- What does a disability-inclusive workplace culture look like and focus on?
- What workplace challenges do people of color, including executives, face?
- How can organizations, coaches, managers and employees answer these challenges, and what role can CliftonStrengths play?
When we think about people with disabilities, we often see what they can't do. But what happens -- for organizations, managers, coaches and employees -- when the focus changes to what they can do? How can CliftonStrengths aid the efforts of people who have disabilities -- as well as people of color and other marginalized communities -- to be their authentic selves? Join Dr. Jennifer Camota Luebke, Chief Workplace Inclusion Officer for Pride Industries -- an organization that has worked with people who have disabilities for 55 years -- and learn more.
Thinking about strengths and ... what someone can do, instead of trying to ... fit them into some sort of box for a role that you need, thinking about it from a person-centered viewpoint is extremely helpful and important.Jennifer Camota Luebke, 31:19
There are a lot of parallels to people's talents and ... the CliftonStrengths methodology and approach, in terms of acceptance and really embracing people who are different, and really loving and accepting them for who they are.Jennifer Camota Luebke, 38:03
I don't expect people to be perfect. What I do expect is that people try to understand ... people with disabilities ... Try to understand and be willing to be corrected or be willing to learn is really the bottom line there.Jennifer Camota Luebke, 55:08
Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on May 11, 2022.
Meet Our Guest on This Episode
Jim Collison 0:19
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live on our live page, gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/live, there's a link right above me -- actually, right above Jennifer over there -- that will take you to the YouTube page that has a chat room. We'd love to take your questions live. If you're listening to the podcast or on the YouTube video after the fact, you can always send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app or right there on YouTube, so you never miss an episode. Dr. Jennifer Camota Luebke is my guest today. She's a Social Enterprise Executive and former higher education Associate Dean and corporate business leader. Jennifer is passionate and intentional about advocating for people with disabilities to be included in workplaces, educational institutions and communities. She's also a Gallup-Certified Strengths Leadership and Development Team Coach, specializing in elevating emerging C-suite executives of color who lead startups, organizational changes, and enterprisewide business transformations. Her CliftonStrengths Top 5 are Strategic, Achiever, Relator, Arranger and Self-Assurance. Jennifer, welcome to Called to Coach!
Jennifer Camota Luebke 1:39
Thank you, Jim. It's great to be here.
Jim Collison 1:41
So great to have you today. I'm looking forward to our conversation. Let's get to know you a little bit. I read some really important words about you to get started. But I think it's even more important about what you say about yourself. So let's get to know you a little bit. If I was meeting you for the first time, what would you tell me?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 1:58
Well, I'm best known -- and it wasn't in my bio -- but I'm best known for being the mom to Antonio. Antonio is 23 years old. He's a college student; he, he attends Georgia Tech. And he has an intellectual disability. And so I have really crafted much of my career around his needs. And what I mean by that is, you know, I went into higher education because it was, quite frankly, a slower-paced organization, where I could also attend to my son's needs. And I also joined a lot of nonprofit boards that advocated for people with disabilities. So I think that's what I'm best known for. And my background includes 15 years in corporate accounting, 5 years in higher education, and then many years in change management, coaching, and in nonprofits.
Jim Collison 2:58
If Antonio had not had the disabilities, do you think you would have gotten into that subject as deeply, having a son that had that? Would, did drive it you more towards it?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 3:08
Absolutely. I most likely would not have gotten into this, this area. My son has influenced a lot of my choices in my life and also has really taught me so many things -- primarily kindness, compassion, patience, these are not things I normally am as a person. So the fact that he was born with global, global developmental delays, has a disability and I had to advocate for him, I had to talk to doctors and figure out -- initially, it was figuring out what was wrong with him. I really had a, you know, an unclear and, you know, understanding really of his disability and what I should do about it as his, as his parent. But I definitely would not have gotten into this field if it wasn't for him. So I'm really grateful that he taught me a lot.
Jim Collison 4:05
Life often leads in those directions for us, I think, if we have our eyes open to them. Our own children give us the opportunity or those we, those we parent give us the opportunity to dive into those fields. Let's talk a little bit about your doctorate, because you spent a lot of time getting that, and it's super important. So tell me, tell me a little bit about what that was in and the research around it.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 4:26
Right. So I attended the University of San Francisco and got my doctorate in education, with a focus on leadership and organization. And my research was on leaders of faith-based private schools, K through 12 private schools, that educated students with some sort of learning disorder, educated students with various disabilities -- that they were actually doing something about working with students who are different. And the reason that that's important is because private schools are not required by law, as public schools are, to educate students with disabilities and learning disabilities. So they're doing it voluntarily. There is a tenet of faith or something else that drives them to do it.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 5:16
And most schools, most faith-based schools, exclude students that have more significant disabilities. And this came about because I attended a faith-based school when I was in kindergarten through 8th grade, and I had intended for my son to attend that same school. When I approached the school, they said to me that they didn't have the resources to educate him. And something about that just didn't sit well. I proceeded to talk to many schools in the area. And 23 schools said, No; they said that they could not educate him. And I thought that there was an injustice and something very wrong about that. So that took me on my journey to doing the research. I went to seven different states, talked to about 21 different schools; 11 of them made it into my research and wrote about it.
Strengths-Based, Disability-Inclusive Cultures
Jim Collison 6:12
That's, that's, that's important in the, in the work, especially from that, from access and availability to that education. And so thanks for doing that work. And hopefully that will continue to pay forward to the work that we're doing, and schools get an opportunity in that to learn from that. So thanks for, thanks for doing that. We have a bunch of Certified and some not-certified coaches that are listening to this program today, either live or on the recorded version. I really want to ask and kind of get this kind of kicked off by asking this question about building strengths-based cultures that align with disability-inclusive cultures. And I think everybody's always, you know, recently, we've been working on some, you know, the availability of the, just the theme names in ASL. How can we get our themes signed? Like, that's just an, that's just a small little tiny area of where that aligns. But talk a little bit more about that strengths-based culture aligning with disability-inclusive cultures.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 7:10
Right. Well, in the disability-inclusive culture, we focus on what people's strengths are and what they can do. Even the word disability, "dis" means "not." So what are, are people not able to do? So it sets you up in this deficit model that doesn't work well, when you're looking at people and trying to figure out, How can we empower and enable people to be all -- everything that they are. You know, having a disability is part of the human condition. And for someone like me, who, I don't have a disability, when I first learned that my son had a disability, I thought, How can I fix him? It was sort of this, How can he overcome? How can he get beyond his disability? And really, that was the wrong way of thinking about it.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 7:58
The similarity with strengths is that we are looking at what are we all naturally good at? What, where do we have talents? How can we build upon those talents to be the most productive, be the best version of ourselves? And that's really what we're doing when we're looking at people with disabilities and trying to help them become more of who they are; become, feel comfortable, being their authentic selves, not trying to conform to the world that was just not built for people with disabilities.
Jim Collison 8:34
You, you watched your son grow up in this world. At 23 now, as you think about watching him, one, Did you ever have him take CliftonStrengths? And then two, when you, when you see those talents emerge -- whether you did or you didn't -- How did those things play out for you as a parent, seeing those talent with the small "t" emerge in your son?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 8:57
Yeah, he took CliftonStrengths twice. He wouldn't do it with me, of course, because I'm his parent. So he did it at school. I know. I know. He did it at school and, and, given his disability, it was something where the questions were read to him; the timer was turned off. So that, those are really important accommodations that allowed him to access the questions. And when I saw his strengths, it was very obvious watching him grow up that those were his strengths: Adaptability, Harmony, he's an easygoing kid. We actually have the opposite -- he, all the things that are in my bottom, you know, he's got at the top and vice, vice versa.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 9:38
But even as a, as, once I started educating myself on his diagnosis and once I started educating myself on disability inclusion, the whole topic on disability inclusion -- and I had many conversations with people with disabilities and researchers and various people with lived experience -- it shifted my thinking to, there's nothing wrong with my son. He's perfect the way he is. And however he is, he needs to be more of; I need to help him be more of who he already is. When I heard, when I was in the training class, in the Gallup training class, and I had also taken it myself and done some reading on Gallup -- CliftonStrengths, I realized that was the very same philosophy. We're not trying to change people and contort people into somebody or something that they're not. And so those parallels are really, really important when you're working with a disability community and as, in coaching people, with or without disabilities.
Changing Corporate Mindsets to Include Those With Disabilities
Jim Collison 10:49
You mentioned this earlier that organizations just aren't necessarily built to be inclusive sometimes, right? They have a, they have a very strong pathway in and onboarding and the work that needs to be done. Sometimes coaches and, and sometimes coaches embedded in organizations run across an organizational buzz saw when they, when someone who does have disabilities or needs additional opportunities, especially around strengths -- we -- great example, we hear this in coaching community all the time -- we have a "Stand up if" exercise, right, that we take folks through: Hey, if you agree to this, stand up. Well, that automatically is not, it's not inclusive. Right?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 11:28
Jim Collison 11:28
And so we've been thinking, we've thought through those processes of How do you change that, right? How do you, from a mindset standpoint -- because I think it's way more important than just changing an exercise -- What kind of advice would you give to folks, as we think about changing the mindset in the corporate settings, to be more ready for individuals with disabilities? Because it's, you know, we need to be ready; we can't wait for them to come, we need to be ready when it gets there. So what kind of advice would you give?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 11:58
Right. That, that's a great question. I think a lot of companies have been focused on access. How do we provide access to people with disabilities, to our company, to employment, to our schools, etc. And access is good; it's a great start. And it's, it's part of what makes our laws in this area, you know, the ADA, etc. But I'm going to take a step back. I actually had a nonprofit that I started with my husband several years ago. And our entire intention was to create media and film that helped people understand what it's like to have a disability. And so you can go on to YouTube; the organization is called Ability Revolution, Inc. And we have three videos that have a hashtag of #flipthescript, and I'll just describe one of the videos.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 13:03
But imagine a room where people are having a meeting. And every single one of them is at the table, and they're waiting for someone who's late. And this person who's late, is you can hear them coming down the hall. They're stumbling around. They're running into doors. They finally get to the, get to the room. They apologize for being late. They accidentally sit on the lap of somebody else, because they are not able to see. Now you've quickly realized that the room is dark, and that every single person in the room is able to function in the dark. So what that means is they're not using their sight; they're not using sight in order to function. So this person says, "Where's the agenda?" And everybody around the room, on the table, is, is impatient. They're saying, "It's right there. It's right in front of you."
Jennifer Camota Luebke 13:57
Now, mind you, this person who relies on their sight cannot see the agenda, because there is no light in the room. So the person who, who relies on sight says, "You know, if I could just get some light in here, I could see the agenda." Now the agenda is in Braille, so it wouldn't have helped in any way, because everybody's reading in Braille. That is the norm for the people in this room. So the video goes on -- it's a 3-minute video; it's very quick -- where there's one person in the room who's trying to be helpful. He's trying to give this person some light so they can see, and they start off with a candle. Well, how can you possibly see with, with a candlelight? And then it goes on; it gets even more humorous. You, he gives them a lava lamp; he gives them a flamingo light. And we had great fun, by the way, sourcing lights for this particular video.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 14:52
And then you have another set of people who are just complaining, saying, "Gosh, can you believe that this person is asking for us to wire the building with light? If, you know, facilities is going to have a fit spending all this money for just one person." So at the very end, you know, the lesson in all of this is that the person, you know, the question that I ask after I show this video is, In this video, who is, who is disabled? And people always pause and think through, well, who's disabled? Well, we've been conditioned that people who cannot see or who don't have sight are the disabled ones. But what if everyone in a room did not have sight and were operating just fine. The room was built for them. The room was built for them because there's no light, right? Is the person who relies on sight, aren't they the disabled one?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 15:52
So that sort of puts it in a frame of, we've built architecture, systems that are for nondisabled people. When we talk about access, we're trying to provide a way for people that the room, the system, the structure wasn't built for to come and join us. But if we really wanted to be inclusive, we would build the rooms, the buildings, the systems, the policies, the structures with inclusion in mind, which means we would take into account people who see and people who don't have sight. We would take into account people who are hard of hearing and people who hear. We would take into account people who use their legs to walk and people who use wheelchairs. We would take into account the entire population and build a system, build policies, build architecture for them.
Bringing In People With Disabilities From the Start
Jim Collison 16:55
Do you, do we call that inclusive design? Is that, is that kind of what that's, and so, as, as we think about a community, a strengths community, because that's kind of who we're talking to today, what are some tips that, as we think about that design in some of the things that we're doing, what are some, what are some tips that we could do that might help people think through that? Much like the example I gave in the beginning of, like, you know, we built in this "stand up" exercise in that. How does that look different when we're doing those kinds of things, if we're thinking about inclusive design?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 17:28
Right, inclusive design, universal design, these are ways to include as many people as possible in the original design of any sort of training class, any sort of policy, employment, jobs, etc. So how do you do that? We've got to bring people with disabilities into the conversation at the design level. So when we're designing a building, when we are designing training curriculum, and here's the thing -- you had mentioned that we, that we're looking for people who can help with developing signs for the ASL, the deaf community. So, you know, the, it was already built. And now what we're doing is we're trying to provide access.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 18:16
But if we took a step all the way back and said, How do we, how do we do research on people's talents and strengths that include people with disabilities? We would have app -- included them in the original research. Now, I know that we can't do that. So what we're doing now is fantastic. And we should be trying to find ways that make this content accessible for various populations. But I think bringing people with disabilities into the community, allowing them to have that voice, and asking them what works for them. You know, I mention in the video that someone was trying to be helpful by giving someone light, but they, because they couldn't see themselves, they didn't know how to help that person and what type of light they needed. They simply should have just asked that person, "What type of light would be the best for you, so we could go source it?"
Jim Collison 19:15
Along those same lines, should I, should I be asking more questions? If I'm, if I'm a leader, and I'm doing a, either an event that I'm going into where a may not know everyone -- this happens a lot, right -- we're leading an open seminar of something. And it's changed a little bit, because, you know, during the pandemic, of course, we went 100% Zoom, so we didn't have accessibility necessarily issues from a physical accessibility standpoint, right? Maybe we did. Maybe there's things I didn't know. But is it OK to ask ahead of time -- to say, Hey, I want to make sure I'm providing for you. But would there be any disabilities do I need to account for? How do I do that correctly? What's the right way to get that done so that I, I can at least, before those kinds of things, make adjustments? What's the right way to do that?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 20:04
Right? Well, simply to ask shows that you're trying to be inclusive for people with disabilities. So in the registration process of having some sort of gathering or class asking, first of all, what accommodations are needed? Another way to do it, which is what I suggest, is we know some of the typical accommodations that are needed. If you did a survey with people with disabilities and said, What types of accommodations do you need? If you just took account, into account 80% of the responses and tried to solve for that, there are always going to be people that have, you know, needs that don't fall into that sort of 80% or 90% of the population. And so something different would have to be done. But taking care of it ahead of time is probably the best way and knowing what the common things are.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 20:58
So for example, even in this particular podcast or, or webinar, if you will, what would have made this, what would have made this even more inclusive is at the registration process, asking, Are there any accommodations that are needed in order to access this particular podcast or webinar? So asking that at registration. Another way, you know, after you gather a little bit of data, you'll know, well, let's see, we need open captions, the ability for open captions. We might want to have an ASL interpreter sign along with you and, you and I on the screen. Just, just having it there and ready would be very helpful. The transcriptions are helpful. Any materials that are that needs to be printed out could be done in, you know, 14- or 16-point font, something larger for someone who may have, you know, a visual impairment or needs larger font. So taking care of those things up front is probably the best way. But asking is always appreciated.
Jim Collison 22:09
I'm literally taking notes as you are talking here. I was like, Ah, you know, and I'm sure -- we use Eventbrite as kind of the registration engine for this. And I'm sure that has the ability -- I hope it does; I'm going to be checking into it a little bit later today -- and how smart that is to just ask those, those up front. We've, we've actually talked about, I mean, I've in the last couple months have put in a transcription and translation -- it translates in 60 different languages (not well, but better; it's, in some cases, not, it's better in some languages than others. But it's an attempt, we're get, we're beginning to go that way). Don't get me wrong, I've thought about this, the, having an interpreter signing while we're doing this. The logistics of that have to be overcome, in some ways, right, to get that taken care of. But I love that idea.
Pride Industries: Biggest U.S. Employer of People With Disabilities
Jim Collison 22:59
I've got some, I'm going on my own journey in this, right, as we're talking about how to do this media, do it correctly. The podcasting world has just finally gotten to the point where we're now, everybody is supposed to be providing some transcripts. Well, that's a start. Like, that is a start in this, to be able to provide those things. Let's talk a little bit about Pride Industries, if we can -- if you're, if you're OK, are you OK talking about that?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 23:25
Jim Collison 23:26
So creating employment for people with disabilities. Talk a little bit about the, the role that you have in that organization and how that helps. And then maybe thinking from a strengths coach perspective, how can, how could they take part or at least participate in some, in some form?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 23:43
Right. So I am the Chief Workforce Inclusion Officer for Pride Industries. Pride Industries is a social enterprise. And we have, we do business in 16 different states. We do manufacturing and logistics. We have facilities management services. Pride Industries was started 55 years ago by parents with adult children that had intellectual and developmental disabilities. And these parents, after their primary education and secondary education, were wondering, What's next for my child? And so what do people do after school? They go to work. They have employment. And so they wanted to create an environment where their adult children could feel valued in society, earn a paycheck, and be able to use their talents to go to work and contribute in that way. And so now we, I run the department and have the privilege of working with the group of people who work directly with people with disabilities.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 24:57
We support them as job coaches, job developers, workgroup trainers, case managers, people who help people with disabilities find and retain employment. And not only find a job, ready, get ready with skills for a particular job, but also help them navigate a career. We're looking at people that have disabilities and trying to make sure that we're placing them in the community, so that they have competitive, integrated employment. Gone are the days where, you know, people with disabilities are making sub-minimum wage, I shouldn't say, "Gone are the days"; there, there are still companies or places that, that do pay sub-minimum wage. It's not ideal. It's something that we, we as a company, Pride Industries, pays at least minimum wage to anybody with, with a particular disability. And we are the largest employer of people with disabilities in the country. We do work on military bases; we do, we place people in the community. We've got offices all throughout California. And I'm really, really proud of the work that we do at Pride Industries.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 26:23
As far as strengths, I mean, if you look at the team of people that I have, this is what they do every single day. You've got a person with a disability. They've got strengths; they've got talents. They want to work, but for whatever reason, they can't either find a job, or if they do find a job, they may have some trouble retaining that particular job, because they may be misunderstood at that place of work. And so it's our job, as people who support people with disabilities, to find ways where they can accomplish the tasks in their particular job, find jobs that match their particular talents, find ways to break down jobs and tasks, and put it in a way that people can -- whether that's some sort of job aid, whether that's a color-coded map; whatever that may be, in order to ensure that people can, can, can perform in their roles.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 27:28
What's interesting is that as we create tools for people to do their job well, we often find that those same tools are helpful for everyone, right? They're helpful, you know, color-coded maps or color-coded job aids, I could use that. I mean, I color code everything. I color code my calendar, so that I can keep things straight. So all of the techniques that are used, very, much of it easily applies to people even without disabilities. And so the work that we are trying to do is not only to help people access jobs, employment, and to make sure that they have choice, and to make sure they are valued for who they are. But we've, we've got training that we provide to other companies, that helps them understand how to be inclusive of people with disabilities.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 28:24
So by doing this, we're really widening the door and really widening people's hearts and minds to be more inclusive of people who are different from them. And, you know, when I think about my son, he's in his, he just completed his third year of college, and he's going into his fourth year. And this is sort of that final push. The whole point of the program that he's in, which is a program at Georgia Tech, it's the Excel program that, it was created for people with, with intellectual disabilities and autism. The whole point is to ready and prepare them for a full-time job with benefits so that they can not rely on Social Security, you know, if possible, if they, they're able to get a full time job. But to ready them for employment and really ready them for life. And, you know, I applaud all of the different colleges and the companies like Pride that are helping include people with disabilities in our communities.
Strengths and Disabilities: What People Can Do
Jim Collison 29:29
Can the strengths framework, as we think about employers, and if someone comes in knowing their Top 5 or strengths framework get into an organization that's using strengths, can that be a benefit to both the organization and the individual, because now we have an agreed-upon, set framework, some things that we can talk about, about that person, the strengths of that person? How can that work to our advantage in this area?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 29:58
Yeah, well, as we all know, the CliftonStrengths framework is not prescriptive, right? You don't say, "OK, you've got Positivity, Harmony, Adaptability. So that means you would be a great -- " whatever that job is. We use it to leverage, you know, we use our strengths to, and leverage them in whatever job that we're in. So I think that knowing what our strengths are and also knowing what we're not strong in -- and not just with the CliftonStrengths framework, but skills, other skills that we may, we may have.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 30:35
The beauty of this is that it helps people get into that frame of mind where they're thinking about, What are this person's talents that are unique to them? Or what does this person have? What can they do that will help them in their, in their role and help them perform at a very highly productive rate, if you will? So, you know, if you're looking at, let's say, a greeter. If you're looking for a greeter at a store, you know, it would be great if someone had Positivity, maybe someone with Woo naturally. That would, that would be a great person. Now, if they already have that, and let's say they're stocking shelves, you'd love to see how you can leverage those strengths in maybe a different role.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 31:19
So thinking about strengths and thinking about what someone can do, instead of trying to package someone, get them to contort and fit them into some sort of box for a role that you need, thinking about it from a person-centered viewpoint is extremely helpful and important, again, not just for a person with a particular disability, but anyone. I think about people who have autism and who also may be very good at math, computer programming, science, those sorts of things. And then you combine that, those skills and talents that they have, with the CliftonStrengths methodology and, you know, maybe they have Intellection, maybe, maybe that's a strength of theirs. Maybe Self-Assurance is a strength. How do we take all of those things that make this person this whole authentic being and find the best job for them -- the best fit of a job -- and how do we make sure that we're including them in our companies and in our society?
Added Challenges for People of Color Who Have Disabilities
Jim Collison 32:20
Works that way for everybody, right? You can, you can include that in as long as they, and there was a question in the chat room: Missed the first part. People with disabilities can take the same assessment and the results are the same, as long as a person can complete the assessment. And I think this is where coaching comes in. Right? Our, we have to be able to understand the question, be able to give an answer on it. And then the coaching around that, kind of what you provide, to have those conversations. Listen, the assessment for anyone, by itself, OK, I mean, you get some marginal lift if you just read the report. But the coaching is the most important part in this. And then the framework and how we work in the organization is key in having that. I just think that in this particular area, it could accelerate the understanding of the individual, like you're saying, and then their role in the organization, how can we tweak and tune that to really take advantage of the naturally reoccurring patterns of thought, feelings and behaviors, right, to, get that in there? So Lisa asks a good question, and it makes for a good transition point for us too. She says, Can you comment on the intersection of challenges of people of color and people of disabilities? Some thoughts on that?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 33:36
Right, there are a lot of layers and depth to that question. And thank you, Lisa, for the question. When you have, so, separately, if you take that people of color and people with disabilities, the common thing that they have are usually they're marginalized in society, right? We marginalize people of color, people with disabilities, because they're not like everyone else. And so people with disabilities who also are people of color, and that intersectionality just creates, you know, a tougher world for them to operate in. So my son is a, is a brown adult young male with an intellectual disability. And there are so many ways that he is misunderstood and so many different layers of ways that he is misunderstood.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 34:31
And one of the ways that I've worked with him, have coached him, is to lead with his disability. So when you look at someone like my son, you wouldn't be able to tell that he has an obvious apparent disability just by looking at him. Now after talking to him for 5 minutes, you can see that there is, there is a disability; that he, that he has a disability. And so the strategy that we've used for him is for him to lead with his disability, because the potential to be misunderstood is so great.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 35:13
I think we've all read articles and stories, especially with people -- there's this one young man, and I can't remember his name, but he had autism. And he was a young Black man. And he was just walking home after buying something at the corner store, and he was stopped by police. And they misunderstood him. So first of all, he was a likely target, if you will, for someone who looked, "suspicious." Then on top of that, when confronted, he was scared and didn't understand why he was being apprehended. And not only that, but he also was confused about what was being asked of him. And unfortunately, that young man was killed.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 36:07
And so having that -- both being a person of color and also having that disability was such a huge disadvantage for him, because people in society did not understand it. And then if you even just take it at the corporate level, if you're a person with a disability and a person of color and a female, and any other difference that you'd like to, to pile on, there are so many different layers of misunderstanding and marginalization and minimization of that person in our, in our, in our employment, in our jobs, in our communities, that it really highlights the need for us to change. And I think, you know, in the past, we've focused so much on trying to encourage people to change who they are, in order to fit in.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 37:11
And the change that we're experiencing now is that people don't need to change -- the person that has been marginalized and who is, is the different, the other, that person, they don't need to change; we as a society need to change. We need to become inclusive. How do we become inclusive? We do that by really understanding people. We become inclusive by understanding what people's strengths are and accepting that person for who they are -- not just acceptance or even tolerance, but really embracing that person. And seeing how a person with strengths or a person that has a different lived experience, how they fit into the fabric of our society and add texture, add differences that, that are to be appreciated. So I think that there are a lot of parallels, right, to people's talents and also the strengths methodology, the CliftonStrengths methodology and approach, in terms of acceptance and really embracing people who, who are different, and really loving and accepting them for who they are.
Strengths in the C-Suite for Women of Color
Jim Collison 38:26
I love that. I love that word "texture"; that gives me, a I'm kind of a visual thinker in a way. And so that gives me some, you know, I don't know, it just gives me some texture around it, to be able to feel it, to kind of sense it, to use some of those sensory opportunities. You work with and coach, and I want to ask you this question: How do strengths show up in the C-suite for women of color? Because, you know, you talk about those circles of circles of circles, right, in that. And so would you talk a little bit about that kind of based on your experience and the work that you do?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 39:03
Right, so I have the privilege of coaching three women of color who are, and this has been ongoing for, for almost a year now, who are C-level people who have employees, they've hired employees of all different backgrounds. And it's, it's very interesting that there are so many interesting things about this, because if you look into any company, if you look into leadership, it's usually a White man. Right? And, or any board of directors, any C-suite executives, usually you're talking about White men, White people. And there might be a sprinkling or smattering of diversity in that particular group. When women reach the top levels, right, and they're hiring people, there's a power dynamic, right, that's been now inverted. And that's really, really difficult for people to adjust to.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 40:09
And so what I've found is that there are certain strengths that some women of color have, who are in the C-suite or who lead large groups of, of people, you know, a diverse group of people, where it's almost magnified, such that it's viewed or perceived as a weakness instead of a strength. So for example, Command, right, that particular strength, you couple that with the fact that someone is a woman of color -- even someone who, who, who is an Asian woman of color, right, if they've got Command in their top, it magnifies that particular strength, such that it's perceived immediately, immediately as a weakness -- almost, almost always. And so it's been very interesting to coach women with that particular Command, with that particular strength -- Command, Self-Assurance -- to coach them in that. You don't want them to minimize that strength. But you also want to make sure that they're leveraging that strength in a productive manner.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 41:19
Then you've got that layer of, but they're a woman of color, they're a Black woman, they're, they're, you know, an Indian woman, they're an Asian woman. And it's a very tricky way, a tricky place to navigate through, because the power dynamic has been inverted, in one sense, with the person of color in the leadership position, and then you may have White people who report to them. But in society, the power dynamic is that White people have the power. Right. And so there's this seesaw of, of power that's happening in this particular instance or in this, in this environment, in the space, where a woman of color really needs to navigate and, and find ways to still keep the strengths that they have and to capitalize on them. But to be aware of and find ways, in an individual manner, to work with people who report to them who are White, who are in the majority in our society. And in, in these situations, it's really tough.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 42:36
I've done a lot of exploratory conversations. We've tried a lot of different things of ways to, to navigate that, and it's, it's extremely tricky. So there's no sort of one-size-fits-all. At the same time, the encouragement that I give to women of color in the C-suite is, Be who you are. And what I have to say is, you know, I'm a woman of color in the C-suite myself. I have a fantastic manager who gets it, who, in one of my very first meetings, said to me, "Jennifer, just be who you are. Be who you are; be your authentic self. And, you know, don't try to be someone you're not." No one has ever said that to me; in my 30-year career, no one has ever said to me, "Just be yourself."
Jennifer Camota Luebke 43:28
I've spent most of my career trying to conform and assimilate into a particular corporate culture or work culture that is, quite frankly, a very White-centered culture. This is the first role that I've ever been in where I've felt really more free to be who I am and to assert my positional authority and also experience authority in my role. And that's one of the reasons why, not only because it helps people -- you know, I help people with disabilities find jobs, like my son. So that's very personal to me. But I'm able to be who I am. And I'm so grateful that I'm in the role and in the company that I'm in today, because it really has allowed me to be my authentic self and be unapologetically myself. And so that's something that, as I coach other women who happen to be in similar positions, that's first and foremost: Be who you are; don't, you know, don't apologize for who you are. And let's really find ways to leverage that strength so that, as much as possible, it's perceived in a positive light.
Challenges Executives Face in Retaining Their Authenticity
Jim Collison 44:43
Yeah, but I, kind of what I hear you saying is, Lead with -- you said this earlier: lead with strengths, but lead with abilities. Like what, what can I do? This is what I bring, right? This is what I bring to the, to the equation. Are there differences in your coaching with, coaching executives who are disabled or women of color or who, who lead highly diverse teams, as we think about the coaching space, or even coaches who are embedded in organizations or managers who might be listening to this? Talk a little bit about the differences in that coaching.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 45:21
Yeah, I think what is layered onto those coaching sessions and those coaching experiences is the DEI conversation and how they are perceived by others because of their, the color of their skin, because of their gender, because of their disability, perhaps. I've had the pleasure of coaching two people that have disabilities who are in high-level executive roles. And really, we talk a lot about how they are perceived and, in addition to what their strengths are, and how to leverage those strengths. And so it's a very nuanced conversation, very individualized to that particular person in their particular circumstances. And so I find that the niche that I, that I have in doing this is that I've been able to really zone in on, on that particular person's situation. And really, Individualization comes into play here. Now, unfortunately, Individualization is not one of my Top 10, so I'm reaching here. However, Relator is definitely in my Top 10, so I leverage that in order to build that trust, so that I can work with them on trying different things.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 46:38
A lot of it is experimentation -- trying different ways to present themselves authentically but also emphasizing their strengths. Now, when I work with White CEOs, and I did, about 3 or 4 years ago, I worked with a White male CEO who had a very diverse team, ethnically diverse, racially diverse team, and he was managing people or leading people who are all over the globe, and, in 4 different countries. And from a multicultural perspective, he was having a difficult time with, How do I appear to be, you know, inclusive? How do I appear to be, you know, not, you know, not someone who is this sort of, you know -- I'm trying to use the right words here -- but, you know, this, this White person who it's got to be this way, or no way, right? He was struggling with how to work with such a multi, a diverse community.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 47:46
And for him, it was more about the work that he had to do from a DEI perspective, and understanding different cultures, different types of people, and how his strengths layered on top of that, how that would be perceived by others, and how he could adjust his strengths so that it would be more productive in his working relationships. There's a lot of nuance to this.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 48:14
And so I think there's no one sort of general or straight answer. I mean, each person that I've coached in my coaching career has been very different. But the one commonality, I would say, is that it's, it's Individualization. It's looking at it from their lens, and also from the lens of the people that they're working with, and trying to find that, that comfortable place, while also influencing others to change, to accept them, if that makes sense. Because they don't need to change, right? So I'm coaching right now a woman of color. She's a CEO. And she said, you know, to me, Jennifer, I'm so frustrated, that I'm an Asian woman. And I'm seen as this sort of, you know, quiet, you know, quieter person. I don't have like these great big emotions. I'm not super expressive. But then people don't know when I'm really disappointed or upset, or people don't take me seriously. How do I do that?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 49:16
And, and so how does, how does she retain her authenticity, right? Use words to help get her points across, but also explain to the people that she manages, many of whom are White men, that she means business; that she's serious. What are some of the things that she can do and say that don't make it so that she's trying to be someone that she's not? Right? And how do we change others' perspectives to view her as the person who is in charge? And that's really, really tough, I think, for a lot of women of color. Because if they show emotion, you know, so as a woman, if you show emotion, you're emotional, right? And then that's perceived as bad. And then on top of that, well, are they really serious? Because they're not, you know, they're not sort of yelling at me. So are they, are they serious? Are they being too nice? You know, so you've got that niceness factor that you've got with women. So if you look at each one individually, and then combine, sort of like when you combine strengths, when you combine all of these factors, right, what combination of factors makes them who they are? But really, how do they change other people's perceptions? So we work a lot with how do you change other people's perceptions without changing yourself? And that's very, very tricky.
Progress in Including the Excluded: A U.S. Report Card
Jim Collison 50:35
Indeed. And a very complicated -- by the way, not necessarily just specific to the United States. Every, right, every country struggles in some form or fashion. Every group of people, I always say, Where two or more are gathered, there will be conflict. And so, you know, you, this is a global problem that we have. And maybe I should say, "global opportunity" that we have, right, as we continue to grow. Since, since May of 2020, as we think about all the things that have happened, especially here in the United States, and as we've been having these discussions, you're in the, you know, you're in the trenches. You're fighting, you know, you're, you're right up front, on this, tip of the spear. Are we making progress in these areas, both around people of color and disabilities, just the two things that we've talked about here? Are we making any progress? Are we, are we holding true to it? It's going to take years for this to work itself out, right? And we got to stay focused on it. But how are we doing so far? Give us a, give us a report card after 2 years.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 51:39
I mean, in my opinion, I think progress is being made. We're making progress, but not soon or fast enough. You know, and I think what it's going to take, if you're looking at opportunities, it's going to take, and I'm just gonna say this very transparently and plainly, White people have to do the work. The people who are in power, who have historically been in power, need to do the work, and men need to do the work, right? People that are not disabled, nondisabled people, have to do the work, in order to better understand people who have been marginalized historically. And I think that there's a lot of performative inclusion being done. I think that, I think that, in general, I think most people want to do the right thing. But they're afraid because they may get called out; they may do the wrong thing and be, and be chastised for it.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 52:42
And I think, you know, as a woman of color who's had to deal with racism everywhere, my entire life, you know, every day, every day, there's something that happens. That, you know, if I take, you know, I remember, I took a couple of kids, White, White children of a friend of mine, to the grocery store, she was making dinner for us. And, you know, the number of times that I've been asked if I've been, if I'm a nanny, if I'm their nanny, because I'm an Asian woman taking two White kids to the grocery store. Just, if I could count the number of times that's happened, it's, it's really disappointing that people in our society still think of that in that way.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 53:30
So, point that I'm trying to make here is, do I think that progress is being made? I do. I don't think it's fast enough. But I think that the solutions are, you know, not being afraid to do the work and not being afraid to do or say the wrong thing and to be corrected. You know, and so I think that when, when that happens, when, when someone is trying to correct let's say, you know, someone who, who is White, on something that may they may have done incorrectly, they don't like it. They want it done in a in a nicer way, in a softer way. And, you know, don't treat me so harshly. I don't know, right -- that sort of thing. And I understand that you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. So I understand that whole concept. But the issue that I think a lot of women of color or people of color have is that you're making them do the work. You're making them expend more calories to try to teach you how to be, when you need to be expending the calories to do the work.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 54:35
So I always say, you know, do the best you can. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and if someone corrects you, and even if it's in a harsh manner, just accept it as part of the learning process. And know that people of color, women of color, people with disabilities, they, every single day they've got to face a world that wasn't built for them. And they're expected to assimilate and overcome. And now it's time for that other side to do more of that work. And we don't expect, you know, I don't expect people to be perfect. What I do expect is that their, people try to understand, especially, you know, people with disabilities, that's always left out of the DEI conversation, right? Try to understand and, and be willing to, to be corrected and, or be willing to learn, really, is, is really the bottom line there.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 55:31
And I think that, especially, I would say, people with disabilities, it's so misunderstood, it's left out of the equation. That's an area where it should bring all of us together, I think, because if you think about disability, it's the only minoritized group where any one of us could be in that category at any point in time. I could walk out, get into a car crash, and become disabled. Right? So I'm currently not disabled, but I could very well easily become disabled. When you're a baby, if you think about it, you're completely relying on people who are able to take care of you. When you get older, right, you become, there are different forms of disability that you take. So this is an area where, you know, my, my adviser for my dissertation called it, "temporarily abled." We're all temporarily abled beings. Right? So that really puts it in perspective.
Jim Collison 56:29
It really does. Yeah, it really does. And, you know, I think about my 90-, 91-year-old mother who, yes, like, you know, there's some things she can't do anymore. And, you know, she can't travel. And she's dying to travel -- that's probably the wrong way to say that, but she really wants to travel. And, and she can't, because she just physically can't get it done. It's, and, we're, you know, we're doing some family things this summer she just desperately wants to be at. In the same token, I mean, I've spent, you know, my daughter came home from college, and we spent a lot of time together. And, and I, she kind of, she kind of took me to school on a lot of things as we spent time walking together, we cooked together, and some of those kinds of things. And it is hard to get corrected. Like, that is hard.
Jim Collison 57:19
My own experience here on Called to Coach of, of doing an inventory and saying, Hey, are we representing with equity in this? And who are the changes, who has to make the changes? This guy, right. And so you got to work and live in that space. And, you know, I'm trying to put some things in place, including, you know, a transcript translator, as well as inviting guests on that represent diversity and making sure we're covering that. And not just covering it to check a box. But to really have a discussion and a conversation about this. Anything else that you want to say that I might have missed that's important in this? We've had a great conversation, but anything else you want to add to the conversation here, kind of before we wrap it up?
Jennifer Camota Luebke 58:05
You know, a quote that I wrote in my dissertation from a disability advocate. He said, "Disabilities don't restrict; environments do." Disabilities don't restrict; environments do. So the environment means the architecture; it means the attitudes, more than anything. When people have bias against someone with a disability, against a person of color, against a woman of color, that's what becomes restrictive, not the person themselves. So the lesson here really is that our environments, and our society needs to make those changes. And we need to accelerate the rate at which we are changing. And we need to see that if we don't do it, the alternative, you know, as we've seen in history, and if we've seen in recent history, you know, May 2020, the alternative is a society where we've got a lot of pain.
Jennifer Camota Luebke 59:13
So I think, you know, if we think through what will make us better as people, as a society, we need to change overall. We need to change our attitudes. And then we, with our attitudes changing we change the systems, the policies and the structures so that everyone can be included.
Jim Collison 59:32
Love that. Love that. I love what you said about leading with strengths and leading with abilities and being, you know, being very up front with that. I think that's a great message for, for us all. Jennifer, thanks. You're getting a lot of good, you got a standing ovation out there in the chat room. Thanks for, for being a part of the conversation today. And I think everyone you'll, if you, if, as I'm closing just watch, go read the chat room. That should fill your bucket, and hang tight with me here for a second. But Jennifer, thank you for coming and sharing on this and looking forward to continued discussions here in the future as well. With that, we'll remind --
Jennifer Camota Luebke 1:00:11
Thank you, Jim.
Jim Collison 1:00:12
You're very welcome. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available on Gallup Access. Head out to gallup.com/cliftonstrengths. For coaching, master coaching, or if you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, you can send us an email: email@example.com. Stay up to date with all the webcasts. You can go out to gallup.eventbrite.com if you want to join us live; that's kind of the best way to know when they're going on. And they're there. And it sounds like I've got a change to make on that, to pre-position a question there about folks and abilities -- I'm gonna stop calling them "disabilities"; I'm gonna say "and abilities" with that as well. You can find us on Facebook: facebook.com/groups/calledtocoach, or find us on any social platform just by searching "CliftonStrengths." We want to thank you for joining us today. For those that are listening live, thanks for coming out and doing that as well. We'll be back next week, as we launch the new sales report -- CliftonStrengths for Sales is coming out next week. Austin will be here, and I look forward to seeing you guys next week. Everybody have a great rest of your week. With that, we'll say, Good-bye, everybody.
Jennifer Camota Luebke's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Strategic, Achiever, Relator, Arranger and Self-Assurance.