Lead Through Inspiration – Ep.15

Achieving Excellence! – Ep.14
January 14, 2021
Encouraging Equity – Ep.16
January 28, 2021

Jill Long explains why she decided to pursue a career in diversity and inclusion in addition to her career as a lawyer, gives examples of best practices that organizations can exercise to create real systematic changes, explains why people of all backgrounds can be a part of the solution and how to go about getting involved, and discusses what the future may hold for the profession of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

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 diversity, inclusion, and equity. Each week, I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.

Welcome to the Jali Podcast. This week, we are joined by Jill Long and she has been working in diversity, equity, and inclusion for a while now. We are excited to have a conversation about you, your journey, and the impact that you are creating on diversity, equity, and inclusion. So, thank you for being here.

Jill Long:  Thank you so much for having me. I’m very excited to be here.

Melyssa Barrett:  I normally start out just asking people about themselves and their journey. Can you talk a little bit about how you got to this place?

Jill Long:  Absolutely. I suppose like everyone who works in diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s sort of an interesting path. It wasn’t particularly linear, but I am a recovering lawyer. I practiced law for about 20 years, and towards the end of my time as a lawyer, I got a chance to do a fellowship program to the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity, which is this big national organization that’s really aimed at increasing diversity in the legal profession. It really changed my life, frankly. It gave me this enormous year to really look at what diversity issues were specific in the legal industry and connect them to my own experience. Also, very powerfully to be surrounded by 175 other lawyers from all over the country, from various legal departments at companies and law firms that were unbelievable. I felt such Imposter Syndrome walking into that room because I was like, “Wow, these are impressive people. I’m just a partner at a mid-sized regional law firm.”

It felt very intimidating, but as I got to know everyone, I was really inspired by just seeing the power of my class and also the power of the program. Because, the program really gave me this opportunity to think about my career a little bit differently, and it was the first time I thought outside of being a lawyer. I could see the impact that people were making on the profession that weren’t necessarily practicing law, so I finished that program here and I approached my then managing partner of my firm and said, “Hey, what do you think if I were to do lead diversity for the firm in some sort of professional capacity, instead of just…” Most law firms have a diversity committee and everyone volunteers time, and that’s wonderful, but like any volunteer job, it comes after paying client work, and so there’s just isn’t enough resources to move a lot of things forward.

A huge credit to the firm, they said yes and we ended up designing this new position. So, I became the firm’s first ever Director of Professional Development and Diversity. I wore both of those hats. I still practiced law, which is sort of crazy in retrospect. I had three full-time jobs, but I was so excited and it was the first time in my career everything was so creative and there was such meaning behind it. So, that was my step into doing this work was that journey.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, and I think in the area of law, there is definitely a focus on diversity and inclusion because there is such a lack of it in the profession, right?

Jill Long:  Yes. Absolutely. The legal profession is the least diverse profession, so they have struggled more than doctors and accountants and engineers, and they have been struggling for a long time. There’s been a lot of diversity committees around for a long time. Firms have had people in these kinds of roles for a long time and frankly not much has changed. If you look at women, we’ve been graduating at least 50% classes of women and men in law school for a long time, decades now. Yet, we are on pace for gender equity at top positions in the law in 2081, which I would call not on pace. There’s been no movement. Things are very stuck and it’s super complicated and hard. So, it’s a wonderful place to get to work because there’s so much work to do and it’s so complicated.

Also, even though I don’t practice law anymore, I love lawyers. I was a lawyer. I think lawyers, as much as the bad rap as they get sometimes, it’s a helping profession. It’s a profession about helping people and clients and there’s a lot of goodwill and there’s a lot of pressure, so it’s really nice to be able to work with people in that space. It means a lot to me.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. I have spent a lot of time with lawyers doing some of the work that I’ve done in the past and they are phenomenal. They do get a bad rap, but they are phenomenal. I think one of the things, though, that’s really interesting that you mentioned is the fact that there are so many people that volunteer to do a lot of this work. I know there’s a lot of people that get very little credit for all the work that they do in the space. Certainly, knowing that there has been committees that have been formed and everybody wants to make a difference, but are there things that you have seen that people embrace now that are kind of more best practices in the area?

I think it’s great that you actually went to your own constituency and said, “I think I need to have this as my full-time job.” But, a lot of people don’t necessarily have that, and we see a lot of the diversity employees, their departments are just so small.

Jill Long:  They’re so small. It’s such an under resourced area within organizations, law firms and I also work with lots of companies and other professional service providers, and generally it’s under resourced. The volunteer aspect is really complicated, and unfortunately, I think what it does a lot is it overburdens. Especially people of color, people who identify as diverse in some way who tend to be the ones to raise their hands, who have a lot of passion, a lot of personal experience around the issues. Then they volunteer on a committee. They’re told it’s important, but they don’t get credit for it in whatever credit means. In a law firm system, you don’t usually get billable hour credit for being on a committee like that. So, you spent all this time and it impacts your productivity and you get some accolades sometimes, but it’s out of balance, I think. It’s out of balance with real change.

One best practice that is out there is to give people actual credit in whatever it means within an organization for the time they spend so it becomes at least part of their paid work, because we frankly know that we do what is most valuable, and what is most valuable to organizations is what they pay for. So at the end of the day, if you’re not paying for this work, then ultimately it’s not really a priority, as much as I think that that’s hard to face. I think leadership has a hard time in saying, “Yeah, you’re right. If we won’t pay for it, what does it really mean to us?” But there’s a balance in there. So, one best practice is to give credit, billable credit in a law firm setting.

I think another best practice is to get away from siloing the work. “The committee will do it. Our diversity chair will do it. Our chief diversity officer who only has a staff of one or two will do it.” I’ve seen this so much, and I think it’s where a lot of problems occur is leadership says, “We care, we have the committee, we have the chief diversity officer. Now you go fix our problem. You go do it.” And nothing will change, frankly, because it takes everyone to make change. When leadership says, “Well, we care and you go do it. It’s not enough to make real change.”

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, that is so true. I think part of what people forget when they’re in leadership driving things down is that it’s very challenging to take a look at yourself first as one of the people that will drive that change. Because, I think in a lot of cases, people don’t know what to do.

Jill Long:  They don’t know what to do at all. It’s so hidden, right? White supremacy culture, which lives in every organization, is very hidden. It’s contemplative work. It’s hard to say to a board of directors of a company, “Now it’s time for your contemplative work.” Because that feels outside of the way we think about business. But frankly, it’s the most important thing because if leaders don’t step back and make space for being able to see more, to see how white supremacy culture exists in organizations, to see how bias is impacted… It has nothing to do with intent. These are all sorts of good people, marching along their daily lives trying to do good. But if you can’t see the harm that’s caused by perpetuating systems, you can’t change them. So, it’s hard to make space for it. But I think that’s the most best practice out there, is for top leadership of any organization to make space, to do some of their own work. With guidance, because you don’t know what to do, but there are some things that can be done and then real change can happen.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about some of the things aside from that, that you talk to organizations about, especially specifically law firms, for example. How do they get started?

Jill Long:  Well, I think everyone, often people feel like they’ve started and they don’t understand why things aren’t changing. I think like taking a pause and recognizing, “Well, we did all these things. We had annual trainings and we have a committee and we have Lunch and Learns. That’s not changing anything.” To just pause and acknowledge that, because doubling down on those things will continue to not change things. My favorite place of work is to work with leadership cohort. It might be a board of directors or a C-suite and do some of that contemplative work, which is really about increasing skills and awareness of those leaders.

There’s a tool I learned that I think is incredibly powerful for helping folks have that introspection. It’s called the Intercultural Development Inventory, and it is a intercultural competency assessment tool, essentially. It’s based on the intercultural development continuum. I feel like all of this space has so many long acronyms, so it’s the IDI and the IVC, but the IDC is so beautiful because it is a developmental look at improving intercultural competence. It’s not static. It says very much, “Hey, you can get better at this. You can get better at understanding your own culture and conditioning and you can get better at working with difference, working with people that are different than you in many different ways and developing positive attitudes.” So, you can come in and develop a cohort sort of model, maybe six or nine months of programming where you can use that IDI to assess where people are at in the beginning.

There’s no bad place to start, even though that can feel uncomfortable. Working with lawyers, lawyers like to get A’s and they’re very competitive. So, you have to do a lot of important sort of intentional work to be like, “I know it’s a continuum and it looks like an A is at the end and an F is at the beginning, but you’re not failing. We’re just figuring out where you’re at. There’s no bad place to be, and then we can move from there.” That kind of work can be really powerful. People get so much out of it and then systems can start to change. Thinking about building blocks that way, like leadership work and then moving to systemic change within organizations. It’s hard to do one without the other.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, that’s fabulous. Does a lot of that work start with… Those surveys, are they like, two hour surveys that they have to deal with? Because pulling in the data from there and then actually translating it to something that’s meaningful can be really challenging.

Jill Long:  It can, and there is a time commitment. I think that there’s a truth to that. The IVI assessment is a 50 question online tool. It’s an inventory. I should say, inventory, not assessment. It doesn’t take that long. Maybe it takes 20 minutes, and then there’s an opportunity, some sort of retreat or workshop to learn the IDC, so to learn the continuum. Then after that you can get your scores in the organization or a cohort. Like, “The leadership team scores here on the continuum, so we know the work to move to the next stage might look like this.” Then you can also get your individual score, which you could think of investing about 30 to 60 minutes with a qualified administrator from the IDI who can give you your personal results, which also gives you a plan of, “Okay, so this is where I am and now I can move from here.”

It sounds so easy when I say it, but I recognize that it’s really hard. That’s hard to make space where… It’s hard to hear sometimes because all humans tend to think we’re a little further along than we are on anything. One of the beautiful things about the IDI is it gives you two scores. It gives you your developmental score and your perceived score. It essentially tells you, “This is where you’re at and this is where you think you’re at.” Typically you think you’re further along than you actually are.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. We all want to say that we’re better than we actually are. But I think that’s kind of the reality of all of the work around when you start talking about inclusion and equity, when we really start to break down where I personally may be failing or at least creating the awareness to know that I can do something better.

Jill Long:  Yeah. Well, I think inclusion and equity is frankly, where it’s all at. Diversity is so important, and I think of diversity as sort of who we are, and then inclusion and equity or how we treat each other and how people are given access to being able to thrive within any organization. I will say in law firms in particular, and I see this a lot just in general, there’s this focus on diversity like, “Let’s fix our hiring,” or “where do we find candidates?” Focus, focus, focus, and that’s important. But if you do that and you don’t do anything serious around inclusion and equity, well, you just have this revolving door. That’s what the data tells us, there’s just this revolving door. We can find people and bring them in and then they leave because it’s a really horrible experience when there’s no focus on inclusion and equity.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, definitely. The retention aspect, I think, is significant. Even in companies that are looking to pull in additional representation, a lot of times we forget about the people that are actually working there and understanding what their experience is like. You talk about the white supremacy culture and it being kind of invisible, but to some people of color it’s probably not invisible.

Jill Long:  Right. Well, that has been one of my huge learnings personally. I identify as a straight, cisgender, white woman. So, that’s the lens that I was born with and bring, and I’ve had a lot of learning to do, especially to understand the experiences of others, as we all do. But, I think there’s two things that come up for me when we talk about this. One is the idea that… I think, especially when I started doing diversity work, there almost felt like there was this competitive edge to like, “Who belongs here?” Like, “How diverse are you? How worthy are you of being in this conversation?” I felt very unsure about what my place was.

I initially had the opportunity through LCLD to be in a smell lunch environment with Brad Smith, who is the general counsel and president of Microsoft. Or, that was his title at the time, I think that might still be his title. He’s an amazing man and he’s very passionate about diversity, and he is a straight, white, cisgender male from Appleton, Wisconsin. To see him own that and really, really with no qualifiers, just see his role as making change and doing this work. It really changed things for me. All of a sudden, it’s like, “Oh, I should do this, too. We all have to do this.” But it was an opening, and so I think that that’s so important.

I think people forget we all have to do this. When I was inside my law firm, I would often hear from straight white men who were in leadership roles, like, “Oh, I shouldn’t be on the committee.” Or, “I shouldn’t come to that. It’s not for me.” So flipping the mindset, this is for you. Like it’s actually, especially for all of us who are in leadership positions to be in this work. So, that’s long, slow work, but I think it’s really important.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. That’s an excellent point because I do think that people think that for one type or of diverse population to get better, that somebody else is getting worse.

Jill Long:  And, that’s not the case, right? It’s not a zero sum game.

Melyssa Barrett:  No, definitely not. We absolutely need everyone, as you said. No matter what your culture or gender, or whether you’re disabled or any of that.

Jill Long:  Absolutely.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah.

Jill Long:  Absolutely. It takes everyone. It will take everyone. The other thing that came up for me in thinking about how hidden things are, there’s an amazing, it’s like a white paper essentially on white supremacy, culture and organizations. Maybe you’ve seen it before. But when I read it, it felt like a gut punch in that I was like, every law firm everywhere, every corporation everywhere, holds all of these things as part of the important part of their business culture, without understanding the tie to white supremacy culture. That can be a lot to hear. Just saying white supremacy culture can be really off putting to some people, but it had things like urgency, diplomacy, an overemphasis on the written word, under emphasis on connection and communication through storytelling or discussion and dialogue. It just goes on and on, and it was such a moment of… Nobody ever thinks when we talk about those things within an organization, “sense of urgency” is a great one in law firms because there’s such an emphasis on it for client service, but we never understand how it ties to white supremacy culture and how it ties to systemic racism and how it ties to these problems. That takes a lot to unpack, but it’s really a huge deal if you can.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, it’s some of the same things we still hear today in terms of representation, because I think in a lot of cases, as people are expanding their networks to say, “We need to pull in additional representation,” that there’s this urgency to fill a position. Right? So, it’s like if you’ve never been there and now you’re trying to get there, it’s going to take longer.

Jill Long:  It is. It should, right? The urgency thing is so interesting to me because this should be a high priority, right. It should be really important. There should be a sense of, “We can’t wait.” I do believe that, but when we fill it with urgency, we don’t make the space to do the work well. So, uncoupling priority and commitment from urgency, I think that is an incredible place of possibility and a wonderful best practice for if leaders can see that difference. That’s why I love using the IDI, too, because it’s slow. Six to nine months of this work feels like too much to a lot of people and I get that, but there’s no way around it. Things don’t happen really quickly.

Melyssa Barrett:  Let’s pause for a moment. We’ll be right back.

Jill Long:  You mentioned things like Lunch and Learns and kind of practices that people have, I think more about maybe creating awareness and education. As you dig into some of the work, are there things that you can translate that immediately turn into forms of execution once that survey is done? It’s like, “Okay, now I know where I am. I know where the leadership is.” How do you translate that to executing on a roadmap?

Melyssa Barrett:  I think that the most important thing is to be custom about it. Not to take something off the shelf, but to say, “Who are we and how do we move forward?” The IDI is my favorite thing, because I think it’s so powerful, but I do this with lots of organizations that aren’t at a place to use the IDI. You can use climate surveys or engagement surveys. You can do stakeholder interviews. Depending on the scale of the organization, right, it all has to fit. But, some of the best things to do are just to do stakeholder interviews. I have learned so much by, “I’m going to sit down with everyone on your board and just have a conversation about DEI with them.”

I walk out of that process knowing a lot, having a really good understanding of what makes sense for a roadmap. So, to do some investment in where we’re at, whether it’s the IDI or working with a consultant on stakeholder interviews or an internal survey, so many ways to do it and then to move into the roadmap of what’s next. I’ve seen a lot of different things work, but one of the themes within it… So, a theme within a Lunch and Learn or an education series or a training, even though I don’t love the phrase training because I think it lets people disconnect. When you go to a training, you can be a passive, quiet, you’re the student that you were. Were you the student in the front with your hand up or were you the student in the back with your arms crossed? 

If something comes at you instead of you engaging in something, and when you go back to the fact that this is contemplative work, what we want to do is create space for people to think a little about themselves. So, that would be the theme that I find as a best practice, is to really make space for people to get a little content. Some exposure, some education, but then for there to be space to wrestle with it a little. Have some discussion with peers. There’s some wonderful exercises you can do where you’re just writing down answers to questions. Journaling, as not corporate-y as that sounds, journaling is an incredibly powerful practice to develop awareness.

I think in this time of COVID, interestingly, surprisingly to me, because I’ve always been someone who’s like, “The work is better in person. We have to be in person.” Some things are really wonderful in person, but Zoom has worked really well for bringing larger groups together and doing this work. You set up some content and maybe expose someone to some information about privilege they didn’t have before. Right? Privilege is a really meaty area. You can talk about the idea that it’s not a zero sum game, that it’s really just about everyone starting at the same place. That can be really new for people. That can feel very challenging to identity.

But where the magic happens is then, you give them two or three discussion questions or an exercise and you send them off into breakout rooms. So, they’re with two or three colleagues and they have permission to talk about this in a structured way. That is where you learn something about yourself when you answer things out loud and you learn so much from your trusted colleague and learning about their experience. It’s way less about what I say and way more about the container and what it allows other people to explore for themselves.

Well, I think that is part of the challenge though, because I think a lot of times when people come to work, they’re not really thinking they have to expose all of themselves that way.

Jill Long:  I agree.

Melyssa Barrett:  It’s become a little bit different, I think, especially in times of COVID, because there’s so many people, not everybody, but a lot of people are working from home or in some cases they’ve brought their home to work if you will, because all of a sudden everybody from work is in their house and whether they have a virtual background or not, or people coming in and out, they’re trying to deal with kids that are in school.

Jill Long:  So, I’m going to eat this snack, a dog barks, it goes on and on.

Melyssa Barrett:  Exactly. I think we’re trying to modify our view of what is acceptable professionally, because now we’ve had to be more vulnerable, authentic, and exposed. I think when you’re having some of those conversations, it’s also okay to say, “I don’t know, I’ve never had that experience.” But the part where you have to just be open can be really exposing. So, what kind of information or guidance do you provide to companies that are, let’s just say, not as overwhelmingly willing on their diversity, inclusion, equity path and there’s… Because, I think there are times and people that are not really open to some of this work.

Jill Long:  Yeah, absolutely. I don’t think I mentioned this in talking about my story, but part of my journey here is I became an integral coach. I went back to coaching school and studied catching it at New Ventures West, which is in San Francisco. The word opening really makes me think about the model of coaching that we do, which is all about meeting people where they’re at, and they have to have an opening for there to be any movement, right? So, if you meet someone who doesn’t have an opening or you’re working with someone or an organization that doesn’t have an opening, if for some reason they’re still talking to me, there’s something that makes them feel like they have to do some DEI work. So, there’s some glimmer in there. The way I like to approach it is to just try and create an experience that will build more opening. Exercises, frankly, around values or the experience of exclusion, but don’t feel super loaded with identity or race or gender, but can kind of help open the inclusion paradigm to more people. Those kinds of things can be helpful for creating more opening, but it’s tricky.

I think there has to be opening and for people to feel open, they have to feel safe. If they’re in an organization where you shouldn’t be vulnerable, that’s never going to mesh up. It’s just never going to work. They have to, frankly, have some sense of wellbeing in their life. I think people that are under great duress right now, especially, are really struggling. This can be really wonderful because they’re already open and processing. Some of these concepts can feel like a relief to have space for it. To tell you the truth, that’s what I find most. I find people are pretty hungry to have these conversations and they don’t know how to do it, so they’re so thankful to have just a structure where they can walk into it with some sense of openness and not total terror, because I think total terror comes up a lot for people.

Melyssa Barrett:  Especially at Thanksgiving or some holiday, right? With your own family? You find out things that you maybe didn’t even know.

Jill Long:  Yeah. All over, right? There’s a bunch of stuff going on in my neighborhood right now about signs and the CC&Rs, and it’s complicated and people feel really attacked and under the gun. I think just coming to things from a place of wanting to create belonging and inclusion, without letting people off the hook. I want to be clear, I’m not saying, “We’ll just all hug and you can do whatever you want.” There has to be some rigor to it, but if we want people to change and understand more, I think the approach that I always feel works best is one with compassion, to see the struggle in it for all of us and to meet people in a place of compassion to help move things forward.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, I think sometimes when you build on… What you’re talking about is really at the core of trying to connect commonality on a broader scale, right? Because, it’s not just about the diverse elements, it’s really about us as human beings. Right? So, being able to kind of connect those dots in a way that allows us to understand each other and then really create some synergy and build off of those differences, because we can disagree. It’s okay if I don’t believe what you believe, but we don’t have to be yelling and screaming at each other or disrespecting each other because of that difference. Ideally the way politics should work, right, is that you have different views, and then you guys come together and come up with an even better plan. Right?

Jill Long:  One of the things I use a ton in this work is really doing some learning on listening, and specifically what is empathic listening, because when we listen to someone who has a different opinion than us, it is very rare. It is a skill to take that person’s perspective as their truth, which is the core of empathic listening, and not try and fix it or interrogate it or explain it or change it. This is another example of something that, “Oh, hi, we’re here to talk about empathic listening.” It doesn’t feel like we’re talking about DEI, but we are. Because if you don’t have some ability to practice and get better at empathic listening, you can’t have those respectful conversations that you’re talking about. So they all… Everything is one, everything fits together.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, that’s why I always say diversity, equity, and inclusion is in everything you do.

Jill Long:  It is.

Melyssa Barrett:  To me, I love having the conversations because everywhere you look, you’re actually having a conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Jill Long:  Yeah, absolutely. You’re either perpetuating systems of oppression or dismantling them. We find them… I know for me, it will be an endless journey. It’s one of my favorite parts of Robin DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility. For me, she’s been a really helpful teacher. She says in that book that there is no end. You’ll never stop unlearning systemic racism because it is so part of our country and our experience. That is a bummer in some ways. You’re like, “Oh, I kind of thought we could solve this thing.” But it’s also really freeing, because it’s not a race, it’s not a hierarchy. It’s not a, “Where are you at versus me?” It’s just a, “Can we all keep walking forward?” So, I will always unpack something. I’m always finding things where I’m like, “Oh, huh. That’s just some embodied systemic racism,” that I see the world through that lens and here I found another place.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, and I think what’s interesting is there’s a lot of people, even more recently, that have really gotten into the depth of racism and the view of it, that maybe they didn’t realize that it occurred that way or that people’s experiences were a certain way. I think it can help connect allies to really say, “That’s not appropriate.” Like, “Why are you talking that way?” I think it becomes really important for those allies to talk to each other.

Jill Long:  Absolutely. I think allies, white people, if you want to call it that, need to do their own work, which you hear a lot and talk to each other, which can feel very confusing. I hear a lot of, “I don’t know what that means.” But, I know a wonderful place to start is just learning all the history we were not taught, because it is revelatory. It is just mind blowing. To be like, “I was raised in this country, I was taught our history and wow, I wasn’t taught it. Wow. I only heard an eighth of it.” It’s hard to hear, but you got to grapple. It’s the reckoning. We all have to take our… That’s doing your own work is to do some work around the reckoning of the truth of what our history is.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. Great words. The truth about our own reckoning. Lord knows that we need a lot of work there, for sure. There are so many educators that are focused on bringing new history, I’ll call it “new history.” History that hasn’t been taught in the schools into being so that our young people actually get a sense for all of those different elements.

Jill Long:  I feel very hopeful about that piece. I have two late stage teenagers, an 18 and a 19 year old, and their whole understanding and awareness is wildly different than mine was. They’re sensitivity to our history and their desire for making things right and a reckoning is wildly different than my level of awareness was. The other thing, and I think you were sort of noting this just in what people are ready for, the overnight change in what companies and organizations were willing to talk about this year. I often would have to tap dance around the word “racism,” or tap dance around “privilege” and not anymore. It’s just out there. So, it’s hard and people are grappling, but the opening is so much bigger to talk more truth.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. I still see people fighting the words, but…

Jill Long:  I do, too. I sometimes come in and use the words and I say before, “I’m going to use these words.” Then still, people will be really, “So, why did you use those words?” I’m like, “Well, because they are the words. They are what is happening and they’re important words. Also, I told you I would use it.”

Melyssa Barrett:  It exists. It exists. Let’s own it. Yeah. That’s awesome. Where do you see this profession moving? Because, I think a lot of people will say there are things that work and work well, and then there are things that maybe don’t work as well. I think everyone I’ve ever talked to with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion, belonging, they all would love to see their jobs eliminated at some point.

Jill Long:  Absolutely. Yeah.

Melyssa Barrett:  Where do you see it going in terms of what we can do and where we can go?

Jill Long:  I’m thinking about… We’re talking about the profession of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diversity professionals. I agree we would all love to see this be unnecessary. I also don’t think that’s going to happen in my lifetime. Not to say, I don’t think we’ll make progress. I do think we’ll make progress, but building a space for this is pretty unique and pretty challenging, and it’s not something that just happens organically. I think there will be this need.

What I would love to see happen for the profession is that… We talked before about how under resourced people are. I would love to see it become an integrated function of any organization rather than a, “We put our diversity folks out here on this side and they’ll go fix that thing.” It’s what we’ve been talking about, right? It’s all one. It would be wonderful for diversity professionals not to have to start with that sort of cheer of recognizing and trying to get people and leaders to understand that it’s all one. That that will change, and so as it becomes all one, diversity folks should be in top leadership positions in every room and every meeting. That is really hard for some organizations to embrace. That would… wonderful next step towards it all being one.

Melyssa Barrett:  Absolutely. Well, those are great words to finish on. I will just thank you so much, Jill Long, for joining me for this conversation this week. I look forward to following you and your career and seeing the impact that you’re making in the community. So, thank you so much for being here.

Jill Long:  Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I love what you’re doing and I really appreciate your podcast. I’ve learned a lot listening to it, so thank you for being one of the great places of learning for me.

Melyssa Barrett:  Thank you so much.

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