Moving the Needle – Ep.44

Shifting Your Mindset – Ep.43
February 15, 2022
Embracing Transitions – Ep.45
April 1, 2022

Chuck Lockard, John Short and Marco T. Lindsey discuss DEI recruiting best practices and explain how companies can approach this initiative to create an inclusive hiring process.

Melyssa Barrett:  Welcome to The Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for thos 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.

All right, this week, I have the absolute pleasure with the following people that have joined me this week, Chuck Lockard, John Short and Marco Lindsey. Thank you all so much for being here.

John Short:  Thank you for your invite.

Chuck Lockard:  Thank you.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. I’m excited to talk to you all because I think everybody is always kind of looking at recruiting as part of their strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion. So I’m excited to have Marco on the phone, and I’m excited to have Chuck and John really talk about recruiting and what you all are doing in the space while Marco is really focused on a lot of the strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion.

So with that, before we jump into that, maybe you all could start by just talking a little bit about how you got to where you are today, because I know Cross Ocean Technology is one of the few black-owned recruiting firms in the country. So maybe you could talk a little bit, John, maybe you could kick us off with how you got started.

John Short:  Sure. Thank you, Melyssa. Man, it’s been a long journey. I’ll say that to start with. I actually got started in this space as an outcome of being in the technology space. I am an original San Diegan, an original Californian, but I was born and raised in San Diego and I kind of knew early on that I wanted to be, or have some affiliation with technology.

So I relocated to the Bay Area in 1986, just a few years after high school and a couple years after my origination of college. But I moved up here to finish college. And my whole goal was to work somewhere in Silicon Valley. And I wasn’t exactly sure where that was going to be when I was in school in college. And I met a lady on BART one day. She was a consultant with Anderson Consulting, and I befriended her. And she actually started me to thinking about a life in consulting.

And primarily, because there were such a lack of people of color in this space back in the early ’90s, late ’80s, it is what really piqued my interest. And so after finishing college and graduating, I applied. I was actually hired with Anderson Consulting, which at the time was the top consulting firm in the country or in the world, but had very few people of color.

And so when I got hired, I started working with technology teams and implementing systems around the world globally, moved up the ladder fairly quickly. And then I left and I went to another large company, which was IBM and found out that there was a lack of color in the executive spaces there too. Now, I will say IBM was more adept at having people of color in very influential positions and had been doing it for a long time. So it wasn’t as though when I was with Anderson Consulting, there was just a lack of people of color in the organization. But at IBM, there were people of color in the organization and they were in very influential positions.

And so my career with IBM was 20 years. And I would work with customers that I felt when they would select me to manage their portfolios, I also felt that they were trying to achieve or reach an initiative. And that was to have more diversity in their workspace. And so I kind of fit that bill a lot of times.

And what it allowed people to do was start to work with people that they weren’t familiar with and understand that people of color are very bright, very smart. We think outside of the box and it was rewarding for me personally. But after about 19 years of doing this, I just came to the conclusion that there was a barrier and I wanted to address it.

And I started Cross Ocean Technologies. And once I started Cross Ocean Technologies, our primary focus was to try and introduce people of color to the clients that we were working with that made that an initiative. And Cross Ocean Technologies has very good relationships with a number of organizations that are nationally recognized and have very bright people involved. Those organizations have allowed us to place a number of people in very key and influential positions around the country with different clients that we’ve worked with.

And now, we’re developing even a broader initiative with working with Marco, and really trying to broaden the opportunity with these companies and developing their strategies around diversity and inclusion. So that’s how I arrived here. And like I said, it’s been a long journey, but we are starting to see some of the benefits of making this a focus, working with the clients that we’ve been working with.

Melyssa Barrett:  Great. Chuck, I’ll go to you first and then I’ll round it out with Marco.

Chuck Lockard: My journey was a little different. I was born and raised in California. Bay Area boy, graduated high school, went away to college. In high school, I was a ball player, went away to college playing ball on a scholarship, got hurt, transferred back home and ended up at Cal State. And I was a mass communication major, and ended up falling in love with the career that I had no idea I was going to go into initially.

I worked for 27 years with the Alameda County Probation Department where I ended my career as a shift commander, departmental trainer and various other things that I did in the system. But I found out I had a love for helping people and trying to put people in positions where they can be successful. That was always my main focus while I was there. And from what people tell me, I was very good at it.

I retired from there maybe five years ago and began working with a residential treatment facility, where I was the program manager and moved on to a trainer and compliance manager in the transportation industry, and COVID came. And when the COVID came, that was the end of … It closed our business, closed my division.

And I happened to have a conversation with a gentleman named Tony Quincy, who I’ve known for some years, who introduced me to John Short. And next thing I know I’m with Cross Ocean. And doing what I do with regards to recruiting, it ties in with everything that I did just in another vein, being able to communicate to people across lines, being able to help people, being able to place people in positions where they can be successful in guiding and coaching and mentoring.

That is what I have found has been one of the number one key components and assets that I use with regards to talking to clients, with regards to talking to vendors, because it’s a universal skill. Either you have it, or you don’t. And just being in this position over the last, I would say maybe a year, it’s caused me to … I always say I’m reinventing myself, adjust in a new career, a new venture. And I love it.

And to me, there’s no greater joy than when you work with somebody for a while and you first talk to them and then they’re like, “Oh, you’re really trying to help me get a job? You’re really going to place me in a job?” And they end up getting the job and the joy that they have and the sense of relief that they have, it makes them feel whole. I can provide for my family. I have means to do things. It’s a very rewarding experience that I truly, truly love.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s fantastic.

Chuck Lockard:  I’m not going anywhere.

Melyssa Barrett:  I’m sure I know all these people are picking up on all these, on all the drops of gems that you guys are dropping with respect to conversations. I mean, even on BART, and all of the skillset transfers and the reinventing yourself, which is awesome. So I want to pivot over to Marco and have him talk a little bit about how he got to where he is today, specifically with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, and how the complement of what you’re doing creates some sustainability when DEI practitioners are really talking about recruiting.

Marco T. Lindsey:  Thank you, Melyssa. Thank you again for having us. Just so you know, these two gentlemen on the call are people I look up to. And the work that they do is inspiring, and so it is necessary. I’ll just say, I’m a Bay Area native, born and raised in Oakland, California. Was the chief of staff for many years at a local university. A chief of staff, the role is primarily working with executives. You’re advising executives. You have to be the person to give them the feedback that nobody else do.

You have to help them understand the strategy, help them in a lot of spaces. If you have media executives on a team, you have a person focused on finance, first person who focused on operations. They stay in their lane, but it’s the chief of staff that comes to bring them together for the total overall purpose of the organization. So I did that for many years. That was my dream job.

But once I accomplished that, I wanted more. And so throughout my entire life, I’ve always given back and tried to help other people. What I know, and I mean, you all know this is that people of color, we don’t lack the ambition. We don’t lack the drive. We don’t lack any of those things. We just lack the opportunity. We lack that someone to vouch for us to get us in the door like other cultures do. 

And so with that, I wanted to leverage some of the opportunities that I have, some of the connections that I have to do more. And so at that time, I pivoted, retooled, went and got DiversityFIRST certified. Went to school back in Dallas to do that. Came back here, and there was a few things going on.

One, at that time, I was associate director of DEI at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, the business school. But then I also volunteered with an organization called the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area. Something that we were doing, and we still do it to this day, we host career fairs. And a lot of them are specifically focused on the tech arena. We started off in 2016 and the first one was on non-engineering careers in tech. With the idea being that, unfortunately, a lot of people who don’t necessarily come from a lot of wealth and privilege when they hear tech, they hear Google, they hear Facebook, they think coding. They don’t realize there’s thousands of other jobs at a tech company that you can do and make good money and not know how to code.

And so what I want to do was expose more of our people to this information, right? And then also at the same time, tech companies will get in trouble for their lack of diversity. And so because I had the connections in tech, because we have these community connections, we wanted to bridge the gap. And so we began holding these career fairs where we would fill the room, and this is pre-COVID.

We’d fill a room and it was Oakland Impact Hub at the time, but we had other spaces. Let’s just say 300 career seekers, we’d have about 15 different recruiting organizations. And just talk to the folks about the jobs that they can feel that’s within your organization. What we know is that we have a lot of people here, I’m in the Bay Area, but nationwide who look like us and they’re capable. And many of them are already doing the job, but they’re doing that at a mom-and-pop, they’re doing that at brick-and-mortar.

And they can do that same job and take those same skills to a tech company and triple their income. I’m a firm believer that while we’re in a capitalistic society, if we’re going to fight gentrification, I’m not necessarily sure we can legislate against it. If a landlord is going to take $5,000 from somebody from Indiana. And I only have $500, I’m from Oakland, they’re going to take the $5,000 every time.

So the idea was, let’s help our people get the $5,000. And so we started with that. We did that for several years, but what I was noticing was there was a revolving door. And I felt like a bad steward. And I’ll say this, that people were trusting me. They would come to the organization and saying, “Hey, we’re going to go work at these companies. Thank you.”

Then they get to the company and have a horrible experience. And I feel bad because I’m the one that helped them get into this bad situation. And so I realized that instead of just helping our people getting these jobs, let me use my chief of staff skills, let me use my DEI skills so that way I can have some conversations with these executives who’d hire managers with these leaders to say, “Hey, you say you want diversity. I mean, you put it all over your website. When George Floyd came out, everybody had all these billions of dollars and all these nice statements, but what are you doing to make sure that the workplace is actually welcoming and inviting to people of color?”

And the truth is most organizations weren’t doing anything. I’m going to speak candidly. It’s a white space. And you want to bring people of color into a white space, but then you want us to behave like you. And so when you do that, I can’t bring my full self. To filter every thought before I say it, then I’m not really expanding my thought process. That’s extra labor that I have to do before I can even contribute to the conversation.

And so what I start doing is working with organizations, working with leaders, and again, using those same connections to start sitting down with the leadership and have a conversation and say, “Hey, these are some things that are common across every industry that you need to know about.” Let’s talk about what a microaggression is. Let’s talk about white fragility. Let’s talk about what that looks like. Let’s talk about white tears.

Let’s talk about how, you can’t necessarily talk up to a black woman and touch her hair just because you think it’s nice. Let’s talk about these things and let’s create some strategies. Let’s write some stuff down and let’s create spaces so that way, not only do you have the strategy, but I want you to be able to have the tools to give your team what they need to give you the feedback in case you make a mistake.

And one of the reasons why that’s so key is that there are a lot of people who don’t necessarily come from our background and they’re afraid of DEI because they scared they’re going to say something wrong. And they don’t want to get canceled or they don’t want to come off as racist. But what I try to do is work with them so that way, let your team know that you’re on a journey.

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a journey. I do this for a living and I’m still not there. No one gets there. We’re always learning. There’s always new concepts that are coming out. I mean, if you think about it, 60 years ago, you’d have called me a negro. You don’t call me that now. And things change in every demographic and every culture. And so what I want people-

Melyssa Barrett:  Or something else than what they called you.

Marco T. Lindsey:  Right. That too, right? And so the idea of being like, make sure that your team knows that you’re on a journey. Let them know that you’re working with me and that more likely you’re going to make a mistake. But let’s have some grace so that way, you can have a situation where you don’t have people afraid to let you know when you’re making a mistake because then that creates an environment where more mistakes are made.

And so I do a lot of one-on-ones with executives. I actually do group trainings. I come in and give a speech, a town hall. But ultimately, we need to move the needle because as John and Chuck are doing all this hard work to get us into these organizations, I just want to make sure these organizations are not chewing us up and spitting us out.

Melyssa Barrett:  Right. And I know I have seen everybody’s trying to measure results. And if you’re at a company and you’re measuring retention and you see people of color walk out the door, Chuck and John are doing the work to get them in there. And then guess what? The door is open a year or two later, and you have this 70% attrition rate or something.

Those are the challenges that companies really need to be paying attention to because the question is why. There is something about the culture at the organization that needs to be addressed in order to make people feel included. So I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying. I think it’s a challenge for all of us. And certainly, we as African Americans on this call or on this podcast, we can’t do all the heavy lifting. Obviously, we need everybody to participate in order to move the needle.

So what are some things that you all can talk about when it comes to recruiting and best practices around diversity, equity and inclusion when it comes to recruiting?

John Short:  That’s a good question. And a lot of times it raises another question, which is, “Are you serious Mr. Client about this initiative?” And because a lot of times, it’s not widely accepted, especially within organizations that have never made it a priority. And so even though these departments are being stood up to address the issue, a lot of times there’s not a lot of support on how you address it or even an understanding how to attack it.

And so we have to go through all of that minefield, so to speak, before we can even get an individual in a lot of times. And so the regular recruiting process is really there to … The process we follow, we’re really trying to find the right candidate for the job. And that starts with a lot of discussion.

What we do is we actually try to go and visibly see the environment if it allows us to do that because we want to make sure those cultural type of characteristics are also included in the overall search for the right candidate. So we use different tools naturally, but a lot of times a tool doesn’t necessarily give you the background of the individual and the experiences of the individual. So it’s still very much so a touchy-feely approach that we use.

And a lot of times, the networking comes to play too because we want to make sure that the individuals we’re looking at and talking to have a track record or history in the fields that we’re recruiting for. So those are just skills that we execute with. There’s really not … I mean, a lot of times you can see that the industry is moving towards trying to be more automated in a sense. But a lot of this you can’t quite capture through automation, yet at least. I think at some point in the future, it may be, but right now you still really need to have that connection with the individual.

And so what benefit we provide our customers is by bringing all of those things together and really searching and selecting the right candidates to present to them. We have a really good, successful track record because we do, do this. And we really try to look at the individual’s associations too. So one tool that’s being used that recruiters aren’t really, I would say, it’s not really part of their cadre of tools, but social media tells you a whole lot about an individual today.

And we can go on their social media platforms. We can go on their LinkedIn platforms, all of the different platforms that exist and really start to have an image of that individual. And a lot of times I’ll tell people, “Hey, we’re going to introduce you to this client, but you might want to go out and look at your social media platforms and clean some of those things up.” And you’ll be surprised what you see a lot of times, at least I am.

So, there’s not like a whole new approach to recruiting, so to speak, that’s much different than it was 15, 20 years ago. It’s really the associations and the understanding of the candidates that you’re introducing to your clients.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s fantastic.

John Short:  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melyssa Barrett:  So, then where does a company start? Because I think a lot of times, people will … If I’m at a corporation and I have been at one for decades, a lot of times they’re thinking about their overall diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. Recruitment is kind of like the first thing that comes to mind. We need representation. We got to bring people in. We need to … And one of the challenges is always about people who either already work there because retention certainly needs to be one aspect.

But in terms of the overall strategy, what’s the best way to employ a recruiting company when you’re talking about your DEI strategy? I think Marco talked a lot about resources and there’s a lot of people, a lot of companies that are struggling with exactly what resources do I need? When should I be bringing in a recruitment firm versus going to all the normal, the regular traditional colleges to pull in talent?

John Short:  That’s a good question, too. A lot of companies, when they embark on this initiative, they use traditional means to recruit. And the traditional means are, they’ll put up an advertisement somewhere and they hope people are going to answer that advertisement, and that way they find the candidate. So what we do is actually, we go out and we look at your requirement and we go out and find that individual through our network if it’s a diverse candidate you’re looking for.

And our network is broad. All of us come from different organizations that are really a culmination of very bright people that are dedicating their time to helping the overall community succeed whether it’s jobs or individually, we’re tapped into those organizations. So we’ve got a little bit more of an advantage when it comes to that, and that’s really our asset.

And so to engage an organization like ours is really not difficult. I mean, we’re on different platforms advertising, but that’s the benefit we’re going to bring to you versus you following traditional methods and just advertising your job and hoping the right person answers. And that’s why I asked all my clients, are you really serious, or how serious are you in making this an initiative in your organization?

And so as Marco had indicated earlier, what we started seeing was that we go out and we find the best and brightest. Sometimes they move across country and everybody knows how expensive it is to live here. So that’s the first thing we’ve got to deal with, right? But we get these folks and then they come in and then we find out a month and a half later, it didn’t work.

And so that’s why I said I want to find someone that really focuses on retention and sustainability in this space. And that’s how we came across Marco and the work that he’s doing. So we’re going to add that to our overall offering. We are adding it to our overall offering so that not only do we recruit the best person, but that person is then retained and make sure that we have drivers in place to retain them.

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

Marco T. Lindsey:  To add on there, one of the reasons why it’s so important to work with a team like this is because far too often people get their job through referrals. You know somebody in the company. Well, if your company is 90% white, then you’d probably refer more and more white people. So you’re replicating the problem that you’re saying you’re trying to get away from.

And so you have to get out of yourself because you don’t have those networks. And far too often, we see if recruiters looking at a resume, sometimes it’s the small things. It’s like, “Oh, you’re on a rowing club? I was on the rowing club too.” And that’s what sets them apart. “Are you in this fraternity?” I was in that fraternity too.”

Well, again, you’re just perpetuating the same problem because you’re getting more people like you within the organization. And you’re saying that you want diversity. And I’ll just say, you talk about best practices, I got a couple I can throw out there. But a worst practice far too often when you talk about DEI initiatives is organizations routinely go to the black people within the organization and say, “Fix the diversity problem. We got to put you on this task force. We want you to create this ERG.”

And one, this person, let’s just say, is a coder. They’ve never created a group, but you’re going to tap them because they’re black and they’re on a demographic that you’re looking for. But then also far too often they’re not paid for it. So it’s like, do your day job. You need to hit these numbers. But then in addition to that, we want you to create this whole council and do all this other stuff as a volunteer. And that’s just a tax that black and brown people shouldn’t have to pay.

Your organization created the problem. We’re here trying to solve the problem. We want to help, but don’t make me help for free. I want to eat too. I like food. I like my light to [inaudible]. So, make sure that you properly compensate people and that you’re reaching out and finding firms that specify in this. Don’t go to somebody in your organization that doesn’t do this. Their job is sales. Their job is not recruitment. And that’s why you have John and Chuck.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. I love it.

Chuck Lockard:  Well, listen, just even in my previous profession, very similar. There was always a glass ceiling. And as people of color, we were always prepared and you can kind of see the glass ceiling. It’s like this big elephant in the wall.

And I believe that in order to really hit the finite and key points on the DEI initiatives, the people on the other side have to really understand that we are just people just like you. We don’t talk different. We all speak English. We all have feelings. We all have emotions. We all want to do … We do good on our jobs, on our day-to-day walk. And we try to be the best that we can be. Really, the only thing separates us is maybe I have some color in my skin, but my feelings are still the same.

You can’t have someone that is not sensitive or does not understand what it is to put those shoes on and walk in those shoes to fix a problem that you’ve never had those shoes on. When I was in probation, it was like, at one time, all the counselors were of color. After you got out that building and you went upstairs, they were non-colored. And there were no black chiefs. There were really no black directors. All the counselors and all the managers were people of color.

But then once we came out of Alameda County and we went into these CPAC meetings and chief meetings, these different organizations of probation, then we sat there representing Alameda County as maybe one or two in a room of 200, 300. And people, you could tell there were … It made people uncomfortable. Well, there’s no reason to be uncomfortable when you realize we are experts at what we do. We have the knowledge to do and execute what it is that needs to be done.

Don’t walk around like an egg shell. That’s one way to keep the playing field level. People are people. When we look at people as people and judge them on their performance of their duties, not the expectation of they’re going to do this because they’re this color or they’re that color. It balances the playing field because since you can get to the business at hand which is pushing and creating the culture of the organization that needs to be pushed to meet the goals that need to be made.

Melyssa Barrett:  Right. Yeah.

Marco T. Lindsey:  Can I touch on that for a half second?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah.

Marco T. Lindsey:  So I think one of the things that I have to remind people is that whether you like it or not, America has a bias against black people. It’s just the truth. I mean, if you think about it, Malcolm X said this. At the word black, there are no positive associations with the word black besides Black Friday, maybe. But think about it. Think about a black cat, not the black cat is the most unlucky animal, not a tiger. You said if I run across a black cat, that’s worse than me running across a bear? But anyhow, I mean, you can go black plague. You can do black ball, blacklisted, everything.

And that’s just the language. We’re not even going to get into the historical aspect of this country and all the things. I mean, that’s a whole another segment. We can have that conversation later. But if you come to the conversation and help people understand that, okay, we all have biases, that doesn’t necessarily make you racist. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s what you do with those biases, right? And if we can address them and have a conversation about them and maybe even, I would say sometimes we have to overcompensate.

There was this company called Nexient, a Chicago-based consulting firm, diversity consulting firm. They sent out identical legal memos to 60 law firms. And what they did, the only thing that was different on these memos was they would say these came from black people, these came from white people. Did you know that the organization were more than likely to point out spelling errors and grammatical inaccuracies when they thought it was a black person? They consistently rated the black memos lower, even though they were the exact same.

And this, you can extrapolate this out across the entire everything. Sometimes, we’ve seen interviews. A white person can make a mistake is overlooked. A black person make a mistake, and now you know what, they’re not the right fit. 

And so that’s something that we have to address because it’s there. And as much as I don’t want it to be there, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want that, it is. And when we can come to the table and say that, like I’ve worked with executives and I’ve told them, “If you’re going to hire somebody, I’m going to tell you from the gate. If they’re black, you’re not going to like them. And it’s not anything that they did wrong. It’s your own bias.”

And if you could address that and overcompensate for that bias, knowing that you wanted the situation with it, then you’re more likely to create an atmosphere that makes this person feel comfortable in an interview. Then you’re more likely to see them for their talents and not just the color of their skin. And so those are, I know Chuck was talking about that like people come, we’re talented. And one of the things I tell people all the time is this, a lot of us have had to overcome a lot to get to where we are. You know that we lead so many areas that are bad. And we’re last to so many areas that are good. And that’s the way that America’s set up.

And what I always tell people is if you get to a space where you have a white candidate, I’m going to speak candidly, and a black candidate and they’re going for the same position and you’re wondering, I promise you the black candidate has to go through a lot more to get there. So it’s really not even a test. I mean, it’s not even close because we didn’t all have the trust funds. We didn’t have the uncles to put in a good word for us. We didn’t have the tutoring from a Harvard person all our entire lives. We have to struggle. We have to create solutions. We have to figure stuff out.

And once we get to the table, if we’re at the table and you’re considering me and I’m next to somebody who didn’t have to go through anything, then clearly this person is going to be better for your team because they’re going to help you find solutions that you never thought of because they spent their entire life figuring out solutions in order to get to where they are.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well said. Well said, Marco. Wow. So, then in terms of, this is all such a great conversation. Thank you for being so candid about it. One thing I wanted to ask you, I know you mentioned the 100 Black Men and I can’t leave without talking about, I’m certainly part of 100 Black Women and some other organizations. 

So, can you all talk a little bit about how you’re utilizing, you talked about career fairs certainly. But are there other ways that companies can reach out or utilize organizations such as those to benefit the process that they’re going through from a recruitment standpoint?

Marco T. Lindsey:  You know …

Melyssa Barrett:  Marco is on mute, I think.

Marco T. Lindsey:  Go ahead, John.

John Short:  I was going to say companies can reach out to organizations like the 100 Black Men here in the Bay Area on certain initiatives that involve people of color. And the organization itself is in the community. We’re looking to advance our causes and help improve and make the community prosper.

And so if that is a goal of the organization, I definitely would encourage them to reach out to the 100 Black Men because what we do is we try to start enough so that with the individuals that we work with by mentoring, providing them experiences that they normally wouldn’t get, education, health and wellness. I listed mentoring, education, health and wellness, and economic empowerment, those are four initiatives in the 100 Black Men. And those are the initiatives that we’re trying to push within the communities at an early age so that they grow up in their law abiding, contributing citizens in society.

So, we have our hands in that pot, and organizations can benefit from that by hiring or working with individuals within those circles that we work with. We have a program right now that we’re developing, which is really to help people within the communities get opportunities, to get jobs with some of these types of companies we’re talking about. And we’re acting as a bridge or a liaison between the communities of color and those organizations. The goal ultimately is for them to get higher and then be able to carry those experiences back with them to the community so that we can have a closed loop and a circle, so to speak, and continue to do that.

But one of the things that I think is another benefit for the organizations is that we’re working and preparing these individuals for lifetime success, not just in the moment but lifetime success. And that’s where the organization itself is it consists of people who volunteer their time to give back.

Somebody spent their time to give it to me when I first started in corporate America. Somebody spent their time to give Marco those tools that he needed to be successful, same thing with Chuck, same thing with probably you too, Melyssa. But now it’s our time to pay forward. And so that’s what we’re doing and making sure that we can continue to push the bar higher and higher and higher as it relates to opportunities for people of color like ourselves.

So the 100 Back Men of the Bay Area fully embraces that initiative. And we recognize those who are our sponsors or our corporate partners. We recognize them yearly at our 100 Gala for their contributions and making this a success for all.

Marco T. Lindsey:  And another aspect of that is that most organizations have a corporate social responsibility arm, if you will. And so corporations are, I think especially with this new generation, corporations aren’t as attractive if they’re just so transactional. We’re only going to come to black people when I hire you, then after that we’re not talking to you no more. That doesn’t work. And so we have to do more.

And the 100 is a great space. I mean, I’m a member and I love it, but there’s a ton of organizations that we have connections with, like the National Black MBA Association, National Society of Black Public Accountants, Bay Area Urban League of Young Professionals. I mean, there’s tons of organizations out there that corporations can and should be connected to because what this is about is a partnership.

And don’t just come to our community and try to take the best and our brightest. That’s what you’re trying to do. Don’t do that. Work with us. Figure out, help us create initiatives. Tell us, “Okay, we see that this sector is going to be on fire in 10 years. Okay, let’s work together to create programs so that way our youth are prepared for that.” Let’s have those type of conversations so that way, now you can be seen as a trusted corporate partner.

Now, when John says, are you serious that you want to do this? Okay, you know what? We see it. We see it on the back end. We see that you’re actually going out into the community and helping out and donating, or donating your time or whatever the case may be. That’s what’s important. And that’s really what sets a lot of corporations apart. Some just want to come, “You know what, oh, you have somebody who went to Harvard, who went to Princeton? We want him.” There’s more to it than that. Can you help our entire community because we’re going to help you in your bottom line.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes, absolutely. You use the term partnership. I like to use the word relationship. This is a long-term relationship. And I think corporations get a lot more out of it certainly as they start to get to know the people associated with these organizations and the people coming through those organizations. So, I love the fact that you called out corporate responsibility because I think a lot of times companies, they don’t always think in terms of how to connect diversity, equity and inclusion, corporate responsibility, social impacts, sustainability. All of those things can play together to create a community of practice that is more significant, and really allows you to leverage that journey in a way that it can be unprecedented for your organization. So, thank you for that.

John Short:  And that’s why we ask that question, “are you serious” because a lot of time, there are phrases out there that people use that sound good for the moment. But this is truly, it’s cataclysmic in organizations. It’s a fundamental change because now what you’re doing is you’re actually using diversity in thought, in preparation, in your whole business approach. And if a business is not being innovative, it’s not going to last.

And so this allows you to become innovative by leveraging those different ideas when you create things or when you’re actually trying to push your brand further. And so you got to be serious about doing that versus just trying to meet numbers. And that’s what you find a lot of executive is trying to do is meet their numbers, get their numbers up. It kind of reminds me of what was it back in the ’60s when there was a big push to hire black people? What was it?

Melyssa Barrett:  Affirmative action?

Chuck Lockard:  Affirmative action. Affirmative action. That was everything.

John Short:  And you saw people starting to even back away from affirmative action, even people of color were backing away from affirmative action and saying, “I don’t want to just be hired as a number. I want to bring innovation or different ideas to the table that you’re going to consider and potentially implement.”

And so that’s what we’ve actually [inaudible] from affirmative action to now DEI. And I hope that when organizations decide to … that they’re really taking all of that into consideration because that’s what we’re here to help do. And that’s what we’re … We’d be successful with you in that journey. So yeah, you’re absolutely right.

Melyssa Barrett:  And I think it’s so interesting that you mentioned that because I think a lot of people might be thinking about the perspective on Black Lives Matter and value. But those are all things, I just came off of a celebration and it was all about African-Americans, they’re not African, they’re not American, so they have no culture. And that type of mindset, those types of things you’re talking about with affirmative action, I’m only getting the job because of my skin color, that erodes the very value that we bring to the table.

And so I just really am encouraged by the work that you all are doing to bring together DEI recruitment and really the strategy overall, because I think a lot of companies are struggling with what their strategy needs to be. But they also have to understand that the strategy sometimes has to pivot just based on the culture. And so I think it becomes really, it’s a challenging journey but it is a journey. So, thank you all so much for all the things that you’re doing in the space. Any last thoughts?

John Short:  Again, our information is public. We welcome opportunities to work with diverse organizations and really connect them to the type of candidates that they’re looking for or having a challenge finding. And like I said, our network, our net is very, very broad. It’s global to a degree. A lot of times you find the best and the brightest and niche places, and we can tap into those places to really bring those candidates to bear.

So just wanted to reiterate that, Cross Ocean Technologies. There’s a reason why we’re called Cross Ocean and everybody that I hire ask me that question, “Why do you call it Cross Ocean?” It’s basically because we don’t have boundaries. We don’t place any boundaries on us. And we want to be able to tap into those areas that most people can’t tap into to help our clients succeed.

Melyssa Barrett:  Fantastic. I love it. Chuck?

Chuck Lockard:  If I could just leave anything on the lasting word, just it’s okay to be uncomfortable to be comfortable. Everything is not always going to be comfortable. In order to create balance, sometime you got to go one block on one side, one block on the other side, may have to put a little bit more on one side and balance it out.

It’s okay to be comfortable, but it is what you do in those uncomfortable situations to make things comfortable. Like Marco said, people have to realize it’s okay if you don’t understand. That’s called a learning curve. It’s okay if you’re unsure. That’s called lack of experience. It’s okay if you are trying to figure it out. That means you just have a little bit, you got a little bit more knowledge to learn. But over the sands of time, as things are put together and as people work together, you begin to see the talents of others and what people bring to the table.

And most people don’t like feeling uncomfortable. They don’t want to, “Oh, I don’t want to go there.” It’s okay. If I address you or if I’m telling you, or if I’m uncomfortable, that has to be okay too because there was a time, like John said, we went from affirmative action to DEI. Before affirmative action, but we weren’t even invited to the table.

So, this is the springboard or the wind that has come for those sails that is now it’s up to us to take it to that next level.

Melyssa Barrett:  Next level. That’s it. Marco, want to round us out?

Marco T. Lindsey:  Sure. Just quickly, I can be found on LinkedIn, Marco T. Lindsey, But on my LinkedIn, I have my three life mottos and I’m just going to leave you with the first two. The first one is live your life as if your 80-year-old self is watching. So, we all could go back … If we can go back to high school, go back to 20 years, there are something we would do differently. There’s at least one thing you would do differently, right? What will your 80-year-old you wish that you had done differently today?

Have that type of hindsight with foresight to say, okay, because what’s going to happen for those that don’t want to get on a bandwagon now. And we’re talking about the DEI space. We’re talking about recruiting more people of color. When you’re 80, you’re going to look back on your life and there are people who are 80 now who are around in the ’60s and they didn’t march. And their grandkids who looked like, “Grandpa, what did you do during these crazy times?” And they didn’t do anything.

And so with everything that we do, we have to have that mentality I believe that, “Hey, one day, I won’t be able to speak as clearly as I can speak now. One day, I won’t be able to help as many people. I won’t be able to be as thoughtful as I am. And so I have to use my faculties and my abilities to do what I can to make this world better, and to make sure that when I am on my death bed with great, great grandkids looking around, that I’m okay.” And I can hear the “thy servant well done”.

Second life motto, if you help as many people as possible become successful, then you can help but be successful yourself. And that’s what it boils down to. That’s what we’re doing. We’re trying to help people become successful. And a lot of times, these people can’t do anything for us. They don’t have a pot. They don’t have two pennies to rub together, but I still want to see you win. And I tell this to people all the time that I work with like, “I want to see you win. It’s important for our culture that you win. It’s important for our people that you get a job and you move up in that tech company, so that way you can be a leader that our kids can look up to.”

And so I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that you win. And I think that the more of us have that mentality from all demographics, all cultures, I think the better our society will be and the more people that we will end up helping. Those are my final remarks.

Melyssa Barrett:  We will achieve inclusion.

Chuck Lockard:  Yes, we will.

Melyssa Barrett:  I love it. Success, black excellence. I have had such a pleasure talking to you, gentlemen. And thank you so much for joining me on The Jali Podcast. And I look forward to talking to you all again.

John Short:  Yes.

Melyssa Barrett:  So keep up the great work and you know you can always call on me for anything you need. But keep on keeping on.

John Short:  Thank you, Melyssa.

Marco T. Lindsey:  Thank you, Melyssa.

John Short:  And thank you to your patrons too.

Chuck Lockard:  Yes.

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