror, so that’s even an extra benefit. So thank you so much for joining me.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Thank you for having me. I am so excited to be on your podcast today. And just to meet you, it has been a phenomenal experience already, and so I’m super excited about this.

Melyssa Barrett: We are connected. I knew you were a kindred spirit when she pulled out her red glasses and I had mine on, so we knew we were connected.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yes.

Melyssa Barrett: So I wanted to just start off by asking you a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today. Because you have such a wonderful background that brings so many perspectives into place, even as you speak about DEI.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so I always say my regular job. So my regular job is a professor, so I am a public health professor. I am in a college of public health. And being trained in a college of public health, I learned about health disparities, health inequities, all the DEI things. We always talk about, justice, equity, diversity, inclusion. And so in that training, I really just developed a passion for DEI and JEDI particularly. And so I really was moving through the process of learning about that.

And then though I realized as a professor, in the summers, I don’t always get paid, right? I’m not going to get paid if I am not having a grant or something like that. And so for me, it was like, hmm, I need to start thinking of something else to supplement that income. And I discovered network marketing. And so it became this thing that I wanted to do as a side hustle to start to supplement my summers as a professor. And so as I entered into network marketing, really loved it. Just thought that it’s a great way to start to learn about business and to really learn all things business, like I said.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: But when I was in network marketing, I realized that there were not a lot of people that looked like me at the top of the company. So initially I was like, oh, yeah, I’ll get to the top of the company. It is for me to do this. And then I was like, hmm, there’s some systemic issues here, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: And some of these companies are 30, 40 years old, and there’s still not an African American woman at the top of the company that they’re not working hard enough. There’s something else going on. And so the network marketing company was like, “You come and you start to train consultants about diversity, equity, and inclusion.” So I started to do that. They flew me all over the country to talk to consultants about diversity, equity, and inclusion. But then I realized that I was only doing that when they asked me.

So I had the skillset, I had the knowledge, but I was not able to do it unless they told me that I could. And then when I did do it, it was very filtered. And so I said, “I have got to go on a mission to challenge these broken systems that I see in these companies so that everybody can get to the top,” right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: And so as I started to do that, I realized it was a full-time job and I needed to start a whole business for this. And so that’s what I did. And since then, I have been working on those broken systems that keep people from reaching their highest potential. So that’s how I got here.

Melyssa Barrett: I love it. Yeah, I love it. I love it. Well, and I mean, network marketing is such a different type of business in a way. Because you are, in a lot of instances, you’re trying to convince people to start their own business when they may not even have really any business skills. So when you’re thinking of network marketing and really disrupting the systems of that, because really most of the time they’re reaching out to their friends and relatives who probably look like them. So are there things that, I know you have a complete package of things when it comes to ROAR and all of those things. So maybe tell us a little bit about how that came to be and so that people can really focus on bringing diversity into their business.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence:  Mm-hmm. So I’ll go back and talk about ROAR a little bit since you bought that up and tell you how I even got to the word ROAR, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: So we all know Katy Perry has this song, Roar, you’re going to hear me roar, right? And so I heard that song and was really thinking about the fact that I was going around teaching people and I was saying, “You have got to be an advocate. You’ve got to be an ally for people. Work with people of that don’t look like you and speak up,” and all of these things that I would tell people. And one day it hit me that I’m telling people to speak up and they can’t even speak up for themselves.

Melyssa Barrett: Wow.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: So how do you speak up for somebody else if you can’t speak up for yourself? And so that’s what I thought about, we’ve got to teach people how to roar. How do you roar? Speak up even in your own life and then you can move into speaking up for other people. Okay. So that’s how ROAR came about. So then ROAR is an extension of that one. It’s speak up for yourself and others, but then what are the things that we need in every business? Not even just network marketing. You have got to understand recruitment. You have got to onboard your customers or your team members, right? You have got to have activity and accountability in your business. That’s the A. And then R, you have to retain people, which is a huge problem in network marketing because it’s a revolving door. People come in, they go out, they come in, they go out.

So that’s what ROAR stands for. And so when I look at inclusive marketing and sales systems, I break it down by ROAR. So one with the R, what do you need to do for recruitment? Well, one, you have to understand that you cannot compete in the global marketplace if you are not able to talk to people who don’t look like you, okay? Because now with network marketing, with networking, if you’re constantly just talking to your friends and family, you’re going to run out of people real quick. So what does it take for you to recruit other people? You’ve got to start to learn about other cultures. You’ve got to start to interact with people. You’ve got to start to just go out into the community. And when I say community, that can be an online community or in person, right?

So people are like, we’re not out. Okay, we’re out on social media. So go follow a diverse creator. Go and interact with in groups with people that don’t look like you learn what they call themselves. What is their language? What is the perspective that they have, right? So those are some types of things that we can start to do to broaden our lens with recruitment. Okay.

Melyssa Barrett: Love it.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: So then there’s the O, and that’s onboarding. Well, here’s a issue with onboarding. A lot of times, when we say, we have this saying in DEI, we say we recruit for diversity, but we onboard for conformity. We recruit for diversity, but we onboard for conformity. So we go out and tell people, “Hey, this network marketing is for you. Anybody can do it. Everybody can get to the top. It’s a level playing field.” But when they come on, we say, “You have to do it this way, this way, and this way,” which has typically worked in a middle to upper class white woman’s community.

Melyssa Barrett: Right.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: It does not always work in other communities, right? And so we have to look at when we’re onboarding people, how do I give them frameworks versus a recipe that they have to follow. So when you think about your grandma, a grandma that used to be in the kitchen, she didn’t follow a recipe because she didn’t know if she was going to get the same ingredients in every kitchen every time, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: So she had a framework, she knew what you needed to do, and she taught you how to eat. She taught you how to live and to thrive and survive. And so that’s what we have to do. We can’t focus on recipes that have to have this ingredient and expect people to thrive in every kitchen, which is every community.

Melyssa Barrett: I love that, yes.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: So when we onboard, it’s like, okay, yes, you need to do presentations, but what do we do to fit this in your community? What are the images that we need to have? What is the culture and the nuance of going into someone’s home in your community? Do you just pop up into somebody’s house in this community versus the community where you initially set up these systems? Okay. And so that’s onboarding. I really want people to think about how do we not only bring people in, but how do we make sure that when we’re onboarding, we can adapt the systems to work in their community?

Then we have accountability and we have activity. So when you are accountable, we’re saying, what do I need to do to make sure that we’re always thinking about the diversity, equity, and inclusion in the things that we do? How do we broaden our lens to so that we are seeing things from other people’s perspectives? So we’re going to talk to people. We’re going to say, “What is it like to carry out this system in your environment? What was it like to have this meeting with us on Zoom?” Right?

Melyssa Barrett: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Because you know that everybody, people can be in the same room, but they don’t have the same experience.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s right.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: People can be on the same Zoom, but they’re not having the same experience. So how are we accountable for making sure that we’re inclusive in the activities that we do? Whether that be business activities like presentations, like selling products like that, or the activities that we do within our teams or what we do with customers. Okay. And then it’s the same thing with retention, the last R.

How do we retain people? Well, we retain them by ensuring that we have adapted these systems in a way that gets them results. If we’re not doing things that helps them to thrive and we don’t give them systems that really work, and it is like, how do we connect the dots in their community with all of these systems, then we can retain them and quit with this revolving door. So long explanation of ROAR, but it’s speak up, speak out, and then look across these business categories, the recruitment, the onboarding, the activity and the accountability, and retention so that we can ensure that we make this environment a place where everybody can thrive.

Melyssa Barrett: Everything you said was so valuable when … and really not just in a network marketing lens. Any corporation has the same issue when it comes to they’re doing … they have all this focus on recruiting, and then you get there and you go, “This is not what I expected as an employee,” right?

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Exactly.

Melyssa Barrett: And your culture is not geared to actually bring in and make that person feel welcome. And so the culture is a big deal. I know it’s a big deal in network marketing because you’re not necessarily sitting in the same place or building like you used used to be. But now we’re not even in the same buildings anymore, right?

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Mm-hmm.

Melyssa Barrett: We have a lot of remote work. So it looks a little bit more like kind of the network marketing business. You have to learn how to connect with those teams and have those activities, which I think is so important when we talk about employee resource groups and just being able to get together and build community. So you’re talking about community, but it’s the same for many of businesses across the globe.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yeah. And I want to insert something right there because I think that, I was just talking at in my college of public health about this the other day. A lot of times when I’m talking about being inclusive and I’m talking about bringing DEI into your team or your workplace, people have this idea that they’ve got to have a sign and they’ve got to be out marching. And I want people to understand that you have to determine your area of disruption, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Everybody’s not going to be the person that’s out marching and saying, “This is what standing up for a certain group or whatever.” It’s not about just that. And I think that people just get the wrong idea. That’s something that’s very important. But when you are at work, I’m saying, how do we look at the policies that we have and make sure that they’re equitable, right? How do we look through that lens and ensure that it’s not something that’s keeping people from reaching their highest potential, right?

And so we were just talking about the other day, the fact that there was an issue with exams where they were putting an exam at 10:00 at night. Well, it’s a simple thing to change. It’s a simple thing to change. So, and to make that more equitable for people, that they’re able to function during the day. They’re not staying up all night trying to take an exam. That’s a simple thing. So these types of things happen in everybody’s business. So how do we look at what has gone wrong with some employees? We’re thinking, okay, these people didn’t make it so it’s them, not us. And it very well could be. But how do we talk to those people and say, “What didn’t go right with this presentation and you being able to present? Why do you think that you couldn’t do, get leads outside of your family? Tell me what was going on.” Then I can make my system better. We always want the reviews from people that did great, but I need to know what happened with the person didn’t make it. That’s going to make me better.

Melyssa Barrett: Right. Right. That’s why those exit interviews, I mean, a lot of people say they do exit interviews, but they’re not actually getting the information that allows them to make the change, you know?

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yes.

Melyssa Barrett: I mean, it’s amazing. We miss the mark so often when it’s really not that difficult to have that second question or third question, to make it actionable. So tell, I mean, you basically have looked at this in so many different ways, and I love the fact that you’re bringing kind of your lens from public health and your day job and really expanding the lens into other areas.

Because when I was doing, working at a corporate company, and we were always focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion, but we were always trying to figure out how do we integrate it into everything that we do? Instead of just having a DEI professional chief diversity officer sitting next to the CEO, how do we actually make sure it gets filtered into everything we do? Because a lot of times will just sit in HR and the other lenses kind of get clouded when you talk about product or marketing or just the integration of that. So I love the fact that you have kind of created a platform to help people who don’t actually … I mean, they may or may not have the skills, but you’ve really allowed them to amplify that through your platform. So talk a little bit about the platform you created and how people are finding value in with it.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yeah. So I came to this platform because I started to realize that I was developing this environment for people that helped them to have diversity, equity, it was inclusive. But then individuals didn’t have the skillset that they needed to come into this environment and to thrive. And so if I open up the environment for you, but you don’t have the skills, you don’t have that, those unwritten rules, all those things, you’re not going to make it, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: And then the terrible thing about that is that people then look back at you and say, “Uh-huh, I told you you couldn’t do it,” right? And that’s not what I wanted. So I wanted to not only create the environment, but create the backend of businesses so that people had what they needed to, as I say, play the game, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: So in business, you’ve got to be able to get out there and play the game. And so what this platform is, I call it I Engage You, so kind of inclusive engagement university, but I Engage You, right?

Melyssa Barrett: I love it.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: And so using my engagement background, this is a platform that brings together all of those systems that business owners need to really thrive and have an inclusive marketing and sales system. So right now, a lot of business owners have an email autoresponder that they purchased. They have a website, they have phone, they have SMS, maybe if they have those things, they have social media in all these different places. So they’re paying hundreds of dollars a month for all of these different apps that helps them to run their business. And they’re overwhelmed. And a lot of times they quit because they just don’t know exactly what they need. And so this system, the I Engage You, has all of those things in one system.

So it brings to me about equity in the business field, because people can come in, they can be trained, get everything that they need. They have the entire system to bring people from a lead all the way to a customer, and they’re able to thrive in their business. And so there’s no more broken systems in this, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: And so once they get on, they don’t have to purchase all of these different things. They don’t have to have their calendars and all of the things that we used to buy, it’s all there. If they wanted to set up a membership for their people that’s there, their website, their forms, anything that we usually use to make business work, it is there in this platform. And so I’m so excited to have the diversity, equity, and inclusion piece, but also the systems behind business owners that they need to really be able to thrive not only in just the norm, the regular marketplace, but in the global marketplace.

And so that’s super exciting to me to have that available. And people are just, they’re really able to say, “Oh, I don’t have to purchase all of these things. I know what is going on now. I don’t have social media here. This person contacted me there. I can pull in reviews for my business. So even from my Google, my business account.” All of those things are in one place for business owners so that they have the foundation that they need to succeed.

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. So how did you even get to this? Because I mean, was it something that you felt like you were struggling with, or how?

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yeah. And it’s funny because initially when I started doing business, I really went into automation and productivity. Really, I started teaching business owners about lead generation and how to put together their client attraction tools or their lead magnet and how that led into their email list and how they follow up with them, you know? I was doing all of that. But what I realized is that I was telling them all these different apps that they needed to make this happen.

And so I went out looking, and I am a part of a Mastermind, and my coach was like, “This is a thing you need. You can combine what you’re doing with diversity and inclusion, with what you used to do with automation and productivity, put it together and help business owners win.” So it’s great for our network marketers, solopreneurs, small business owners, anybody. I mean the apps on this thing are just absolutely, the pieces of this platform are absolutely amazing. I mean, you can do absolutely everything. And so that’s how I came to this. I’m like, I have been teaching people how to do this, but they’re having to piece it together, and I can’t stand a broken system.

Melyssa Barrett: I love it.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: I figured out how to put the system together, to connect the dots. So yeah.

Melyssa Barrett: I love it. I love it. That’s fantastic. So then, how can people get a hold of you? And because I know you do training and consulting along with all of these other things that you do. I mean, diversity and inclusion for networkers, you call it DIME, and you know, do strategy work and all of those things. What other types of things you want to talk maybe a little bit about some of the tips and tools that you use? I mean, because really you’ve set it up now, I mean, I tend to wonder, there’ll be no excuse for people anymore.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yeah. So it seems like I do a lot of things, and I always tell people I do one thing and I do community engagement, right? And so I want to make sure that people are engaged in their business, in whatever it is that they’re doing. If I’m teaching, if I’m doing research, I’m always thinking about how people are engaged and really plugged into a system, right? And so everything that I do funnels into engagement. And so for me, it’s really important that people are able to see me doing different things, but they all come back to engagement.

So my overall business, I have the software as a service system, and so I Engage You. And so I really help people to develop systems, but then I do speaking, coaching, and consulting. And so all of that is still about diversity, equity, and inclusion systems, that combination of things. And so for people to work with me or to really learn the things that I have, they can just go to www.drraymonahlawrence.com and then go on and they can see the speaking, the coaching, the consulting, book a call with me so that they can learn how to set up their systems or to train their team about diversity, equity, and inclusion. But I think that the main thing for people to know is that I have an inclusive lens on systems, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: That’s exactly what we do. So, yeah, that’s how to contact me.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s so funny because that, I say a lot of that because we talk about community impact, and to me, everything has a DEI lens. I mean, whatever you’re doing, flip your perspective in some way that you haven’t looked at it before, because it will change how you think about it. Or, I mean, there’s just so many things, even with our own history that people don’t know, that they’re still learning. There’s two sides to a story, or three, or four. There’s lots of different opportunities for us to look differently. And the thing I love about your name is, you know, have that Y in there, like I do. So when people are looking for you, make sure you look for R-A-Y-M-O-N-A.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yes. Thank you for saying that. That is so important.

Melyssa Barrett: I love it.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: And I have a H too. So it is Dr. D-R, and R-A-Y-M-O-N-A H. Lawrence, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E, yes.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes, yes. So make sure that you get out to her website or connect with her on Instagram, or LinkedIn, or any platform you choose. Because you are everywhere and doing wonderful and dynamic things. Any last words you want to kind of toss in here? Tips and tools?

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yeah, I think that’s it. I just really, really wanting people to develop those systems that they need to thrive. I think that’s important. And so we can learn about DEI and we can really focus on those things, but if you don’t have what you need as a business owner, then you’re not going to be able to operate in those systems. So help us out, those people that are fighting for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I want you to have the system that you need so that when that space is open, that you are able to just jump right in there and take on that opportunity. And so I’m excited to work with anybody who’s looking for those systems, and open up those opportunities for people to thrive. So thank you.

Melyssa Barrett: Love it. Thank you so much, soror. Appreciate you.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yes, soror. I love it.

Melyssa Barrett: Awesome. This was awesome. I hope we get an opportunity to have another conversation soon and we will definitely stay in touch.

Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence: Yes, that is absolutely my wish as well. And so thank you. I have absolutely enjoyed this conversation. It’s been so much fun. It’s just so interactive. So thank you so much.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes, thank you. Thank you.

Thanks for joining me on the Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.