Diversity in the DNA
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Inclusive Growth Show with Toby Mildon, future-proofing your business by creating a diverse workplace.
Toby Mildon: Hello there. Thank you ever so much for tuning into this episode of The Inclusive Growth Show. I am Toby Mildon, and today I’m joined by Nick Davies. So I met Nick quite a few years ago now when I was working at the BBC as a Diversity and Inclusion Manager myself. And I flew over to Toronto to go and see my family, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to try and connect with people who worked in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, coming from the BBC. So I reached out to them and I met a few people from the CBC. Nick was one of those guys, and Nick is a great guy, we’ve kept in touch ever since. We chew the fact on diversity and inclusion shit, so to speak, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to get him on this podcast and talk to him about his experience of working in diversity and inclusion within broadcasting and within Canada, looking at some of the systemic and structural barriers that are in the industry and what can be done about those. So Nick, it’s lovely to see you. Thank you for coming on the show.
Nick Davies: I am happy to be here Toby. Thanks for the kind introduction. He says I’m a great guy, but I think you can make up your own mind about that after the podcast because I’m really not.
Toby Mildon: I’m sure the person listening to our interview today is gonna love you as much as I do. So Nick, that was my unofficial intro I suppose, but we should probably do a more official intro. Can you let us know a bit more about your professional background and what you do at the CBC?
Nick Davies: Yeah, well, currently, I’m the Director of Engagement and Inclusion at CBC, but I’ve been a journalist for 33 years now. I started my career back in the 1980s a long, long time ago, and I started out actually as a TV host, and then I became a radio host, and then I got into the CBC probably 10 years after I started broadcasting. And I started out as a national reporter at the CBC, it was a great experience and I got to go to a couple of Olympics, it was just a really cool experience. But after we got back from the Olympics they downsized sports and me. They asked me, what do I wanna do? And I said, “I actually wanna be the person who decides what gets on radio.” Because at that time, in talking, this is like 2000, 1999, 2000, and at that time I said, “There’s nobody who looks like me, as a black man who was at CBC at the time, who I thought made those decisions.”
Nick Davies: We had some diversity in our ranks in terms of we had reporters and we had some APs, but there was very few people and we weren’t… And there was very few people who look like me who were in a position of authority. And people liked me as a reporter and thought, “Oh, this guy is a great reporter, he’s a pretty good producer,” but I wanted to be the person who decided what got on the radio, and so I set my sights very early in my career at CBC to be a producer. I wanted to be a senior producer of a program and be that person who made that decision, so I went about doing that. Started out as an AP, associate producer in radio, then became a producer, and then became a senior producer of the local morning show in Toronto. And we took that show from being… Not doing very well in that market, to being number one in the market within a really short period of time.
Nick Davies: And the only thing we did different, Toby, was that we changed the mandate of the show because at that time I started working on that program, the United Nations has declared that Toronto was one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. And I had a new boss that came on to work with us, and she asked me what’s my favorite part of the show and I said, “Well, I actually don’t listen to the show.” She said, “What do you mean, you don’t listen to this show?” I said, “I don’t listen to it.” And she said, “Why not?” I said, “‘Cause it’s not a very good show, it doesn’t… The show doesn’t include me in it.” She goes, “But you’re one of the associate producers on the show,” I said, “Yeah, I know what I am, but I get assigned stories to chase, I chase them. I look at the board before I leave every day and I know what’s gonna be on the show and I know I’m probably not interested in any of it, so I don’t listen.” She goes, “Well, what do you listen to?” So I told her, “I listen to community radio, I listen to a reggae show I used to like on Mondays and I listen to a hip hop show on this other day and I listen to this rally cool talk show I like on the weekends.”
Nick Davies: And she said, “Well, what is it that you like about those programs?” I said, “Well, I hear myself in those programs. I hear people like me,” and I said, “It’s amazing that we live in the most multi-cultural city in the world, according to the United Nations, but when I turn on our morning show on CBC, it doesn’t sound like it.” Our morning show didn’t sound anything like that. And she said, “Well, what would need to happen to do that?” She goes… And I said, “Well, we just need to be very deliberate and intentional about that and looking and sounding like the city we serve.” And so she gave me the reins, said, “Here, go ahead and do it.”
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Nick Davies: I had no idea how to do that at the time, so… I had my own thoughts and ideas, but so we went on this journey that took around two or three years, and our only mandate was to look and sound like the city we serve, and so since our city was highly multi-cultural, highly multi-racial, very, very diverse city, we just started to make sure that when you turned on that radio every morning that when you listened to it, that it sounded like we lived in this multi-cultural city. And we turned the program into the number one program in the market. It’s actually still the number one program in the city of Toronto so many, many years later, and it still holds on to those values. And that was the beginning to me of that inclusion and diversity work in a very purposeful way, at CBC in a very, very purposeful, very intentional way.
Speaker 1: And so that kind of stayed in my portfolio even though I left that show in 2010, and I went onto to be getting into program development, but I took those same values into my program development role. When I was working with radio shows and TV shows and then on the digital side, right across the country. And the same values as, “How do we make sure that everything we do in terms of… At least in this case, in terms of our content, looked and sounded like the city we serve?” Like, “How are we reflecting Canada back onto itself in our program?” So that was kind of the base I came at it from. And so I’ve been doing this kind of work forever, that kind of D&I work. And so when the position came up to be the Director of Engagement and Inclusion, it wasn’t like I went for the job, they thought I was the perfect person for the job and so they hustled me into that chair and I’ve been in that chair for over a year and a half now and I really am enjoying it. And I’m thinking it’s… We’ve done some good work, but it’s been great. But that’s how I am where I am now.
Toby Mildon: That’s really cool. You say that you got your radio show to number one, but I have a feeling that this Inclusive Growth Show’s podcast is a contender.
Toby Mildon: Just watch out, this might be the number one podcast in Toronto one day, [06:47] ____.
Nick Davies: If we were head to head we would be in a run for our money, most definitely.
Toby Mildon: So I know from our previous conversations that you have a particular interest in systemic and structural barriers. Why is that?
Nick Davies: Well, the real reason why, and I think it’s… And I, myself have been a victim of systemic discrimination and racism my whole life and I’m very aware of how systemic and structural barriers that exist in the world in which we live in and I’m aware of the impact they have on people who are often from, what I say, equity-seeking groups or from disenfranchised groups or people who have no power. And the system is set up in a way to always support the status quo, whatever the status quo is, and the structures are put in place to meet and support that status quo. And so for me, I’ve always thought, even when I was thinking about my time working on our local morning Toronto show, when people would pitch ideas that were not from the status quo it’s like, “Oh well, well no, no, we don’t do those kinds of stories,” I’m going, “Well, why don’t we do them?” And their answers were always, “Well, what would so-and-so in some remote part of Canada think about that show if they heard it?” And I said, “Well, actually we only broadcast in Toronto and you can’t throw a stone in Toronto and not hit across diversity.” Like you just can’t. It’s impossible, right?
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Nick Davies: So I don’t know what we’re afraid of, but it was the way they worked. They had a system of working and a structure that was set up that supported the types of stories they thought were good stories, “This is what makes a good story. This is how you pitch stories. Here’s how we evaluate stories.” And I thought that that system was not a very inclusive system. So I’ve always said if we just rebuild the system we can change the frame because, well, I’m the senior producer now so we don’t have to do it that way, we can just change it. And when you break down these systems and make the place more inclusive, that is when you see some growth. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna be perfect ’cause it takes time, but you see growth there.
Nick Davies: And so for me, everywhere I’ve gone I think that we have to attack the systemic and structural barriers because people don’t often even see those as acts of racism or acts of oppression or acts of exclusion. They actually don’t even see it that way, right? And I was fortunate enough too, and you know one of my co-workers who worked with me at Metro Morning and you know, God rest her soul, Ing Wong-Ward, who was a woman who was in a wheelchair herself and she really drove home to me how systemic barriers even made her life impossible. She couldn’t get into certain buildings, we had to… Once our show was successful they wanted to send us around the country, this kind of dog and pony show to tell people how we became successful. And just the challenges of going to a shop and she can’t use a washroom in our shop because none of the washrooms are for people with disabilities.
Nick Davies: And I’m thinking, “Okay, are we… ” Like, “What world are we in?” And like, you know what I mean? Like, “You know Ing is coming, why haven’t we made an accommodation for [09:50] ____ Ing?” You know what I mean?
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Nick Davies: But because it was… It’s outside of their system and outside of their structure and they didn’t think about it, and I thought, “But it’s real simple, just freaking put a ramp down here so she can get into the freaking building,” like, “Why are we carrying her chair?” It’s just, to me, very unthoughtful things. So they don’t even understand how it was discriminating against her because of the system or the structure that they had in place that they felt they couldn’t change when I think they had the power to change. And so to me those are things that I personally, man I told you Ing stories, like my own systematic issues around systemic racism. I mean, growing up as a black man in in Toronto is, I can tell you I’m… How old am I now? I’m in my 50s, mid-50s, and Toby, I’ve been pulled over by the police between the age of probably… I got my license when I was 16 and probably between the age 16 and maybe 30, I’ve probably been pulled over by the police over 100 times and never got a ticket.
Toby Mildon: Wow.
Nick Davies: And so people can say whatever they wanna say. They can say, “Well, maybe you were speeding.” Well, I didn’t get a ticket, so I clearly wasn’t speeding. And then they asked me a lot of questions, they held me up lots of times, and this was a consistent pattern of behavior, and to me that’s systemic. For some reason, a black man driving a car that wasn’t ratty or crappy somehow needs to be talked to and we need to assess whether they’re a safety risk to everybody else. And so when you… And that’s just one thing. I have so many other things that where, you just think about like, “Holy mackerel.” Like, “Why is this happening?” It never happens to my white friends. They don’t have those experiences and they don’t understand. To them it’s just bad luck, and I’m like, “No, that’s actually just a system in place that actually oppresses young black men in my community because of the image or the way they perceive me in my community.” So I’ve always tried to knock down those barriers as best I can. I think it’s the best way to attack racism to me, and it’s not flashy, but it’s the best way to me to attack it.
Toby Mildon: Yeah, I mean, so what are some of the barriers that you commonly find within employers and businesses? It might be stuff that goes on within broadcasting, but other organizations as well.
Nick Davies: Well, let’s say broadcasting ’cause I’ve been in it for so long, right? It’s, to me, a barrier is what do people think is a good story. To me, a barrier is story meetings like, how are we holding story meetings and how do we decide? Another barrier is how do we decide who gets to do a story? How do we decide whose perspective a story is told from? Those to me are… They seem like, “Well, that just depends on who your boss is.” Well, I’ve had many, many, many, many, many different bosses and it’s the same, same, same, same, same, same thing. So I have to assume that people believe this is the way you do things, and to me that’s a system, right? Or that’s a process. And so if the process is keeping my voice out of it… And remember, I’m at the table pitching stories and I can tell you, I remember one time I pitched a story, Toby, which I thought was an amazing story and I was told in the meeting, someone said in the meeting, a very powerful person in the meeting too, when you think about the role this person was playing on the program and said, “Are you only pitching that story because it’s about black people?” And shut it down immediately. And that system felt that any story that they couldn’t relate to wasn’t a good story.
Nick Davies: And so I learned really quickly how to pitch to get around the system, which means I always pitched and never divulged whether someone was black, Asian, had a disability, I just didn’t divulge it. I just said, “So-and-so has this really cool thing they’re doing and here’s why they’re doing it. I think it makes a great story because of this, this, this, and this, and I think people in Toronto need to care about it because of this, this, this, this.” I would never bring that into it. But who wouldn’t think about that? Why can’t I bring it into it? But that’s how I had to get around it and until I was in a position to change that system and change what is considered a good story and change how we perceive stories should be told and what lens they’re told through and what perspective, that is gonna keep you out of it.
Nick Davies: And so for me, the other thing I can tell you a really cool story about, [chuckle] which I think is around systemic discrimination, it’s really… I don’t think the people who I’m gonna tell you about think it’s cool, but I think it’s kind of funny ’cause it just speaks to something. So before I got the job at CBC, I was invited to this event by a group of people who call themselves the Friends of the CBC. And so these are people who are trying to help CBC in the eyes of the public, but they weren’t related to CBC, they have no contact… They’re not connected to the CBC in anyway, just a group of people who wanted to raise awareness around the value of the CBC to make sure it always got its funding and all that kind of stuff.
Toby Mildon: Yeah, yeah.
Nick Davies: I was at the time an editor of a newspaper, it’s a very successful newspaper, but we never had pictures of the people who wrote in the papers in the paper, but we had just won some awards and that kind of stuff for some of our journalism, and so they wanted to invite me, the editor of my paper, which was me at the time, to go to this big event talking about how to save the CBC. And the part they wanted me to come talk about or talk to, was around making sure CBC was a much more diverse place. So I go to this event and I’m at the door and I’m saying, “Yeah, I’m Nick Davis, I’m here.” And they go, “Are you sure you’re Nick Davis?” And I’m going, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m Nick Davis.” “Can we see some ID please?” And so I say, “Yeah, sure.”
Nick Davies: So I pull some ID and I show them my ID and they go, “Oh, we just thought you were somebody else.” And I said, “Okay. Whatever.” And I just kind of walk in and I’m not even really too too taking it in. I’m like going, “Okay, this is odd. You’re invited here to speak, it’s about diversity, so they must know I’m black and so that’s why they have invited me, I assume that’s why. And I’m running this successful newspaper so I think they… ” Okay, so I go in there and everywhere I went, they’d go, “Oh, are you sure you’re Nick Davis?” And I’m going, “Yeah, I am sure I’m Nick Davis.” So I finally get… I’m being introduced now to come and speak, and so the woman who’s introducing me, a woman named Rita Devereaux, and she is a black woman, an American black woman who was living in Toronto at the time, and they’ve invited her.
Nick Davies: And she, in her introduction, she makes note of the fact that me and her are the only two people of color in the entire room, in the entire room, and she goes, “And think about it, this is a conversation about diversity.” And so when we asked the guy… So I get up and I do my whatever and I come back down. I said to Rita, “Why are you embarrassing like that?” Rita goes to me, “Nicky, they didn’t even know you were black. They are inviting you thinking you’re a white man who has figured out diversity and why your paper was good.” They had no idea that the editor of this paper could possibly be a black person, like they just never… So when they invited me because of my name, Nick Davis, it doesn’t sound very ethnic or whatever, and I had to remind the guy when I was talking, I was like, “Well, you do know that I come from a long line of people who were colonized and whoever had colonized my family back in whenever were the Davis’ that’s why I am Davis.”
Nick Davies: But it was just funny how they thought they were inviting a white… They were inviting a white person to come speak about diversity, ’cause the thing that my paper was successful for was around diversity, range of voices, different perspectives, and that’s why we won this award, but they just assumed it was a white guy, because there’s no picture of me in the paper. And so they invited… And so when that’s why they kept asking me, “Are you sure you’re Nick Davis?” ‘Cause in their mind, it was not gonna be this black guy. And to me, that speaks to a real system to me where people just can’t even imagine that someone who looks like me could be running a successful newspaper in Toronto and doing well. They just couldn’t imagine it was a black guy, and it was Rita who told me, that’s why she said she had to embarrass me and introduce me that way, thinking I’m going, “Thanks Rita.” [chuckle]
Toby Mildon: It happens a lot. I remember when I was doing unconscious bias training at the BBC, our trainer was this black lady and she said to us that she never shows up to the BBC wearing a black suit because people automatically think she’s the security guards ’cause the BBC security guards wear dark suits and red ties, and so she has been mistaken for a security guard, and she’s like, “No, I’m here to train a bunch of people.”
Nick Davies: But that’s systemic to me. And I’m telling you it’s not intentional, I don’t think people intentionally were trying to discriminate or anything, and what they don’t understand is the cumulative effect of all the things that are systemic and structural like the cumulative effect of them, A, you just kind of snap. You’re going, Okay, you know what? I’m so tired of… ” I’m tired of going in an elevator, Toby, when I was younger, even now, and I’m in an elevator with a white woman and she puts her purse on the other side of her. I’m like, “Okay, really?” Like, “Are black men going around and robbing white women in elevators? I’m not aware of that crime spree that’s happening, why you would think that way.” But that’s because a system and a structure exists where as black men we’re painted as dangerous in some people’s eyes, right?
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Nick Davies: And you just get kind of tired of it, and then at some point there’s a boiling point and you go, “Okay, you know what? I’m so tired of it.” And then it’s not good. So managing those emotions from all that accumulative, that cumulative impact of those kinds of systemic and structural… I actually prefer… I mean I used to go to the States when I was younger, I used to go to New York every summer. When I was growing up, my mom sent us to school to live in Brooklyn every summer with my aunt. I did that for 10 years growing up from like when I was like eight years old till I was 18 and the overt racism I faced in the United States, I far much more appreciated than the kind of covert racism ’cause at least you can deal with it in the moment. But the structural and systemic stuff, it just… One day you realize, it’s almost like, “Am I? I don’t understand why I’m not getting these jobs.”
Toby Mildon: ‘Cause it could be really subtle, though, can’t it? And really small, kind of micro… It’s those micro incivilities that…
Nick Davies: And who do you blame?
Toby Mildon: Could easily go under your nose.
Nick Davies: Yeah. And who do you blame, Toby?
Nick Davies: I can’t be mad at… I guess I could be, but I can’t really be mad at the guy who is the senior producer of the show because this is what he was told a good story is [20:09] ____ to keep… I can’t be mad at him, this is what he’s learned. So do you get mad at the whole structure and the whole system, you just get so frustrated, but it just kind of creeps up on you and then one day you realize like, “Holy mackerel, the weight of this thing is killing me. It’s really taking its toll on me.”
Toby Mildon: Yeah, ’cause when I was at the BBC I started as a project manager. Between you, me and the person listening to this show I was getting a bit bored of being a project manager, so I thought if I worked in TV that’s probably a bit more sexy. So I thought okay, I want to retrain and become a production manager because there were so many transferable skills. The difference between a project manager and a production manager is negligible. You’re dealing with budgets and people and schedules and stuff like that, and I went through the training and I knew I could do production management with my eyes closed, it was fairly straightforward for me. But when I was trying to make the career switch I just kept coming up against those kind of small, subtle micro-barriers and people were… And it wasn’t until I had a mentor which was assigned to me through a diversity program that the BBC was running, and then she kind of had a frank conversation with me and said, “We’ve had some feedback from somebody that you can’t be a production manager because if you went on location, being in a wheelchair you wouldn’t be able to lift heavy equipment,” and I’m like, “Come on! Somebody else could lift the cameras and I could do their spreadsheet for them, we just need to be a bit creative.”
Nick Davies: Yeah. I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing at it. To me, like I said, one of my really, really good friends was a paraplegic, like I say, God rest her soul, alright? And so to me I just find those things funny because those are not actually problems. And not everyone’s job is to lift up heavy equipment, there’s so many different jobs on a set. To just rearrange the work is so low maintenance and it’s so easy because what I actually really want is your brain. I actually want your thinking, I want to your perspective, and I’d rather have that than your ability to lift up a light. That’s far more valuable to me than that, but they don’t… It’s just perspective, it’s how people see things.
Toby Mildon: And I said to them, “Look, to be honest with you, I don’t really want to work in a genre where I’m gonna have to fly off and work in the middle of a desert somewhere. I’m quite happy working in a nice cozy studio doing some sort of factual TV program interviewing some boring politicians.” [chuckle]
Nick Davies: I mean, come on. [22:50] ____ So am I, trust me. That’s not unique to you. [chuckle]
Toby Mildon: What are some of the easier systemic barriers that organizations can start removing? Let’s go for those low-hanging fruit, so to speak.
Nick Davies: Well, the low-hanging fruit. If you want to be on the low, low, low hanging fruit, are in our hiring practices. That, to me, is just easy to do. That takes this thing called political will and it’s just very simple to do. Our hiring practices, how we run our story meetings, how we make decisions around what gets on when we’re assigning. I’m talking of course from a news perspective ’cause that’s where I’m coming from, but in any position, any job who actually makes the decisions.
Nick Davies: I’m speaking with a group sometime later who gives out money for people who create, have new innovations, and these innovations are supposed to help Canada. And they have a lot of money, huge, huge amounts of money to give away to people that have really innovative ideas around how to make Canada a more inclusive place. I say to them all the time, “Who decides who gets the money?” And they say, “Well we have these criteria.” And so I look at the criteria and say, “Who created these criteria?” And so they go… Because in the end the same people were always getting the money. It’s always these same three or four companies getting all this money and no one else could really get in, and I said, “Well… ” I said, “That’s a pretty big barrier for people who have great ideas, who are trying to sell them to the government,” and they’re like, “Well you know we can’t change it ’cause it’s the way we do things.” And I say, “No, you can actually… You have the power to change it.” To me I don’t find it that hard.
Nick Davies: You have to decide at some point if you’re hiring, in terms of the hiring practice that, “What are we missing in our company? What can add value to us?” ’cause I don’t think anyone… I think we’re beyond the point of making the business case for diversity. There’s enough studies in this world that have shown that companies that are diverse and have a wide range opinions and a wide range of different types of people from all different perspectives, all that kind of… We know that that makes a better company. So why are we consciously hiring the same people all the time if we’re in a certain space? And we’re usually hiring it based on someone who looks like me, someone who looks like us. And so to me those are easy fixes, just change your frame. But it is so hard to get people to make that change because they often see it as a threat to their own existence.
Toby Mildon: I think quite it’s interesting how looking at it from a decision-maker’s perspective, those that have the power, they should be the ones that are prepared to challenge the status quo, essentially.
Nick Davies: Oh, you have to challenge the status quo if you’re in power. But if you are in power and you are part of the status quo, and you’re benefiting from being part of the status quo, and you wanna continue to benefit from being part of the status quo. Because let’s say your boss doesn’t have your viewpoints on, “Let’s be more… Open this up to more people and let’s be as inclusive as possible,” if your boss doesn’t have that belief and you wanna keep your boss happy, well you’re gonna hire somebody to keep your boss happy because you wanna keep your job ’cause you’re part of the status quo. But I’m not part of it. Even when I’m in a leadership position I have never felt like I was part of the status quo, so I have no trouble just going against it because me being there is already opposite of the status quo. The fact that I’m even there… Trust me, it just takes one person, one ally, one person who sees you, one person who believes in you, and then you gotta go do the work. Your work speaks for itself in the end and it should always speak for itself in the end, right? It’s so hard to get in the door sometimes because of whatever…
Nick Davies: Thing, people look at you and think, “Well, I don’t need this person here,” or, “This person doesn’t fit in here.” Even in your TV example, you’re not a good fit. And I try, I [27:06] ____ hate language like that, “You’re not a good fit.” What’s that mean actually? That’s [27:09] ____ cold, and that’s code words for, “I wanna get someone who looks like me, or who shares my values.” And I argue all the time, Toby, and I’ve been doing this for years at CBC that, ’cause a lot of people say, “Well, you’re gonna dumb down our journalism,” and I’m going, “Okay. Look, why do you make that connection?” I said, “To me, it’s about improving our journalism.”
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Nick Davies: The more diversity of voices we have, the more diversity of opinions we have, the more different perspectives we have at the decision-making table, not on the thing, doing the research and mopping the floors and take out the garbage. People [27:43] ____ be better, our journalism, not the worst, and I’m telling you the places that do the best, if you’re looking at them, for the most part, I won’t say everybody, but at least here where I’m from, they’re pretty diverse. And they tend to better because they have a bigger palette to choose from.
Toby Mildon: Diversity definitely adds value rather than takes value away. And one thing that really pisses me off royally is when people talk about “culture fit”. ‘Cause what they’re really talking about is if somebody doesn’t fit your “culture”, you’re effectively hiring somebody that is just like you. And it’s like, well, culture fit doesn’t bring diversity. Let’s change the narrative, let’s talk about how people adds to the culture or add to the values of an organization.
Nick Davies: Well, you know how hard that is to do? We were doing boards the other day, and we were doing boards for a reporter, boards in… For hiring boards in Canada. We were doing one for a reporter, and I went in before. Before I even join any board now, I have all kinds of my own criteria, like, A, I wanna be involved in the waiting process, I wanna be involved in the questions we’re asking, and I wanna be involved in the selection process of who we’re actually going to interview for these jobs. Otherwise, don’t ask me to be on your board, ’cause I don’t wanna be on it. I’m not gonna be, so you can say, “Oh, we had a black guy on the board, and we still picked this one.” No, it’s not gonna happen, I’m not gonna be that guy. So I need to be involved in this process. And so the person was a bit frustrated, because I would ask him questions like, “Okay, so what are you missing, what are you missing in your department?” And he said, “Well, we wanna hire this person because they’re gonna fit right in, they already know what we’re doing, they understand our program,” and I’m going, “Okay. But you have three people like that already, so let’s [29:30] ____ try that question again.”
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Nick Davies: “What are you missing? I’m not asking you what you have, what are you missing?” And then the person was saying, “Well, if we bring in this person then we’re gonna have to hold their hand and train them for a little bit of while.” And I’m going, “Okay, you’re gonna hire an experienced reporter, I assume, right? It’s not like there’s a lack of experienced reporters who are from equity seeking groups. There’s a lot of them. So my question is what are you missing? And I’m talking about perspective, all those kind of things. If you’re worried about onboarding somebody, well, then you need to rethink your onboarding process, ’cause I thought we’re looking for something that’s gonna add value to us. And what’s gonna add value is something we don’t have, not something we already have.”
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Nick Davies: I had to get him to think about it that way. And after a while he goes, “Okay, I hear what you’re saying.” And in the end, you know he did. But it took convincing, like I had to change his lens of how he was seeing it, ’cause I’m thinking no matter who you hire, there’s going to be an onboarding process, you’re gonna have to hold… No matter who you hire, you’re gonna have to hold their hand at some point. They gotta understand how we work at CBC, how you fill [30:26] ____ out your paychecks, how you [30:27] ____ There’s a whole bunch of things they’ve gotta learn anyways. It’s not likely they’re just gonna run in there and the next thing you know they’re working. So let’s find something that we need, not something we already have. But after me flipping it on him, he understood, right, and he said, “Yeah, okay, I hear what you’re saying.” And I thought they did hire a very good candidate, and it worked out really well, and the person’s still working here, and it’s all great. And you know what? He didn’t have to do any hand-holding. The person was a very good reporter. [laughter] There was no hand-holding at all. But it was just that in his mind, that’s what he thought. Well, and that’s ’cause he thought, like you said, that they weren’t a good fit, culturally.
Toby Mildon: Yeah. But what I’m thinking for that transformation to happen, that was a one-on-one interaction with you. There are not many people in the workplace that approach diversity and inclusion like you and I would. And so there is a question about how do we… I suppose, how we scale this up, because relying on one-to-one interactions like that, it’s gonna take…
Nick Davies: Yeah, change will take forever.
Toby Mildon: You know, it will take forever. So that’s where I think it is important to get things structurally right, so that human behavior then follows.
Nick Davies: Right. So I do… Like, that’s one of the things that I’m responsible for right now, is helping to change the culture at CBC, right? And change it in a good way. So part of the thing that I’m trying to address right now in my work is how do we deal with the anti-Black discrimination? How do we deal with the anti-indigenous discrimination, and how do we deal with the systemic barriers and the structural barriers? I’m actually dealing with that right now. So for me, I’ve been trying to do… And so there’s two things. Well, first, I have to think about the people who are harmed by these processes, and by these systems, and how we’re supporting those people, like how are we actually supporting those people. Because sometimes they tend to be seen as people who are complaining or just whining, but they’re harmed, and it’s been years and years of harm that have accumulated and they feel it intrinsically.
Nick Davies: But I also have to think about, well, we can’t just fire everybody, that’s not gonna happen, right? That’s not gonna happen, because we work in a unionized environment and there’s all kinds of… There’s just a lot of… So how do we help those managers, those people in decision-making positions get there? So we’ve been doing a bunch of stuff. So at my company now, we’ve made unconscious bias training mandatory for all managers. Anyone who manages people, it’s mandatory, you have to go through it. And for anyone who’s at a higher level of management, which is a PBA, which is, I’m not gonna go through the numbers, ’cause they mean nothing to you, but who is in a more senior management position, they have to do two levels of unconscious bias training, and one’s really around cultural fluency, right?
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Nick Davies: Then, the other thing we’re trying to do is we’re trying to get in, is actually having people understand what oppression is and how people are oppressed, learn people’s histories, we have a bunch of… We have a thing called reporting in indigenous communities, and that’s for all reporters across country. We have just come up with a checklist for… And it’s for the whole company, for all the senior producers, all the editors around how we cover stories in communities that don’t that… That are diversed, and how do we cover and serve those communities. And so these are company-wide initiatives, that we’re hoping to change perspectives, but a big part of it is actually training. And I look at some of these as educational opportunities.
Nick Davies: But the other big thing that we’re really trying to do, the other thing that really helps change structures is sometimes to get people from equity seeking groups in leadership positions. What are we doing to do it? So we’ve created a couple of programs that we’re developing, the developing emerging leaders program, the DEL program, specifically for people from equity seeking groups, we’ve put 48 people through that program in the last few years, we’re into our fourth cohort right now.
Nick Davies: And so there’s a pool of people who had leadership training, who come from equity seeking groups, who come, who are people with disabilities, who are people who are indigenous, who you can’t say we don’t have the people now, they’re here, we’ve created this pool of people, and we’ve made an arrangement with talent acquisition that whenever any type of leadership job comes open, that they got to go down this list first. And that’s actually happening right now at CBC, and it’s beared fruit for us in a real meaningful way. We’ve created things like that, we’re taking a look at our journalistic standards and practices, which is kind of like the Bible at CBC, the JSP. And the BBC has a similar document, which is basically how we operate, and we’ve found that people have been using that document to silence people for a long time. And so we’re putting all our policies, every single policy at CBC right now is going through a lens of engagement inclusion, every single one of them.
Nick Davies: And so that process is gonna help, it’s gonna take a little bit of while ’cause you got to get through a lot of policies, and you gotta get the board of governors and everyone else, the board of directors to approve and then a whole bunch of things have to happen, because we are a crown corporation, a government corporation, so it’s not that simple. But it’s happening right now. And those things are gonna help in our, at least we feel so, help some of that systemic and the structural barriers, help to dismantle some of it, you know what I mean?
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Nick Davies: So, but when you get people in leadership positions, who look like the audiences they serve, they’re gonna make decisions that people like… That people who look like… People who reflect our audience that are gonna actually make our audiences feel like they’re included, make the people who work there feel like they’re included. And so that’s what we’re trying to do, and those are real big things. And you’re right, that those are big projects, but they are national in scope for the whole country, and we know they’re having impact ’cause we’ve seen the numbers, we know for a fact they’re having impact. Some of the work we did around just gender equity, many, many moons ago, and gender equity is not… It’s an issue at some parts of CBC, but generally, gender equity is something that we’ve solved at CBC at all levels. And so, we’ve still gotta solve it in the technical space, right, we’ve still gotta to solve it there, but it’s… Now we’re trying to solve that same issue for people with disabilities, people from… People of color, and people from indigenous communities, we’re trying to solve it the same way. And so, those are bigger challenges, and we’re hoping to get there.
Toby Mildon: Absolutely. I like how you’re approaching this and trying to get into the, I suppose, the DNA and the fabric of the organization. So this is of course, the Inclusive Growth Show, and before we go, I’m just interested in hearing what you think inclusive growth is all about?
Nick Davies: Well, I always hear that we’re so diverse, “You’re a real diverse company. And what are you complaining about? You have lots of diversity.” And I said, “Yeah, but we have no inclusion.” Well, not enough inclusion, we have some but not nearly enough, ’cause inclusive growth to me is where people not only come to a company and feel valued, and they feel respected, and they feel like they’re being heard, but it’s also that they feel whatever path they wanna take, that there’s a path to get there, so if I wanna be a senior producer or if I wanna be a director or if I wanna be the Vice President of CBC, that there’s a path there that includes me, right? And so that to me, inclusive growth is when we’ve taken away all those barriers so that people can do what they need to do… And then not everybody wants to be the Vice President of CBC, I definitely don’t want to be that ever, but I do know if I want to be I actually know the path to get there.
Nick Davies: And if there was… And the only way to that path can get there is if I’ve remove some barriers. And so some of the barriers, not all, have been removed. So I know how to get to that path, and so inclusive growth to me, is when we have an environment where people can not only feel heard, be respected, be included, feel good about themselves, all that kinds of stuff. It’s also around that if they want to, whatever they want to do or accomplish in that company, there’s a path for them to get there that doesn’t exclude people who look like them at all. And so that’s inclusive growth to me and I think that’s what we’re striving to do is actually striking down some of those barriers that prevent people from getting the opportunities they wanna get and do the things they wanna do. And in a fair world, for people who are from equity seeking groups, there’s just so many barriers in place, it’s just hard for one person to do it, so it takes people like you and people like me doing our jobs, trying to educate people on how we can make those paths clear for everybody else so they can actually feel really included, wherever they are.
Toby Mildon: Brilliant. Well, Nicky, thank you ever so much for joining me on this episode of the show. I love talking to you. We could go on for hours and hours.
Nick Davies: I know.
Toby Mildon: But I think the person listening to our conversation today might not wanna hang on that long, but hopefully they’ve enjoyed our conversation as much as I’ve enjoyed talking with you, so thank you ever so much for joining me.
Nick Davies: Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you, Toby, for having me, I appreciate it.
Toby Mildon: Great. And thank you for listening to this episode and listening to Nicky and I having a chat. Hopefully I’ll see you on the next episode of the Inclusive Growth Show, which will be coming up very shortly. Until then, take care.
Speaker 1: Thank you for listening to the Inclusive Growth Show. For further information and resources from Toby and his team, head on over to our website @mildon.co.uk.
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