Rebel Human Resources Podcast

Episode 95: Equitable Workplace Policies with Ericka Gonzalez-Smith

April 19, 2022 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 2 Episode 95
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 95: Equitable Workplace Policies with Ericka Gonzalez-Smith
Show Notes Transcript

Ericka J. Gonzalez-Smith possesses a strong understanding of Higher Education, Organizational Change, Curriculum Development and Assessment. She received her Masters of Education from Brock University and a combined honors’ Bachelor of Arts from King’s University. In addition, she is a designated Master Trainer from the Association of Talent Development and is certified in several assessment tools. 

Ericka completed coach training through the Coaching Training Institute, a certified program through the International Coach Federation. She brings expertise in program development and evaluation as well as a strong background in teaching and learning practices with experience as an educator and seminar instructor. Ericka has been actively engaged in Higher Education for the past 12 years specializing in Leadership Development, Intercultural Development, Experiential Learning, and Service-Learning.

As facilitator and trainer, Ericka has facilitated training workshops, sessions, and conferences in Strategic Leadership; Workplace Performance; Personal Power; Emotional Intelligence; Diversity and Cultural Competence; Group Dynamics and Interpersonal Communication; Personality Type; as well as Strength Based Performance. She brings expertise in project management and large scale event planning.

Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.

We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

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Ericka Gonzales Smith:

It took somebody who's implementing the policy to see that. And you know, the power the voice was from the manager, right? Because the person having going through the policy, as a direct report didn't really have a lot of voice here. They can go and complain and say, Well, you know, that's the policy. I'm sorry. That's the response, right? But if all of a sudden those who are implementing the policy become a voice for those who don't have the power, that that is key.

Kyle Roed:

This is the rebel HR Podcast, the podcast, where we talk to HR innovators about all things people leadership. If you're looking for places to find about new ways to think about the world of work, this is the podcast for you. Please subscribe, favorite podcast listening platform today, and leave us a review. Rebel on HR rebels. Alright, rebel HR listeners. Thanks for joining us this week, we've got an awesome show scheduled for you today. With us today we have Erika Gonzalez Smith, she has been working in the equity, diversity and inclusion area for more than a decade. She's a certified coach helping with executive leadership, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion development. She has her own consulting company. And today I'm really excited for this conversation. If you are an HR practitioner, or a people leader, and you're wondering how do I make my workplace more equitable, more diverse and more inclusive? You're going to want to stick around for this one. So Erica, thank you so much for joining us today.

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

Good morning. How are you?

Kyle Roed:

I am doing very well. We were just talking before we hit record, we are both doing this from home and working with with sick kids. So you know fair warning to the audience out there. We are. We're pulling double duty right now. But thanks for joining me.

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

Thank you. Thank you for having me. Happy to be here.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely super excited for the conversation. So I had an opportunity to get to know Erica through a local a local group that was focused on economic inclusion called the economic inclusion coalition. And Erica works at the University of Northern Iowa. And she is really focused on policies that help make the workplace more equitable, more diverse and more inclusive. And so I'd like to really maybe start the conversation by understanding a little bit about the work of creating those types of policies. So Erica, I think I'll probably start with what got you interested in that type of work?

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

Oh, gosh, that is a wonderful question. I would say that my journey in equity, diversity inclusion started pretty much my entire life, you know, so my parents are originally from Guatemala, and we migrated to Canada where I grew up. So I was about 10. When we, we moved to Canada. And then afterwards, as an adult, I decided to accept an appointment with the University of North Carolina Greensboro. And that brought me to the United States. And it was actually in that transition, that I really became aware of race. I mean, I was always aware of equity issues as a minoritized. Woman, right. I was always aware of some of those components. But it really became very real, as soon as I crossed the border. And you know, as soon as I crossed the border, I became Hispanic. And that was like, it was so prominent. I'm not saying that. I wasn't that in Canada. Of course I was. But it just felt so different when I crossed. So that was something I didn't expect. And that was back in 2011. So I was already interested in this work creating equitable spaces, especially around leadership development. But with my own experiences, I migrated to the United States. And all the sudden that you know, label was just so heavy, and it had meaning it had such meaning. And I had a couple of experiences that I would categorize a little bit as microaggressions. within the workplace, and I had not experienced those in Canada. Not to that degree anyways, because I can't say they totally didn't experience things, but not to the degree that I was experiencing them here. So that read my personal experiences. And those challenges that I faced as I migrated here really fueled the fire for me, and I became very interested in attempting to create a space where people feel safe, but also when we're able to see past that prejudice and that bias, so raising awareness around that in everything that we do so that it became something that I I personally wanted to to accomplish. So that's that's what kind of got me started. In the field of accurate diversity and inclusion.

Kyle Roed:

That's, that's really fascinating. And I'm sure you've given this a lot of thought, but is it? Did you feel like the shift from the, from Canada to the US? Was was purely a cultural thing? Or was it? Was it the area that you grew up in? and Canada was more just more diverse than then? North Carolina? Or what do you think it was? You know, that

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

is such an interesting question. And I've been pondering about that. I can't say that I have an exact answer. Because certainly in Canada, this prejudice, of course, you know, there is bias in Canada as well. I think as Canadians, perhaps we are a little more polite about it, and maybe not as likely to say something that would be offensive. I'm not saying people don't think it, and that it doesn't happen. It certainly does. But not to the same degree here. So, you know, a couple experiences that happened to me. You know, it was kind of, you know, I started connecting with individuals in Greensboro because I didn't know anybody. I mean, I, I literally just packed my bags and came on on an adventure. Right? This was an exciting, I was so excited to be in North Carolina, and just, you know, I fell in love with the South, previously on a travel on a business travel. And I was very excited to be there. And then suddenly, I, you know, I started feeling this, you know, race was a very heavy topic. It was very real, especially in the South, as you can imagine, right? So, you know, there's a history there, and it's very much still prominent, I would say, and a couple of people came up to me and said, Oh, they're like, Oh, you're Latina. You know, I would have never guessed. I'm like, Well, I'm not really sure what that mean, you know, somebody at after I had done a presentation with a particular group, you know, they came up to me, they were so excited. And somebody so eagerly, I mean, I could see her the best intentions. And her, you know, she came up to me and shook my hand, she's like, Oh, Erica, you know, you, you are one of the smartest Latinas I've ever met. Oh, man, and that, that was that just kind of cut me like a knife? You know, I wasn't quite sure what to make of that. Obviously, there's so much stereotypes as to the roles that maybe Latinos have in the community. It's certainly not a comment, you would say, to somebody else, you know, if I had been white, you know, somebody would have not come up to me and said, You're the, you're the smartest white person I've ever met. That's not a comment, that would have been sad. So, you know, as I are experiencing some of those comments over and over again, and it was also from the other from another angle, too. So you know, I started connecting with Latino community in Greensboro. And I became, I've always been very passionate about education, I've worked in higher ed my entire life. And pipeline issues for education are something that I'm passionate about, in removing some of those barriers for youth, in particular, for Latino youth. You know, so I started connecting with a couple of organizations that did that in Greensboro and in North Carolina, and I connected with other Latino, in particular, and in this case, women and men, but, you know, this particular comment was also from a woman. Um, you know, she said to me, as we were talking about issues that Latinos experience in the community, you know, she said to me, she's like, well, you know, you don't really experience those. And I said, Well, you know, I've actually had some of those experiences, and I tried to, you know, share some of what I would consider microaggressions happening. She's like, well, you know, you're not really like Latina, Latina. I'm not sure what that means. And she's like, Well, you're a little whitewashed. So, you know, another comment that hurt. So I was like, wow, you know, I'm getting it from both ends. It's like, I don't belong here. I don't belong there. Where do I belong? And it was just the sense of, of culture and a sense of race, the sense of stereotypes and biases that were happening on both ends. That, you know, really raised the element of, of equity for me, and what does that look like? What does inclusion really look like? And of course, in the workplace, that's a huge area that we need to consider what does it really look like? What is it's not just having people at the table, that's just simply diversity. Inclusion is so much more than that. So that's what really fueled my experiences and my interest in this work and, and then you know, you fast forward years later, we see all of the things that have happened since 2011. Right? That I've been here. And this is an issue now that is just so prominent that we need to respond to as a call to action for everybody to respond in some way or another, especially in the workplace as we try to create inclusive and safe psychologically safe spaces for all So, you know, some areas there.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. And thank you for sharing the, you know, the personal stories and, you know, it's it's really powerful for someone like me who, you know, I'm not from a minoritized community to hear, you know, that, that experience and, you know, as I look at, you know, your, your background, you know, the fact that you, you know, have have such a different upbringing than myself, for me, that's just, you know, that's, that's very interesting. And, and, you know, it just makes me curious to learn more about, you know, you and your experience. But it's also a good reminder that, you know, even maybe, you know, an innocent comment in somebody's mind could be perceived, in a negative way. And, you know, what I heard you say is, you didn't really feel like you had a, you had a place. And, and to me, that just kind of breaks my heart.

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

Yeah, you know, and I, that that is, one of the components that I talk a lot about when we do any kind of training, or we talk about this issue is that there's a difference between intent and impact. All of those individuals and others that I didn't even share. I know, those people didn't mean, to hurt me, or they didn't know that their intent was not to hurt. On the contrary, that woman who was so excited about me joining the team and bringing some information. After my presentation, she was she was genuinely excited about what I had to say. And I know she had she didn't mean any harm. The impact, though, of a comment, like that was it's a it's a loaded comment, right? And there's so much so many stereotypes and biases, that that particular comment loads, right. So I don't think that people recognize that the difference between intent and impact or intent could be, well, the best of the best. However, what really matters at the end of the day, is the impact what how was it perceived? What how did it did it harm the other person? Did it create a safe space or psychological safety? Or did it withdraw some of that safety for those individuals, and, you know, mind you, I migrated when I was older, and I had already been working in this work, right, I had been doing this work, I would say that I, I was a little bit self aware at that point, I had the skills to cope through and unpack what I had just experienced, and make meaning of my social identity. Had these microaggressions happened to me, in my early years, when I was like 18, when I was still trying to find myself when I was so impressionable. And even before that, 1614 the damage would have been far more harmful in my development as an individual. So you know, there's something to think about right as, as we're leaving in this in this very charged world, the impact that we could be having in those young impressionable minds, or simply with individuals who might not have the skill sets to be able to unpack what just happened, and reflect on it. Right. At that point, I was already a certified coach, I try to coach myself, I actually caught I actually called another friend of mine, who's also a coach, and, you know, she kind of coached me through it try to make meaning of what just happened and, and, and create some reflection for myself. And so that it wouldn't be hurt harmful, hurtful to me, and harmful to me, right.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, absolutely. It's, you know, it's one of those things and I think, you know, as a, as an HR professional, you know, as a business leader, you know, I think, I think that happens a lot where we have, we have good intentions, you know, or we're coming from a place of excitement or curiosity. And we make, uh, you know, something lands wrong, right, the impact is negative or, or, you know, detracts from, from our intention. And, and that's something that I think, you know, it can can also be difficult to confront, if you are the, you know, you are the person who made the wrong comment, right. And, you know, I mean, you wish you could put those words back in your mouth, but this stuff happens at the workplace all the time. I mean, and you know, I, whether you want it to or not HR people like this is happening, your employees are having these types of interactions and and, you know, having these types of potentially negative impact situations on a on a regular basis. It's just the reality of it. of the workplace, a lot of times so

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

sorry. And I think that's the part that's really important to remember that we all have biases. Biases is normal. If we have a brain, we have biases, right? So it's very important to remember that we're not exempt from that no matter where you are, in that continuum of development, right? We are all prey to our own biases, and we have to be able to manage and navigate through that. I don't think this, no matter how much work in implicit bias you have done in books you read and development you have done in this area, you will never fully remove the bias, you will learn to identify them, you will learn to manage them, and so that you don't act out on them, you will learn to understand where Why am I feeling this way about a particular person or a group of people, right? I myself have said insensitive comments to ask a menorah, minoritized person to another group that lack of lack lack of exposure, right. So when I first moved to North Carolina, there are a lot of the black communities large right in the south. And I became so you know, I was teaching I was teaching a class and I had wonderful students, one of my students who was just, you know, we became very close. And it was such a trade, it was community, it was a community leadership course. So it was very easy to to connect over self development. And on one of our retreats, you know, she had changed her hairstyle, and we were talking about different kinds of hair, whatever. But at some point, you know, I said, I, you know, I like what you have on right now. And I said the phrase, is it real? And her face just dropped, just dropped to the floor. And I knew instantly, I had said something completely inappropriate, something you don't say, I have crossed the line. And luckily, we had the rapport and trust, where I was able to pull her aside and I said, Did I say something wrong? Please? You know, this is an educating moment for me? And she said, Yes, that is, you know, and in what she said, I'll never forget, this is one of those moments where it hurts, but it is where you're growing. Right? You are growing from failure, and I knew I had messed up, right. And, you know, she said to me, she's like, Erica, this is a comment that I would expect from, you know, a little old lady or something like, you know, just not from you, and that even hurt more. But you know, she educated as to what, what is the right question to say she's like, the right question is to say, is it natural, and I apologized, I, I expressed how sorry, I was, it really came from a place of ignorance, I had not been exposed to as much of a black community prior to me living in North Carolina. In Canada, my high school was predominantly white. We had a few Latinos, a few Asians, but that was a we had one black family, the needle. So I just didn't have as much exposure. And I didn't know, I didn't know that the correct term. And you know, it was an educating moment. But luckily, we had the rapport and trust, where she was able to say to me how she felt and I was able to express how sorry, I was, had we not had that trust and rapport, that would have been a comment that would have, you know, she would have gone maybe in spoken to somebody else about it, write a comment that hurt. A comment that, that that the, you know, segregated, right. And it would have taken away the inclusion that I worked so hard at in building in my class. So I'm thankful that we had that report. But wow, what a learning moment for me, you know, and here, I thought, well, I'm teaching they've Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, right? Well, no, I mean, we all make mistakes. And this work is about having the vulnerability to be able to, to have those difficult conversations, that courageous conversation, and being able to grow from it, I will never forget that instance. Never. Because it really hurt me, knowing that I potentially cause harm to someone else. So it was an awakening moment for me. In in when I first started this work,

Kyle Roed:

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Ericka Gonzales Smith:

Yeah, there's so much that you just said right now that I kind of want to go back to I think that the first thing is, gosh, I wish there was a quick fix. But there isn't, right. I mean, this is decades of biases that have been passed down from generation to generation, and they are reinforced by our environment. Everything, you know, there's just, there's so much it's systemic, right. So there is not going to be necessarily an easy fix. I truly do believe that in order for this work, to have impact, it cannot be a transaction. Right? It cannot be something that we check a checkbox. And, you know, in HR, you know, earlier, Kyle and I were kind of chatting, and, uh, you know, I said to Kyle Makino in HR, we're, we're tempted to, to go into compliance, right? I mean, because that's part of the work that you know, HR professionals do, and make sure that we're in compliance with everything that we have to be in compliance with. This is not that kind of work. Although there are elements of it, at the end of the day, if you really want to have transformation in the organization, it cannot be transactional, I believe this is an inside out type of work, it begins with you. So that would, that would be where I would start. And, you know, the step would be for individuals to engage in some sort of self reflection, so that we can really begin to see what we haven't seen. And I think that's the power. So in organizations that are getting started in this work, what I often recommend is, it all depends, you know, where the organization is, do you have individuals that have already taken some sort of professional development in the area of inclusion. And if you have, then you're already starting with a base. But if you if you haven't done much around that, then that that's the first step we do get individuals to see the reality of the situation and start practicing some of that empathy. This work can only it's only impactful if individuals see the other side. And they're able to, I can't claim that they're maybe going to walk in their shoes, but they're able to at least empathize, not sympathize, empathize with the issues in the reality that they face on a daily basis. Right. So once we're able to practice some of that empathy, and we're able to see what we haven't seen what you know, I feel like it begins with some training. Right? But that training is not just information dump, you can pick up a book, you know, there's plenty of books out there. In the in the topic, the latest one that we just read it you and I as part of our common read was cast, amazing book, amazing book, but I can see how individuals could potentially be offended by the book, if you're not ready to read it. Right. So It is a hard, it's a hard read, there's a couple of things, you know, in that book that had to stop and say, Wait, what am I actually reading here today? Did I read that correctly, and you know, kind of go back and process. So it is a pretty heavy book. So there's lots of information out there. So this type of work, this type of training is not information. Dumping is not about terms. It's really it's about transformation. It's about reflective practice, it's about emotional intelligence, all through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion. Right. So I would say that that's kind of where it starts, it also has to be connected to some sort of commitment from the organization. So this is something that I've seen too, is that initiatives will start and we're kind of, we're kind of seeing that right now. And I feel, you know, if you do a quick search of employment, you will see tons of positions around equity, diversity inclusion, right, everybody is bringing a specialist, a coordinator, a director, somebody they're bringing in someone. And I feel for those individuals who are engaging in that work. Because there's the sense that if you just have someone who's doing this work, that's enough. That's not enough of a commitment, there has to be an organizational commitment to really engage in the work and remove the barriers that are causing inequities in the organization. And that's actually where policy review comes in. Policy Review can be very powerful for an organization, but again, not done on its own as a checklist, or it can be that, you know, policy review, when in combination of, you know, some training and development and in some org, institutional or organizational commitments that you are actually working towards, can actually move the needle forward in this work. So I would say that it's not in isolation, but policy is powerful. I mean, if we're able to review policy and make sure that it's equitable. So part of the work that I've done in particular, with you and I is reviewing equity through an inclusive lens. So we talked about what does it mean to be an equity minded practitioner? And once we are able to adopt that lens, how can we then bring that lens into a review of policy to make sure that our policy doesn't have language? That might be excluding certain groups, or that may favor other groups? And so that way, we're making sure that the policy is, is, you know, we're looking for fairness here across. But then the other piece too, with policy review is that policies per se, you know, policies are reviewed every five to seven years, 10 years max, right, depending on how many policies you have, educational institutions have so many policies, and some of them have not been reviewed probably every 10 years, or whatever, if they've been reviewed. But, um, you know, chances are that you're not necessarily always going to find issues in the policy, per se. It's the implementation of the policy. And if that has not been, if the procedure hasn't been written now in a way that there isn't interpretation, so that biases can creep in, then that's where the issues really happened. That's where microaggressions happen. And some of those microaggressions are not necessarily in violation of policy. So that this is why individuals find it really hard to then go to HR and, and put forth a formal complaint, because the truth is, these microaggressions are not really in violation of any policy. They're just comments, like the ones that I mentioned earlier, that happened to me, that there isn't really a policy that says that, that you can't say something like that to someone, especially when it's such soft language, it's not a direct explicit comment about race. So, you know, microaggressions are hardest to be able to put forth as a complaint with HR to prove to prove with, you know, without any kind of hard evidence, right, because they're soft, they're soft evidence, experiences that you have. So that's where the work gets really interesting is reviewing some of those procedures connected to policies, the practices, the implementation of the policy, to ensure that it's an equitable and inclusive system, right of practice.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, I guarantee you that you had a lot of listeners nodding their head right there. And I can't tell you, I mean, I couldn't even count the number of times that I've had somebody bring a concern or workplace concern to my office and and share it and you know, we've we've had that conversation around well, you know, this isn't really a visit really a violation here. You know, like, this is just, it's just a feeling that that you have because of this situation or because of the way that person looked at you or that comment that was made and you know, and those are always those, those are much more difficult than the black and white, like policy violations, it's actually pretty easy to deal with a policy violation, you know, it's when it's clear caught, and somebody clearly violated something, then you get, you know, what you can do, and what the appropriate course of action is, it's a lot harder to work through the gray. The the, you know, good intent, that was a negative impact. And that, that the comment that was made, as a, you know, maybe a light hearted joke, but was interpreted as an extremely offensive, you know, interpretation and it gets pretty tough. You know, one of the things I do love the topic, though, because some of these, like these policy reviews, we we always look at it with the compliance hat on. I mean, it's like, you know, if you write a policy and your entire intent with that policy is let's not get sued. Like that is the wrong intent to write a policy. Right, like you're not, you're not in the right mind space.

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

Well, the other piece of this, too, is, you know, who's reviewing the policy, right? If the person who's reviewing the policy is constantly the same person, that's the perspective that's going to be the most prominent, right? That person's life, the lived experience is going to be the most, the most prominent, so you have to have multiple views at the table. Right. So to give you an example, we're currently reviewing some policy at you and I, that some of it has to do with students, well, we need to have a student voice there to represent. I love that perspective. Because, again, we view things from our own little perspective. So you know, I will view things from the lens of being a woman from being a married woman, a mother, heterosexual, you know, all of those labels that I carry, right? So everything combined is how I view the world. And somebody else views the world completely differently, right. So they view the world from all of their, their, their labels, right, that they carry, and all the things that make up who they are. So we need to have as much representation as we can add the table when having those conversations. So that those perspectives are, are in somehow we are connecting to all of those perspectives. Otherwise, it's impossible to ask one person to think of the perspective of multiple people and represent multiple people that that that is an, I would say, an unfair task for someone alone to do that. So we need to make sure that there is a diversified group who's reviewing policies, and not just policies, any kind of procedure, right? That we're that we're looking at, to review through that lens, because one person cannot be the representative of all, because you haven't lived all the experiences from everyone. You know, that is the beauty about connecting with, you know, a lot of organizations right now are creating these safe spaces, right. So they're calling committees, the EDI committees and individuals minoritized groups contend to come together and maybe talk about their experiences, that gray area that you mentioned, Kyle, which is are all of those comments that just don't sit well with you. It's amazing how many people have also had the exact same comment happened to them, maybe by different people in different contexts, right? They've had the exact same thing happened, because that bias lives in different people. So you will always experience that one person, we're going to, you know, do the stereotypical name, you know, the Karen lives and everything. Every circle, you will encounter one in every place that you go, right. So that's that that bias it lives on.

Kyle Roed:

I apologize to any listeners that are caring. Yes, my apology is just an unfortunate name. But I know exactly what you're talking about. Yeah, and I think it's, you know, if I reflect back on, you know, on what you just said there, I think what an important point, you know, a lot of times the people who actually decide if a policy should exist or not, are us, these people in human resources, right. And so, you know, for me, a middle aged white man in the Midwest, you know, as we refine a policy, how does that impact my location in North Carolina or Ponca City, Oklahoma, or Merrimack New Hampshire? And, you know, am I really the right person to be the final say for this, you know, no, there needs to be some additional collaboration. There needs to be some checks and balances there needs to be some feedback loops so that we can understand, okay, is this policy having the intention that we wanted it to? I'll give you an example. And I've used this before in the podcast, but a number of years ago to different organizations that I work for. We, we had an individual who had to do some anger management. And he's great employee, very diligent is certainly somebody that we wanted to retain. But he had some mental health challenges with anger management issues. And under our current attendance policy, if you were to go attend those anger management classes, he would get in trouble, he would get attendance points, right. And the whole, it was this no fault attendance policy, which we don't have time to get into all the nuances there. But we we had to make a decision, do we do we actually want what's best for this employee? Or do we want to adhere to this policy? That doesn't seem to have you know, is the right lens on the employee experience? Right. And ultimately, we made the decision that you know, what, we're going to excuse this, this is the right thing, right? And I had to violate my corporate policy in order to do that. But then we had to take that to, to the group product Corporation and say, Listen, this doesn't work. Right like that, like, this is not right to do this. So we have to change it. And ultimately, you know, we put a workgroup together and made some changes. And but that's just one example of like, you know, as HR, the easy thing to do would have been to just sit there and say, That's a point. Not that point, you know, you got to try to do these appointments some other time. You know, it's no fault. You know, it's just it is what it? Well, you know, what, I mean? What a terrible message.

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

It took somebody who's implementing the policy to see that, right. And, you know, the power the voice was from the manager, right? Because the person having going through the policy, as a direct report didn't really have a lot of voice here, they can go and complain and say, Well, you know, that's the policy. I'm sorry, that's the response. Right. But if all of a sudden those who are implementing the policy become a voice for those who don't have the power, that that is key. You know, that was a turning point there. My the phrase that I have the most trouble with in policies is at the discretion of the manager. Yeah. Oh, man, so much can happen at the discretion of the manager, right. I mean, that is basically like an invitation for implicit bias to rain. So I the language there, and you'll be surprised how many policies still have that at the discretion of the manager. And that gets up to the manager. And that kind of a policy, it actually doesn't protect anybody like that poor manager, right? Like, man, you're putting everything on me? So if I said no, like, I mean, there is no protection here as a manager, either, right? That's true. So it's not doing anything, it's not serving anything, any good for anyone.

Kyle Roed:

I think that's a really interesting point. You know, I came into an organization a number of years ago, and there was almost no policies, it was like the Wild West, right. And, and, but what was interesting is you would assume that that would just like empower your managers to manage the lead. What it actually did is it freaked them all out, they were all terrified, because they knew if they because it was their discretion, like if they made a decision, it's on them. Right. And so what it actually led to was a lot of inaction and a lot of confusion and frustration. And so it was actually good to put some, you know, some structures in place and some some clarity and consistency. But

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

yeah, because it protects me, it's like a blanket of protection, right? I mean, otherwise, it's just like a free for all. Then, you know, did I do something wrong? You'll never really know if, if you cross the line.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, shoot, shooting from the hips. Not great when you're when you're dealing with policy. Yeah, equity, diversity and inclusion. So I've got so this has just been a great conversation and, and, you know, I think we could probably go for another few hours, but your time is precious. And, and I want to shift gears and get into the rebel HR flash rounds. So yeah, ready?

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

Okay. All right, here

Kyle Roed:

we go. Question number one, what is your favorite people book? Oh, my

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

goodness, I would have to say that it is this is kind of people book, finding what? Simon Sinek why, you know, finding your why I love that book. It is such a powerful book. And I would say that it's about purpose, but it's about I have kind of taken that into my connection with other people. You know, and just, you know, really finding that purpose of connection. So not your typical people book, but I think it's a powerful one.

Kyle Roed:

I love the love that. So Simon has such good content. Oh, yes. Yeah. Yes. Simon, if you're listening, you know, we'd love to talk to you. Come on. Come on. Yeah.

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

Come on. Come on. One level HR.

Kyle Roed:

Alright, question number two, who should we be listening to?

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

Okay, I am completely crushing on Brene Brown right now, intellectually, she is just I love her everything that comes out of her mouth. I'm like, yes, yes, yes. So I often listen to her podcast, and I read all her books, and I have, I have a document that's titled thoughts. And it's, I just, like, go in there and write everything down. Like, I almost want to write it verbatim. I just, I really, I feel like her work is just, it's impactful. And it's very much what we need right now. You know, I mean, trust vulnerability. Exchange. This is, you know, she often says he, we can talk about diversity and inclusion without shame. And yeah, we can't, how can we talk about white privilege without shame? And vulnerability? Right. So like, I mean, it is, I think that's just a wonderful person. That's who, who everybody needs to listen to?

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, absolutely. Great, great content there. Say there's, there's, there's so much there that I think it's gonna build off of this conversation and you know, some really important topics. So last question here, how can our listeners connect with you,

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

I would say the best way to connect with me is through LinkedIn. So my link LinkedIn profile, feel free to add me send me a message, happy to respond back share resources, as well as just create that network of, you know, professionals who are not professionals, anybody who's interested in this work, I think that that is what will move mountains, individuals saying, You know what, this is not right. And we're going to do something about it. And not, you know, we might not be able to march down, you know, DC, that's not really what this work is about. It's about saying, hey, I need to check myself in I need to check my circles. And it is the power of the table conversation. Right? What conversations are happening at your table? And that is the power of transforming communities. That absolutely table conversation.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. We will have a link to the LinkedIn in the show notes. So open up your podcast player. Check it out, connect with Erica. Erica, thank you so much. Just a wonderful time connecting with you and keep up the great work. Thank

Ericka Gonzales Smith:

you. Great. Thank you, Kyle. Thank you for having me.

Kyle Roed:

Thanks. All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter, at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe