EP 48: Showing Up & Speaking Up in the Face of Racial Injustice with Y-Vonne Hutchinson, JD, CEO + Founder of Ready Set

Uncategorized Mar 11, 2022

When you choose to step into conversations about racism you risk giving up your comfort and the illusion of control on how you are seen.

In essence, when you choose to speak up against injustice you are inviting discomfort.

And inviting discomfort is an affront to all the ways you protect yourself from harm. 

Yet when you befriend your discomfort instead of letting it shut you down, you can navigate the vulnerability of potentially being misunderstood. 

The polarities that come up around wanting to say the right thing, but not be performative or not wanting to center yourself, but be authentic and true are real and can also shut you down.

Sometimes it seems best to just stay quiet. 

Taking the time to pause and not just react is important, especially in our hyper-responsive world. But indefinite silence is never ok when harm is being done. 

Self-leadership helps you lead yourself with more confidence and clarity through the vulnerable and awkward moments. And collective efforts are always better than individual ones. You can best advocate when you have community, clarity, and a plan. 

Today’s guest literally wrote a book on how to talk about race to your boss at work that is practical, actionable, and really, really helpful. 

Y-Vonne Hutchinson is the author of How to Talk to Your Boss About Race and CEO of ReadySet, a diversity and inclusion training firm that helps tech giants, political leaders, media outlets, and Fortune 500 companies speak more productively about racism and turn talk into action.To date, ReadySet has worked with hundreds of companies around the world to build, manage, and grow diverse teams. In a former life, prior to founding ReadySet, she worked as an international labor and human rights lawyer for nearly a decade.


Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • The impact of performance attribution bias on people of color in the workforce
  • Why Y-Vonne says work, identity, and race are so intertwined in our culture
  • Why emphasizing unconscious bias and individual actions alone can’t create sustainable systemic change 
  • How movement language gets co-opted and why leaders need to prepare for backlash
  • How identity, social location and position can impact your strategy for speaking up at work

Learn more about Y-Vonne Hutchinson:

Learn more about Rebecca:


Scroll Down for the Full Episode Transcript:

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: It can’t just be one person in their singular relationships. People have to look to how they change their systems, but I think, also, everyday we can think of the singular actions we can take to improve the lives of the people we’re in relationship with and to change those systems.

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Rebecca Ching: If you’re a white person or have benefitted from proximity to whiteness, this episode is for you. If you’ve ever wrestled with how to speak up or push back when you see people getting hurt, this episode is also for you. Now, silence is not golden in the face of injustice. Silence in the face of injustice says you’re complicit to the harm you witness, and I suspect there’s many of you listening who deeply want to step off the sidelines and figure out how you can engage in substantive conversations about race, discrimination, and bias. Now, I suspect you want to be a part of cultivating more conversations and connections that support all people being treated equally. Great, me too, yet conversations about race or harm done to any people find whatever insecurities and fears and doubts and shame lingering in your nervous system, and these fears and doubts become a beacon to the work you need to do to have the capacity to speak up to harm instead of staying silent.

For those of you who hold advantages and privileges like myself, if we don't speak up, we become a part of the problem. Courage is also a powerful contagion and catalyst for community. Courage cannot exist without a healthy dose of fear, so it’s important to do the work to move through these fears, out of silence, and into taking action against harm being done.

I'm Rebecca Ching, and you're listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with leaders whose burdens have inspired their life's work.  Our goal is to learn how they’ve addressed these burdens, how they rise from them and become better and more impactful leaders of themselves and others.


When you choose to step into a conversation about racism, you risk giving up your comfort and the illusion of control and how you're seen. In essence, when you choose to speak up against injustice, you’re choosing discomfort. You can have all the right words to say, but then this feeling of shut down happens because your body wants comfort while your mind wants to do the right thing. Talking about race is inviting discomfort, and inviting discomfort is an affront to all the ways that you protect yourself from harm. These conversations about race and other forms of harm we witness require a lot of practice, what Resmaa Menakem calls reps. We have to do our reps to increase our capacity for discomfort. There is no grand sweeping heroic gesture that needs to be done, just day in and day out practice and presence while engaging in hard conversations.

While we’re seeing more and more people demonize discomfort, like it’s a bad thing to be uncomfortable, I know you're here for the awkward and important work to move through your discomfort so you can speak up and speak out when you see or experience wrong-doing. Sure, speaking up can lead to awkward rambles, words not coming out just right or feeling shut down, but when you befriend your discomfort instead of letting it shut you down, you can navigate the vulnerability of being misunderstood in those super awkward rambles, and speaking up means you’ll need to redefine your relationship with perfectionism, too, because speaking up means you’ll mess up, say the wrong things, and sometimes feel and look like a bubbling mess, but the rambling and awkward feelings decrease when you move from trying to look the part of a good ally and move to doing the inner work to truly embody what it feels like to stand in your power. This is a daily practice and not something you just arrive at.


I know the awkward and vulnerable feelings around these conversations all too well, and my guess is you do too. When you feel the words bubbling up to speak up and then you end up staying silent after overthinking your words, or my go-to is a rambling mess of words that are hard for others to follow. My head and heart are in the right place, but when I’m not grounded in my body and anchored in my values, it can slow down and dilute the conversations I really want to have with people. The polarities that come up around wanting to say the right thing but not be performative or not wanting to center yourself but be authentic and true are real and can also shut you down.

Now, sure, sometimes it’s best to just stay quiet and listen. Sure, taking the time to pause and not just react is important especially in today’s hyper-responsive world, but indefinite silence is never okay when harm is being done. Over-editing your words and choosing silence instead of speaking up in response to wrong-doing is rarely the better choice. Staying silent signals you're in agreement with what happened, even if it’s not true. Our silence doesn't really keep us safe because we are hurt when the dignity of others are hurt, and in the guise of protecting, our silence ends up harming. Self-leadership helps you lead yourself with more confidence and clarity through the vulnerable and awkward moments, and collective efforts are always better than individual ones. There’s safety in numbers. You have people to bounce things off and strategize with and you can share your courage with each other. We can best advocate when we have community, clarity, and a plan.

That’s why I am so excited to talk about today’s Unburdened Leader guest. She literally wrote a book on how to talk about race to your boss, and that’s practical, actionable, and really, really helpful. 


Y-Vonne Hutchinson is the author of How to Talk to Your Boss About Race: Speaking Up Without Getting Shut Down, and she’s also the CEO of ReadySet, a diversity and inclusion training firm that helps tech giants, political leaders, media outlets, and Fortune 500 companies speak more productively about racism and turn talk into action. To date, ReadySet has worked with hundreds of companies around the world to build, manage, and grow diverse teams. Now, in her former life, prior to founding ReadySet, she worked as an international labor and human rights lawyer for nearly a decade. 

Now, pay attention to what Y-Vonne shared about identity in social location and how these impact speaking up around race. Listen for why it’s important to specifically discuss racism and the power of an intersectional lens on change, and notice how she identifies the value of both individual and collective work in this area that supports systemic changes. Now, please welcome Y-Vonne Hutchinson to The Unburdened Leader podcast. 

Y-Vonne, thank you for joining me on The Unburdened Leader.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Well, thank you for having me. I’m super excited about our conversation.

Rebecca Ching: I am too. I want to start our conversation by talking about your very first job. Your first job was at a famous theme park.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: And I’d love for you to talk a little bit about how the application process and the eventual job you were assigned, how did that impact you and how you viewed yourself?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: I’ll start by saying a little bit about the process, and then I’ll tell you about the impact. Yeah, it was a cattle call, in a lot of ways, for kids to work during the summer. The youngest you could be was 15 which that was how old I was. It was in Texas, and yeah, you know, they kind of brought you in, had you fill out this form, had you talk to some people, and it had you prioritize, I remember, where you wanted to work. 


You could work in food service. You could work in costume as a park character. You could work taking tickets at the booth and in information, and then you could sort of work in janitorial services. No shade to janitors, but in this particular context, as a teenage girl I didn't really want to work in janitorial services because it was one of the hardest roles ‘cause you were on your feet all day so you never sat down. 

So I think, you know, I was disappointed when I found out where I was gonna be working. I just was all set to have my working-in-a-theme-park summer experience, and, you know, there was something a little bit like -- I don't know how to put this, but it was kind of like this is your place, you know what I mean? And I often felt this way growing up in Texas, that as a Black person I was expected to occupy a certain position in society and in relationship to white people, I think is the most simple way to say that. So I felt that there. It was hard work, it was hot. I also felt this quite a lot. In Texas I didn't know what the difference between me and the white kids who did well was, and I was always taught -- in some ways by my family but more so by the white people around me -- to not see color. Whatever it is, it’s not about your race was how I was taught to think, when, in fact, that was, like, the opposite of the truth. That was a lie. The opposite of a truth is a lie. That was a lie, but it made those people feel good about the position they put me in, and it made me unable to articulate the wrongness of what was happening when it happened.

But yeah, that’s how the experience was, and it was, like, terrible. I will say it was also just disgusting. Like, condoms in bushes --


Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: -- things in the bathroom nobody should ever have to clean up. That was my job when I was 15. 

Rebecca Ching: And you wrote in your book that you actually had to take an assessment. There was a pretty thorough assessment that you took, and you aced it, right?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: I thought I did.

Rebecca Ching: And then -- [Laughs]

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, but there was also something you said about this job that you realized that other folks that were assigned janitorial looked like you.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. The mits that I was taught as a kid, it took me a long time to undo that idea of how society works so I took it personal, you know? 

Rebecca Ching: Got it.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson:  Just to sort of tie this to the political moment we’re in right now, when we think about banning books and the stories that we sensor and the histories that we allow our kids to learn, as somebody who grew up in a time where these stories, these histories, these explanations were never acknowledged, right (because they were uncomfortable truths and inconvenient truths), I didn't have the tools with which to articulate what was happening and to say why it was wrong and to extrapolate from it being like oh, this is something wrong with me. This is a personal thing to this is a systemic thing, and there’s something wrong with these people, right?

So now, in retrospect, who knows -- you know, 25 years later, who knows what it was, and certainly nobody’s held accountable for that, and there’s just always that little seed of doubt, and when you're young, those seeds of doubt can grow to be quite powerful, you know? They’re just planted within you.  

Rebecca Ching: Thank you for unpacking that some more, ‘cause hearing even just the burdens of not having the language but knowing something was off, and that is such a common way that our brains work is when we’re feeling kind of out of sorts with something, we usually turn on ourselves and say, “I must have done something wrong.”

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Then, like you said, that burden can grow, that seed can grow and manifest, and so, I want to, then, shift to later on when you took your first job entering the workforce.


Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: You wrote: “I saw my career as the culmination of all my hard work, the manifestation of my Black excellence. It was, in truth, the beginning of my failure.”

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: So can you tell us more about this revelation?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: So just a little bit about my background, I was very studious in high school. I was also in all of the things. We had a choir department that was really competitive. I could not sing. I joined choir. I was really, really into drama. We had a very good drama department. I spent a lot of time in theatre. I did speech and debate. I was third in the nation -- and I don’t live in this past, I’m just telling you this to tell you how by the book I was, right? You know, so had that championship and then, at the same time, I was in the honors classes and just trying to do everything everybody told me I needed to do to get to a good school, get a good scholarship, etcetera, and I did it, right? I studied drama at Carnegie Mellon, and graduated. I remember I was walking down the graduation aisle, and there were just so many medals on my neck ‘cause I did so many extracurricular activities, and everybody was like [Laughs] you look ridiculous, and I had so many ribbons in my hat. I just wanted to have, like, everything ‘cause I was also interested in everything, but also because I was like I have to excel, I have to do great, because if I do great here, I’m gonna do great in life, right?

Then I took a year off. I worked as a temp in New York and had that moment, and then I went to law school, and my acceptance to law school wasn't easy, and I used to be ashamed with this, but I was admitted off the waitlist to Harvard. I’m no longer ashamed of it. The waitlist for Harvard’s great, right? 


But I’d got into Harvard, and I thought okay, I’ve done it. There’s no more school. I’m at the best school, so it’s gonna be just a cake walk from here. All I gotta do is keep doing good, show up, everybody’s gonna know I’m good.

I had a little bit of a hard time finding a job out of Harvard which probably should have been my first clue. I should also say that this is not every Black lawyer story. I think, for me, I was also a non-traditional lawyer so it was harder to place me.

Rebecca Ching: What do you mean by that? What’s a non-traditional lawyer?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Well, so I didn't go into a firm. I wasn't interested in doing firm law, and I wasn't really interested in working for a government. I wanted to work for NGO. I wanted to do international law, development. I did great in some of my policy classes, and I was very involved, but I wasn’t, like, top of my class, right? There, I think, are people who go the traditional route who are top of their classes who have an easier time than me, but we know the stats on employment after law school and discrimination on Black law graduates, so it’s a very real thing.

But, for me, I found a job that I was really excited about, and I was a consultant in Afghanistan, (I write about this job a little bit) and I’ll never forget -- I know this feeling now, as somebody who has written books academically and in policy context and now, with the book, there is this feeling when you do this analysis and all of the threads come together and you feel like you’ve unlocked something, and you, for once, are saying something new and different and unique, and it’s an insight that both feels perfectly obvious but like one no one has had before. It’s a really powerful feeling to have that as a writer, just to feel unlocked. It happens really rarely to get that, but I remember having it for the first time. I’ll never forget it. 

I’ve stayed at work late. I’m in Afghanistan, for goodness sake, in the office. 


I must have worked, like, eight or nine, and I’m looking at the data, and I pull this together, and just -- I felt it was a beautiful analysis. I knew it was a beautiful analysis, the way that I was putting the pieces together, the recommendation I was making, the picture I was painting. I remember I stayed up late working on it, and I gave it to my boss -- I must have been there for a month, maybe less at this time -- and, you know, when you hand something in on your first job you’re in pins and needles. You’re like, “Ah, I can’t wait for my praise! I can’t wait for  my praise!” She comes back, and she goes, “Y-Vonne, I want to talk to you about this.” And I’m ready. I’m like let’s talk about it, girl. What, you wanna promote me now, right? I’m in it! She was like, “Are you sure you wrote this?”

Rebecca Ching: Oh.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: She was like, “You know that we can’t plagiarize here,” and I was like…

Rebecca Ching: Oof.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: So, first of all, fuck you. I don't wanna do that kinda work for you anymore, but second, I was like wow. So I am a Harvard law graduate. Like, Harvard law graduates, if there’s one thing that you can probably presume about them is that they can do an analysis right, and I’m not saying this to be an elitist, but that is the presumption that all of my other classmates got, and, for some reason, she thought I, a person who’d graduated from an elite Ivy League law school who’s doing this now. So it wasn't expected, it was actually penalized at that standard, right, the excelling. It wasn't like, “Oh, she’s got great potential. We’ve got to mentor her. Let’s see what resources we can get her. How did she get to this,” you know? It was, “Did you plagiarize this? Okay, don’t do it again.” That was the feedback I got, and I think, you know, we can talk about the rest, but that became a theme, right? If you don't excel, we’ll let you know, but if you do excel, we’re not really gonna fully recognize it and we’re also not gonna give you feedback either way.


Rebecca Ching: What are you feeling right now as you recall that? ‘Cause I get to see your face as yo’re saying it.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, I mean, for me, it’s something to remember it, it’s something to write about it, it’s another to verbally tell the story to another person and hear how wrong it is.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah. Yeah.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: And, also, I’m a boss now. I’m a CEO, right? If somebody does something brilliantly, the first thing on my mind is, like, how do we recognize that person? At ReadySet, we have a Pride and Praise channel where we, you know, “So and so did such a great job with X, Y, and Z,” and, particularly, if they’re earlier in their career, I’m always mindful that this praise is really important, right? Because of imposter syndrome, because of that self-doubt, because you don't always know what success looks like. You hit it, you’ve got to get -- and I think wow, I would never do that. I would never do that to a direct report! I would never do that to somebody one month out of school.

Rebecca Ching: How did you respond when you were accused of plagiarism?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: I was in shock.

Rebecca Ching: So what’d you do with that?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: I said, “No.” What could I say, that I didn't plagiarize, and I wrote it myself? Then I kind of walked away. What can you do there?

Rebecca Ching: You mentioned something earlier when you were talking about your college experience, and you said, “I did everything by the book,” and that you followed the book and got this job and did all the things, had the medals, had the ribbons, had the degrees from the best schools, and you, again, followed the book and had this feedback.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, well, I mean, I think -- so the book is different for different people but, for me, the book was written by W. E. B. Du Bois, right, and the idea -- there is this sort of story of The Talented Tenth, and the idea that you can excel your way out of doubt and oppression, and that if you just demonstrate your merit and if you just do everything right -- and my parents, that’s why they instill these values of education, right, because they thought -- and I don’t blame them because they did, right? 


They grew up in the age of affirmative action and actual social and class mobility for Black people which is -- not that it’s not nearly the same anymore, but they kind of grew up with this. They were able to do it, so there’s also this sort of bias because they were successful. There are plenty of people who use the book and aren't successful, all the time, right? But they were actually successful, middle-class and so, for them, it’s what made sense, you know, and there’s all these stigmas and stereotypes attached to Blackness: being inarticulate, being uneducated, being unmotivated. And so, the idea is if we can just show them that we’re not the stereotype, they will recognize our humanity and our potential.

Rebecca Ching: Can I pause you there?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Let me pause you there. You had to hustle to show your humanity?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, I think yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I don’t diminish the Black experience, but I think, for a lot of us in marginalized groups, it’s a thing right? We have to work to show you our humanity, so beyond our aptitude and abilities, to get you to engage with us as people, sensitive people that you can see yourself in, right? There’s a lot of things that happen when that “like me” bias is activated. Then, there’s a further of, like, okay, and also, I have to hustle more so you can see me as competent. Both are true.

Rebecca Ching: So for those listening that are in white bodies, listening to this part of the conversation right now -- what is important for those in white bodies to understand?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: You know, I think it’s a reminder -- and I go into this in the book why I hate the unconscious bias framework, but I think a lot of this comes from bias, and I think it’s just important to remember why we gravitate to who we gravitate to, why we see competence -- but not just competence -- potential where we see it, you know? 


‘Cause that’s always a thing, right? We call it performance attribution bias wherein the success of --

Rebecca Ching: Performance attribution bias?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, performance attribution bias: the success of Black and brown people. When this bias is activated, it’s likely to be attributed to an accidental block or a subordinate group rather than an innate quality, or potential, and failure is reflective of innate quality and potential or lack thereof. Where it’s split for those from dominant racial groups. So, particularly, if you're thinking about white men where it’s, like, their success is a sign that they have this innate potential or are innately better, and to their failures, accidental, right?

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: So I think that is something we have to keep in mind. That’s something that if I ‘m talking to white listeners, I would say it’s been ingrained in our life, you know? In your own work and your own life, think about who you see as having potential and who you see as like you and who you see as successful and why.

Rebecca Ching: This tees up my next question. Something else you said in your book -- you wrote that nowhere is the issue of race more embedded than in the workforce.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: And you also noted you believe it’s almost impossible to uncouple the two.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: So, you started doing this already, but can you walk us through why this is true and what this means for leaders at all levels?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, I mean, I kind of take a historical analysis here. So, first of all, the US -- and this is American-centric, but I think it can be true elsewhere as well -- the US is kind of a puritan country founded on this puritan work ethic, right? 


Wherein, work already constitutes a part of our identity, so take race out of it. But, you know, for a very long time, this is more taboo now, when you meet people, the first question they ask you is, “What do you do?” They use that question to deduce certain aspects of your identity. That’s how closely our identity is tied to our work.

Rebecca Ching: Mm, so true.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah. The second layer to that is that just historically, we’ve always said who can do what, in terms of labor market participation, the kind of work they can do based on their identity. I don't think of slavery as just an economic or labor condition, it is so much deeper than that. It’s a caste system, it’s a social-political whatever, but we said, “You perform this kind of labor, and that drives how we think of you,” Black people, right -- African American slave descendents.

For Chinese people, when they immigrated into our country, at first, Chinese folks were panning for gold during the gold rush, right? Now just building railroads or providing these ancillary functions, but then what happened? They became too successful. So Chinese people were actually banned from participating in the gold rush, and, instead, they were forced into occupations that, for a lot of people, were considered “divinized” (I use it in quotes because I don't think it’s true), but restaurants, laundromats, that sort of thing. At the same time, there were these stereotypes adopted by the femininity of Chinese men, right? It’s like Chinese people can do this type of work, you know? Or Mexican-Americans, the same can be said for agricultural work, right? As long as we have had this country, people have said, “On the basis of your racial and ethnic identity, you can do this, and you absolutely cannot do this. You are legally barred from doing this.” 


I should say, this also includes work outside of traditional confines. So, for example, with African-Ameican women, you have to work outside of the home. You cannot be a homemaker. You have to work outside the home. Then we’re gonna criticize you for being poor mothers. But that was, like, legally mandated, historically. 

So just think about how if work is a core part of our identity, and then a core function of our labor market is that our racial identity impacts which jobs we get, and, by the way, we relate to our racial identity in very specific ways. It’s just so deeply embedded. It’s not a matter of going into an individual organization and being like, “Hey, oh, yeah, I do circle ups and Kumbaya, we’re diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Job done.” No, it’s, like, this is how we have constructed our labor market, our corporate cultures, our images of who leaves, who gets successful, our metrics for how we ascertain aptitude, potential, skills. It’s really hard to move outside of those frameworks into something new that actually accommodates us as a whole.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, just taking in that, and I think those with privilege or those in white bodies, it is daunting to take in, and so many people are like, “Okay, what can I do?” Right? What can I do?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And so, you note that when you started your consulting company ReadySet, you also noticed that when you got into that space that the main approaches to solving the problems of racism and sexism were just through individual solutions --

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: -- that address the unconscious bias which you called BS to.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: You reckon is it made people feel like they could do something. 


What’s something we could do so we feel good about this thing? What is the trap about this approach to individual approaches and just focusing on unconscious bias, and what is the better approach?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: So I don’t think individual approaches, per se, are bad, right? I actually think we need individual approaches to sustain this work, but I think individual approaches that don’t engage our discomfort or don't disrupt existing power dynamics and paradigms or don’t require some level of risk or sacrifice are not enough to do what we need to do to make our work more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. That’s how I see it, but I also think my ideas have changed somewhat in this work. So I think it’s both, right? I think you need to have systemic change. You cannot have lasting sustainable change without systemic change.

Rebecca Ching: Amen. Absolutely.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, and I think for a long time, historically, the DEI approaches were all about the individual, and they over-indexed on that individual component without recognizing the system itself if broken. And I think that set individuals up for failure, because then they would do all the things that they were supposed to do, and they would still see these biased outcomes, and they were like okay, there’s just nothing we can do. It kind of creates this apathy. 

So, you know, How to Talk to Your Boss About Race, my book, really is written to kind of position individuals to engage in systemic action and systemic work. I think that, like I said, both are true, so I think as individuals (‘cause we all come to this as individuals with individual power going up against societal problems and corporate power) we have to think about okay, how do we, collectively, engage in systemic change, and then as that change is happening, how do we think about our own individual behaviors (in the way we model, the relationships that we create) to put forth that individual action, right?


I’ll just say this. I’m reminded of the intersection between the individual and the collective. I think a really great example of that is what happened in June 2020, right? When we saw folks just protesting in mass. Everyone made the individual decision. I’m gonna get my sign, I’m gonna go out in these streets, and I’m gonna link up with other people to make my voice heard that this thing is really, really wrong. I’m gonna put my white body -- ‘cause a lot of times it was white people that were doing this. Black people wouldn't do it for a while. White people coming out, putting their white bodies on the line, and saying, “No more!” I’m showing up at the city council meeting. I am showing up in the streets. I’m showing up at the PTA meeting. I’m showing up at the school board meeting, and I’m saying, “What are you going to do? We have to change these structures. I’m leveraging my privilege to do so.” These were individual choices that collectively were able to make a huge impact, and now we’re seeing backlash as a result of it. [Laughs] I think it scared the crap out of a lot of people and we’re seeing some backlash around that, but I think it’s an example of how both have to happen. It can't just be one person in their singular relationships, you know? People have to look to how they change their systems, but I think, also, every day we can think of the singular actions we can take to improve the lives of people we’re in relationship with and to change those systems.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, if you can get a little more granular around kind of, like, how the field has changed around DEI where it just focused on unconscious bias, to what you really -- because I appreciated what you wrote in your book, so I’d love for you to share that with our listeners.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, when I started writing, you know, just every company that came to me wanted one of two things. They wanted recruiting and they wanted unconscious bias training. It was really hard for organizations to talk about systemic bias. 


I say in my book it was hard for the people coaching to even say the word “race,” right? So I would have people say, “Oh, you know, we really want to be more diverse and inclusive,” and I’d be like, “Amazing! You came to the right place.” They’d be like, “We want to talk about sexism and gender.” That was always where they wanted to start. It seemed like the easiest place, you know? “We want to talk about homophobia and LGBTQIA+ inclusion. We want to talk about socioeconomic inclusion, age inclusion.” They would just sit with the thing, sit with the word, and I would not say a word because you have to be able to say it for me to even come in, right? You know what I mean? If you can't say it, we have a lot bigger problems. Acknowledging that race exists, as much as we’ve been taught that it’s a bad thing, it’s actually -- race is a social construct, but one which impacts a lot of people’s lives very distinctly. So you have to be able to say it, right?

Eventually, they would get to race, and they would say race. They would be like, “Well, you know, we don't want to be like affirmative action. We don't want to make people too uncomfortable.” You know, whatever.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: And I think, first, the Me Too movement happened, and so, there was this sort of critical intersection of, like, what do we mean by gender, the prevalence of sexual harrassment, and there’s also -- I should say, I was seeing the one bad apple approach in 2015, 2014. This is all, like, “We’re actually kind of fundamentally pretty good. We’ve just got, like, one or two bad apples. It's not a cultural problem. We just have to get everybody the education they need so we can all be aligned and on board,” you know? [Laughs] And then Me Too happened and we were like oh, wait, this is the story. There’s a prevalence in terms of sexual harrassment. All these women, now, are standing up, and oh, this is intersectional so Black women are coming to me, too, and being like, “Oh, yeah, us too. We’re getting it too.” I think that was the first kind of systemic wake up call. We had a series, you know?


I think another one was the election of Trump, and whatever your political ideologies are -- for the purposes of this podcast I’m not gonna dig into that -- but I think, for a lot of people, that was a wake-up call because Trump campaigned on xenophobia, campaigned on racial identity politics, and people thought that he was a joke. People thought that would never resonate with the American people. We’re all fundamentally good except for those bad apples. Then he won, right? He didn't win the popular vote, but he won enough of the electoral to take office. You know? Then, we saw what happened -- the racial justice movement in 2020. And so, there’s these theories of wake-up calls that, eventually, these companies got shaken out of their place of naivete, and they had to acknowledge these problems were bigger than just individuals, they were systemic. In some ways, these people, these companies were complicit. There was real societal harm being caused, and a lot of stuff was being swept under the rug, and it also wasn't -- DEI was just kind of this thing on the side that was an add-on. It was like oh.

You know, people who are watching this George Floyd video at work. Oh, my god, people are coming to work traumatized. Okay, or our product is really hurting people or our product is radicalizing a whole segment of the population. You know, they had all of these moments of waking up and being shaken out of that comfortable paradigm, you know? In June of 2020, people were calling me, like, “I’ve got to tackle white supremacy,” and I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, there, bucko. Yesterday you’re like --” [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Couldn't say race. You couldn't say racism. [Laughs]

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: You’re making people uncomfortable, and I’m glad, right? I’m glad that we are acknowledging all of the different kinds of people that exist in this world and not defaulting to paradigms of categorization that have white supremacy underneath them, but I think the change has been quick, it’s been drastic, it’s been good to see.


Rebecca Ching: You touch on, a couple times, the discomfort piece, and I’ve been really hooked by the legislation that’s going on right now in Florida that’s moving through the state house that it could be against the law to teach something that might make someone uncomfortable.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Right

Rebecca Ching: And so, there is that piece going on of just the backlash against discomfort and the backlash against how you see yourself versus just owning this, and so, you unpacked a lot of some of this nuance in your book around words, but you also noted in your book how those words have been misused and are hindering important conversions about race at work. So I’d love for you to walk us through what intersectionality is and why this lens is so important.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, so there are a couple things embedded in that conversation. I want to get to each of those. I’ll start with the definition of intersectionality, and then this phenomenon that we have around co-opting words, and if we have time I’ll talk about the role that white comfort and backlash kind of plays in this work.

Rebecca Ching: Yes, please.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: So starting with intersectionality. The term intersectionality was coined by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe a situation of women -- in this particular case it was a GM Motors case. In that case, these Black women were alleging discrimination at the plant in which they worked. They had been laid off on the basis of tenure, but functionally, they could have only been hired, like, one or two years before this round of layoffs. So they’re alleging discrimination, and the facts of the case were that white women worked in office and administrative roles, in front-of-house roles.


Black men worked in manufacturing for GM. So the judge heard that and said okay, there’s no basis for discrimination, right? GM hires women, GM hires Black people, so we can’t -- there’s no particular need here. What that case so beautifully illustrates is that because of these overlapping marginalizations, the marginalization of Blackness which barred women from working in the front office and the marginalization of gender which prevented them from being hired onto the factory floor, these women were functionally excluded and discriminated against in finding work for this company.

So Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality to describe those overlapping marginalizations. So any time we talk about a particular person -- and this is not just race and gender, it could be race and disability status; it could be disability status and sexuality; it could be age and sexuality; age and -- you know, it could be any combination of things. But here we talk about overlapping marginalizations, not just aspects of our identity -- which I think when people misuse the term intersectionality they think about identity as a whole, which we all have identities, right, the important part is which result in marginalization. The overlapping marginalizations are what contribute to intersectionality. So that’s what intersectionality means.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about language and how that gets co-opted. I use the example of woke in my book. Woke is, like, a really old term. It comes from the phrase stay woke which is thought to be derived from, I think, a Martin Luther King speech around be aware and awakened to the revolution that’s happening around you, right, and able to participate. 


It gained resurgence during the Black Lives Matter movement and, eventually, conservatives latched onto the phrase as an insult, right, as something that’s bad. “We don’t want anymore woke politics, politics of wokeness.” I think we, who actually hold these values, are really bad at reclaiming our language, so we just kind of went into that paradigm of, “Oh, it’s too woke,” and I think there can be something that’s said for the exclusionary standards, politics, and practices of progressive movements, but I don’t think we have to use -- when somebody co-ops the language, we don't have to go into that paradigm and then work within the opposition’s paradigm.

Another example that happened right as I was writing the book is Critical Race Theory. So, as I said before, I’m graduated from Harvard Law School where they did not really teach Critical Race Theory for a while even while I was there, and I did not have a full understanding of what Critical Race Theory was until recently because it’s a body of legal and policy scholarship that’s really advanced. However, politicians have latched onto this idea of Critical Race Theory as something that’s being taught to elementary and preschool students. I’m a mom. I know my kid has not learned Critical Race Theory. We’re really struggling with just, like, the basics over here, right? But being something that’s being taught to turn them against the US, and this is insidious in a few ways. Number one, it devalues Critical Race Theory. I don't think Critical Race Theory is bad. I actually think it’s a great framework to understand American history, and it’s one that really equips us well to not be bamboozled and hoodwinked when people talk about institutions, their approaches to policy, and the level of protection that we, as Americans, have, right? I think it’s a great framework for someone who wants to approach any aspect of policy as a critical thinker, but I also think it becomes this sort of scare thing, and then because nobody really knows what it is, they sweep everything in underneath it, right? 


That’s what we’re seeing now. It’s like, wait. I just did a presentation about this. There’s so many, now, book bans taking place, but only if you actually mention Critical Race Theory in the legislation because if you define it and you realize nobody else is doing it. So what they say is we’re fighting Critical Race Theory as they're talking about the legislation, then, in the legislation itself, it says anything that talks about America’s inherently racist or talking about racism as a system or the values of inclusion or privilege, these are actually things that aren’t Critical Race Theory, they’re basic facts that they want to exclude from instruction, right?

So teaching about systemic racism is not teaching Critical Race Theory; it is teaching American history, though, and if you want American history taught in a certain way, you don't say we’re gonna ban teaching systemic racism. You’re never gonna get that pass, so we’re gonna ban Critical Race Theory, and then systemic racism becomes Critical Race Theory, right?

I mean, that’s another way that we sort of see the language of our movements being co-opted. I’m in a place now where I just refuse to accept that. I’m gonna keep saying Critical Race Theory is good. It’s good. Your kids should learn it. It’s not a bad thing. You’re being manipulated if you think that it is. I think, for a lot of us, there is a pressure, then to say, “Oh, no, no, no, no, that’s not what we meant. That’s not what we want. We would never teach your kids Critical Race Theory,” right? And it’s like no, I’m gonna come in and teach your kids Critical Race Theory, you know what I mean? We just have to be really mindful of that.

To the last part of your question around white comfort, I think part of this book, what I say in the book, I have a whole chapter devoted to backlash. I think we, as advocates, do ourselves a disservice when we don't anticipate and expect that people respond negatively to our work and pushback against it. 


There’s the Martin Luther King Jr. quote which I talk about which is, “The moral arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.” I say, actually, I don’t agree with that quote. I love the work of Martin Luther King, but I don’t think that’s true. I think when we think about our history as a country, it’s actually been a tug-of-war, and what I use as a reference point is reconstruction, radical reconstruction, and how post-slavery we’re kind of taught gradually Black people -- there’s slavery, and then there’s Jim Crow, and then they finally clawed their way into the Senate. No, what actually happened was there’s slavery, slavery was outlawed, we had a period of reconstruction (the latter of which was actually really radical and you had this emergent huge space of Black political power), more poeple in the Senate than have been in modern history, and then because they saw the potential for that political, social, and economic power, Southern states enacted Jim Crow laws, and as part of this other compromise we said, “Okay, we’ll accept those laws,” and those laws pushed back on that progress, and it took us a century and a half to get back to even close to the place that we were. It’s not a moral arc. It's not a smooth journey. There’s a push and pull. We had gains, and they were taken away. That’s what we’re seeing now. We get gains, and they’re taken away.

And so, I think, as advocates, we have to gird ourselves for that eventuality that winning is not the end point, it’s not the last step. We, then, have to protect our gains because people who see our wins and their losses are going to try to rip them back.

Rebecca Ching: I’m really -- the image of the tug-of-war is really landing. That really feels so true, and especially thinking about how you wrote a lot about power in your book, too.


Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: But also, social location and social power, those two terms. I re-read those sections a couple times. Walk us through what these are, especially in light of what you just shared, and why they’re important to understand when initiating our conversations about race at work.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah, so I say in the book -- I guess I should say that in the book I tried to create a framework for people to think about these conversations strategically, you know, because it requires strategy. We’ve kind of been taught and trained to think that we innately can do this stuff and there’s no strategy behind it, and the people who make things happen are individuals that just innately had these charismatic, eloquent qualities, and that’s not true. So, you know, when I talk about that strategy, one of the first things that I advocate for people to do is know who you are and what position you occupy, what strengths you can leverage and what weaknesses you might have to overcome. 

So when it comes to social location, say, first, let’s start with your identity. Who are you socially? How do you show up to this work? I identify as a Black, queer woman who is middle-class, educated, and who is in a marriage with a cis, white man. All of these things are important because they’re all social signifiers, right? So not visibly queer, right? I could pass -- straight-passing. I’m middle-class, and I have access to certain social networks and economic resources that a lot of Black people don’t. I was able to build up for that. I didn't start from a place that a lot of people who share my identity do, and I’m a woman, and I’m a cis-gendered woman as well which creates some openings for me and it closes some doors, right? 

It’s important that we know this and know how I show up in a conversation because, for example, when I first started ReadySet, I would go into these meetings with executives who hired me, hired my company, my face is on the website. It’s, like, CEO. 


You can’t see it in the thing, but I’m putting a frame around my face to show that it was on the website. 

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: I would get into a room, and even though they had paid me to have this conversation, they would look at my male colleague or my white, female colleague, and they would talk to them, you know? That was ‘cause they weren’t used to seeing a Black woman in power, listening to a Black woman, and I say in my book I could have been really offended by that (I was, emotionally), but I was also like let’s just be strategic. That’s who you want to listen to? Go! You can listen to them all day. That’s who you hear the message from? Now I know who to send as a messenger, okay? I say this to people who are engaged in this work because I think something that you have to do -- I’m getting to the social location now -- is you have to understand your social identity, and then you have to understand where you’re situated in an organization and how that social identity relates to your positionality, right? 

So are you someone who, because of your position -- you're in a position of power, you may be a person of color, but you're still more likely to have to act with certain individuals. How are you thinking about that? Or are you a person who may be earlier on in their career? Also, you're also marginalized, also you're a woman, you know? It may be a lot harder for you to have your voice heard, so just think about how you're situated and how that impacts what you see and how people see you. 

Then, when it comes to power, I really, really, really encourage people to move away from binary ways of thinking about power which, fundamentally, in my mind is, like, no longer as relevant. We are trained to think we either have power or we don’t, and power’s this mysterious force that, like, you don’t quite understand, it’s untangleable, blah, blah, blah, blah. I actually think that -- and there’s a theory I talk about, The Theory of Social Power, so it’s not implied the people who made up this theory, you know? 


They didn't just make it up out of thin air but -- you know, the researchers who developed this theory -- there are different sources of power, and we all have access to some resources, right? So yes, there’s the legitimate power hierarchies we’re used to thinking of; there’s also social power, social capital, right? There’s also the power of information. What access to information you have, what you don't, what you can share. You know, there’s also the power of being considered an expert in some way. And so, I go through all these different -- there are six bases of power. I go through all six. In the book, I basically say don’t think about if you have power question, think about which one of these you have, how you're gonna leverage it, what you don't, and what you can get your friends to leverage because this is also collective. This work is not just about me as an individual, it’s about the power of the collective.

So I say this because you bring this knowledge into the conversation you have, right? This affects who you talk to, the technique that you use in talking to them, how you leverage your community when you're having these conversations. All of these things can impact the strategic ways which you approach culture change as an individual and, ideally, as part of a collective.

Rebecca Ching: Thank you for that. It actually is really hopeful. If you’re like what do I do, you give so many tangible ways to look at how to make an impact, and it starts with understanding our social identity, our social location, and social power, and being strategic, as you said, in how you use those. There’s a lot of agency in that, so I really appreciate you walking us through that.

I want to shift just briefly. You mentioned you're a CEO. You started your own company, ReadySet. I just would love for you to talk -- what are the biggest challenges you're facing running your own company right now?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: You know, I think there are always challenges you face as a woman of color who’s a leader. 


Some of them are expected; some of them aren’t. I think, as a dark-skinned Black woman CEO, I will say that I don't fit into a lot of people’s mental frameworks when they think of what a person in power looks like and what a woman in power looks like. There’s a friction that happens just by nature of me being me, but I mean, I also kind of like being a little bit different in that way, and I made a point in my life, my career, my evolution where I’m just gonna show up as myself. If you like it, great, let’s do great business together. If you don't, I’m glad that you weeded yourself out, right? So there’s that, my identity. I think there’s also just -- and, you know, I talk to my team about this a lot -- I’m gonna get really tactical as a leader. I lead a DEI services (and to a certain extent, product) company. Our services, in my mind, are critical to the way that organizations function and society functions. Essentially, I call it future-proofing your organization. 

If you think about the great resignation, how many people are leaving, if you think about the expectations of Gen-Z, if you think about how you operate an effective people-driven, human-capital (I hate the word human capital, but that’s what business people understand), driven organization in an unstable social political economic time, you have to understand how to show up for your people and how to create an environment for everyone in your organization to flourish. If you can't do it, you're gonna fail. That is just hands down. A 21st Century forecast, that’s it. This country’s only getting more diverse. The situations we’re dealing with are only getting more acute. We literally are dealing with life and death with COVID so, you know, if you can't deal with that, your business is not made for the future and, you know, my goal is really moving us, as a team, through that devaluation -- I don't know what the word is -- but through that, and also acknowledging that the level of work it takes to do this right is unlike anything, I think, that other people in services spaces think about, right? 


People show up to our work as their full self because that’s the only way you can help somebody else do it, right? They are emotionally invested, and a lot of times this is, like, their life’s work. We, as a firm, struggle to get that recognized and seen all the times in the way that it needs to be and to get it valued.

So, as a leader, a business leader who’s in a company that’s scaling rapidly, I always think about that, you know? I always think about how do I get these customers to value what they’re doing the same way they value their lawyer, heck, their HR consultant. McKenzie doesn’t know what he’s doing -- sorry, McKenzie. We value McKenzie, you know what I mean? No shame, McKenzie. You’re great. [Laughs] But how do we think about getting us to be valued in that same way? Because, only then, can we do what we need to do for our clients and for ourselves. So I think that, for me, has been the focus. That’s the focus of my work now and what I feel like I need to do to show up for my team. It’s a challenge ‘cause they’re fundamentally saying value the thing you’ve always seen valued.

Rebecca Ching: Mm, and even though they were difficulties that were planted, to see how those burdens have turned into your life’s work and what you’re doing, it is pretty cool to see that. This book also became a bit of a time capsule for you, personally. At the end of the book you noted all you experienced personally and then also collectively what was going on in our culture while you were writing this book. What are some of the parallel experiences you had while writing this book?


Y-Vonne Hutchinson: It was a journey, for the most part. I find the book deal while I was pregnant, and I was about five months pregnant, six months pregnant at the time, and I remember when I was pregnant I was so scared. This is before COVID, you know? I was so scared, and then George Floyd happened, and I’m already trying to insulate myself from trauma having COVID and being isolated and all that stuff, and people started marching, and the Black Lives Matter movement happend. At the same time, I had to go on bed rest right around the time my pelvis started to separate under the weight of my baby.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my goodness.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: It was really, really painful, and I just remember this moment, it had to be in June, where they were like -- you know, the phone just didn't stop ringing. It didn't stop ringing for days. They were, “Like you can’t go on maternity leave yet.” “I’m bed-ridden, dude. Like, what do you want from me at this point? I just want to have a healthy baby and live through it.” But there was also this, like -- this is a moment. You wanted everybody to listen. This is the moment, right? I remember I wrote the book proposal. I wrote through the pain, and then, I’m interviewing, and then I start writing the chapters, and then I pop this baby out, and at the same time, my dad got diagnosed with stage four Lymphoma, so all of that’s happening during the pregnancy. Miraculously, he recovers, baby’s born. We leave where I was living because of wildfires, and we relocate, suddenly -- I have asthma, the baby could not breathe, and we’re like we just can’t stay here, at least for now.

Then, right around December, my sister who had taken care of my dad while he was sick, she died two weeks before Christmas. 


Oh, I remember watching them bury her, and the connection getting interrupted, not being able to see the funeral service and never saying goodbye, you know? So just writing through that. Trying to use the pain as fuel, but also acknowledging that kind of pain should never have to be worked through in the way that I’m working through it. I say this when I talk, a lot of times when you’re writing -- the Black person about Blackness, you open up a wound, you expose yourself, you expose your trauma, and retraumatize yourself. Then you kinda have to find healing, find closure, close that wound up, and then open a new one. So I’m doing that process, the opening and closing, as all this stuff is happening in the outside world. 

So it was a lot, and that’s not unique to me. The Black people that you ask to show up in this work are doing that every day.

Rebecca Ching: So I just want to ask some quick-fire questions. Thank you for sharing that, and I’m so glad that your book is out in the world, and that’s a lot. This will be, again, like a time capsule for you.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Okay.

Rebecca Ching: I want to just wrap with some quick-fire questions. What are you reading right now?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Oh, god, what am I reading right now? Capital Ideology, that’s been sitting on my desk for, like, forever, but I’m slowly working my way through it. I’m gonna be honest with you, a lot of times at the end of the day all I want to do is watch 90-Day Fiance. So… 

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Sometimes, most of the time, the vast majority of the time I watch 90-Day Fiance, and I’m also reading Raising the Montessori Child 'cause my kid is a kid and I want to --

Rebecca Ching: Season of life.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: -- not damage her too much, yes.


Rebecca Ching: What song are you playing on repeat?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Oh, We Don’t Talk About Bruno. All day. We Don’t Talk About Bruno.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] So good. So good.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Favorite ‘80s movie or anything ‘80s pop culture.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall and their seminal roles as African princes. I love that movie.

Rebecca Ching: So good. So good. What is your mantra right now?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Besides We Don’t Talk About Bruno, just because it’s in my head, um… practice what you preach, I think. So there’s a lot of advice for advocates and stuff in the book and, for me, it’s like you should also take care of yourself if I want to take a nap. So I try to do that. 

Rebecca Ching: There we go.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Trying to practice self-care and taking care of myself.

Rebecca Ching: Take care of yourself. What’s an unpopular opinion you hold?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: I think my emphasis on white backlash as a part of American history, I think, would ruffle some people the wrong way. Also my feelings about unconscious bias training. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Absolutely, and who or what inspires you to be a better leader and human?

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Okay, um, who inspires me? I think my mom and my grandma, ‘cause they never got this chance. So I’m gonna shout out my village starting with my mama. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Wonderful. Y-Vonne, thank you for your time today. It was a gift to me, and I know it will be to so many who listen to this conversation and please, everyone listening, go get this book. It is important. We’ll put it in all of our links and show notes, but thank you for showing up here today and with all that you do. It’s been an honor.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Rebecca Ching: Silence in the presence of injustice often shows up to protect your power and your reputation. So speaking up when you’re witnessing a wrong-doing, especially around race, can kick into action a lot of powerful protectors: overanalyzing, whether it’s your place to say anything at all or worrying about saying the wrong thing, or fearing backlash or being misunderstood. 


Staying silent supports the status quo. Staying silent signals you’re in agreement with what happened even if that’s not true. Our silence does not really keep us safe, but only perpetuates harm to everyone involved. So developing a plan of intentional and aligned action will help the protectors of overthinking and worry relax and give you some space so you can take meaningful actions. 

Today, Y-Vonne walked us through a few of the many actionable steps and practices she details in her book, How to Talk to Your Boss About Race. She teaches us how to do the work knowing backlash and defensiveness will happen, with ways we can prepare in order to keep the conversation going, and Y-Vonne reminded us to focus on and prepare for the long game as we seek changes which can be hard, for sure.

So as you reflect on this conversation with Y-Vonne, what gets in the way of you speaking up when you see or experience wrong-doing? What support do you need so you can be a better anti-racist ally? Is there a conversation you need to have with someone about race instead of staying silent? If you avoid the discomfort of these conversations around race and other forms of discrimination and bias, you may miss out on a chance to deepen the conversation and make much needed change. As Kelly Diels recently wrote in her weekly email: “Critique and conflict can be generative,” but this requires work on your end. When you do the work to increase your capacity for vulnerability and discomfort, it prepares you and helps you navigate the inevitable landmines, defensiveness, and pushback that comes up with talking about race, and this is the work of an Unburdened Leader. 

[Inspirational Music Interlude]


Leading is hard, and leading is also controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, and your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence, clarity and calm. You don’t mind making the hard decisions, but sometimes the stakes seem higher and can bring up echoes of old doubts and insecurities during times when you need to feel rock solid on your plan and action. Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex and polarized world can help you identify the blocks that keep you playing at safe and small and staying silent. 

Leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights, it is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is so unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up. Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protector of cynicism at bay and foster a hope that is actionable and aligned.

When the stakes are high and you don't want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when you want to speak up and speak out and not stay silent, and when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader coaching is for you and where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo.

To start your Unburdened Leader coaching process with me go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can sign up for the weekly Unburdened Leader email, find this episode, show notes, and free resources along with ways to work with me, at www.rebeccaching.com.


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