ackie – 00:00:10:
You’re listening to the Diversity: Beyond the Checkbox podcast brought to you by the Diversity Movement. I’m your host, Jackie Ferguson, author, speaker, and human rights advocate. On this show, I’m talking to trailblazers, game changers, and glass ceiling breakers who share their inspiring stories and insights on business, inclusion, and personal development. Thank you for downloading this episode. I am truly grateful for you. Enjoy the show. Welcome to the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox podcast. Thank you for listening. Today, I am so privileged to speak with Anselm Beach. Anselm, thank you so much for joining us today. Will you tell us a little about yourself?
Anselm – 00:00:58:
Okay, so the first thing I would say is that you’re probably hearing my voice and you’re thinking it’s the best DC accent that you have ever heard. Actually I was born in the Caribbean, I was born in a little island called St. Vincent. And if somebody told me back then that I would have left St. Vincent, came to the United States, having the experience of being in the world’s greatest army, having the opportunity to be a White House fellow, having served at the United States Army as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diversity and Inclusion, I’d probably still be laughing, but it’s my story. And I’m delighted to have been in the army to live in the world’s greatest nation. Imperfect, but having the tremendous opportunities that I’ve had, so I consider it quite to be a privilege.
Jackie – 00:01:49:
Awesome. Anselm, you’ve done so many amazing things. I want to kind of start at the beginning. What did you think you would do when you grew up, right? And then how did you achieve your current role? Can you walk us through some of those life choices?
Anselm – 00:02:04:
Yeah. This is going to be a little surprising. But when I grew up, I wanted to be a priest. I grew up in the Little Island in St. Vincent. My mom was high school principal. My dad was a carpenter. So, we lived, In St. Vincent. Very remote portion of the island, north of a place called Owea. And teachers were very influential. So at a very early stage in my life, I knew that education was important. But there was something about the priest, another level of influence. And so, I’ve always been a person who likes to think through different things, and I thought that priests had this unique way of seeing many different pieces of a society. You know, so I didn’t really, I thought I would land there. But. My mom also died at a very early age. I was 19 when my mom died. And being a baby of seven, I was my mom’s baby. And so that also was, another way that my life kind of changed. Because then I started thinking so much about, you know, what life meant, big existential questions about the meaning of life and what my, and kind of began a search for out of my comfort zone. So, I simply, I say that because I think, you know, as we talk about this diversity, equity, inclusion, what happens in so many instances is where we sit or where we stand determines what we see. And sometimes what we see determines who we become. And so for me, it was very, I was fortunate in that I had a community behind me who helped to keep me on. He provided guardrails for me and provided me with a lot of mentorship. And that’s happened to me even as I stumbled through leaving, um, St. Vincent, coming to the United States and, um, joining the army, which was extremely pivotal to me because of the leadership that. You know, people provided me and guided me and saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself. I think that’s another part that when we talk about equity and inclusion, how do you provide a lens that others could see who we are and understand potential and put us on a pathway for success, not because of our own individual abilities, but the value that’s transferred to the organizations that we serve.
Jackie – 00:05:00:
Absolutely. Absolutely. And then if you would, let’s talk about the overarching mission in your role. What do you do specifically and then what’s the legacy that you hope to leave through your work?
Anselm – 00:05:17:
Yeah. So. I would say that I stumbled into this field. I was in the army. I was still then in the army wearing the uniform. And I was an instructor at the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy. And we had to, we will go into an accreditation period where we had to provide training on prevention of sexual harassment. There was a sergeant, sergeant first class. Who came to give us this training because the Academy had to be accredited. And he had this unique ability to, and very charismatic, to really talk about. The importance of dignity, respect, of providing spaces where people felt safe and included. And I asked them, like, How did you learn this? So he told me about the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute in Patrick Air Force Base where the military trains all its equal opportunity advisors. And I applied and got into that program. And they were, you know, back in the, 90s, late 90s, were really breaking the foundation to really talk about inclusion, equal opportunity, diversity equity inclusion. And so I think the military really led the charge in providing that foundation for where we are now in terms of when we talk about diversity equity inclusion. So that was that was really, really foundational for me. And that led me into a career in higher education. It led me transitioning from the military to serving in the federal government and eventually becoming a senior executive in the federal government, and since then I’ve left the federal government. I’m now serving with Raytheon Technologies, same doing the diversity work, but in a public policy sphere. I think, you know, as I reflect on all those things, what I would say is that forward-leaning organizations understand the value of diversity and inclusion, not just from the representational standpoint, but because of the value that it brings, and its ability to position an organization to effectively compete for talent.
Jackie – 00:07:53:
Yes, absolutely, absolutely. And then. What are some of the unique challenges Anselm that you find in your role? Let’s talk first about, you know, what you did with the army. And then we can talk about some of those unique challenges that you’re experiencing at Raytheon.
Anselm – 00:08:13:
Yeah. So. I go back to the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. And that was, I think, a big awakeman, not just for organizations, but for an entire nation. As a matter of fact, the entire world. Because it catalyzed national civil unrest. It catalyzed, demonstrations around the world where people really start talking about demanding equity, demanding justice, demanding inclusion. And so. In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, one of the things, one of the big outcries was this. Notion for leaders to really speak up. And that was pretty challenging for all organizations because it moved leadership into a place of these big organizations where they had to deal with a big public issue. And most times that was not a space that CEOs or military leaders, that was not a space that they really did occupy. And so we didn’t really have to think about it, because the army is a little over 1.4 million people, civilians included. So very big organizations, you got to think, how do you scale that? And so the first thing was, it’s one thing for our secretary, our chief of staff, to say something, but how does that make a difference and how do we allow it to cascade across the organization? I think there’s a lesson there for any big organization. But first and foremost, it’s not just about making a statement. It’s about understanding lived experiences of people from different population groups within that organization and having and using those voices to transform the organization through action. And so for us at the Army, the first thing that we did, we kicked off something called Your Voice Matters. And we went across the Army, went over 32 installations across the Army, not just in the United States, but around the world. We listen to over 12,500 soldiers and civilians. Their lived experiences, their stories. And with that, we were able to then do a thematic analysis of that qualitative data to understand what are the themes that were coming out, what were those experiences, what were on the top of the mind of our people, and what did they see as some of the solutions to some of the challenges that they faced. I think that was really instructive because one of the things that it did, it allowed leaders to just sit and listen without trying to answer questions and to provide half-baked solutions to these very deep, entrenched kind of issues and challenges. And so I think that holds lessons for any organization today that is faced with any kind of big challenge. One, there are solutions within the organization, but part of the inclusion strategy is bringing those voices that we may never listen to. In the first case, making them part of the conversation, extrapolating some of those solutions that they may have because they have a transformative value for that organization. The other thing is getting people who sometimes are uncomfortable with having these hard conversations Provide them with tools to be able to have these conversations so from the listening sessions, from engaging with so many people across the Army. We came up with a model and we call it the Who Model. We developed it because we wanted to equip people with tools to be able to have hard conversations. So what’s important in a workplace? The first thing that we say is leaders need to know three questions. The first one is who their people are. And it’s not just this is Jackie, she is African American, she is married or she is from California or she is from New York. But getting to know Jackie, that essence of who she is, what drives her. If she was to take a job without getting paid for it, what would that job be? Because that tells about people’s deep drivers and motivations. The second question was, How do they show up? So how do people show up in an organization? Meaning, how do they approach work? What are those things that are fundamental? Is it religion? Is it a culture? Are they introverted? Are they extroverted? Because it tells them how people would approach challenges and how they want to be engaged. And the third question is, what do they, you know, so it’s who they are, how they show up. And the last one is what do they have to offer? There’s a lot of times when we hire people and we say, you know, we’re gonna hire Jackie. Jackie is gonna be a, an event planner. But what if Jackie has other skills? How do we know that? Do we even keep an inventory of that skills? Or do we just see Jackie as an event planner and nothing more, right? That’s a very industrial age approach to what we have now as an information economy, right? We are in an information age, and so how do we move people beyond the industrial base to an information age? That’s part of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but we don’t really think about that because we, what we really need to do with organizations is move people to the center of who they are, understand their full essence. And in that way, we allow people space to have conversations where they start developing trust, and then they can move on to the difficult conversations. A lot of times we wanna move into these difficult conversations, and we have no clue where to start, and there is no trust. And so how do you develop trust is essential to build an inclusive spaces.
Jackie – 00:14:41:
I think you’re spot on with that. And you know, I really like, that you’re sharing the advice of digging in. To who a person is at their core. Because we do think about, you know, what a person does at their job. We do think about, you know, basic status and identity, but not really the depth of what motivates people. Which is so important for leaders to understand in any field, right, in any workplace. What’s going to make that person get up and come to work every day and be excited about it? And understanding how to take not only what they’re doing in that singular role, but where else can they plug in? That adds to amazing innovation and problem solving. That’s such great advice, Anselm. Thank you for sharing that.
Anselm – 00:15:36:
So, Jackie, you mentioned a key word there, innovation. And I think that is a piece that is lost in the conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion. I think part of the challenge that we have now when we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion is that we talk about it in this very kind of shallow manner. And most times people would say, oh my gosh, organization X. They lack diversity because they don’t have X amount of this representation or that representation. And I think representation is fine, but we can’t make progress if we are starting and stopping in the same place. And if the only measure that we have is the number of demographic representation, then we are doing a disservice to the people in those organizations, and we are doing a disservice to the organization itself. You know, get back to the conversation about innovation. Great colleague of mine, Al Segarz, from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we did some research last year. And what our research really said is that companies that leverage diversity, equity, inclusion. That fully really embrace it and leverage it and move people from representation to participation. Are companies that are more innovative, more profitable, more people-centric. They have lower rates of turnover than their peers and competitors. And one of the reasons is because when you move people from representation to participation, you get the full sphere of what people have to bring. In too many instances, we have companies who focus their diversity strategy on representation. And what our research said is that representation without participation is exclusion. And I think that’s a critical part of when we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and when we talk about it in very shallow language, and when we talk about it without really saying the full value of diversity, equity, and inclusion is to any organization in the 21st century, especially when you’re competing for the best talent. You know, we really, you know, that’s the, that part of the conversation gets lost.
Jackie – 00:17:55:
Absolutely. And Anselm, let’s dig into that a little bit more. That was certainly one of the questions that I had is to talk about that research article that you co-authored. Can you tell us a little bit about the values principle model and the four values around that and then how we need to think about that as leaders in the workplace?
Anselm – 00:18:17:
So, you know, Alan and I talk about this in terms of journey for an organization and and I guess let me just kind of step back and say, Alec is a great mind, very brilliant, he’s an engineer by trade, not like a humanist, he is like a he’s an engineer. And we met while I was on a program down in UNC Chapel Hill and we were talking about diversity. And during the conversation I said, yeah, but you have to account for the value that people bring. Other than that, you know, if you’re just talking about representation, that translates into tokenism and you still have people celebrating, oh, we have the first that it is the 21st century. So we need to kind of And yes, we need to recognize people, but we need to stop this first woman this or the first person this. It is the 21st century. We should have been there already. And so that is what we talk about when we get to the values principles model. So values principles model, we say that, you know, first of all, we need to recognize people. When we talk about representation, representation means that you are You are representing a segment of our society. Or you are speaking on behalf of somebody else. You know, we all familiar with being represented by an attorney, right? So somebody who is speaking up. So representation in organizations could mean allyship. It also could mean sponsorship for underrepresented groups. When you look at organizations, you can see some organizations are very high in representation. And so a certain population, a percentage of their workforce, is a certain demographic or scattered across certain demographics. And as you look at the upper tier of the organization. That representation is not there. So why is that representation not there? It means that the organization have moved to the second step. Which we call application. So when we talk about application, we are talking about understanding the full value of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and applying it in a way that the organization and the employee benefits from it. So we get back to, how do we understand the totality of a person, how we apply that, that’s in the application model. The next step is appreciation, because appreciation talks about, understands that people bring something, diversity adds something, and how do we change the structures by which we reward people, because that really gets to how do people stay or not, right? How you reward them, how you recognize them. A lot of times, organizations are a lot very opaque in that way. They would say, well, we are diverse, but we don’t talk about how we pay and how we reward. The last step is participation. When we talk about participation, we are talking about really allowing the full application of who that person is to function and to flourish within the workspace. As people come in, you’re kind of moving them through that process to get them to participation. When you get to that stage, those are companies that are driving innovation. Those are companies that have fool. Successful employee engagement strategies. Those are companies with low attrition rates. So when people say, how do you compete for talent? How do you create these talent pools where you’re not kind of chasing talent but people want to come to you? What if I’m working for a great company? And I love this company and they are going through all these four principles. It’s easy for me to tell family members, you need to work there.
Jackie – 00:22:33:
Anselm – 00:22:34:
And I think that’s a measure for companies, right? If their employees are not referring family members, then there’s something wrong.
Jackie – 00:22:42:
Absolutely. And you know, and some one of the things I love that point, because one of the things that I’ve learned over the past couple of years is how much this generation is digging into interviewing a job. And a company the same way that they’re being interviewed. So very often people will reach out on LinkedIn and say, hey, I’m looking at interviewing with this company. Can you tell me about your experience to the current employees? And you want your current employees to be excited and ambassadors for your organization. That is so important because they’re checking. Those amazing talent that you want on your team, they’re looking at those digital platforms. They’re talking to your employees. They’re asking for referrals. And if you don’t have those ambassadors that you need within your organization, you’re going to lose.
Anselm – 00:23:42:
Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, amen. And it’s really, you know, part of this information age, we live in the 21st century. The 21st century is also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And it’s where technology has supermediated society. It’s just, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, autonomous systems, they’re all part of how we operate right now. And because there’s so much information out there, it provides talented people with choices. And when people have choices, they exercise those choices. And so, as organizations move into this 21st century. Diversity, equity, and inclusion has to be a leadership competency, because if leaders are not understanding the full gamut of people, they’re going to lose in the time of wars.
Jackie – 00:24:45:
Absolutely. And Anton, that brings me to my next question. From your perspective, what makes a good leader?
Anselm – 00:24:54:
Wow. So this is kind of like that age old question, right? Could leadership be taught? Is it, you know, are you born with certain leadership traits? I think that It could be a mix of both, right? Some of the things that I’ve learned over my years. I would share, but before I do that, I would need to tell you a story. So, I told you that I, I came from a little island in the Caribbean called St. Vincent. And when I first came to the United States, I lived in Brooklyn, New York. And When I lived in New York, I worked, I was trying to go to college and I was working at the same time because times were hard. So I worked this construction job and I fell off of a ladder. And I was home recovering for a few days, and I saw this great commercial, and it said, we do more by nine than most people do in a day. And it was, oh by the way, you could get money to go to college. It was an Army commercial, so I joined the Army. And my first duty station in the Army was Fort Stewart, Georgia. Now, Fort Stewart, Georgia, if you’ve ever been there, is a strange place. And when I say strange, I mean, it gets, in the summertime, it gets brutally hot. And it’s muggy. And something strange happens about midday. It’s like the skies get really, really dark. And it is lightning, thunder, and it rains. And in 15 minutes, it’s all over. And it’s like it never happened. So that was my first duty station, and I worked, I was a generator mechanic. And so one of the things I learned to do very quickly is say, you know what, I know it gets really hot in the evening, so I’m gonna try and get all my outside work done in the morning, right? So I get out there, do work on all my generators, come back in the evening, then I’m trying to figure out if I need to order parts and all that stuff, I’m doing that like inside. So one day my motor sergeant, great guy by the name of Henry Hill, Staff Sergeant Hill, he came down and he says, hey, Private Beach, you need to get out on the line. And you need to, you know. Get these three generators ready for me. He didn’t ask me if they were ready yet. He told me I needed to go out there and get them ready. I knew they were because I’d already worked on them that day. So I didn’t want to go up there. It was hot. I did not want to go up there. So I grabbed my toolbox. And I left and I was, you know, started muttering some things that I would very disappointed be very disappointed myself these days, the words that I was saying as I walked out. And I got to the generators out there. And I had this uncanny feeling that I was not alone. And when I looked up, it was Sergeant Hill. He was standing right there. And I was just like, oh my gosh, like I see all my dreams shattered before me, like being able to get out of the army and go to college and all those things. I was just like, man, I’m just gonna get kicked out of the army. What am I gonna tell my family? They gonna be disappointed? And Shawnee Hill. Looked at me. And he just said, hey. Listen. You know. You got a lot of potential. But to be a good leader, you gotta be a good follower. And there are some things that you’re gonna meet good, you’re gonna meet good leaders, you’re gonna meet bad leaders. Make sure you learn from both of them. Learn from the good leaders what you should do. Learn from the bad leaders the things that you should never do. And I think, you know, just kind of looking at that. What does that really mean? I think it means that good leaders are in tune with their people. Good leaders are not afraid. Good leaders value their people more than they value their positions. Good leaders also are in tuned. And good leaders also know when to reward and when to punish. I think those are kind of the things that I would say. Not a range of tools that you have at your disposal as a leader. And you’re always influencing. You’re always influencing as leader. And how do you and ultimately what you’re doing you’re preparing other people to come after you? So, you know, those are kind of some of the things that I would I would leave and I wouldn’t get very philosophical around, you know, what these other qualities are. I think those are very practical things that people could do.
Jackie – 00:30:13:
Absolutely. Thank you for that. Anselm, you served in Desert Storm and thank you for your service. What are some of the things that we need to know to support combat veterans in our workplaces and in our communities?
Anselm – 00:30:29:
So, you know, I would not change my Army experience for the world. I met a great group of people who I would always cherish. I think that there’s a lot of things that we don’t really understand about the people who serve. The first one, is that less than 1% of a US population actually serves. Bye. And, but everybody says, you know, we are patriotic, you know, and all those things. And no judgment. It’s a free society and we choose. And I would say that what is it that we need to know as a society? I would say that some of the best people, some of the brightest people are people who serve in the military. And there’s this notion that if you served in the military, you’re very rigid. I think we need to lose that mindset. I would say that if you’re looking for people who think on their feet, who are very adaptable, who are going to get the job done no matter what. Those are people who serve in the uniform, who wore the uniform, people who served. And those are the things that we need to know. We need to disavow this notion of you know, the veteran with PTSD on this, who’s homeless on the street. Yes, we do have that. We do have, unfortunately, veterans who are suffering from PTSD. But it’s not unique to veterans. We have a mental health crisis in our nation and we’ve got to be more attuned to mental health. So I would say just be more empathetic towards mental health. Support, you know, be a good citizen and vote, right? Vote on issues that are important such as making sure that we could have proper health care and that, you know, veterans could be properly taken care of. But understand that they’re not going to be people who are going to be very arrogant, who tell you about all the things that they have done and how amazing they are. But they are really, really amazing people. Engage them. Provide them with opportunities. If you’re a company, you know, know that, you know, veterans are amazing, amazing people who can get a lot of stuff done and who are very, very important to deal with people.
Jackie – 00:32:56:
Absolutely. And so one of the questions that I really love to ask is, will you share a transformational life moment? And I think that may be when your mom passed away, but I wanna open that up for you. How does that moment, tell us about what that moment is and how does it inform or guide your life?
Anselm – 00:33:18:
So that was a transformational moment, you know, very much for me because overnight, my whole world kind of fell apart, right? You know. Be in. Being the baby of your family and being very close to your mom. And then, you know. She passes. And I really wasn’t. Man in a sense
Jackie – 00:33:48:
Anselm – 00:33:49:
So how did it transform my life? I think one, I had to realize that I needed that nurturing and I needed to find people who would still provide me with that mothering that I needed before I could move to the next level. The other thing that it did, it really kind of helped cement in my mind the things that are important and the things that are not. And I think that’s a constant struggle. As we think about even the jobs that we do, we’ve gotta be, we have to be mindful of not just why we do the jobs. We don’t just do the jobs because they pay us for living. We do the jobs because we have internal drivers and we are driven to a purpose. And that purpose is about other people. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s about other people. The last thing that I would say is that, as people, it doesn’t matter what your goals are. I think every person has to be self-aware. And part of transformation as going through, when you go through big, significant emotional events. Is to learn a lot more about who you are and how those events trigger the ecosystems that you’re a part of and how that helps you or how does it take away from your ability to interact positively with other people.
Jackie – 00:35:14:
Absolutely. Thank you for sharing that, Anselm. And so as we began to wrap up, what is the message that you want to leave our listeners with today?
Anselm – 00:35:24:
I would say that, you know, There’s a lot of information out there, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. And I think as a responsible citizen, we need to take time to make sure that we are getting the appropriate information. I think one of the things that happens a lot is that we see people in passing, and there’s a lot of misinformation about race-race relations and people who we are not familiar with. And we need to stop the madness, you know, about the perpetuation of stereotypes. We need to get back to the notion of citizenship. And we’ve got to get back to this whole aspect of humanity being a good neighbor. You know, diversity, equity, and inclusion is an important aspect of just how we relate to people. Here’s the funniest thing. We all understand that as we think about our investments, we understand the importance of diversity. You know, you’ve got to diversify your portfolios. Financial advisors say that all the time. But we don’t understand that notion of diversifying our experiences and our interactions with people. And we don’t understand how that does not help to advance us as a nation, as a society, and as citizens in this great country. I think we’ve got to get back to all these fundamentals of just getting to know people, engage in people, and knowing that every person is individual. We all have different motives that we, different ways that we get motivated. The best is to be inspired. And we inspire the best when we get to know people, when we understand who they are, how they show up, and what they have to bring.
Jackie – 00:37:06:
Anselm that was so well said. Thank you for sharing that. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for taking some time with us on the show today. You have been so inspiring, given us so much to think about. So thank you for being here.
Anselm – 00:37:20:
It’s good to be here. Thanks so much.
Jackie – 00:37:27:
Thanks for listening to this episode of Diversity: Beyond the Checkbox. If you enjoy the podcast, please take a moment to share it with a friend, leave a rating and review, and subscribe so you’ll be reminded when new episodes are released. Become a part of our community on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. This show is proudly part of the Living Corporate Network and was edited and produced by Air Fluence. I’m Jackie Ferguson. Take care of yourself and each other.