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Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Steve Alexander, Associate Editor
Bud Wayne, Marketing
& Production Manager
Christy Rivers -
Automation Workz created the Diversity Culture Audit to Stimulate Revenue Growth
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – April 12, 2021
CEOCFO: Ms. Byrd-
We put the word “processes” in our tagline, because initially, when technology and automation came out, people would use the same processes and then just put technology on top of it, which did not really generate any efficiency. However, when they add technology now, they ask “how do I change the process accordingly and make it accessible for all of my people?” to be able to utilize technology to make it more efficient to do business.
CEOCFO: Diversity, where does that come in?
CEOCFO: Are companies recognizing this more and more? Is it becoming mainstream? What have you seen and how are you helping to change the mindset?
I have never called myself a minority, because as a diverse person I am not less than. In the last year the conversation has shifted from having a conversation of someone being less than, to being just who they are and accepting them as they are and understanding that they are becoming bigger chunks of main stream America.
CEOCFO: Where are some of the areas companies are missing in marketing to a diverse community?
I find that many times companies do not spend time to get to know each one of the diversity chunks or segments and get to know what makes the people unique within those segments and then try to identify with them as it relates to their product. I will give you a good example. Proctor & Gamble is one very large company. It is very good at market segmentation and they get to know their customers, even in each diversity market, very well. Therefore, many of their products as segmented specifically for those customers. When you do that you find that you tend to see a lot of product, because you identify with that segment and understand what are their pains, their glories, their triumphs and the struggles, because that is how you sell products. People have to identify with you personally and understand that you understand their needs.
Often times, companies tend to just shoot things out and they make faux pas that are just very terrible. For example, a couple of years ago Gucci put out a hoodie, and man, when I looked at the hoodie it looked like a Ku Klux Klan outfit! I said, “Oh my, who allowed them to put that out to market like that!” Obviously, because they did not have people on their staff, because anyone that is of any diverse culture, particularly African American, would have said, “Time out! You cannot use that! If you put that out in the market, they are not only not going to not buy that from you, they are not going to buy any products from you, and that would be a death knell!” And I have to tell you, it was a death knell, because I bought a lot of Gucci and when I saw them put out that product, I have not bought a product since! It says to me that you did not invest the time to get to know the diversity market, to know that I would be offended by such an activity. Some companies do that quite a bit without making investments, getting to know the population.
CEOCFO: How do smaller companies encourage a diverse staff and also encourage a diverse staff to speak up?
For example, I worked at an engineering consulting firm and they had about two hundred and fifty employees and they wanted to get business from one of the largest counties in Michigan and that county had black leadership. I basically said to them, “No offence, but you have to go find a black engineer. At the time, we had none, so I scoured the country and found a great woman civil engineer who had a wonderful personality and said, “You need to hire her.” When they went to hire her they were hemming and hawing and hemming and hawing. Then I had to ask the question, “Do you really want the business, because you cannot relate to them and even though you have been around for fifty years you have never gotten business from that county. She will go in and can relate to that leadership and will take the business off of the table, because they can identify with each other.” They eventually hired her and she picked up that county in about sixty days flat, because not only was she very smart and articulate. She was beautiful, so connecting with the men in that facility, they enjoyed her company. It was so unusual to find a black woman in civil engineering, that they signed up with her because they figured that she obviously must be quite knowledgeable. Therefore, you have to look at the employee as an ambassador.
With that being said, if you see the employee as an ambassador, you have got to let that employee be free to be whoever they are. That is because they can teach you about the market that you do not know, because there are some things that will hurt you. For example, Adidas made a tennis shoe that had an anklet around the ankle. When I saw it, it looked like something you would put a slave in and they should never have made that mistake. However, because they did not have any marketing people who were African American or any product designing people who were African American, they made a faux pas. You have to be able to allow the employees to tell you how they feel, even if you do not agree with it, because sometimes they will lead you to an innovation that will create lots of business for you. However, you have to allow them to do that and to be able to speak freely, whether you agree with their statements or not. That is because they are teaching you about a market that you do not already know about.
CEOCFO: How are you at Automation Workz helping companies solve these problems?
I created the audit to be able to show them where they needed to put the attorneys and how best to utilize them. When the protests broke out last June, I took the audit back out, expanded it so that it not only just covers an individual department, but it covers an entire company. The bulk of the companies that we have been doing these audits for have been midsized companies. We look at all of their data, interview all of their top executives across the company, pool all the data together and present a report on where we think they are having shortcomings and then provide recommendations on how to improve specific departments. We have found that that has just been so eye opening to the companies who have submitted their information and participated in the audit. First of all, it gives them a road map of where they should go. However, it also gives them a definitive result of what types of biases that they are having internally that they may be blind to, because they do not see it themselves. We have found that that audit has been so critical in helping companies to improve recruitment, in their hiring, in their employee relations, in their marketing; all across the board.
I recommend that every company, particularly mid-
CEOCFO: What about political diversity?
CEOCFO: How do you reach out to potential clients or are people coming to you these days?
Our whole goal is to educate the world on how to look at diversity from a revenue and economic perspective, and not just from a social justice perspective. That is because, at the end of the day, businesses are in business to make money and while you hope that they will have impact socially, at the end of the day, you want the impact to be economic.
To me diversity is an economic imperative, probably more so than it is a social justice imperative. Therefore, we are hoping that as people continue to add to the newsletter, that they grow and expand in the understanding of how diversity can improve and increase their revenue.
CEOCFO: What has changed in your approach over time? What have you learned as you have worked with more and more organizations?
We have found that people are more open to the diversity market and seeing diverse clients. They just do not know how to begin. That is where we come in. We facilitate the conversation of how to begin, how to look at the Asian market, how to look at the African American market, how to cater to women, how to look at the LGBTQ and be able to help you sidestep the liturgical landmines that you may face if you just go out and do it blindly.
I have just found that they people just tend to be more open than Americans give them credit, it is just the issue of “How do I best do it.”
CEOCFO: There are many companies that can make a difference for an organization regarding diversity. Why take a look at Automation Workz? Why is Automation Workz important?
On our last diversity audit; we just got back from San Diego and we presented to a $200 million revenue company, and we presented their audit, they were literally like, “Oh, my; this is at the level of a large accounting consulting firm!” Absolutely, because all four of us, as the top management, have served at large firms and large consulting firms, so we know what product they are going to provide. However, we try to be reasonable in cost and a little bit more personable. That is what makes us unique.
The second thing that makes us extremely unique is that because most of my team have twenty to twenty-
CEOCFO: You really enjoy what you are doing! That comes through very clearly.
Automation Workz | Ida Byrd-
“Our whole goal is to educate the world on how to look at diversity from a revenue and economic perspective, and not just from a social justice perspective. That is because, at the end of the day, businesses are in business to make money and while you hope that they will have impact socially, at the end of the day, you want the impact to be economic.”