Advocacy, Community, and Education Jenn T. Grace, Candace Waterman, and Jennifer Brown 


[00:00:00] Candace: [00:00:00] Advocacy perspective on the Hill for women in business. So what was years old? And we speak three languages, as I say, that’s eight is advocacy, the scene with community and the E is education. So ACE principals really do, um, provide you a good overview. The view of what our business ecosystem is all about.

[00:00:30] Jennifer B: [00:00:30] Perfect. Thanks, Candace. That’s a good grounding. So, you know, women business owners are your, are your ballywick, uh, say, you know, safe to 

[00:00:39] Candace: [00:00:39] say, I 

[00:00:40] Jennifer B: [00:00:40] just want to know, you know, what is the composition of your world and how is your world re reacting to everything? And maybe starting with you. Are you feeling and metabolizing all of this, um, and hopefully taking good care of yourself and your heart.

[00:00:55] Um, so let’s just start there. And then, and then if you want to speak [00:01:00] about your role as a mission driven change agent, which you are, and, um, and the kind of work you feel very, very called to right now to do, to serve, to support, to hold space for all those things. 

[00:01:13] Candace: [00:01:13] Absolutely. So, you know, normally outside of this time, people ask me how I’m doing and I say, Oh, I’m fine.

[00:01:21] Well, I have realized that as a true authentic leader, I have to be honest. And so right now I am somewhere between losing my mind and being okay. I am closer to being okay than losing my mind. But as you might imagine, as I’m a black woman living in this time, um, as a black woman who leads, um, an organization, that’s not a diverse organization that brings along.

[00:01:49] It’s um, sort of idiosyncrasy or challenge if you will. And so it’s, it’s been difficult, but I am heartened by the [00:02:00] fact that I know it’s going to be okay. One of the ways that I know that is just from the top of the hour with us talking, and you said you were out protesting. You don’t look like me. We need people who don’t look like me to also join hands to say this time is not okay.

[00:02:20] We’ve been dealing with it forever. It is now polarized. It now has, um, a bigger lens on it if you will. So this is definitely a, um, it’s not a moment. It’s a movement. It’s gonna take us a long time. So we have to run, realize we’ve gotta be hunkered down for the long haul. And so what does that mean? Let’s plan let’s chip away.

[00:02:44] It’s not necessarily big wins at once. It might be smaller wins that lead to a big win. And certainly our organization is doing what we can. Um, we have authentic conversations. Um, I, in my president’s [00:03:00] report last week, I was just honest about what’s going on. Um, this week on Monday, we have a session about just what we’re talking about right now.

[00:03:11] What do we do as business owners? And in particular, what do our white business owners do? To cultivate an environment of inclusion and safety for black lives and then for everyone else to feel comfortable in that space as well. So there, you know, there’s a couple of different, um, there’s two that, and I’m sure we’ll talk about those.

[00:03:38] Hmm. 

[00:03:39] Jenn: [00:03:39] I have a question that’s maybe a little more granular, but for those that are like it, cause you’re kind of talking about like the long haul, right? There’s these little policy wins, little advocacy wins, but. 

[00:03:52] Jennifer B: [00:03:52] We have a long slog ahead 

[00:03:54] Jenn: [00:03:54] of us to see the systemic change that needs to happen for those that may not be used [00:04:00] to wearing advocacy hats as the three of us are very well accustomed to wearing and have been for well over a decade.

[00:04:06] Is there anything that you are hearing or sharing with folks who are kind of new to this space, that to help them kind of keep that stamina up 

[00:04:14] Candace: [00:04:14] over 

[00:04:15] Jenn: [00:04:15] a period of time? 

[00:04:17] Candace: [00:04:17] Yes. And I appreciate you asking that. So in, in my mind, I always function in the swimming pool, right. And every swim pool has lanes. So let’s first take this time that we’re talking about right now with black lives matter.

[00:04:31] I strongly believe that social issues left unaddressed. Turn into civil issues, civil issues left unaddressed turn into business and policy issues. So we have just with that sort of three lanes of that situation, there are people and leaders who are equipped to lead us through the social changes and through the civil changes, I and whip stay in our lane from the business and policy change lane.

[00:04:59] That doesn’t mean [00:05:00] that I don’t. Support those other lanes. And I don’t have an active role. I just have a subservient role in those, but I take a leadership role in the business and policy space. So from a policy perspective and being an advocate, it can start with your local. Government right in your hometown, you know, what are policies that are going on that, you know, that are not inclusive of everyone that, you know, need to be changed and you work from there, from there, then you can go outward from your region or your city or, um, district, right to your state.

[00:05:38] You know, or to your, um, some people have parishes and such, which are like cities, right. But you can start small city, state, federal, and, and feel like you’re doing something because it is a, um, a bit of an arduous task and overwhelming to think, Oh my God, I’ve got to go to Washington. And, and March and [00:06:00] March on behalf of this policy, When you can do that right at home from where you are.

[00:06:06] So it’s first understanding that while the pool is a bit, you can start in the shallow end and work your way to the deep end. 

[00:06:15] Jenn: [00:06:15] I love 

[00:06:18] Jennifer B: [00:06:18] that analogy. It’s so good. 

[00:06:20] Candace: [00:06:20] I think that analogy because people sometimes would not stay in their lane and it was a way of providing an opportunity for them to understand that we all have probably adopted that.

[00:06:35] Oh, I don’t know, 17 years old.

[00:06:40] Jennifer B: [00:06:40] I love that. I love that. So we have to start not so not get paralyzed, you know, with the size of what we’re being shown right now. And for those of us, for whom we haven’t really seen this in this way before, um, I’m sure you’re business owner. Business owner colleagues, particularly if they are white women [00:07:00] or anyone who is non-black, um, is wrestling with this from a leadership perspective to, uh, whether it’s a diversity of their team teams that they’ve built in their companies, whether it is how they use their voice as a business owner in the community.

[00:07:15] For policy changes for making statements about what’s important from a values perspective. So I’m sure you’re, it’s sort of all hands on deck because you’re being pulled on to guide that. Um, and, and you must feel totally overwhelmed. I know I’ve as a consulting company, I feel. We are totally overwhelmed.

[00:07:34] We’ve wanted this flow of interest and commitment for a long time, you know, and I know the three of us have been, have been waiting for this wake up moment, but when it happens, it’s overwhelming too. So I want to acknowledge that, but, so what kinds of, I guess, questions are you getting the most of? How are you guiding?

[00:07:50] What are you recommending? Can you give us a taste of, of the business owner community’s response to this and what you think needs to happen? 

[00:07:58] Candace: [00:07:58] I will. And thank you for asking that [00:08:00] it’s sort of twofold and I’m going to start with what seemingly is the negative. And then the positive though, negative is just an opportunity to change.

[00:08:08] So two things, one people say, what should I do? And what should I not do? I’m going to start with the, what should I not do first? Because I’ve got about eight points under the, what should I do that we covered on Monday? So what should I not do? As, um, a white person or a person that’s not a color. And the first thing you should not do is say, I don’t see, say I don’t see color.

[00:08:36] We are actually making me invisible. You’re making me trouble. You’re making women at whatever the group is. You’re making them invisible. So you’re actually aiding. In that problem and not being part of the solution. And there are a litany of, um, sort of tentacles that go under that. Clearly we don’t have to go into them now I’ll leave [00:09:00] that for when, if you invite me back again, but you know, don’t ever say, I go through color.

[00:09:06] Always acknowledged the color that you see. So that’s the dome, however, the do, what are those things? And I like to always focus on the positive. I’m not a Pollyanna. I just choose to see the glass half full because I know if we come to the table with what we agree on, We will realize the things that we don’t agree on is, are very small, right?

[00:09:29] So that’s just always been my approach. So what can we do? I have sort of these eight points really quickly, the first is to acknowledge, acknowledge that a problem is exists, acknowledge it. There is an issue and acknowledged that you need to be an active player in that solution. Right. As a business owner, the second is to identify, identify your allies, identify the people that want to walk arm and arm with you throughout this journey to be a [00:10:00] solution.

[00:10:00] Not everyone is going to, and that’s okay. Take the people with you that need to, my mother used to have the same. Can don’t ever try to convince anyone to love. You love those who love you. And that sticks with me. And that’s what I mean by that. I can identify, identify your allies and let’s keep it moving.

[00:10:18] Right. The next is to cultivate, cultivate an environment in your organization of safety, honesty, and openness. So that you can have honest conversations with your teams. The team members can have honest conversations with themselves. The other, when I say cultivate safety, cultivate a safety plan. If you have employees that are out in the field, like you’re, you’ve got construction, construction industry, you have black men who are driving these big rigs and driving trucks.

[00:10:50] Talk to them about what it means to be stopped by the police. Is there a number you call, what should I do if I get arrested all of those things, right? So cultivate [00:11:00] a space where you have a safety plan. The other is listening. Listen to people, listen to what they’re saying. Asleep within Mitchell. Right.

[00:11:12] So you can make certain that you are hearing what they’re saying, and also listen for the unspoken words as well. Um, the fifth is include, include folks in the conversation. Right. And diversity of thought at Ahn and perpetuates innovation. Right? So include people in the conversation. That’s internally.

[00:11:33] Now also as a business owner, include them in the hiring process and include them in the promotion process, include them in the opportunities processes that you have. Right. So not just listen to them and put them in a lower role. Develop them so they can take on leadership roles within the organization.

[00:11:54] Um, six is recognized, recognize that this is a [00:12:00] movement and that a moment recognize when the long and for the long haul to your point, Jen. Earlier recognize that little spaces, um, that’s from organizational perspective and then recognize where people may do something good. They bring up something good in ideation sessions.

[00:12:21] Give that positive feedback. Um, the last Lucy. Seven is amplify amplify, the message amplify, your voice, amplify, those positive messages that you hear. But also if you see something say something so amplifying when something is not being done appropriately, do it in a respectful way, but call a thing, a thing.

[00:12:46] Let’s stop putting it under the rug, right? That time has gone and lasts. I mean, I wouldn’t be an advocacy organization if I didn’t leave the best for less and that’s advocate. Advocate on behalf of changes, [00:13:00] systemic, sustainable changes that lead to equality for all.

[00:13:08] Jenn: [00:13:08] That is a good 

[00:13:09] Candace: [00:13:09] list. 

[00:13:11] Jenn: [00:13:11] Do you have that publicly somewhere where 

[00:13:13] Candace: [00:13:13] people

[00:13:17] barely pass it somewhere? I literally thank you for asking that. I literally just unveiled the list on Monday. I will be honest. Tell me now this is me being truly an authentic leader. When this happened. I had a small group of people who came Candace. You are only black woman leader of a, not of a national organization.

[00:13:41] And we need your voice. I immediately say, no, I’m not. You’ve got XYZ through. I’m not going to name those things that work, but I know these organizations with black leaders and they sit canvas. You didn’t hear me. I said of non-diverse organizations, you are correct. There [00:14:00] are other women, but they lead diverse organizations.

[00:14:02] You’re then, and asset, we really need your voice and we want your voice. And so these points that I’ve laid out are the foundation of some larger conversations and will ultimately be a plan that I am submitting to the Hill. For women, business owners, and one that can start to be a catalyst for change on the policy side.

[00:14:26] So the answer is, yes, the list exists. It’s probably on our website. If it’s not, it’ll be on there by the end of the week, because I just unveiled it on Monday. 

[00:14:37] Jennifer B: [00:14:37] It feels to me very much like a pledge, you know? I think there’s a lot 

[00:14:41] Candace: [00:14:41] of, 

[00:14:43] Jennifer B: [00:14:43] yeah. You know, like kind of like the, in the diversity world, there’s the CEO action pledge canvas.

[00:14:51] I don’t know if he knew about that, but that was a 700 CEOs have now signed it. And it was a commitment to before a lot of this happened [00:15:00] now it originated several years ago, but it was a commitment to training, um, understanding bias in the organization. I’m willing to accountability. So sharing numbers and representation and where there are gaps, because without that kind of honest reckoning, we can’t make progress.

[00:15:18] So, but anyway, I think that, you know, business owners, I get asked a lot of questions. Well, what can I possibly do? I’m such a small. Organization. And I love that that yours are so applicable there it’s regardless of the size of an organization, there’s so much you can do. If you’re an organization of five people or 10 people, you need a commitment to this.

[00:15:38] You need to be talking about it openly on your staff and to your customers. I think customers are looking for an acknowledgement of what’s going on. And I think that right now, brands and organizations and leaders who were staying. Quiet. It, it concerns me. Um, but on the flip side saying something without any sort of work behind the scenes, that’s also occurring is, [00:16:00] is not, you know, that can go go backwards quickly too.

[00:16:03] So it’s kind of an interesting moment. Um, I mean, it’s an uncomfortable moment because. So many people and leaders are recognizing that they haven’t been walking the talk and now they want to jump in, but there hasn’t been sort of, I think, an earning of the place in the conversation and it can be it’s tricky.

[00:16:23] Right. I wonder, I wonder if you find yourself kind of trying to give good advice to that conundrum. 

[00:16:29] Candace: [00:16:29] I, and you know, I appreciate you bringing that up for this reason. I think. We have the opportunity right now to drink black lives matter from, uh, um, Just drink it right. Super hard. Right. Just everything let’s do it.

[00:16:47] Let’s do it. But I say let’s do it, but let’s be thoughtful about it. The two things, two words that come to my mind are our movement and sustainability. Everything that [00:17:00] we are doing right now, it has to lead to sustainable change. It just can’t be this, Oh, let’s fix just this thing. Right? Let’s just fix police brutality.

[00:17:13] Remember wearing a swimming black lives matter at the swimming pool, we’ve got police brutality and those changes that need to occur. You’ve got healthcare issues. You’ve got a digital divide that we need to talk about. We’ve got an educational divide that we need to talk about. So each of those pieces or lanes has to be addressed.

[00:17:35] Let’s use this one as a catalyst to then move into these other lanes, if you will, which is why systemic and sustainable. Just resonate with me, 

[00:17:50] Jennifer B: [00:17:50] Candace. There’s one question in the chat. What is a non diverse organization? Somebody from Canada. Could you, could you describe that a little bit more? What you meant by that?

[00:17:58] Um, I think Jen and I [00:18:00] probably assume we kind of know what you’re talking about, but can you lay that out a bit 

[00:18:03] Candace: [00:18:03] more? Yes. So I guess, you know, we’re so used to in our world saying non-diverse and I particularly haven’t used white organization. I just say non diverse. So it’s, it’s someone who owns an organization, um, that is a white person typically, right.

[00:18:20] That you’re of non diverse, um, the set. 

[00:18:24] Jennifer B: [00:18:24] Right. Yeah. Ethnically diverse. Um, yeah. I mean, language language is changing so much, so much right now. I welcome it all 

[00:18:33] Candace: [00:18:33] am here for it. You have asked me to, and you know what, I’m here for something that we’ve been here for, for, Oh, I think at least three or five years is the, um, the consciously.

[00:18:48] Yeah, I’m biased, right. Or unbiased. You have to see I’m biased. Um, that I am still happy. People were starting to talk about that, but I’m thinking to myself, Ooh, we’ve been [00:19:00] talking about that for years, you know, but it’s, you know, that we have to use. This moment to, for catalyst for the movement. 

[00:19:12] Jennifer B: [00:19:12] Yeah.

[00:19:12] Agreed. Agreed. I think, um, yeah, the, the thing I’m doing is saying black and white more often, and, and using words like being an anti-racist talking about white supremacy, which Candace, you know, our wonderful clients. It’s not a word, not a, not some words that are comfortable, uh, for, um, but I think we’re going to take 

[00:19:34] Candace: [00:19:34] this

[00:19:38] Jennifer B: [00:19:38] when you say 

[00:19:40] Candace: [00:19:40] I was saying, even for myself, those aren’t comfortable words. Right. And I think you just brought something up. We have to right now be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Right. Again, it’s almost like a cliche. It’s almost like. It’s a village. It’s a cliche, but it’s has so much meaning behind [00:20:00] it.

[00:20:00] Right. We be comfortable with being uncomfortable because that in uncomfort, that’s where shift occurs and that’s what we need right now. We need a shift to occur. 

[00:20:15] Jenn: [00:20:15] And I think it’s our responsibilities, right. As those who are okay. Moving into that place of uncomfort. And having some kind of form or some type of audience or voice, regardless of how big your platform is.

[00:20:27] I think it’s, it’s something that we can’t just opt out of. You know, I feel like it’s not even a choice at this point. Like if you have a platform and you’re okay, even if you’re not okay being uncomfortable, but even more so if you are already okay, in that place, it’s our time to really be lending, lending our voices to 

[00:20:46] Jennifer B: [00:20:46] all of these different causes.

[00:20:49] Candace: [00:20:49] Yeah, we do. And just, you know, we start in our own neighborhoods, right. I, um, went for my walk. I am right now addicted to the Peloton app. And so I [00:21:00] went for an outdoor Peloton block. And, um, as I was walking, I saw, um, two police cars had stopped, um, three black and Brown men because it was a group of them, black and Brown men on motorcycles.

[00:21:16] Well, I stopped. They were up across the street from me, but I stopped where I was. And interestingly enough, there, I live in the city and so people are always walking and about six other people stopped as well. All of us with phones in our hands just to make sure those folks were okay. Right. And it ended beautifully.

[00:21:34] They were, they talk, whatever happened. Um, I have no idea what it is, but it’s beautifully meaning they still have their lives and they were able to go on. So I, I use that as an example to say, what can you do? You can start that small, small to listen to what’s going on around you just being an observer.

[00:21:55] You don’t have to throw yourself in the midst of it, because guess what? What’s [00:22:00] really important to us right now. It’s actually being out is our phones. Right. Um, if you hear conversation that you know, that you can impart some knowledge on or different point of view, To do it in a non-combative way, but just to make certain that you are always, if you’re elevated, you’re bringing someone up with you, right.

[00:22:22] That while you’re moving forward, you have to reach back. You don’t reach back to look down on people, you reach back to Linda hand to bring forward. And so I’ve just seen small things like that. We can do every day in our own community. And 

[00:22:36] Jenn: [00:22:36] one thing to chime in before I know we have to wrap up cause we’re already, already at the top of our time, but I also think these are teachable moments for those who are parents or those who are raising children, even if they are not their children.

[00:22:48] I think these are such pivotal moments to be able to, you know, if you have a child in the car with you to be that safe, Safe person who has the phone out, who’s ready to potentially stop what could happen. I know [00:23:00] for me, unrelated to race specifically with this conversation, but I have done that so many times when I see women walking down a street or walk somewhere and I see a car that’s just going a little bit too slow.

[00:23:11] And I’ve had so many patients with my son about why we have to take a few minutes and just wait and make sure she gets to where she’s going safely. And that happens. Pretty frequently, even in my very small town, just near Hartford. Um, but I feel like it’s an, all of these different kind of aspects that these are teachable moments because then we have that next generation that will be doing the same things that we didn’t have modeled to us necessarily, but it’s our responsibility to model it to the next generation.

[00:23:38] Candace: [00:23:38] Absolutely. And it becomes second nature to them. So it’s not going out on a limb. It is just acting in a natural, normal manner. Um, super quickly. I know we’re leaving to your point. There is a woman business owner in Michigan, and I’m so sorry. I can’t think of her name right now. She’s going to kill me because I know her well.

[00:23:56] She has, um, a logistics company, all of her truck [00:24:00] drivers go through training to identify, um, women who are being sex trafficked in sex trafficking situations. And they have saved in the thousands of people’s lives. Over the course of the, like the last 10 years, a woman business owner, seeing what you just said, we need to identify, we’ve gotta be out as a helpmate to people.

[00:24:27] And how can we do that? And I’m so sorry, I forget her name, but I’m going to send it to you also, we can post it here because she is a model of someone that’s taken it. One step beyond right. One small step. And I’m sure when she did the training for her folks, she didn’t think it was gonna lead to saving so many lives, but she absolutely phenomenal, 

[00:24:50] Jenn: [00:24:50] but that’s the whole point, right?

[00:24:51] That’s the 

[00:24:52] Candace: [00:24:52] power of one 

[00:24:53] Jenn: [00:24:53] person. One person can have such a huge impact. And I think a lot of times we just assume that if it’s not a mass [00:25:00] group of people doing something that it’s not going to be effective, but honestly, it’s the one individual scenario. Repeated over and over by a group of many that are really what creates change.

[00:25:11] Jennifer B: [00:25:11] Yeah. 

[00:25:12] Jenn: [00:25:12] It’s so amazing. Yes. Please let us know who that business says. Certainly 

[00:25:17] Candace: [00:25:17] watching. 

[00:25:20] Jennifer B: [00:25:20] Thank you for the work you do here just barely. You’re a light in the world and we, we value and appreciate you so, so much, especially now, but 

[00:25:29] Candace: [00:25:29] thank you. Thank you for being proud of my tribe. Part of my crew that I could pick up the phone and just call.

[00:25:35] Um, I already know from a part of this conversation, Jen is going to call me about something that I know she’s going to. Um, she’s pings me about often. And so I love both of you and I want you all to know, my mother used to have this other saying, I love you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. And so that’s a great shirt.

[00:25:59] Jenn: [00:25:59] Thank [00:26:00] you so much. I wish we have more time, but this was so great. Thank you. 

[00:26:05] Candace: [00:26:05] Great work. Would it be.