In this episode, Shelia Gray takes the mic to William Wiggins where he shares a few instances of his own challenges and how he’s reacted and learned through the years as a black professional in Human Resources. Some of his stories may surprise you – especially when you learn how recent they took place.
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Shelia Gray, Quadient 0:27
So William, I am so excited to meet you. So Chris interviewed me. So I get a chance to interview you.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 0:34
Shelia Gray, Quadient 0:34
You know, this whole concept is, you know, moments that matter and since I don’t know a lot about you tell me a little bit about your journey, because the only thing I know from last week for my interview, Chris, was that you’re an HR and you do something unique in HR, and you’re in the healthcare industry, and I think you’re changing jobs. So tell me a little bit about your journey.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 0:55
My journey actually started in sales and marketing at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. From there, I came over to the benefit side where I was a benefit consultant for many years with Mercer Human Resources consulting, came over to the HR side as a benefits analyst doing employee benefits. And that’s when I really started thinking about coming over to the dark side as everybody calls it to the the HR staff relations side. I found myself in benefits working with a lot of individuals where I wanted to do more, where I wanted to impact their experience beyond just benefits and decided to take the plunge and come over to the HR side where I could get involved in employer branding, employer engagement and be more strategic to do things to impact the employee experience. And so I am currently at Virginia Mason in Seattle, Washington, but as of next week, this is my last day here as of next week. I will be starting in an HR director with an organization called SEIU Benefits Group here in Seattle. And I’m really looking forward to it. They do a lot of dynamic things with employer branding with social justice, and a lot of projects that align more with my, with where I want to be.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 2:20
Cool. You know, it’s interesting, I heard you say that you live in Seattle, right? I know Seattle doesn’t have a huge diversity population. I’ve probably seen most of the population on television in the last couple of months. It feels like to be in Seattle right now with all the things that are going on there.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 2:37
But I think you said most of the population right here in this room. I believe Seattle is maybe 7% black. Um, but what I see here is, this is a town of you know, we have a lot of millennials, a genx’rs. And so when you watch TV, and you see the protest, That’s what you see out in the streets, who are pounding the pavement for social justice and equality. And that’s sort of sums up Seattle, in a nutshell is a we have what we call the Seattle shieldl here, where when you move here, it’s very, very difficult to know people beyond a surface level. But once you get to normal people are genuine, and stand up for what’s right. And so as I as I’ve seen, the the protests and things I’ve worked with, and manage a lot of these individuals who are out on the streets pounding the pavement for social justice, this inspired me actually, to become more involved at a point I thought maybe I was too older. I’ve done my bit. I’ve done my part, but it’s inspired me to become a little bit more involved in Black Lives Matter movement in what’s going on in politics. And so that’s what you see. What you see on TV is not much different. from real life here, we’re a young city and a city of believers. And so that’s about it.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 4:10
It’s is a beautiful city. And so, you know, we’ve all been on a journey. I think you did my podcast. And I talked a little bit about my journey, I’m of a certain age, and have a certain ethnicity and a certain gender. So I have had a unique journey. But there are moments that stand out in my life. And as I think back over that were really aha moments for me. I’d love to know if you’ve had some aha moments through your journey.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 4:41
Aha moment since you know we are we are 12 year olds. And you know how you get the talk from your father. You know, when you are going out of the little cute black boy stage to becoming a man, you know, you get the talk and you kind of don’t understand it until you actually you live it. And so I’ve had aha moments for, you know, all of my life. But in terms of the workplace, I had a review you once where the review actually said this and my mom talked to me and said that, you know, you have a flat effect, this is the only time I’ve ever been described as having a flat effect with anyone, you have a flat ethic. And so you might want to smile and work with people. I think that that rich dark skin of yours can be really intimidating. So you have to be careful that you don’t come across this to menacing, and so that’s an aha moment in in my life, because this rich darks in my room, very proud of it. It’s not something that I can change or even want to change. And so now I have to smile more in order not to be menacing because of my dark skin. And so that that’s an aha moment. Another aha moment was when I was relocated to job in another city. And I received a relocation package from human resources that was substantially under what I had known other people in the same role to get when they relocated. So I went to the Human Resources person who was very candid. And I went to her and I said, What is this? This is not what I thought I was going to be getting this and this is not what I’m familiar with. This is what I am more familiar with xyz and so I quoted her what I had seen other colleagues get, and she nodded her head and she said, Well, now that you have asked, I’m obligated to give that package to you. And and I said, Yeah, I think I want the white package. And she said it’s funny that you would say that because I have been told to push this package to our employees of color, because they will generally take with them offered. And this was a Caucasian female that told me this and that was another aha moment in life that you really need to look out, be careful, push back and always question you know, sort of what’s in front of you and makes you wonder what can not get whenever you just sort of take whatever is given to you, and so um I’ve had a number of those in my career, and there’s so many we need a beat to, to to go through them. That’s just a few. It’s just a few.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 7:39
So your first one when I hear your first one, you know makes me think of two things. One that I worked at an organization, I worked in more than one organization where it showed up on someone’s performance appraisal, a person of color, male that they dressed to nice, right. So if they set it in a way way that I knew what they were saying. So the environment was more informal. And it wasn’t informal. It’s just that the quality of what people wore was informal. And in both cases, these gentlemen, one was in the sales and marketing group. He always wore a Brooks Brothers shirt, a very nice custom suit. You know, look, the executive part. And then the other case, it was an HR person. And he had come from New York to work for a company, I worked for Denver, and he has to, he only had suits. Right. And so they were told that they dressed to nice. And my question, when I saw it or heard about it was, is that the feedback we give everybody else? Right? Because I’ve never heard about it from anyone else’s feedback, and I felt like this We’re putting the divide between them and other people, because they look like, hmm they were prepared for their next job.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 9:08
Shelia Gray, Quadient 9:08
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 9:09
Shelia Gray, Quadient 9:10
And that made people uncomfortable. Because to me when you put something in a performance appraisal, it’s something you want someone to address. So
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 9:18
Shelia Gray, Quadient 9:19
it’s different from I had a manager one time have moved here to the US from from Switzerland. And he said in Switzerland, he asked me to dress code because he said in Switzerland, we have different color suits for different seasons.There’s a tan one, whatever. That’s that’s an informal feedback thing a question. You want to praise a mean something. So you had that, that that experience? And then your second one, I will say that in recruiting, I have my radar up when it’s a person of color or female, because I do believe that in women also, that we don’t ask for our worth, right, we don’t ask for work. And I will have males of any ethnic group that will ask for outrageous things, you know, in their package, education pay for MBAs, it has been, you know, no shame in their game, no shame.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 10:19
Shelia Gray, Quadient 10:19
Whereas I will find that other people do not negotiate or they do. It’s they negotiate for very small in that way in my realm of being able to say yes. And so I hear you that there’s two packages. And I do believe that I work for one company that I found out much later that your bonus structure was negotiable. I never knew that, you know, most companies if your managers this or if you’re in a quota bearing role, but to know that I could have negotiated my bonus percentage after then I’m like, everything’s everything’s freegame. So very, very interesting. Now,
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 10:55
Shelia, we don’t have we are taught to you know, make sure you get your piece of the pie. We don’t have that. I call that an entitlement expectation. I didn’t learn that until I got older in my career, I learned eventually, when I learned my worth, but, you know, there was time when here’s what the package is. Um okay. You know, that’s what it is. And so it took me late in life to actually learn first of all my worth and that I don’t have to take what’s on the table. In so that’s really that’s really I connect with what you’re saying.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 11:35
Absolutely. I you know, because I learned later life, about vacation. Okay. So when you get compensation A lot of times, they’re they’re targeted ranges and all of that and anytime you negotiate for your money, there has to be levels of approval, but not so much is vacation time and vacation time, and that’s because when your salary You work late nights you travel. So always you can play with it, right? Because we’re not putting our time in the systems, you know, word for word for overtime and stuff. So I that was a story no one told me because I would say, Well, how does it because I’ve never been able to take all of my vacation anyway. But how does Bob six weeks he negotiated? I learned that early on, if you can’t get the money, it’s something else is more valuable to you? That doesn’t require everything. And to me at this point, in my career time is the most important thing.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 12:30
Yes, yes. It’s amazing what your priorities change, as you get older.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 12:37
You can’t get back moments with your family. You can’t get back all those things. And so I’d rather have the vacation time to be able to spend that time because it is money you’re getting paid for it when you get to spend it however you want.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 12:49
Shelia Gray, Quadient 12:50
Um, I want to ask another question. So you talked a little bit about your journey and some of your aha moments. You are as we all are, we age in our career. So if you were to go back and talk to your younger self? Right, which is maybe five days ago? What would you say about some of the experiences, not only those aha moments, some of the experiences you’ve seen, how would you talk yourself through how to deal with them how to handle and how to feel about,
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 13:18
You know Shelia, I deal with things very differently from how I used to. I think one thing that I do is I deal with things in the moment just to give you an example. When I was in the kitchen, in the break room, and there was a white female employee in the break room size two, it was two of them. And they were talking back and forth and they were describing another employee they kept describing as you know, she’s like the all American Beauty the perfect example of you know, you know what American Beauty speak and so they launched into, you know, perfect, you know, she’s a size six blond hair blue eyes. In sitting around the table in the kitchen were three Hispanic woman and a black woman all who did not fit that description at all. So this conversation went on and on and on. And I got my coffee, I walked out of the kitchen. And so when they came out, they had to pass my office. And so I called them in and I said, for just a minute, let me give you some feedback, close the door. And the one down the other one. The other one. I called in one of them because the other one had to go someplace in emergency situations, and so I said let me just give you some feedback. I said a minute ago when you’re having that discussion in the kitchen, about the all American Beauty blond hair, blue eyes, perfect size six. You have a group of women sitting there that was twice that size, then tap on here wise, what kind of message are you sending to the other colleagues that don’t fit that description, you’re making an assumption that everybody thinks that that is the quintessential idea of American Beauty. But how would you feel if you were sitting at the table? And so she starts to well up with tears and I said, you know, I’m not saying this to you know, you know, protect scripture to consider. And she was a truly sorry she had not thought about. She hadn’t thought about it at all until I brought it to her attention. And she’s, you know, I feel so bad. I’m gonna go apologize. And I said, No, no, not necessary. You know, just I want to call it to your attention, because oftentimes, we don’t think about those things. And so in the interest of sharing, and in the interest of transparency, I just want you to see something from somebody else’s standpoint. And you know, I ended it with you know, I’m going to walk down to Starbucks, if you want me to bring something back, just to kind of lighten the mood. When I was younger, I would not have handled that like that. I probably would have been more aggressive. Why didn’t you say that? You know, that’s not everybody’s idea of American Beauty. But I would have handled it very difficult. I’ve learned, I think, because we go through this kind of thing daily. Um, I have had to decide what am I going to get bent out of shape about what’s worth addressing in the moment. And when someone says or does something, what is the intent? I use an example of I was at the hospital not too long ago, and I’m dressed um, you know, professionally. And I was at the front desk, just kind of covering things, because we had a staffing issue. And so an old white couple comes in, and the white woman comes up and she says, Oh, I think it’s just so wonderful that they are hiring young black men to be on the front desk or up and coming in for years. And I think that’s just so wonderful that they’re hiring young black men now. And you know what, if you work really, really hard, it’s a good hospital. They will promote you up you’ll move up to the orbit. pretty quickly. And you know what Julia, I said, Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. So someone that was sitting there saying you should have told her off and I said, If I had told her off, she wouldn’t have gotten it. She wasn’t trying to be mean, she was not trying to be offensive. She was being genuine. What she saw in front of her is not a 60 year old black man, she saw a young black man, she saw black in her mind he’s a young man, he’s someone who’s moving up. It wouldn’t have mattered if I stopped. If I had addressed if I told her, that’s offensive to me, I’m not yet she wouldn’t have gotten her intent was pure. So you have to take it in the spirit that it’s given and not get hung up on every little thing. Sometimes the intent is not pure, and you have to address them in the moment. And so as I get older in my career, you have to you have to kind of sift through the insults and the offenses and you have to decide which ones you need to address in the moment. To stop that particular behavior, which ones are actually illegal, and are impacting your ability to to learn and grow on a job and which ones are just, you know, could be hurtful but didn’t mean any harm sorts of things.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 18:17
And it’s interesting you say that because I think that’s a good learning piece that I’ve learned. And my and my grandparents had said it to me, but I didn’t learn it in life. Everything’s not a fight. And you got to be able to separate racism from ignorance. Right? Um, so that to me with her statement is one, I was in a, I was in a diversity conference at my last organization. And one of the diversity speakers who got up was a white female, and she was talking about she was giving an example and she gave an example of a friend of hers who was black, who was a lawyer and the head partner, I think in the firm and she had to go out to a ruling area in another state for some type of hearing or whatever, introduce some type of deposition. She drove out there she arrived early small town in the courthouse. There’s a clerk there. And she stepped up to the thing and she said, I’m here to do a deposition for such and such. And the woman said to her, when the lawyers get here, I’ll let them know you’re here. And so she said, again, I’m here to do a deposition. And I’m a lawyer. And the woman looked incredulous, and said something. So the woman who was doing the speech, she was like, Well, I would have said that da da da duh that I was, you know, really taking her to task. And the African American woman said to her, um, that was a that was an elderly lady who was living in a small town, in a rural area. And maybe to her I was her first experience. So I’m going to take it that way. Okay. Um, and this was the diversity conference of employees, the several of us the worst employees talked about over lunch. Now I’ve come from a very small town. Here is what I heard from her. And the woman gave that story, my experiences that the lady in that town has been there a long time. And she probably has a lot of clout with everybody in that courthouse, including the police. If that African American woman would have gotten indignant and challenged her in that environment, her car may not been able to leave that town without a tail light, not signaling to change your lane, something could have happened. That’s my experience. I put an experience on there. And you know, at that moment, I would have done exactly what that lady did and believe that it was ignorance not racism. Yeah, but my experience has come from very small town, is that sometimes is retribution when you don’t know your place? Yeah, so I haven’t you know, so I will take that with me, you know, your learning experiences are part of your you kind of roadmap. And so you know, I think about that, and that’s the same case with this woman, I’m going to assume that it was ignorance, not racism, it didn’t need to be a teachable moment. And you could let it go when you left.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 21:29
Shelia Gray, Quadient 21:30
You know, when you’re younger, things like that can make you mad, like, you know, I get all of this. And look what happened to me, you know, whatever. And you might have challenged the situation, because you thought so I think that’s a very good teachable, teachable moment, to to your younger self not to take things the same way.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 21:49
Well, you know Shelia, we had, I was with an organization and we had an auditor come in from the Department of Health. And so the receptionist called back and I said how in the conference room, into I went into the conference room as a extended, she said, You know what he’s looking for the head of HR. And so I heard her say, well, you will be right up. I’m sitting in the conference room before. So I go into the conference room, I take, you know, my files and I go into the conference room, I extend my hand, and I say, Hi, I’m William. I’m the head of HR. And he literally drew back and he looked me up and down. And he said, I’m, I’m waiting on the head of HR. And so I looked over both shoulders sarcastically, and I said, Hi, I know you. I am the head of HR. And he said, Oh, sorry, God, what I was expecting. I was expecting a Bill. It Well, that’s not what reception told you. He was and he said, I forgive me. I haven’t had my coffee and I haven’t had my coffee yet. And so I went in I told my executive director in he was out done and he I’ve got to go We are going to go in we’re going to take it, I grabbed him by the arm and I said don’t. Because he’s an auditor, right that we need, we need this favorable audit. So we don’t need no distractions, even if we don’t need any mess. So don’t I handled it, he got, he got him. So at the end of the day, he actually came back and he said, I want to apologize. Nothing personal. He said, I don’t know where my head was. We don’t need to say anything else. And we were able to move past the audit. So what you just said about the consequences. It was not worth causing drama to work with this individual combing over your files all day long with this drama between you so I had to grab my executive by the arm. It’s It’s cool.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 23:44
There’s a there’s a book, have you ever read the rage of a privilege class?
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 23:50
I have not but I am intriged by it.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 23:50
Okay. It came out, and I’m going to say it was 9596. There’s a guy named Ellis Copes And what he did was the governor, the mayor, at the time of New York City, made a statement. It was mayor Koch, he made a statement that those of us who are privileged, and he said college educated, you know, jobs, middle class, African Americans basically do not have the same struggles as lower income people. And so what he was basically saying is that, as the rich get richer, as the rich get richer, as we’re making more millionaires and people of color in the United States, these gaps will just go away. Right,
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 24:42
Shelia Gray, Quadient 24:42
And how we feel, and Ellis close decided to do an experiment and to figure out if that was true. So we interviewed a series of people to talk and these are people at the height of their careers, height of where they should be to find out if our experiences are different. And the story speak for themselves. There was one that was a partner at a law firm. And he came in on a Saturday in, you know, casual clothes, to go into his office to pick up something or do some work. And it was a key on the elevator and there was a white young man in the elevator who did not want to let him off at the floor,
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 25:21
Shelia Gray, Quadient 25:22
And all this because he did not know he was a partner. Okay. There was a case of a female executive who decided that she was going to treat herself I go to a jewelry store. She was dressed on the weekend, she went into the jewelry store and was not was followed around and questioned and not shown what she was looking for. And then the last one, which is one I have lived by, which was a real estate a real estate agent saying that houses of color don’t always move quickly on the market or sell it at a high price. When someone comes into your house, and your ethnicity is on his on show, yes. After that, I’ll family pictures, all family artwork, all family anything, including hair products, because I saw that one house I was looking at, there’s nothing to define who I am is the owner of this house.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 26:19
Shelia Gray, Quadient 26:19
the premise was, is that each class of people have different experiences. So we’re evolved the things that we’re talking about in terms of moments. Yeah. And, and his, his his apotheosis was none above that. Because no matter what class or whatever is still there it truly is. Your experience we were talking about that also takes me to the point, then in the US as an African American woman, when I walk into a meeting or anything, or video conference, they’re trying to figure out who’s in charge.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 26:55
Shelia Gray, Quadient 26:55
Interesting that when I go to Europe or Asia and walk into the meeting and if I start the conversation, they assume I’m in charge. Very, very interesting dynamic, that there is not a paradigm that Yvonne sitting in India, and I’m a black woman, that I could not possibly be the leader of my function.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 27:18
Shelia Gray, Quadient 27:19
Their assumption is we wouldn’t have you here you probably not someone in charge.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 27:23
Shelia Gray, Quadient 27:25
Right. Right. You wouldn’t be here because we don’t see a lot of you, unless you’re in charge, but American paradigm is, you know, you can’t possibly be in charge. I think. I think it’s very, very interesting.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 27:37
Shelia Gray, Quadient 27:38
And I think that, you know, as you get older in your career and looking back, the things that that used to bother you, you say, well, that’s just par for the course.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 27:46
Yeah. I think I was walking down the street one day, downtown. This is in Seattle, and I walked by this homeless man with those, you know, not in his head and he’s shouting things out on the street. So as I walked by, and I was with two colleagues as I walked by, he, he shouted, and I’m just going to say the word because it is a word, he shouted, nigger and immediately, everybody on the streets, it’s a Seattle. Everybody in the streets, including my two white male colleagues. They went after him and I had to grab people to say Stop, stop. You guys. Leave me alone, leave alone women log in. I’m like, What has happened to him has already happened to him. They were wondering how to get some homeless man. You cannot take this out with a word. And so I had to explain to them, leave him alone. And I literally kept on walking when he said it. I didn’t have any emotions behind it. He said it and he kept pushing this little cart and so people. There was a messenger guy that was on a bike who immediately took his bike and put it in front of the card and another woman came across the street. That is not okay. And I like well the crowd and say, you guys, stop, leave him alone. Leave him alone, come on. Leave him alone. I’m like, can’t you see what’s happened to that man has already happened to that man, that has not hurt me in any way. On the other hand, he has some problems, he’s more likely mentally ill. I’m not hurt. I’m not impacted one way or another, just leave the man alone. But it was really interesting. It was kind of comical to me. Just how everybody else reacted and how people are you okay? Are you okay? Let me and I’m thinking that is not the worst thing I’ve actually heard about me this week. Unless you live in the skin and live this life, that may be a big deal for some it is not to me anymore at this age. I’ve seen it all been called it all and I’ve had it all happen. And so again, it’s about learning you know how to manage through. You know what to take in, what to let go over your head and what needs to be addressed. Something coming from a homeless man with a cart on the street didn’t need to be addressed. It was not worth my time.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 30:06
And I totally agree. Because I think that and there’s a difference I always try to share people is a different about difference about being an activist for things that you care. And then in being angry about the life that you’re living, you know, I guess, you know, I grew up in the south, as I mentioned in small town, and there are certain things that are just wrong. But I can’t address everything that’s wrong. And so as a result, it’s not that I’m desensitized to it. But I know how to manage my feelings around it.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 30:43
Yes, you manage through it.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 30:44
Yes you manage through it. And that’s one of the things when I see this, the young people today and I consider them young people today. I remember I grew up doing the late 60s, and I remember the young people then when I was much younger, and I see the same type of frustration coming back again, I’m in that in that group. And there was a lot of things that were done positively in the 60s. And there was some things that were done very negatively in the 60s. And I see you got to be able to manage both, but you got to have a plan. So, you know, this whole session, we’re doing a moments that matter. I think that you know, the purpose of this was to share some of our wisdom and share some of our pain and to be able to take both of those and say, but, but um, I don’t believe this is just a moment. I believe this is going to be a movement.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 31:46
Shelia Gray, Quadient 31:46
But I believe we need to see where this movement goes. But I believe that there is a, a an awakening, not just in the US for the first time, but around the world, around the situation and the facts that there are many of us who are caring a lot of a lot of things on our shoulders. I am there were quite a few of my friends and initially put out there a one, are you okay? And I said, I’m safe right now. And then the second thing was, my my religious friends, we just need to pray about this.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 32:19
Shelia Gray, Quadient 32:20
And we don’t need to March we need to pray and I said, you know, Faith without works is dead as the Bible says. So I have been praying about this. This is not the first situation. I have been praying about the situation. But we also need to be active in this time.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 32:36
Shelia Gray, Quadient 32:37
We need to be active in this time. Don’t let this moment have this opportunity to ask for what you need and what you want to pass you by.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 32:45
Yes, yes, I totally agree. And I, if there’s one message that I want to send to people, well, people have coloring or people of any color is get involved. This is a critical time in our history. We have an opportunity not just in these workplaces but also in our communities to make a difference. We are about to, I’ve always said that this election that’s coming up, will be fought and won at the polls, but it’s going to be a fight. And we can’t afford to sit back and let everybody and I’m talking about our black community now. We can’t afford to sit back and let everybody work on our behalf. We have to get involved in this and so I have been involved in a few protests here on bad back at all. I’ve been marching I’ve also given money to the campaign’s I’ve been in registering people to vote, because I cannot, as a black man sit back in let other people fight for something that’s so critical, critically important to me and so good. Get involved. This is not yet I know you’re tired. I know, you know, we’ve been fighting for a long time. But we got to stay out there in the fight. We’ve had people, you know, to march in, practically had their brains beat out of Richmond, Alabama. And they still until the day they died, and I’m talking about our, We have to get involved. We cannot sit this one out. We cannot sit this one out and we cannot be too tired. And so that would be a message that I like to send to you to everyone in terms of our workplaces. I think this is an opportunity to as companies to state our position on social justice. I think a lot of people want to get involved but they shy away from it a little bit because what are our customers going to think, how is this going to impact our business. If you find yourself in a position where you will are worried about if we declare that black lives matter or weak declare that we agree with equality and justice and equal pay for women is going to hurt our business. You really need to take a really close look at that. See how you doing business and who you doing business with and also, you know, be willing to take some risk despite that. So there’s a lot of opportunity there. We have a lot coming up in the next 70 something days. We are in the midst of a pandemic, you know, where we can’t even travel anymore. This is serious. This is no joke. This is the time to get involved.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 35:45
I totally agree. People can see us because we’re on a podcast. I’m an African American female. And I believe you’re a
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 35:55
I am a black man.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 35:56
And I would say to people who are who are Not African American, because I think this is a moment in a movement around Black Lives Matter. But it’s a bigger movement around just, you know, the value of humans and their experiences in America. I would say people don’t look to African American, the African American community, right to have all the answers, right? We can, we can raise the concerns, we can raise how we think some of the concerns should be addressed. But this is a collective time for all of us to do problem solving, right? And change. And so I always encourage that, because I think the first thing that occurs is that people sometimes hire chief diversity officers create, you know, employee resource groups, have diversity councils and put all the African Americans, whatever on the council. Yeah. And believe that changes things. No, it doesn’t change things. It starts things. Yes, right. It starts things. So one wonderful thing to do it starts, but it’s not going to change thing. And it’s not your solution. It is a part of how you will create your solution.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 37:12
Shelia Gray, Quadient 37:13
So I want to thank you we have I learned a lot about you, I learned a lot about your journey. I appreciate that you are still engaged with all the work you’re doing in the community. And how this moment means something very special to you. Um, so you will be interviewing someone. So do you want to tell us who you’re going to be interview and you want to be a surprise.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 37:37
I’d like it to be a surprise, you know? Yeah, little mystery. What’s behind curtain number three. Okay, keep keeping guessing.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 37:47
I’m okay with that. Chris Wallace as you jump out of the bushes at 60 minutes. I’m okay with surprises. I think that’ll be a wonderful thing for the group.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 37:54
I will say she’s pretty wonderful and dynamic though.
Shelia Gray, Quadient 37:58
very. So I look forward I look forward to listening to that podcast. Thank you for today and all of your time.
William Wiggins, SEIU Benefits Group 38:06
Thank you Shelia. I appreciate it and stay in the fight.
You’re listening to Moments That Matter. especial CXR podcast series where leaders and talent professionals share their own experiences with varying aspects of discrimination and inequality. Here on Moments That Matter. We are dedicated to creating connected conversations around specific moments. These are moments that matter.