…The biggest way increased diversity can help your bottom line is that when you start to really understand diversity you’ll have a more expansive view of your bottom line. Most people just think of their bottom line as their profit margin. But I encourage people to think of a dynamic bottom line. So sure, its profit. But it’s also about your moral bottom line. What’s your moral bottom line? What’s your cultural bottom line? What is your standard for how people work together and share space together?
As a part of our series about “How Diversity Can Increase a Company’s Bottom Line”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Podcaster, Speaker, and Leadership Coach Trudi Lebron, creator of the Equity-Centered Coaching Collective.
Trudi Lebrón, the CEO of Scriptflipt, is a business, leadership and DEI coach, and social impact strategist who teaches entrepreneurs and leaders how to build inclusive, equitable, successful businesses while working towards anti-racism. She is also the host of Business Remixed and runs a membership program, the Equity-Centered Coaching Collective, a guided-learning community for coaches and leaders who want to start applying their commitment to equity in their biz and life on a daily basis. Connect with her on Instagram @trudilebron.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I spent 12 years in the nonprofit industry working in the inner city with underserved youth and their families. While I was in that industry, I got a strong anchoring into justice work and an understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion. During that time I was also concurrently working on my Master’s and PhD, learning about the science behind the science and the history behind racial disparities. I came to a better understanding of the factors that contribute to success and it had a big implication for me working in the low-paying non-profit sector.
At that point in my life, I found myself always needing to be side-hustling. I had been a teen mom, I had a family, and I needed to be making more money than I did at my job. I started learning more about business and growing a side hustle and lifestyle business being, and how to leverage online platforms to be making more money. I really fell in love. I saw how my two worlds — impact work in the nonprofit industry and my entrepreneurial spirit — could create a really dynamic online business.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think what makes us stand out is that we’ve been committed to diversity and equality for years. From the very beginning, I was podcasting, connecting with people online, showing up at industry events and doing everything I could to share with other people in the coaching and personal development space. I knew that diversity, equity and inclusion work has always been really important, and that people needed to pay attention to it. But initially, I spent years talking about it, and no one was paying attention.
I was relentless and committed to what I was doing, so I continued to show up authentically and keep my focus on serving others. And when people started to pay attention, I was already there there — my company was already there. And we weren’t new to this work, we had been here all along. We stand out because we’ve been consistent, we’ve been steady, sharing the same message about diversity, equity, and inclusion. And we continue to come from the same place of service and authenticity. Instead of jumping in when it was a hot topic of discussion, we’ve been doing it from the start.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
I am! I’m working on putting together a mastermind for female leaders in collaboration with Elizabeth DiAlto founder of Wild Soul Movement and the Embodied Living Center. Our mastermind, Embodied Impact, will combine business strategy, personal growth, and diversity, equity, and inclusion education and will support women entrepreneurs be more effective, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist leaders.
We’ll be focusing on not just prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion, but prioritizing all of your beliefs. We’ll be coaching students not to compromise on their beliefs or values or the way that they want to live and teaching them how they can lead from that place. Basically we’re showing them how to be fully embodied in themselves and their beliefs as leaders.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
First, I would tell them to look at the look at the data. Pay specific attention to things like retention and performance and how and if these affect your BIPOC employees in a different way than they affect your white employees. Pay attention to employee satisfaction, and look closely into how employee satisfaction may differ between white team members and employees of color. Talk to your employees about what they’re experiencing in the workplace and what their needs are.
Be bold enough to look at that data and understand that you may have to have a response ready to support people. That means that not everybody gets the same thing, but people should always get what they need to thrive. So if you’re looking, and you’re noticing that you’re losing clients or employees of color more rapidly than white employees or clients, you need to look internally and say, “What are we doing to create an environment that is causing that to happen?”
Be self reflective, look at the data and talk to people about what you need to do differently to create an environment that is equitable for everyone.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders about how to manage a large team?
I would say that the most important thing in managing a large team is to develop leaders who lead from the company values and not from their own, individual values. If you have a large team, you need leaders who are going to carry out leadership in a consistent way. You do that by nurturing your leaders to make sure they understand the company culture that you want them to create, so they can make decisions that are value driven, that are not arbitrary, but that are consistent with the culture and the commitments that you have.
There should be ongoing professional development for that tier of leaders so that you can be sure that these leaders are prepared to carry out your vision and objectives not only for your bottom line, but also for the climate and culture that you want to create. Your leadership team is responsible for those things, too.
Ok. Thank you for that. 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.)
First, the biggest way increased diversity can help your bottom line is that when you start to really understand diversity you’ll have a more expansive view of your bottom line. Most people just think of their bottom line as their profit margin. But I encourage people to think of a dynamic bottom line. So sure, its profit. But it’s also about your moral bottom line. What’s your moral bottom line? What’s your cultural bottom line? What is your standard for how people work together and share space together?
Secondly, if you have a diverse team making decisions, you’ll have happier employees, which lends itself to further retention and less turnover — saving you time and money. You don’t benefit from diversity if the people who hold all the decision making power are not diverse. If all of your diversity lies in your frontline workers, you don’t get the benefits of having diverse perspectives at the leadership table. You need to make sure that you have diverse representation among the people who hold power to make decisions.
Third: ongoing professional development around diversity, equity and inclusion as well as anti racism is another great way to impact your bottom line. Like having diverse leadership, ongoing training is something that improves staff retention, which again, saves money and time.
Fourth, communicating your values and your stance on topics of diversity publicly can really impact your bottom line. We’ve seen that people are making decisions about who they invest with based on diversity and inclusivity specifically. We actually just switched our CRM because the company that we were previously with didn’t have an active stance on the movement for Black Lives, they’ve been silent. So we decided they’re not aligned with our values, and so we’re paying for another service. That’s a significant investment, and it demonstrates exactly what I’m talking about.
Lastly, do it because it’s right. Pay attention to the bottom-line of society instead of just your profits. Yes, diversity can be good for profitability. But it’s also just good for society and your soul to implement diversity, equity and inclusion into your company culture. There are a lot of racial inequalities in the world, your company can be a light. We can all do better.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The work that we do with our clients has a significant snowball effect. We work to help our clients to build companies that are more diverse and inclusive, so that their employees have better work environments, and that trickles down to the families of those employees. We work with a lot of coaches as well, so our clients are then able to serve a more diverse audience. And those audience members enter spaces that are more emotionally safe and inclusive.
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?
Oh my God, so many people! But one woman that is really important to me is Kerry Brennan. She was a mentor to me when I was a teen mom. When the world was telling me that I was a failure and treating me like a burden on society, she treated me like a normal teenager. She encouraged me to continue my education and follow my dreams. And not only that, but she walked me through how to get there. She was a coach, and she taught me a lot. And even though she didn’t teach me this explicitly, she really taught me the importance of having people around who have a bigger vision of your life than the one that you have for yourself.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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? He or she might just see this :-
Oprah. For so many reasons including that she loves food like me! I’m a big foodie, so I think having a super fancy lunch with her would be great. But, more importantly I would also just love to hear her insight around having multiple companies and honoring your true calling. She could just share any wisdom she has with me, and I think it would take it all in. She also just seems so fun — I think it would be a good time.