Burnout, Perfectionism, and Trends in DEI+ with Ashley McLemore

???? Episode 109 of Yes, and Marketing

A culture of perfectionism can paralyze anyone, but it hits women and minorities especially hard.

On the latest episode of Yes, and Marketing, DEI+ expert Ashley McLemore explained the problem with perfectionism, in addition to sharing:

  • One common mistake companies make when it comes to DEI+ initiatives
  • The positive trend she’s seeing in DEI+
  • The framework she uses when consulting with companies on equity and inclusion
  • How marketers can lead the way on DEI+ within their organizations

Listen to the full interview above or read on for our highlights from the conversation. You can also view excerpts from all our episodes on our show page.

???? Who is Ashley McLemore?

Name: Ashley McLemore

What she does: Equity and inclusion speaker and consultant.

Find Ashley on the web: Begin Collection | LinkedIn | Instagram

Get smart: “Start to question some of the beliefs or stories that were told to you as you grew up and really ask yourself, ‘Do I still believe that?’ And maybe you don’t, and that’s where the change happens.”

???? Episode Highlights

Read verbatim excerpts from our interview with Ashley McLemore.

The state of DEI+ today 

“Around 2019, 2020, people went into a big rush to put in some DEI+ efforts, out of urgency and necessity in many ways. And they focused a lot on the diversity piece and the representation piece, which is important, though it’s not all of the picture.

And so now in 2022, companies are filling in those gaps that were missed in the rush, in the reaction versus the preparation piece. So a lot of other letters are coming to light because people realize that just having a racially diverse or ethnically diverse employee or staff is not sufficient. There needs to be inclusion. And depending on the region that you’re in, you might hear ‘B’ for belonging, which I heard a lot in California, and I heard ‘J’ for justice a lot when I was in New York City.”

The best trend in DEI+ right now

“Speaking to your staff, and actually involving them in the process of the decisions that are being made as they relate to changes within the fabric—in many cases—of the organization. It’s not a big trend yet, but I think that that is going to lead to more usable solutions in different companies, as every company and organization is different.”

One effect of white supremacy culture? Perfectionism

“What I see the most is perfectionism, and some people might think that that is just ingrained in us, but it’s actually a function of white supremacy culture. 

The idea that everything has to be perfect the first time—no matter what, without grace, without some room for error or necessity for feedback—is what holds a lot of people, but also women, back from trying things if they don’t have it all figured out. 

We’ve seen data that shows women specifically don’t apply for jobs unless they check off every single job requirement. That is a function of perfectionism.”

One mistake companies make when implementing DEI+ programs

“Assuming that they have all the answers and assuming that one solution is going to fix it. ‘If we hired this consultant, then it will be done.’ ‘If we do this cultural competency training, then it will be done.’

There is no ‘done.’ This is life’s work. It is daily work. It takes not only the professional, but also the personal. And oftentimes companies say, ‘Leave your personal life at home,’ but it’s almost impossible to leave parts of your identity at home. And frankly, Gen Z is not having that. Gen Z is showing up in their fullest. So when you think about how the workforce is going to be expanding over the next five, 10 to 20 years, the cookie-cutter approach and ‘Keep your personal life at home’ and separating these pieces of a human is definitely a mistake that companies can just let go of now.”

What can managers do to better help employees with burnout?

Managers and supervisors can lead by example.

…Even at an organizational level saying, ‘Here’s a communication memo going out, it’s okay to respond to emails within 36 hours, 48 hours. If you see that Slack ping, you don’t need to respond to it immediately. You have until the end of the day.’ Figure out what works for your organization. Every industry is definitely different, so figuring out ways that embeds some of the burnout prevention strategies within your organization during your one-on-ones with your staff.

If you’re not having one-on-ones, please do that. At least start that. And really start to learn more about your staff on an individual level to know what else is going on outside of the workplace.”

Ashley’s four ‘A’s framework

“The four A’s starts with letting go of assumptions. Whatever that looks like for you as a leader or executive C-suite person, letting go of those assumptions that you may have about your staff, even about the organization. 

And then instead acknowledge weak points, acknowledge your areas of opportunity, acknowledging where you might need help as a leader and again, imploring your staff to, to work with you in that process.

Apologize. This is the most challenging one for many people that are in leadership roles, because that’s not usually a part of the job title. I’m acknowledging and apologizing when a mistake has been made.

…And then in that, taking accountability. So, how are we going to move forward now that these pieces have been brought to the table?”

One way for marketers to create more inclusive campaigns

“Of course you want to ensure that the product that is being developed or advertised is also relevant for the group or audience. But what I love about specifically the human-centered design framework is that you also want to consider outliers of an audience to better inform the nuances of a potential product—or in this case, the product being a campaign.

So, looking at the outliers, what else could you include into a marketing campaign that would enhance what’s already there?”

Her contrarian marketing advice

​​”You do know.

Oftentimes people say, “I don’t know where to start,’ ‘I don’t know what to do.’

You do. Give yourself a moment. You may not have all the answers, which is that perfectionism tapping in—you may not have all the answers, but start where you are and go from there.”

Where the change happens

“No matter how you identify racially, ethnically, religion, etc., finding time to embrace yourself, your fullness, and really start to question some of the beliefs or stories that were told to you as you grew up and really ask yourself, ‘Do I still believe that?’ And maybe you don’t and that’s where the change happens.”

????️ Ashley McLemore Quotes

“If you have an org chart that’s top-down, there’s power and control dynamics there that exist.”

“Burnout is being named more, but is not necessarily more common.”

“Marketing has so much opportunity to push the envelope a little bit more and more across every industry that they are creating campaigns or ads for.”

???? Learn More

Two brands getting inclusive marketing right? SAVAGE X FENTY and Fenty Beauty by Rihanna

Meet one of Ashley’s mentors, Professor Lynn Roberts

Follow Rachel Rogers, author of We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power.

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