Dr. Randal Pinkett has established himself as an entrepreneur, speaker, author and scholar, and as a leading voice for his generation in business and technology. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of his fifth venture, BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar research, consulting, training, technology, and analytics firm headquartered in Newark, NJ.
Dr. Pinkett has received numerous awards for business and technology excellence including the Information Technology Senior Management Forum’s Beacon Award, the National Society of Black Engineers’ Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the National Urban League’s Business Excellence Award. He has been featured on nationally televised programs such as The Today Show, Fox Business News, MSNBC, and CNN.
Dr. Pinkett is the author of Campus CEO: The Student Entrepreneur’s Guide to Launching a Multimillion-Dollar Business and No-Money Down CEO: How to Start Your Dream Business with Little or No Cash and co-author of Black Faces in White Places, which was named one of “The Best Books of 2010.” He holds five degrees including: a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers, an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Oxford, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering, an MBA, and a Ph.D. from MIT. Most notably, he was the first and only African-American to receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship at Rutgers University; he was inducted to the Academic All-America Hall of Fame, he was a former high jumper, long jumper, sprinter, and captain of the men’s track and field team; and he was the winner of NBC’s hit reality television show, “The Apprentice."
Born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey, he is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and the First Baptist Church in Somerset, NJ, where he resides with his family. Dr. Pinkett firmly believes that “for those to whom much is given, much is expected,” so throughout his endeavors, he places great emphasis on his desire to give back to the community.
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Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate, and conversations-to-text do not always translate perfectly. I include it to provide you with the spirit of the conversation.
Scott Allen 0:00
Okay everybody, welcome to the Phronesis podcast. Thank you so much for checking in wherever you are in the world. Today, my guest is Dr. Randal Pinkett, and he established himself as an entrepreneur, speaker, author and scholar and as a leading voice for his generation in Business and Technology. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of his fifth venture, BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar research consulting, training, technology, and analytics firm headquartered in Newark, New Jersey. Dr. Pinkett has received numerous awards for Business and Technology excellence, including the Information Technology Senior Management Forum's Beacon Award, the National Society of Black Engineers Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the National Urban League's Business Excellence Award. He has been featured on nationally televised programs such as The Today Show, Fox Business News, MSNBC, CNN. And, in 2009, he was named to New Jersey Governor John Corzine's official shortlist as a potential running mate for Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. Dr. Pinkett is the author of ‘Campus CEO: The Student Entrepreneur's Guide to Launching a Multi-Million-Dollar Business,’ and ‘No-Money Down CEO: How to Start Your Dream Business with Little or No Cash.’ And he's the co-author of ‘Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness,’ which was named one of the best books of 2010. He holds five degrees, including a BS in electrical engineering from Rutgers, an MS in computer science from the University of Oxford in England, an MS in electrical engineering, an MBA, and a PhD from MIT. Most notably, he was the first and only African American to receive the prestigious Rhodes scholarship at Rutgers University. He was inducted to the Academic All-America Hall of Fame. He was a former high jumper, long jumper, sprinter, and captain of the men's track and field team. And he was the winner of NBC’s hit reality television show ‘The Apprentice.’ Born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey, Dr. Pinkett is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the First Baptist Church in Somerset, New Jersey, where he resides with his family, including a daughter and two sons. Dr. Pinkett firmly believes that, for those to whom much is given, much as expected. So, throughout his endeavors, he places great emphasis on his desire to give back to the community. Sir, thank you for being with us today. What else do listeners need to know about you? What's not in that incredibly impressive resume? Oh, my gosh, you are a busy man.
Randal Pinkett 2:37
Well, first, Scott, it's great to be in the program, I will just add three things. First, I don't get much sleep.
Randel Pinkett 2:45
Second and third, I've released books four and five. So, book four is ‘Black Faces in High Places.’ That's the sequel to the book you referenced; ‘Black Faces in White Places.’ And then, just recently, I've released book five ‘Data-Driven DEI: The Tools and Metrics You Need to Measure, Analyze, and Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. So, points two and three are a reminder of point one, that I don't get much sleep.
Scott Allen 3:19
Well, I'm excited for our conversation about this latest book. And it was in some of the materials that were sent to me ahead of time that there's this quote that I just really kind of… It stood out for me, and I really enjoyed it. And it is, “The ultimate objective is to make DEI a part of your DNA. Your overarching aim is that the five-step never-ending continuous cycle of data-driven DEI becomes a natural part of who you are, and what you do.” There's a couple of things in there that I really, really resonate with. And this part of the never-ending continuous cycle, data-driven, I'm excited to jump in and really, really have a conversation about elements of your model today. But would you talk a little bit about the impetus of the book?
Randal Pinkett 4:06
Yeah. After George Floyd's murder, there was a watershed of interest and dialogue, and in some ways, concern about matters relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I released a video called ‘The Seven Myths of Racial Equity,’ shortly after, or in the wake of his tragic murder, and I was approached by an acquisitions editor at Wiley about converting that video into a book. And as we got into deeper and deeper conversations, and he learned more about my background, and I learned more about their interest, he said, “I think there's a better book for you to consider. Given your background in technology, and data, and computer science, given your expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion, what do you think about data-driven DEI?” And I said, “Oh, I like that”. I said, “I like it.” And we began this redirection from Seven Myths of Racial Equity to Data-Driven DEI. And I came to realize that this moniker, in many ways, encapsulates the totality of the work we've done in my firm, BCT Partners, which is a data-driven approach to DEI. But the last thing I'll say which was a gift to me from the publisher, and it gets back to your question, was the perception of a book like this is probably it's for DEI leaders, and champions, and executives, and actually, it is for those audiences, but they're not the primary audience. The primary audience is anyone who desires more diverse relationships, more inclusive behaviors, and more equitable practices because, at the end of the day, this is a personal journey. And that's why this excerpt about DEI being in your DNA is at the core of the impetus for the book.
Scott Allen 6:01
You start there, right? You start in that space of, okay, have you done your own personal work? And if you've done your own investigation of this topic, if I'm correct, it's a step zero.
Randal Pinkett 6:16
That's right. Yeah, the book is based on a five-step methodology, but there's a step zero, ground zero. Each step begins with the letter I. And that first step is looking at your DEI incentives, your incentives. And that is a matter of self-reflection and introspection to ask the deeper probing questions of why does this matter to you in the first place. And that could be, intrinsically, it's a reflection of my values, or my religion, or my upbringing, or how I believe I should live my life. Or it could be extrinsic; it's in my performance evaluation. So, “I didn't really care before, but I want my bonus, and so I care now.” So, it could be intrinsic, extrinsic, or both. But I ask readers to ask those deeper probing questions to clarify what motivates you to care about this topic in the first place.
Scott Allen 7:12
Would you talk a little bit more about that? Because I think the next step we move into is inventory where we do some assessment, but what are the types of questions people have to explore in this step zero, the incentives, the self-reflect, and introspect space?
Randal Pinkett 7:29
So, I challenged the readers to craft a DEI mission and vision. Now, most people don't have a personal mission and vision, and that's separate from DEI. I'm a big fan of Stephen Covey's ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.’ I've read that book in college, and it’s in my system. Covey talks about writing a personal mission, and vision. Mission, answering the question, “Why do you exist? What's your purpose? What's your calling?” And vision answering the question, “What future picture do you hope to create?” Like, “How is the world a better place because of your presence in the world?” So I whiffed off of that and said, “Well, what about a DEI mission and vision.” In fact, for our clients, all of our clients have an organizational mission and vision. Those are the foundations of any organization. But we then walk them through a process of crafting a DEI mission, and vision. And I translate that to the reader to say, “Do a personal DEI mission and a personal DEI vision,” because that clarification of what do you see as your why? What is the calling, or the mission, or the purpose that you see yourself from a diversity, equity, and inclusion perspective? And then, even more interestingly, how do you see the world being a better place relative to diversity, equity, and inclusion because of whatever efforts you may undertake from the book? So, those are the two core fundamental questions. Answer the question, what's your DEI mission, and what's your DEI vision?
Scott Allen 9:06
Well, I like that because it situates the learner in how this topic is relevant to them, why it matters. To your point, going back to that why, and it sets and lays that foundation in a really, really nice way so that it's personal. This is me, and this is my objective. These are my goals, and this is what I see as an ideal future being. We might not be there now, but this is why it's important, right?
Randal Pinkett 9:34
That's exactly right. And then, the absence of taking the time to answer those questions, because, again, like you said, the next step is doing an assessment. But for this to have any sustainability, for this to have any real impact, it has to matter to you. Like anything else in life, it has to matter to you. And most people don't write down their goals, much less write down their mission or vision. And so, I've found… Because, in the book, I share my personal DEI mission and vision, the exercise for me was extraordinarily valuable.
Scott Allen 10:05
Would you share yours real quick so that listeners have an idea of how you think about it?
Randal Pinkett 10:09
So, my personal DEI mission is to deeply understand the experiences of people who are different than me, to personalize individuals, and mitigate the impact of my biases, to be an ally in equal partnership with those less privileged than me, and to treat people the way they want to be treated. The gold standard is; treat people the way you want to be treated. The platinum standard is; treat them the way they want to be treated. And so, my vision is the following: I will have authentic, culturally diverse, and global relationships. I will bridge differences and be a bridge between communities of the like-minded. I will behave inclusively toward others and be an inclusive servant leader. And I will dismantle personal, interpersonal, institutional, and systemic barriers to help create environments that produce equitable outcomes for all. That's my DEI mission and vision.
Scott Allen 11:13
You know, just hearing yours, it's a powerful experience just listening to what you've crafted. Because it very clearly and nicely situates you in the work. It's powerful.
Randal Pinkett 11:27
I appreciate that. Even reading it, there was a part that particularly moved me, and it's my vision.
Randal Pinkett 11:39
Exactly. I will bridge differences and be a bridge between communities of the like-minded. And I believe part of the challenge in our society is that we all, including me, let's be honest, increasingly find ourselves in communities of the like-minded. That we're surrounded by people who look like us, think like us, share our values, our political ideology. We're watching the same news programs, and we're in the same echo chamber on social media, which means you're not getting different points of view, and sometimes, you don't even realize it. And it creates these communities of the like-minded that make us more prone to casting stereotypes on those who are not in our community of the like-minded. It's when we say, “They don't understand it,” or, “They got it wrong,” that's when you're caught in a community of the like-minded. And what we need are people who can be bridges between them, otherwise, the fabric of our society and democracy will remain frayed.
Scott Allen 12:42
So well said. And, to your point, we have these digital echo chambers, but then you have these echo chambers of physical space at times too, right? The demographics of the US, you look at the maps, and there's a lot of red, and then there's dots of blue, and less people are interacting with people with those differences. Whether it be, however, we want to define difference, and I think that's detrimental. Absolutely detrimental.
Randal Pinkett 13:09
I agree. And if you think about it, Scott, there are only two places or spaces in life where you have no choice, but to interact with people that may be different than you; school, and work. That's it. Everywhere else, you have complete choice where to worship, where to seek entertainment, and where to go to dinner, but only in school and work will you have to sit in a cubicle or a desk next to somebody that you're just told to sit next to that person, which means, if you're out of school like me, there's only one place left where you have no choice but to interact with different, and that's work. So, if we're not intentional and vigilant about placing ourselves into situations where we're engaging with people different than us, the likelihood, to your point, geographically, is going down every day.
Scott Allen 13:58
Well, let's transition into a couple of the aspects of the model. My area of passion, traditionally in research and scholarship, has been in leadership development. And leader development has notoriously been difficult to quantify. The individual program that we have implemented has, “Oh, you're a leader.” It's difficult. It's a challenge because it's a fun, fun puzzle. It's an interesting puzzle. So, I love how you're thinking about, okay, how do we… And again, this continuous cycle. We are all at the individual level in this continuous cycle of growth and learning. But then, we as an organization are in this continuous cycle as well. And how do we ensure that our initiatives or efforts are yielding the results we want, and we're moving the needle? Because this is a type of topic where we're shifting. We're moving the needle; we aren't necessarily, quote-unquote, ‘done.’ I don't know that this work is ever complete. So, let's talk a little bit about assessment. We're getting a baseline here, I'm assuming.
Randal Pinkett 15:06
That's exactly right. And I'll riff off your narrative with the question, it is a never-ending journey. There is no destination, there is only successive and iterative improvements. There's always more we can learn, there's always more we can grow. It’s the growth mindset that we're channeling in many ways. And assessment is such a critical piece because if you don't know where you are, you don't know where you're going. And it is an assessment that gives you insight to where you have strengths, where you have limitations, where you have preferences, where you have competencies. And, in fact, I talk about two ways of assessing through a DEI lens; your preferences, your natural inclination, some people call those your biases. And the reason why we want to assess your preferences is because, if you have a preference for people who are like you, you may have a blind spot when it comes to dealing with people who are not like you. If you have a preference for naturally engaging with women, you may have a blind spot when you're interviewing men. And so, that's preferences. Then, there is competencies. That's knowledge, skills, and attitudes. KSA; it’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes. You want to assess your competencies because the goal for a preference is to mitigate your bias, and mitigate your blind spot. The goal for competence is to build competence. And so, are you looking to behave more inclusively? That’s a competence. Are you looking to bridge and navigate differences? That's a competence. Are you looking to be a better leader, which you referenced a moment ago, Scott? That's a competence. And we can break down the sub-components, and we can assess you. And now, you know where you are, which can then focus you on enhancing your strengths. And more importantly, also addressing areas that may be areas of limitation or areas of preference that you can now grow as a person.
Scott Allen 17:01
Yeah. So, we have this profile and baseline that we have. Now, move us into this step two, which is imperatives. Where, in this space, we're kind of determining priorities, DEI objectives, and goals. And now, I imagine you're thinking of this at the organizational level, but maybe it's in the team level, maybe it's at an individual level, do you see this as something that is multi-level, so to speak? Conceptually, for sure, have you written about it in that way?
Randal Pinkett 17:34
Yes. This book follows two tracks: a personal track and an organizational track. The personal track walks the person through their own journey of data-driven DEI, and the organizational track does the same for a company, a nonprofit, a foundation, a government agency, etc. And, again, each step begins with the letter I. We've worked through DEI incentives, then DEI inventory, and now we're at DEI imperatives. What are the things that matter that you want to accomplish? And I use a model, OGSM: objectives, goals, strategies, and measures. So, for this step, it’s just the OG, and that's not to be colloquial. It's just the OG, the objectives, and the goals. Objectives are a qualitative articulation of what you want to accomplish. I want to be a more inclusive leader. Just plain talk, what do you want to do? The goal is how are you going to measure yourself against that objective? So if it is, “I want to be a more inclusive leader,” then I might take as my inventory the intrinsic inclusion inventory, the “I” three. The intrinsic inclusion inventory measures me on inclusive behaviors and will baseline me from my prior step. Now, if my goal is more inclusive behaviors as a leader, now I'm going to say, “I'm going to increase my intrinsic inclusion inventory score by 10%,” or, “I'm going to go from level three to level four.” We'll come back later to, “What am I going to do to accomplish that?” But if I quantify the objective with a goal, I know what my target is, and that's a data-driven approach.
Scott Allen 19:10
Nice. Say more about this space. Say more about kind of this element where we are really focusing on outlining those imperatives.
Randal Pinkett 19:21
This OGSM model, I love it because it brings the best of both worlds of qualitative and quantitative. Objective is the plain talk for those who appreciate words. The goal is for those who appreciate numbers, who want to measure and make certainly know where they're going. So, from an organizational perspective, it could be “We want to create a more inclusive culture where people want to experience the culture and the climate positively.” The predecessor of that was employee engagement surveys, where people wanted employees to feel engaged. Well, now the gold standard is not employee engagement; it's inclusion and belonging. People feeling like they are included and they belong. And I can measure inclusion. At BCT, we have our own instrument called the DEI workforce and workplace assessment. Lots of other firms and organizations have. And the book lays out no less than 25, if not 30, different instruments that you can find, some are freely available that can measure your culture and climate. 30, 40, 50 questions you ask your employees. Do I feel like I belong? Do I feel like I'm honored? It’s like my voice is heard. And I can then do interviews and focus groups to hear from people firsthand because qualitative data is also data. People often assume surveys are the only form of data. I can do an interview or focus group to gather that information. I can analyze it, and now, I can establish an objective, a more inclusive culture, and a goal. If I have an inclusive culture survey, I can produce an index. Say my index is 0 to 100, and I score right at 55. I want to move from a 55 to a 75 in the next year, which means I've improved on my inclusive culture. That's, again, a way of establishing an objective and a goal. That's the OG.
Scott Allen 21:11
Yeah. Well. I love how you're framing the quantitative and the qualitative because I think that mixed methodology will help us see a more holistic picture versus what one or the other would potentially produce. And so, I love how you're thinking about that. So, we move on to three, which is insights. Identify what works. I'm excited to hear about this. What works?
Randal Pinkett 21:36
Step three is one of my favorite steps. And again, I'm biased because I wrote the book. (Laughs).
Scott Allen 21:43
It’s really awesome.
Randal Pinkett 21:36
It’s one of my favorite steps. And I learned this from my colleague, Pete York. He's our chief data scientist at BCT. This dude is brilliant. And DEI inside says, “Before you decide what you're going to do to accomplish your objective, like what strategies would you pursue, rather than jumping right to, ‘I'm going to go to a course, or I'm going to read a book, or I'm going to watch a video, pause for a moment and ask the question, ‘What's worked for somebody else? What's worked for other organizations? What's considered a promising or proven practice, that I'm not reinventing the wheel.’” Almost think about it like aiming at a target. If you've got your bow and arrow, and someone can tell you, “Well, if you hold it like this, you're more likely to hit the target,” or, “If you point it in this direction, you're more likely to hit the target.” Would you accept that advice? Of course, you would. So, step three is saying, “Don't just pull back the bow and release the arrow; ask someone to tell you what worked for them or what worked in another context.” And if you go to datadrivendei.com, I have already done some of that work for you. I have what works models for people and what works models for organizations on the site. I'm talking mobile apps that will nudge you on inclusive behaviors; that's the inclusion habit. Virtual reality immersions that's through my eyes that can give you an experience that's immersive, unlike anything you've seen before. Equitable analytics for organizations that can analyze your data and tell you what works for whom at a very granular level. All of these models are there, and I've invited people to send me new models to add to the website. So, it's helping you to scaffold your journey and not reinvent the wheel. DEI insights - what works?
Scott Allen 23:27
So it's almost, in some ways, benchmarking and scanning the landscape to figure out, okay, what is available? What are the opportunities? You just mentioned some technology here. So, there are apps that will actually help me work towards some of these goals.
Randal Pinkett 23:44
Yeah. Check out the inclusionhabit.com. Dr. Amanda Folk came up with what is the equivalent of Noom for inclusive behaviors. For those who don't know Noom, Noom is a mobile app that will coach you on nutrition and wellness, and is based on a model for different food groups. Well, imagine the model for inclusive behavior. And this thing will give you what's called micro-commitments. Things you commit to do on a daily basis that research has proven will lead you to behave more inclusively, that’s one example of ‘what works’ model that you'd want to know before you undertake your journey.
Scott Allen 24:22
Well, and there's some really cool, whether it's James Clear and the Atomic Habits, I don't know if you've had a chance to explore Atomic Habits, or BJ Fogg. I'm going to write a book called ‘Little Baby Tiny Habits.’ My version of ‘7-minute Abs.’
Randal Pinkett 24:40
I love it.
Scott Allen 24:32
I like that phrasing ‘micro-commitments.’ I think that's wonderful phrasing. Okay, so we can even access some technology. We've got some best practices, we have some resources that we can tap into as to how we can move forward. And then, we've got this Initiative - step four.
Randal Pinkett 24:59
Yes. Step tour takes the OG and goes over to the SM. So, remember, DEI imperatives were objectives and goals. Then there's the SM; strategies and measures. So, DEI initiatives, which is step four, DEI initiatives. Okay, now what are we going to do? We've clarified our vision with DEI incentives, we've established our baseline with DEI inventory, we've laid out broad objectives and goals with DEI imperatives, and we know what works for others with DEI insights. Now, you have to figure out what you're going to do. And I think it's noteworthy that this model doesn't get to what to do until step four. There’s a lot of groundwork to make certain that when you decide what you're going to do, that you're directed in the right direction. So, DEI initiative says, “What are the strategies that you're going to employ? What books? What articles? What courses? What experiences?” I'm talking broadly; it could be movies, it could be travel, it could be dialogue, it could be a launch. Then, for an organization, it could be employee resource groups. It could be courageous conversations. It could be organization-wide training, learning, and development. There's lots of strategies one could pursue, but step three helps to inform what they should be that might work for you. And then, the measures helps us to put a quantification on the strategy. So, if I'm going to read a book, how many? I'm going to attend a course, what do I expect to be my score on the test at the end of the course? If I'm going to establish ERGs, what's my target for the number of people I want involved? Whereas objectives and goals are about outcomes. What do I ultimately want to accomplish? Strategies and measures are about outputs. An output is, "I attended the training," an output is "I read the book," an output is "I watched the video," an output is "I have people in the ERG." But an output is not an outcome because the ultimate goal was a more inclusive culture. The ultimate goal was behave more inclusively. And so, our objective is about outcomes. Our strategies are about outputs, which are considered intermediate steps to get to the final outcomes that I desire.
Scott Allen 27:23
I'm not reacting to what you just said, but I have like seven things going through my mind, and I just have a great appreciation for the fact that you're working at multiple levels, individual and organizational. I have an appreciation for the fact that, as we're thinking about how to quantify some of this, it's qualitative, it's quantitative. I love that you've defined outcomes and outputs. It's just nicely packaged so that an individual can… It's clear, there's a very clear process and a path forward. Because, as you know, this topic is complex, it is not an easy topic. And people's minds are in multiple spaces, and there's a lot of different ways that we can approach it. But I have a great appreciation for how you're thinking about this and how you're approaching it. And as we begin to kind of wind down on our time, what I would love to hear from you is what do you see that's kind of promising right now? We used that word ‘hope’ earlier. What do you see that's promising in the work that you're doing? And, as you're doing that work, what's kind of coming up on your radar as, “Oof, we need to figure this one out, or these few out. We're not gaining the traction we would hope to gain in a couple of these areas.” So, based on what you're seeing, what's given you hope? What is positive in the work right now?
Randal Pinkett 28:50
What's giving me hope is that I still see momentum from the groundswell of attention that we saw in 2020. While there are some organizations that pursued DEI because it was performative or it was reactionary, and they made commitments that they perhaps have not lived up to, I do see organizations that talk the talk and are now walking the walk and are making progress, and are leaning in and maintaining and making progress against the commitments that they made. And that is encouraging. I think the rap has been that all these commitments were empty. And that has not been my experience that they were empty commitments. There were some that were, but there were many that are and continue to be sustained. The part that concerns me, and it's funny how we started out talking about DEI and DNA, because as I see the growing proliferation of artificial intelligence in the likes of a ChatGPT and these large language models, and what this will mean for the DEI space, we have to remind ourselves, and in some ways, remain vigilant that we keep our DNA in the DEI, meaning that our humanity remains, first and foremost, in a space that I've helped to contribute to making more data-driven, and more AI-driven, and more machine learning-driven, and more ChatGPT-driven. We have to keep our DNA in that space of DEI, which means we have to have transparency on these algorithms to know what's happening under the hood. We have to be more interrogating to make sure that the data that they're trained on itself is representative and is itself diverse than when it's offering up recommendations and producing insights, that they're not narrowly defined or narrowly construed because the data set itself was narrowly constructed. So, we have to make sure our humanity leads the way and that the machines follow us, we don't follow the machines.
Scott Allen 31:03
If we were just to go to the media, so to speak, we've seen what algorithms can produce, right? They're producing what's getting people riled up, and that's what's getting clicked on. And then the impacts of an algorithm for listeners, that's a very simple, easy example of the impact of an algorithm. It elevates what's being clicked on to sell revenue and ads that keep us agitated, on edge, so to speak, at times. But I love what you're saying because, I think if we are going to create that inclusivity, and if we are going to keep that as a goal, how is that? And again, that's on any number of different dimensions. Right, Randal? It's gender, right?
Randal Pinkett 31:53
Scott Allen 31:54
What X percentage of these individuals coding are male? Even unconsciously, the biases that are being floated into the algorithms there's concern. Moving forward with especially the artificial intelligence - it's going to take great care. And it's worrisome, right?
Randal Pinkett 32:14
Yeah. There's a great story I tell in the book about an algorithm that was intended to try to diversify hiring on gender in a STEM; science, technology, engineering, and math. But it was trained on the existing data, which is it's mostly men that are in STEM. So, it's predicting that the person to hire should be a man because a man has been historically the one that has been hired. Completely counterproductive. And that's a simple example, but it’s an illustrative one.
Scott Allen 32:45
Well, if you've watched ‘The Social Dilemma,’ or now there's another one on HBO (MAX) called ‘15 Minutes Of Shame,’ and it's about kind of individuals who, again… But, in that instance, they just do a really nice job of talking about how the algorithms work and what they elevate. But in ‘Social Dilemma,’ just the conversations around the like button and some of the ramifications of the like button. The unintended consequences of some of the decisions it's amazing. I think of the butterfly effect. We create a like button, and, all of a sudden, it goes out into the world, and oof, we don't understand how it can be weaponized or how it can be abused in certain instances. Randal, anything else that you want listeners to know before we close out? I have one more question after this, but I just want to make sure that I gave you some time to say anything else that you'd like to about the book, or about the work, or where people can learn more.
Randal Pinkett 33:46
I just want to break down that very last step, which is step five, DEI impact. That's that letter “I.” Once again, impact. And DEI impact says, “Now that I've established my strategies and my goals, and I go ahead and execute on those strategies, I've then, in many ways, re-administer the same assessment that started my journey.” So, if I was measuring inclusive behavior, measure it again. If I’m measuring inclusive culture, measure it again. And then, not only that but see where you made progress and where you didn't. If, for inclusive behavior, I made improvements in mitigating my biases, but I didn't make improvements on my level of curiosity about people who are different than me, then now the cycle goes right back to step one. You have another baseline because you've made improvements here, and you have work to do here, and now you go back through all the steps again, and again, and again, and again, and you're constantly learning, you're constantly learning more, and you're constantly growing through that journey.
Scott Allen 34:50
The never-ending continuous cycle of data-driven. I absolutely love it. I absolutely love it. So, the last question I always ask is, what have you been listening to, reading, streaming, watching? What's caught your attention in recent times? It could have to do with what we've just discussed, or it could have nothing to do with what we just discussed. But what's been on your radar that's caught your attention that listeners might be interested in?
Randal Pinkett 35:20
Well, to your point before, I made all of my children watch ‘The Social Dilemma.’ The reason was twofold. A) I wanted them to be more savvy in how they use and navigated social media. But second, to our overarching discussion here, was I wanted them to see the echo chamber that they may be sitting in. And I'll give you a great example. On the evening of Donald Trump's indictment, I was watching CNN, MSNBC, and Fox in equal measure. And my son walked by the TV, and he said, “Why are you watching all three of these programs?” And I said to him, “For the same reason why I asked you to watch ‘The Social Dilemma.’” If I'm not seeing all the different points of view from the left, from the right, from the middle, then I'm not doing my job. I'm not able to navigate differences if I don't understand differences. And so, I think that reinforced for him how to talk the talk, watch the movie, but then to walk the walk. Like, I'm literally watching all three programs, going in between each of them to see what they're saying, how they're analyzing it, and building my muscle for navigating and bridging differences across those communities of the like-minded that we discussed earlier.
Scott Allen 36:39
I love you coming back to the bridging. I think that's incredible because that's walking the talk. And you’re right, I do something similar. And oftentimes, the narratives are polar opposites.
Randal Pinkett 36:52
(laughs) Dramatically different. It's like you're in different worlds.
Scott Allen 36:56
Yes, they are.
Randal Pinkett 36:57
And that's the point. That's the point is that they are, in many ways, different worlds.
Scott Allen 37:02
Yes. It's fascinating to observe, but to your point, are you able to communicate and understand and, at least, work to empathize with the different narratives and the differences so that you can be that bridge?
Randal Pinkett 37:17
We need bridges now more than ever. And as Dr. King's words, “We will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” If you are just well-intentioned, but in your own echo chamber, I got news for you, you're a part of the problem too.
Scott Allen 37:36
We will end there. Sir, thank you so much for your time today. All of the information for listeners is going to be in the show notes, which is how you can access Randal’s work, and you can access the book, and all of the resources that he has put together. Dr. Pinkett, thank you so much. I can't thank you enough for being with us today. Thank you for your good work, sir.
Randal Pinkett 37:56
Thank you, Scott. Appreciate you and your voice.
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