The People-First Economy, Day 4 – Bias, Wellness, Bliss

By  Scott Steward

This is a mini review of the Day 4 of 10 People-First Economy Online Summit.

( TODAY is the last day anyone can view the seminar FOR FREE. The speakers are mostly concerned with intentional inclusive economy that turns away from waste stream fossil fuel dependence. I am learning from these speakers as well and offer my perspective on what the speakers have to say. Here are the 3 speakers from Day 4.

Dr. Tiffany Jana: “Putting People First at Work: Managing Organizational Diversity and Bias in a People-First Economy.” Dr. Tiffany Jana (They/Them/Their) is the founder of TMI Consulting Inc., a diversity and inclusion management consulting firm.  Tiffany has approached her work by making the case that businesses are better when they successfully recognize that bias is a natural tendency toward exclusion that repeatedly shuts “non-us” people out.  “We have created more wealth than ever in history and far too many people are being left out.”  Tiffany’s work imbeds diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Diversity is all the ways we are both similar and different.  Inclusion is having belonging and purpose and equity is the holding of individuals, and their institutions, accountable to policies and practices where we all get what we need to be successful.

Can I be successful in your organization no matter how I show up at your door?  To answer this question, Tiffany requires that an organization have management buy in, high-profile diversity goals and accountability. “Engaging in this (DEI) work just because everyone is talking about it is not reason enough.” Steer clear of the “one-off” engagement and look for commitment that imbeds DEI in the organization. Tiffany believes that the rewards for embracing the potential messiness of DEI are no less than those brought adoption of information systems “look at where we are today as a result.” The messiness of people is worthwhile work and we can gain commercial and emotional rewards by recognizing our fellow spiritual beings. Tiffany’s bonus “Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences” excerpts

Safwan Shah: “Turning Financial Stress into Financial Wellness.”  Founder and CEO of PayActiv.  PayActiv is used by 500 companies and 750,000 workers relieving them of millions of toxic micro financial burdens. Employers who use PayActiv have 20% less turnover. “We turn financial stress into financial wellness.”

Seventy seven million people are paying $200/month in penalties or fees to “alternative financial services,” pawn shops and payday loans.  On average all working people spend 10-15 hours a month worrying about finances. $420 billion is lost to penalties and distractions. Millions of people have decided to leave the financial system and don’t have access to affordable financing. PayActiv provides them access to their earned wages as they earn them – changing the timing of pay.

PayActiv’s mission is “to alleviate financial stress for millions of hard working Americans; with dignity, savings and no additional debt.” Safwan emphasizes the use of “dignity” in PayActiv’s mission statement as he feels it is the restoration of self-efficacy that brings with it many mental and physical health benefits. PayActiv also offers counseling and courses in financial literacy. ADP, Uber, Walmart, Visa and many Health systems have expressed a great deal of relief in being able to accept PayActiv “as these companies care” and just want to be part of the solution. Safwan’s bonus: “It’s About Time: How Businesses Can Save the World (One Worker at a Time)” chapters.

David Marshall: “Creating a Company of the Future” David Marshall is CEO and CFO of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.  David started his talk by saying that many people have the wrong idea, you don’t have to choose between company performance and treating your people well.  At Berrett-Koehler “we have five main values: stewardship, quality, inclusion, partnership and sustainability.”  “After many years, I’m really excited, that after being in early adopter mode … that all kinds of companies, that do good in the world, are really moving (to join us) into the main stream.”

Stewardship at Berrett-Koehler is a departure from command and control hierarchy.  David recalls, “I was handed a copy of  “Stewardship” by Peter Block, by the company founder, and read it cover to cover. The basic message is that all companies should be classless.”  The old hierarchy model starts with the shareholders and stops with the managers, there are not any other recognized stakeholders.  The stewardship model asks, “how do we get all the stakeholders involved?” Customers, employees, shareholders, partners and managers need to be involved in any decision that really matters.  “We have 11 members on our board, one for each stakeholder,” the shareholders are there, but they are just one of many voices.

Barrett -Koehler has adopted many practices that improve the overall experience and effectiveness of the company.   There are 5 company decision levels distinguished by the amount of inclusion needed for each. The first level is inform, which rises to consult, then majority vote, to consent , followed by the highest level of inclusion – consensus.  You would think this intentionality would drown in its own process, but good stewardship has the advantage of inclusivity and efficiency.  Other practices include compensation transparency (everyone knows what everyone else makes) and  radical accountability.  Radical accountability is concerned with job performance and it includes a well-crafted job description, complete employee autonomy and responsibility, and managements clear understanding that their job is defined by the question “what can I do to support the employee so that they can best hold themselves accountable?”  Berrett-Koehler sets the bar for companies that want to provide a positive mature experience of consistent organizational excellence. A company of the future.  ““David’s bonus: “The B-K People First Tool Kit”- twenty years of organizational stewardship practice.

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