Jackie Ferguson: Hi, and welcome to season four of the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Podcast, sponsored by The Diversity Movement. I'm your host, Jackie Ferguson, equality advocate and certified diversity executive. On this show, we discuss how diversity, equity and inclusion benefits our workplaces, schools, and communities by sharing the stories, insights, and best practices of game changers, leaders, and glass ceiling breakers that are doing the work to make our world a more understanding, welcoming, and supportive place for us all. Today, I'm joined by Di Ciruolo, entrepreneur, speaker, and author of the book Ally Up, the definitive guide to building inclusive, innovative and productive teams.
Di thank you for being with us.
Di Ciruolo: Thank you so much for having me, Jackie, I'm so excited for this conversation.
Jackie Ferguson: Yes me too. Di, do you mind sharing with our audience a little about your upbringing?
Di Ciruolo: Yes. So, I came up in Massachusetts. I was in the Massachusetts foster care system from the age of three until I aged out, which varies state by state here in Massachusetts it's age 20-21 ish.
So when I aged out of foster care, I was homeless and I didn't have anywhere to go. I moved across the country to Atlanta, the way you can when you're a teenager, because you just do dumb stuff and you aren't scared of things. So I moved to Atlanta, I got my own apartment for like $650, which blew my mind.
I was living in a gated community. You know, fancy. And then, I put myself in college, I put myself in therapy and then therapy did so much good for me. I really am such a strong proponent of therapy. I tell everybody to do therapy. Yeah.
Jackie Ferguson: Right. If we just stopped there for a second, you know, I think now people are willing to talk about that more. Right. It used to be so taboo to talk about anything related to mental health, but people are having those conversations a little bit more freely. And I think it's helping other people to say, okay, I might need some help. I might need someone to talk to. So I love that you're
adjusting by generation by culture, by all kinds of things, we have so much trash.
In our society in various groups that we all belong to around sort of therapy and mental health and all of that stuff. Um, but anyway, I digress. So. Put myself in therapy, graduated from Georgia state. I got a degree in anthropology, specifically, gender race, and class also African-American studies because that was just the stuff I was the most passionate about.
I felt like I was living in Atlanta around a culture. I knew very little about at the time. And I felt like a living anthropologist. Um, after I graduate. I thought this is it. I can do anything I can apply to any job. Obviously they want me look at all my extracurriculars along with my grades. That was not the case.
Right. So I couldn't, it. People who had those, like high-end jobs where like, they'd send recruiters to colleges and stuff. You can't get that at like a state school. Right. That's not a thing. So it didn't matter how many people I called, how much I hustled all the networking I could possibly do. They weren't interested in talking to me because I didn't have that network already in place.
So I had to do things a lot differently and it made me really aggravated because I was like, Y'all have been telling me for all these years, I have to complete these 10 checkbox items in order to be successful in order to be, you know, a person and I've done all these things and I still don't have that.
I still don't have that respect. I still don't have that identity what's going on here. And then I realized there was still an even greater gap between where I was and where I needed to show up at where other people were getting positions and stuff. And all of that gap needed to be filled by me. And I was.
Okay. And as somebody who had been in foster care my entire life, I mean, we say this all the time about kids who are in foster care, we are practically psychic in our ability to. Read, what other people want for safety and be able to understand other people's emotions, other people's backgrounds, other people's things, because we need all of that information about people to be able to make safety decisions.
So all of this stuff that I've just been doing my whole life instinctively has really just paid off in the end, because I'm finally at a place where all of the things that I am are intersecting in a way that may. The conversations that we're having today important and helps me be a bridge builder and helped me point out things that seem very obvious to me that are apparently not obvious to everybody.
So I moved back here, I got a job and that's kinda how it went.
Thanks for sharing that, you know, it's so important to think about it. The different experiences, the lived experiences that people have because how they show up in the workplace doesn't necessarily reflect that life journey. I love sharing the journey part because it's so important in understanding more about a person, how they show up in the world, how they make decisions.
How they process information, problem solved. There are so many things that are affected by that background. Yes, absolutely. And tell me what kept you motivated through adversity and he aged out of the foster care system and then you're homeless. How did you get from there to move into Atlanta to school?
How did you manage through that adversity?
Di Ciruolo: You know, if I'm honest, I'm the type of person where if you tell me I can't do something, I will literally die trying to prove you wrong. You know, like that's the thing. And when you're in foster care and not just foster care, like in all walks of life that are, are marginalized historically.
What ends up happening is you sort of take your cues from other people sometimes, and you find yourself doing a lot of things that maybe you wouldn't do when you get to be a big kid. So there's a lot of that. I had a lot of people feel like it was their duty to tell me how I could be smaller or tell me that I needed to be smaller or tell me that I was shining too much or tell me I was talking too much.
I was asking for too much. I should be more grateful. All of those types of things. So regularly. The rage just built within me. You can see it's still in my hair. Like it's, you know what I mean? It's just, I can't have that. I'll give you an example. Something people say all the time, something is like, oh, well the next generation will fix this.
I don't feel that way. I feel the opposite of that. I feel like I have kids now. It is my responsibility to kick down these doors for my kids, for your kids, for everybody's kids. And I'm sorry if you wanted this to not be my argument, you should have fixed it before I got here. That's kind of where we are
Jackie Ferguson: love that.
Now, Tyler, let me ask you this. When you think about people that demand an issue, right? And certainly all of us who are part of underrepresented groups have experienced that. What was the difference for you between retracting and stepping forward? What's the difference for you there?
Di Ciruolo: I think it's the fight for other people.
I think it's noticing that other people had gone through what I had been through had experienced those same things had gone that same way. It was very much. Noticing that it wasn't me. If that makes sense. Yeah. I eventually realized that other people, especially while I was living in Atlanta had come up the same way I had come up, had things to overcome that were systemic the way I had things to overcome that were systemic.
It's hard to explain that to people who have never been. Bumping into those societal rules that don't really exist anywhere. Like when you, you know, knock into things. Like, for example, I got into a situation when I was a kid where I walked into the little boys bathroom, because I didn't know that that was like a gender thing.
I looked up at the sign and I saw that one room. I couldn't read yet. I was five. I saw that one room had a dress on it and one room had pants on it and I was wearing pants that day. So I just walked into the bathroom. And of course that caused no end of problems. Because immediately I was adultified I had issues where people were like, well, what are you doing in this bathroom with this boy?
And I'm five. So I'm thinking, okay, what have I done to make this a thing? Why is this about me? And of course I had a very wonderful, nice, beautiful teacher. Let me know that she felt like this was me, that I was doing something. I mean, it wasn't even like some person that you're like, oh, this is some old guy, whatever.
I ignore him, somebody that I like looked up to felt that I was doing something sexual with this child. You know what I mean? So it's like stuff like that when you're just like all of these places where I have bumped into society before all of where I've found the edges to be, those are all things I like to talk about with people because people don't see.
Right. So it's been about seeing other people in those spaces, noticing that they don't know what they're struggling with and being like, oh, I already completed this level. Let me show you what's going on here. And let me bridge that. So with the differences I don't retract. I don't feel afraid. In fact, when people step into me, I get more confident in what I'm talking about, because I am just like, even more like, oh wow.
You really think that this is your right to say this to me. Huh? Like, and that's kind of the thing. And. I don't know, I create a lot of boundaries for people when we're talking, just using sort of human psychology because of the way I came up. So that, I guess that helps too, probably a lot of things
Jackie Ferguson: that's so important to think about because so often, you know, our natural instinct is to protect ourselves in the world.
Yeah, we, we shrink back, but really if we're thinking about not only ourselves, but those that we're representing, those that were there, we're fighting for, you know, this next generation, it's important that we step up and make these statements and draw these lines.
Di Ciruolo: If we can do it, we have to, that's absolutely the case.
There's a lot of people that reach out to me and say things like, thank you for being yourself. Thank you for doing. Because I wouldn't know how to do it if, you know, if I had to do it. And it's like, well, I lived in his life. I came up this way. I did like so many years of therapy to make myself this. So if this helps you awesome.
I'm really excited for that.
Jackie Ferguson: I love it. One more question on this topic, just for those listening. When we step up and draw these lines and do our best to educate people on, on where they're missing the mark and where they've got it wrong. Right. What do you recommend that we do or say, because it's very important in how we approach people, whether they're going to be able to receive it or not.
And certainly we can't say that everyone will cause they want, you know, there are a lot of things that come with everyone, right, everyone, but what are some of the ways that we can do our best to make sure that we're educating people in the right way?
Di Ciruolo: So do we mean we, as people who are being impacted or do we mean we, as people who are in the HR space or the people space and want to make sure that people are feeling included?
So those are two different questions to me and they are being impacted by these things and they are BiPAP or, or women or anything. Right. When people come to me and they say, what can I do to make my employer understand these issues? Like, oh my God. That's always the worst position to be in. I don't want to teach you how to teach them.
I want to teach them how to include you. Like, that's a different thing. I don't feel like it is the responsibility of BiPAP people to do this work. It drives. I don't want to cuss on your thing. It drives me crazy. Do you know what I mean? Like, it drives me crazy when people gatekeeper around that, because in my mind, like black women specifically should be driving us forward about how we're going to be inclusive on bigger things.
This stuff right here. It's level one stuff. The stuff I talk about is level one stuff like I'm, I'm guarding the gates of hell here. Y'all go this way and do the real work while I stand here and teach people. Not quite sharing, but like the next level inclusion. Right? So for me, I always feel terrible when I see people say, well, how do I, how do I do this?
Because it's just more of the same systems, it's you taking on that responsibility because you're the only one being impacted by it. And I think that's garbage. And I hate seeing companies who say, oh, we're so proud of our inclusion when I've got employees of they're saying, how do I teach this stuff to my boss?
So that's position one second. If you are leading a team or you're leading a company or anything like that, there are thousands of things that you can do any minute person to person individually or on the company level at every single level of the employment cycle that can help people feel more included, all kinds of people.
I wrote a book like, let me help you include people, but stop putting it on the people who are being marginalized by it already. That's the stuff that drives me.
Jackie Ferguson: Wow. Wow. Wow. I love that. It's so important, right? Because so, so often, you know, my question was how do we help people understand us better? And you're like, no, that's not the way we approach it.
I love that. Thank
Di Ciruolo: you. Yeah. I am definitely a bridge builder. I don't shame people that come to me. I don't think shame has any place here. I think that whole like white guilt, white shame, all that stuff. It's garbage. And it's sort of like, it's very pointless and it doesn't help anybody. And like that sort of like.
Performative Pearl clutching doesn't help anybody and it doesn't drive the car forward and that's what we need to do here. So I want people to be able to shake that off and like pick up a book, read the action items, learn more, feel curious, keep going. That's what I really want. That's what we need to be talking about.
All of this like fake stuff is slowing everybody down. So I just wish we could drive in the same direction, uh, because that's the stuff we need. We need to be, we need to be.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. So di tell me, you know, certainly your passion is evident, right? Love that. Tell me where this comes from for you.
Di Ciroulo: For me.
It's my identity. First. I am a half Latin queer mom of two kids who came up in foster care. All of these identities intersect as an insider outsider thing for me. Yes, I'm Latin, but I'm very light-skinned yes, I'm a mom. Yes. I'm queer. I'm also married to a cis-gendered man, dah, dah, dah, dah. You know what I mean?
So like, all of those things for me are insider outsider identity buddies that I get to intersect with a very small amount of people at. So we have found a lot of community around that. Um, people like us and all of those sorts of things. So I think those are, I don't know, great driving factors is sort of the, yeah.
Community spaces where we can all talk about who we are and find places where we're the same in ways that we didn't know before. That's something that's happening in the Latin community. As we currently speak, a lot of us, haven't quite noticed each other for a long time. And now we're sort of starting to figure out what our issues are and what our common stuff is.
And like what things we think about together. And, you know, like all of the things that have never happened to this point, we are just now having those conversation.
Jackie Ferguson: So di you're currently involved in two companies. So you have di Serola consulting and jam. Tell us what you do for each of these companies and how you help organizations and professionals through those businesses.
Di Ciruolo: So jam I am their head of inclusion. They are a startup tech company. They are amazing. They are launching. Um, right now they're working on a comedy event called non-funded around, which is a joke about NFL. We're all excited about that. So what do I do for them? I'm building their stuff from the ground. So they are a startup, which means like I am helping create sort of how we think about our pipelines, how we create jobs, because a lot of times in the startup community, one person will know somebody else they'll start a new company.
That person will know somebody that personal knows somebody. And then we end up with these decidedly monochromatic, very male companies, right. So, what I'm doing for jam is we're thinking about that a different way. So anytime we're thinking about how we create our jobs, how we create, um, another thing we're thinking about is sort of the gap that exists between schools that will retrain you into another line of work, into like with coding and all of those sorts of coding.
And what needs to exist for people to jump right into a job. So there's a really big gap between those two things. And that's one of the things that we're working on for jam. Like how do we think about that? Because we believe that if we're, if we want more diversity in the field of tech, we need to be a part of creation.
So that's something that we're working on for jam. There's more stuff coming that might be social justice related. We'll see if it goes that way, but I can't get too far on that. But then me personally, I do consulting as well because I can't be satisfied with just like one thing. I need to be doing lots of things.
So I also consult, you know, about a third of the time and they don't seem to mind because I I'm getting their name out too. So everybody's. Love it
Jackie Ferguson: stay for a moment on jam, you know, because the diversity movement recently created a white paper on DEI for startups. And what happens is a lot of times exactly what you said happens, happens where you have a founder who goes through their friend, you know, come join my thing that goes, family member come invest in my thing.
Right. Everybody now looks the same thing. Similar. But you really need to start your inclusion journey and building your culture from the ground up. You have to be intentional about that. And a lot of times companies think when you've got five employees, 10 employees, that doesn't matter. But
Di Ciroulo: people hear that to me all the time.
They're like, why do they need you? And I'm like, literally everything from the way that we hire people to the way that we think about ourselves out in the world, to the way that we think about these issues affecting blockchain, to the way we think about decentralizing. Systems, all of those things are DEI related and they need people who are doing those things to be informing those conversations always and all tech need that.
Think about the stuff that we see being developed right now, without lots of people watching it without lots of people in the room. Some AI is really dangerous right now, and we've got it being like facial recognition software, which is being sold to police and other security teams. When we know it doesn't work on black and brown faces specifically not on black women's face.
So when we see the sorts of things happening in tech and people say to me, well, there's only 10 people at jam. Why do they need, you know, a DEI person it's like, because tech. On the bleeding edge of everything. And if you aren't thinking about that stuff intentionally, you are ignoring it. And like lots of bad things are happening in that wake.
And you are doing that on behalf of all tech and you're showing people that they don't belong here in a time where we are desperately trying to make them belong. You know, keep ignoring each other. Like that's been sort of my thing that I always say to people and they keep ignore each other and keep like losing money on it.
Because if you think you can't be completely disrupted, I'd like to introduce you to Netflix because they very much have the same thing when they tried to sell their company for 50 million to blockbuster. So don't get me started on, you know, tech and DEI in tech. First of all. I
Jackie Ferguson: love that. And I use that example all the time, because I remember sitting in my college class spending every Friday night at blockbuster.
And I had a professor that told me about like, where you stream these movies. And I'm like that, that doesn't make sense. Like that's not going to happen. Right. Right. What, what is that why, you know, I'm good. I'm going to keep going to blockbuster and blockbuster said the same thing and look what happened.
I mean, it's exactly right. And left the way that our society is changing our society is becoming more diverse. So the people that you're leading are more diverse people that you're selling to more diverse. Right. And so you've got to understand how this impacts your business and then how to create things that.
Resonate with all of these groups that are part of society and a big part of society,
Di Ciruolo: a big part of society. That's right. That's what's happening right now. The other thing that people don't actually realize that I'm running into, so. It seems to me that people think that only the sort of the majority narrative is the only narrative that people are having.
Right. So of course we're all experts in what the majority narrative is, but we all also have like different places where we intersect, like where I need to be able to speak to other languages, to be able to communicate with the rest of society. And people don't think about that because they only need to think about the place where they belong.
And isn't that just what everybody has. Nope. No, I have to be able to be in like four or five other communities and know all of the, you know, associated lexicon for all of those things. And I have to keep all of that in my brain all the time. So I don't think people realize how much more there is for them to know sometimes.
And for me, I'm just like, oh my God, I want to know everything always. So this is why this is, I just think people gap in knowledge is I think people would want to know more if they knew they didn't.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. When one of the easiest ways to do that diet to your point is to have more people in the room because you know, it all, you, your experience is going to be different from someone else's experience.
But if you have enough people in the room, Just say
Di Ciruolo: that what you wanted. Yes. That's exactly right. You want to say that? Yeah. Did you mean that? Ooh, that wasn't quite right. Are you sure that that's what you meant? You know what I mean? Like there's so many things, so many times in tech specifically where we could have just been like, Ooh, was that right?
Like, you know, when we had like tit stare at tech crunch, excuse my cousin, but like, you know, like 10 people must have been in the room making that decision to have that company go. I mean, we have like investors and stuff saying things like, oh yeah, sure. I definitely think that that's totally fine. And you don't have anybody else in the room because creating these sorts of like toxic spaces where only a certain type of person belong.
So I just want us to do better in tech because. For better or for worse gets to be sort of the place where we don't live in the same world as we did the yesterday, every single day is the future. And therefore, because of that rightly or wrongly, they need to be stepping up in a way that maybe other companies don't necessarily have to, everybody should don't get me wrong, but tech is specially needed.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely die. Let's talk about your book, ally up the definitive guide to building inclusive, innovative and productive teams. What's you hope that readers gain from reading your book?
Di Ciruolo: So in my experience, when I started. Book, what I wanted to do was get people off of the sidelines and into the conversation.
So I wanted to give them the information that they needed to be able to do that in their workplaces. A lot of companies start up their DEI conversations on their own because they think that they can just handle it. Especially people who are more companies that are like more progressive and they're like, oh no, no, we're totally all fine.
And we can just do this ourselves and dah, dah, dah, or we're going to start this committee and, oh, look, the committee's having trouble, you know, because we didn't put any money or time or any effort into it. We have absolutely no corporate or manager buy-in and all of that is failing. So now we're going to throw our hands up in the air and say that DEI isn't right.
For tech or DDI isn't right. For our company, or so it's like, was that what it was? Was it that you didn't need DEI initiatives or was it that you absolutely wanted this to fail and in fact put no effort into it? So like some of the time I'm just like, okay, well obviously that didn't work. And then some of the time.
Some people are great. Some people are doing a great job. I just wanted people to have that information when they walk into the room and have, try to have these conversations for the first time, because most of us don't have this vocabulary. Most of us weren't given this information. Most of us haven't had that experience where we have to be able to have those conversations in other groups, besides the groups that we belong in.
Right. So I wanted everybody to be able to buy this book and be like, okay, I have read it. I am good too. Thinking about some of these conversations at the very end of my book, I even have like resource lists for where you go next. Like, or more books here or more authors here are more videos. Watch all the, you know what I mean?
Like for me, it was just about giving people everything they possibly needed to get off the sidelines and start doing. That's
Jackie Ferguson: one of the things that I love about, and I have the book right here, so it's, it's so fantastic because it's an easy read. Like it's not heavy. It comes across very like, okay, here are the things that you can do.
And there are very actionable steps that you just really need the insight. To know that that's what you do, because what I find is a lot of times organizational leaders think that what they need to do is say, Hey, you, you matter, let's put out the statement and not do the real work to understand what their culture is.
What's broken, which is scary. Right. It takes a lot of courage to do that. Well, it's easier to just gloss over and keep working, right?
Di Ciruolo: Not it's harming the people you say you want. And that means that you're losing out on them bringing their best ideas to work, and they are the people that are representing your client base.
So like, please do think about diversity, equity and inclusion. If you aren't already like it's so crucially important.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. Absolutely. One of the things that I really loved is, you know, just understand. Yeah. How to take these steps. It's very easy to, you know, as you said earlier, you know, these performative things, right.
Really understand and take these steps and say, okay, this is what I can do now. This is what I need to be working towards. And that's definitely here in the book, you know, for everyone listening ally up, it's a wonderful read and you can get it anywhere. Books are sold Diastat. Yeah.
Di Ciruolo: Yes, that's absolutely right.
Um, you can get it dice rouleaux.com. firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're in Amazon, you can get it on amazon.com. As soon as August 17th. I want to say awesome. I know crazy. Right.
Jackie Ferguson: You know, it's, it's just so, it's so important because it, it gives you a real guide. You say that this is a definitive. It is, it's a really
Di Ciruolo: strong guy.
I didn't even write the definitive guide part. You know, like the people who were editing, it was like, this needs to say the definitive guide. And I was just like, wow, I'm, I'm a millennial. Like, I don't call anything. The, anything that I have written. So like, you know that, but they really were just like, no, really people need.
This baseline of information, to be able to like, even be inspired, to potentially start thinking about other books, start thinking about other projects, start reaching out to other people. So if anybody picks it up because it's a bridge builder, that's all I wanted. You know, that's all I wanted.
Jackie Ferguson: Let's talk about allyship in the workplace.
So let's level set. So the book's called ally. Let's start with, what is an ally? What does that
Di Ciruolo: mean? So. It depends on your workplace, but basically what an ally is or an aspiring ally or an advocate or an accomplice. All of those words are not used necessarily interchangeably, but try writing a book called you know, how to be an accomplice, um, that did not work out.
So yes, we do. I mean, ally is a verb here just to be clear. Um, but an ally is someone who is taking on maybe something that isn't impacting them in order to make sure they. Supporting or in fact taking the, maybe the mortar, somebody who is being impacted. So I like to think of sort of white privilege, not necessarily as privileged, but instead as maybe armor that sort of white people get to put on.
And it means that you don't necessarily get called out for the same things as the rest of us, your, your safety isn't necessarily put in danger. Like you don't get threatened in the same way. Some of, you know, bipolar impacted people are being threatened. And if you see it that way, you can sort of step in the line of fire, no ring that you're wearing that armor and that you're not going to be hurt in the same way.
Any of us would be hurt. That's what an ally is. An ally is somebody that's like. Marching alongside you. And it's like, I get why this is happening. I understand the systems here and like, let's go to work. So for myself, I'm what is known as an abolitionist. I'm not an ally. I'm like, I want all of this to be done with.
I want to talk about breaking down real systems because I can tell you, there are places that I have bumped into real systems at every level of every professional thing, including medicine, including academy, including everything. So I want people to be able to understand. Everything. And if you can just, if I can just tilt your lens just a little tiny bit, you're going to be able to see all the things that exist through it, and you're going to be able to change things.
And that's just, just boop. That's all it ever takes. It's only people are already almost all the way there by the time I get to them. And it's just like, We're almost there. So that's what an ally is. An ally is somebody taking that stuff on and helping out and engaging. But what an ally never is, is somebody that comes into its face and assumes like in a, in a, in a movement, in a social justice movement that no work has taken place until they arrived people of color.
I am here now and we are, I am to advance us, you know, all of those sorts of things. And when people asked me how I felt about writing this book as light as I am. Oh my God. I asked everybody to do this and I say it in the book too. I tried to give this idea away, like almost 150 times. I did not want to do this.
I was just like, oh God, I just want to do the work I do. But I definitely, I felt like if I couldn't stand in my own ideas, I had no right. Asking anybody else. Yeah. I was like, if I felt like if I couldn't get out there naked showing my whole, but then I had no right to ask anybody else to be able to do that with me.
Right. So I did it anyway. It's a very scary thing for me. I'm excited and scared. I would say I'm excited and scared.
Jackie Ferguson: No, no reason to be scared. It is. I enjoyed every moment of it.
Di Ciruolo: I really appreciate it. Thank you
Jackie Ferguson: course died. Let's talk about allyship a little bit more. We talked about why it's important, but I want to really lean in on who can be an ally,
Di Ciruolo: the point.
Yeah. Ally up is to show you all the places where maybe you don't aren't being impacted, but in some other place you will be. So maybe you aren't part of the LGBTQ community, but maybe you are BiPAP or maybe you're BiPAP, but you're not necessarily part of the neurodivergent community, or maybe you are a part of the neurodiverse.
You know what I mean? Like every single place, there's a place where you're not going to have that information and it's not going to be just stuff, you know, in your mind, like how we talk about. Even within the disabled community or the differently abled community, there are entire groups of people that have entire co the deaf community has an entire culture that is specific to them.
Even within certain umbrellas, there are sub umbrellas of stuff that you need to know. So there will always be a point where you need to be an ally for somebody else impacted, unless you are specifically somebody who has all of those things. Yeah. Maybe you are, and that's totally excellent. Please join my companies.
But if you're not, you're going to need to know this stuff in order to be making your company's inclusive. It's not just about one thing. It's about all the things it's about all the systems and tearing them down to make them more equitable for everyone. So we can be doing the real good here.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely.
And you know, it's important to say that anyone can be an ally. To someone else. And yes, as simple as if you are in the workplace and you know that this individual that's in these conferences, right in these conference rooms, doesn't have an opportunity to speak up, but you say, you know, Bob or Susan, or, you know, Kesha, what do you think?
Right. And give them that opportunity to speak. Never know. What they can contribute if they're not given that space to speak and V and very often. People who are underrepresented, you know, they, they don't have that lion dye that you have and speak up as an ally, give them a opportunity to share their perspective and their experiences as it relates to, you know, whatever product challenge, you know, issue that you're facing.
You might be really surprised at the amazing ideas that come from unexpected places. That's
Di Ciruolo: right. And then, then I would also say that when impacted people do stand up for themselves, we do know that that goes negatively. We've been able to test that through social science. So it's not even just, we're going to put all of this on your backs, the stuff that you were specifically being impacted by, we're going to make sure that only you can correct it.
We're going to not give you any money. We're not going to, you're not going to get any resources. You're just going to get this title. All of those things. When we talk about this, there are so many levels in which we can be doing more. And when I see people say, oh, we're doing great. We have this new Jedi committee.
I'm like, okay. Like there are like six or seven levels in a community, in an employee life cycle where you can be doing. You know, and, and then, so I'm not sure what to say to that because even when Roz brewer who at the time was working for Sam's club, tried to tell people that she wasn't going to be using vendors that didn't meet a certain criteria of diversity.
People called her out for being racist. And now raspberry is of course the CEO or COO CEO of Walgreens. I want to say now she's like on the fortune 500. Like settle down people, you know what I mean? That's, it's, it's we know that it needs to be about allyship because not just about allyship, but we know that some of it needs to be about allyship for us to move the needle forward.
Because if there isn't a mass sort of awareness of this stuff, we won't be able to move it forward. We know that people who are being impacted have been trying to change the way things are for all the time. And if we could do it on our own, we would have already done it. Now we're reaching out to everybody else.
And we want to make sure that y'all know the places where you can be helping it's as simple as that at the end of every chapter, I have literally put in a too long didn't read and you can just go point by point, oh, this is what she said. And then track back. Literally I have spoonfed it and it's so sad.
Like, I really did want everybody to feel like they could be involved and they can take steps that would make things better for people who are being impacted in their own workforces, rather than saying, oh, I didn't hear anything from anybody, even though I didn't measure or send out any surveys or any of those things.
And I think everything's just fine. I want to teach people the measure. I want to teach people how to put diversity goals in place and inclusion goals in place that aren't just most inclusive company in the world, because there's no way to track that information. There's no way that's just more stuff.
You know what I mean? That's more saying nice stuff and not doing it. So if we don't know how to do this stuff, we're just setting goals. We can't. So let's talk about our goals. Let's talk about how we measure. Let's talk about why we do this so that people understand and are able to innovate within their own companies.
So it doesn't just have to be my way, but do get involved in the conversation. That's all I'm saying.
Jackie Ferguson: That's so important. It's so important to know what to do first and then really
Di Ciruolo: do the work. We do it as quick. Those steps. Yes. Don't put up your black square is all that stuff is performative. Don't write something for your business during pride month and then be completely silent on LGBTQ issues and things like trans laws that are happening.
Don't you can't do those two things at the same time. Your values are important. Now more than ever, because millennials, for example, care more about a company sharing their values than they do about. Comp even, and gen Z right behind us cares even more. In fact, they're chomping at the bit behind us, like, why isn't this fixed already?
And yet I have people who are an older generation saying things like, oh, slow down, slow down. We can't do this yet. I'm like, it's not slowing down behind me. It is coming harder and faster. The faster we go, this is the slowest it's going to be. And of course, people don't like change. I hate change, but. The way I wrote this book was intended to be like, so simple that you were just like, at the end of the day, you were like, oh my God, I did not know these 25 things that this person just told me.
And now I can look, oh my God. I know somebody like that. Oh my God. This happened at my work. Oh my God, what does she talk? What's next. Okay. Okay. That's great. You know what I mean? Like, and I tell jokes throughout the entire thing. It's got like 200 footnotes in it where like, half of them are just me jokes, you know, like I just, it doesn't have to be awesome.
I feel inspired by the things we can do. And I want people to feel inspired by the gap that exists between where we are and where we need to be, rather than feeling like, oh, I'm not going to do it. Then it's too hard. Right? Like you have done harder things. You have survived harder things. Let me help you get through this.
Definitely can. Yeah. It has to be this way.
Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. So, awesome. Thank you for that. No, my pleasure here comes my favorite question. Anybody that listens to this podcast know that I ask this every time to every guest, because I'm always surprised with what I hear, but tell us something about you that not a lot of people.
Di Ciruolo: Well, I'm kind of an open book. So something about me that not a lot of people. I can tell you everything there is about me and see if there are things you don't know. Right. So I'm a vegetarian. Okay. I am very into like, um, I am very, I go to the beach sometimes and I just play Stevie Nicks for the ocean.
Like I am a weird person. Like I can make you a list of things that I just do that are part of my self-care. I am obsessive about self-care I'm obsessed with like, Sponsoring and peer sponsoring other women within my group. I care about all that stuff. I care about like how we advance narratives for things in other things.
I'm not a part of like, A friend of mine wants me to help her write a book on education. We're working on that together right now, and sort of DEI in education and how we as parents, these days raise children that are going to be allies, which is stuff that we want. Like right now there's only kind of one narrative in that.
And I want to make sure, or we want to make sure all of us parents that kind of want to come together on this matter. We want to make sure that we are being represented us millennial and you know, sort of younger gen X parent, whoever, right. We just want to make sure that we are doing these things in the way that we want to see them done.
And that's the great thing about being part of this generation is everything's like, well, what do you think what's, what's your best idea? You know? And I just, I like that. I'm obsessed with reading. You can steal my books. Yeah. And obsessive reader. I don't know many things. I speak three languages I can read in like four or five more like, because romance has been really easy on my brain.
I'm just a weird kid. I don't know. Awesome. Yes, no, my pleasure. Um, I don't, I don't fit, I don't fit in, I guess. So I guess since I only have this, I have to be authentic because making myself small doesn't work. I mean, now that people have, let me be myself, I'm never going back. So, I mean, feel free. Y'all pick anything to, to learn about me.
If you, if you don't there's anything you don't know, I'm an open book. I love it. I love it.
Jackie Ferguson: What's the message that you want to leave with our listeners today.
Di Ciruolo: There's more, you can do it. We can do that. Don't be scared. Don't sit on the sidelines because you're scared. Jump in the game, following your face, get involved.
There's no way to continue ignoring this. There's no side, there's no neutral side of like not being involved either. You are actively unmaking these systems or you are leaving them there. There's only those two options. So don't be scared. Get involved, get off the sidelines. You have the. You can definitely do it.
Don't be afraid. Let's do that. Yes.
Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Diane, how can people connect
Di Ciruolo: with you? So I am all over LinkedIn, accidentally, um, dicer rouleaux on LinkedIn. Um, I'm also. You know, casually on Tik TOK. I'm very obsessed with lately because it's just, so I learned so much from spiritual women on Tik TOK.
It's not even funny. Um, so you can find me on all the social medias and then, uh, you know, I went Twitter and all that, but I'm just so, uh, so casual about my social media. I'm so lazy about it, but I am very much on LinkedIn. So if you want to find me, that's how you find me.
Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. Awesome. Di, thank you so much for sharing these incredible insights with us and for taking time to spend with us today, you're such an inspiration.
Thank you for the work that you're doing, you know? Uh, so. I
Di Ciruolo: really appreciate you having me. Thank you so much
Jackie Ferguson: for listening everyone. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to leave a review and share it with a friend. Thanks to you. This podcast is now in the top 10% of downloaded part. This episode was edited and produced by your fluence. I'm Jackie Ferguson. And I'll talk with you next time on diversity beyond the check box. .
Having grown up in foster care, Di Ciruolo knows what it’s like to feel left out, and she made it her life’s mission to foster inclusivity in the workplace. With her new book, Ally Up: The Definitive Guide to Building More Inclusive, Innovative, and Productive Teams, Di is hoping that people will get off the sidelines and step into the DEI conversation.
Check out Di’s new book, Ally Up: The Definitive Guide to Building More Inclusive, Innovative, and Productive Teams.