Culture Moments: Let’s Talk About BIPOC DEI Practitioner Mental Health

Did you know that July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month? BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month aims to increase visibility of the ways historically disenfranchised, marginalized, or oppressed racial and ethnic groups face unique mental health challenges.

Culture Moments podcast host Larry Baker (he/him) is joined by, LCW Consultant, Melonya Johnson (she/her) to take this conversation further and examine the specific challenges facing BIPOC DEI practitioners as they discuss inequality, racism, and oppression on a daily basis, while often still enduring it in the workplace.

This Brave Conversation was originally a live stream discussion recorded on July 26th, 2022.

Continue your learning! Explore a resource guide curated especially for this session here.

Listen to the full podcast below, share your takeaways, and never miss a live stream session by following LCW on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Listen to the conversation below (Run time – 49:25) or scroll down for the full transcript.

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Show Transcript

Larry Baker: Hello everyone and welcome to the culture moments podcast. I’m your host, Larry Baker. And I’m thrilled to have you join us for our second season called Brave Conversations with LCW.

In these episodes, you’ll hear from a panel of guests from specific communities offering a range of perspectives on the past two years. We’ll hear about their own experiences as well as their insights on what’s changed and more importantly, what needs to change to move equity forward.

As we all know so much has shifted and changed over the past two years, and for many of us we’re still in recovery from a very difficult 24 months.

Well, hello everyone and welcome to Brave Conversations Live with LCW. I am your host Larry Baker, I use he him pronouns and I am thrilled to actually welcome you to today’s latest edition to our live stream series. Each month, we will be making space for timely and important conversations that we hope will educate, generate discussions, and to help you take actionable items back to your organization and your daily lives. For those of you that may not be familiar with LCW, we are a global DE&I training consulting and translation firm that partners with organizations to develop global mindsets and help you develop your skills and systems to succeed in a culturally diverse world.

July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month. And today we’ll use this opportunity to talk specifically about BIPOC DE&I practitioners’ mental health. We’ll look at why it’s important to talk about BIPOC mental health and what adds to the stress of BIPOC practitioners’ experiences, and how we can actually support practitioners in our own workplaces.

I am super excited today to be joined by my esteemed colleague, Melonya Johnson, who is a consultant here at LCW, and Melonya is here to really share her perspective on what it means to be a BIPOC DE&I practitioner. Melonya, I will go ahead and have you introduce yourself to our audience.

Melonya Johnson: Well, greetings. Hello. I’m really excited to be here today. As Larry said, my name is Melonya Johnson. I’m a consultant with LCW, I hail from Buffalo, New York. And just in terms of my background, my grad degree is in professional leadership. I’m passionate about that. I am a certified professional coach, certified social emotional intelligence coach.

I am certified in the intercultural development inventory, and I’ve had a very varied background. Workforce development, sales, business development, training and development. And so I’m here today as a consultant and really happy and ready to dig into this topic.

Larry Baker: Awesome Melonya. And if I must say so myself, you’re a certified, awesome team member as well, and I’m super excited to have you on the show. But before we jump into our conversation, I just wanna let everyone know that after our discussion, we’re going to be answering all the questions that you have.

So as we dive in please do not be afraid to ask your question in the chat. We have some folks in the background that’s monitoring that and they will get those questions to us soon. So again, we talked about that July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month, according to the American Counseling Association.

And this month simply highlights the unique mental health challenges and the needs of historically disenfranchised, oppress racial and ethnic groups in the United States. So we’re gonna start by asking questions to Melonya about why do we take the time to specifically promote mental healthcare in BIPOC communities?

Because we know that, you know, multicultural communities, they face less access to treatment. We are less likely to receive treatment. And when we do, there’s typically this lower quality of care. We have to deal with higher levels of stigma that are attached to it. And of course racism, bias, homophobia, or discrimination in treatment settings.

So with that being the backdrop, Melonya, first question that I wanna ask you is what challenges do BIPOC DE&I practitioners face within their work that might actually be contributing to burnout, stress, or even mental health conditions like depression?

Melonya Johnson: Well, I think there’s just a number of factors.

I think one is the discussion about mental health is something new. You know, I think since 2020 it has become a front burner conversation. And that’s something that people hadn’t talked about, you know, previously. And then I think when you add on the realities of the BIPOC community I think it becomes an even more nuanced conversation. I think, and we’ll talk a little bit about you know, burnout, you know, the realities of being in this position. I don’t think that managers, leadership, I don’t think that they understand the unique pressures that come with trying to change an organizational culture.

And the resistance that DE&I practitioners face. So I think there’s just a number of things that contribute to the stress level, the potential burnout, and other, you know, mental health challenges that are very specific to this group.

Larry Baker: Okay. So Melonya, if you had to pick one thing that really impacts our effectiveness in driving DE&I within organizations, what do you think is that factor? What do you think is the biggest factor within organizations?

Melonya Johnson: Well, first let me put out a disclaimer. I’m not speaking for all organizations, all companies in all DE&I.

You know, so don’t come after me. But you know, many of us are in positions where DE&I is not a business imperative. Folks say that it is, but the reality that some DE&I practitioners face, right, it does not representative of an organization that has made DE&I front and center in a part of it’s strategic plan and it’s business imperative.

And I think with that comes some challenge.

Larry Baker: Okay. Yeah. You’re going down an interesting path that I’m gonna actually push you to go down a little bit more. Talk to me about what are those challenges, what causes these feelings. And then if you could switch gears and talk about the impact.

So if it’s not viewed as an important business imperative, what causes these feelings? What aren’t you seeing? And then what are the impacts?

Melonya Johnson: Well, you know, I had never, since George Floyd’s murder, I had never seen so many diversity and DE&I job opportunities ever. In the history. And I think many companies knew that they needed to do something so they hired, you know, lots of DE&I practitioners. I think sort of naively thinking that by just doing that alone, it was going to check a box and serve their purposes. But it doesn’t, you know, it’s more involved and again, nuanced, than that.

And I think one of the problems, I had belonged to a group myself. It was a friend of mine, who’s a DE&I practitioner, created a support group because people get burned out. And they’re frustrated and they’re tired and they’re exhausted. DE&I is not new.

It’s been around for a long time, you know, and people do face burnout. And I, when I thought about burnout, I wanted a definition that would serve today. And burnout is nature’s way of telling us we are on a path of most resistant. And when you think about this work, that’s what it feels like. That’s what it is.

We’re pushing against the status quo. We’re breaking down barriers to equality and equity. We’re pushing against policies and unwritten rules. We’re on the grind. We’re pushing, we’re dragging people forward. All of that sounds like resistance, right?

Larry Baker: Yeah. Yeah. All of that is

Melonya Johnson: All of that is tiring. It’s exhausting in and of itself.

And when you are in a corporate or organizational environment that is not truly supporting you then that is, I think when you start to feel the burnout. The lack of engagement or apathy, and then sometimes it leads to even more. We spend more time at work than we do any place.

And if you’re not happy at work that can lead to anxiety and depression. And so you know, if you go into work every day and you’re facing a barrier that’s not moving, that has to have an impact on you. It has to.

Larry Baker: That’s, Melonya, that definition of burnout is so interesting to me because I typically view burnout is something that, you know, I am directly controlling, right. I feel burnout because I’m not getting the proper rest or the proper exercise or setting up proper boundaries. But when you added that twist is that it’s the path of most resistance and how you parallel that to the work that we do in this space of BIPOC DE&I practitioners, it begs me to ask you the question. How do you think leadership in these organizations are contributing to burnout?

Melonya Johnson: Well, again, I told you that my passion is in leadership and I think everything starts at the top. Culture starts with the top of the organization and that’s leadership.

And if you have a DE&I initiative that’s, you know, based on, you know, just being politically correct, it’s going to lack some things that someone needs in order to be effective. And that is power. I met with a client not too long ago, and we were discussing their DE&I initiative.

And they said that, well, you know, we really don’t have the power to really drive this initiative the way we want to. And I thought for a minute then, why? Why are you there and why am I here? Right. So my first instinct was, well, I’ve got to dig a little bit deeper and find out what resources do I have to help them move past that.

Because if you don’t have the power to, you know, help set policies, create accountability, set and control budgets. You know if you’ve got no resources or minimal resources, are you afraid that you’re gonna lose your resources? If you can’t drive the initiative, if you don’t have that power, then you know, that’s an issue with leadership.

Not making, setting up an ecosystem that you can be successful in. You know, that, that’s one thing. You know, nebulous goals, not being able to set and meet goals. I mean, it is a strategy. Years ago, I worked for an organization. I was the head of their business development for, you know, minority business owners.Right. And one day I said to my manager, I said, you know, she’s like, “what do we need to do?” I said, “what you really need to do is work to get me out of this job. You need to embed DE&I practices at every level of this organization and everything that it touches you should be working to put me outta work.

Larry Baker: That’s great.

Melonya Johnson: And let me tell you this. They hired a new person when I left. Right. And then they hired a new person when they left and they hired another person. So what I’m getting at is that that didn’t happen. And so when we’re dealing with lip service, you know, it doesn’t move the needle.

When leaders tell you when you come, and I know there’s people out in the audience who have dealt with this, when you come with suggestions or you come with requests and you’re told to be patient. I’ll tell you again, DE&I is not new, people have been doing this for years.

And so when you say Rome wasn’t built in a day you have to be patient. We’re tired of being patient. Because we really understand the impact that being able to not only make an organization or a company inclusive and safe for everyone, as a BIPOC person in the DE&I space, you also know that the ability to get a job, to get a promotion, right?

You understand that these things impact your life, your families, your communities, the places you’re able to live, the education your children are able to have, the healthcare you get. It impacts everything. So, you know, the pink elephant in the room is that, you know, DE&I initiatives are window dressing, you know, slow growth, no growth.

These are things that practitioners are frustrated with. They’re tired of those, you know, banging their heads against those barriers.

Larry Baker: Yeah. Melonya, that’s such a great point because you know, this is literally a job that we never get to walk away from. I mean, if you think about it, I mean, you, you do your eight hours at the office, but then as soon as you leave the office, everything that you talked about internally begins to impact you in your external life.

So it is such a unique dynamic that I’m not just preaching this to the organization. This is literally what I walk into every single day. And if you are dealing with, again, back to that burnout piece, if I’m in the midst of the most resistance, understand that that just doesn’t stop when I walk out of the door.

And before I ask you the next question, because again, I know your focus is on leadership development. I really want you to talk to the leaders that we have on the call about what do you think they can do to be more supportive. I also want to ask the audience to please, please, please make sure that you are putting your questions in the chat.

We really, really want to hear from you. Please tap into Melonya’s experience so that we can get your questions answered. So Melonya, back to the topic at hand. You were talking about how leaders contribute to burnout. Talk to me about how do these leaders support their DE&I practitioners, or how can they support their colleagues to have these more supportive systems in your opinion.

Melonya Johnson: Well, you know what, anyone who knows me knows that I’m a pretty direct person and I can be fearless. I do not mind, you know, challenging the status quo. And I think one of the things that managers and leadership should understand about that DE&I practitioner that’s within your company or your team, is that their job is to change the hearts and minds of others.

As BIPOC people we’ve been trying to change the hearts and minds of people for a long time. And, again, you have to really be honest with your intent. Are you really serious about creating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment for folks? I think that’s the first step and I think that leadership has to put some teeth, real teeth and effort behind their DE&I initiative. Walk the walk, hold managers accountable for change.

Tie DE&I goals to compensation. Give your DE&I practitioners the resources that they need and the resources that they need to affect change. And those are just a few of the things. And again, I’m not speaking for everyone. There’s some people out there that says, you know, we have all of these things.

And even if you do have all of these things, it can still be tiring work, and it still can be exhausting because you step out of a workplace that you’re fighting and you’re grinding and you’re moving and you’re facing that resistance. And then you turn on the TV and you see George Floyd.

Where you see Asian Americans being killed because of political rhetoric. Or you see Latinx families separated at the border, children taken away from their families. Muslim people profiled. You, you walk out into this world where there is none of the things that we need for our best mental health.

You know, I’ve said once, you know, is being a person of color, did that just increase the challenges and the opportunities for mental health stress? It’s not just in the workplace. Managers need to check in, get a temperature, see, you know, how are you doing?

How are you feeling? Are you excited? Are you exhilarated about work? Are you frustrated? What is it? What can I do? And then understand also Larry, that everybody’s not different. Many BIPOC people are taught you gotta be strong. You gotta be strong. And sometimes that show of strength is to not let other people and even sometimes yourself know when you’re struggling.

Larry Baker: Yeah. That’s a great point. That’s a great point. And I really like how you were talking about that the work that we do is really about changing that heart, right? Making, putting in the work in the heart, which I’ve always encouraged individuals when they ask, well, Larry, what, what do we do? What can we do?

How do we make sure that this message is permeating through an organization and absolutely agree with you that it’s the top down approach, but I also challenge them to describe what is your, why. Like, why is this important to you? And if you do that from the very top and it starts to cascade down, it isn’t a business issue, right? This is your heart issue. Why is this important to you? Because we know that the only way that this change is going to come is when it becomes personal. So I absolutely love the fact that you talked about that this has to be a message that just resonates with your why. And I don’t even have to ask you to attend an event you will beat me to the event. Because your why is so strong that you don’t need additional coaxing or encouragement to be there because you are so in touch with your why, which means you’re in touch with your heart. That’s when we start to see these changes happen. So I absolutely appreciate those comments.

So you touched upon a point about our culture, specifically the black culture, how, you know, we were taught to be strong. We’re taught to be, you know, bear it and we probably won’t seek out that type of attention that we probably do. But I do want you to talk about what are some steps that as a BIPOC DE&I practitioner we can take to prioritize our own mental health?

What advice do you have?

Melonya Johnson: I think that, you know, we need to tune into ourselves. You know, so much of our focus is on carrying, you know, a whole society forward. And we’re always looking outside of our ourselves. So I think it’s important. You know, I think in the last couple of years, a couple of things have become very clear.

Mental health is real and self care is real. And so I think that we need to be kind to ourselves and listen to ourselves and tune in to really what is important. Are we living our values? You know, are we working in our values? And, you know, and when you, and should you find that you’re not doing as well as you used to be or that you find that you’re more anxious or you’re, you know, you’re dealing with depression.

I just encourage you not to sweep it under the rug, but to vow to live your best life. Meaning get whatever help that you need to get. And if you get with a counselor or somebody and they don’t resonate with you, find a new one. There’s plenty out there.

And I think also in terms of some of the things that our management can do is our programs like EAP and all, all those other resources make certain that they are conscientious of their workforce and the differences in their workforce, so that we have access to counselors and people from the BIPOC community. So that it makes folks easier to relate and more at ease. I think you have to set, as a DE&I practitioner, I think you have to set your goal to find inner peace. If that’s what’s not in your life that you’ve got to make it a priority. And I think that one of the things that we have to do and I’m going to name it after this live stream, is we have to conduct brave conversations. We cannot be, there’s not a DE&I person on the planet that doesn’t tell management and allies and colleagues and everyone else that you’re going to have to learn to conduct difficult conversations.

Well, sometimes those difficult conversations are; “I’m not getting what I need in order to be successful, and that is impacting me in a very negative way.” That that’s such a good, a great conversation to have.

Larry Baker: And even if it’s, you’re having it with yourself, right.

Yeah. You definitely need to be honest with yourself. And you know, for me personally, I had that realization not that long ago. Because you know, I feel like I have a pretty big responsibility to our organization to deliver the facilitated sessions to our clients. And there was a period where I was just starting, like you said, just not feeling right.

And I talked to my wife about it and she hit me upside the head with a ton of bricks. She simply said, “Hey, have you taken a vacation this year?” And it never even dawned on me simply because of the responsibility that I feel. I have this banner to carry into these organizations to represent folks that may not ever get an opportunity to speak to the level of people that we do.

And there’s this part of me that felt like I would let them down. And she just simply said, have you taken a vacation? And it was a simple thing like that, that just had me have a paradigm shift. And I said, you know what? I haven’t. So I actually did set up some time to take a vacation and it really doesn’t take much, But it’s, like you said, be in tuned with yourself. Have some brave conversations with yourself. And don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, am I okay?”

And you know what? It’s okay if the answer is no, it really is. And I truly felt like I had to carry this load to be in front of these clients to champion the underrepresented individuals in whatever organization it was. And I felt like I would let them down. But in reality, it was burning me out because I’m going through the path of most resistance.

So I absolutely agree with you that that is the key. We have to be able to hear from ourselves. So Melonya, if it’s okay with you, I’m gonna see if we have any questions from the audience that we can respond to. And let’s see if we have anything in the background.

Okay, Joseph, thank you so much. You are.

It’s our pleasure. Because again, we want individuals to be able to take something from this to apply to their lives because I think that it’s so crucial that we recognize that. So I believe, let’s see, Melonya, do we have a video that you wanted to share? We do. Okay. So let’s, let’s cue the video and see if we get some questions to flow in after that.

So if we can, let’s go ahead and cue the video.

Video: We live in a world that prioritizes productivity above all else. I’m so grateful. I’ve learned through the years, that the only way to be my best self for others is to make preserving my own mental health, the priority. Some ways I’ve learned to do that is taking my alone time.

There’s nothing wrong with needing your own space sometimes not to be mom or babe or whoever else the world calls you, but to just be you when I. Overwhelmed. I go into my hiding place and I meditate, pray journal, or even fall asleep. If that’s what my body and mind need in that moment, sometimes it’s about getting some exercise.

So I go for a brisk walk, a quick run, or I hit the gym and let’s face it with the demands of life. It can be easy to get sucked into just being serious all the time. Running a business or leading a team, a family. So I found that it’s important to build in some play time. For me, that looks like a game night or taking a few minutes to watch a random comedy special on Netflix, whatever you choose, just never forget that choosing you is never a waste of time.

It is the most productive thing you can do, and you have to choose something to make you and your mental health, the priority. Because nobody else can and nobody else will.

Larry Baker: Super powerful. I mean, I think that, you know, we tend to forget that old saying that you have to take time to sharpen your axe right. And however that looks for you may look different for me. But we have to consider that’s just as important as the deliverables that we push out. And one of the things that I honestly feel like that may start to contribute to that even more is this virtual work environment.

Because if I’m honest with myself, I find myself making it harder to detach from work. Simply because my office is right in the basement and I’ve set it up where I have like a little area where I can sit down and relax afterwards. But I continue to find myself going back to the desk and checking, see if that email has come or making sure that I’ve got this thing prepared for the next day.

And there really isn’t that clean delineation from work is over right. Now you’re with family. Now I’m fortunate enough to have a spouse and kids that will pull me away from that. But the reality is that draw is always there because it’s just so convenient. And I just wanna make sure that I get this done and I get this ready.

So I absolutely appreciate a lot of the resources that they talked about in that video because again, it all relates back. That self-help and that self-awareness Melonya your thoughts on that?

Melonya Johnson: You know, Larry, I know the work that you do. You’re a fantastic facilitator and many of us, when you stop to think of the landscape that we’re in now, you know, that education does not represent the BIPOC history in this country, right? And so sometimes it is the work of the DE&I practitioner to educate their workforce. Right. And we don’t really realize the trauma that we face every time we retell these stories. You know, the Asian Americans in World War II, the internment, you know. And I mentioned some, you know, we talk about, you know, slavery, and civil rights, and then if that’s all taking place in a backdrop that’s still happening today.

So we’re talking about trauma of the past, but still living the trauma. And these things they stay with us. You don’t turn ’em off. Because your heart and your mind, I don’t know a DE&I practitioner whose heart and mind and soul isn’t into the work that they do. Right?

And so you’re not turning it off. You’re trying to figure out a way to get to people so that they can see that they can feel and they can change. And so, but we, I don’t think we pay attention to sometimes the trauma that we keep reliving. And I just encourage people to pay attention to themselves.

Notice when your habits have changed notice when you’re not, you know with COVID and everything, you know, people have not always interacted, you know, have been so separate, but, you know, are you still engaging with people? Are you still doing things that you enjoy? Are you still keeping your surroundings?

Are you eating well? I saw somewhere 50% of depression is sort of based on our diets. Has your diet changed? Just pay attention to yourself and give some love and attention to yourself.

Larry Baker: So Melonya, we did have someone that posed a very interesting question. And I’m gonna ask we both provide our take on the response.

So the question is simply how do we bring up to someone that we think they might need some self care help without pry? So from my perspective, I honestly would appreciate it. Right. I would appreciate it. If someone said something in a way that kind of led to the fact that they care about me, they care about my wellbeing.

They care that I’m at my best. And they’ve noticed some things because the reality is we carry this burden of wanting to make sure we’re not letting anyone down. And we tend not to be aware of when we may not be at a hundred percent, because again, it goes back to that whole mindset of pushing through and pushing forward.

So for me, I would absolutely appreciate it. If someone came from the approach of, “Hey, I really care about you as a person, Larry Baker, and not as my coworker. Have you considered taking some time?” To me, I don’t think that would be prying simply because you’ve prefaced it with your care for my wellbeing.

And I think that’s the key. Anytime you do something with those intentions of authenticity and you really care, I think that would be a good way for it not to seem like it would be prying. What are your thoughts on that?

Melonya Johnson: Me? You know, again, I go back to uncomfortable conversations, you know, life is filled with them.

And I think the one thing we can do is let ourselves off the hook. We don’t have to be perfect, but what we can do is say, you know what, “Larry, I noticed that lately you’ve been doing X, Y, and Z, you know? And I just wanted to check in to see how are things going?” The coaching may ask questions.

How are things, how are things going? I noticed when this happened you had that reaction, you know, can you share a little bit about what, you know. And and here’s the thing, I’m not trying to pry. But I would feel remiss if I didn’t check in on you, especially what’s going on these days. So, you know, if you’re offended, I’m sorry, but I care about you and just, you know, and if you fumble, if you fall get up and keep crying, I don’t have any issue with pride.

I will try. Thank you very much.

Larry Baker: And you know, that’s a key piece. I mean, I really feel, and I, and I’m probably biased because at our organization, we’re still small enough to have that family sort of feel to it. So when someone comes to me with that approach of, “Hey, look, this is bigger than what we do. This is something that I encourage you to do.” As a matter of fact, when I brought up the fact that I hadn’t taken a vacation to the manager that I was talking to, literally the next day I saw, “Hey, make sure you get that vacation in”, right. It wasn’t about the work. It wasn’t about anything. Their concern was, “Hey, make sure you get that vacation in.”

We, we’re not giving out badges for the most PTO accumulated at the end of the year. That’s not how we work here. And, and just that little bit of recognition made me feel at ease to say, “yeah, this is a good idea.” Right? I will always give people grace if they give me effort. Right. If you’re giving me effort, if you are doing something that you truly feel like the impact that you want to have is for my benefit, I’m gonna give you grace.

I can’t argue with somebody that says, “Hey, I’m looking out for your best interest.” Even if it’s feedback that I’m not too happy with. If you shape it, that it’s in my best interest I’m gonna give you that grace. And I do believe we have another question. So if we could get that question from Anthony Holland.

What are meaningful measures that management can use to bring visibility and awareness to the mental health impact of an organization’s DE&I initiatives. Woo Anthony. Great question, Melonya. I’m gonna let you start and I can give my thoughts.

Melonya Johnson: Is it possible to see that question again?

So, you know what I think we, we have to start to bring things outside of the shadows. I think that it has to be something that people, you know, discuss and, and it could be something as simple as if you have a SharePoint page or you know, a page where you fill out your time cards, or if you have an internet page, you know, just to remind people of the resources. Remind them this is, you know, what month, you know, we’re celebrating and to make certain that folks know what resources are out there and to just bring it to the, forefront.

You know, bring it to the managers. You know what, again, and I’ll use George Floyd as an example, but there’s been examples since then where things have happened out in society and managers didn’t know how to talk about it. Right? But you know, there’s nothing wrong with going to folks and saying, look, I know that there is something happening in your community that’s devastating, you know? Please know that I’m a resource for you and this organization is a resource for you. And if there’s anything that we can do, we have EAP or whatever resources you have, please utilize them. And let me know, because I want to be a partner with you. And speaking of resources, to the person that asks, you know, what about if it’s one of my colleagues, we do have a list of resources for the participants of today’s programs that we’re gonna share with you.

But, but you know, it also may be, you know what, you seem to be a private person. So I’m just gonna slip you, I’m just gonna give you a sheet that has some local resources that you might want. You know, use them if you want to. And feel free to come, you know, to meet and have a conversation.

So I wanted to say that to that person, but I just think that I think that our employers, organizations just have to be more mindful of the stress that people are under these days. I live in Buffalo. Mass shooting. Racially motivated. Devastating to our community, right?

So those are things that you can’t ignore. I laughingly said that, you know, when it happened on a Saturday, I thought I was okay. That Monday I started a three day crying tour. I was devastated. And, you know, and I just think that it’s important for, when we are talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, what we’re talking about is a deeper level of humanity.

I’m going to look out. Yes. There’s a business reason for diversity equity and inclusion. There’s a whole bunch of statistics that show, if you have an inclusive, diverse work environment, a whole bunch of things go up. Revenue, productivity, solutions are better. We have all of that, but we’re gonna talk about the human level today.

Cause when you’re talking about mental health, you’re talking about the human. And you have to connect with people.

Larry Baker: Yeah. And that’s so good because as managers, you know, there’s this shift. And that shift is really focusing in, on your emotional intelligence, right? Because that analytical intelligence, absolutely that is a key component of management. But the shift is really coming into that emotional intelligence quotient that determines how effective you’re going to be as a manager. And as a manager, one of your driving motivations should really be about how am I making people feel when they work with me? So to go back to the question to highlight.

As a manager of the DE&I initiatives promoted, walk the walk, maybe even let folks know, “Hey, I’m attending X, Y, Z event. Meet me there.” And, and they’ll say, “wait, hold on for a second. This executive is going to this? Well, I’ve gotta go and check this out.” So the more that they’re a part of it, the more that they’re engaged, it’s going to create that culture where other people feel like it’s okay.

People could care less about what you say, they’re gonna follow what you do. And those are the types of things that begin to create that environment of “well, if they think it’s important to set the time aside in their schedule to attend this, then I should be able to do that too.” So I don’t know if we have another question in the background, let me know if so, just go ahead and post that up.

Okay. I’m getting a report that says we do not have any more questions. We do have those resources. That Melonya mentioned that we are going to be sending out to all of the individuals that register, but Melonya, before we go, I wanna give you an opportunity to share some of your final thoughts on this extremely important topic on BIPOC mental health for DE&I practitioners

Melonya Johnson: I hope that first and foremost, I hope that the two folks that ask questions, I hope that our responses answer their questions. And if they’re not, I believe there is a way that they can you know, do a follow up, let us know.

Yeah, let us let us know because we’re really here for you. Just in closing I encourage you, all of us, to really take care of ourselves. One of, I know someone who was a phenomenal DE&I a practitioner who left the industry and did something else, because it became burned out and tired.

And the work is so important that we need to continue to champion it, but not at our own peril. Take care of yourself, conduct the brave conversations, be fearless and challenging the status quo and determine whether or not, you know, your values are being represented in your daily life and in the work that you do.

And if not, then there are considerations that you have to take into account.

Larry Baker: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, Melonya, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your insight on this extremely important topic. And this has been an incredible session today, such a great conversation, but the reality is it doesn’t stop here.

We’ve touched upon this a few times. We are super excited to offer to all of our listeners a tool to bring this learning back to your own workplaces. We have some different resources that we can make sure that we get to you so you can share. And if you want a partner in having these conversations or some other trainings, they focus on the black experience in the United States, please let us know. You can contact LCW at languageandculture.com. One more time. Languageandculture.com. Once again, Melonya, like I said, you are a certified awesome teammate, and I’m so happy that you joined me for this conversation today, and this has been Brave Conversations with LCW Live. Thank you so much for your participation.

And to all of you that are listening, we wanna know what were your biggest takeaways from this conversation? Please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn at language and culture worldwide or LCW.