Many thanks to Scott Fogarty for being our first guest for the launch of our SOS: Searchfunder Ops Session on Being Purposeful About Diversity.
I chose Scott for our first interview because he was able to maintain and grow a diverse employee base -- an issue many employers are grappling with following the social justice uprisings across the country.
As Scott mentions during the interview, it's important for new operators to view their entire business operation through an equity lens.
A recent study by Partners in Diversity found that 97% of diverse employees experienced some form of discrimination in the community. A similar percentage felt that Portlanders viewed themselves as more tolerant than they actually are. "...there is this veneer (that is the word that they use and I think is an appropriate word), where ... [diverse] people coming in [to Portland] assume, that it's a progressive and liberal place. And people living here also assume that it's a progressive and liberal place. And what that contributes to is a sense that things are okay, right, we call this a sense of moral licensing. That we as residents of Portland are not susceptible to things like racism and prejudice and that assumption and that sort of mindset contributes to an inability to recognize when there are problems, " said Larry Martinez, Ph.D.
There have been tons of studies on the benefits of diverse teams in corporate environments. So, I won't reiterate them here. However, a recent Stanford study looked at diversity's impact on a macroeconomic scale. "Conservatively, 25% of growth in U.S. GDP between 1960 and 2010 can be attributed to greater gender and racial balance in the workplace, the researchers found. The number could be as high as 40%" A good chunk of those gains was due to gender equality. Those gains have been lost due to what some folks are calling the covid-induced Shecession with women bearing the the brunt of domestic and childcare duties along with the devastating impact on industries that are woman dominated due to public health related restrictions. (Why Some Women Call This Recession a ‘Shecession’). As we think about economic expansion following this pandemic, it would behoove us to incorporate a diversity, equity and inclusion lens -- for our own economic benefit.
"The question we now must confront is whether, as a nation, we are willing to do the hard work necessary to change widespread attitudes, assumptions, policies, and practices," Professor Robert Livingston at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School. in How to Promote Racial Equity: A 5 Step Plan. The learnings from Scott Fogarty''s experience are very consistent with the approach described by Professor Livingston. He describes 5 steps -- Problem Awareness, Root-Cause Analysis, Empathy, Strategy, Commitment of time/energy. Listening to Scott's experience, I would emphasize one factor -- consistency over time to build trust and demonstrate commitment.
With our SOS: Searchfunder Ops Sessions, we'll meet a wide spectrum of operators to discuss operating issues relevant to current and future operators. We welcome your suggestions on topics, operators to meet and feedback on how to make the sessions most productive for you.
The video is appended above and is also posted on the past events page for future reference. You may also find it by clicking browse by tag on the menu ► located next to your profile picture and then clicking #interview.
Approximate Minute: Description
2:00 Causes of Oregon for lack of diversity
3:00 Exclusion of African Americans
4:00 First wave of African Americans
5:00 Vanport flood
6:00 Gentrification in Portland
7:00 Starting at Friends of Trees
* Planting trees at first in neighborhoods that wanted them and could afford them
* Test for neighborhoods
* Created program: Greening Eastside
8:00 Lack of trust
9:00 this was a social justice issue
10:00 distrust of social services
10:00 approaching government//requested to have in contract that 20% of funds to go to community benefit organizations
11:00 planting tree was getting in the door//ability to put cash into hands of local community//volunteering is not an option for some communities.
12:00 Great and Green initiative to abate stormwater
13:00 efforts led to review of systems and structure; hired a DEI specialist
13:00 Training for Arbor Care/Urban Forestry career pathways
14:00 Put an equity lens on everything: example: graphic design contractor
14:30 38% of staff are people of color, 65% are women and over 30% LGBTQ
15:00 Right thing to do plus 60% of youth are from communities of color
16:00 All businesses need to be able to do business with communities of color
17:00 Also, an environmental justice issue. Right thing to do environmentally, socially and community-wise.
18:00 Benefits to everyone
19:00 As it relates to search fund, it's important to look at equity in the regional economics.
19:27 homogenous businesses may be short changing themselves on the good and services they are delivering
20:00 Questions begin
22:00 Steps to building trust within communities of color
24:00 had a voice to elected leaders,requested of City that equity be in the contract
25:00 hiring from community benefit organizations
26:30 hiring diverse talent - looking at life skills
27:00 Retention - allowed and often paid for supplemental learning
28:30 Using the NGO as a stepping stone in their career
30:00 Lifelong environmentalist, passion to giveback
31:00 Transition from courtroom to nonprofit was made easier due to passion
32:00 Recognize and honor the value and hardwork of the folks who came before and built the business
33:00 As a cis-gender white male, learned a lot and is still learning.
33:30 #1 was to listen on how statements/situations impact people
36:00 Measuring success had wanted to reflect the overall community
37: Had 3 benchmarks
38:00 If we were falling short, we would put resources toward solving it
39: Challenge to find diverse candidates at the Board level
42: Scott's new Clean Streets Initiative to pay houseless folks to pick up garbage
46: Benefits to the community and the participants, provides hope for the marginalized
47: Gateway to other social services in a couple of instances
48: Small cost for high return -- win-win between business, the housed, the houseless