Erica Courdae has dedicated her life to expanding how others interact with the world through powerful conversations. As an entrepreneur and certified coach, her work is focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), imperfect allyship, and imposter syndrome. Erica is also the owner of an inclusive beauty salon, Silver Immersion, and the host of Pause on the Play, a podcast that features open dialogue on topics like company culture, visibility, mindset, and more.

In this episode, we cover:
>> Specific strategies that Erica has implemented to make sure all customers feel welcome and safe
>> Steps to creating an inclusive ideal client avatar (so you can make sure your people feel welcomed and respected)
>> How to craft an aligned DEI statement for your website
>> Mistakes podcasters and content creators make that drive tokenization (even when the intention is to amplify BIPOC voices)
>> How to know if you’ve created a safe environment for BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ team members

Connect with Erica: https://www.ericacourdae.com/

TRANSCRIPT:

Jessica Freeman 

Welcome to the work your wellness biz podcast, a podcast for nutrition and fitness professionals. I’m your host, Jess Freeman here to help you save time and look good online. For you building an inclusive business, that is what Erica Cordray and I are going to talk about today in this episode. And really, it’s Erica talking and me just learning and listening. Now, if you are new to Erica Erica Cordray has dedicated her life to expanding how others interact with the world through powerful conversations.

As an entrepreneur and certified coach, her work is focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, imperfect ally ship and imposter syndrome. Erica is also the owner of an inclusive beauty salon at silver immersion, and the host of paws on the play a podcast that features open dialogue on topics like company culture, visibility, mindset, and more. This is a really, really great conversation, Erica shares a lot of great strategies and things for us to think about, I would highly encourage you to break out a notebook and take some notes. I certainly needed to do it. So I will be listening back to this episode right along with you. So let’s hop in. Welcome to the show. Erica, thanks so much for being here.

Erica Courdae 

Thank you so much for having me, Jess. I appreciate it. I’m excited.

Jessica Freeman 

Yes, I’m very, very excited about this. We have a lot to cover. So I’m just gonna dive right in. Because there’s a lot of goodness that you have to share. Oh, yes. So first, I think we should start with, like, the strategies that you’ve used to make your customers and clients feel safe, because you’ve operated both like a brick and mortar, and you have your online business. So I think there’s a lot of people who do have in person clients, or gyms or practices and an online business. So I think it’d be great to hear you talk about that.

Erica Courdae 

So for me, I think and it’s funny, it’s so weird to talk about that now being that we’re like, you know, in a pandemic, I know, it’s like, this is like post, quote, COVID. And you’re like, Yeah, what was that again, and some of the things I didn’t even really think about that did make a difference. So for example, the way that my salon is set up, I very rarely have kind of, like overlapping clients. So for the most part, I’m working on one person at a time. And it was one of those things that for a long time, I really didn’t think about it, but it likely did kind of create this environment of like, well, it’s just us.

And I can talk about these things. And I can say, you know what, what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling and, you know, the reality is, is that pretty much anybody that’s ever been to any type of hairstyles, or salon or insert name here, have what you call it, you know what it is, like you said, you’re hearing all kinds of conversations. And I think that definitely was a piece of it for me. And being able to keep a little bit more of an intimate environment definitely helped for people to feel comfortable, especially because like with the wedding side of it, you have so many things that are happening, you have financial dynamics, you have family dynamics, and there’s definitely room that things can be uncomfortable, if you allow it to be that way.

And you want to try to create as much opportunity for things and not be there for the things that like we can’t really get around this, this conversation had to happen. Yeah. So I think that it’s helpful for clients to know that they can do that. And they can be themselves. And that’s definitely carried over into the coaching and consulting side, really allowing people to show up as their whole selves at that moment and not feeling like well, I can come with this part, but I can’t come with this part. And so really encouraging people to come with all of the things the good bad, the ugly, the imperfect, and really just modeling the fact that perfection is not the goal. And I am not seeking for you to be something that you are not and in this moment, wherever you are, is more than enough.

Jessica Freeman 

Hmm, I think a lot of my calls in 2020 started with like, how are you doing? Like, like, how are you actually doing?

Erica Courdae 

Like, it’s like, Don’t you mean I’m fine, cuz you’re fine. And you’re like, No, no, no, really? Like, it’s okay. Like, really? How are ya?

Jessica Freeman 

Like, checking in how you do like, how’s fam not just like, oh, how’s your week but like, how’s the family and are you healthy? Is your family healthy? Like, how are you feeling with everything going on? Like, just, I think that checking in and just allowing your clients to be more honest It’s important even just outside Dimmick things, but like, just wire it.

Erica Courdae 

Right. And this is where I think that there’s been a lot this year of allowing people to not feel bad for what life is right now. And so for example, if you know I have a zoom call with a client, like, I know a little person snuck up behind you and tapped you on the shoulder and had a Barbie doll. It’s okay likethese, like these things, or your dog is barking or someone’s at, you know what I mean, like most of us that ended up having to work at home, working at home in the same way under the same circumstances. And I don’t think I’ve ever had more calls that kind of started off with, I’m so sorry, but and there’s this like, wait a minute, you know, it’s okay. Like it. It’s really okay, because I’m not looking for it to be perfect. Like, it’s cool.

Jessica Freeman 

Yeah. And I think that I think that’s one good thing that I came from 2021 of the very few things.

Erica Courdae 

There’s that.

Jessica Freeman 

Yeah, because it. I did like actually having that, like, how are you really? Like, not that I didn’t care before, but it just made me more were to check in with people. And like, how are you actually doing? Like, is there something I can do to help you be like outside of this? Like, yeah, whatever that looks like. And I think it just made us all a little bit more human.

Erica Courdae  

Because we asked the questions, and we were actually willing to hear the true answers.

Jessica Freeman 

Mm hmm. And not just the I’m fine. It’s great. Yep. Good week. Yeah, yeah. So as business owners, a lot of us when we’re getting started, and sometimes this even changes after we’ve been in business for a while we start creating these ideal client avatars, or ideal client, whatever, whatever you want to call it. I know there’s different names. What, how can we do that as business owners, so that we are creating an inclusive, ideal client avatar.

Erica Courdae 

So I’m going to say that we the way that I do things, and the way that my business partner and I India do things under our brand pause on the play, are very divergent in the sense that we don’t create the avatar truly, what we tend to prefer is to go with psychographic versus demographics demographics are awesome if you’re running Facebook ads, because you need to have some of those, you know, pieces of data. But we feel like when you’re really trying to figure out the people that you’re marketing to, like,

Who are you speaking to? Then you have to dig more into what matters to them? What are the things that they support? What are the things that they’re against, and it really helps to be able to identify? What are the things that you support and that you are against and how that intersection shows up. Because one of the big things that I think, I think there’s a lot of very kind of archaic ideas that we were taught, that we had to do when it came to business, and it definitely was, like, you know, speak their language and, you know, say the things that are going to kind of reel them in, which is fine.

But if you don’t believe in it, and it doesn’t matter to you, it is going to come from a disingenuous place. And so once you’re able to connect with the things that matter to you, and be able to speak to that from a place of authority and conviction, then you are now able to attract people that believe similar things, or that are willing to be in conversations with someone that has a differing differing opinion, but yet that opinion still valid. Yeah, let’s still talk about that as well. Because also want to make it clear, it’s not always like we all have to believe in the same things. No, I don’t think that that’s always the thing, either.

But I think it’s about having that passion about something. And being able to approach it in a way that is like, hey, I want to talk to you. And like, I can give you a really simple and it was silly, but I actually loved it. You had it on your Instagram, and I think it probably came from your Twitter and it was like you are not Cheesecake Factory. You do not need like 260 things on your menu. And it was so true. And it was spot on just because of the fact that more does not equal more. And that was a very relatable example it is like, Oh, yeah, the menu that it’s like the book like like the dictionary that you set down, and then come back in five minutes. Okay, what do you want? I’m only on page two.

Jessica Freeman 

I’m not even halfway through page. This is too much. I’m overwhelmed.

Erica Courdae 

Exactly. And so being able to be who you are and bring those pieces of humanity in, because you’re simply just being an extension of who you are and how you are. I think that that really changes it. From there, you’re able to understand that like, you know, I want to speak to people that are seeking to foster equity, I want to speak to people that understand that they’re not going to be perfect. They’re, you know, they’re going to make missteps, but they’re still seeking to be better. I want to talk with people that want to have conversations and to try to understand what they don’t know. And so I don’t have to know where you work and how old you are and what type of car you drive in order to know what are the things that speak to the type of person that you are. And so that, to me is so much more important.

Jessica Freeman 

Agreed. I kind of hate all the light client, like, what car do they drive? What’s their favorite Starbucks drink? And I’m like, I don’t care what they’re drinking.

Erica Courdae 

Right? Right.

Jessica Freeman 

I don’t even like Starbucks that much. It’s like, right, like, how who are like you said, Who are they as a person? Like, that’s what matters to me more? Because, I mean, we watch all different kinds of TV shows and drive all kinds of car. It Right. I’m like, I I think it would be so like interesting just to see if I surveyed all of my clients and got all those weird answers, their drinks and cars and whatever. And just to see like how varied they were and be like, See, this is why it’s like so hard to come up with this stuff. And right, I’m not talking about Starbucks drinks, and Honda no debit card.

Erica Courdae 

No big well, and most people are gonna be like, can I not be put into the bucket with my like, pumpkin spice latte all year long. I don’t I don’t even know if I want to be in here. But you know, you can find for about five weeks that I need to climb. Yeah. I feel like most people don’t even want to be read that way. But we’re told to do it that way. And for years, we felt so much resistance. And we’re like, why do we not like it? Like we felt like we were the weak leg. We’re like, I don’t like doing this. And then it was like, oh, because this doesn’t work. Because you’re putting people in boxes. And that just doesn’t work.

Jessica Freeman 

Yeah, exactly. So for your, the psychographics that you collect that you know about your your ideal clients. Do you like just so the audience is kind of has an idea? Do you put those things like in your client inquiry forms of like, Hey, what do you care about? Or is this something that’s important to you? Or is it something that’s in your website copy? Or is it just something that you kind of weave into your marketing or like all of the above or something else?

Erica Courdae 

I think it’s a little bit of all of the above some of it I get just from being in conversations with people out here, the types of things that it’s like, wait, I’ve heard that before. And I’ve heard this, like the fifth time this week. Some of it of course, from doing podcasts, you’ll hear the things that people will say, you know, this is what my audience really will struggle with. You’ll see on Instagram, what are the words or phrases that people are saying regularly.

For like our community, when people apply to join, they have to fill out a short contact form kind of thing. And so there are certain things that’s being said there. And again, in our community, we’re hearing the things that people are saying happened to be sticking points or things that they’re noticing are is working really well for them, or it’s it’s really grown or shifted. And part of it is just being in conversation and paying attention to what people say, and what they don’t say. So very often, you know, a lot of diversity, equity and inclusion work is done in a way that really can induce a lot of shame and blame. And so people feel really badly.

And I do that from a shame and blame free space, not because you won’t feel it but because I am not there to put it on you. I have no control over how you feel. But I’m not there to as I call it a diversity dominatrix put my leather boot on your neck and whip you until you’re 30 racist. I’m not gonna do that. And so, you know, it’s really easy with that, to be able to see people that are like, I’m so afraid to say the wrong thing. Or, you know, I really want to help and I just I don’t know how or I feel so bad. Because I didn’t know and so you’re hearing the thing that is paralyzing people, and most often, it’s fear. It is shame it is, you know, this place of like, Oh my gosh, why didn’t I How come I didn’t? And so what’s the you know, other side of that and how can you try to do that differently and encourage people just like we do with you know, everything else in life.

Get in there, get messy screw it up, figure it out, do better. Because I always use the analogy of life. When a kid starts to walk, they’re not going to be like, Well, you know, this whole walking thing, this is just really hard, I think I’m just gonna stay down here on the floor and hang out, nevermind, I’m fine. That’s okay. Like, that’s not how that works. And so, to see this air of like, you have to do it perfectly put on this, I’m just like, it’s never gonna go anywhere like this. And so I really encourage people to do it, apologize and make amends. If it doesn’t go, well figure out how to do better. Rinse and repeat.

Jessica Freeman 

Like anything, it’s, it’s you have to you get better by doing it, you don’t just wake up and record an amazing podcast one day like, practice, and the walking like, you can’t just stand up and run. Right? Like you have to start walking and you’re gonna, you’re gonna fall, and then you have to get back up. So it is it is scary. And I know I’ve heard a lot in my community to like, I don’t, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do, I don’t like. And so then people just end up being quiet and doing nothing, exactly doesn’t help anybody. And we don’t get, we don’t get better.

Erica Courdae 

No, but this is what happens when people have been conditioned to stay out of it, because they don’t want to do it wrong. But yet, you know, there’s this desire to do better. And it’s like, I don’t know what to do. And it literally is one foot in front of the other. And you just have to be willing to, like none of us start off, you know, I’m a great cook, or I’m a great podcast, or I’m a great parent, I’m a great you know, partner. I’m a great, you know, daughter or son or anything like none of these things are done perfectly. I mean, I’ve done 80 something podcasts, and I still have times where I’m just like, I got nothing. Oh, this was terrible. What was I don’t like it happens. So like, there is absolutely this this space of like, you know, even if you think that you’ve learned better and you are doing better, like there’s always something else to learn. So you have to give yourself some grace, to continue to learn and be willing to just stay in action keep moving?

Jessica Freeman 

Mm hmm. Yeah. And one of the things, one of the things that we can do as business owners is creating an inclusion and diversity statement for our business. And that one, yes, it goes, it applies to our whole business. But usually we put that on our websites, because that’s the most visible place for most of our businesses. So can you kind of walk us through how we can do that as business owners.

Erica Courdae 

I think whenever you know, someone wants to kind of put a statement out, I think this year has definitely call to a need to make some type of statement. Because a lot of people weren’t saying anything, and not saying anything still says a lot. Mm hmm. And so there became this necessity of having to reclaim your narrative and actually say something. Now, there were some people that were being reactionary, and you could kind of tell because it was very self centric, it was very just, I am better because of fill in the blank. And I think we unfortunately got a lot of examples of what not to do.

But I think if you are seeking to make a statement that lets people know that you are in action, and that this is a work in progress. And there is no destination and you are constantly evolving. That number one, those things need to come first because this is not about I have done this and I’ve done. It really is about proclaiming that you are open to doing and being better. And to doing this in conjunction and community with others that this is not like a lone wolf kind of thing that I’m not, you know, nope, this is all me I got this. I know all the things. And it really will start with again, going back to like those psychographics.

Like, again, what are you supporting? What are you against? You know, why does this matter? Who are you an imperfect ally to? What are the actions that you’re taking? If you have a giveback component, I have some clients that have done give back component information separate other people have put that into their entire statements. Some people will have website copy that just kind of have some hyperlinks in it that will link back to their overall statements, some will Lincoln in their their footers, but it essentially is talking about, you know, this is this is where we are this is what we seek to change.

These are the points that we hope to hit. This is how we hope to do it. You know, this is what you know, the goals are in that it’s an ongoing thing and then it really You know, the real part of the work begins. And it’s like, Okay, so now what? Now you set it? Are you going to do it? And so you’re really just creating some filters for your business of what’s next, you know, what are the choices that you make? How do you use your time, your money, your resources in general, in order to try to reach these goals. So you’re kind of laying these things out that you’re doing. But then you have to get to the actual doing to prove that these aren’t just pretty words,

Jessica Freeman 

right? And just to make it clear, like a lot of times when I’ve heard people talking about this, or seeing Instagram posts or blog posts or whatever, there is a lot of talk about, like, how is your team doing this? And how is your company doing this, but I know, there are a lot of people, especially people listening to this right now, who were like, it’s just me, like, I don’t have like a team. But like, you can still make a statement and how you are conducting your business and what you support them and what you’re doing. Because, yes, if you have a team, there’s another component of like, how are you going to, how’s your team going to do this and all that kind of stuff. But you I’m basically you you agree that even if you are a solo entrepreneur, you still need to make that statement.

Erica Courdae 

If anything, you’re in a better position to do it as a solopreneur. Because now you’re setting the foundation, before there’s anyone else to take into consideration, you’re able to really figure out you know, if so, for example, my policies share has a giveback component where, you know, when they bring on new clients, or they book their clients on shows they give a small amount each month to, you know, this list of charities. And so it’s not about like how much or how often but it’s about the fact that like, she has a framework, she knows that here’s the if this than that. And that does that. And that doesn’t require you too have to have a team. And so it can be if you want to give a monetary donation, it can be time, it can be creating award seats within programs that you have that are basically giving a free seat or a reduced rate seat to someone that isn’t always based on Oh, you don’t have the money.

I’ve had clients that do that, based on, you’re taking this back to a community that I think would really benefit from it. And so therefore, because of that, I want to amplify what you’re doing. And so, as a solopreneur, you have an opportunity to really get clear on what matters to you. What does that look like in action? How does that play out set those frameworks and so when you bring other people on, you know what it is that they have to be on board with before they can even be a part of the team? It’s so much easier to do it when it’s just you then realize I got 15 people, and I got to figure out if they’re okay, if I start doing today? Yeah. You know, and that’s, I think it’s so much easier that way, even though it seems like oh, it’s just me. That’s a great place to set your foundation.

Jessica Freeman 

Yeah. Since you mentioned this, I would love to ask you your opinion, about like giving a discounted seat or a free seat. Like how to go about doing that. And I know there might be like multiple ways, but I’ve heard people who were like, I don’t even know, like, like, I remember I called out a company. I got like a marketing email. It was like the week of the George Floyd unrest and like it was it came. So untimely was very, very inappropriate and didn’t acknowledge anything. And I was like, hey, like this field? Because it was like, Oh, it’s our birthday. We’re celebrating. And I was like, I’m sorry, what? Right? I responded. And I was like, This feels very, like inappropriate. I’m just like, I this is not this is the wrong time.

Like, I get that it’s your birthday, but like, no, like, in that they were like, Oh, you know, I’m sorry, like, but this has been planned, blah, blah, blah. Do you have any suggestions for like, what we could do or something like that? And I was like, Oh, I don’t know. I’m not. I’m not an expert, but I was like, Look, I just saw this other company. gumroad It’s like a platform where you can sell digital products and stuff. They gave out 1000 I can’t remember the exact details but I think it was like they gave away 1000 free accounts to black creators or like pro It was like pro accounts because accounts are free but I think it was like a pro account or or something like that to black creators and they like post it on Twitter and I’m sure other platforms but I follow them on Twitter.

And it was like tag somebody that you know or Like if, if you’re a black creator, like, hands up, like DMS, like Waving Flag, right, whatever, get our attention. And I was like, look like here’s Gummer, like sent me a screenshot. And they were like, Yeah, but that’s unfair to our, like our other people. And I was like, I don’t even know what to say back to you.

Erica Courdae 

You’ve missed the whole point. And you know, no, and, and, Oh, boy. So there’s a number of things there. So first of all, I just want to acknowledge, like, I had actually just taken a webinar today with an amazing company called creative reaction lab. And they talked about some of the pieces of design that are a part of white supremacy, and they look at design is essentially the creation of things, period. So it’s not just about design from like, a graphic design standpoint. And one of those things is that like, Oh, well, but that’s not what that is. And that doesn’t apply to us and things like that. And it’s like, Ah, yeah, it does.

Like there is no separate set of rules, right. So with that, I’m gonna just quickly acknowledge and then I’ll move, but the fact that when things happen, and things were planned, or they’re on auto post, one of the first things that my marketing company, flossing, or fire does is they immediately tell everybody put everything on pause, everything stops, because nothing should be going on automatically, absolutely nothing, because you run a huge risk of having something go out, after people are having to stop watching somebody be murdered on camera and be like, it’s our birthday. Wait, what?

Jessica Freeman 

Excuse me.

Erica Courdae 

Right, and it is wildly inappropriate. But this is part of what happens when people are so dedicated to sticking to the marketing calendar, that they don’t have their pulse on what’s happening. And that doesn’t work. And so I think that that also applies when you think about, a lot of people will frequently hear them called scholarships. I prefer to call them award seats, because I don’t like the term scholarships, it immediately makes me think of like, you know, the the private school and the kid that got the scholarship to go, and he’s probably the smartest kid in the room at the same time. Like, he’s not dressed the part his shoes aren’t like everyone else’s.

And, you know, they feel very left out. And so I don’t like scholarship. For that reason, I also feel like it tends to indicate a lack of funds. And I don’t think that that’s what it’s always about, I tend to prefer award, because that indicates that I am gifting you this, because I believe in what you’re doing. I want to see your your voice and your reach and your platform amplified, I want to see you being able to support more of the community that you seek to serve, because what you’re doing is needed of supportive clients and doing things for people that work in the mental health space. And taking that back to traditionally underserviced communities like that matters. And so it’s it’s essentially, I think part of it is just kind of switching the narrative around it and not having it be about lack.

And it be more about you wanting to gift something and it coming from a place of abundance, and then being able to identify, you know, is it because you want them to belong to a specific community? Because you want to create equity in that way? Is it that you want someone that is serving a certain type of community? Or does a certain type of work? Is it that, you know, for every full seat, I’m sorry for like, let’s say 10 seats that you have at full price that you want to give two away for free, whatever that looks like. But you’re able to kind of see well for this, I then want to do this. And you’re being able to see what is the equity that you’re building because of it. And I always say equity because this is about closing the gaps where there is not the same level of free and fair access versus equality is where we want to get to.

And so you want to identify those things first, but I think there’s sometimes some small things that make a difference in the process. So I think it is important for those seeds to be chosen by peers. So for example, if you’re gifting this to black women, you probably should not have white men being the ones doing the picking. That doesn’t feel equitable, right? I think that doing it and being clear about what the process is, and when they’ll be selected. What happens if you’re not selected? You know, I think that transparency in the process is a huge piece of it. So it’s not this weird, like, yeah, we’re gonna give amounts of seats and it’s like, Wait, what? Gonna mouse the seats, and it’s like, Did you not want to say it so you didn’t have to be committed to doing it.

Right. And so I do thing that the transparency is a part of it. And just making it really clear that this is not based solely on, you know, whether or not you can afford it. And so you’re being you’re doing it that way. But I also think that it’s important as the creator, or the person that, you know, is offering this to step back and say, am I doing this? Because I want to feel good about myself? Or am I doing this because I’m offering something that people can actually benefit from? And I think people that I want to give this to actually want this?

Jessica Freeman 

Yes, that is super, like, Am I doing this for brownie points? And just to like, look like I’m a good person, or am I really, truly supporting this person and the work that they’re putting out? Correct? That’s really important. do you suggest like, you know, like, like, let’s say you have like a membership or like a group program or something? Like, if it’s a membership, would you say like, oh, like it’s a year long? Or it’s a forever membership? Or does that just kind of depend on you and like, your choices? Or? How do we decide on that?

Erica Courdae 

I think it depends, I really do. Because I’ve seen people give a free seat and a round of something that let’s say their program lasts for six weeks, I’ve seen people say, you know, we’re doing the next round of this accelerator. And we’re going to offer this to Xyz amount of people. And actually, when George Floyd was murdered, Adrian dorson, from run like clockwork actually came out and said that she wanted to gift the accelerator to those that were working in the dei space or adjacent to it, because she knew that a lot of us were actually being inundated with inquiries and, and work.

And she felt like, yes, you might be busy. And at the same time, this is the perfect time to figure out how you can clockwork thing. So I want to give this to you. So she put it out on social media, and people were able to, you know, share it with other people that they knew that were in this space, and they were able to be a part of this program, and a round of their live accelerator. And I want to point out that she didn’t skimp on it. It wasn’t like oh, yeah, you’ll just get one of the old pre recorded ones. No, you went through a full live round of it, just like everyone else was. So it wasn’t let me give you like, the one that’s like missing a leg kind of thing. We’ll give you the one that, like, you know, I was like, yeah, here’s the Misfit Toys we’ll give you

Jessica Freeman 

Yeah, here’s the one get 118.

Erica Courdae 

Right. So it was legitimately like no, you get the full thing, you get the calls with it, you get the personal support, like you actually get the programs. And so that was something that a number of companies were doing at that point. crowdcast was another one because they were basically saying there are, you know, black creators and makers that we want to support. This is these are some of the ways that we can do this. And like I think crowd casts you got a year, for free again, run like clockwork, you got to go to the accelerator.

There were some people that were like, you know, we’ll give you a free seat in our program, or whatever that looks like. And it really does depend. Because I think before you decide to give something away, it is important to identify what is the energetic output that you’re willing to give. Because if you’re not actually willing to do it, and it’s not going to feel good for you don’t do it. But if you know that you having this person in the room is going to add to it. And you won’t feel resent for like, got this free person in here. Like getting paid today. Don’t do it if that’s how you told you.

Jessica Freeman 

Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh at that. But like, Yeah, but like, this person? I’m not getting paid today. I think because it sounds so ridiculous to me. I think that’s just why it makes me like, no.

Erica Courdae 

Right? Right. Yeah. But that’s what happens. If you have that person. It’s like, I’m gonna give away 10 seats, and then they get into those 10 clients, and they’re like, Man, I’m thinking, and then just doesn’t go well. So I do think it’s important to like, really check your bandwidth and what you can provide and be honest with yourself, if you’re not in a place that you can get, you know, go over, you know, the moon with tons of stuff, like be realistic with it.

Jessica Freeman 

Yeah, that was super helpful. Thank you for, for explaining all that. And because I think the award seats, which I also liked that name better than the scholarship, I think that’s an important thing we can do and an easy, easiest the right word like a way we can support black creators in whatever field that we’re in. So since we kind of talked about the mistake of the company that I emailed and there are many others that we We could have a whole podcast episode about just

Erica Courdae 

Oh, yeah.

Jessica Freeman 

I’d love for you to share like mistakes that podcasters and any kind of creator really creators, that mistakes were making in our, in our content, especially when we’re trying to, you know, be inclusive, but really, we’re just tokenizing. And like, right, what we’re doing wrong and how we can make it better.

Erica Courdae 

Right? Well, and this is where I think part of it and this is an important part for me is because I think the intersectionality is so important, because all like, after George Floyd was murdered, everything became black people, black people, black people, and it’s like, but there’s black women, there’s black trans women, there’s black, disabled, non binary, like, I feel like there’s so many people that are experiencing eraser in that way. And so that’s a part of identifying like, what matters and who you’re supporting, and kind of being a little more specific, versus like, Yeah, everybody, because then that word inclusion pops up. And inclusion isn’t about including everyone.

Inclusion is about allowing space, and true entrance and belonging. For those that want to be included. It’s about speaking to them. Because every you know, I use this example earlier, if you’re doing like a yoga in the wild, everybody doesn’t want to be a part of that. And so you want to speak to those that want to do yoga, and this is the environment that they want to do it in. That doesn’t mean that somebody like spin is wrong, it just means that they would rather be there than in yoga. So it’s important to know, when you’re looking at creating that diversity, who is included in that and why? And being able to figure out, okay, where has this lacked in the past, and not from a place of like, wait, wait, I need every black woman, everybody’s fat, get every black woman, you know, and please invite them, because I saw a lot of people doing that.

And they still only ended up with like, three. Mm hmm. And so that really pointed out the fact that your network was very homogenous. And the people that you knew, and the people that you consider to be experts in their field, and just all around, you know, good people in the business space. There wasn’t much diversity there. And so when you want to partner with someone or something, you want to do an event with someone, you want to have them on your podcast, and you want to be able to expose your audience to different people that are great at what they do and have variances of opinion. But yet, everyone looks just like you. Or everyone looks like the very stereotypical, I am on the front of every self help book when you walk in the aisle down target.

Like, it’s like, wait, we’re missing something here. And so I think that you have to be able to see where there’s that lack, how it can be fixed, but you also have to identify where is it that I need to do some work to actually be able to do this, because you can’t just go out and like, you know, insert person of color or disabled person or LGBTQIA person here. And then, you know, like, you watch people’s Instagram feeds, they’d be all white, then they get brown, and then they go all white again. And so it just showed that this wasn’t a part of what you did regularly. And so the biggest thing that I try to remind people is that diversity, equity and inclusion is not something that I tell you to do. As a side thing. It is a way that you do every thing. And so if you can look at that as a way of integrating this into the actions that you take the circles you put yourself in, and the people that you center as experts in where you can continue to diversify that it’s ongoing work.

Jessica Freeman 

Yeah, it is. And I know from personal experience, and I’m wondering if you have any advice I saw I ran a summit last year and I it was very important to me that it was an inclusive lineup. And it was for the health and wellness community. And there is a noticeable gap in diverse voices like I even created a Facebook group for people like me who serve the health and wellness so like copywriters for and business coaches for dietitians, and like all that, right. And part of that was like so because a lot of us run podcast and do summits and you know, whatever.

And it was like we wanted to, you know share like oh, like here’s experts or just share each other’s content or whatever. And it was like there’s it’s not very diverse in here. And we like some of us have emailed each other like, Hey, I’m running a summit like, do you have any black creators that you know, that could speak to this and I’m like, These, these are the two people I know, like. And so we’ve I know that we are noticing, like, I know dietetics, as the industry is lacking diversity, just like the actual dietitians, not us who help dietitians. But how did like, and I mean, it wasn’t like I wasn’t, you know, trying to have like, Oh, you have to have X amount of followers or like, whatever it was, like, I’m just looking for anybody. Like, I want to, I don’t I don’t care how many followers you have, that has annoyed me for so long? Because, like, I’m sorry, I don’t have a big following.

Erica Courdae 

Not an indication of how good you are or not.

Jessica Freeman 

Yeah. So what do you say to anybody that’s listening? That’s like, I’m struggling to find these diverse voices. Like, what can we do? Is, is there anything we can do?

Erica Courdae 

There is there is I think part of it is you have to make a concerted effort to change the circles that you’re in on a number of levels. So part of it is if you think about any of the events that you take in content from what what do those lineups look like? Who’s who’s attending, like, back when we used to be let out of captivity? And you’d go to live events?

Jessica Freeman 

You know, live events,

Erica Courdae 

I know, right? It’s like, what does that thing? And you think about, like, you know, if they have little networking events and things like, who would you, you know, typically go talk to you. And I think this is where we can notice our, you know, conscious and unconscious implicit bias coming up.

Jessica Freeman 

Mm hmm.

Erica Courdae 

So, you know, are you going to speak to the people that don’t look like you? I think you need to look at where you’re taking and content as a whole. Because I think whenever you’re constantly taking in content, from people that look like you then it, it’s kind of a like, attracts like. And that can be that can be movies, that can be music, that can be books as a whole, because the whole purpose is to widen what the diversity looks like, of who you tend to consider an expert enough that I want to listen to what you have to say, Who was it that has a differing of opinion that you want to partake in.

And so I think it’s important to be able to have these places that you kind of spread out where you’re taking in information. And I think when you look at it, from the business point of view, there’s this place of Wait, if I don’t have many people around that are diverse, I already know that this isn’t something that I want to keep in this way. But excuse me, if we use Instagram, as an example, at the bottom of it, when it says you know, like the other people that you might be interested in, go through that and see who else is in it, follow, follow a few rabbit trails, and see if there’s some variances in there.

Because the reality is that the algorithms are going to show you more of what you’ve already gravitated to. So see how you can begin to shift it. See how you can begin to take in people’s content that is going to talk about where possibly white supremacist culture is intersecting with diet culture. See how there’s somebody that is speaking about wellness, from the context of somebody that is not, you know, was not born here, culturally does not resonate with here. And yet, this is where I am. So these things that maybe seem like they’re come, you know, very kind of like the opposite of where you are, it’s like, those are the things that you want to hear, because that’s going to help and the more you do that, the more you’re going to get different types of recommendations.

And you’ve now kind of may sound a little woowoo, but like you put out in the universe of like, Yeah, I do want this. And so now you’re beginning to almost put out there that like, yes, I do want to have this conversation with you. And you can have this with me, like I want to talk with you. But if everybody’s like what you’re just in this corner with people look just like you, you don’t want to talk to me, so I won’t come talk to you. So you have to make a purposeful effort in all of these areas to do something different from what you’ve always done.

Jessica Freeman 

Yes, I like following that rabbit trails tip because I do that. Looking in comment sections, or people just reshare to their stories, you know, like, whether it’s someone’s post or like, you get tagged in there, someone else has tagged them in their story. So there’s resharing like, always click and just like Who’s this? What are they? What do they do? What are they about? So

Erica Courdae 

Exactly.

Jessica Freeman 

That’s another way to, to chase rabbit trails and find new people eat.

Erica Courdae 

Just I think this hitch though, that is where you’re going to find more because reality is is most people just think that their audience is who they see and it’s like, No, your audience is really those that you aren’t seeing and the ones that haven’t said anything? Hmm. And so how are you paying attention there?

Jessica Freeman 

Yeah, I love that. That’s good. That’s good. So before we wrap up one last question, and an important one, a very important one. How do we know as business owners if we are creating a safe environment for biopic and LGBTQ communities, whether it’s our, our Instagram, our group programs, our, our memberships, whatever it is, how do we know we’re creating safe environments?

Erica Courdae 

I think anytime it’s you know, it’s that looking at, okay, you know, black people, people that are indigenous that are people of color in any way shape, or form intersectional with LGBTQIA plus, one of the first things is to remember that you don’t decide if it’s safe. It’s not up to you, because you don’t get to decide for someone else that has a very different lived experience, whether or not something is or is not safe. And so this is where you have to kind of see where it probably isn’t, and make some of the changes, but then also leave it open saying, I have made shifts from my limited view as a person that does not belong to this community.

And I want to continue to do better. And so I don’t expect you to do the emotional labor of telling me how to fix this. But I want this to be safe and conducive for you. And so if you choose to share information as to how I can make this more safe, or more supportive for you, please share this information with me. All, you know, communication is open, and I seek to be in conversation with you around this. And so it’s really coming from this place of like, I’m going to do what I can see, needed to be shifted, however, I’m going to miss stuff. And I don’t want to screw it up by assuming that I know how and so therefore, I’m not going to write this story. And I’m going to ask for you to co create this so that you can actually get what you’re here to receive, in the same way that everyone else has been able to have easy access to up to this point.

And I want you to know that you are seen heard and valued and I want you to know that this is something that I want you to continue to feel. And if you ever don’t, please let me know. Because I think it’s just like any other relationship. If if you’re in a marriage or a long term relationship, there’s no way for your partner to know how you feel if you don’t tell them otherwise, they’re guessing. And then you’re like, well, that’s not how I feel. And, you know, even after, you know, time has been invested, there’s still this place of like, Well, you know, that may have been fine five years ago, but right now, this, you know, this doesn’t work, the autopilot is not the answer. And so can we have a conversation about what I want, what I need and how I feel. And so I kind of look at it, just like I would any other relationship.

But you also have to remember that if someone has had a history of experiencing eraser, and feeling invisible, that it will also take them time. So I’ve had to have conversations with people about the fact that the minute you go in and say I’m doing all these things, that does not mean that everybody’s gonna come running in the room, and everything is fine. It takes time. And so you have to also be patient and understand that there’s a certain amount of trust that you have to earn. And you have to be patient because it’s not about you. Right. And so if it’s truly not about you, then you can’t say, well, but that’s not what I mean. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I really want to help. That’s awesome. That’s still you focused. And that’s not the point. That’s not the point at all, you know,

Jessica Freeman 

Do you think these are, like individual conversations that we should like be reaching out to people? Or is it more of like, I’m sending an email to the membership community or the group, program community or whatever? And like, just reply, fill out this anonymous survey, or like, what does that look like?

Erica Courdae 

I think I think it depends. I think that sometimes they absolutely are individual conversations. I do think sometimes they are, you know, you know, if you have a Facebook group of 500 people, this is a bit more of a group conversation, because at that point, it’s also important for everybody to know what the goal is. So that if they’re not on board with that, then they need to be able to excuse themselves. So I think whenever it’s any type of a group situation, you need to make sure that it’s being addressed in a way that those that are choosing to not participate have have an option to not participate.

And that’s why I say like, it’s important to do these things, obviously before then to be like, oh, now I’m deep in it. Now I have to kind of backtrack and recreate this. Yeah. But I do think that there are times that it can happen. Individually, I’ve had times where I’ve been the only or one of, like, let’s say two or three people of color, I think a one time specifically where I was one of two black women in a group. And it wasn’t safe, it didn’t feel safe at all. And when I did mention this, it was very much just like, Oh, I’m so sorry, you don’t feel safe? And that was kind of it. And then so, yeah, that was kind of it there.

And there wasn’t there was no conversation, there was no, this was all like in in like, like a text message kind of thread thing. So there was no like, you know, can we have a conversation, I’d like to do better with this. And I gave more than one opportunity to have this conversation. I even mentioned that there was someone else that had previously been a woman of color, that was not safe as well. And I mentioned that they were not safe because this person spoke to me. And in working within the dei capacity in this room, I said, Hey, this is what’s happening. And it was just like, oh, so sorry, they feel that way. I’m like, dude, you’re dropping the Paul, you are massively. Great. And, but but it also speaks to everyone’s place in their journey.

Everyone is not the place that they know what to do. When that happens. Every one is not the place that they know how to respond, or to figure out what’s next. And that’s where sometimes that you know, internal shame and blame comes up and you feel terrible, but you, you can’t connect, how to not feel good about something, but then figure out what’s next and how to keep moving forward. And so I think that there are times that you really kind of have to listen to your internal compass. But if you’re ever not sure, this is where, you know, sometimes working with someone like me can help. Because there can be this like, Hey, I’m not quite sure what to do with this. Because what you don’t want to do is to like pick your one black friend, and then make them feel like So can you tell me what to do about diversity?

Dude, it’s not what I do. And even if I do like, I get paid to do it. Wait, yeah. Hello. Right. Yeah. So but I think as a as a whole, the whole point is to be in conversation. conversation. That’s the goal. Yep. Conversations. If we’re not talking, we don’t know what’s different. And we can’t take time to reconsider our normal to understand that somebody else’s normal is normal to them. And we’re all in our little, you know, insulated bubbles. And there’s a lot of lack of understanding. That’s just floating around.

Jessica Freeman 

Yep. Yep. This has been amazing. Thank you so much. For all this, I learned a lot like this has been super valuable for me. I’m gonna go back and listen to this and like, take notes. And I’m like, trying to remember things. But I’m like, we’ve been talking for almost an hour. And I’m like, I can’t remember all the things I was trying to remember 45 minutes ago.

Erica Courdae 

It’s a lot it is. And that’s where like with like, compensations. Like, this is like, wait, no, listen, and then go back and listen, then go back. Mm hmm. Get what you get. And then it’s like, now there’s time for the rest action steps.

Jessica Freeman 

Yes. So before we hop off, I’d love for you to share one, you know, where we can connect with you. Follow you all that fun stuff. But if you have any favorite resources for diversity and inclusion work for business owners, I’d love for you to share that as well.

Erica Courdae 

Absolutely. So again, I’m Erica core de website is Erica core de Comm. You can learn about my one to one work with individuals, you can learn more about the workshops that I do for groups and within communities. And that will also lead you on over to the podcast, which is puzzle play.com. And you can also listen to the podcast wherever you listen to your podcast goodness, and the podcast website which will give you more information as well with the pause, wanna play community. And the other work that we do over there where mindset meets visibility, and marketing, and how all of these things are slightly different than what we all thought they were. Instagram is all those things as they are at Erica core day at paws on the play. Same goes for LinkedIn and Twitter.

Jessica Freeman 

Awesome. That’s awesome. Okay, I will put all the links to that in the show notes.

Erica Courdae 

Yes. And resources. One of my favorite books that I always recommend a lot of people start with white fragility. I tend to refer to white fragility as training wheels for white allies just beginning I’m not actually huge fan of it, I feel like it can be. I don’t know, sometimes it feels like it’s a little bit like I can’t do this because. And so I don’t feel like it’s a very empowering narrative from that standpoint, I tend to prefer so you want to talk about race by joma oluo. I think that’s a great book to start with. If you have read that and are maybe a little bit deeper, you can always go to how to be an anti racist by evomax Kendi.

That is not where I suggest for someone to start. If you have not read a book, that’s a lot. That is your brain right off the back. Don’t go there. But I feel like that’s a that’s a great place to start. Outside of that. I feel like instead of telling you to find a bunch of different resources or books, I’m going to tell you just to go take in information and or content, business and life related from people that don’t look live or love the way that you do.

Jessica Freeman 

Oh, that just gave me goosebumps. Like, just how eloquently you said that, that they don’t look. Live or love, like or love. That’s good. I love that. Love it. Thank you so much for being here. This was amazing. I will put all the links in the show notes.

Erica Courdae 

Thanks for having me. Thank you just thank you, everyone, for listening.

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