Johannah McWilliams: Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. In 2021, President Biden released an executive order to advance DEIA, meaning diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the federal government.
For U.S. federal agency leaders, this order serves as an opportunity for change and to rethink their DEIA strategies. This’ll help them attract, retain, and develop talent that “looks like America” and build more equitable workplaces and cultures of belonging.
Joining us is the FBI's chief diversity officer, McMillion, as well as Workday's chief diversity officer, Taylor. Today, we'll be discussing how to strategically place your diversity and inclusion team within your organization and the ROI of doing the right thing. Over the last year, Scott and Carin have discussed topics like this multiple times and have formed a great working relationship.
So Scott, Carin, thank you for being here today. I know your time is in high demand, so let's get started.
Carin Taylor: Perfect.
Scott McMillion: Excellent.
McWilliams: Scott, you made the news by becoming the FBI's first chief diversity officer in its 100-plus-year history. So congratulations. What made you want to take on such a difficult role?
McMillion: Well, first of all, thank you for having me in this podcast with Carin. And let me just say, it's just such a pleasure and honor to be here. Just to share a little bit about my travels literally within the FBI, but more specifically, the strategic placing of a chief diversity officer within the FBI, which can be applied to other organizations.
And so when I look at the question and think about what made me want to take on such a challenging role, a difficult role, I would tell you I love the FBI. I've been in it now almost 25 years, and I will tell you I believe for sure that diversity, equity, and inclusion and accessibility make the organization better. I really believe that we can be better at what we do when it comes to serving the American people, upholding the constitution of the United States when we have the perspectives of various people from various backgrounds. And those differences collectively help us to literally make better decisions. And so for me, taking on such a role throughout my career, whether it was on the FBI National Recruitment Team which pulses to show and exemplify excellence to other diverse populations and people to let them know there's a place within FBI, or whether it was a part of one of our diversity advisory committees, serving there to have initiatives that would make our workforce better and more efficient and even deal with issues and circumstances, situations that affect our employees. I recognize that this role, the chief diversity officer, was a position that allowed me to expand on those things and build upon those things that I had already previously done throughout the years in my tenure in the FBI. So for me, though it is challenging work, it is great work, and it is work that I think for sure will help us in the FBI navigate the waters to be better for the American people and the American public which we're serving.
McWilliams: Wow. That was a tremendous answer. Carin, I guess what about you? You've been Workday's chief diversity officer for I think about five years. But you've had similar roles at multiple companies before this. So what keeps you motivated to continue this work?
Taylor: Yeah. It's a great question, and I would probably say what keeps me motivated is the hope of continued progress, if I can be completely honest. So as you know, I've been doing this work for close to 20 years now, and we've actually seen some really good progress. But I would say that we just haven't seen enough progress for all groups. So if I look at the fact that we've actually made really great progress on the gender front, right, women in leadership, women on boards. We've seen great efforts around our LGBTQ community. We continue to see an increase in certain communities where organizations are thinking about employee resource groups and how they're thinking about those. We've actually seen growing representation even for underrepresented groups both overall within companies as well as in leadership. And we still have a lot to do.
We have issues of ageism and generational diversity that we're seeing now. We certainly can do more for people with disabilities and neurodiversity in the workplace. We can hire more veterans. And we still have a long way to go when it comes to ensuring that our organizations are balanced when it comes to Blacks and Latinx and women and Asians in leadership. And so all of that, even though we've made some great progress, there's still a lot more that we can do. And as I think about not just those issues of representation, but as we also think about inclusion and belonging and the things that really drive our culture and the employee experience and issues that help us to retain our employees, I think all of those things we still have more work to do.
McWilliams: Yeah, thank you for sharing. So Scott, when people call you the FBI's first chief diversity officer, it gives this impression that the bureau is just now starting to focus on DEIA, which, of course, is not the case. But what is new is that they formally created that chief diversity officer position and then elevated the influence of your team by having you report to the associate deputy director, the third highest ranking position at the FBI. So how did this change affect your ability to be successful?
McMillion: Wonderful question, because I tell you the FBI has always been interested in ensuring that they’re actioning diversity, equity, and inclusion, but I will tell you this work has gone on for a long time. My office, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion here at the FBI, literally was founded back in 2013 under the leadership of Tanya Odom, who was a section chief, and birthed out of our EEO office was the need to have an office that specifically looked at diversity and inclusion, equity and accessibility issues and matters.
And so if you think about it now here in 2022, it's been almost 10 years since the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been stood up. It was stood up initially as a section and subsequently has grown over time which is very important because that growth over time speaks to the volume and literally the interest of our most senior leadership in this space of diversity, equity, and inclusion here at the FBI. Raising and allowing this position, letting the office to move underneath the third in charge here at the FBI, to me, again, is the amplification and the interest, the investment in by the organization and the most senior leadership from the director, associate deputy director, and even the deputy director that this is important work. It is important to the FBI. It is important also to all the persons out there of our constituency, which is the American public. And so when we raised this position in the office, it literally made a statement that this was important work.
McMillion: Naming the chief diversity officer is intentional. As I mentioned, my predecessor was a section chief, which is a senior level, an executive level in the government, but specifically, the intentional act of naming this position a chief diversity officer also speaks to the intentionality, the purposefulness of the organization to ensure that diversity is important, inclusion is important, equity is important, and accessibility is important. And this just highlights that. This amplifies it, and literally, it puts on the emphasis that this is important to us.
But the work here at the FBI, when it comes to the field of diversity and inclusion, has been going for a while. In 2014, as a matter of fact in the previous director, we actually made it a core value, where diversity is a core value here at the FBI. And anyone internally knows those core values are what we go live by. That's so important to us in emphasizing all the things that we do here at the FBI. So it's a core value. So all of our workforce understands that. And then, externally, it does speak volumes, too, that the FBI believes in this work, believes in diversity and what it can do for the organization to make us better at serving the American public.
McWilliams: It sounds like creating a position is one thing, but enabling you to be successful in that role by deciding where one falls within the org chart or who you report to is almost just as important. So Carin, I'd love to also hear your perspective on this. What do you think companies or agencies should have in mind when they're deciding where to place DEIA leadership and where they should fall within the org chart?
Taylor: Yeah, it's a great question. Many think that in order to make progress in this space, your head of DEI must report to the most senior person within your organization. And although it's often helpful, it's not the only place for a CDO to report into.
And as Scott is a perfect example of where he calls out--he's reporting into the number three. But even more importantly, I think if your CDO has the ability to influence at all levels within the organization, they can actually sit in multiple places. And so can your CDO drive key partnerships with legal and corporate communications and corporate affairs and HR? Are they sitting in a position where they can help the organization think about both lived and learned experiences? And how you actually teach and understand multiple elements of DEI based on those lived and learned experiences.
And then also, do they have the budget and the resources? And so Scott touched on this. Is your organization making the investment in DEI? If all of those things are in place, then a CDO or a head of diversity should be able to be extremely successful and the reporting structure actually shouldn't matter. But if those things are not in place, then they're not in a position where they can influence at the right levels and make the change that they need to make. So important to report to the most senior person, but you can certainly get a lot of work done if you have the right infrastructure and support in place to make progress.
McWilliams: Thank you for sharing that. So Carin, one more question for you. DEIA has become front and center for the federal government but not only the federal government. It appears to be a global trend. What do you think it is about this particular time in history that is making the world so eager to improve?
Taylor: I think there are a lot of things. But look, there's no doubt that the death of George Floyd really helped to raise the visibility of the magnitude of issues surrounding race, particularly in this country and particularly for Black and brown communities here in America. And as most of us actually saw, we actually saw and reacted to a very similar thing, and that's the disparities that actually currently exist within this country around race.
But then, we actually witnessed how other communities are also impacted. And so we saw an increase in Asian hate after COVID. We see hate and rhetoric toward the Jewish community. We continue to see discontent around the LGBTQ community.
And so when you throw all of these challenges together and on top of a global pandemic, wars, violence, hate, politics, etc., you actually start to not only see the divisiveness that has grown, but also people's frustration and the lack of willingness to actually just let the status quo be. And so I think people are saying, "This is no longer acceptable. This isn't good enough. I don't want to live like this. And I want better for not just myself but for future generations as well." And I think people are looking internally and saying, "It actually starts with me. And so if I want to see the change, I need to be involved in the change."
So I think things like voting have actually elevated themselves into the spotlight because I think people are really pressing on the fact that in order for change to happen, we must be involved in the change. And I actually think that that's why so many communities of people are coming together and saying things like, "Hate just doesn't have a place anywhere in the world." And so I think that that hard press on what we're seeing is us as people just saying, "This isn't an acceptable place for us to be living in anymore. And we need to be a part of the change that happens."
McMillion: I would just tag on that just a little bit. In the federal government we're seeing across the administration where there's an emphasis through executive orders and just even ensuring that all people have a fair opportunity, an equitable opportunity to literally get into the federal government and have a pathway into it. And so when you talk about the change that's needed, I think this is the right time for it. People recognize and understand that all across the IC community and the government at large, that diversity, equity, and inclusion is very helpful and should be utilized to advantage all people to serve the American public.
McWilliams: When you all talk about diversity, let's define terms. Who are we referring to when we say we need to improve diversity?
Taylor: I think about diversity like this. I think that for me, I equate the word diversity to difference, okay? And so when I look at difference, everybody is diverse. Everybody fits into the diversity picture.
But that does not mean that all things are created equal. That does not mean that everybody has equitable access to opportunity and information and data and the things that are going to allow them to accelerate their careers in the workplace. And so I like to look at it as diversity does mean difference, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there aren't certain communities that also need some additional focus and care within their particular community. And you have to kind of go to where the energy is as well.
And so sometimes it makes sense for us to actually focus on calling out a specific element of diversity, right? I need to focus on the Black community. I need to focus on the female community as an example. And so we want to be able to call those things out so that we can put the focus where the focus needs to be, but we also want to make sure that we're not doing that and doing it so that not everyone gets the attention that they need as well. So we've got to make sure that we're focusing on the and, not just the or.
McMillion: And I would agree specifically with the definition of diversity that was used. We use it here at the FBI as a mixture of differences. And those differences are widespread, as Carin mentioned. Could be age, religions, could be everything that's in someone's background or life experience that they bring to the table. We also agree with the fact of diversity of thought. And we believe those thought perspectives come from people that look differently as well. So it is somewhat about what we look like, but it's not only about what we look like. It's about those experiences, those lived experiences that people bring to the table. And I will tell you, those differences, that mixture of differences help us be more innovative and creative in idea sharing and also solving problems.
Taylor: The only thing I'll add to that, because you're absolutely right, Scott, is also the impact on our cultures. Right? We've got to be more innovative. We want to make sure that our companies have an opportunity to drive more market share. But we also want to think about, internally, the experience that we're creating for our workmates and our employees as well. And double pressing on culture as a part of that experience is another add there.
McMillion: Definitely. I tell you, internally, you make a very, very good point because people want to see others that look like them. People want to feel a sense of belonging, a sense of welcoming, and even some people, if you will, that are part of their culture and their background because, again, that makes people feel comfortable, helps people feel comfortable, and assists literally in their day-to-day when they see others. When they don't, they can feel isolated. I know there's been stories about the FBI and how some of our employees have felt isolated over their careers because we didn't have enough, or they were the only one. And so I think the diversity, particularly as we look at what we look like, for sure, when people can see themselves or see others, in particular when it comes to promotion and those on the upper-mobility track, it says to them, "I can do that as well. I can be successful. I can succeed." And there's value in that, particularly in a culture, in an organization
Taylor: Just one other thing because I think you're right, Scott, is it's not also just about how you are attracting people to your company, it's all about what are you doing to actually keep people there. So to Scott's point about those opportunities for access and development and growth, those play a key--they play just as much of a key element in why someone would come to a company as much as just attracting them. So you've got to not just attract them. You have to find reasons to keep them as well.
McWilliams: Thanks for sharing, y'all. I remember when I saw a woman in really senior leadership in one of my first corporate jobs, and it inspired me because for the first time, I felt like wow, I'm at a company where I could really succeed here. And representation does matter, and it's very impactful. So let me ask you this then. A lot of us know that improving DEIA within a company or within an agency is the right thing to do. But why is it also the smart thing to do?
McMillion: Yeah, I think you're spot on with the question in the sense being the smart thing to do. I think in the complex world that we live in now, that's becoming even more and more complex and sophisticated with technology and things such as that. It's important that we also are intelligent about how we go about literally addressing those problems. I know in the FBI, we have threats that are domestic and foreign, that have become more and more challenging every single day. Though we don't have a bottom line other than serving the American people and upholding the constitution, which is vitally important to protect literally our citizens from those threats that come towards us. What diversity does and equitable and inclusion and accessibility, what all that does completely when it's together, it helps us be a better organization in serving the American people, ensuring that we're protecting, ensuring that there aren't places that we don't see or that there are gaps or there are things hidden that were not known to us and help us understand cultures better. It helps us be more innovative better. And so when I look at it, it brings more ideas. I know that when we have others from a mixed background and diversity, it helps us with ideas we never thought of. It helps us with our creativity. It helps us with all the things that we're trying to do when it comes to problem solving and literally trying to keep the American people safe. Now other organizations obviously then, in the private sector, have also interest in their bottom line. But I know in the government, it's definitely that initial initiative trying to--whatever our mission is. For us, it is keep the American people safe.
Taylor: Yeah, in addition, the only thing I'd add to that is we talked about innovation market share culture. But the other thing is what Scott touched on earlier. And that's diversity of thought. Innovation can actually come from anywhere. It doesn't matter what school you went to. It doesn't matter where you grew up. Innovation can come from anywhere. And as single people, we don't have all the answers to everything. We need to learn through others' lived and learned experiences in order for us to incorporate those experiences into how we work, right, and how we do things. And so leveraging the power of diversity and difference and what others bring to the table is the power, and that's why it's a smart thing to do because you bring all those voices together to create the best. And when certain voices are left out, you're missing something. And so that's why it's the smart thing to do. We want to continue to make sure that everybody not just has a voice, but those voices are listened to and considered as we're creating different solutions. And whether or not that is to drive more innovation within your company or to keep the people within this country safe, it takes all of that in order for this to happen.
McWilliams: Okay, so there's probably quite a few managers or people who hire others listening who are thinking, okay, yes, I agree. This is the right thing to do. I agree it's the smart thing to do, but we are facing barriers to accomplishing this. So what barriers are you two currently facing when it comes to recruiting and hiring from these underrepresented groups, and what are you doing to mitigate those challenges?
McMillion: That's a great question, and unfortunately, there are barriers just in policing in general today. Policing the field across the country, sheriff's departments, police departments, have seen a slow in recruiting. And there are some barriers to policing in general. The FBI is not exempt from that, even though we're on a national level, a global level, and we have different aspects to our policing, but we are a law enforcement agency as well as an intelligence agency. And so policing in general has some barriers that are inherent to it and the FBI, like I said, is not immune to those. But some of the barriers specifically include just awareness. There are people in underserved communities or underrepresented groups, diverse minorities, that may not even consider the FBI as an employer of choice which we are and we're striving to become and be a better one. But they may not even consider us. There are other job fields that are more popular, or I should say more of interest or more regularly known within some of these underserved communities and groups. And so, for us, it is to get the awareness about the FBI, to let people pull back some of the mystique of the FBI so people get to know us better. That we live in communities and that we are literally there along with them in their neighborhoods. And that, yeah, there is a place for them in the organization.
McMillion: Barriers also include we do have a mobility agreement for those that are sworn in our special agent cadre, and that is a barrier for some, whether they're men or women and families and lifestyles, all those things come in. But the part of us being strategically better at what we do, we do have a mobility agreement, but that's a barrier. So it's awareness about us. It's some of the things we have logistically in policing in general and serving in such a capacity. And then subsequently, also, some of those mobility agreements and some of those other nuances to the job. This is hard work. It's tough work. But it's also very, very gratifying work. It's mission-driven work, as well. And so some of the barriers that come into play in policing in general do affect us as well. I will tell you, what we're doing is getting the word out literally to organizations and particularly to colleges and universities. We're trying to let people know about the FBI and all the things and opportunities that we have available to them. We believe that the more that we are present, more people get to know us, the more people get to see us, the more they get more familiar with us, and the more they will consider us the opportunity of choice. We do information sessions at HBCUs and other universities, minority-serving institutions in particular, to ensure that underrepresented groups become more aware of us and get to know us better. Again, I think that's another thing. We have a lot of advertising campaigns, branding campaigns. I would say that we are really trying to make the case to underserved communities, in particular, underrepresented communities within our ranks at the FBI, that this is a place, that there is a place for them in the organization.
Taylor: Yeah, what I would add to that, because that was very well said, is are we looking for-- additionally, are we looking for talent in the same places? Do we keep going to the same Ivy League schools? Nothing wrong with Ivy League schools, but are we only going to Ivy League schools to source talent and think that you're going to find underrepresented talent in the same places? And so how do we also think about, does everyone need a two-year degree for every single job within your company, or is there some flexibility so that you can actually attract different levels of talent? And like I said, are we continuing to source from the same place, or are we going to maybe different educational institutions? As we're hiring people, are we looking for both performance and potential? Are we looking for skills as opposed to only education? So there are ways that we can think about our processes and thinking about our processes, and are our processes allowing us to attract the best talent? I think the other thing in there, too, is do you have the right culture for me? Not every culture fits for every single person, but do you have the right culture for me? When I get there, do I have a reason to stay? Can I learn and grow and be developed? Are there others that look like me that I can aspire to be? And so all of those play a big part in the challenge around attracting talent, but if you can mitigate some of those challenges for folks, you will see that more and more people will want to come into your institution and be a part of it. But you've got to create the right culture, you have to give people a reason to come, and you have to give people a reason to stay.
McWilliams: That's a great answer. Some of the best workers I know actually didn't graduate college, and they have outperformed many people. I love when individuals are given a chance because a lot of times they will rise to the occasion. So I love hearing you talk about it.
Taylor: Can I add one other thing?
McWilliams: Of course. Yeah.
Taylor: Can I add one other thing? Because the other thing too I think that's important for this is to think about language too, right? When you always talk about taking a risk on someone, "I'm going to take a risk on you," that doesn't necessarily make a person feel great about [laughter] coming into your institution. And it already kind of puts a little bit of a halo or a sign kind of over your head to say, "This person is different for whatever reason," making it and creating even more barriers for people to actually be successful. And so as we think about things like taking risks on people or-- some of our language just needs to shift as well because we're not really taking a risk on you. When we hired you, you kind of had a seat at the table. Now it's our job to help to grow and develop you as a part of our community. And so I think just language becomes really important as we think about DEI as well.
McMillion: And that's incredibly important. I think you hit it on the head when you talk about development. I know we've kind of shifted our marketing and branding and literally making sure people know that not only is there a place for you in the FBI but what that actually means. And it really is that we are going to develop you. We are going to going to give you training and skill sets and cultivate you as one, a person, and then professionally in your career so that you could be better, literally, in your expertise. And so, for us, it is literally, how do you complement us with the skill set that you bring and the background that you bring that we can literally enhance through all the training programs that we're going to be able to put you in as well as let you be able to succeed to be most successful as you move up in your career ladder?
McWilliams: Scott, you also do a tremendous job on LinkedIn hosting events [laughter]. No, really, I've been following you, and the way that you post about diversity and inclusion and how you're going after different groups and how they have a place there. I think you use social media very well, specifically, when working to attract that Millennial and Gen Z generation. So good job.
McMillion: Thank you. Again, and me, personally, as long as the organization is trying to make the case for people to, again, to get to know us. When people say, "Oh, I didn't know the FBI did that," or, "I didn't know the FBI had that program," want to make sure that people are aware of all the great stuff that's here at the FBI. One, so that they will consider us, and then once they get here, they'll stay with us.
Taylor: So Scott, if I were a young person, because now I could ask you a question [laughter]. If I were a young person and I was interested in joining the FBI, what would be the best way for me to get started?
McMillion: Yeah, I think the best way is literally to go on the website. The website has so much information. And that's fbijobs.gov. I mean, that website has everything, positions for interns to students to entry level positions to even fields that you may not think of from the medical community or nursing. And so when you think about the FBI and where to get the most expedited information is literally to hit the fbijobs.gov website because there's going to be so much there. And then explore. There's diversity pages. We're very transparent about what our diversity numbers look like, and so that's on there. And then also there's so many videos out there on the website and then also through just social media that talk about literally the stories of people that have come into the organization, and how it is a career with many jobs, and it's a career like no other and that we're looking for that person who's even considering us because I think those are the people that are curious. Those people literally lend well to helping us within the organization to complete our mission. So the website is great, but then I also say be even a little more proactive for those who really want to do it. Pick up the phone and call up your local FBI office and ask to speak to the applicant recruiter or the applicant coordinator. They have a wealth of information, a ton of information they can also share. I think those are the two best ways to get to get insight and information about the FBI.
Taylor: So let's see. My question started out with if I were a millennial, but what if I-- we talked about ageism a little bit earlier. What if I am a Baby Boomer or I'm a Gen Xer? Is that still the best way to go about looking into jobs with the FBI? And is the FBI interested maybe in people who might be in my generation?
McMillion: And I will tell you, we are. The only age requirement that we have is for the special agent cadre where it's age 37. You cannot have reached your age 36 birthday before you're able to come on board with us and be in the [cadre?] by age 37. But I will tell you, the vast majority of our positions, where we call them professional staffers or intelligence analysts positions, those are people who are Baby Boomers or people who are over the age of 37 that can literally come in and serve into the organization with their age and with their talent and with their experience because we're looking for those people too to fill roles in the FBI. All those jobs are on the fbijobs.gov website. And then, like I said, will speak to that. So even if you're older, please, also consider us as an employer of choice because there are a wealth of benefits as well, and your talent is needed here in our organization.
McWilliams: All right. Well, I believe we're wrapping up. So any last thoughts or commentary from you two?
McMillion: I would just note that just the FBI success is literally based on three things. Number one, it's people. The people is our most valuable resource, and those people of those mixture of diverse backgrounds make us most successful. The process that we use. Literally, we follow the evidence. We literally do the right thing the right way, that process. And then of course our partnerships across the country. We have public, private sector, and government agencies, organizations, sheriffs' and chiefs' departments across the landscape of America that help us do what we do, that literally be the premier law enforcement agency in the world. And so for me, when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, just know that if someone's out there listening that we want you at least to consider us and that your help is needed within the organization to make us better for sure.
Taylor: The only thing that I would add is DEI should be a critical element of every institution's strategy. And it should be given the visibility and the importance of anything else within your company. And so just know that DEI and how you treat people, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, accessibility, all of those things are critical to the experience that your folks within your workplace are having. And so the more you can lean into every single employee playing a role in how DEI plays a role in your culture, the better your culture and your organization will be.
McWilliams: Well, thank you, you two. I really appreciate you sharing your time and your wisdom. And Scott, it is not every day that you get to say you're moderating a podcast with the FBI. So thank you for that as well. It was a little bucket list item.
We've been talking about DEIA with Taylor from Workday and McMillion from the FBI. Be sure to follow us wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. And remember, you can find our entire podcast catalog at workday.com/podcasts. I'm your host, McWilliams, and I hope you have a great work day.