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Representation Matters, with Theresa Alewine

Representation Matters, with Theresa Alewine

We sit down with Theresa Alewine, Head of US Business Management at RBC Global Asset Management, to discuss performative allyship, how to track progress with DEI, and why representation dwindles for women and people of color as they move up the corporate ladder.

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0:00:00.5 Maricella Herrera: Hi, everyone. Before I get to the episode, I want to take a moment to address the United States Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24th, which stripped away the right to have a safe and legal abortion. Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health and independence of all people, which we have already seen with abortion bans and restrictions in countries like Poland and Malta. This decision has dire consequences and could have harsh repercussions for other landmark decisions within the United States. I encourage our audience, American and otherwise, to learn more about what you can do to help at podvoices.help. I encourage you to speak up, take care, and spread the word.

0:00:45.9 Intro: Welcome to The Ellevate Podcast, conversations with women changing the face of business. And now your host, Maricella Herrera.

[music]

0:01:08.6 MH: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Ellevate Podcast. I'm Maricella Herrera, the CEO of Ellevate Network and your host for this podcast. I'm here with my co-host, Megan Oliver.

0:01:23.6 Megan Oliver: Hi, everybody.

0:01:23.7 MH: How's it going, Megan?

0:01:25.2 MO: It's going well. We are... It's Christmas. When this will come out, it'll be Christmas in four days.

0:01:33.0 MH: I know, when this comes out, I'll be home for a few days.

0:01:35.7 MO: Yeah. And we're not recording it that long before Christmas. Honestly, when we're recording it right now, it's barely a week away.

0:01:45.0 MH: Yeah. I kind of can't believe that we have one week left.

0:01:50.2 MO: I can't either. And this is the last podcast of 2022.

0:01:53.9 MH: Yeah. It's crazy that the year has flown by. What's 2022 been like for you? If you can sum it up in one word.

0:02:04.1 MO: Let's be real, the word is Olivia. [chuckle] But it's been... I mean, the word is Olivia, but also just the word has been change and realization, eye-opening, like just learning a lot about myself and a lot about everything. I strive for that always to be my year, because I always want to be learning more, but this was a year of not as easy realizations.

0:02:33.8 MH: I feel like that's been... I mean, I'm on the same boat, so I can see that. I feel like the fact that this year... I was reading a newsletter this morning about how for the last few years, we've been just adapting, right? Like there's nothing else we can do. And a lot of it was like changes we made in our life because of COVID. But now, COVID... I mean, it's not gone, it's never going to be gone. Right? It's a part of our life and it's... However, a lot of our life has gone back to what it was before and we still haven't re-adapted to it. So I feel like this year has been some of that for everyone, kind of like realizing like, "Oh wow," kind of this middle ground where I'm not fully back, but I'm not fully adapted, but I have to find a new way of existing.

0:03:33.9 MO: Yeah, 'cause I can say this 'cause it's all confirmed at this point, but I've always been... Well, not always. I've for the last five years, been in New York, which I love. I love New York, but I realized this year partly because of Olivia, partly because I wanted to be closer to family, partly because of money and just partly because of a lot of things that I kind of wanted to move back to Texas. And so, I probably am going to be moving sometime next year, which is a big change. But thankfully, the one thing everybody keeps asking me, "Oh my gosh, what are you going to do for work?" And I was like, "My job with Ellevate," [chuckle] that's not changing because we have a fully remote workforce, which is amazing that it allows me to go spend more time with my family. We have employees all over the place.

0:04:27.0 MH: Yeah. I mean, it's a big decision. I know you talked to me about it a while ago when you were still thinking about it. So, I guess what this means is it's been a year of decisions for you, and next year will be a year of big change.

0:04:39.9 MO: Yep. Definitely. Definitely. But I've gotten to the point, I'm almost 30, which is quite shocking for me and my family 'cause I'm the oldest of three kids. And so, my parents are going to have a 30-year-old, I'm going to be 30, which is just weird. But I have heard from people, I've heard from reliable sources, including you, that your 30s are actually the most fun.

0:05:03.0 MH: They are. I will absolutely vouch for that. 30s are great. When you turn 30, you're kind of like still processing it, but I think 33 was a big breaking point for me. And then after 35, you're just like, "Screw the world. I'm doing me." Funnily enough, I'm...

0:05:21.8 MO: 33 is my favorite number.

0:05:23.5 MH: Turning 40 next year. So it's also going to be a big year. And I'm the youngest in my family, so my parents are freaking out for different reasons.

0:05:36.5 MO: When's your birthday?

0:05:37.6 MH: September 4th, just like Beyonce.

0:05:41.5 MO: Oh my gosh. So what horoscope are you?

0:05:44.3 MH: I'm a Virgo.

0:05:46.8 MO: Oh, Virgo. I'm a Pisces, which I don't necessarily believe in it, but I think it's fun.

0:05:51.4 MH: Oh, I do.

0:05:53.4 MO: So, I like to like... Yeah, I like to get into it 'cause I think it's just a lot of fun.

0:05:56.9 MH: Yeah, I do too. I like it. I'm a Virgo, but I have so much Leo in my chart that I kind of sometimes feel like a split personality.

0:06:09.1 MO: I have so much Pisces. I have a Pisces sun, a Pisces moon and a Pisces Mercury. The only main thing in my chart that I don't have is, I have a Leo rising or I have a Pisces... I don't know. There's one in there, it's either I'm a Pisces rising and a Leo moon, or a Pisces moon and a Leo rising, but I believe it's Pisces moon and Leo rising.

0:06:37.2 MH: Yeah, I'm pretty sure all of mine are Leo except my sun, which is Virgo. But it's fascinating. I think it's really fun to think those things. Well, for me, this year 2022, I think will go down, if I had to say a word, as a roller coaster. And I guess that might be two words.

0:07:00.8 MO: It's an idea.

0:07:01.3 MH: But there's been a lot of moving pieces that I needed to, I think, almost trust the universe to... That I'm going the right way. And I think that that's what 2023 is going to be all about. I'm going to have to learn to trust and not try to control everything, which is hard for a Virgo.

0:07:32.9 MO: Trust me, it is the... One of the hardest things in the world for me is to just trust the process and just trust things, because I am the most... I want to... I don't even know that it's... I'm sure there is a controlling aspect, but I just want to know everything that's going to happen. I just want to know so I can prepare myself, but like, you can't know everything that's going to happen.

0:07:54.9 MH: No. It was a big lesson for me, the "trust the process," was through the marathon training. 'Cause it's the one thing where I'm preparing for something, but I've never done it before. So, you never during training, run a full marathon because it's too much for your body. So, the marathon is 26.2 miles, the most I ran before it was 18 miles. And I would freak out all the time being with my trainer, being like, "I don't know if I'm going to be able to do it." And her response was always, "Just trust the process, trust the process. Trust your training, that it's made this way for a reason and you'll be able to do it." And I did. So that was like, I think, a very good lesson I got from that.

0:08:48.8 MO: Yeah, that's amazing. That's how... I know a lot of sports do that. I know with... I'm a gymnastics fan, I know what gymnastics... They do that on a lot of events, but especially with floor, you only really do an actual floor set all together, all tumbling leaps, dance, everything very rarely. Usually, you practice like the tumbling separately, you practice the leap separately, you practice the choreography separately, because if you were doing full floor sets every day, you would destroy your body.

0:09:15.1 MH: Yeah. So anyway, that's where my mind has been at. I don't know. I am very grateful for this year though. I am very grateful for my new role. I'm very grateful for the support I had from everyone through my training, and very grateful for my team at Ellevate that is really trying to build a new version of Ellevate that will be stronger than ever before. So, I'm very hopeful for 2023.

0:09:48.9 MO: Me too. I think it's going to be an interesting one, 'cause 2022 was a unique year and I think 2023, all bets are off.

0:09:56.3 MH: All bets are off.

0:09:58.2 MO: So we actually had a really fun activity that we're going to do on the podcast to close out 2022. You might've noticed in the past few weeks, a few times during the interview segment, you might've noticed Maricella asking some new lightning round questions at the very end of it. It's because we created a new list of lightning round questions that we think are fun. We wanted to change it up. You know, we're well over 300 episodes at this point and we said, "Let's ask some new questions. Let's spice things up." So what we want to do is, this week, Maricella and I are going to ask each other the old lightning round questions so you can get to know us and what we think about them, to close out the year. And then next episode, we are going to ask each other the new ones to kind of ring in the new year and let you guys just get to know us a little bit better.

0:10:51.3 MH: I think it's a fun thing to do to end the year.

0:10:54.7 MO: Yay. All right. So we're going... So I have the questions ready and I'm going to ask them and then we're both going to just say very quickly, which one we like best. So these are the old lightning round questions. So Maricella, are you ready?

0:11:10.3 MH: I'm ready.

0:11:12.2 MO: All right, let's go. Introvert or extrovert?

0:11:16.9 MH: So, introvert.

0:11:20.1 MO: Same, absolute... I'm an absolute introvert.

0:11:23.5 MH: Yeah. And it's hard because the reason I went like, "Ah," is because I've always identified as an introvert, and lately I've been kind of wobbling because I think I can be extroverted, but my tendencies are still very, very much introverted.

0:11:42.2 MO: Yeah. Yeah. I can be outgoing at times, but ultimately, I need my me time. Favorite day of the week?

0:11:51.8 MH: Hmm. Favorite day of the week. Friday.

0:11:58.0 MO: Saturday for me. I like the weekend and I like knowing that the next day is also a weekend day, 'cause Sunday, sometimes I get so buried in like... I don't get the Sunday scaries, but sometimes you get like, "Oh, I gotta remember to set my alarm. I gotta remember to do this. Oh, I gotta make sure that I've actually done the errands that I was supposed to do this weekend." But Saturday...

0:12:16.9 MH: Yes. Friday is full of opportunity for me. And especially, to be fair, especially because we have a four-day work week every other week. So, a lot of our Fridays are really Saturdays.

0:12:29.9 MO: Yeah. Really every other week, Friday is my favorite day because then I'm like, "I have a... This is the beginning of a three-day weekend, and it's the best."

0:12:37.0 MH: Yeah. It's quite nice. Yeah.

0:12:40.6 MO: Early bird or night owl?

0:12:43.8 MH: Night owl. 100%.

0:12:43.9 MO: I'm so torn, it's... I think I'm still a night owl. I always used to be a night owl. I would stay up till 4:00 AM, but that was when I was younger. And nowadays, I tend to go to bed earlier, but I still... That's when I get like my time to watch gymnastics or read a book or do whatever, and just chill. And if I have to wake up early, I'm not happy.

0:13:09.2 MH: Yeah, no, I'm total night owl. And I'm going to be... The truth is I'm not like you. I used to stay up much later. This has been something that just changed this year for me, because of the marathon training. But I still function better in the afternoon and in the evening than I do in the morning.

0:13:25.8 MO: Yeah, I look up to early birds so much.

0:13:29.2 MH: Me too.

0:13:29.5 MO: I think they're incredible, but I can't do it.

0:13:34.1 MH: This is why when I'm in London visiting my brother and my nephew, a lot of our team prefers it because I will be working at times where it's early for them and that's where they are better at.

0:13:47.3 MO: We have a lot of early birds on our team and we kind of are the oddballs, where we're like, "Can we not have a 9:30 AM meeting?"

0:13:55.0 MH: Yeah.

0:13:57.8 MO: Dream dinner guest.

0:13:58.4 MH: I have so many, but if I had to say, well, you know who I would love to have a meal with is my grandfather, my mom's dad. He was incredible and he died when I was young. And I wish I had gotten a chance to know him better.

0:14:22.6 MO: That's really sweet, especially 'cause I'm about to say Simone Biles.

0:14:26.3 MH: Well, first I thought Brene Brown, but then I was like, [chuckle] also my granddad.

0:14:33.7 MO: Yeah. I'm like, there's a lot of sentimental sweet answers. There's also... I do have a fascination with... I would love to sit down with Walt Disney and ask him what he thinks about modern Disney, because some of it is so different, but some of it also brings it back to... I think that would be really interesting, just to watch Frozen with Walt Disney, I think would be super interesting. Like, take him to the modern parks and everything. But let's be real. If I could just sit down to dinner with anybody, I'm probably talking to Simone Biles.

0:15:02.7 MH: Yep, yep. I can see that.

0:15:03.1 MO: Yep. Yep. Or I have another one a while back that I was thinking about that I thought was really good, but I can't remember who it is, so we're just going to say Simone Biles. Pet Peeve.

0:15:17.3 MH: [chuckle] I have so many. People changing the order of the syllables in my name.

0:15:24.7 MO: What do they say?

0:15:26.1 MH: A lot of people call me Marciella.

0:15:30.2 MO: Oh wow.

0:15:32.3 MH: Yeah. And it drives me nuts.

0:15:35.2 MO: I will say it drives me nuts when people... My email is literally Megan. My full name is in my email and people would still misspell my name. And I'm like, "How did you do this?"

0:15:46.4 MH: I mean, they do that to me too. That's why it's... But it's this very specific Marciella that I'm like, "No," it drives me nuts. And I'm fine if you can't pronounce my name. It's a hard name to pronounce, but at least try to use the right letters.

0:16:02.8 MO: Sound it out. Yeah. Yeah, I don't get that... I actually... That drives me crazy too. Not with me, because people don't really... My name is pretty short. But when I see people doing commentary on sports, whether it's gymnastics or a hundred different things, and they'll just say something that is so clearly not what is on the screen in front of them. And I'm like, "Do you want to try and say their name right? Like, what is this?"

0:16:31.0 MH: Yeah. What about yours?

0:16:34.0 MO: Mine is not using the Oxford comma. I know it's dantic and it's silly, but it drives me bananas when people don't use it. Some people have started calling it the serial comma as opposed to the Oxford comma. And I honestly think that that makes sense because every time I read something from England, they don't use it. So I'm like, I don't think we should call it the Oxford comma anymore. I don't think they deserve that designation because it... And it just drives me bananas.

0:17:02.6 MH: [chuckle] Yeah, I have a few others that are very New York specific, like people walking slowly on the sidewalk.

0:17:08.9 MO: 100%.

0:17:08.9 MH: But yeah, I know I have more.

0:17:12.6 MO: Monday morning staple.

0:17:16.8 MH: Coffee.

0:17:17.5 MO: There's not really a staple waking up. I mean, my daily morning staple is my ADHD meds, or else I'm completely nuts. But then, if I could start every morning the same way, I would start it with a glass of cranberry juice. I just don't always have cranberry juice.

0:17:34.2 MH: Oh, that's nice.

0:17:35.3 MO: Yeah. That is my go-to. Favorite recent read.

0:17:41.7 MH: Oh, wow. I haven't been reading so much this year, but most of it has been all like stupid novels.

0:17:50.8 MO: There's nothing wrong with stupid novels.

0:17:53.8 MH: I'm trying to think if there was one that I very much liked, but I don't know. I don't think so. There's none that are specifically memorable.

0:18:07.3 MO: Well, I literally just finished Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, which I had never read before. I had read the prequel, Rules of Magic, but I just finished Practical Magic, which I just adored. So anybody out here who hasn't read Practical Magic, can't recommend it enough.

0:18:25.3 MH: That's a good one. You know, I read A Gentleman in Moscow not so long ago, like sometime this year, according to my Goodreads, and I really enjoyed that book.

0:18:38.8 MO: Everyone loves that book. That's literally what my roommate's cat, Moscow, is named after.

0:18:42.1 MH: Really? I loved it. I loved it.

0:18:44.8 MO: That's one of her favorite books of all time.

0:18:49.3 MH: Yeah. That's a great book. Highly recommend.

0:18:52.2 MO: Top self-care practice.

0:18:54.4 MH: Running.

0:18:56.9 MO: Running a bath for me.

[laughter]

0:19:00.0 MH: Well, there you go.

0:19:02.4 MO: Yeah. Yeah. Just soaking in a bath. Then at the end of the lightning round, we always ask, what's one question or thought you want to leave with our listeners? So, is there anything you want to leave at the end of 2022, Maricella? Do you have any thoughts that you want to share?

0:19:17.7 MH: Wow. Put yourself first. So I would say, find something that you're passionate about and go all in, and dedicate your focus and yourself to it, especially if it's something that is just for you. I'm not talking about work, I'm not talking about how you make your money. I'm talking about something that gives you the space to be with yourself, maybe with others, but that gives you the space to push yourself, and really go all in. And you'll see, I think, how strong, how brave, how incredibly talented you can be, and all you can accomplish. That's been my take for 2022. I mean, people say running changes lives, and I think it's true. And I'm very happy I found that for me. So I really hope and wish for everyone in 2023 that they find something like that.

0:20:22.5 MO: Yeah, 100%. And mine is kind of a piggyback off of that. Find something you're passionate about. And I work on this every day. I want to be clear that this isn't me speaking down from the heavens like I'm the master of all this.

0:20:33.4 MH: Oh yeah, me either.

0:20:35.4 MO: Oh yeah. Don't give a damn what other people think. Just do it. Who cares? And do it even if it's not the most... Even if it's not, like you said, your work or your most financially successful thing. I run a Power Rangers blog on the side. This is a true story, where I just recap old episodes of Power Rangers. It has about three fans who are the lights of my life because they're the three fans of it. But like, it's a silly fun thing that I do because I grew up with the show and because it helps me practice writing on a regular basis, and just have fun. And who cares that it's silly or lame? Just let yourself do it.

0:21:22.2 MH: I like that, Megan. That's great advice.

0:21:25.3 MO: Yeah.

0:21:25.7 MH: Well, speaking of great advice, we've had a long intro today. So, thank you for sticking with us. But now, we're going to go to my interview with Theresa Alewine. She is the Head of US Business Management at RBC Global Asset Management. She's really, really cool. She chairs our DEI committee and is very much a champion personally and professionally for populations who are marginalized or overlooked. We talk a lot about changes that need to be made. We talk about career trajectory. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

[music]

0:22:11.2 MH: I'm very excited to be here today with Theresa Alewine, the Head of US Business Management at RBC Global Asset Management. How are you, Theresa?

0:22:20.3 Theresa Alewine: I'm doing well, Maricella. Thank you so much for having me.

0:22:24.9 MH: Of course, I'm so happy you're here. I love working with you guys at RBC, so it's very cool to get to chat with you. I know you spoke at our summit last year on Performative Allyship, so we're going to talk a little bit about that. But first, I want to start off with my usual question. Give me a little bit of background and kind of how you got to where you are.

0:22:49.7 TA: Okay, thank you. Happy to share that. So really from a personal background, I'm just going to give you the down and dirty of who I am. I'm a fan of live music, sunsets and full moons. I've been married for 23 years and I have two teenage children and two dogs, a Rottweiler named Star and a French Bulldog named Higgins. Yeah, Higgins is a COVID puppy. He'll be two this November. So he's finally growing out of the puppy stage. Yeah, I am a first generation Chinese woman. My parents owned a small business that they ran for 25 years, where they worked 12 hours a day. Their biggest wish for my sister and me was to have a more comfortable "life" than what they had from owning a small business and working such long hours. Given my upbringing, I was highly focused on education, good grades and earning a college degree. I was the first one in our family to earn a college degree and then to pursue and obtain a Master's in Business. And then on my own accord to do something that I wanted to do, I did receive my 200-hour yoga teaching credentials.

0:24:09.3 MH: Oh, that's so cool.

0:24:10.8 TA: Thanks. Yeah, yeah, that was like my fun activity, my fun educational piece. Yeah, but you asked about like, how did I get where I am today. And in summary, it really is and was an unplanned journey. It was to try something new one summer, and that was to work downtown Minneapolis in a corporate setting. My background, studying for school in my undergraduate degree, was in education, secondary English and Language Arts. So I wanted to be a junior high, middle school, high school English teacher. And a result of that was, oh, I thought it would be fun to work one summer downtown because I had a friend who was working downtown in a corporate setting. So, really what drove a lot of where that brought me to where I am today was curiosity, hard work, and then some extremely supportive mentors and sponsors. And I really thank them and have so much gratitude for those mentors and sponsors for taking a leap of faith to try something new with me. And for myself, of willing to take that leap of faith, and just passing on what I thought I was going to be when I "grew up," and work in a corporate setting.

0:25:36.3 MH: So you went from thinking, "I want to be a teacher and educator," to investment.

0:25:45.8 TA: Right. [chuckle]

0:25:46.8 MH: [chuckle] How'd that happen?

0:25:52.7 TA: Honestly, on the investment side, it's such a broad range of different functions. So, the area I worked in was in compliance. And the majority of my career was spent there before... Probably in the last three years, I transitioned over to the business side. But on the compliance side, what was interesting where I could see correlation with the educational background that I had in that teaching aspect, and English and Language Arts. So compliance is highly based on rules and regulations. So, having the ability to interpret rules and regulations and not take that black and white line, but really to read the rule, apply it into a real world situation from a business function and convey that in a simplistic manner to the people I work with. And then, teaching them about the rules and how they can stay in compliance with it and how they can take that rule and apply it into their day-to-day business without running afoul of rules and regulations and policies.

0:26:55.7 MH: That actually makes a lot of sense, to be honest. As you're talking about it, I'm like, "Oh, yeah," I can see the connection between the two with compliance. Then you moved to the business side. What made you move from compliance to more of the business side of your now role?

0:27:13.7 TA: The biggest thing was, I was in a situation where I had moved up this corporate ladder. I was chief compliance officer, which is a big deal, right? Being a woman, a woman of color, and I... And it was...

0:27:28.7 MH: Congratulations. Actually, that's something to celebrate...

0:27:32.1 TA: Thank you. [chuckle]

0:27:33.7 MH: Because it's true.

0:27:34.1 TA: Thank you.

0:27:35.8 MH: We don't see that many.

0:27:36.5 TA: Exactly. Thank you so much. And it kind of ended up being in a situation where it was so administrative in the way that it was high level reporting and I wasn't any longer working to solve the problems and investigating and trying to help my business partners. So with that, had many conversations with my managers and sponsors to see what could be next. And again, there's that leap of faith and that trust that was built, and they created a role that I tried out and it was hard and it was uncomfortable. But in the end, again, it was the patience and people willing to work with me, because they knew I had the background and I could do it. It was just like, how do I train myself and get myself in a situation that could move me forward? And here I am now three years into this other role that I love so much. So, that's a great place to be.

0:28:43.9 MH: Correct me if I'm wrong, you said they created this role. That speaks so highly to RBC, because I do think there's a lot of times where you get to... Where you were, for example, you've kind of topped in your field but you want to keep being challenged and you know you have the skills, the knowledge to give and create more opportunities for the business. And to recognize that and make it possible, is a very big deal, I think.

0:29:18.3 TA: It is, and I'm so grateful for that. And it was two. So, the first role was into our client relationship team. And so I did that for a year and we had some changes internally that were going on, and then I ended up changing into another role. There's an individual who came to lead our sales team, and he really needed basically like a chief of staff to help him stay organized and really take on some of the burdensome activities. And that's how I got into the sales side that I'm serving in now, in that capacity. And something I wanted to touch on, Maricella, if you don't mind, that's tied to that. So I was at a summit earlier this spring that was women in leadership, and there were some studies just showing women of color, women in general and how they move up the corporate ladder and ultimately where they sit and the representation at that C-level space.

0:30:18.6 TA: And so as women move up the corporate ladder, what we've seen, factually, so the data shows us and this would be nothing new for anyone who pays attention to these data points. But women, the number slows down or slims down. And then women of color, that number is even smaller, and people of color. And so as we were talking about this in this small forum, I did raise my hand 'cause I thought to myself and I kind of felt bad because I was in that C space, and I decided to change my path. And I said, "So I was one of those people and now I made the number smaller. And this is why, and I moved into a different business group."

0:31:10.0 TA: So, a woman from the consulting firm said, "You know what? You raise a really good point. And while it is true that you shifted and the numbers are smaller, what you don't see is typically from a female perspective, is where you see women in those C roles, it's in HR, it is in compliance, it's in these... In marketing and these roles that aren't necessarily influential from a business development perspective." So, it was reassuring to hear from her. She's like, "You know what? Somebody had confidence in you because now you're moving into this business development area." And so it is a different... It's a shift position wise, from a level perspective, I guess. But in the end, it shapes like... I don't know if it's... I can't think of the word right now, but shapes the ability for women to move into an area which typically they don't get that voice or that visibility as often.

0:32:16.1 MH: 100%. I completely agree. And I appreciate you kind of thinking through the whole thing and being like, "Oh, but maybe I'm kind of one of these people who's moving... " But she's right. We do see many more women in the sides of compliance, of marketing or HR, and we don't see as many in the business development, like managing bigger P&Ls. And we need to make headway in that too.

0:32:47.2 TA: Yeah, definitely. Definitely.

0:32:50.7 MH: It's like you said, that's where there's influence, right?

0:32:53.3 TA: Absolutely.

0:32:56.0 MH: So, besides all this though, I do want to mention you are very involved with RBC's diversity efforts. Can you tell me a little bit about the work that you are doing on that side?

0:33:10.3 TA: So within RBC Global Asset Management, I chair the US Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. And really our approach with that is broken up into three pillars. And we have representation from various business groups as well as different levels who sit on the committee. And our commitments are aligned with the overall RBC's vision of diversity, equity and inclusion. It's really the hiring and recruiting. And then we look at the personal development perspective. So once you've recruited, especially having a diverse population of people join the organization, how do you retain? Part of that retention is development and making those development opportunities accessible, and promoting. And then the third element is inclusion, because not only do you make the effort to hire and to build and retain these individuals, but they have to feel a part of the culture.

0:34:14.7 TA: And then the final aspect is tying it all in with community engagement, which is extremely important in the giving back to our communities. And where we found where we had inclusion was at activities that were community based. So how do we incorporate all of these threads to tie everything together, where it brings the most groups of people together based on a shared interest? So that's really how we set our pillars, and then the activities and the priorities really drive the outcomes of the overall work. So, that's like at a high level view.

0:34:55.2 MH: Yeah. I have so many questions for you.

0:34:56.9 TA: Okay. Happy to answer them.

0:35:00.8 MH: So the committee, just to understand, is... The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee that you chair is kind of like a job beside your job, right?

0:35:15.1 TA: It is, it absolutely is. But it is an effort by many. So, that is the benefit in order to get the work done.

0:35:28.5 MH: Yeah. And the reason I ask this and want to clarify is because we do see that in many companies, where people, particularly minorities, because we want to have those voices in this conversation specifically, have this other role within the role that is to bring DEI within their companies. I love that you have those pillars. Who do you work with closely within the organization? 'Cause the committee won't work in a silo, right? So, how do you make sure it's actually happening?

0:36:05.5 TA: I would say it's a bottom-down and a bottom-up approach. Like, it needs to be everyone. So when I think about what our overall objectives are and what we're trying to achieve, that's really the overall organization itself. It's RBC, and that kind of guides us. And then it's within each division. Within RBC Global Asset Management, I have my CEO and president who really sets that groundwork for the US. But that's influenced by the overall global organization of our division as well. So we're all aligned in what we're... When we think of those three pillars. Each region, though, when we think about the US, when we think about Canada and we think about EMEA and APAC, the outcomes might be different from a prioritization perspective. So, one example I can think of is in the US, the disparity amongst BIPOC, especially African American and Latinx communities, and how the opportunities aren't always equitable access to opportunities. When I think about Canada and what I understand in that area, similar, but probably a more significant community that is underrepresented, and the access is the indigenous community.

0:37:44.1 TA: And then when you think about EMEA and APAC, and I'm not so much tied into that group, but they're into those regions. They have their priorities of how they're trying to make progress.

0:38:00.0 MH: You make such a good point. It's so different regionally and it's so different in the different divisions. And again, you kind of end up having to work together if you want to get to all of these individual situations, and make progress.

0:38:17.0 TA: Right. Right. And I think the other piece is, not only are we working together globally within our regions, but also ensuring that the voices of the communities that we've identified as underrepresented are a part of that conversation internally, to make progress. One thing that... And I'm trying not to be judge-y here... [chuckle]

0:38:45.5 MH: [chuckle] You can judge, it's your day.

0:38:48.4 TA: And I try to always watch my words with it, but when I see... And I see it more and more, maybe because I... This is so important and just like the amount of information that has been called out, and is more... We're all more aware of it, is when you say DE&I work and the changes that you want to make, whether it's launching an affinity group or some type of group internally, whether it's corporate or it's a grassroots group of individuals to build diversity, equity, inclusion, or to use those words. But the agenda is set by people who aren't necessarily representing those individuals and those communities. And then, how do you encourage that, to seek those voices? Because otherwise, you're just checking the box, saying, "I did this and I feel good about myself because, well, I've made an effort to change diversity and inclusion." But have you? Because that equity and that access part are missing. And that's why I like to use those three letters together, "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion," as opposed to just "Diversity, Inclusion," which I still feel like there are organizations who still just use those two letters.

0:40:14.1 MH: I agree with you. And I would even add belonging to that; diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, 'cause you said it a little bit ago and I made a note of it. You start with the diversity in the pipeline, but if you don't have the inclusion, if you don't have the aspect where people feel that they belong, that they're psychologically safe within their organization, that they can bring their ideas to the table, then what are you doing? The diversity won't bring any benefit.

0:40:44.2 TA: Exactly. I love that you bring in the word, "belonging." That makes such good sense. It's like the outcome of all of this together.

0:40:56.7 MH: You need that. And we've been talking a lot about Ellevate. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, on how you think this... Lately, all these attitudes towards work, right? You read about quiet quitting, you read about women who have lost their ambition, or this or that. So we've been listening to a lot of this, and my take too, when you hear about women leaving the workforce and minorities fed up with the way things are, it's not about ambition, it's not about anything else. It's about the fact that we don't feel like we belong. How do you think you're going to progress in a career when you don't see anyone like you, or you don't feel that you're welcome to share your thoughts or ideas? You don't have that trust. So, I don't know, I wanted to bring it up to see if you had any thoughts on kind of this aspect of belonging and how it's impacting the workplace. I do think a lot of people are leaving the workforce and we don't think about this aspect enough. We tend to think about just the very surface level issues.

0:42:09.9 TA: Right. You know, I had this written in my notes for this, in case you brought it, or kind of my thoughts around it. So I have written here, "If I can see it, I can be it." And as you think of a young person, that's the message we're instilling. Like, you see an astronaut who's a female or a person who looks like you, then you know in your mind, as that little girl, "If I see that, I see someone who looks like me, I can also be that. I can do that." But I think where we're working towards, I would hope, as a society and in our corporations or wherever we work, how do we map that journey? 'Cause you see it from the beginning and you see the end outcome. But somehow, positioning that little girl who wants to be an astronaut, how are we getting them there? And how do we get them there with programming and access, and like being set up for success? And so one of the things that we were discussing, my boss and I were discussing as we were thinking about goals and objectives for next year, is like, what area of focus should it be?

0:43:30.1 TA: And I would say the focus should be on, if it isn't, is really at the beginning stages. When you think about the new group of employees that you're going to bring into team, so at the college level, at the internship level. And how do you convert and when do you convert your interns? That should be, I think, everyone's goal, is to convert an intern to a full-time employee. And that, I feel like, needs to be a focus. Because one, you're bringing in new and fresh ideas. Number one. Number two, you're introducing a broad range of talent into an industry, whatever that industry may be, and then cultivating and growing and developing. And I just think at this stage where every... I'm going to be broad here, but every corporation wants to diversify their workforce. We hear it constantly, right? And people are retiring and we're seeing it. People are retiring, people are leaving. This goes back to exactly what you just said, Maricella. How do you keep them? Well, maybe you don't. Maybe people decided to leave and that's fantastic, right? And now here's an opportunity to develop and you're going to have that pipeline of new people coming in, because there's plenty of people who are in school or who aren't in school but have talents. And to think about, really, what are the true skill sets that individuals need to come in with, right?

0:45:11.2 TA: Are they able to... Are they willing to learn? Are they hard workers? Are they inquisitive? Like, those are the key things. It's not whether or not you can follow a process. I think that's teachable if it's written. So it's people taking time to teach, people taking time to be patient and recognizing that you don't necessarily need to fit that model of what always has been. Because what we've seen is the attrition across all organizations of people leaving and... I mean, you see it in restaurants, right? These things that were basic... That we're used to seeing people, and now there's just so much shortage. And so that's one of the things I've been thinking about, is when you have that pipeline of candidates, whatever that might be, backgrounds, whether it's of different cultures, education backgrounds, whatever it is, you have another way to expand your business and think outside of what you're currently thinking of. I don't know. I don't like that answer. I think we need to figure whatever... What I was trying to say, I'm sorry. That was not very good.

0:46:34.6 MH: I think you're touching on a few things, right? You're touching on, okay, people will retire, people will leave. The talent pool is not shrinking.

0:46:42.7 TA: Right.

0:46:42.7 MH: There are more people coming in from just starting their careers or reentering the workforce. There's definitely change happening and you should keep that pipeline healthy and cultivate that pipeline, which I think is where we both kind of are on the same page, 'cause I hadn't thought about the... I keep thinking that back in the day, you heard the excuse, like, "There's just no women to hire." And it's like, no, it's not a pipeline problem, right? It really isn't.

0:47:18.3 TA: Exactly, yup.

0:47:19.5 MH: It's a, "You need to cultivate people and teach them and give them the opportunities." And I love the characteristics you said that are needed; curiosity, ability to learn, adaptability. Those are the things that we need right now in this constant changing world.

0:47:40.5 TA: Absolutely. That's such a good way of putting it. Thank you. You articulated that better than I did.

[laughter]

0:47:50.2 MH: No. You are making me think that, 'cause I've been talking a lot about the retention, 'cause I think it's a problem right now. And I think that the people... There are certainly... We've heard about The Great Resignation, The Great Reshuffle, all the things. And it's true. And I was thinking, 'cause I've heard a lot of women too throughout the community who are like, "Oh, I couldn't take the corporate life anymore, so I just went out and did it on my own," which is, again, great if that's what you want to do. But I also think there's something to, sticking around and doing sort of what you are doing, for example, which is, "I'm here and I'm at a place I believe in. I believe they have my back and let me work with them on how to make this culture more inclusive."

0:48:37.7 TA: Exactly. And that for me, is one of the added benefits. Knowing that I have an avenue, a platform to influence and inform, and where people will listen to me, right? I mean, I could have the platform and people could thumb their nose at me. But I feel like people do listen. And I'm able to share it, whether it's experiences of myself, of other people, people in the communities where I am present and being able to take that information and to share it back. So, it's extremely important as we think about how we want to shape culture, wherever that is, in your community, within your organization. And that, I think, needs to just constantly be raised so it doesn't lose, I guess, lose the importance of what that means. And it's not one sided in that, "I am here and this is what I see," as opposed to, "I am here and there are other people here and they're sharing their stories and their experiences. And we should be listening to that, and then how do we embed that and incorporate that and engage that information across whatever we're trying to achieve?"

0:50:16.3 MH: The power of storytelling, it's a great point too, 'cause that's how you build empathy many times. And what I think we need from leaders, and like you said, wherever that is, community, business, leaders in general, is empathy.

0:50:34.4 TA: Right. Completely.

0:50:37.3 MH: We need that if we're going to make any change.

0:50:39.3 TA: Absolutely.

0:50:43.7 MH: So, turning gears a little bit. Last year, you spoke at Mobilize Women about performative allyship. What made you... So it's a topic I'm extremely passionate about. I think there's a lot of all the things; rainbow washing, green washing, all these kind of performative showcasing of allyship. How do we move past that? How do we actually make sure we, A, understand when it's performative, when it's not, and B, support those that are truly trying to make a difference?

0:51:25.1 TA: I've been giving that a lot of thought, and I reflect back on that piece that I spoke about earlier in the year about performative allyship. And honestly, when I was asked to do that, and then I had to prepare what I was going to say, I didn't even quite know how to define it until I did more research. And I mean it in that once I read and researched what it meant, it was like, I see that all the time and I know what that means. I didn't know there was a word for it. That's [chuckle] what threw me off. And then it was interesting 'cause I was telling people I was having that conversation, and people were like, "Well, what is that? I've never heard of that term before." So that was an educational moment for many, for myself and for others.

0:52:21.4 MH: I love that.

0:52:24.8 TA: Exactly. But getting back to your initial question about, how do we change that? I think it goes back to what you said earlier on empathy. Being empathetic, showing up and being present, all very simple words to use. But it's not only showcasing, and that's probably a poor word too, but I'm going to use it. Showcasing a person of color, we'll say a visible person of color in a position of power, via the title. So, I think of... And I'm going to pick on this one. You have a chief diversity officer and it's a female, and it's a visible female of color. And organizations put that individual's face on everything, on marketing, social media with words of encouragement, and how the companies support their communities, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. But then internally, you find out that that individual has no authority to influence or make decisions. That is like the exact opposite. And just, I guess I... And I don't know if it's like people trusting that if you put this person in their position, they obviously know what they're doing. 'Cause at the time the person was hired, there were reasons to believe the person was capable. So, I don't know if I'm answering your question. I feel like I'm dissecting it because it's like, I think about that's what I see or what I observe. I shouldn't see all the time, but observe.

0:54:26.2 MH: Yeah. No, no, you are. And I think it's like you said, post that face everywhere or go all in on something and almost forget the real value of the individual. I'm getting it correctly?

0:54:43.4 TA: Yeah. Yeah, that sounds right because then it really undermines an organization's commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion. Because if the individual is just viewed as a figurehead, but then where it comes to true decision making, having a voice at the table, whether it's about a diversity, equity, inclusion issue or not, just in general, it could be about like a business decision about, "Should we move forward with something?" Having that person's voice matter plays into everything. Does that make sense?

0:55:24.7 MH: Yeah, it does. It does. And that's the importance of not just seeing people, but actually having their voice, their value, their diverse perspective mean something, and having them be able... Kind of goes back to, to be honest, to like we were talking about, how women are not usually in revenue-making positions or going to the top in this more business development side. Having that voice there makes the effort of bringing those diverse perspectives actually valuable. I don't know if I'm making sense now, but [chuckle] I think I get what you're saying.

0:56:12.9 TA: Yeah, I think it's maybe... I heard this at another summit earlier this month, or last month and it was about, if you think about... And I'm probably going to go on a tangent here, but I just wanted to call this out because then maybe this will make sense for both of us, like what we're trying to say. So, when you think about nonprofits, especially nonprofits that support underrepresented communities or marginalized communities, and when they're looking for funding, like you're seeking grants, you're doing fundraising, whatever that may be, and grants could be coming from corporations. And what I was hearing from these nonprofits is, viewing them as a partner in these as an investment and a partnership. Like, trust us when you give us some money, that we are going to do what's right within our community. Like, we're not going to waste it, as opposed to viewing it, the ask is of corporations and these funders to not view it as a transaction.

0:57:22.8 MH: Right. That actually makes a lot of sense in the performative. The performative versus true, right? If you see it more transactional, you're just doing it to check a box. You might have the best intentions, whatever, but if you're actually looking at it as a partnership, if you are looking at being more invested in this, then it's definitely more, I would say, impactful really.

0:57:51.8 TA: Right, right. And you're equal, right? There's equality there and voice representation, influence, decision making.

0:58:01.9 MH: Yeah, that makes total sense.

0:58:05.4 TA: All right.

0:58:07.5 MH: Well, thank you, Theresa, for taking some time to chat with me. Is there anything we haven't covered that you want me to ask you?

0:58:17.7 TA: I don't think so. This was great, thank you so much.

0:58:22.8 MH: No, thank you. We are going to do our lightning round though, so...

0:58:25.0 TA: All right.

0:58:27.3 MH: Drum roll, please. [chuckle] Okay. I'm going to ask you a few questions and you can answer in one sentence or less.

0:58:36.2 TA: All right.

0:58:38.2 MH: Favorite day of the week?

0:58:38.3 TA: Thursday.

0:58:41.6 MH: Why Thursday?

0:58:42.6 TA: Because it's the day before Friday. [chuckle]

0:58:45.9 MH: Friday eve?

[chuckle]

0:58:49.3 TA: There's Friday Junior, yep.

0:58:53.6 MH: Top self care practice.

0:58:55.6 TA: Massages. Yeah, like once a month.

0:59:00.9 MH: Once a month?

0:59:01.9 TA: I try to go once a month. I try.

0:59:05.8 MH: That sounds like a nice little treat. Early bird or night owl?

0:59:10.0 TA: Night owl.

0:59:12.9 MH: Me too. Still wish I was an early bird, but it does not work for me.

0:59:18.5 TA: Same.

0:59:21.4 MH: We're not going to do the book, but I am going to ask you since you said you were a huge live music fan. Most recent concert you went to.

0:59:27.9 TA: Oh, the suburbs. Have you heard of them?

0:59:34.1 MH: No, I do not know them.

0:59:34.7 TA: Oh, they're a local Minneapolis band. Oh my gosh, from the '80s. Yeah.

0:59:44.4 MH: So cool.

0:59:45.2 TA: Yeah.

0:59:46.3 MH: I'll check them out. And finally, what's one question or thought you'd want to leave with our listeners?

0:59:53.9 TA: I would say, spread joy and smile. I know it sounds kind of corny, but in the end, if you emit happiness, others will receive it. And hopefully, we can all just kind of move in a more positive light.

1:00:14.3 MH: I love it. Never underestimate the power you have over other people just by emanating, like you said, joy.

1:00:23.7 TA: Yep.

1:00:24.1 MH: Thank you. Thank you so much for being here today. This was fun.

1:00:28.3 TA: No, thank you so much, Maricella. I had so much fun, it was fantastic.

[music]

1:00:38.9 MO: That was so great. She spoke at Mobilize Women this past year.

1:00:46.1 MH: Yep, she's pretty cool.

1:00:46.4 MO: And so, yeah, I think it's pretty cool that we're ending the year on her and RBC who've been an amazing partner with us for years now.

1:00:55.2 MH: Yeah, they are, they put their money where their mouth is, which is very much appreciated. And they are great partners who really care about changing how the world works in many ways and are not afraid to talk about the hard stuff. I feel like our partners who support Mobilize Women are those that really are not afraid to go into the hard topics. And I'm absolutely 100% sure that's the case for RBC.

1:01:20.4 MO: Oh, yeah. I think they've said before that they love it more every year.

1:01:25.5 MH: Yeah, they're great. Well, we don't really have Roundtables to speak of this week because we're going on winter break next week. So we will be back with some of our regular old programming in the second week of January. But what you have is some history makers. Megan, you wanna start?

1:01:52.5 MO: Yeah, I will go ahead and start. Charlie Blackwell-Thompson became the first woman to serve as a NASA launch director.

1:02:02.1 MH: Olivia Pichardo became the first woman in history to be on an active NCAA Division One baseball varsity roster.

1:02:12.7 MO: Kyra Harris Bolden will become the first Black woman on Michigan Supreme Court.

1:02:16.2 MH: Mikaela Shiffrin became the first woman downhill skier to win 67 World Cup titles in a single discipline.

1:02:23.2 MO: Wow. She's incredible. Chantal Akerman became the first woman to have her film, Jeanne Dielman, named the greatest film of all time by Sight and Sound magazine.

1:02:35.5 MH: Oh, wow. I want to watch that now. World Cup firsts. We have a few of those, so very exciting. Stéphanie Frappart, Salima Mukansanga, and Yoshimi Yamashita became the first women to referee at a men's World Cup. Isn't that incredible?

1:02:53.9 MO: That's amazing. And I cannot believe that took until 2022.

1:02:57.4 MH: I know.

1:03:00.0 MO: Frappart also joined assistant referees Neuza Back and Karen Diaz Medina to make up the first all-female on-field referee team at a men's World Cup.

1:03:09.7 MH: Amazing. And finally, Katy Nesbitt became the first American woman to officiate at a men's World Cup.

1:03:16.0 MO: We broke some... I had to put all these together just 'cause I thought that these were so cool.

1:03:21.3 MH: They are. They're very cool. And it's very cool to see change being made, glass being shattered.

1:03:30.8 MO: Everywhere, especially on such a huge stage as the World Cup, which I think is the biggest sporting event that happens in the world, the most watched one, at least.

1:03:41.5 MH: Really? I could see that...

1:03:42.1 MO: Don't quote me on that, but I think so.

1:03:45.2 MH: I could see that. There are so many things we could talk about the World Cup, but we're not going to.

1:03:48.3 MO: Yes, yes.

1:03:49.3 MH: Well, everyone, thanks for being with us this whole year. Your support means the world. So, thanks for being our listeners, being part of our community. Thanks for supporting each other and cheering each other on. We couldn't do this without you. So, really appreciate you. Have a wonderful, wonderful new year.

1:04:12.9 MO: And we will see you in the new year. We'll see you in 2023.

1:04:17.0 MH: See you on the other side. Bye.

1:04:19.8 MO: Bye.

[music]

1:04:28.9 Outro: Thanks so much for listening to Ellevate. If you like what you hear, help a girl out. Subscribe to the Ellevate Podcast on iTunes. Give us five stars and share your review. Also, don't forget to follow us on Twitter @Ellevate N-T-W-K, that's Ellevate Network. And become a member. You can learn all about membership and all the great things that Ellevate Network is doing at our website, www.elevatenetwork.com. That's E-L-L-E-V-A-T-E network.com. And special thanks to our producer, Katherine Heller. She rocks. And to our voiceover artist, Rachel Griesinger. Thanks so much and join us next week.