Feb 20 '20

Introducing New DEI Center Fellow Dr. Quinetta Roberson

Filene Fellow Dr. Quinetta Roberson joined the Filene Fill-In to talk about the work she’s embarking on with us over the next five years and why she feels this research is so groundbreaking not only for credit unions but for all businesses.

Holly Fearing

(00:00:11): Hello everyone. And welcome to the Filene Fill-In. I'm Holly Fearing with Filene. The Filene Fill-In is the podcast where we fill you in on what's been going on here at Filene's home base and out and about in the financial services world. On January 13th, 2020, Filene officially launched our new Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion led by Dr. Quinetta Roberson of Villanova university. This is a five-year research project to explore DEI opportunities and challenges for credit unions to better serve their members and attract, retain and develop top talent. We know that DEI research is not new to credit unions, nor is it new to Filene, past Filene work that is related to this effort, includes research on women in leadership, financial services for low income populations or people of color and how financial institutions can serve the LGBTQ+ community. We also know there are many others in the credit union system making important contributions in these areas.

Nonetheless, there remains much work to be done. The work of this Center will build on this foundation to conduct applied research, to help the industry better understand how to leverage diversity, equity and inclusion to create business value and drive performance. And we at Filene couldn't be more excited to let you get to know a little bit more about our research fellow, who will be leading us in this work.

Dr. Quinetta Roberson is the Fred J. Springer Endowed chair of business leadership and professor of management at Villanova University. Filene's Taylor Nelms and I got some time with her to talk about the work she's about to embark on with us and credit unions in this journey, why she feels this research, specifically looking at the interactions between the concepts of diversity equity and inclusion separately and together, is so groundbreaking not only for credit unions, but for all businesses, and how she came to find her passion for being a researcher and teacher. Stick around until the very end to learn what else Quinetta overachieves at, some of our favorite podcasts, plus a metaphorical look at our candy preferences and why it might be better to hang out with somebody who likes different flavored Starbursts than you.

I already knew the work we are embarking on through this research would fill my heart with a feeling of purpose, but after taking some time to get to know Quinetta better, I'm even more excited to see what we can do together. And I hope you'll come away feeling just as inspired to move this work forward.

Okay. I first want to start off by thanking you so much, Quinetta for agreeing to introduce yourself to our credit union audience by being interviewed on our podcast today. And I wanted to welcome you to the Filene Fellow family. As you know, you are our newest Filene Fellow for our Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. So I wanted to start us off with just a little bit from you, just talking about what that means to you to be leading Filene's research on diversity, equity and inclusion, especially for financial services. And just tell us the high level around what that really means.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:03:26): Yeah. I mean, you mentioned three things that I'm the newest Filene Fellow for the Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And I think in that highlights the reasons why I'm so excited. One, I think that my background in diversity, equity, inclusion is a passion of mine. I've done research in this space, teaching in this space, consulting in this space. I'm the one continuously, over the last 20 years, pushing that boulder up the hill. One of the people that's doing that. And so being able to continue that work is exciting. Of course, working with Filene is exciting, given all of the work that Filene does in the credit union space, all of the really thought provoking and groundbreaking research that Filene does. And so to partner with Filene is exciting, but then of course being the newest, there's some caches associated with that. So I'm excited to kind of trail blaze that way as well.

Holly Fearing

(00:04:34): Excellent. Well, welcome, Taylor, how did we come across Dr. Roberson for this role?

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:04:41): Well, we first came into touch with Quinetta through her relationship with a current fellow of Filene, Sekou Bermiss at the university of Texas-Austin, who leads the Center for The War for Talent. And if I'm not mistaken, Dr. Roberson and Dr. Bermiss have a little bit of a history in the academic world. So maybe Quinetta, you can tell us a little bit about how you first came into contact with Filene, and then I'll be happy to sort of talk a little bit about how we made the choice around who to lead the Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:05:21): It's interesting, cause I've known, Sekou for a while. And I actually remember when it was announced that he was going to be a Filene Fellow. I remember seeing it on Twitter and I was just like, ooo, what's that about? And, we talked about it and I was asking him, what does he have to do, et cetera? And I said, I want in on it. And he's like, are you serious? And I said, yeah. And he saw an opportunity later when there was a colloquium, the America's Got Talent colloquium at the University of Texas at Austin. And I attended, or I was invited to give a talk, and that is probably how that relationship with Filene began.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:06:14): And when I came on board at Filene and started the process of planning the new Centers of Excellence, the transition to new Centers of Excellence, we started to explore the academic space around diversity equity and inclusion research. We reached out to Sekou and he recommended that we take a look at Quinetta's portfolio. I read as much as I could of Quinetta's work, and it's impossible to read it all because she is profoundly prolific, but was immediately struck by a couple of things. One, her research is top notch. It's published in some of the leading management, organizational studies and other disciplinary journals. It's profoundly relevant to industry. And, it's translatable. Some of the insights from Quinetta's research are immediately actionable for organizations and across disciplines across industries, but especially financial services in part because Quinetta herself has a background in financial services. And so, you know, when we were reviewing candidates, potential candidates, to lead the Center for Diversity Equity and Inclusion, it was very quickly clear that Quinetta had everything that we thought it was going to take to be a leader for credit unions and to lead the research agenda for Filene.

Holly Fearing

(00:07:44): Well, we're certainly glad that all of that worked out to lead you and us to where we are now. I know that there's a lot of excitement around this topic and also a lot of hype around this topic. I know that our credit union audience is going to be really kind of eager to get to know you Quinetta and kind of where you come from and your perspective into this work. So can you start with a little bit of background on you around, you know, what led you to do this type of research and what your background of study is?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:08:22): Yeah, well, as Taylor mentioned, I have a background in the financial services. In high school, and I don't know if you wanted me to go back this far, but in high school I took an accounting class and I decided that I was going to be an accountant. And so that was my major in college until I took Tax and I was like, Oh, what else can I do that's related, but I don't have to do this stuff. I stumbled upon finance and I really liked finance, financial analysis, investments in capital markets. And so I ended up getting a degree in finance with a minor in accounting. I then went to get my MBA and I majored in, or concentrated in finance, and then got my first job as a financial analyst at a regional bank.

And interestingly, that was like the early nineties, and we were just starting to hear about diversity. Not that it wasn't a thing. We know that the world was changing in terms of the demography of the workforce, but we didn't hear much about that term diversity. And so you saw a lot of organizations, particularly driven by the war for talent that McKinsey put out and data on the changing demographics of the workforce that said, you know, we need to be able to deal with this trend. And I was actually at a bank that had a diversity initiative, which was pretty forward thinking at that time. And I got to be involved in it. And, you know, I did that for a couple of years, but then my bank was going through a right sizing and they were looking for people to voluntarily leave. And I asked myself two questions. What am I best at?/What am I best in? And, what do I love? And so the answer to both of those were school. So I tried to devise a way to be in school for the rest of my life, hence becoming a professor. And I found that people often say we study our lives, but I found myself wanting to understand this diversity phenomenon a bit more. And so I studied, issues of diversity. I studied issues of fairness and fair treatment in organizations. We didn't have the term inclusion at the time, that kind of evolved, but that was my foundation or my impetus for getting into this work.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:11:07): And Quinetta, tell us a little bit about how you, first of all, my understanding is that you got your MBA very young. So could you tell us a little bit about that, but also, could you tell us a little bit about how you alighted on research as a passion, and thinking about, you know, your time, you know, in a bank and maybe working in lending and how was it that research, you know, really resurfaced as a passion for you?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:11:36): I know I probably told you this story. I don't tell many people this story, but I did get my MBA by the time I was 21. That was always a goal of mine. I went to college when I was 16. I graduated college when I was 20. I wanted to get an MBA by the time I was 21. I'm an overachiever. But then also felt that I was too young to work. So I was like, I'll just keep going to school until I feel like it's time. It was kind of interesting though, because here I am in classes with all of my colleagues who were saying, Hey, do you want to go to happy hour after class? And I couldn't go, I'm like "have fun for me." But then, you know. So I went to the university of Pittsburgh, which had an 11 month MBA program.

So it helped me realize my dream. And that one year, I guess, was pretty enlightening for me where I've said, you know what? I feel like I can work now. And I was, as I mentioned, a financial analyst, but I don't know. I felt like I was executing and implementing, but I wasn't necessarily inventing or creating. And I wanted to be in that environment because I know that that's what drives me. I love the process of discovery and I stumbled upon an announcement that said that a professional organization was having a paper competition. So I decided to enter. And what I did was I would get to work by 7:00 AM so that I could finish my work by one and then spend the rest of the afternoon in the library working on my paper. And after about six weeks of that two things happened. One, I won the paper competition. In hindsight, I basically was pitching the idea of VR, a virtual bank. I think I created ING, but I didn't create it. So that's why I got to work for my money now.

But, the second thing that happened was that I had to go back to work and I was sad that I didn't have any research to do. I had no reason to be in the library every day. And so that really gave me some insight into myself. And so when the opportunity came to leave and to, you know, think about going back to school, I really, you know, had to do some reflection and I thought, you know, in answering those questions, what can I do that really fuels that passion where research is some key or primary part of my job. And that's how I pursued getting the PhD and becoming a professor.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:14:35): That's great. Thank you for sharing that. You know, as we think about your research on diversity, equity and inclusion, first on diversity and equity, and then later, you know, as inclusion became a more important part of the industry and research scene, you know, could you tell us a little bit about how and why DEI has become so important in business? You know, how is it a business imperative and why are so many businesses investing and sometimes struggling to approach it um, effectively?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:15:08): I think that when we first heard about diversity, probably in the nineties and early two thousands, it was the right thing to do. And it was that there needed to be this level playing field when we consider all the differences that exist in the workforce, how do we make it so that everyone is represented in an organization and has the ability to contribute? I think that then organizations started thinking about it in terms of, you know, we heard some about the business case. So how can this relate to the business? And one of the key ways we saw was in marketing. For example, we knew that with the changes in society, the demographic changes, it not only changed the workforce, but it changed consumer markets as well. So how do we better understand how to serve those consumer markets and, you know, in the process, be able to grow market share, be able to increase revenues, et cetera.

But then I think with when the economy changed probably around 2008, we really saw ourselves in a place where, what got measured, got done and anything that was a cost center that wasn't generating revenues really started to be trimmed down. And those things, particularly those talent initiatives, were being scrutinized to see are they making us money? And so that really made the business case or the business imperative even more important. So you saw organizations really looking inward to say, what does this do right? Where are we either losing money or not making money? Were we leaving money on the table or missing opportunities? And they started to really tie it to their performance and effectiveness. And I think that's where we are now. Organizations are still trying to struggle to understand that. And part of it is, you know, having a strategic perspective, a lot of times organizations don't think about DEI as a part of a business, but something that's more standalone. Something that's, you know, under the umbrella of talent, but it's a practice. It's very practice driven. And so that's where part of the struggle comes in to understand really how can this create value in an organization? How can it actually help to drive organizational effectiveness, drive growth and drive performance?

Holly Fearing

(00:17:50): I'm glad that you are driven by a passion to focus on research, because I know that we have a lot to research on this topic yet. And like you said, I think that it's no new concept, not even in the business context, around diversity, equity and inclusion being part of the workplace and that it is adding definite tangible business value, but it still seems to be something that's misunderstood or inaccurately, you know, attempted to be strategized. So can you speak to, like, what is it that's so difficult about it, that what is misunderstood in a business context around DEI and why is it, while we know it's so important, why is it something that businesses continue to struggle with?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:18:42): I think there's three reasons that businesses struggle with DEI. The first is just the concepts. To some degree, I hear people say diversity, equity and inclusion as if it's one word and they treat it accordingly. So they become this one thing. We manage diversity, equity and inclusion, and by lumping them together, there's no understanding of really what that's about or what happens is that they become interchangeable. We manage diversity, we manage equity, we manage inclusion without necessarily understanding the complete picture. It just becomes this thing that we do. And this thing is often delegated to someone else. It's delegated to the HR department. It's delegated to the Chief Diversity Officer. Again, it seems to be an initiative or a practice rather than something that's part of the DNA of organizations. And so with that, a lot of people will look at it and say, what's in it for me, or actually say that doesn't have anything to do with me, but everyone has skin in the game.

We manage diversity, we manage equity, we manage inclusion without necessarily understanding the complete picture. It just becomes this thing that we do.

There is a, you know, diversity, managing diversity, is incumbent upon all of us. If I'm on a team that is, you know, people of different geographical locations, different functional backgrounds, different tenures in the organization, then we need to try to figure out how to effectively work together. That's what diversity is about and how do we leverage those differences in order to create some kind of magic and some kind of synergy that is better than we could be individually, but I don't think people necessarily think about it that way. Again, it becomes very practice driven. Oh, we have diversity training. Oh, we have coaching and mentoring, Oh, we have this recruitment initiative to increase the number of X. But it's not necessarily thought about as a whole thing that relates to what the organization

Holly Fearing

(00:20:48): Hmmhmm. Can you share a little bit more about what you see the differences between diversity, equity and inclusion, and then at the same time, why it's so important that they're kind of all together as a unit?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:21:00): Yeah. I was just at this conference about a week ago, and I don't know if you've ever heard this like dance metaphor. It's like, diversity is being asked to the dance, inclusion is about being asked to dance, and equity is about having your music played and there's something. And it's like the worst metaphor ever.

It's terrible. But, so diversity is about any difference, right? I've mentioned a few diversity of thinking, functional background, tenure age. People will talk about gender race. It could be any difference. Sometimes I'll talk about left-handed versus right-handed. And if I say left-handed versus right-handed, there will be some people say, Whoa, wait a minute. Now you're diluting the definition. But in some of my work environments, right hand versus left-handed is important because if I'm working in a classroom, if I'm teaching a classroom that has individual desks and most of the desks tend to be right-handed desks, then my left-handed students have to navigate those right-handed desks. What I notice is that if I have them work with a partner or talk to someone in the room, they rarely talk to the person on their left side, because they're so busy navigating the right-handed desk. That person becomes, it becomes a barrier to the person on their left side.

Inclusion is about the opportunity for everyone to be fully contributing members and meaningfully contributing members of an organization.

They exclude that person. They are just naturally closer to the person on their right. And I note that because that's what inclusion is about. Inclusion is about the opportunity for everyone to be fully contributing members and meaningfully contributing members of an organization. But we need to have equitable systems and practices and tools in order for people to be able to do that. So, you know, I've seen leaders say, Well, I'm inclusive. And when I ask them what they do, there's nothing really actionable in it. And sometimes they need those, you know, we need to look to make sure that it's not just what the way leaders are interacting with their direct reports. But thinking about the practices. Are any of our employees falling by the wayside or being marginalized or unable to contribute just by the nature of the way we go about doing business or our talent management practices? So DEI are all related, but you kind of need them to tell a complete story. You have the differences, but you have to make sure that the systems doesn't throw anybody out of the opportunity system or prevent them from having access. And inclusion is, you know, making sure that there's an environment where they feel respected, and valued, and welcome, and really are motivated and engaged to be able to make those contributions.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:23:57): Yeah, it sounds like there are clear links between these three concepts in the way that they manifest in reality. And, you know, for example, it's clear that in any group of people in any organization, you're going to have lots of different kinds of differences, but it's the systems of inclusion and equity that are going to structure, which ones produce exclusion, which ones come to matter as differences, and which are simply a part of people's relationships. And that goes kind of unmarked, right? So can you tell us a little bit about how and why diversity has to come alongside inclusion and equity in order to have an impact for both organizations and for individuals?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:24:47): You know, it's interesting from a research standpoint, I study equity first. So before I was really studying diversity, because you didn't see a lot of it in the research literature, I was studying issues of equity. So who gets treated fairly versus who gets treated unfairly. Or, you know, what are the different types of relationships managers will have with members of their team? And that's pure, you know, again, fairness, that's equity, but people assume that diversity is then the separate kind of thing. But when we hear organizations say we need more diversity. And what they may be saying is, you know, we don't have a representation of women in our workforce that represents our customer base or that represents where we operate in terms of geographic location, but there's diversity in every organization. And it's figuring out how it influences the work that gets done.

And then the equity is so that all of those people, regardless of characteristics or background, have the same opportunities and the same access to information and those opportunities. So then to me, those two are related and they're already there. So the secret sauce becomes inclusion, right? That's the systemic thing. That's the word that you just said, Taylor, that like kind of brings it all together and makes sure that everything is running the way it should so that every single person can be his or her best self at work or in whatever the environment is. And I say that, you know, reflecting on research does not link these three things together. I can't think of any study right now. So here's probably goal number one or task number one for us. But there's nothing to show that diversity, equity and inclusion reinforce each other. But when we look at the way organizations operate, they are, you know, they do reinforce each other. And so it's kind of showing it's linking that research and practice and be able to show why this is, you know, the trifecta in order for people to really be effective and for organizations to be effective overall.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:27:29): Yeah, I'm really struck by this notion that whether you realize it or not, you're making decisions about diversity and equity and probably inclusion and exclusion, right. Whether you're being explicit or intentional, or being implicit and really haphazard and unintentional, right. The choices that you make in an organization, whether they're inward facing or outward facing are gonna have implications for diversity, equity and inclusion. So, you know, part of the job is to really surface how important it is to be explicit and intentional about the choices that you're making from a DEI perspective. So I wonder if you could talk a little bit about from your perspective, maybe these are hypotheses, but, you know, from your perspective, what are some of those firm level benefits or value that a really careful, explicit and intentional approach to DEI might have?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:28:25): Well, I did research about 15 years ago, I used to teach a diversity course and I would invite guest speakers in. And usually sometime within the first five PowerPoint slides, they would tell me how many X they had in leadership or on their board. So we've got this many women, we have this many, you know, racial minorities or they would tell me how many diversity awards they won. And just after seeing that time and time again, I was like, so what? right. Why does this matter? And so being the researcher, I set out to test that, to see, does it have any impact on financial performance? And that was an opportunity for me to kind of combine my passion for diversity work with my financial background.

And the punch line is that I found a relationship, but it was a curved linear relationship where u-shaped relationship, which basically says at lower levels of diversity. So the inflection point was about 22%. If you had less than 22% women or minorities on your leadership team, you actually saw a decrease in financial performance, but around 22/24%, you saw an increase. So why is that? Why if we have some diversity, it actually decreases what we do or our effectiveness, our financial performance, but at a certain point, it enhances it. And what we speculate is that it's this issue of critical mass and also using diversity. And so, you know, there are some organizations that will say, Hey, we have a female COO, we have an Asian American woman who leads our marketing department. And I'm like, okay. And what? But if they're just using that person or valuing that person for their group membership, they're kind of wasting the beauty or the benefits of diversity.

They're not taking into consideration that person's unique skillset or background or knowledge or network, all of these things that diversity brings. And so my research shows that there is a relationship to financial performance in terms of top line growth revenues, in terms of bottom line growth, net income, you know, it actually has some efficiency outcomes. It improves organization's financial returns return on assets return on investment, but it doesn't talk about how that happens. And so the organizations that do this well are able to think about where are the value creating areas of their organization, where those meaningful positions or those mission critical where mission critical work is being done and making sure that they're leveraging diversity in those spaces in particular, to get out the better problem solving, the creativity, the innovation, all of the things that we know that come from diversity and being able to leverage that in order to get to the firm performance.

Holly Fearing

(00:32:10): As I'm listening to you talk about this, I feel like there's kind of this underlying foundation under the concepts of DEI around power dynamics and essentially who makes decisions. Do you feel like that has anything to do with when it's in a workplace context that naturally has hierarchical structures, and there are people that make decisions on behalf of other people, and there are leaders. Does that complicate the ability to really fulfill the ideas of DEI?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:32:45): It definitely, I think power and status can be dimensions of diversity themselves. We can see different industries that are really diverse in terms of demographics, but if you took a slice of those organizations, the diversity is concentrated either in certain areas of the business or at the lower levels. So without that diversity being kind of infused throughout the organization, again, we're not realizing the full benefits.

...without that diversity being kind of infused throughout the organization...we're not realizing the full benefits.

The other thing to your point, Holly, I think is really interesting is that this issue of like hierarchy or level in the organization or where people even are in terms of areas of the business can often drive their experience. You know, what do they have access to? Who do they have access to? What conversations are they a part of? What promotion opportunities do they have or development opportunities? And so that becomes a diversity dimension in and of itself, that level changes people's experience in the organization. And so, part of inclusion is understanding how people's experience at work differs depending on where they are and what their job title is. And those are all things that relate to power and status.

Holly Fearing

(00:34:16): So clearly it's very complex. And, uh, I think that there's a lot of different angles to take at this. So I wanted to get your thoughts on kind of in this work as the fellow, for the center, what are some of the things that you're most looking forward to getting into in this first few months of work in this role? And then also kind of looking in the long game, five years down the road, what is your hope that we might have then that we don't have now?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:34:49): Oh gosh. So, um, as you have, so astutely noted, there's so much to be done, but just in our initial planning, we've tried to identify what we think would be some really impactful initiatives and outputs for the center. One is this concept paper on DEI so that people understand what they are and what they're doing in the credit union industry. And I think it's, this is the same across industries. There needs to be this common framework or this common basis of operating. So we're all talking about the same thing. And so one of the initial things we want to do is to talk about diversity, to talk about equity, to talk about inclusion, to talk about what the relationship is between them. What are some of the outcomes? What are some of the challenges? And then, you know, what are some things to think about as we do this work going forward?

So that's meant to be our foundational work, but then like, as I mentioned, I've done work to understand what's the value for DEI and organizations in terms of how does it drive performance? And I have my research shows that there are certain, you know, value creating areas. For example, we know that diversity brings about greater innovation and creativity. And so maybe having diversity in an R and D space is important, or if you are a very service driven industry, making sure that there is diversity, equity inclusion and those places that have direct or frequent touch with consumers, even though I have an idea of what that looks like across organizations in general, I think what excites me about this fellow ship and being able to work with Filene is the unique business model. And the fact that we're talking about this environment, this cooperative financial environment, that's owned and operated by members, which is very unique.

And so what do DEI look like among different stakeholders. So not only among employees, but among members. Thinking about what does that do in terms of providing member service, current members, their member experience, but also attracting new members. So I think that there's some unique features of credit unions and unique value creating areas. And so we want to come up with this idea based framework for understanding how DEI can drive performance and success in credit unions. We also talked about, um, a benchmarking survey that, you know, there seems to be many credit unions who, you know, everyone's can on a DEI journey, but there'll be at different stages. And they want to know, you know, where they are relative to other credit unions. They want to know, you know, where should they be applying their focus and resources at that point of their journey.

And so we think that it could be important to do some data collection and some benchmarking to get an idea of the current state of DEI and credit unions and give people a way to measure progress. Those are the three major things we talked about. We also talked about, it'd be interesting to have some more qualitative data, maybe some case studies on credit unions DEI journeys, that people can understand that you're not alone. And here are the successes, and here are the challenges, and here are the considerations, but really understanding, you know, getting more into Hollywood. You mentioned some of the complexities of DEI what's the role of the leader. Um, are there other things that need to be in place in order for this to work or for, to be effective? So I think let's see, I named like four things. I think it should take me to 2024

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:39:18): Quinetta. When you think about this sort of broader network or broader range of research, that's going on in this space, what really gets you excited? What are the really cutting edge questions that people are asking about diversity, equity and inclusion?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:39:35): I think that we have become stuck in this best practice space, and people want to know what are the best practices. There are, you know, there are awards for best practices. There are, you know, things written about lists of best practices. But I think even though we read and we hear about those things where organizations struggle is that when one organization says it's a best practice, really what that means is, it's best for them. And so why does it work right? And what makes it work or what are the things that they experienced that always work were there times that it didn't work? How does it evolve? And so I think that some organizations are still trying to understand what do we do? And the challenge is that it's not a one size fits all. I can't just say, you know what, go get diversity training and that'll fix everything because it can't, and diversity training differs, or, you know, recruiting initiatives, building a pipeline where you go and who you need, those things all differ.

And so I think I get a lot of questions about the how. Like, how do we go about doing this? Another thing a question is about leadership, how to train leaders, how to develop leaders, so that they're more inclusive because as many practices as we might put in place, those practices have to be enacted. And so we need people who are good leaders. It, this is just part of what they do and no matter who is on their team, that they can deal with those differences. They can treat people fairly and they can create an environment where everyone can succeed. So that becomes, uh, another question. And then, um, you know, people just love seeing the outcomes, the financial data, if you can show, you know, that we were able to, you know, this related to some kind of key performance indicator, we were able to increase our revenues, or we were able to grow by this much.

People love that kind of stuff. And so they'll usually ask me, give me a company, give me a name of an organization who does it well, and everybody doesn't do everything well, but I can give them examples of outcomes and those considerations and things that they need to think about. So, so, you know, one of the things I'm excited about right now is being able to really make evidence based solutions to this, or to really give people guidance that they can use tomorrow. And I think that's really overall what organizations are craving we're beyond the con conceptual we're beyond the theoretical, but how do I do this and how do I get the most return, the biggest and fastest return on my investment, um, to be able to show that it actually is meaningful. Um, but then also, you know, organizations have ways that they determine their effectiveness. People are evaluated on a quarter and an annual basis. So how do I become more effective overall as well? And so I think people understanding what's in it for them and how to actually do it is really what the burning platform is.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:43:11): Yeah. And it seems like the, you know, to drive at and sort of identify some of those evidence based solutions really requires digging into the, how, as you said, right? Like, how is it that diverse, you know, what are the conditions necessary such that diversity can produce value for individuals and for the organization, right? How is it that diversity, equity and inclusion interlock to produce that magic? Cause you said earlier, so, you know, I think for me too, that's a really exciting area for us to dig into is that, you know, like what is it about these things that makes them work both in terms of improving individual's wellbeing and in terms of improving firm performance,

Holly Fearing

(00:43:55): The topic feels like in particular too, maybe even more so than some of our other research topics that it's very conducive to in person conversations. So I'm very excited about the events that we're going to have and bring people together to talk about this. Cause I think that's when a lot of things actually get activated and people actually get it when you just are together talking about this. And, um, there's just something about it that doesn't get translated quite as well through written word. And so I'm very excited that our first event

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:44:32): For this center is going to be in September in Philadelphia. Yeah. Quinetta, can you maybe talk a little bit about, you know, the theme for that event and you know, what people might expect from being able to come together and talk in person around this topic?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:44:43): I agree with Holly, that being able to talk about it is important, um, from the standpoint of, you know, when you get people together and we can do some collaborative problem solving and learning, that's what diversity is actually about, right? That's the, that's the beauty of it. That's where the magic happens. And so the title is beyond diversity, the value and impact of DEI for credit unions. And I think, and I, and I used those words in our conversation time and time again, but value and impact. I think that a lot of times when people hear diversity and/or inclusion, it conjures up pictures of like, you know, a circle where people like holding hands and seeing kumbaya, there might be some tears or something like that. And it's not this, you know, business imperative. But when I talk about DEI and this probably I'm a product of my background, my work experience, but I actually start with the end story, right.

At the end of the quarter, at the end of the year, how do you know that you've been successful? Or how do you know that you've been effective? Part of that is people understanding their metrics, understanding their strategy, just understanding their business. Then we can start to back into the DEI story, right? So how do people relate to those metrics in that strategy and how work gets done? And then what are the ways that diversity, equity and inclusion that you see now either drives that or hinders that? And if it drives it, we want to leverage that and do more of that. And if it hinders it, we want to figure out how to address that. And so I think, you know, that understanding where the levers are to create value and understanding really how to leverage DEI, to make credit unions bigger, faster, stronger, whatever it is, more effective overall, that's what we want to talk about. Or that's what my goal is that we do talk about. We wrestle with that and we walk away at least all feeling like we've had some idea how to do it better. And we've drawn from all of the expertise, the knowledge, the experience in the room.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:47:19): That's fantastic. I'm, I know I'm excited to be a fly on the wall in that room. So Quinetta, you're a researcher, you're a professor, you're a teacher, you've done consulting work. Um, but obviously in this world, uh, you know, we all do, we're all more than our jobs. So can you tell us a little bit about what you do in your, your kind of non professor time?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:47:43): Uh, I do research, no,

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:47:47): Like, like all good academics. You, uh, you read books and think, right? 100% of the time.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:47:53): So I actually do read books. Um, I read because I usually read in the evenings. I remember when I was trying to get tenure. I remember this one period of time when I feel like I was doing statistics in my sleep and I was like, this is not good. I will, I will have a "Beautiful Mind" sooner than I want to.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:48:15): That's not sustainable.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:48:17): Right. So I decided to that I needed to decompress and I love reading. So that helps me do that. Um, but I'm a podcast junkie. I am an adrenaline junkie. So anything that moves like fast and is slightly dangerous, I kind of love, but under that umbrella, um, I really I'm an avid snowboarder.

Holly Fearing

(00:48:38): Cool. That's really cool. I didn't know that. Yeah.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:48:41): Yeah. And, uh, and I'm a trained sommelier.

Holly Fearing

(00:48:46): That is so interesting. Tell us more about that. How did you get into wine?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:48:53): I just drank a lot. No,

Holly Fearing

(00:48:57): We're all sommeliers then.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:48:57): Oh, I am not.

Holly Fearing

(00:49:02): Well, I mean, if just drinking a lot is the only qualification.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:49:07): So, you know, I was a professor Cornell, which is located in upstate New York in the finger lakes region, which, um, at the time was the second most wine producing state. New York was the second most wine producing state after California. I think it's Oregon now and then New York. But, um, there's the finger lakes wine festival is every year. And I would go every year with friends and probably after about five years, this woman at a vineyard said, well, you obviously know wine and love wine. Do you want to pour wine? And I was like, I don't need another job. And she said, Oh, cause you get paid in wine. And I was like, Oh, Oh yeah, I heard angels singing. And so, um, I started working wine competitions.

Um, I was actually, the, my role was the person who ran the scoring sheets after the judges had scored the wines. And I got to talk to them about like, what was it about wine, the wine that they thought were award winners, et cetera. Um, and so I just got to learn a little bit, but then when I moved to back to Philadelphia, I thought my wine career was over, but there was a wine school in the city. And I took two classes that required me to do like blind tastings and take exams. And the instructor said, you know, if you take like six more classes, you can get a degree. And the overachiever would be says, Oh, okay. I need a bachelor's in wine yeah. So I did that. And in 14 I got a baccalauréat devoir. My French is awful, but that's what it was. Um, but I can't really carry my wine degree around and people always want to ask questions. Well, is it accredited? And when, and you know, whatever. And so, um, I took level one of the Guild of master sommelier's exam. If you've ever seen the documentary Somme they're studying for their level four, I feel can pass level one and you get a pin when you pass. And so I've been in different places and different countries with the pin one and people have recognized it. So, um, gives me a little cachet.

Holly Fearing

(00:51:34): Yeah.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:51:36): Yeah. Just, quite a bit of cred. It seems to me.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:51:40): Yeah. Um, level two has a service component, which I was studying for because I'm not in the industry. Um, and so I need to make that part of my muscle memory. Cause you have to like, how do you get the open champagne without it making a noise? Um, you have to pour it from the dimple at the bottom of the bottle. You have to fold a serviette. And I don't know how to do that stuff. So I've got to learn. And most of the people in this city who are studying for their level three and level four, I know them and they've invited me to join them. But their study sessions are like 12 o'clock in the morning after they get off work.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:52:19): Oh, right. Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:52:21): That's not conducive to a professor schedule.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:52:24): No, but maybe, maybe we can build some opportunities for practice in the future Filene events.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:52:29): Definitely practice. And I also want to figure out a way to, I have a, a wine study in mind, so yeah,

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:52:38): That sounds awesome. Maybe we need to put a little wine study in the Filene offices.

Holly Fearing

(00:52:44): I think I need to brush up my beer knowledge with more wine knowledge so we can, um, we can trade notes because, um, yeah. I always am looking for learning more about wine.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:52:55): Yeah, you have to be well rounded.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:52:57): I'm always looking to be served wine so

Quinetta Roberson

(00:53:03): I can come practice.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:53:04): Yeah. Anytime. No, that's really, that's really cool. I mean, I think it's awesome for listeners to hear, uh, the kind of story behind the research, so to speak, um, you know, professors are human beings like everybody else, although, um, it doesn't always seem that way. And so, you know, I, it's a really awesome story to hear about your snowboarding and um, you know, uh, wine knowledge prowess.

Yeah. And, and I have to ask, since you said you were a podcast junkie, so besides the Filene Fill-In podcasts, what is your favorite podcast to listen to?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:53:41): Oh, um, I'm, I'm channeling my husband because there's some that, like he says, I either have boring podcasts or have ratchet podcasts. So he was embarrassed either way. Um,

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:54:00): Maybe give us one of each category.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:54:03): I love Ted radio hour, but now the host guy Roz is leaving. And so I don't know if that's going to change it. So they're in this transition period right now, but so if given that that's in transition, it would either be, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me or Code Switch. They're kind of all NPR ones. Um, ratchet one. TI has a podcast called Expeditiously, which is probably terrible, but I love it.

Holly Fearing

(00:54:36): That's awesome.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:54:36): That is awesome.

Holly Fearing

(00:54:39): All right. Good recommendations for our listeners.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:54:42): Holly, do you have any podcasts recommendations?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:54:44): I know I'm always taking recommendations.

Holly Fearing

(00:54:46): Yeah, um, I love Hidden Brain. Um, but I I'm like you I'm all about the NPR ones and WNYC studios, podcasts. They're all good. Yep. Any one of those you can't go wrong with

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:54:59): One of, uh, one of Filene's Fellows was just on the Hidden Brain. Yep. Yep. So, Quinetta, maybe we can get you on the Hidden Brain next.

Holly Fearing

(00:55:08): Yeah. You are an overachiever. So...

Quinetta Roberson

(00:55:09): I would love it.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:55:12): Maybe we need to set that as a, as one of our outcome goals for the center.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:55:17): Well, I, I heard, um, I think in the other podcast, I think, um, Sekou said he was a podcast junkie and he was like, if you like podcasts, you're a nerd or something. And, and he said, and you, Holly, you said that there was like a bad nerd and a good nerd.

Holly Fearing

(00:55:33): Yeah. There is

Quinetta Roberson

(00:55:37): So Hidden Brain. Hidden Brain is good.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:55:39): Yeah. That'd be good nerd for sure. It a joke in the office is that I don't like podcasts. You joke, I'm the only one apparently in the world. Yeah.

No, you like vehemently hate them, but you are on them and you like that.

I think that that is the problem is that the podcast needs less of people like me on them. Honestly, we need, we need a DEI initiative for podcasting.

Holly Fearing

(00:56:06): Well, yeah, I did that.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:56:08): My analogy to that is that I hate chocolate and everyone thinks that I'm like out of my mind, they're like, how's it possible? And I told the folks at work that we didn't have an inclusive environment because all you saw was chocolate in the, in the school. And so they were like, so then like the admin got me the worst, but the most delicious, um, like candy, like Halloween candy. So

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:56:36): Yeah. So if you're, if you're not into chocolate, are you more of like a savory, get more into like savory flavors?

Quinetta Roberson

(00:56:42): Yup

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:56:45): I think that's acceptable.

Holly Fearing

(00:56:48): I like being around people that don't like chocolate, because that means there's more chocolate for me. I don't know why people would want everybody else to like the same things that they liked.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:56:56): We're just competing for the same limited resource. And this feels like

Quinetta Roberson

(00:57:01): That takes us full circle to DEI, right? You don't wanna be around fellow chocolate lovers. They don't even want to be around people who like different things.

Holly Fearing

(00:57:10): Yeah. I just discovered with my marketing team that we had a bag of Starburst and there were four of us and each one of us had a different color preference. And I was like, you guys, this is 100% perfect. We are the perfect team for splitting a bag of Starburst.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:57:27): What's your preference?

Holly Fearing

(00:57:28): Mine is the orange.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:57:30): Oh, huh.

Holly Fearing

(00:57:33): I was really surprised that we had somebody that liked the lemon cause that to me-

Quinetta Roberson

(00:57:38): I love lemon! See! That's awesome. To me, the lemon tastes like, like the way pledge smells. So I would give you all the lemons.

I listened to a podcast episode of a podcast that was entitled "The Lemon Starburts is Trash." And I was like, that's aggressive. I thought that was too aggressive.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:58:01): That's too much. That's too much. One step too far. I feel like you, you can, you can express your preferences are dispreferences, but that don't, don't go trashing other people.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:58:10): Right. watch the words you use, that exclusion. You can't marginalize people.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:58:10): Exactly. It's really work on our cultural.

Holly Fearing

(00:58:16): I'm glad that somebody likes the lemons. Cause I don't want them to go to waste and they just build up

Quinetta Roberson

(00:58:20): I don't like the cherry. So I'm usually everybody's friend.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:58:23): Yeah. I like them all. I actually don't think I have a preference among Starbursts.

Holly Fearing

(00:58:29):You just want to eat the whole bag by yourself?

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:58:30): I would eat the whole bag. Yes, that's true.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:58:33): You're not discriminating.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:58:37): I was about to make a joke about being colorblind, but I won't do that.

Holly Fearing

(00:58:41): Maybe at one of our first reports needs to be like analogies of chocolate and candy and all of that when we try to explain DEI.

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:58:50): It sounds like a good April, April 1st DEI report.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:58:54): I think at the event, that's like we, we can almost do a study where we have like some chocolate and some Starbursts and like something else out and see which ones go faster

Taylor C. Nelms

(00:59:08): Or, or we could use it as a, as a prop in some kind of a workshop on, you know, how to strategize for inclusive organizations.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:59:16): Yep.

Holly Fearing

(00:59:18): Cool.

Quinetta Roberson

(00:59:18): I like to way you think.

Holly Fearing

(00:59:22): Well, there's so much work to do that. We, we all need to go get to it and figure out that Starburst game now. I want to thank you so much for lending your time to us today. This has been a really fun conversation and I really look forward to all the stuff that, um, comes out of the center and particularly, you know, from, from your research and from your passion on this topic, I think we're really fortunate to have you

Quinetta Roberson

(00:59:49): Well, I thank you for having me. Thank you for, you know, slow-walking me through this, particularly with, um, probably 70% of a voice. Um, but it's, it's been a great, I've enjoyed the conversation and I don't know if it's possible, but I'm even more excited about, um, the Center.

Holly Fearing

(01:00:10): That's awesome.

Taylor C. Nelms

(01:00:11): Thank you so much, Quinetta. It's been an absolute pleasure.

Quinetta Roberson

(01:00:14): Thank you.

Holly Fearing

(01:00:19): Alright. That's it for the Fill-In folks. Thank you for listening and thank you so very, very much, Quinetta, for taking the time to speak with us with only 70% of your voice. And despite having to go off and teach several hours of classes afterward, you really are an overachiever and we're all lifted because of your dedication to your work. I also want to thank Filene's credit union partners without which this work would not be possible generous support for the Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is provided by State Department Federal Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union, United Nations Federal Credit Union, UW Credit Union and Exceed Financial Federal Credit Union. If you're listening and feeling inspired and wondering what you can do to get more involved in this work, your organization too, has an opportunity to get involved as a supporter and partner in our inner circle, visit Filene.org slash inner circle for more information.

And if you want to learn more about the center's inaugural research event that we mentioned on September 15th and 16th in Philadelphia, visit Filene.org slash events for details. Lastly, if you liked this episode, please do rate us on Apple Podcast. So more people can find us and make sure you're subscribed to the Filene Fill-In podcast. So you can keep up with what's going on at Filene you'll find us on Apple podcast, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Google play, or wherever you get your podcasts to get in touch about today's show, email me at [email protected] or find us on Twitter at Filene research until next time. Thanks everyone.