Reaching DEI – Ep.29

Undoing Systemic Ignorance – Ep.28
May 25, 2021
Dismantling The Employment Process – Ep.30
June 9, 2021

Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Americas at BNY Mellon, Patty Dingle shares her role providing support and visibility to underrepresented groups. The conversation highlights celebrating the “little wins” while engaging in DEI, reducing prejudices in the context of identity and remembering to lead with empathy in order to effectively integrate diversity globally.  

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. This week I’m joined by Patty Dingle. She is head of diversity and inclusion for the Americas at BNY Mellon. She’s responsible for leading the region’s engagement in global diversity and inclusion strategy, so D&I strategy. 

She also is responsible for ensuring D&I is integrated into business and client initiatives, overseeing their partner network to optimize a diverse talent pipeline and professional development opportunities and outcomes. She works closely with senior leaders and employee and business resource groups as they celebrate their focus and actions supporting underrepresented talent, including black and Latinx. Prior to joining BNY Mellon, Patty was with Visa where she focused on similar initiatives and played an integral part in designing an underrepresented talent strategy, including standing up the company’s first black executive council. She also designed and launched inclusive leadership training for people managers.

Her prior experience includes designing and facilitating diversity and cultural competence training and implementing the executive diversity council chaired by the CEO at CSAA Insurance Group. She will spend some time talking about her career as a producer for ABC Seven Network television, and she later served as the promotion director for KTSF Channel 26, the leading television station for the Asian community in the Bay Area. She holds a degree in broadcast communications from San Francisco State University and an MBA from Brandman University. She is a Seaside, California native, and she currently serves on the advisory board of Self-eSTEM, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a sustainable supply of underrepresented minority women leaders who are recognized as top talent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Shout out to Adamaka Ajaelo, who is the founding executive director of Self-eSTEM, keep up the great work.

I am so excited to have Patty Dingele with me here today. I have known you now it seems, I think at least over a decade, I don’t know. But you are doing such wonderful and marvelous things in diversity, inclusion, equity, all of those things that I am so excited to have this conversation with you and hear about what you’re doing and hopefully you can provide some nuggets of wisdom. But I figured we’d start out, maybe you could talk a little bit about your personal background and how you even got into inclusion, equity, diversity. How did you even come to work in this area? 

Patty Dingle: Well, first, thanks for inviting me. I’ve been low key stalking you on social media and I was seeing your podcasts and was thinking, when is she going to call me? [crosstalk].

Melyssa Barrett: I didn’t want to stalk you back, so you know.

Patty Dingle: No. Yeah, just so happens we connected. No, I truly appreciate the opportunity. And what’s super interesting I think is that actually started my career, my adult working life in television. I have a broadcasting degree. I went to San Francisco state, which that school is known for their broadcasting program. I was a student athlete, which basically meant I was spoiled and got whatever I wanted. 

Melyssa Barrett: Nice.

Patty Dingle: And I will say that, funny story, I actually landed a job at ABC in San Francisco four days after I graduated, which is rare. 

Melyssa Barrett: Wow, that’s insane. How nice is that?

Patty Dingle: Super nice, because I got a job. I didn’t have to move back home. And here’s how I got that job. I found out that my dad actually worked in the same building as the Western division president of ABC. Because of this particular executives job and he traveled so much, they allowed him to have his office wherever he wanted. And I’m originally from Seaside, California, which is part of the Monterey Peninsula, which a lot of people know it for Carmel and Pebble Beach, it’s beautiful.

Melyssa Barrett: It is.

Patty Dingle: And this guy, his name was Ken Johnson, had his office in Pacific Grove, California. My dad was the maintenance guy. But my dad was big and dynamic and personable and everyone loved my dad, right. So of course my dad knows the Western division president of ABC. 

Melyssa Barrett: Of course he does. 

Patty Dingle: Of course. And I said, “Dad, hook me up, what are you thinking?” So he really did put it together because a lot of parents when you’re in school, they really kind of don’t know what you’re up to, particularly if they did not go to university, right. And my dad mentioned me to this executive and next thing I know I’m meeting with the general manager at ABC in San Francisco and I get a job. 

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. That says a lot about dad for sure.

Patty Dingle: Says a lot about my dad and you know how people say it’s who you know?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Patty Dingle: It’s who you know. And that’s going to be a theme throughout kind of my career, right. And so I started at ABC in San Francisco. I started in the research department and literally like an hour later found out that the promotion director needed someone. And frankly, I was an overpaid intern, right. They couldn’t deny me because Ken Johnson told them to give me a job. And so working in promotions was great. It was fun. It was all about the image of the television station. And then ultimately I made friends there and one of my friends chose to leave the role that she was in. She was going to pursue something bigger in Los Angeles and said, “Hey, you’d be a great replacement for me.” And it came down to me and a couple other people, and I was ultimately hired by two women that would be my mentors for the rest of their lives actually. And one is still living who is still my mentor, and it was in public affairs.

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. Interesting. 

Patty Dingle: Yeah. And public affairs at a television station is really the heart and the soul, right. They help marginalized communities amplify their voices. I think you could probably predict where this is going.

Melyssa Barrett: All about communications, right?

Patty Dingle: Yeah. 

Melyssa Barrett: Amplifying that voice, that’s awesome.

Patty Dingle: Amplifying that voice, giving back, right. And in San Francisco, large Asian population, large black population, at the time it was the Latino population now known as the Latinx. And we were one of the few stations that produced very high quality packaged shows. And packaged means you go out interviews, you get B-roll, you package it all together for a full 30 minutes or hour show. And a lot of public affairs departments at other stations didn’t do that. They were very low budget. They were just talking head at the shows and they were called profiles of excellence. 

And every year we would profile people from the community, but we were very intentional during Black History Month. Our profiles of excellent show profiled people from the black community. So I was so privileged to meet people like Reverend Cecil Williams, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, all these people. But the caveat was that to be on the show you had to give back, right. It wasn’t just celebrity status, you had to give back. And so we had a black African-American profiles of excellence. We had an Asian one, we had a Hispanic Latino one, as I said now, Latinx. And that really gave me some visibility into not just the community that I’m a part of, but other communities in the Bay Area, right. And their needs in equity that existed, hence the amplifying the voices. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Patty Dingle: I remember I was assigned a package for our African-American profiles of excellence and I got to interview and people in the Bay Area will know who she is, Renel.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. I know exactly who you’re talking about.

Patty Dingle: Radio personality, now the voice of the San Francisco Giants. And I tell you, you spend a lot of time with folks when you’re interviewing them and putting these packages together, and man, she just let me in. And I will tell you this, she didn’t know me from anyone, but to see a black woman in that type of role, doing what she was doing was just inspirational. And then I was just like, I got to keep doing this work, right. 

But in television, it’s very stressful for me. It started to impact me in a very negative way, the stress. And I decided, you know what? I need to leave this big market television station. And I went to a small privately owned television station in the Bay Area, Asian language television station, KTSF. Again, amplifying voices, but for the Asian community. And man that just exposed me to so much cultural nuances, being only an English speaker and working with people who are speaking Cantonese and Mandarin and how to maneuver that. And I was a promotion director, so my job was to create visibility, right.

But ultimately it’s still a grind. And I was just like, “I’m not quite sure if this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” But lo and behold, those two women that I worked with at ABC, one of them left and went to AAA. Her name is Rose [Guilbeau]. I get wind that she’s looking for someone in her philanthropy department, right. And I was like, “Well, this is a sign maybe.” Because at the time I never thought that she would leave the television station. She was there for 20 something years, right. So I left and I went to AAA and that’s when it all started, like truly started the diversity work. So you take all the experience in the television stations and the communities, now I’m giving money away to these communities, right. And figuring out how to get employees to volunteer and help. And that was just the hook for me, right, giving back.

And then the other woman that I worked with at ABC, [inaudible] ended up coming to AAA. So you see how this is working. It is who you know, hold on to that. But you know what, at the end of the day, when people open doors for you, you still have to do the work.

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely right. You got to live up to that [crosstalk].

Patty Dingle: You got to live up to that and you have even more responsibility, right. It’s even more pressure, particularly when you’re a woman of color and you’re working with women of color, women who have diverse backgrounds, right. Diverse, I mean, ethnicity. And so when this all happened, I was like, “Okay, this might be a career for me.” Then I get a phone call from the head of HR at AAA, I’m like, “Hold on. This is very bizarre. Why is she calling me?” Keep in mind, black woman, head of HR at AAA. And she goes, “Hey, listen, I talked to your boss. I talked to the CEO. I want to carve out an opportunity for you on the diversity team.” 

But here’s the catch, they wanted to take what I was doing on the philanthropy side and merge it with diversity. Makes sense, right? Because you’re giving money to marginalized communities, you’re supporting marginalized communities, et cetera. So I thought about it and I said, “Absolutely, I’ll take it.” And that started my journey in what is now called diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging. At the time it was just diversity, it wasn’t even inclusion involved. I think there were a couple of employee resource groups called affinity groups at the time. And I was on a team of five. We were focused on Northern California and that’s where the journey started. 

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. That’s awesome. 

Patty Dingle: I know. It’s a lot.

Melyssa Barrett: And now look at you. You have gone from large corporations and financial payment technology and financial services and you are doing it.

Patty Dingle: Well, thank you. I don’t know how much I’m really doing at this point, but it feels like it. And I think being at BNY Mellon. 

Melyssa Barrett: It’s a big task.

Patty Dingle: Yeah. 

Melyssa Barrett: It’s not going to change over night.

Patty Dingle: Yes, exactly. And the one thing that I learned and kind of reflecting on this work is I think people in this space do not recognize the small wins that occur every day, from that one employee who reaches out who just wants some advice or to that communications person who says, “Hey, can you look at this real quick?” And you find something that is maybe a little tone deaf, or you have someone on your team that is just stretched too far and willing and just ready to give it all in. And I mean, you have to do this work because you have to … How do I put this? If you’re looking for that silver bullet.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. You do it because you love it and you know it does make a difference, but you don’t … it’s like you’re walking around planting seeds, but you may not see the tree grow.

Patty Dingle: Yeah. And you have to realize others are going to see it.

Melyssa Barrett: Correct. Yeah.

Patty Dingle: That’s right. Because it’s not all about you.

Melyssa Barrett: Well, and it’s funny because diversity, equity and inclusion, for me it always starts with me. I have to think about me, myself, my own bias, all of these things. But at the end of the day, it isn’t about me. It’s about how I see other people and what, how I treat them and empathize and all of those things, which is I mean, that’s a big part of the work.

Patty Dingle: It’s a big part of the work. And it’s hard because especially when you work at a company like BNY Mellon, we are confident in what we do, investment services, investment management, wealth management, right. We’ve been around hundreds and hundreds of years, we do pretty good, right. And so there’s a constant bar that people are trying to consistently raise, right. And so when you’re in a business like that, you take that on, right. And when you’re not able to recognize those little wins as I mentioned, you could get pretty frustrated really quickly.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. But I think a lot of people can be frustrated. I mean, whether it’s a large organization or if they’re even a small company, just trying to figure it out. I mean I had people say like, “Why do I even need to be thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion, right?

Patty Dingle: That’s a great point because this is what I feel makes this work challenging in a good way. You never know what you’re going to get. You might get that one executive that is just woke. Yep, I got it, Patty, let’s do this, let’s do this, let’s do this, let’s do this, right, intentionality. But you have some leaders that are like, “Okay, like you said, why is this important again?” Or that person with that great intention, oh, well, everybody’s the same, I’m just looking for someone that works really hard. And then coachable moments, right. As a practitioner you’re constantly shifting and meeting people where they are knowing that you’re trying to get them to the same place.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Patty Dingle: And that’s why progress is not as visible. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. There’s a lot of layers to that. 

Patty Dingle: A lot of layers. I think of it like those restaurants that have that blooming onion, you just peel it back, it’s constantly like, so there’s more? Yeah, okay, there’s more. And then you get hit with what’s happening in our world externally outside of work. Today is the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s, and I’m going to say it, murder. Because believe it or not, previous to the trial when, and I won’t even speak his name, I don’t want to give it that power. But calling it a murder, he literally had folks going, “Wait a minute. No one’s been convicted of that.” But hold on, that’s my perspective, right. So I’m going to say it now because that’s what it is. 

And I said it before, but even reflecting on that and I sent a note to our black leadership forum just saying, “Hey, you all are on my mind today.” And I don’t know about everybody else, but you know what keeps replaying in my mind is his daughter. You know what? And I don’t-

Melyssa Barrett: Sends chills up my body every time I think about it.

Patty Dingle: Yeah. Gianna is her name. And she said, “My daddy changed the world.” And my eyes are puddling now because for this little girl, I don’t remember how old she was. She’s little. She’s not even 10, I don’t think. And saying that moved me. And then I think about when I took this job, I literally was like, “I can change the world.” You have this powerful corporation and then they’re hyper focused on this work. Regardless of where individual leaders are, there’s an intentionality behind it. And I keep using that word because I think that that’s critical to doing this work.

Melyssa Barrett: Definitely.

Patty Dingle: But when you’re head of HR, your CEO, your financial officer, everybody is all on board with these representation goals for black and Latinx talent, by the way. Very specific.

Melyssa Barrett: Very specific. Yeah.

Patty Dingle: And giving people room to meet those goals. It’s not in a year, it’s like, okay, over three years we’re going to do this, right. That to me is validation.

Melyssa Barrett: And it used to not even be black and Latinx, it used to just be women, right? I mean, it’s almost like they would kind of break off a chunk and just go, “Okay, I’m going to set one goal.” And that’s what it was. I mean, there’s some progress.

Patty Dingle: Some, and even with that, I’ll take that like, but also when I have conversations, I go, “You know that also means black women, that also means Latinx women, that means Asian women. That means women that identify as LGBTQ, whatever, whichever one, they identify. It means women that are veterans, women with disability.” I mean, it goes on and on and on, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right. But that’s kind of not how it started, right? 

Patty Dingle: No. 

Melyssa Barrett: It was like [crosstalk].

Patty Dingle: Because it was comfortable.

Melyssa Barrett: Right. It was like, “Okay, this maybe the CEO’s wife or daughter,” as they think about it, right.

Patty Dingle: That was the story, right. The executives, why have daughters? Well, your daughters are like you basically. 

Melyssa Barrett: Well, and yeah, you’re absolutely right. I mean, it’s the changes that you are making. I mean, the work that you are doing is changing the world. You just can’t see it-

Patty Dingle: That’s right.

Melyssa Barrett: … on a large scale. Sometimes you just have … so your point of the little wins. I mean, they mean a lot, right?

Patty Dingle: Yeah.

Melyssa Barrett: Because to one person even, that probably hopefully has changed the trajectory of their lives.

Patty Dingle: Yeah. And I think practitioners need to be more aware of that because I think some of us try to do things too quickly. 

Melyssa Barrett: Well, I mean it can be very thankless job, right?

Patty Dingle: Absolutely. You have to love it. You have to wake up in the morning because you love your job. It’s kind of like the analogy of if you continue to drip water on a boulder, that boulder will ultimately go away, right. It’ll be slowly broke. It’ll break down slowly. And that’s kind of the analogy that I like to use too. And back to Gianna Floyd and what she said about her daddy, she saw it happening in front of her eyes, the peaceful protests throughout the world. Not just in Minneapolis, the world. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. 

Patty Dingle: And I don’t know why that just resonates with me so much right now, but I just, like I said, I’m very moved by it, but it’s also this thing about, you said thankless, right. Also being confident that I don’t need anybody else to validate what I’m doing, right. I’m confident in it. I show up for work every day. I would expect that I give it 110 every day, right. And also sometimes you’re also trying to have to explain yourself all the time, right. No one on the business side is walking and going, “Okay, we’re going to acquire these customers because of these reasons.” No. But diversity people we walk in and we have to say, “Here’s the business case,” over and over and over and over, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. No, you’re right. Let’s pause for a moment. We’ll be right back. And I know we’ve talked a lot about, I mean, certainly Asian hate that we’re seeing a lot of focus on Asian hate now. A lot of similar treatment, some of which I have to say, I’m just as … I don’t even know what word to use, because I’ve seen people run by and throw people into the street and just craziness. I don’t even understand how you can not have a value for life like that.

Patty Dingle: Yeah. That’s hard. I mean, I think you and I are kind of cut from the same cloth, right? We’re respectful of people. We don’t think different is deficient. We are not threatened by other people who are not like us. So being half Japanese and half black, I tell you, I’ve had to really ground myself with all of this. And even people that are perceived as Asian who are not are being attacked. And we could do a whole other show about perception, right. But I think for me, I kind of boil it down to a couple of things, fear and selfishness.

So a lot of times you hear, particularly from white Americans, I’m going to use that term to describe it, because I think it’s relevant when you hear things like immigration, they’re taking our jobs. Well, last time I checked you weren’t willing to work in the fields for next to nothing and break your back for these multi-million dollar companies. Okay, I want to see you go do that. Fear of identity, not being even remotely educated on systems and institutions. Robin DiAngelo who wrote White Fragility said, “If you were educated in public or private school, doesn’t matter, in the United States, you’re racially incompetent.” And she’s absolutely right. Think about what we learned about pilgrims, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Think about everything that’s happened to indigenous people, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely. 

Patty Dingle: The Mormons didn’t go to Hawaii and make peace. No, they ripped people of their culture and their identity. Same thing happened to Eskimos, to Aboriginal people everywhere, American Indians, right. And that to me is driven by fear, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Well, and then we begin to actually do it even to ourselves, right?

Patty Dingle: Sure.

Melyssa Barrett: Because we’re trying to acculturate. If you immigrated here, you’re like, “Oh, I have to be this way.”

Patty Dingle: Because I’m already standing out because my skin is a different color. My hair is a different texture. I’m going to do whatever I need to do to not stand out as much, right.

Melyssa Barrett: And that’s when you start to lose your authentic self, right?

Patty Dingle: That’s right. 

Melyssa Barrett: So it didn’t start yesterday. It probably started in elementary school.

Patty Dingle: And then you get it from the other side. Oh, you sound so this, you sound so white. Oh, you got the good hair. No, no, no, no, no, don’t do that to me. So when I think about my identity and I shared this in many forums that the most discrimination I’ve ever faced was from other black people because I wasn’t black enough. Or really about my hair texture, that was a big one, right. Or when you tell people, “Oh yeah, I’m half black.” No, you’re not. How are you going to tell me-

Melyssa Barrett: They tell you what your identity is.

Patty Dingle: How are you going to tell me, right? And then the Japanese side is very interesting as well, because I don’t know the language. My mom wanted us to assimilate, kind of to your point, fit in. Don’t stand out too much, you are already standing out enough. So don’t know Japanese, wish I did. But again, not something my mom thought she wanted us to learn. And so when you tell people you’re Japanese and you don’t speak the language, it’s like, “What do you mean you don’t speak the language?” Today that’s how it is, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right.

Patty Dingle: Yeah. It’s just a trip like this dual identity ethnicity, there’s a lot of us by the way.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. [crosstalk]. 

Patty Dingle: Yeah. And my parents did not meet while overseas and all that. A lot of people did, but that’s kind of like the stereotype, right. And they met in the United States. And at one point I feel like maybe not in my lifetime, everyone’s, going to be brown in this world. So you’re not going to be able to tell anything, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right.

Patty Dingle: Let’s think about it. Why is it so important?

Melyssa Barrett: For you to be put in a box, right? 

Patty Dingle: Yeah, why is that so important? As if that’s going to tell you something about me that’s going to help you or maybe not have you be so fearful, that whole one-drop rule. I remember in elementary school we had to fill out a form and that was before you could pick two or more and I was confused. I didn’t know what to do, I said, “Check one.” The administrator told me, “Check black because that’s what your dad is.” I was pissed. I was like, “No, that’s not my identity. That’s not my only identity.”

Melyssa Barrett: I still have problems with checking boxes when people put stuff in front because they’ll say, “Are you black but not Hispanic?”

Patty Dingle: That’s a whole other thing.

Melyssa Barrett: Right. I mean, we could talk about all of the intersectionality. I mean, obviously there’s depths of that too. If we just think about one ethnicity, then you start talking about intersectionality and people are like, “What is happening?”

Patty Dingle: It’s too complicated, right? And then if you had like me the opportunities to work globally, the conversation changes. And then there’s more conversations about nationality, socioeconomic status, age comes up a lot, ageism. You really learn to appreciate certain things being in the United States when you are a person with a disability. Even me being able body but being in diversity, you’re in a country you’re like, “How is someone supposed to do this when this is in the … ” You know what I mean? It’s like there’s such a consciousness.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. Well, and I think that’s the key, right? Is you get to a level of consciousness so that you’re aware of challenges on others as you go through your own life.

Patty Dingle: That’s right.

Melyssa Barrett: I mean, and that’s where I think you end up with gratitude for wherever you are in life and whatever you … I mean, it’s like you are who you are and you should be proud of it, you are enough. I don’t have to be anybody else, I can just be me. I think that’s that whole belonging part. It’s like, where do I belong to? And what am I trying? I want to connect with you as a person, right?

Patty Dingle: That kind of helps and it also kind of hinders, right. Think about just the people we want to connect with that are like us, usually we’re comfortable, right. So whatever it is, right. Went to the same school, the same sports team, whatever. When it becomes dangerous is when people limit their lens when they are hiring folks. Or maybe they have a bias towards a certain school or promoting people or even who they choose to sponsor, right? And listen, a lot of people don’t live diverse lives either, right. We learned that. Rosalind Hudnell said that a little while ago, she used to be great intel. And I think we have to really lead with empathy in those types of situations. 

Melyssa Barrett: Back to your point of intentionality, right?

Patty Dingle: Intentionality. And I think people that work, I won’t even say practitioners of diversity and inclusion, equity, all that. But I think also how do I describe it? We have to understand that when people don’t get it, the reasons why they don’t get it. And maybe you spend more time with that person. Maybe you offer a little bit of insight about yourself and then get them comfortable, right. Because there are a lot of times people in this space are like, “I don’t understand why they don’t get this.” You need to understand why they don’t get it. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. Well, I see your point. I mean, you’ve been working in the space for so long? Are there big mistakes that people have made or can avoid maybe?

Patty Dingle: Yeah. I think no one should ever feel excluded, even the folks that make up the majority. So all these companies coming out after George Floyd making statements, making contributions, setting goals. The Asian hate that we’re seeing, companies are coming out with statements, making donations, all these things. And some people might feel like, what about me? And it’s not to say that anything other than maybe they just don’t understand the inequity that exists because of systems that were put in place, right. Because, listen, we’ve all seen it in the news, critical race theory. Some people don’t believe in it, okay. Well, let’s talk about how black women couldn’t even vote until 1965, two years before I was born. So more than likely it’s probably in your lifetime, right? Or even the Crown laws that are being passed today.

Melyssa Barrett: The Crown Act, yeah, for sure.

Patty Dingle: That allow people to wear their hair how they want to wear their hair.

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely. 

Patty Dingle: Who’s determining what’s professional and what’s not professional? I cried when I saw that young boy have his hair cut on the wrestling match. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, I did too. That was heart wrenching. 

Patty Dingle: I cried. And just last week I read an article about a black female softball player who had braids with beads, they made her take them out, because they said it was a safety issue. They’re lucky I’m not her parent. But her parents are now fighting to change that. And as an athlete who played that sport, I’m like, “That’s bull pucky, come on.”

Melyssa Barrett: Right. Well, but I think what’s interesting though is when you bring up things like that, because to me I remember growing up as a kid and asking my father how he … because he was a very calm man. And I remember just being in a state of rage and frustration and anger about being discriminated against. And I said, “How do you keep your anger? Where does it go? How do you manage it?” Because it’s like you want to hurt somebody, right?

Patty Dingle: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melyssa Barrett: And I will never forget this. He was the one who said, “The minute you focus the anger outward, you can’t sit at the table and make the change that you need to make.” That was his view. I mean, he was probably more Martin Luther King than Malcolm X. I think now I have an appreciation maybe for both strategies, but it’s hard to contain the type of anger you see when you see people marginalized and discriminated. 

Patty Dingle: Absolutely. So my answer to that, maybe you go stealth mode, and you do everything you can do yourself to bring people up, just bring them along, to create your tribe and you pass it along. But an example of that, that I will share that I did recently was a young person that I’m very fond of, black female lawyer working somewhere where it was clear promises just were not kept. I said, “I got you. I have a friend who’s a judge. Let me introduce you and let’s see where we go from there.” Next thing you know there’s going to be some shadowing involved. They’ve had multiple conversations. So we have to connect each other and support each other. And even if we got to go in the backroom and close the door and do it, that’s what we got to do. 

Melyssa Barrett: Well, and I think that’s-

Patty Dingle: Pick up the phone when someone calls you to.

Melyssa Barrett: And that’s another place where when we’re talking about allyship, it’s like you want to be an ally? Connect people, because [crosstalk].

Patty Dingle: Connect people and do it, and do stuff. Stop talking. I was just noticing, I just got a text from, I’ll call her my sister-in-law, she’s not with my brother anymore. But she’s Caucasian. And she says, “I’m reading all these books and everything.” I said, “At some point you need to stop reading and start acting.” But see, I can tell her that, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right. Yes.

Patty Dingle: And she has a son that’s multiracial and oftentimes really thinks about that, right. And that’s my nephew. And I told her, I said, “You are in the best position to create something, create change.” Because she said multiple times, “Oh, there’s so many of us that need to know more.” I go, “You start that, start that. Get people going. And here’s some more books you could read and you go watch this movie.” But at some point you got to start … it’s the head, heart, hand model, right? You could get it up like cerebral, then when it touches your heart, then you start doing action, right. And I said that, and she’s like, “Yeah, you’re absolutely right.” 

And when you talk about your dad, my dad was very calm too, big guy, six, four, big guy. And I mentioned how he was friends with everybody and he served in the military when it was segregated. And in my office right now I have his retirement certificate right here, because it reminds me every day of what he endured. And it drives me to do this work. So if I have to convince, influence, drag you along, push you along, give you a ride, whatever it is, I will do that because it’s so much bigger than me. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes, I love that.

Patty Dingle: It’s so much bigger than me. But that’s how I was raised by my Japanese mother is she told me one time, “Don’t ever leave the house with less than $20 in your pocket.” Because she said, “You never know who’s going to need it.”

Melyssa Barrett: I love that. 

Patty Dingle: And she instilled that in me. She exemplified it every day. And so anyway, I think stay focused, be intentional, don’t be afraid. I mean, I run into situations where say you have an executive and we’re like, you know what? Make sure you have quote unquote diversity on your slate of candidates to fill your role. Because this is what we do too, Melyssa. As people of color, we second guess sometimes if we’re going to hire that person of color because of what people might think, I’m sorry, everybody else has been doing it. Come on.

Melyssa Barrett: Right. Yes, I think we should hire this person. They’re like, “Why? I don’t know. They don’t fit here really, right.” Or there’s some other reason or excuse, but they’ll give somebody else an opportunity when they’ve never worked in that area before to try it.

Patty Dingle: Right. Because maybe they’re comfortable with them.

Melyssa Barrett: Right.

Patty Dingle: I think we have to stop worrying about what others might say or think, right. Especially if you’re in charge, you can do whatever you want.

Melyssa Barrett: Right. That’s the key right there, right?

Patty Dingle: That’s the key.

Melyssa Barrett: Positional power, right?

Patty Dingle: And we’re not going to get there unless we start changing how we see things too. So just to reflect back very quickly, when I talked about how I started my career, I worked for two women of color, right. I left there, I worked for an Asian language station, right. But check it out, I didn’t share this. The family that owned that, they were all white family. 

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. That’s awesome.

Patty Dingle: I believe they were … I don’t quite remember. They were the Howe family and I believe they own the gas and electric company in Ohio or something like that. But here’s the thing, they wanted to give the Asian community a voice.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome.

Patty Dingle: So I was there. And then, okay, AAA, I worked for, again, a woman of color, right. I go to Visa, woman of color. BNY, woman of color. 

Melyssa Barrett: That’s rare. That’s very rare. 

Patty Dingle: It’s very rare. Especially because I’m in different-

Melyssa Barrett: I had a completely different experience. But I mean, I have not-

Patty Dingle: You’re in a different space, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. First door. 

Patty Dingle: HR and all. However though, the reason why I share that is because now it’s my responsibility to pay that forward, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely. 

Patty Dingle: Anyway, just I don’t know if you have any other.

Melyssa Barrett: Plus you have a giving mom and a larger than life dad who clearly you started this process much earlier. 

Patty Dingle: I think so. And I grew up in a town, I mentioned Seaside, California. And I did a talk a little while ago and the talk was about me and I showed them classroom picture. And that was back when they printed each picture out separately.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes, in the little circle. 

Patty Dingle: Yeah. And I kid you not, my third grade class, everybody was brown except for two kids. I also had a very rare upbringing because I was located so close to military bases, so kids looked like me. 

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. That’s awesome. 

Patty Dingle: And that shaped me too, right. And that’s what people say now, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. If you don’t see it, you can’t be it, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.

Patty Dingle: So even though the work that I do now is so much focused on people that aren’t seen or overlooked, I was always seeing because we were the majority, right. But you go 10 minutes down, you’re in Monterey Carmel, nope.

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. 

Patty Dingle: I like that.

Melyssa Barrett: That is really an interesting journey. That just goes to show you though how interesting everybody’s story and journey is and how different and unique it is.

Patty Dingle: And it shapes who we are.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Patty Dingle: It shapes our perspective. It shapes our-

Melyssa Barrett: The good and the bad.

Patty Dingle: Yeah, for sure. I got some serious bias for real, but I have to check them all the time. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Patty Dingle: And these are negative bias where I learned that from my parents, I learned it from the community I was in, all of that.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. Well, the education you get. I mean, there’s so many ways that … But it is that process of check. So knowing that we have kind of dived into all of these different areas, are there some specific things you want to leave us with?

Patty Dingle: I can’t take credit for what I’m about to share, but I will give credit Steve Hanamura who’s a diversity practitioner, amazing, amazing person. We brought him in when I was at AAA to help us with some training and his whole thing was be humanly respectful. 

Melyssa Barrett: Love it.

Patty Dingle: And I say it all the time. It’s such a simple concept, but it’s hard to do.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. That’s awesome.

Patty Dingle: Especially, yeah. 

Melyssa Barrett: That’s phenomenal. What a great way to just close it out, be humanly respectful, love it. 

Patty Dingle: Yeah, I love that. And like I said, it’s hard to do such a simple concept.

Melyssa Barrett: [crosstalk] solve all of our problems, right?

Patty Dingle: Huh.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Patty.

Patty Dingle: No, it was fun.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. And you have an open invitation to come back and-

Patty Dingle: We have to get together in person.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.

Patty Dingle: We’ll get together in person, maybe we can meet halfway. 

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