Dr. Ebbie Parsons of Yardstick Management: “Follow in the lead of your employees”

Follow in the lead of your employees. Make sure to hire people you trust and lead from behind. This allows for employees to feel included, valued and in charge of their work outcomes. Not only will this motivate and empower employees to contribute to the vision of the company, but it will also develop them […]

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Follow in the lead of your employees. Make sure to hire people you trust and lead from behind. This allows for employees to feel included, valued and in charge of their work outcomes. Not only will this motivate and empower employees to contribute to the vision of the company, but it will also develop them to become more confident in and skilled at their respective work of focus.


As a part of our series about “How Diversity Can Increase a Company’s Bottom Line”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Ebbie Parsons.

Dr. Ebbie Parsons, III, is the Founder and Managing Partner of Yardstick Management. He is a seasoned business executive with a passion for intentional impact, he has been applauded for his strategic thinking, engaging leadership, and results-oriented mindset throughout his successful career. He launched Yardstick Management with a vision to become a leader in transforming and impacting the global landscape of the management consulting industry.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into the main part of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you share a bit of your “backstory” with us?

I was raised with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, often seeing my father develop and grow his ideas into businesses with little to no resources. I observed him use his network to bring his visions to life, and I’ve always known I wanted to do the same, but I wasn’t yet sure how I would make my mark and continue a legacy of entrepreneurship that my father instilled within me. My wife, Ayana, and my mother were actually the inspiration behind Yardstick Management. They noticed my frustration with minority students being underserved in education while I was working in that sector, and they encouraged me to “do something about it!” Without a thought, I used the skills I examined from my dad for years to build Yardstick Management from the ground up, with the goal of leveraging my business and education expertise to help charter schools and universities better serve their students in an inclusive and equitable way. Since then, Yardstick has only grown, now serving the largest, most recognizable organizations in the world in the field of management, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and talent consulting. I truly believe that the organizations we serve can do well while doing good at the same time, and my team is committed to helping them do that by giving them the tools and the roadmap to get there.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?

During the early days of starting Yardstick, I was introduced to someone by the name of an extremely influential French-Algerian businessman and we set a breakfast meeting. Over the course of our conversation at a hotel in NYC, he inquired about my assistance to get his film in front of diverse audiences in the west. He had all the receipts showcasing his success as well as shared his connections with global influential leaders, but I was still skeptical to pursue business with him considering the massive deal we were making and the possibility that this may not be a realistic opportunity. Despite my skepticism, I decided to take a leap of faith to work with him. Through the course of my engagement with him, I’ve learned that while some things may seem unrealistic, I should always take everybody and every opportunity seriously with an open-mind. Within a couple of hours of that breakfast with him, I had secured the deal and a significant amount of money was transfered into my bank account. Because of this experience, I truly live by the “believe and you shall receive” mindset!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you tell us a story about how that was relevant in your own life?

One of my favorite quotes that continues to inspire me on a daily basis is “go hard or go home,” from my favorite rapper, E-40. When I’m stuck, unsure of what to do next, or trying to work through the difficulties of being an entrepreneur and CEO, I remind myself of this saying and fight through adversity with a positive, determined attitude. I am an all-in type of person, so I don’t believe in giving up without first trying my hardest to deliver my best work.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Following my mother, sister and wife, I am most grateful to Ronni Ephraim who believed in me and my company during our very early days. At the time, she was the Chief Academic Officer at 2U and gave Yardstick Management a huge opportunity to play a key role in the growth of their organization by leading and developing critical successful partnerships. This helped build momentum and credibility for the company, opening doors to many more future opportunities. I am forever indebted to Ronni for entrusting Yardstick with this responsibility and chance to prove ourselves and build our reputation in the industry.

What do you think makes Yardstick stand out? Can you share a story?

Our team is intentionally hand-plucked to fit the needs of the clients we serve. While we are small, we are rich in diversity, both in background and experiences. After working for years with several midsize to large corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits, I know that most companies don’t actively embed DEI in their practices. That’s why we purposefully lead by example and practice what we teach. I want our organization to be the new normal, and not to be seen as breaking the status quo because we dare to be different. I know our approach is valued because companies like LinkedIn, the largest professional networking platform, and Facebook, the largest social media network, reached out to us to tap into our network of underrepresented minorities. We are truly mighty in our thought-leadership because we have always been deliberate and intentional about our work and the team players we choose to be part of Yardstick Management.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

We have been working with Netflix through several engagements in the past few years. Most recently we are supporting them to further diversify their leadership team which has in return contributed tremendously to a shift in their content creation now produced through a DEI lens and thus impacting their global audiences and creating a more inclusive space for both creatives and consumers across the world.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We are honored by the constant reminder that our organization exists solely to level the playing field for marginalized people across global organizations impacting thousands of people. Because of this continued success, we are ecstatic to roll out a new initiative soon in the form of an in-person institute where senior leaders and executives can learn from our in-house team of world-class consultants, and additionally, thought-leaders from our own personal network. This is a revolutionary step forward for our business and for St. Simons Island, in Georgia, where we plan to host the institute.

Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. This may be obvious to you, but it is not intuitive to many people. Can you articulate to our readers five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Business has the transformative power to create and contribute to a more open, diverse and inclusive society. Fundamentally, we can only achieve this by initiating change from within organizations. The prioritization of increased diversity gives organizations access to a larger customer base. We’ve helped Netflix place several leaders of marginalized backgrounds at the executive level which, in-turn, disrupts and innovates the content currently being shared on their platform and opens them up to becoming marketable to many audiences.
  2. Another example of diversity aiding in a company’s bottom line is enabling them to have a larger market share. Our client, Klaviyo, witnessed a tremendous increase in revenue by diversifying at the leadership level and keeping DEI as a company goal, thus growing their reach in the global marketplace.
  3. Employee retention is a third example of how diversity can impact the company’s long term goals. Our client, Davita, not only focused on DEI but positioned itself to concentrate on belonging which significantly increased their retention of employees at their company.
  4. Companies also benefit from equitable compensation as an outcome of focusing on diversity when it comes from the top to ensure employees are paid fairly. We recently were able to support this intentional effort with our client, Group Nine, as we conducted their pay equity analysis identifying gaps and areas of improvement.
  5. Lastly, companies can gain from making better financial decisions as a result of focusing on diversity. Our client Frazier healthcare, a leading healthcare private equity firm, is now considering diversity and inclusion as a major business goal embedding it into their strategy for their portfolio companies to help level the playing field for marginalized communities.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees to thrive?

Follow in the lead of your employees. Make sure to hire people you trust and lead from behind. This allows for employees to feel included, valued and in charge of their work outcomes. Not only will this motivate and empower employees to contribute to the vision of the company, but it will also develop them to become more confident in and skilled at their respective work of focus.

What advice would you give to other business leaders about how to manage a large team?

I would advise business leaders to take the time and make sure every employee is grounded in the company values, which means those must be determined collectively. Leaders should define the non-negotiables and set clear expectations and awareness of them amongst employees, but in return, they must also have a lot of flexibility everywhere else to allow employees the space to do their work creatively and effectively as they feel most comfortable.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

If I can get the opportunity to spend some time with Greta Thunberg, 18-year-old Swedish Environmental Activist, I would ask how I can help bring her incredible vision to fruition. I truly admire Greta for her courageousness and bravery and I would love to speak with her about ways I can contribute to making the world a better, safer and more environmentally friendly place for my kids to grow. The future is for Greta and all the young visionary leaders who live with a passion to transform the world and impact lives.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

To learn more about the work we do, I would strongly encourage readers to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on our social media pages. We are Yardstick Management on both LinkedIn and Facebook, and TeamYardstick on Twitter and Youtube. Our website is also constantly adding more additions to capture our growth, so check out yardstickmanagement.com and stay-tuned for some new updates we are launching this Fall!

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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