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Ep. 11: The End of the Majority and What it Means for You with Julye Williams

Key Points:

  • When the US will no longer have a majority racial group
  • Why changes in age demographics are a compelling story for marketers to consider
  • The starting point for leading your brand into a world where we live diversity is the norm
  • What to do when you identify inequities that negatively impact certain groups of people
  • What it really means to be an ally
  • What true inclusion is about
  • Why we need to pay attention to intersectionality

Project 2043

Sonia: Counting. Hey Julie, I’m just so glad we had to press play because we were just laughing and giggling and getting into it before we get started. So I just figured we need to bring the people in. All right. So thanks so much for joining. I know who you are. We’ve known each other for decades, right? But tell the people who are you and what do you do?

Julye: Well, it is, I’m glad you press play. We’ve got a lot to talk about. Hi everyone. My name is Julye Williams. I’m the founder of the project. 2043 Institute. We are an educational consulting firm here in the DC area, but we support organizations, educators, individuals in the work to become, to create a more equitable and inclusive society. The name project 2043 comes from the census bureau is projection that in the year 2043, the US will no longer have a majority racial group. And so with that projection, for me, when I started the company was a lot of, I had a lot of questions about, well, what does that mean? And what does that mean on so many levels? And so we do work to help companies explore what that means for themselves, for their members or their staff, as well as for the audiences they serve.

Sonia:  Yeah. I hear this projection and I hear these data and the statistics a lot, but I remember, and I talked about this on an earlier episode of the podcast where I was exp I had a moment, a couple of moments where I was experiencing all of these demographics and practice and it can, but just, it can catch you off guard if you’re not looking for it. And I’m somebody who used to diversity, I embrace it. I love it. But I was just like, wow, let’s dive into this. Like, are there any other demographic changes people should be aware of or things that are coming on the horizon in particular in the US like, what are the specifics of these projections?

Julye: Yeah, I think one of the things that is so interesting, it’s not just a projection of racial demographics, but when you overlay onto that age, it becomes a really compelling story. And so what the research and what the projections are showing is that in, you know, by 2043 around there, and even moving forward, we will see that white Americans are going to be the, a lower percentage of the population, but a higher percentage of older Americans, meanwhile, Americans of color, people of color, especially if you get to the younger ages are going to be the majority. However, they are on a much younger side of, of, of, of the spectrum. And so that I think creates some really interesting scenarios and situations. When we think about the needs of the older demographic, which is predominantly white and then the needs of a younger demographic, which is going to be majority people of color, people of one or two or more races. And so what are those needs going to look like? Especially if we’re talking about brands and consumer needs, you know, I think that’s a really interesting aspect of these changes that are coming, that we don’t always think about. And we just often a lot of times, you know, rest on the, on the topic of race, but not really look at how it overlays on some other.

Sonia: Absolutely. Absolutely. From an organizational standpoint, for businesses, for brands, what are, do these changes mean for them from your, because in some instances, some state, some cities that 2043 projection already exists, but that all brands have done the best job of adapting to that. So what are your recommendations on what they should do knowing what’s what’s coming or what is in some instances?

Julye: Yeah, I think part of it is, you know, taking a step back and recognizing that the US is changing, it is happening, right. There’s there, there, I think there needs to be an acknowledgement of that, right? We can’t be in denial. We can’t, you know, it is and it’s happening. And so with that acknowledgement, what does it mean in terms of how you lead your brand, your organization into being a place where it can thrive in a, in a, in a society that is diverse?

Because many of the practices that we have had so far have not been inclusive, have not been welcoming, have not created a sense of the longing. And so acknowledging that it’s happening, how do we do that? I think part of it is doing some inner work. I always start with the inner work because I think, you know, just acknowledging whether that feels exciting to you, whether that is terrifying, what, like, whatever that feels like being honest about it, and then looking at, well, what do we do? Because it’s still, it’s still, it’s still happening. And, and how do we reconcile what we know, what we don’t know and what we need to be doing in order to make this brand or organization thrive in this new environment.

Sonia: Okay. All right. So you talked a lot about in our work and that’s important because I think that people aren’t necessarily always, or they don’t mind, I even know from emotional standpoint, how they will feel whenever they were faced with different and different situations, especially if they aren’t accustomed to being one of only a few or the only one. So I’ll give you a quick example. I’m doing for a conference that I’m going to be giving a keynote next week. So by the time this podcast airs, it’ll already have done it. So I’m analyzing the data from this research that I did for them asked if it’s for a hotel conference. And I asked how many at a time where you didn’t feel like you belong. I also asked the opposite of it and you know, what happened? And someone wrote in all caps, we were the only white family. We’ll never go back. And I was quite appalled whenever I saw that. But as I started to think about, I was like person, this family has almost never duration where they were the only, and it was jarring for them. It was uncomfortable for them. And if they can control it, they will never be in that situation. Again, however, changing populations that might be something that’s even less moving forward. So how can people start to get to a place where they’re preparing themselves doing the inner work emotionally, so that then on their job, they can prepare themselves for the changing, the eminent changing demographics that’s happening right now.

Julye: Yeah. That’s yeah. I’m, I’m still thinking about what you see are those, those all caps and it’s, it’s interesting because, you know, I think for people of color, we have to be bicultural, right? We have to know, and I am a person of color, a black woman. We have to know how to operate in environments, where we may be the only one we have to know how to operate and, and, and, and find a place of, of comfort or ability to, to, to be okay in those situations. Whereas if, you know, if you’re in the dominant race, at least right now, that’s not always a requirement, right? That’s not something you have to do, but I think part of it comes back to, you know, we talk about the inner work. It’s being able to reflect on your socialization. I say, right. How did you learn what it means to be human? How did you learn what it means to be in this society? And I think if you’re born in this country, or if you immigrated to this country, you probably learned at some point that there’s a hierarchy, right. That there are some, you know, there’ve been a lot of things overtly, but also subliminally shared with you that kind of tell you, who’s kind of at the top of the food chain and, and who is, who is more valued and who was less valued. And I think part of the inner work is challenging that and asking yourself, you know, what did you learn and why is it that you’re so uncomfortable being the only, you know, whoever wrote that comment, why are they so uncomfortable being the only white family or, you know, why was that situation so distressing that that was their comment, right? And, and really understand, well, what is the source of, of this, you know, agitation this discontent, this unease, and really unpacking that because I think we all, we in this country, you know, we’ve been taught an incomplete, if not entirely incorrect history of how this nation came to be. And when we move forward without hearing from everyone’s story, there are so many gaps. And so we need to fill those gaps. So we can have a more complete understanding of how we got to where we are so that we can move forward.

Sonia: Yeah. And then I saw, as I was analyzing this research was that there were people who commented more than once, but like, I didn’t belong, but I’m a white woman. I’ve never felt like I haven’t been this gendered white woman. Middle-class, I’m aware of my privilege. I saw this several times. And so what you were saying was like that people, sometimes a lot of times understanding hierarchy that exists not to say that they created it, but does everybody sort of play a role? Like if they are aware that this exists and they’re aware that there is a bit of a different treatment, what, what is the responsibility of people who understand different people are treated differently because of something as their race, their ethnicity, et cetera.

Julye: Yeah. I think, you know, you can benefit whether or not you created the system, right? It doesn’t mean you don’t benefit because you, you weren’t there to sign the law, right? Like you can still benefit from it. And so for those that acknowledge there’s inequity, for those that acknowledge the unfairness that exists and want to create more balance and opportunity. I think part of it is really under you taking time to understand where those inequities are. And it’s something I heard on one of your other podcasts about, you know, using your power. And it’s something that I talk about too, which is really looking at what’s in your sphere of influence. And so we all have power. We may not have the same amount. We not have, may not have it in the same way, but we all have power to influence what’s in our sphere of influence, right? The people we can touch. And so whether, you know, if it’s at an organization and you are in a position to comment or influence who gets hired for ASA for a role on your team, or what vendors you decide to work with for an upcoming project, right? Those are opportunities to identify, you know, to expand the pool of candidates, to be more inclusive and equitable. If you’re looking at, you know, your individual life, you have power over, you know, even where you spend your dollars, right. Are you, are you supporting communities of color, vendor, businesses of color, because there is an equity in, in, in that sphere as well. And so, you know, we have the power to do so, but it, part of it is, is looking to see and noticing, you know, where are these inequities taking place?

Sonia: Wonderful. Okay. So there’s two things that I want to make sure that we address. The second one is power. We’re going to get to that. But first I want to stick here with the concept of allyship because you hear that term a lot. And it sounds like what people who recognize it a privilege and want to use their power to do something about that privilege. There’s a number of things that they can do, but are there also recommendations have for people on what it actually means to be a good ally? Cause I think that sometimes people confuse what, what that actually means in theory and in practice.

Julye: Yeah. Yeah. And I like to say, you know, an ally is something, someone else calls you. It’s not a label that you give yourself because you know, the person in the community you’re aiming to support should be calling you an ally, you know? And so I think there are a lot, there’s a lot of things that can be done, you know, part of it is, you know, really understanding what the needs are, what the, what the, what the real needs are. And I think part of that, you get to that by allowing yourself the chance to get more information, to get accurate information. And whether it’s tapping into new sources from that community, whether it’s LGBTQ plus community, whether it’s a community of a, of a different racial group or a gender identity, but tapping into that community, whether it, you know, it could be looking at, you know, people on social media who are, who are advocating for something, it could be, you know, you hear about a policy that’s about to be plat passed in your state or in your community, but look for ways in which you see barriers being, you know, maintained or created, that would lead to inequity for a group. And that is just one way that I think you can begin to, to support a group and, you know, and hopefully see if, if they would call you an ally in your work to support them.

Sonia: It’s kind of like, you shouldn’t be the one calling yourself.

Julye:  Exactly. Exactly, exactly. Right, right. Hi, I’m an ally. So we get it.

Sonia: Okay. So previously, so I’ve heard, you mentioned before that true inclusion is about transferring power. So you’ve mentioned power a couple of ways and how exercise their power to help field for other people. We talk about like just that whole concept of inclusion and power and give some practical suggestions or recommendations that people can do, or,

Julye: Yeah. So yeah, inclusion is definitely about sharing power. It’s, it’s not enough to be invited to sit at the table if you have no influence on what’s on the agenda. If you have no contribution to, you know, what is being discussed, then you really aren’t fully included as, as an example. And so I think, you know, the ways that sharing that power shows up is, you know, in organizations, it’s, it’s looking at, you know, setting the topics, setting the tone, what, what are, what are we going to be focusing on? It is in having decision-making ability and a broad variety of areas that affect the organization. And so I think part of how people can, can influence that is just really speaking up, I think, using your voice to, can you repeat the quick, can you repeat the last part of your question? I’m sorry.

Sonia: No problem. Allies. Oh. Using your power, like recommendations for people can use their power. And Natalie, we’ll edit this here. Okay.

Julye: Thank you, Natalie. So to, to use your power, I think it’s really important to really reflect on what you’re currently doing. So if you are sitting in a meeting and you notice, you know, who keeps talking, who’s not talking, who’s present, who’s not present what perspectives are being incorporated. What questions you still have, those are opportunities to, you know, raise your voice and to advocate for, for the inclusion of what you notice is missing. That’s just one example. I think when we, when I think of inclusion, it’s, you know, looking at my own habits, am I, you know, I gave an economic example before, but you know, even with what I’m reading, am I looking at content from different authors? Am I watching shows on television or film by different directors who hired, who are going to have a different lens for the stories they tell it’s, it’s really about being intentional about not just doing the same thing and also broadening your own wins so you can see who else are you, who else could you be hearing from and who you’re not hearing for yourself and within your organization?

Sonia: Yeah. I like that there are things that people can do as individuals. There are things that people can do. And one of the examples that you gave is who are you spending money with? Right? Another one is for what you can do within the teams. Like you said, making sure that the right voices are being heard, acknowledging where you’re spending your money as an organization. It’s a lot of supplier diversity efforts become very, and then a third one, I think that it’s, especially for its owners who feel like, oh, there’s not a ton of things that I can do. Sometimes it’s just as simple as amplifying the voices of people who traditionally don’t have their voices amplified. So who’s content, are you sharing? Whose content are you leaking to? Who do you have on your podcast or on your Instagram live or whatever. Those are just small little things that can go along way in terms of a difference. One of the things that I’ve noticed with this whole power change is that there is even some, a hierarchy among underrepresented groups. So, and sometimes we need to think about, as we’re doing that, are we fully being inclusive in that we might need to work even harder to elevate than others, so, and conferences. And since sometimes you see, oh, people of color S they’re black men, right there aren’t enough black women, or you’ll see people who they’re, they’re just sentencing times that aren’t quite as elevated as others. And not to say that one there’s I think it’s make sure that I’m conveying is that sometimes everybody, a lot of times, everybody isn’t treated equally and that we need to make sure that as we’re transferring that power, we’re transferring the power where it needs to NAF to just say, Hey, we’ve got a person of color person of color represented. We’ve got a few people of color represented. We’ve checked the box on inclusion and diversity, not knowing that there is a whole lot of other dynamics at play that makes you just say, all right, we’re, you know, there’s, there’s a lot more work in a not more thought.

Julye: Absolutely. And you know, what you’re talking about is, is, you know, Kimberle Crenshaw term of intersectionality and the reality that we all have more than one identity, right? I am more than just a woman. I’m more than just a black woman. I there’s many parts of my personality, not just my personality and my identity that, you know, matter to me when I’m listening to something, when I’m watching something, you know, I want to see that reflected in, in the brands and then the people I hear from. And so it’s, it’s incredibly important to be mindful that it’s not about checking a box. It’s not about, you know, what we call tokenism, right? Like I put somebody there be happy. No, that’s actually not what it’s about. It’s about being very intentional and inclusive and creating that authentic feeling of belonging among the people you’re aiming to serve, which I think goes back to that socialization that, you know, like how did we come to see people in the way that we do and why is it okay to quote unquote, check a box when we’re saying we want to do something of service and add value, right? And so it kind of pulls it into the humanity of people and acknowledging the humanity of people. If we’re truly aiming to serve people in the ways that we engage and interact with them.

Sonia: Got it. Wonderful, Julie, we could talk all day, right? Like we literally could talk topic, any parting words of wisdom for business leaders who want to lean into the power of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in a world that is fascinating in terms of demographic makeup that we have.

Julye: Yeah. I would say, you know, change can be very difficult. A lot of people reject change because you know what they know what’s familiar, just feel so much more comfortable. It’s so much more automatic for them. But the reality is that our nation is changing and I would encourage people to, instead of looking at it with hesitation or fear or any of those types of emotions, to look at it with optimism and to look at it with excitement about what could be, you know, I look at this with a very excited view because they’re at no point in history and history, the us has have people of color have been the majority and not just a single group of people, but a, you know, a variety of different groups been such a prominent part of this of society. And so I think there’s so much rich opportunity for all of us in that. And so I would encourage people to, to adopt that type of attitude and perspective and move forward in ways that can help really support and engage the audiences they serve.

Sonia: Very cool. Thanks again, Julie, for stopping by.

Julye: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Sonia: All right. We got it. Let me stop it.