“I have this deep responsibility – not obligation – deep responsibility to go back and teach, coach, and mentor the communities I come from and show them the power of capitalism and how it can be achieved.”
President & CEO, Scribe Media
Expanding awareness, ongoing education and accountability efforts are finally taking hold within business structures in a meaningful way, and to a degree where efforts can be measured.
For example, from the ongoing McKinsey & Company study Diversity Wins, we know there is a demonstrable relationship between diversity on executive teams and strengthened financial performance.
The growing evidence in support of the conscientious, thoughtful application of diversity and inclusion principles throughout a company’s culture is further proof that the right thing to do and the best thing to do are often the same action.
In the second half of our Let’s Go! conversation with JeVon McCormick, President and CEO of Scribe Media, JeVon shares his approach to improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace – and why he won’t use pronouns, why he hates the phrase “pull yourself up by the boot-straps” and why he is against the acronym DEI.
His engrossing origin story begins with his mother who, after being raised in an institutional orphanage, was sent into the world at age 17 with a small suitcase and twenty dollars.
Of mixed race and a childhood anchored in poverty, JeVon’s childhood was immersed in racism and bigotry – yet it also afforded him the opportunity to see both sides of the world, “how it operates, how people treated me, which for me was very critical in going into business”.
In this conversation, JeVon shares that he believes racism “still exists, and in my opinion, it always will. But I believe I have a responsibility to do my part in making our company a culture of welcome.”
Creating a Culture of Welcome
JeVon resists any designations that make a person “other” or easily marginalized. “You are human, so we have a culture of welcome. And that all stems from my childhood of knowing what it’s like to be treated different. What it’s like to be an outcast. What it’s like to not be accepted. And that really stuck out to me and showed me how you value people.”
We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know
Speaking about capitalism, JeVon talks about the deficit of experiences in impoverished communities and subsequently, the importance of teaching, coaching and mentoring.
“If a person doesn’t know, how can they aspire to be anything? We don’t know what we don’t know. But it can be taught. It can be explained…We have a responsibility to show people what’s possible so they can make the decision to go execute to go achieve that in their life.”
We Made It Easy to Say (But it’s not easy to do)
“What we’ve done with the acronym DEI is we’ve taken away the hard meaning behind it. [Companies] went out and hired a Chief Diversity Officer, started using pronouns, and implemented some DEI initiatives and they think they’ve won. Diversity doesn’t have a finish line. The game is not over. It’s non-stop.”
JeVon also says that “Diversity should be a part of your culture. Equity should be a part of your culture. Inclusion should be a part of your culture. It should not be a separate initiative waiting for someone else to head it up.”
With his typical candor and practical approach, JeVon offers ideas on how to implement meaningful change, including:
- Do not relegate the recognition and celebration of different cultures to one month a year.
- Seek to listen
- When hiring, ask yourself: is this a role where we can teach, coach, or mentor this person to the skills needed? Or is this a role where you can interview for character, enthusiasm, and integrity? Because skillsets can be taught.
JeVon and Scribe Media successfully embed the principles of diversity and inclusion into their Culture of Welcome by promising to “always choose to do right by people.”
In today’s workplace, we know that a strong company culture isn’t just important for better business outcomes – it’s also a powerful tool to keep your team together and engaged long term. We also know that 1 in 3 applicants will not apply for a position at a company that lacks diversity.
As a recognized and widely respected business leader, JeVon shows us that the steps to be taken toward a better, stronger, more diverse workplace are rooted in human decency. It’s not only “doable” – it’s often common sense.