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HR in the Car - Episode 7: "Two Words: Psychological Safety"

Inspiration comes in many shapes and sizes, and when you get the opportunity to learn how much Dr. Angela Pearson has accomplished in her career, you’re going to be blown away. She shares some poignant stories that tug at your heart and might even light a fire in you to explore her topics even further. Some as they relate to how important DEI is to the community and workplace, and some just from life stories. Jump in the car and listen in on another great episode of HR in the Car.

More about Angela

Angela serves as the President and CEO of OD Synergistics Consulting LLC which was founded in 2019. She is a trusted advisor to business leaders in successful companies in the US, working with them to assess organizational issues, reshape structures and processes, and build depth of management capability. She is a skilled diagnostician who helps her clients to understand organizational strategies and systems to make comprehensive decisions.  

In addition to her consulting work, Angela is a Navy and Army veteran and a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Coach. In her career, she has over 20 years of experience. She has worked for many well-known companies in roles such as Operations Leader, Human Resources Generalist, Training Manager, and Environmental Health and Safety Manager. She is currently the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for ITHAKA Harbors, President of the Board of Directors for The Food Pantries for the Capital District, serves as a member of Equinox, Inc's Development and Domestic Violence Committees in Albany, NY, VP of Programming for SEVA ATD Chapter, and a dedicated SHRM/USAA Veteran Ambassador. 

Contact Info:

Dr. Angela Pearson

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Connect with Angela on LinkedIn 

Information & Links

Book: Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Al Switzler, Ron McMillan 

Philanthropic Organizations: Equinox, Inc., The Food Pantries for the Capital District, and NAACP- Albany Branch 

Voiceover: Welcome to HR in the car with Miriam Dushane and Tom Schin of Alaant workforce solutions, where exciting HR professionals and business leaders share laughter, insider stories and maybe even a few tears about HR in today's world. Buckle up for the best half-hour of your week.

Miriam: So, Tom, when I think of DNI, I think of my wonderful friend and a trainer that we used, Angela Pearson.

Tom: I love her. She's fantastic.

Miriam: She is amazing. And the reason I think she's amazing is because she brings a lot of life experience to her work from being a single mom to surviving domestic violence and so on and so forth, along with being a Navy and Army veteran and having her lean Six Sigma Black Belt and being a doctor of psychology, organizational psychology. She is simply amazing and I can't wait to talk to her.

Tom: When you think about people who are self-made, that's really what you think about.

Miriam: Absolutely. And she is a great example for all of us. So this afternoon we're joined by one of my favorite people that I had the pleasure of meeting during the pandemic, just as a plug for virtual networking pandemic style. It was one of the best things we ever did, I ever did in my career. And, you know, you got to make lemonade out of lemons. And the pandemic helped us do that a lot. But I'm rambling because Dr. Angela Pierson is our guest today and she is the director of D and I at Ithaca Harbors, and she is also the president and CEO of OD Synergistic Consulting LLC. And Angela and I have worked together in the past. She presented to our organization a boatload of training in the DNI space, and it was amazing. So I'm so excited to have you with us today. Angela, so welcome.

Angela: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Miriam: So, Angela, you know, when people hear DNI, they think they know what it is. So but if you're at a cocktail party and you're amongst friends and someone says you, so what do you do? What would you generally say to them as it relates to your profession or what you do?

Angela: Well, I like to tell people that I like to advocate advocate for social justice, but also a culture cheerleader.

Miriam: Interesting.

Angela: Employee engagement, that's my big my big deal.

Miriam: Gotcha. So in your work with your consulting company and Ithaca Harbors, tell us a little bit about what you do day in and day out.

Angela: Oh, you don't have enough time.

Miriam: I'm sure. However.

Angela: What I do is create strategy related to DEI, and we've created a roadmap to help us help guide us through some of the challenges that we have related to DEI. And with that, there are a lot of initiatives, a lot of activities. But also, I've taken a different approach than most normal DEI professionals.

Miriam: Tell us.

Angela: So what I did was when I started with I took the first two and a half months and I spoke to over 250 employees to include senior management and executive leaders. And I did listening tours. And with that, that gave me a pulse of what issues different people were having, because we all don't have the same issues when we come to work.

Angela: Right.

Angela: And then when I did that, we looked at creating a strategy with themes for each quarter. So the first quarter was psychological safety and trust, because a lot of my conversations that I had, I realized that a lot of people didn't really have the trust that they needed at work to feel safe, to bring them bring their true selves to work.

Miriam: Interesting.

Angela: And then our second quarter theme was Courageous Conversations, which you need to have psychological safety and trust in order to have courageous conversations.

Miriam: Yeah.

Angela: This quarter's theme, crucial accountability.

Angela: Okay.

Angela: So it's kind of like one of those things where I started with the soft skills, first of the organization before we really got into or will get into the nitty gritty of the foundations of DEI. And I felt that was really important because a DEI journey is very, very tough. People don't realize that it's ongoing, it's not a one and done. You are constantly, continuously improving.

Miriam: Absolutely.

Angela: And it's a journey that each person is on at a micro level and then the organization is on at a macro level. So you're going to have different people at individual levels in different parts of the organization that's on that journey. So it's really important for people, A, to discover themselves and be truly themselves and have that self-awareness in order to successfully navigate this journey.

Miriam: So the psychological safety one, I think is fantastic because I struggle with it sometimes myself. You and I have had these conversations where I've said, May I ask you? I know it's not your job to teach me, but may I ask you because I was worried that I would offend or say it in the wrong way. And I have another friend who is very deep in this space, and I literally had a conversation with her on Monday. I was like, Is it okay if I say this? And she's like, absolutely. It is okay for you to say that. I was like, I'm sorry I asked you. She's like, ask away. But you need that on both sides.

Miriam: Yes.

Miriam: So now I want to talk about every single quarter and what you did in all of those quarters. But we're not going to have enough time to do all of that.

Tom: I was thinking through what you just said, and there's that challenge in the consulting and the training and development world where the outside looking in, thinking of us in this space as practitioners, if you will, think, all right, training and development, they come and do a one and done and boom, right? Magic happens, magic wand, poof.

Miriam: Now we're all inclusive and now we embrace diversity and equity.

Tom: To me, that seems like a huge challenge. I don't know if it would necessarily qualify a trend. But what, you know, to segway into that next question, what sort of trends are you seeing when you're having these conversations both at ethical harbors, but also in your own synergistic work?

Angela: Well, again, I'm seeing especially because of the pandemic, the lack of trust. People want to trust their leaders. They want to trust their peers. However, we tell people, be your authentic self. Oh, it's okay. You know, have a safe space to be who you are. And then someone does that and then it's a problem.

Angela: Yeah.

Angela: So then that just resets everything, because now I feel like I can't trust you if you have a problem with me being myself at work. And we all understand that that means that there are boundaries, healthy boundaries. You can't just come to work and do and say whatever you want. You know?

Miriam: Exactly.

Angela: However, people do need to have enough space in order to feel comfortable to be themselves, because that helps everything. Productivity, employee engagement.

Angela: And being themselves doesn't mean that you get to say whatever you want, right?

Angela: That's correct.

Angela: It means that you can say things that are appropriate, maybe things that you're not sure about, but it doesn't mean you can drop F-bombs and this and that and the other constantly because you think air quotes, nobody cares. They're just afraid to say something because they don't want to get fired.

Angela: This is true. Well, and it depends on the organizational culture as well. I'll say within certain teams we are allowed to say those words, you know, but it's within that team. And that's how we've created psychological safety within our team.

Miriam: Mm hmm. So when you started in your role with Ithaca Harbors, did they have DENI initiatives or a person leading that before you got there?

Angela: They did. They had a DEI consultant that started with them in 2020 in the wake of George Floyd's death. And, you know, they started their journey with them. And it was their recommendation that they hire someone full time to do this work.

Miriam: Okay. Excellent, excellent. So say, you know, someone's listening right now and they they're like, my organization needs this. My organization needs more awareness, more education, and they're potentially brand new to this. What would you say would be some of the things that they have to be aware of and maybe not necessarily a road map for them because it's going to be different for every company. But what are like maybe, you know, a few top things that if a company wants to go down this road that they've never gone down before, what do they have to be aware of and cognizant of to kind of start the journey, as you called it?

Angela: Well, I would say they need to start with the organizational assessment.

Angela: Okay.

Angela: That is really important. Again, like I said before, different people at different levels. So yeah, the idea is to get everybody together to start the journey, even though they may not stay together on the same path.

Angela: Mm hmm.

Angela: Because, again, self-awareness and the willingness to want to change your mindset is really important. That's another reason why it's difficult to get managers and senior level executives to buy in. Right, because this is a lot of heavy lifting. And it's not just one person's responsibility. It's not just the DEI professional or this group of people. It is everyone, a ll hands on deck.

Miriam: Gotcha. Gotcha.

Tom: Yeah. We ran into, I think, when the newer anti-harassment rules came into place a couple of years ago, where you have to do it every year and so on and so forth. So many folks looked at it's such a chore. But you uncovered all these spots where people were doing awful things, saying awful things, getting away with it.

Tom: Yes.

Tom: And so I think that's if I'm one of those employers that isn't doing this, that's the fear in my mind is this that that annual training thing, they just resist so much. It's change. It's uncomfortable. So how do you get around that?

Angela: Well, there is a way getting the managers, the leaders, to understand that if they foster an environment and you're going to hear me say this a thousand times about psychological safety and trust, people will feel comfortable having those courageous conversations. So then it doesn't transfer to behavior that has to be addressed in policies and procedures, and it's hard to get them to understand that.

Miriam: Yeah. How do you avoid making these initiatives that check the box off, just like Tom was talking about, New York State mandates that every year we go through this training? And so, you know, for someone like me who's gone through it 15,000 times into my career.

Angela: Me too.

Miriam: Right. I mean, it's like, okay, well, do the training. Like, I agree, we need to do this training. But for me, it's like I could be teaching the training. Like I know all of this stuff, but I don't want it to turn into a check the box for my organization. So how do you how do you create it in such a way that it doesn't check boxes and just be another thing a company has to do because everybody's doing it or they've been mandated to do it?

Angela: Well, you bring up a good point and you make me think about you. When we did our training with your staff, you know how you immediately move to action after. Do you learn something? And this is how we keep DENI and anything that we train on from being performative. As soon as you learn a skill or you have a tool or resource, we need to find a way to use it immediately.

Miriam: Yeah.

Angela: You know, so that way, the more you use it, it becomes a habit and it becomes a permanent tool in the toolbox.

Angela: Definitely. Definitely.

Tom: Yeah, we've done that with a couple of scenarios. Couple of sessions that we've led is we asked the people right in the room, what are you going to do with this? And somebody volunteer a date. And when you're going to put this into play and a little bit on the folks faces is fantastic. Inevitably you get someone to raise their hand. I'm going to do X, Y and Z, and they're feeling inspired, which is exactly what you want. But the rest of the looks in one session is like deer in headlights. But you need that. You need someone to kind of step up and be that champion and say, okay, I'm going to take the risk. I'm going to jump in the pool and I'm going to learn to swim.

Miriam: I think it's also important, you know, you've mentioned this already, but the leaders have to champion this initiative and this important work because without that leader setting the example, actively participating, sending stuff to their team outside of that quote unquote trainings makes a bigger impression. I think of just an example. The other day, a gentleman who our team has grown since you've been with us, Angela, we've doubled. And our our demographic has also become much more diverse. And I'm very proud of that. But these are amazing people that are on our team. And one of the gentleman I had gone through a different training about Juneteenth, okay? And I went through it and then I shared it with everyone on the team and said, I just want to share this because this was very impactful for me. I learned a lot that I didn't know or that I was mistaken about related to Juneteenth. So here it is, if you would like to see it too. And this gentleman particularly said this is the reason why I work here is because you're putting an emphasis on the importance of these issues and this information. And he just was like basically saying thank you. But it just, again, resonated with me that the leader has to be the one championing it and making sure that it's important to them or it's just it's again, it's going to be a check the box type of situation.

Angela: That's so true. Just to be fair and not necessarily be the devil's advocate, but there are some leaders that have just done what they've done all their career and they don't know any better.

Angela: Right.

Angela: And so until they've been challenged, it takes work to work with their leaders and get them to have the humility to admit that there are things that they don't know. And that's another part of the psychological safety and trust training, you know, that I've done with the Ithaca Group as far as getting them to understand it's okay to not know, wanting to learn, being self aware is going to help strengthen your relationship with your employees because now they can learn with you, you can learn together.

Miriam: Absolutely.

Tom: And I think that's real key is that when the employee bases the leadership learning with them, again, I hate to use Inspire over and over again, but they see that the ship is going in the same direction they are.

Tom: Yes.

Tom: And it matters so much when you're talking about engaging and being in touch with having an inclusive workforce. I remember those instances from last summer. Everyone was a sponge during everything that you said and did with us, and even we had a foreign exchange student who was with us and she was a sponge. And I had to I took extra time to make sure she had context because she wasn't from the United States. I'm like, Here's where this comes from and here's this and this and that and the other. And she knew a lot more than than she let on. I found this out after the fact.

Miriam: Yeah. She was very stealthy.

Miriam: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Angela: It's good that you mention that though, because, you know, at Ithaca, we have a lot of people that are from different parts of the world. And as a D EI professional, I have to remember that what I know about American culture may not equate to what they know from their culture. So cultural competency is really, really important as well.

Miriam: Yeah, right. Absolutely.

Tom: A little bit into that bias category. So I read a lot of stuff from Ink magazine and Forbes and that. And I'm curious where you get your information and what's the what's the latest piece that you've read that really struck home?

Angela: Well, this is going to sound weird, but crucial conversations. That is one of my favorite books. And it's always been it really, really helps provide strategies to get unstuck and learn how to have conversations when emotions are high or something's at stake. Because a lot of times when we know we need to have a crucial conversation, we're going to do one or two things. We're going to either have it and not have it well most of the time, or we're going to run away from it and most people run away from it.

Angela: Right.

Angela: But the problem is still there. Right. So learning how to create that psychological safety in a way that is okay to talk about race is okay to talk about religion, it's okay to talk about politics, you know.

Miriam: Interesting. I hadn't heard of that one. I have you had heard of it Tom? Tom's a bookworm. I'm less of a bookworm. I'm getting more suggestions that I always say. Does that come in audible?

Tom: Right. I'm the audio bookworm , but Audible does great, libby app from the library. You get to absorb, rewind, listen to it again. Oh, sorry. My dog did this. And I got to listen to it one more time. And, you know, that's fantastic.

Miriam: Yeah, I have a dog, though, but I do the same thing.

Tom: We can lend you one.

Miriam: Right? Or a cat, their house person. We have a we've turned into an office of dog versus cats. Oh, wow. It's pretty funny because Tom loves dogs. Not as big of a fan of cats.

Tom: Dogs are better than cats.

Miriam: Oh, my gosh. We have other people on our team that they they their preferences for the the feline persuasion, shall we say. I am an equal opportunity pet lover. I have two cats, two dogs and a rabbit. So I'm on both ships. But so when we just started talk about that, this dog messed things up. It's just super, super funny because that's again, it's a fun thing that we do in the office. It's obviously not related to DENI , but it's just like, you know what if the new person.

Tom: Everybody's feel free to talk about their animals, which is fantastic, even one of them on my birthday wished me a happy birthday. I hope somebody gets you a cat sort of message. I'm like, No.

Miriam: Yeah, it was pretty good. Keep that in mind. Yeah, but you know what? That's an interesting thing. What you just said, it kind of is related because I think some of what we forget is that we all have things in common. Yes. Regardless of who we love, look like, we're, you know, worship, so to speak, or what politics we follow. All of those people are either going to be cat and dog lovers or they're going to be anti pet or whatever it might be. And sometimes that's where you get the the bonding moment to then build off of it. Was that any part of the psychological safety work that you've done is using that concept?

Angela: Well, no, but I'll tell you, when we do our virtual meetings, we encourage people, if they have animals, to bring them on camera and they will make a big deal of them and get to learn their names and how they got their names and stuff like that. So I think it's pretty cool even though I don't have pets.

Miriam: Yeah.

Tom: I found something interesting the other day. A friend of mine was explaining to me, there's many of us in our neighborhood, we walk our dogs together and go around the block. And he was explaining to me and in some cultures, dogs are considered dirty and so they won't touch them. And so it's not that the person dislikes the animals just from a cultural standpoint, a cultural education standpoint, the animal's considered a dirty animal. You shouldn't touch it because then you've got, you know, your owner obviously or unclean or whatnot. But it's just that, again, that bias, that understanding of international bias or international customs that we just take for granted here in the United States of "Why don't you like my dog, he's cute, right ?" And especially on Zoom, you see people cringe. I cringe at cats because they make me sneeze.

Miriam: Yeah.

Tom: Right. So, you know, they're cute and all that. And when they see me sneeze and that's just no fun.

Angela: That's, ah, secretly human. I don't care what anybody say. I watch Tik Tok videos of cats making stuff off of counters when the owner is saying, Don't you do that and I go, swipe!

Miriam: It's like, right, yeah, I understand.

Miriam: Absolutely. Yeah, definitely.

Miriam: Okay, well, we could talk about that all day too. Cats, you know, that's my favorite topic. But back to business in terms of our question of the week, we talked we talked a little bit about it, but let's talk a little bit about about it in the lens of DENI. So we had asked companies, are their employees engaged? How engaged are they? And about 60 plus percentage of respondents said they were could be better or not at all engaged. And so, you know, we're talking to Joelle on another podcast about that because she works in OD and she was like, Yeah, that's that sounds about right. And she goes, actually, it's a little high. I'm surprised. You know, there's, you know, other companies that said they had so many engaged employees. But it's a perception level thing, too, right. So, you know, from an engagement perspective and maybe partnered with or coupled with DNI, what are your thoughts around it?

Angela: Well, first, I want to say feelings are measurements, and it's very difficult to get people that are quantitative to understand that. So as far as employee engagement, it's one of those things where it's not tricky. It's really simple. Talk to people, understand what their needs are, ensure that they have the tools and resources to engage in their work, but also engage with other employees, especially since most companies are doing things remotely. And that's been a struggle. How do you get people engaged during remote communities, especially if you have ten Zoom meetings a day, which I do sometimes. Yeah. Barely a break in between, but leaders or organizations getting employees to understand that they do care about what they need and to have those conversations. You know, sometimes as leaders, we wait until we have a problem and then we have a conversation. We need to be having a conversation first to thwart the problem.

Miriam: Absolutely. It's you know, you're you're very right when it's it's so funny because I like to meet with every employee on the team individually. And when a new employee comes into the organization, I have to reassure them that this is their meeting. It's for us to get to know each other, talk about whatever they want. But it's not a bad thing. You're no one's in trouble like you. I find with the younger generation, you know, and, oh, the boss, like, wants to talk to them. They immediately think they're in trouble.

Miriam: Principal's office.

Miriam: Principal's office!

Tom: Anytime there's a meeting. Am I in trouble?

Tom: Unless we say you're in trouble in the subject, it's fine.

Miriam: Right, exactly.

Angela: Remember, that's a stigma because a lot of times leaders don't want to talk to employees until they're in trouble. They've done something they're not supposed to do, right? Yeah. You know, so that's why it's so important to have those, you know, just get to know you conversations and then have those performance conversations and then creating psychological safety in the beginning of a meeting, you know, I do it well. I try to do it just about every meeting that I'm a part of. Let's make sure that this is a psychological, safe environment if anyone feels unsafe. And then we come up with the protocol of something that we'll do or say to say, Hey, it's not unsafe. And then we pause and we get back on track.

Miriam: That's interesting.

Miriam: Wow.

Tom: You know what it reminds me of in terms of that table setting, is the old Sandler kind of setting expectations or upfront contracting. So if you're setting your agendas for your meetings and saying, we're going to talk about psychological safety and this is how we'll get into details about how we're going to handle it. I think that's a great way to get folks comfortable with knowing, all right, I can go here, not Las Vegas style, but.

Angela: Right?

Tom: Now there's some safety about what I say and what stays in the room.

Angela: Well, no, to that, I learned that not everybody knows what psychological safety is. And when you're talking about organizations is very important to define that from an organizational level. So everyone has the same definition. So when it's stated, they can relate to what that organizational definition is.

Tom: And they're not using it as a weapon.

Angela: Right?

Miriam: Oh, yeah. Ab solutely. So do you have any interesting stories? So sometimes will say if you were writing your own book of your experiences, you are all right. Well, maybe we can expect to see this in there. Maybe give us a little insight. So, you know, it could be a horror story. It could be a success story. Obviously, you're writing a book, so there's something impactful that has happened in your work or in your life or with people that you've dealt with. So, you know what what comes to mind when when I ask you that?

Angela: So two things. The first one was the first time I was self aware that I was being discriminated against and I was 17 years old. I had a small infant child and I lived in Savannah, Georgia, and I went to a Waffle House and I'll never forget it was in the middle of July. It was hot. And we went in and I asked, c ould I have a cup of water first? When I walked in, everybody just stopped what they were doing. Just like you see in the movies, you hear that just everything stops. And so you look around and everybody's looking at you and like, Oh crap. And then when I asked for the water, it was only one person that looked like me and he was cooking on the grill. So when I asked the person at the counter, they said, No, no, you have to purchase something. And I said, It's hot. I don't really have any money. I have my son here. Do you mind? They were like, No. And I'm like, okay, you know. So then the second thing was George Floyd's, u ntimely murder, to watch that video. And I watched it several times because I, I all psychologists I like to analyze. Yeah. And just to think that a human was on the ground saying, I can't breathe and another human didn't care enough to to even stop what they were doing to make sure that that person was okay. And then to see that person succumb was just is something that changes you.

Miriam: Yeah.

Angela: You know, it really does. And it made me even more passionate to get people to understand that we are all human and how we treat each other is really important.

Miriam: Absolutely.

Angela: To just stop all this other stuff and start focusing on what matters. You have no idea if you meet another person and they're having a bad day and you happen to strike up a conversation with them and they enjoy the conversation with you, how that can change their life.

Miriam: Right.

Angela: You know, and I have a lot of respect for you all because as you mentioned earlier, you would always say, do you mind if I ask, you know, because you wanted to know.

Miriam: Yeah.

Angela: And I appreciate you saying that. It's not, you know, people of color's job to educate you. I beg to differ. And I've gotten into this argument with people of color because they're tired and they're frustrated and they feel like, why do I have to teach? Why? Because of the history. Yeah, but in in my world, Dr. P's world, I believe that education is powerful, but it's only powerful when you share it.

Miriam: Yeah.

Angela: So, you know, I feel like I have a duty when I talk to people or they ask me about certain questions related that my culture that tells me they want to know. So I want them to know, you know. And if every person did that. Even people of color, if they reverse and asked people that didn't look like them, you know, about their culture, their traditions and things that they are curious about because they are curious. We all are. Yeah, I think that this world will be a better place.

Miriam: So it's so interesting that you said that, Angela, because one, i 'm sorry that that happened to you, because that's just makes me angry.

Angela: It made me better.

Miriam: That's why I love you, right? Because you took, again that situation and said, all right, this is more motivation for me to make a difference in the world. So but and I do love your analogy of the, you know, asking each other about things and having it be safe to be able to do that. I was I was joking around with not joking around. But a funny story is I have a neighbor across the street from me and we've become friends. And she is a black lady and the family is black. And their son just graduated from high school. And I gave him a card. I was so proud of him. He's, like, super nervous about going to college. He's actually going to go to the college that my son goes to. So we were able to bond over that. But when I was writing out his card, I had texted my son, what's the boy's name? And he told me the name, okay? But he goes, But, you know, maybe I got it wrong. And I was like, well, I was like, Let me ask Layla. So I texted her and she gave me a completely different name. And so I was like, just to confirm via text what this is. This is what she said. And she said, yes. So I write his card out, I give it to him, and then a few minutes later, she was getting ready for his party. And they have you know, they have those signs now with the kid's graduation day. And it wasn't the same name. And I looked at them and I go, forgive me, but now I think I'm a crazy person. What is your name? I want to make sure I know what your name is. And he said, My name is Deshawn. And I go, Then why did Mom have me make out the card to Demir? And she goes, Oh, that's what I call him. That's his middle name. And I was like girl, you had me so confused. And I was like, I, you know, I'm trying to be respectful because I was like, What is what? I don't want to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. You know, I like these people a lot, but we're still getting to know each other. But it was the funniest thing because we were. And then Jack was like, I told you I was right. And I was like, I know I was double checking because I wanted to make sure I got it right, but yeah. So I was like, Oh my goodness, seriously?

Angela: You did that, you know, back to DE and I it related to that story. There's so many softwares now that actually pronounce names and my company uses Greenhouse. I don't know if you have heard of Greenhouse, but they actually have a feature where the candidate can pronounce your name and then you can push the button and hear how to pronounce their name.

Miriam: You know, it's so interesting that you say that my daughter, who has a simple name, Kate Dushane. So she's going to a college in the fall and they asked her to phonetically spell her name to get the pronunciation correct. And I was so surprised by that. And she's like, Mom, how do I even do that? I have like, I've never thought of that before. And I go back, think about it. You're your peers may have any number of interesting names from different cultures and different parts of the world. That's that's great that they're doing that. So it was a struggle for her, but at the same time it was like very enlightening because now she's like, Well, now I'll know how to say my peers name if it's a more difficult name for, you know, what I'm used to seeing or hearing. So but that yeah, that makes it.

Angela: I needed that software in my life because I'm not good with names.

Tom: I try I try every time to just, you know, I'll still tell folks apologies if I butcher this. Do you mind if I try and pronounces and they'll let me have at it and I'll get it right most of the time. But sometimes when there's a lot of consonants and vowels, it gets a little tough.

Miriam: It does.

Angela: Well, my mom had nine kids, so it ended up being, hey, you, come here.

Tom: Hey, you the shorter one?

Miriam: Yeah. No, the taller one, skinny one, the one with the birthmark on his arm, you know? Yeah, that's a lot of kids. Wow. So, Angela, as we wrap up, we love to hear about organizations, community leaders or community groups, anything that you're involved in outside of your work. So for you, are there any nonprofit organizations or charitable groups or community groups that you're involved with that you'd love to share with the world that maybe we're not aware of?

Angela: Yes, I'd love to. So I am the president of the board for the food pantries for the Capital District.

Miriam: That's right, you are.

Angela: And I also serve on the Development Committee and Domestic Violence Committee for Equinox Incorporated.

Miriam: I did not know that.

Angela: And I also serve on that as a member on the local ACP Albany branch.

Miriam: Awesome. Very good. Anything about the food pantries, I know I've learned a lot about the food pantries over my time with being with the Women's Business Council in the chamber. But what was one of the most interesting standout facts that you learned about the food pantries when you started with them or became you're the president board of directors?

Angela: One of the most interesting things that I found out is that people. Are hungry and they're afraid to ask for food. And that really, really just tears me up because I have been food insecure with four children. I have lived in a domestic violence place. So I know how it is. But to know that there are people in their children that need food, but they're too ashamed to ask for it. I want all New Yorkers to understand that it's really important to the masses that stigma. We need to encourage people in. You may not be food insecure all the time. It may happen once every three years, but the resources are there to get that food. So let's encourage people if they need food, to go get it.

Miriam: Absolutely.

Tom: Yes. I think it's that battle of the ego. Right. I'm too proud to take a helping hand, even though I could use it. And it's a huge ego knock for folks.

Miriam: And again, it goes back to people being afraid of being judged or misunderstood or an assumption being made about them that holds them back from getting the help and the services that they might need.

Tom: It's that psychological safety we keep bring it up.

Miriam: It is, yeah, it's in everything. It's not just in a company. It's not just in our personal relationships. It's in our society. And we got to keep trying to break that down and make it so it is a safe place for everybody.

Angela: Yes, I tell everybody about the food pantries. I give them my card and I say, if you know anyone that's food insecure, tell them to give me a call. They don't have to be ashamed a nd I will work with them to help them get the resources that they need.

Miriam: Well, listen, we're going to put that information on our website as part of the link to this podcast and Equinox as well and the NAACP. So all of that information will be on our website. And I just want to personally thank you. Thank you so much for being here. You have been an amazing help to me personally, to our organization and I look forward to continuing to work with you in the future. And I wish you nothing but success in your new job and your consulting endeavors. So thank you so much.

Angela: Has been an honor and I miss you all. And if you ever need me, I'm still here.

Miriam: Yay! All right. Thanks so much, Angela.

Angela: You're welcome. Thank you.

Tom: Two words, psychological safety that just resonated through the entire conversation and is so under talked about, if that's a phrase.

Miriam: I agree. And what was interesting about what she talked about was the roadmap that she put in place for the organization that she works for now. And the best part about it, which I hope everybody really caught, was the listening tour that she did with everyone in the organization. And we're talking 250 plus people. And because the perceptions from leadership and the perceptions from line workers and everyone in between can be so different. You know, I actually had never heard that psychological safety description before, so I was really happy that she we talked a lot about it, you know, along with, you know, finding out who's a cat and dog person. But folks.

Miriam: Yeah, I know, I know, I know. Both so there. And goats don't forget baby goats. I love those a lot too. But the other thing that I think is really amazing about Angela is because she has these life experiences to pull from. She's taking everything and trying to turn it into learning moments, helping others. You know, the fact that she's on the president of the food pantries, the board for the food pantries of the capital region. She is a board member for Equinox. She actually also is on the NAACP and she is a sherm. You as a veteran ambassador, you know, she's bringing all of those things together. She was amazing.

Tom: Yeah. I really liked how humble she carries herself. You think of academics and people getting their PhDs and you're thinking ivory tower, and I'm greater than now. And she's so the opposite of that. She just wants to share, educate and help people feel more comfortable, more safe. You know, she talked about safe spaces a lot. I really caught on to that different people, different level theme that she was on. And now this book that she mentioned, crucial conversations. That's I know it's on my list somewhere, but it's going to move up.

Miriam: Definitely. So for more information about all of the things that Angela talks about today, we will have links to the organizations that she's involved with on our website with along with the link to this podcast. And we thank you so much for joining us today. Until next time.