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The Interchange: Jorge Quezada

We speak with Jorge Quezada, the VP of Inclusive Diversity for Granite Construction.


Tune in as we talk about:

  • How jumping out of planes relates to leadership

  • Turning insight into action

  • Using curiosity to overcome fear

  • Assuming good intent before judging

  • How do you meet people where they are at and much more...!


Jorge considers himself the Chief Inclusion Officer and is guiding leaders from insights into action. He has many years as a leader in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for Fortune 100 companies, and he's certified as a results-based coach for the Neuro Leadership Institute.


If you are a learning and development professional, or just someone with an interesting story that can help others, and are interested in being interviewed for our show, you can sign up at calendly.com/maximyz/inteview.


Learn more about us at Maximyz.com





Transcript:

(edited for clarity and grammar)



Matt

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the interchange. We are so excited to share this moment again with you and for you to hear from our guest today. My name is Rahel. Heinecke and with me is Matthew Heinecke, he will be the host. And I'll let Matt do the introduction as usual.


Matt

So today we have Jorge Quezada. He's the VP of Inclusive Diversity for Granite Construction. He considers himself the Chief Inclusion Officer and is guiding leaders from insights into action. He has many years as a leader in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for Fortune 100 companies, and he's a results based coach for the Neuro Leadership Institute. Welcome, Jorge.


Jorge

Thank you. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity, the platform to just share thoughts around diversity, equity and inclusion. And thank you for that introduction.


Matt

Now, you're very, very welcome. Yeah, we're excited to have you here and we really love your energy. So Rahel had pink she has a question.


Rahel

So the question I always ask anyone get started. Yeah. Tell me something crazy. that you did that you consider like, wow, like, this is something totally out of my range.


Jorge

Wow. That is a that is a great question to lead off. And I can tell you that my visceral response is I jumped out of a perfectly normal plane. Yeah. You know, and as I think about it, I don't know what, like, where that seed was planted. But I always I always thought that because I'm not I'm not like, I'm I can't swim. right guys, so. So someone would have said, well, you should have learned how to swim, right? Like, take control and enjoy your life. But no, I chose to jump out of a plane because I wanted to experience what the feeling was just letting go. Number one, number two I wanted to get, I wanted to see the perspective because someone told me that when you jump out of a plane, and when you open up the chute, you really don't go up. Right, everyone thinks Some people think that never done it before that you like, catapult up.


But in actuality, when the chute opens, you stay. It's the camera man that continues going down and it gives you the perspective of going up. Oh, and then you realize another thing? It's a great question because it kind of ties into diversity, equity inclusion, depending at where you're at, in an organization, you have a different perspective of the work, right. And as you get closer, you know, at the height that you're at, at 15,000 feet, when you open up the chute, you don't really get to see the detail, right? And it's almost like leaders, right?


Like the CEO. We're thinking conceptually about diversity, equity and inclusion. But as you get closer to Earth, the gravitational pool, you don't experience it, but it's pulling you at 15,000 feet, but you don't feel it. But as you get closer, you really do. And I think from a diversity, equity and inclusion, and that's why I love the question, because now you got me all fired up right? at the lower levels of the organization. And it's no wonder people are not only hopeful, but they have high expectations that people in our roles are going to do something with this thing called the Ei, right?


At the highest levels, you may get into conversation, but the expectation to do something is at the lower levels, kind of like that gravitational pull that you feel, right, and you have to prepare yourself. When you land, you have to prepare yourself when you go in front and talk to people. And so so Wow, what an insightful question right off the bat. So thank you.


Rahel

Oh, man, that was really deep.


Matt

I mean, that's a great metaphor. Yeah. And you're right. I mean, I just remember that when I when I did it myself. Yeah, it was happened so fast. And it's kind of, you know, the whole time I was like, say, pull this one first, or this one, you know, yeah. Yeah. And it also reminds me in way of inclusion and diversity and all that. You know, when you're trying to promote that, within an organization, I think you're trying to get people to get to know each other on a more kind of personal what level and ask some of those difficult questions which are really uncomfortable. I'd even be more scary than jumping out of an airplane, you know, to get someone that you hardly even know. Mm hmm.


Jorge

Yeah, no, it's a it's an, you know, it's interesting, right? Because it is so serene up there. And your mind is telling you, oh, this is calm. But you don't realize how fast you're coming down, like even before the shoot and you're, and you're out there, they tell you to lift your legs and your arms right to separate. And you're, you're out there and you're thinking, wow, this is really cool, right? And you're looking around, and then all of a sudden, 15,000 comes up, you pull the cord, you stay there, you float for a little bit, but then it just brings you you know, really quickly, so yeah, no, it's interesting. Yep.


Rahel

Oh, my goodness, you guys are about to convince me to really go jump. Awesome. Do it. So that brings me to ask the question. Again, your title says, Chief inclusion is what? With that title.


Jorge

You know, I wish I could take credit for it. But there's a gentleman by the name of blend yogapeace. Right. He is a leadership development guru. And I went to one of his workshops. And what he did was he really asked me some provocative questions, right, like, I think you're going to be asking me pretty soon here. And he challenged me in the work and he said, you know, what, what is your enduring idea in life? And it made me think right, and then and that is, you know, I think mine during idea is, I want to live life passionately, right. I want to love generously, and I want to inspire I want to inspire in a way that the impossible could be possible. Right?


So that was the first thing he told me. The second thing that he said, and I think, you know, Matt, you mentioned it was was my primary differentiator that I take great pride in. And that is taking insights to action. I think my role as a diversity, equity and inclusion practitioner, is to create insight for people, right, not only about themselves, about others, and what they can do beyond the work that they're doing currently. So, you know, insights to action. And then what is the primary experience?


So when people meet me, and I was struggling with this one, and he said, you know, the way I'm watching you, with people hear you stretch their thinking, like, you know, like you're giving analogies, you're making people, like, look at like, the beach ball from the opposite side and see the different color. So you stretch people's, you know, perspectives, right? And then and then he's he said, you know, what do you solve for in the work that you do? And I thought, wow, you know what, I think I think I do three things.


First of all, I challenge people to look to be curious, right? To go beyond their comfort zone, I challenge people to notice, so that they can make the shifts that are necessary. And then the one that I think that I really take great pride is like I sought for belonging, right? I help people create environments where people feel like they belong. So then as we were going in, they go slow. And you know, and he did the air quote, thing, right? He goes, Oh, so you're like, you unleash individuality? And I thought, Yes, I do. Like I unleashed into, you know, people's individuality. He goes, you're the chief inclusion assist.


And that's where it was right. And so and I sat back, and I go, You know what? Like, I'm not a chief diversity officer. I'm a chief inclusion assist. And so I went with it. And then and here we are, right. Because your eyes So yeah, that's the story. Glen Yogi's? Yeah, he's he's done some phenomenal work. He's written a bunch of books. And you can find him on Forbes magazine. he's a he's an auditor, a contributing author, for the magazine. Yeah.


Rahel

Oh, my gosh, that is so inspiring, as you were speaking, and how you explain it. I think that Matt and I can definitely relate because our story is kind of similar in that we try to give this like you say, you know, unleash individuality, that when you say those words, they really resonate, at least for me. Like, that's definitely a you know, what, what would it be like, if more of us thought that way? And aimed for that? Where would we go? You know, so yeah,


Jorge

I think and I think, you know, the work is about unleashing the talent, right. And though the work challenges us to, like, take individuals and have them achieve what they never thought they could achieve. And, and you have to really, first of all know yourself, right? Before you can go do that. Right. And it's taken me a bit to, to get to this place. But I tell you, Glenn gave me that insight into me. And so that's why when you ask the question, right? Why would I even put that on there. It's It was a gift that was given to me by Glenn. But at the same time, it's something that I really take great pride in.


Matt

I love that I love especially for me, I like the Curiosity part inside and i think i think they go together and being curious about yourself and your, your surroundings. And that's really what I believe promotes, you know, what helped us through our differences was just being curious, you know, like, Hey, what's it like to be, you know, black woman from Tanzania, you know, or just being curious about each other's cultures and ideas? And also, yeah, asking those questions of myself. You know, why? Why do I think that way? Why? Why am I like that?


Jorge

Well, and you know, Matt, I think it's, I love the way you phrased it, right? When you when you even when you looked at Rahel, right? Because I think, I think I think we could go through life just looking at things, but not really seeing them. Okay. We can go through life, hearing people, but not really listening to them. And even the way you describe hell right now, right, a black woman from Tanzania. So what you just did was you just went one click two clicks, three clicks down. You could have gone to what town in Tanzania, you could have gone with what family from there, right?


And all of a sudden what you just walk through what your curiosity was knowing her at a different level beyond the surface. Black woman right now. That's what we see. But when you start describing Tanzania people like, oh, okay, now I know where I pick up the accent. Right? I heard I heard it. But now that I pay more attention, right? Oh, make sense. I know someone. And that's I think, what we want to teach people to do. It does take work, it tucks, it takes more than patience. It takes sometimes people overcoming a fear of saying, like, Hey, I hear when I when I listened to you, um, I hear an accent. Where's the accent of origin? And in that dialogue, right, so yeah, very insightful.


Rahel

Oh, my gosh, you just nailed a post I just did today, I will get pictures of our vacation. And Matt was in a village in Africa. And he was with the Messiah dressed up like the Messiah and running around and making noise. And now saying, you know, just looking at that picture was powerful, because it showed how much openness to experience it fully, you know, it's to go deeper. Like you said, it wasn't just oh, I explained to him how a village would be like, he actually felt it and was in it. And I think going deeper gives you so much more understanding not just of yourself, but of others, and why they are different from you, when what does that mean? You know, he gets even asking questions that maybe you didn't even ask yourself before.


Jorge

Well, yeah. And you know, and when you say that, and Matt, congratulations for that, right? Because the mental image that that I'd love people to really think about is we and we cross them all the time as bridges, right? bridges, take us from where we're at today, to where we need to be right. Like when we're driving we need we're here today. That's where we need to be. So we got to go over that bridge. what you just described, right? Is you going through a bridge right? For you to be wearing that and being around the village, you you you stepped out of your comfort zone. Right?


Have you may have experienced, you may have experienced some fear. But you know what, for you to go to that learning zone as they talked about, right from comfort to fear to learning zone. Every time you were learning you were crossing that bridge. So now when people talk about this being like a growth growing, like your growth is because you went over that bridge, you went to the destination you wanted to be you be it and I think sometimes people hold themselves back from crossing that bridge. Right?


Some people just want to go to the edge. And they say like, Oh, it looks cool over there. I can't do it. Like I can't I'm not wearing that right. There. You were right. But But then, but then you have to find out what motivates you what incense you write, you know, your relationship with Rahel, like I need to do this for her right, that kind of thing. And those are the kinds of things that I think in business, sometimes we lose sight of why why we do what we do around diversity, equity inclusion, because we forget we do it because we want to create greater engagement. And we want to create grit in unleashed the innovation that exists in every one of us. Yes, but if we're not willing to go there to cross that bridge ourselves, it's hard for the people among yourself, to get them to cross those bridges. Yes. And so that's, I think, the power in the work that we do. Right,


Matt

right. Yeah. And I completely agree. And, and I think another thing was that the Messiah were so welcoming. You know, they really made it fun, they really made me want to join in to be included, ceremony. And so that's, I think that's another big aspect of in Rails really passionate about that about, you know, you're the insider versus outsider type of way of looking at things, but maybe you want to


Rahel

know that that's really it. I mean, it's just this, if more people who cause matters, then an outsider coming into this village, so they're the villagers are the insiders, and much would have to work really hard to try and fit in there. And if the insiders work hard to let him come in, instead of you having to work hard to get in, it might change how you experienced the whole thing, you know, like, how many different places or you know, when you're new on a job, and you're joining a new team, and you're this outside person joining this team, you feel nervous, you feel scared, you don't want to, you know, so if they work harder to make you feel welcomed, you know, how much faster and can you build yourself and your team through that experience, you know,


Jorge

And that's why as the chief inclusion is right, what you do is it's, it's, it's you have to see both sides, right? Because even in that story, right? The Messiah could be people of color, right? Let's let's bring it back to the US right, people of color. And what we have to understand as people of color is is that in order for us to be inclusive, right, the word us is in the middle, that word inclusion right?


So it's about all of us. White men like Matt. Right? We need to work hard to make it inclusive. So that Matt can we can unleash his talents with us. Yeah. Right. Right. Because this work is also about having people who are white. Right, like be inclusive of people of color. Yeah. So it's, you got to have both to to really make it work. Right. And then I think what happens is, I think, depending on what story you listen to, and I think, you know, and we're in an environment where it's, it's very polarizing, right. But you don't get to what Matt experienced with the Messiah, right is the way you're explaining it. Unless you go to the middle, right?


You meet in the middle to have that conversation. We're in a world right now that if I'm on one camp, if I take one step towards you, they tell me, I'm selling out. And then on another camp, if they'd go meet me halfway meet someone else halfway. They kick them out of that camp. Yeah. Right. Because and that's how we speak. And I think this is the work like this work is like, how do we have a conversation that really focuses on this belonging, right, focuses on what you just said that some, the energy has to be in a way positive. Right.


And this leads me to say this is that I think we've always said in this practice, and I know where it comes from, right, like, always assume good intent, right? The way some, and I tell you, that. Sometimes that's difficult, because there's some people that say mean things, right? There's some people who, who judge you. And we're supposed to sit here and say, Oh, I should assume good intent, right. And I get it, right? Because then you get curious, but I will tell you that I think the practice and Monica is from I knew her at Microsoft and at ESPN. And now she's at Carnival cruises, wrote a book on impact.


And you know, that word, you know, even Rondo Adams, who works at Northwestern Mutual, had the same that basically said, you know, we got to go from intent to impact. So, yes, I'll assume you have good intent. But I'm, I'm also challenging, Matt, Rahel to also think about the impact they're going to make, when they're going to speak the words, they're going to say, when they're going to take the actions that they're going to do so. So we got to move it from, you know, we got to take the intent in someone's heart and in their mind, and challenging them to really have impact to take action in this work, right? and be mindful of that. So yeah, Ah,



Matt

No, no, I was just gonna say, yeah, that's, that's a powerful way of looking at it. And I think you're right, we talked about it, but what are the actions that you know, we are taking along with it? because like you said, we can just, you know, sit there and just think positive thoughts.


Jorge

Yeah, no, I think I think people, you know, sometimes they don't say things because they, they're, they're afraid they're gonna say the wrong thing. And so I get the fact that they have great intent in their heart and their mind. But it doesn't take a lot to say, Listen, I'm about to say something that I'm not familiar with. So I hope you give me some grace, right? As I say it, and hopefully you can coach me. It doesn't take that long. That was only 15 seconds, right. But some people will say something's not even like, Don't won't even pause and say something that the impact is damaging. Yeah. And I think that that's also what we're trying to teach in this work. Right.


Matt

Now, that makes sense. And it's kind of reminds me when I was younger, I played football. And we did a drill that had to do with you know, kind of other people calling you names, you know, getting on the football field, other teams getting riled up. Yep. So we play like a game where you kind of would hit each other, and just be right before we hit each other. We'd say talk's cheap. It was kind of like your actions, your actions. Really? Yeah, speak for you the talk. You can talk all day long and say whatever. But I mean, yeah, it's important what you say and the impact that it does have, but just made me think of that. Yeah, no, no worries. No worries. Stretching perspectives, right. Yeah.


Matt

Exactly. So just to see each other a little bit just a little bit. So is chief How do you implement these ideas and thoughts with your team? Like how do you get them to do all this or think that way?


Jorge

Hmm. You know, well, you can't prepare. So you know, I think I'm I'm really a firm believer in that you got to meet people where they're at. And my job early on is to listen, right into evaluate. What's the world that I'm in? And so the language that I used at Northwestern Mutual, may not be the same language I'm using here at granite, it may not be the same language I use at Kraft Foods, more at all state. And it's because you have to meet people where they're at. Right? I think sometimes, you know, you've heard the adage, right, that we want to go from the golden rule of treating people the way we want to be treated.


And we want to treat them the way they want to be treated. So sometimes you have to find the phraseology, the language, the things that connect with them, to connect those dots with people. Because in a world of bias, you know, and, you know, you mentioned that, so I'm I am certified with the neuro Leadership Institute. I don't work for them. So I just wanted to make that clarification. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it's no problem when you said that it just, it just hit me. Oh, I better tell them now. Right? Because David rock over, there's probably if he hears this, he's gonna be like, Oh, my God, I don't do I have or hate working for me.


But but but but but I am going to, you know, go to the neuro Leadership Institute, because one of the things that they teach us is around biases, the model of seeds, right? of similarity, like the five biases, there's five buckets that that they tell you to really think this world through. Seeds stands for similarity experience, right? Experience expediency, distance and safety bias. And so in a world of similarity bias, right? One of the ways you mitigate that bias is you want to find the commonalities with people, right. We may have it as DNI practitioners. We may have with parachuting. We may have it you know, I was born in El Salvador, right? You know, Rahel, Tanzania, right? So we can, we can relate right? Even just the way you just smiled right now, right? When I said that, right, those are the kinds of things and so you find those cues, right, those those signals that are sent, and then you start working to work in.


Because if you come at it from a very formulaic academic approach, it may not hit just like the word seeds, right. So if you think about it, when you plant seeds, you got to make so make sure that the soil is fertile. If the soil is hard, you got to soften that soil. Right? Once you plant the seeds, you got to nurture those seeds, you got to water those seeds, you got to nurture that sick, you know that plant? Right? And that's so when you ask the question, that's the, the, the metaphor that I'll use is that you want to make sure that you're planting the right seeds, with the right soil. And in the conversation, that's what you do. When you ask, that's what I would do. Maybe I should write I'm a sower of seeds, maybe maybe that's.


Matt

So you mentioned, meeting people where they're at? A lot of people say that lately. And and I do understand that, but maybe just to help. Can you give? Is it possible to give a specific example where you met somebody where they were?


Jorge

Sure. So I will tell you one of the biggest we talked about earlier in the parachute analogy, right? Of sometimes it's real difficult when you come in front of a group and you have a discussion. one of the toughest conversations that some people may have is when you get into some when you when you talk to someone who has tremendous religious conviction. And they're asking you questions around why do we celebrate pride month?


If If my religious so so you meet them where they're at? Right? You meet that you find out what part of their, their, their, their religious background they're talking about. And you start engaging in conversation with them about it. So that would be like one example. Right? Another one, not as dramatic, right? Or not as tense would be when you have someone who's constantly using sports analogies, and you have to go talk to them about why a may not hit home, right? with the people in the room. Or someone who constantly uses the word guys in front of women. And you're trying to, you know, you're trying to show them. Okay, listen, this is, this is how I've worked through it.


So you meet them where they're at meaning, like, you accept what they say, right? You practice good intent, right? You go there, but then you have to show them the impact that the words coming out of their mouth is making you show the person with religious conviction, right? Is there an opportunity to see it differently? Is there an opportunity, you know, you hear someone saying, Oh, I get grace. Okay. Well, can you give grace you know, you know, if you say things Sunday. Can you practice them on Monday through Saturday? Right? Those kinds of things, right? Because I think any any religion like really comes from a place of goodness, right? So if you start from the place of goodness, let's take a look at this month and why this month is so important, right? That would be an example, the way I would talk to someone. I hope that makes sense.


Matt

No, it does, it reminds me of another metaphor, where, if you want somebody to see what it's like, on your side of the fence, you're not just gonna like pull them through the fence, you have to climb over the fence to their side, see what it's like over there first, then you can bring them over to your side of the fence. Sure,


Jorge

sure. No, I like that. I'm gonna, I'm gonna use that. Okay.


Matt

So, so coming back to like, the your company, I grant you where you work, you know, in the in what you teach and what you're passionate about, what made you pick or go with that company? Is that culture conducive to what you do? And what would that be? What is the culture like there?


Jorge

Wow. And the reason why I like that question is twofold, right? Some people ask me, Why do I do the work? I do? And I tell him, it's a calling. And, you know, Matt, you mentioned in the introduction, that I've had a chance to work with various fortune 100 companies, and I've been the good fortune that people have reached out to me to say, Hey, would you come? Would you like to come and work or interview for these companies? Right? So it's not something that I've gone looking for per se, right. But you know, in your question, right, how, when I came to granite, one of the things that impressed me about the culture was their values, right. And, and they aligned with mine. And, and so that alignment, even went so far that now that I'm here. So you know, we had nine values.


Now we narrowed it down to five that focus areas like values, sustainability, integrity, excellence, safety and inclusion. Right. So even that reaction, Matt like, yeah, you know, like, wow, you know, they're serious, right? And so, I sense that the, the, in the construction industry, you know, and I tell the story in full transparency, right. So, there's a weird bias, there's an inherent bias that exists anyway. So if you think about it in when my son was six years old, we were getting ready in Colorado to go to the Halloween parade at the zoo. So I dress my son as Bob the Builder. And I dress my daughter as Minnie Mouse. Right.


And I didn't realize what I was doing right? I was being biased. My daughter would never wear a construction outfit, right? She was Minnie Mouse, my son, Bob the Builder, right? He was the one. And so there's a perception, right, that only men work in construction. And I will tell you that that's not the case, right? We have some phenomenal women that work here at granite, and they're doing some incredible things. And then five years from now, I will tell you that there's going to be a case study written I don't know who's going to write it, whether it's MIT Sloan Harvard Business Review, I don't know. But someone, maybe the two of you will write it. You know, and it's going to basically, the headline is how did granite attract and develop? went more women in the construction industry than any other, you know, construction company? And how did granted bring in more people of color into the construction industry and develop them into leaders just like they did with women? That's going to be the thesis right? And in, in I got that not because I came in with that like phraseology or that thinking, I came at it, because the people here really believe that that's possible.


And so what so when when you get that vibe of a commitment that says, whatever, we set our values to whatever we set our goals to, we're going to go and do it. That's what really attracted me to the company. That's what made me say, yes, that's what has given me the energy, right? to even be here in front of with with the two of you today, right to speak on behalf of granite because I think we're doing some really innovative things and it's gonna be pretty exciting. Especially in the construction industry, per se.


Matt

Yeah. That's great. That's great. I worked in the heavy duty vehicle or trucking industry. Yeah, same kind of bias. Everyone expects a trucker to be a man but there's lots of women truck drivers out there and they do a great job.


Jorge

Yeah, because they can right it's not let's let's not be surprised. It's like because they can write. I think that is the, the nuance to it, the real nuance to it. It's like, I think sometimes, sometimes I think, I think john Maxwell says something. That's why it's coming to light for me. Sometimes I think we need it. Like, we feel like we have to counsel women and work on their weaknesses, right? Well, we equip men, because we see their strengths. So we see. So we see man, is it Oh, and then you can drive this truck.


And then you can go when you're done driving, when you draw the lawnmower son, then I'll let you drive the bike. And when you drive the bike, right, with a woman's like, Well, you know, before you go grab the lawnmower, my daughter right before you go grab the lawn more, here's how you have to do it, my son, oh, just go do it. Right. Like those are the those are the little nuanced things that I think we tend to do. And if we wonder why it's taken this long to have more women in leadership roles, or more people of color, I think it's because we counsel people on their weaknesses to try to like, have them do things, as opposed to giving opportunity to some men who we just just because the similarity bias we think, because I did it, he can do it. So let's go right. That kind of stuff.


Matt

Yeah, no, I think it reminds me like you mentioned, it's something maybe we're doing early on, I think I'm guilty as a parent as well, like, you know, my my daughter, the pink stuff, and my son the blue stuff, and then I realizing what what am I doing? Why am I buying new cars and, and this one dolls, you know, not only is it that I'm pushing my bias onto them, but then also as you grew up, they grew up, or I grew up, and I think, Well, you know, I can't apply for that job. Because I'm a woman, or, you know, I can't do that. Because I'm black, you know, so I use those as excuses. And, and I think it's not just the way I'm brought up, it's the way I see everything around me so that I reach a place. I'm like, I just can't do that. And so yeah, break that. And also break it now and break it now, not just for the adults that we are but for our children.


Jorge

Yes, you know, there was a time and I think I just saw this recently on the Ken Burns, documentary on Ernest Hemingway, it this just came out recently. But I had heard about this a couple of years ago, that little kids in the 20s, like, were dressed the same. They were dressing the same outfits. And it was a company a merchandise company, who introduced the concept of pink and blue, um, to sell more product. And and all of a sudden, just an idea, like that just takes off. Right? And, you know, even though men were wearing suits and women wearing dresses, but the kids were all dressed alike, right?


They all it's, it's phenomenal. how things are imposed on us, right? Not because of we create them, but because people say, oh, we're going to label the generations. These folks now are millennials. These folks are Gen Z. These folks are Xers these folks are boomers, and then the attributes that are associated with that labeling, we start seeing it in other people. Yeah, right. Even in our work, right, I there's a book by Bob Johansen, who talks about he's a futurist out of here, California. And, and in what he says is, is that in the future, there's not going to be any boxes, right? Just think about this, right? Both you have kids, right? And so you have kids together, you know, they're going to be different.


They're not going to be classified just as black and white kind of thing. And all of a sudden, they're going to marry someone and all of a sudden, they're going to fill out a census, and they're going to be like, what are like, what is it like what? Yeah, but but but I give you that because even as we talk about race as a social construct was wrong to begin with. Guess what we do? Right? We continue, we continue to perpetuate putting people in boxes, so that it makes it easy for us to count, to understand whether we how we compare ourselves to other people, right? So what we I think what we have to do, as practitioners, we have to look 20 years out, and if Bob Johansen is correct, that there's not going to be a bunch of boxes, it's going to be more of Hi, you know, hybrid, multicultural, more than two races kind of thing.


Then we have to start thinking about how do we measure diversity, equity and inclusion in the future, and then work backwards and go Okay, so what do we start designing now to start having different conversations about how we think about people, right? Because today, it's very easy. Black, white, Hispanic, right? I have to answer that question all the time in my Latino or Hispanic and then what race am I and there's no race really, technically that I can identify with, other than me having to go through some mental hurdle to say okay, well, if 50% of my family is indigenous. I have to choose the indigenous category.


Okay, let me read, you know, Indian, right? And then also an oak, American Indian Native American, okay. And it's like indigenous to only North America. I'm Central America. Okay. My grandmother's Afro Caribbean. Okay, I'll say black. Wow, that's the kind of stuff but I think we like, that's the that's the like the mental gymnastics that we do, right? Like the calculus, we have to figure those things out. But those are the kinds of things that we have to like process and think about as we do this work. Ah,


Matt

that is really profound. And I think as you were saying, we had been to something similar because we have white children, and then we have black children. And then we have a mixed child. And every time we have to feel forms, we have to select, is it this child? Or which? Who did you right here? Is it a mixed up? Why do I have to separate my children? They're my children. You know,


Jorge

it's not like you're minimizing them. But but but think about the systems that are created on the back end, right. And I found this out when my kids were, were applying for colleges, right? If some of your kids, you know, the set of your kids fill out and they say they're white, certain institutions will reach out to them. If they felt you say that they're white, I mean, black. It'd be like, Hey, wait a minute, why didn't that school reach out to this, this kid over here? And then the one that's mixed, right, it's like, those are the kinds of like, the systems that we create. Also, you have to think about how we build it, how we think about it.


And so it's, it's, it's a really good time to be in this practice, right? Because it's a practice where artificial intelligence doesn't touch it, right? Because you really need a brain to do what we're talking about here. You really need to do you know, you got to have a heart. You know, a computer may not have that emotion that you need, right to think these through. So it's about the head. It's about the heart. It's about the hands, right, like the work that you do. And so yeah, no, it's it's it's great work.


Matt

Wow. Yeah, that's that's true. So did, did you I know you've been doing this for many years, through COVID, up to over the past 18 months. Have you seen any differences? Or has it been better or worse now that we went through all that we went through to 2020? And where we are now is they're more focused on these diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging than it was before? Was it there before? It's just now there is light on it?


Jorge

You know, so it's interesting, because let's just use COVID, for an example, right? Because we also have to, during these last 18 months, I would be remiss if we didn't think about George Floyd. Right, Brianna Taylor, right. And others who were impacted by during this time were impacted in tragically the way they were. But COVID was interesting. When COVID, around January, February, or March, I think it was January in February, I someone reached out to me to do a podcast. And the thesis right of the podcast, really, what we were talking about the theme was, Why are so many people in diversity, equity and inclusion losing their jobs. Right.


So prior to COVID, this was a movement afoot when COVID hit even more it accelerated it because companies were having to make decisions because they didn't realize that economic impact that was going to make so they were getting ready for it. Right. And that was the only way we can justify the conversation at the time. Right. So, so and I was telling people, well, you know, in my in the circles that I like hanging out within the DNI practitioners, people are not losing their jobs. Right? It I think it all depends the value that you as a practitioner, bring into your company, right?


If you're providing greater benefit than the salary that they're paying for you, you inherently have more value. So you're there, right? Granted, hired me in September of 2019. So when I came in, right, COVID hit right. And but I'm still here, right? That kind of thing. Then George Floyd, that event took place, right, that tragedy took place. And I think companies got caught off guard. A lot of companies who never thought about doing diversity, equity inclusion, started hiring people, right. A lot of companies that had let go of people were bringing them back or bringing other people in and building out their teams. And then companies like granite during this time. It almost accelerated things, right. From a social injustice perspective.


We started having a different conversation about race and I go back to Some people look but don't see some people here but don't listen. Race, I would tell you that the black community has lost lives in the way that George Floyd died. Breanna Taylor died, not just in 2020. It's been happening before then. But people looked at the news but didn't see what was going on. People had been talking about inequities. people heard it, but they didn't listen or pay attention to it. So when you ask me that question right now, I will tell you that it put everything in overdrive, the sensitivity of it got bigger. Right. COVID, same thing. There was a lot of companies that were saying, we could never work from home. We need people a belly button on the seat butts on the seat kind of thing. Right? Yeah, some companies have had the greatest profit years that they've had during this time. Right?


People have shown that they can work from home. Now, what could you could you lose the connectivity? Like right now, like I may say some things you smile, right? Both you have great smiles, right? And I feel like I'm connecting with you. But there's nothing there's nothing like being in front of you having this conversation that we're having, and then being able to like, just engage differently, right? We may have we may have walked in, gave a handshake. And at the end, we can walk away and we're hugging each other. Right? We can't do this here. That's right. You just can't feel that right. And so, so but we created these platforms that allow us to connect in a way that's different than just a conference call. Right? So we can see each other. And so to keep going on to your question.


Jorge

It has allowed the time that I can't fly to go see people and stuff. Yeah, the capacity that it's given me, I've been able to build out along with Abby combs who works with me, really robust, strong infrastructure, around communication, on how we engage our employees. And it's given us the ability to actually have time to really think to build on on things, as opposed to I would have been on the road doing training, that I may not have a chance to do what I'm doing right now. Right? So these are the kinds of things that I think we've been, we all benefited if we allow ourselves right? to step into it right to this new. You know, Dave, David rock, who get in your leadership institute said something really profound. Early on during COVID. He said, You know, people are craving to go back to normal. He goes, What if we said, What, why do we create a better normal? Why don't we take this opportunity, not just a new normal, but a better normal? And I think that that is what these last 18 months, at least in my head, right? has provided me is to think I'm just not going to, like allow people to like this to think about, let's go back to normal, I can't wait to go back to it. What No, change doesn't work that way. Right? Change is you got to got to move to a different place. You got to cross that bridge. And on the other side of that bridge is a better normal, let's let's be the ones that create that better normal.


Matt

Wow. That is great. Great, great insight.


Matt

Yeah. Now, you mentioned that, you know, this whole event with George Floyd, it's, it's kind of shined a light and made it something we're all talking about. But do you feel that some of those companies are just checking the box to say, Alright, we have a diversity inclusion person I want to in it, or are they really being legitimate about this wanting to change this?


Jorge

So it's, it's funny, is this go back to the jumping out of a perfectly perfectly normal plane? Right. It's all perspective, right? I think sometimes we don't know. Until we go ask until we go in to find out from the people. Because what you're seeing, you're seeing actions and you're interpreting actions that you really have to practice. They're practicing good intent. Yeah. Right. So if you assume good intent, then you have to assume that the reason why they have a DNI person is because they're serious about their DNI program. They're serious when they make a statement. They really believe the statement right? Now, what's happening also is because social media is amazing, right?


They can do research and seconds kind of thing. They'll find out if a company is not really serious about the work that they're doing there. Find out if it is a check the box that they'll find out, then that's when you know The impact that they've made, right? Because it's because it's easy to drop $1 million to an HBCU. And if you never go and recruit, if you never go talk to those students, then you'll find that out. Right? But, but but but that's what I like, it's, you have to be real careful, right? Because, you know, people will say, you want to do this work so they can bring their true selves to work. Right, right. Sometimes you don't want someone bringing in their true self, right? Like, it's almost like you want their best self. Right, their best self to work, right. And so, so when you say that to me, I pause a little bit because in their lies, not your cynicism. But I think this this, like this kernel of some companies have done it just to check the box. Some may have, I really don't know until you start talking to them. Right.


Matt

Yeah. Assume that that's, that's what they're doing. They need to wait time will tell.


Jorge

Yeah, time will tell and people are finding out themselves. Right. And so I think I think we just have to, we just have to have not give companies grace. But what you have to do is you just have to say okay, they said it? Did they mean it? Let's go find out. That's cool. That's cool. Right. But I think it could be some of that. I don't I just can't tell you. I mean, I think the construction industry is an industry that some people may say that that's what they're doing. Right? Because their, their perception is, there's no way women are going to work in construction. Right. And yet, here I am talking about there's going to be a case study written. You know, it's like really, you know, so that's the kind of stuff. Yeah,


Matt

that makes sense. Sure. Sure. Yes. You're not actually going to timeout one second. dummy, I forgot to show off my phone. I hope you didn't get on microphone. I didn't hear it. And that's what we have editing. So it's a good directional mic, so shouldn't pick it up. But


Matt

cool. So I guess I'll wrap it up by asking, you know, what advice do you give, you know, people, especially like us, new intrapreneurs and other going through, like educational people who about diversity, equity and inclusion? And, you know, what, what advice do you give us now? How do we navigate in your opinion?


Jorge

Yeah, so give me more in the sense of as business owners, yes. How do you navigate through di?


Jorge

Okay.


Jorge

I will tell you that I think the most incredible thing about entrepreneurs, business owners, is the fact that you have an understanding of the customer, right. And in order for you to do business with someone, you really have to think about that value proposition, right associated with how they're going to pay you based on the interaction you have with them with the services that you have. And so when that value proposition, they're paying you through their time, money for the benefits that you're providing.


I think the differentiator is, and I think that entrepreneurs have figured this out. If I exceed the expectations of the customer, they will keep coming back to me, right? And when I ask for referrals, right, they're going to give me people because you know that you're going to, they're the people that they refer, you're going to treat them just as good. Right. So that's the gift that keeps on giving from an entrepreneurial perspective, right. I think diversity, equity inclusion is an enabler, right? For you even to double, triple click down and find out who the person is beyond the transaction. I think sometimes the most successful entrepreneurs that I have seen are the ones that do the transaction, right?


They provide the service, they get paid. But then they have tremendous follow up, where they know anniversaries, birthdays, they know the kids names, they know, you know, just the shirt that the person wore the blouse that the woman wore when they walked in the you know, in the action or when they saw and I think that that in itself is getting to know someone deeper than just the transaction. Right? And I think the reason why when you ask that question, the reason why I go there is because we do this with people. Matt did it when he was describing you and then we got into him wearing and going to the town right? When he said black woman from Tanzania. Now we had some you gave me insight that you actually went visited the town that you actually got engaged that you actually got in the guard that you actually were running around? And you actually were in the festivities, right?


That is the differentiator, when you practice diversity, equity and inclusion, you may not call it that, right? your comfort level may be as well. I'm getting to know my customer. Yeah. But we in DNI, say, Yeah, you're getting to know your people, right? We're getting, you're getting to know them in the diversity dimensions that mean that it's meaningful to them. And when you do that, when you connect at that level, game changer, right? Game Changer, not only in business, you know, your employees, you get greater engagement. And you get you get them in a place where they're coming to you with ideas, because they want the business to thrive. Right? The same thing as a client will refer people to you, because they know how they were treated, not just in a transactional perspective, but in an emotional perspective of getting to know them. I hope that helps.


Rahel

Yes.


Matt

Thank you so much. For all the advice you've given. It's been really wonderful. Yeah, we really appreciate your time with this. Yeah, no problem.


Jorge

Yeah. Thank you for having me.


Rahel

Sure, you can make a book, because you need to write a book.


Jorge

You know, I may have to I have not written a book. And, and maybe it's because when you're learning, like, I consider myself someone who's continuously learning, right, a continuous learner. It's hard to like, when all this wisdom is being put into you. You don't like it's hard to really think about writing a book. Right? You know, you know, I think I just need to pause for a moment. And maybe, you know, thank you very much. Maybe this is the moment right? To say, yeah, you know what, I could write a book, but because I'm learning so much, right. And I learned from people like yourselves, that, that hasn't crossed my mind. But thank you for thank you for planting that seed. Right?


Matt

Yes, it's true. I realize I keep learning stuff. And the more I learned, the more I realized the last stuff I learned wasn't right.


Jorge

Well, and I'll tell you to build on that. Adam Grant, right. I don't know if you follow Adam Grant, but he just wrote a book on unlearning, right? So what he tells you basically is, is that you have to learn how to unlearn to learn to relearn, and you have to do that continuously, in order for you to keep on evolving, and to be a better person and to be in the work of DNI. Right. And I'll just add, that this work also challenges you to have that foresight to reimagine the work. Right? Like, what could this look like? What What will it look like 20 years from now? And can we give ourselves the opportunity to say why not? Why Why not? Can it look that way? Right. So So now you got me thinking about that book. You've got a manifest, manifest.


Matt

Cool, this sounds very awesome. Thank you so much. Thank you.


Matt

So thank you very much. That was Jorge casada, the VP of inclusive diversity at granite construction. We really enjoyed having you today.


Jorge

Thank you for allowing me to be here today. Thank you.



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