Joanie has a conversation with Michelle Beauchamp about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech world. Michelle is the CEO of The Champ Group, a training and coaching firm that focuses on sales and diversity. One of the reasons Michelle is so special is that she is a very positive, encouraging person. She will inspire you in this episode.
Q: How did you come to help organizations work on diversity, equity, and inclusion?
“My passion is to help people learn and grow and succeed. When I started The Champ Group, I decided to focus on leadership, sales, and communication. That’s what I have done for 14 years. I love helping people grow in those three areas. I help people understand the greatness they already have within themselves.”
“This summer, I had an epiphany. It happened because of my awareness of so much racial injustice— the cases of Ahmaud Arbery, BreonnaTaylor, and George Floyd—and that’s just to name a few, just for this year. I thought, ‘I have a passion for this. Clearly, I have my own experiences being a Black woman,’ and I thought, ‘I need to put my leadership training that I already have and the subject of diversity and inclusion together and make that work.’ I came across a program from another group I’m a member of—a program that I could purchase a license to—and I decided, ‘I’m going for it!’”
“Clearly, this is a subject that is tough. Everybody has an opinion about it. Some subjects that I already teach, such as the power of listening, the energy that is required to really listen and not interrupt and jump in there, and the ability to have empathy, are already leadership traits that I train on. It’s just that now, we can dive into it on the subject of diversity and inclusion, which does require a lot of listening, a lot of empathy, and speaking at the right time.”
Q: A lot of clients are asking about diversity, equity, and inclusion. But, especially in tech, I hear that they feel like they are doing as much as they can, and they don’t know what else to do. Or they are concerned about doing the wrong thing and are playing it safe by doing nothing. What is your response to that?
“The good news is that it is being discussed. People are curious and they are concerned. I look at that as a good news thing. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this and I saw some descriptions that I thought were interesting. One came from Accenture and it said that companies who take this on need to have bold leadership. They need to have an empowering environment. And they need to be willing to take action. You can’t have these conversations and then nothing happens. That’s what employees are concerned about. Not doing anything, that’s what not to do! Don’t try to sweep it under the rug.”
“I wish that more companies would hire consultants to work with them on this because that’s what companies do; they seek professional guidance when they need help with something. The same is true with this subject.”
Q: The stats on diversity in STEM suggest that not enough is being done. What are technical organizations missing?
“I hear ‘We can’t find qualified minority applicants.’ That has to be yesterday, not today and tomorrow. It does take extra effort. Someone in the company can have the job responsibilities to reach out to other communities. For example, there are the HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities), as well as other ethnic universities. There are also the chambers and women’s organizations. The existing workforce is diverse.”
“One thing I know is the people in the tech companies are smart. Companies that have more diversity enjoy more profits. It’s worth the effort to go out and find the people. We need more people to be mentors and sponsors. That’s the inclusion part of it.”
Q: How do we start the conversations and take action? Listen to the episode to hear Michelle’s response. Her advice for starting is simple yet critical, something we can all do. She also shares tips on what to do and what not to do in leading efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Words of Wisdom:
The first thing to do is have the leaders check themselves.
If you’re not embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion, accept that.
None of us has all the answers. We just need to show we care.
Embrace the effort to reach new communities.
It’s little things, like who are you inviting to lunch?
We need to get over it!
No matter what the cause is, we all need allies.
Contact Michelle Beauchamp: