Skip Navigation
Episode #232
Michael Bach

The Key To Diversity & Inclusion In Consulting

Subscribe On
Summary

Diversity and inclusion are two things that are becoming important in today’s business world. Reaching these goals often means changing things for the better. Michael Zipursky talks to Michael Bach, the head of CCDI Consulting, to find out more. Michael dives into the waters of consulting services in the areas of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility and gives his insights on how you can create a better working environment for your employees as well as clients. Tune in for more great thoughts on consulting for equity in this episode.

Listen to the podcast here

 

I am very excited to have another Michael in the virtual building. It is Michael Bach. Michael, welcome.

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Michael, you are a consultant in the fields of diversity, inclusion and equity. You’re the Founder and CEO of CCDI Consulting, which you’ve been running since January of 2013. We’ll talk about other stuff that you have going on. You were previously self-employed. You’ve also held positions at KPMG, which I’m sure many people will be familiar with. I want to get into your story and have you share some lessons learned, how you got to where you are, how you’ve created a successful consulting business. Before I do that, let’s go back in time a little bit. I would love it if you could share a bit about your educational background and what you were doing before you got into the world of consulting.

I actually went to university for Fine Arts Performance because I was going to be an actor. It didn’t necessarily work out. At the same time, while I was in high school, I had done a college diploma in Computer Sciences. I was a bit of a savant as a young person. I ended up spending a lot of my career working in the IT profession, which was a burgeoning field. This was several years ago. There are lots of changes happening pretty rapidly.

I found myself working at KPMG in the IT consulting practice. I had come from my own consulting shop. I am an independent consultant and moved into KPMG. While at KPMG, there was an opportunity to write a business case for the creation of a job in diversity and inclusion. I thought that was a job I wanted because I’d always done diversity and inclusion work, but no one was paying me for it.

I would volunteer with different organizations, different LGBTQ2+ organizations, women’s organizations, newcomer organizations, but it wasn’t a job or at least it wasn’t a job that I was willing to accept that pay. I had the opportunity to create this role and it was an internal-facing role, so I’m not a consultant. I led diversity at the firm for seven years. I grew the team to four people. I put the firm on the map.

I was also the deputy Chief Diversity Officer globally for the firm for a couple of years. In 2011 or 2012, I started to noodle with the idea of what an organization would look like that was supporting employers around diversity and inclusion. Originally, I was thinking for-profit. I ended up starting a nonprofit called the Canadian Center for Diversity and Inclusion. At the same time, we started building a consulting practice, which was housed in a different legal entity. We had CCDI and CCDI Consulting.

I want to dig into that. I also want to further explore the work you’re doing and how other companies and consultants can learn or at least get your perspectives on what you’re seeing in the marketplace. Take me back to those days at KPMG. Before you got into working at a large corporate, you had your own solo consulting business, then you went to KPMG. You were there for many years, then you went off and did your own consulting and nonprofit again.

When you look back at your years at KPMG, working at such a well-known and well-established firm with lots of systems, people, resources, and if anything, stands out, what did you take away from there that you were able to implement into your next round of business and ventures? Were there any lessons that stuck with you or are still with you now?

There are pros and cons to working with a big organization like KPMG. The things that I took away from that were a lot around process and formality. The practice I’m running now has a bit of a heavy hand about process and formality, and making sure we know how to get things done and that it’s not all over the place. It takes away some of that entrepreneurial adventurism, “I’ve got an idea. Let’s put it together and hammer it out to our clients with a half-hour’s notice.” At KPMG, there’s a good reason why there needs to be that formality and all the process. There’s a lot you can learn from that in a smaller organization because it means that everyone is singing from the same songbook.

Credibility is important as a consultant. Click To Tweet

Everyone understands how things are done. There isn’t confusion in how things are done. You can train people more easily. The biggest thing that I took away from it was how can I take what we had at KPMG and understand they are highly regulated professions. There are a lot of pieces that we didn’t have to pay attention to. At the same time, learn from all of the good things that they do.

What’s one system or one process that you brought over from your years of experience at KPMG. When you restarted your next venture in the world of consulting, is there one specific system or one specific process that you thought, “We definitely need to bring this in. This is critical for our success.”

The thing that immediately comes to mind is the silliest thing, but it’s file naming structures. I realized that probably sounds silly but the firm had a way of naming files so that you could find them easily. We implemented it at CCDI Consulting. It’s as simple as the date you make the file goes into the file name but it goes in a year, month or day. It sorts by the date and then the client’s name and then the project or engagement name, and then the folder structure as part of that.

It’s the silliest thing but I know that if I’m looking for a file on a client, I go to the client’s directory. I go to the letter of the alphabet. I go to their folder, one project, and there it will be. It reduces the chaos, particularly once you’re beyond your entrepreneurs, your single shingle independent contractor. Once you start to hire people, there has to be a way to pass that information on. It has to be simple and it works.

That’s a great example because even for the solo consultants taking this in and joining us right now, think about how much time you spend looking for files or things you created. That’s what you’re getting at. It’s that if you can spend less time looking for things, especially when that compounds as you have more team members, that creates a lot more efficiency. Especially when you have more people than just yourself, that is profitability if it’s time wasted. It’s a great example.

I would love to dig into your founding the Canadian Center for Diversity and Inclusion, which you mentioned now is a nonprofit. It seems very directly connected to CCDI Consulting, which is the for-profit consulting arm. Can you explain for us because I want to dive deeper into both of these? What is the structure of each? What is the connection? How do they work together or not together?

Canadian tax law is such that you have to do things in certain ways. In our case, when we set up CCDI, it was a registered charity. In the US, it would be called a 501(c)3. There are other names for it around the world. As a consequence, there’s only a certain amount of revenue that can be received from what they deemed to be for-profit activities, namely consulting. When we started consulting, we thought it would be about 10% of our revenue. It wasn’t going to be a big piece of our work. It was going to be stuff we did on the side of our desk. I was so wrong about that. Very quickly, we realized that it was going to be much more than 10%. We set up a separate legal entity that is majority-owned by the charity.

The charity can actually own another corporation and all of the consulting work that is done through CCDI Consulting, which is a separate legal entity. There’s still that relationship. They are a sister organization. We ran the organizations pretty much as one for a long time, but the consulting arm got so big that we’ve very much had to spin it off and completely separate it. Now we have separate websites, domains, people and everything. They are run completely independent of the other but still, one of the purposes of CCDI Consulting is to generate income for the charity. That’s what we do.

Why start the nonprofit? Why not just go right into creating a consulting business. You can still affect and support change. Why the nonprofit? I would love to know your thinking around those two.

CSP 232 | Diversity & Inclusion

 

On the back of a napkin in airport bars, I wrote down what I wanted this organization to be. There were a lot of activities where we were not going to make money. It was stressing me out. I was thinking, “How can we do this?” The other piece of the puzzle is that there is a belief that the work of diversity and inclusion should be in the nonprofit space. If it’s through consulting, people are fine with it being a for-profit.

We were doing things like a community of practice, events, webinars, and educational offerings that appeared to be more on that philanthropic nonprofit side. There was a general sense that this had to be in the nonprofit space. I remember distinctly, I was trying to figure out how to do it. It was my idea. I wanted to own it. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and I thought, “I can just do this as a nonprofit.”

It meant giving up my ownership, which was fine. I can live with that but it serves a higher purpose. Not to be too Pollyanna about it. It was exactly the right way to do it largely now because we’ve spun off consulting into its own separate brand and identity. The one thing I would have done from the start is to do that so it was a separately run entity completely from day one. Otherwise, CCDI is a very prominent player in Canada’s diversity and inclusion space.

They own the Canadian market. Our work in consulting is much more global. We work with clients in the US, the UK, and all over the world. We needed to have that separation in order to achieve it. I’m not someone who’s terribly motivated by money. I was more interested in having a bigger picture impact on the workplaces in Canada. That’s why I went with a nonprofit.

Do you feel that the nonprofit is able to create a greater impact than if you were just a straight consulting business in the sense of not having the nonprofit component to it? What do you think about those two?

Yes, I think so. The charity has a specific mandate around educating Canadians about the value of diversity and inclusion. They’re able to do things that they’re just not going to make any money. We came up with a designation similar to an HR designation, a supply chain that is called the CCIP, the Canadian Certified Inclusion Practitioner. It never makes money. It loses money.

It was created to credentialize the profession of diversity and inclusion, which is a growing profession in Canada. It needed some credentialization behind it. We couldn’t look at it as a moneymaker. We said, “This is something we’re doing for the greater good.” In a for-profit, we would have jettisoned it long ago because it just wasn’t going to make a coin. On the consulting side, if I’d set it up solely as a consulting practice, there were a lot of things that I wouldn’t have done.

You have a bunch of very well-known companies like SAP, Accenture, Deloitte, recognized universities, HSBC that are listed as founding partners. I believe that is on the nonprofit side. I would love to know what does that mean? What is a founding partner? Is there a strategy behind that? In creating these relationships, does it support the nonprofit? Was there also strategic thinking on your part in terms of the connection to the consulting side of the for-profit business?

It’s important that readers understand that the charity is funded by employers who pay an annual sponsorship fee, and then they’re able to attend webinars and in-person events. That’s their funding model. They have what is called employer partners. In this case, you’re talking about, the founding employer partners. I would love to tell you that there was something strategic behind them. They were the first 25 employers that signed on the dotted line. That was the deal. The first 25 would be the founding employer partners. They’re down to about twenty now. I think five have dropped out. If you stop being an employer partner, you lose the founding status and you can’t get it back.

Once you start to hire people, there has to be a way to pass the information on, and it has to be simple. Click To Tweet

The reality is that when we started the organization, my expectation was it was only going to be the big players, SAP, HSBC, Shell, big global companies that were going to be interested and able to write a check for the rights to participate in this organization. In the past couple of years, that has changed very dramatically, where a lot of small employers with 50 people have written a check for a few thousand bucks in order to gain access to educational opportunities. It’s just been a bit of a free for all. George Floyd’s death in May of 2020 changed everything. It worked in the organization’s favor. I wouldn’t say that there has been much in the way of a real strategic approach. We are now starting to do proactive sales and doing outbound sales. Up until now, it has all been inbound.

Is that for the nonprofit or for the for-profit or both?

Both. It’s just about answering the phone. What we found as we got to a particular size, particularly, this is more on the consulting side. On the charitable side, they are still getting requests coming in.

What is the team makeup? I saw about 42 people or so. What’s the count of people on both sides of the organization?

The charity has about 20 and the consulting has about 45. The charity hums along now. The employers reach out to join consulting. Because we got to almost 50 people, we needed to make sure that the pipeline of revenue was strong every month without fail because we’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll every month. It’s not like we can miss that.

We now have to start doing proactive outreach. Frankly, the things that our competitors have been doing all along, we now have to start doing. That’s largely because we have one thing that our competitors don’t have. That’s most of our team, our former DNI people from inside the large organizations, and myself at KPMG. We’ve got Scotia Bank, Xerox and all sorts of organizations. There’s a credibility that comes with that.

Credibility is important as a consultant. When I’m giving you advice and saying, “Here’s how you should collect demographic data on your people,” it’s not because I read a book. It’s because I did it. I had KPMG and that helps to differentiate us. It also means that our competitors have been out there selling. Now we’re playing catch up on proactive outbound sales.

Can you give me a little bit more detail on what that go-to-market strategy or sales strategy now looks like? Especially, you’re playing catch up. Is it sending emails? Is it making phone calls? Is it doing both? Is it being active in your network? At a high level to begin with, what does the typical playbook look like for your team right now to build a pipeline and generate new opportunities in sales?

The answer is all of the above. It’s taking advantage of our clients and doing proactive outreach to them. Not only just to sell something. I don’t follow the philosophy of every call has to produce a sale. It’s about building relationships and entrenching us as the go-to. Nothing frustrates me more than when I hear a client has used a service from a competitor that we provide. I want to be the only company that they call. We are entrenching ourselves there. We’re looking at previous engagements, the type of work we’ve done with clients, and then trying to sell them something more along that line. If they’ve done unconscious bias training, what about training on managing bias in the hiring process? We’re looking for those connected opportunities instead of randomly saying, “Have you thought about this?”

CSP 232 | Diversity & Inclusion

 

Is that done through an email outreach saying, “I want to share with you some ideas or some additional trainers?” How are you positioning that? A lot of people are in a situation where they have existing or past clients. Those clients may not actually know about everything that they can offer. I would love a little bit more detail on the positioning of those offers.

It goes out in a number of fashions. Email is part of it, but understanding that for every email I send, the person is receiving a thousand others. It’s not necessarily the most effective means of communication. Email is part of it. We have a monthly newsletter. It has several thousand people on it. We’re making sure we’re pushing it out through that. It’s also just picking up the phone. We have a sales team of five people. They all have a cohort of clients that they’re responsible for. We’re in the process of hiring a few net new sales roles that will be more on the hunter versus gatherer type approach. They’re just picking up the phone. They’re booking meetings and talking about the client’s needs. It’s time, which is hard for an independent consultant, but we have the advantage of having a larger team.

It’s also social media. A big part of what we do is being out there and positioning ourselves as thought leaders. That’s not just through social media. It’s also through creating thought leadership pieces. It’s through putting on our own webinars that are just informational and available to anybody, but they have a sales angle to them.

Unlike charity, which is just about education, ours is about selling a service. If we do a webinar on leading practices and data collection, we’re going to talk about our service in data collection. All of those pieces of the puzzle are important. Ideally, you’re going to have a person whose sole job is to just have those conversations and build that relationship. It’s certainly a worthwhile investment.

You’re now getting closer to 50 team members in the consulting business. How has your role changed? If you look from the inception of the business to where you are now and think about chapters throughout the progression of the business, what would you label those chapters? What does that look like for you? How has your role changed as you’ve gone through each of those chapters?

In the beginning, chef, cook and bottle washer. I came from an organization of 6,000 people in Canada. When I went to pick up the phone and call the IT department, I suddenly realized that it was my phone that was going to ring because I was the IT department, the marketing department, HR and everything. In the beginning, everyone did everything. We had no job descriptions. It was to do whatever we needed to do in order to grow the organization so we could hire another person to offload some of the work.

Relatively quickly, we got to the point where we could start to have specific jobs. As a consequence, I started to be able to hand off pieces of my work. We suddenly had an IT manager, and then we had a communications manager who would handle the social media and so on and so forth. Slowly but surely, I got to hand pieces off. Over the past few years, I would say that my role has been very much the chameleon, somebody who has a lot of different skills. I know a little bit of a lot, however that saying goes, which is good because I can step into any area of the business and figure it out.

Were you at the early stages doing a lot more of the delivery and engagement work with clients?

Everything. I was doing the sales and the delivery. It was all-hands.

We have a very big advantage in the market right now, and that is that the conversation around inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility is front and center. Click To Tweet

Did you ever experience or maybe even your own mindset that clients wanted you? They wanted your expertise. You were the thought leader. How did you make that transition? How did you go about removing yourself from the delivery so that you could work more on the marketing, the hiring, the strategy or working on the business as opposed to working in the business?

It’s how the job progressed. What I ended up doing was moving where I was needed. I still was getting a lot of demand for me to do the work. In 2018, we hit a bad financial patch. I moved into sales. I spent all of my time in sales with the sales team to blow the numbers out of the water because I’m good at sales. There were three of us at the time. The clients were happy to talk with the CEO and it worked. Now, I’m getting back more into delivery. Here’s why. What we’ve realized over the past couple of years is that one of our key subject matter experts was doing administrative work, looking at the finance, policies and procedures, but I’m a subject matter expert in diversity and inclusion.

I’ve spent several years in that field. We’ve shifted things around. I now have a Chief Operating Officer who’s a total crackpot. She’s amazing at what she does. I said, “You run the business, I’m going to deliver. I’m going to get back to doing what I’m supposed to be doing.” It makes the clients happy. It lends to credibility. My advice to consultants would be to do that. Get other people to run your business and handle the operational stuff, which you may not be good at anyway. Outsource it, hire people or whatever, so that you can do what you’re exactly good at.

How do you approach deciding which engagements or which clients to get involved in the delivery? I’m assuming that you’re not involved with every client project and delivering on everything. How do you think about your time, which is obviously limited? It’s your most valuable resource as it is for everybody. With the expertise that you’re bringing to this, is it only certain price engagements? Is it only your biggest clients? How do you make the decision of where to get involved and what not to get involved in?

One of the things that we have done is elevated people on the team to make sure that the clients perceive them as the subject matter expert. That involved, first of all, their training, making sure that they had the skills to do the job. It also involved getting them to write a thought leadership piece, putting them on social media, getting them front and center in front of the clients to show what they could do. Now, the way I approach the work I do is about where my skillset suits best. I have a heavy data background. Our data collection census work is a good place for me to go.

I’m a writer. I do a lot of our communications work. I am a facilitator. I will facilitate instructor-led training but only for senior executive audiences. It’s being a bit selective about where I go, but strategy work, it’s just not my thing. It’s not my jam. I let Deanna Matzanke, who’s my Chief Client Officer, lead our strategy piece. She’s good at it. Sometimes clients will say, “We want Michael to lead this strategy discussion.” I’ll go and do it largely with Deanna to say, “I’m going to vouch for her. She’s better at this. I’m here to be very attractive and charming, but we’re going to let her do her thing.” Once I do that, I find the clients are fine with it. I just have to anoint a person and say, “This person knows what they’re doing,” and let them do their job. It works out well.

Often, what holds us back is not the external factors but our own mindset and how we think about things. In talking about the sales and getting out there, making offers, doing additional work with existing clients, I wanted to ask you about how people perceive your service offerings and the work that you do. What is the reception like? I would imagine that for some companies and potential clients out there, the idea of diversity inclusion would be top of mind. It resonates with them. They are actively looking for help, guidance or advice in this area.

For others, I would imagine that they’re not even thinking. It’s not even on their radar. How does the company think about that in terms of identifying who to focus on and who would be more likely to be receptive to these offerings? Is there anything that you’ve found helpful in dealing with organizations? They may not necessarily be thinking about this very actively, but you know that it could benefit them, educating them or getting them to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s not something that is top of mind for them.

We have a very big advantage in the market right now. That is that the conversation around inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility is front and center. People are talking about it, whether it’s our government or the media. That has meant that we haven’t had to do a hard sell to say, “Here’s what you need to be doing.” That has worked in our favor. I’m not going to lie. The way we have our plan to now proactively target the market for our clients that we haven’t done business with is largely on LinkedIn. We’ll look at LinkedIn and say, “Who has diversity in their title?”

 

If somebody has got the word diversity in their title, there’s a good chance that they’re focused on this work in some way, shape or form. It’s actually how we grew the business. At the very beginning, I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn connecting with people who had the word diversity or inclusion in their title and then just starting to talk to them about what we were envisioning as an organization. It grew from there.

A lot of it was my own contacts. A friend of mine was the head of diversity for HSBC. I picked up the phone, called him and said, “This is what I’m doing. What do you think?” He said, “Yes,” but at the same time, there was also a lot that we had to do some outreach. If you’re trying to reach out to clients, figure out your way in. Who’s the best person to talk to? If you’re an IT consultant, it’s somebody with IT in their title.

Calling the CEO is not the answer. I get calls from IT providers all the time. I have my Chief Digital Officer. He’s the person you call. You don’t call me. Find the right in. I would also say one of the best ways is around those free educational opportunities like the webinars where you’re giving away information. It’s a way of positioning yourself as that subject matter expert and raising awareness of who you are. One thing that we’ve done very well in the past and continue to do is we’re going to do a webinar on cultural competence or on land acknowledgments. They’re free to attend but we get your contact information. Our name is attached to that topic for you, which when they’re looking to hire a consultant to do something, they come back to that.

Do you find that senior executives who are very time-stretched are excited about coming on webinars and spending an hour or so on a medium like that? Is there a more effective way that you’ve found to really engage and educate senior decision-makers?

Some are, absolutely. We get CEOs and CFOs coming on our webinars and some are not. You can’t rely on one means to get things out. This comes back to the comment about email. It’s part of it but it’s not the entire thing. It’s not only email. You have to have multiple avenues for that outreach. Doing webinars, coming up with thought leadership pieces, being on social media, tweeting. Every day you should be tweeting about something. Slowly but surely, each of those channels will grow for you and start to bring in business.

Many of the companies that you’ve mentioned who are clients or founding partners and supporters of the nonprofit or the for-profit consultancy are large well-known organizations. You mentioned that there are now smaller ones that may have up to 50 team members that are also joining and becoming part of the nonprofit.

At what point does this become important for a company, an entrepreneur or a founder to be thinking about? Is it only when you have X number of employees? Is it something that when you’re a solo consultant you should be thinking about? What is your guidance on this topic? It is everywhere these days. It has become front and center. How should a small consultant firm or even an independent solo consultant be thinking about this topic of diversity inclusion, both in their own business and within their client’s businesses?

You start thinking about it on day one when you’re one employee or when you’re a solo entrepreneur. I always say there are three areas you need to focus on. One is your people. Who do you hire? Who do you fire? Who do you retain? Who do you promote? What are their needs? Number two is your clients. Who are they? What are their needs? The third is your brand. How are you known?

That’s not about your logo. That’s about how you’re known as an employer and as a service provider. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re a small consulting shop and you have not been paying attention to diversity and inclusion. You go in to do a pitch for a client and the client doesn’t hire you. This happened to one of my clients. This was a big consulting shop. They went in to do a pitch. It was worth millions of dollars and they lost the work.

If you are not thinking about diversity and inclusion, you stand to lose business. Click To Tweet

In the debrief, they said, “Did you not look up our team?” The team was predominantly women. The consultant had sent in all White men. It isn’t to say you should be tokenistic, but the way our brains work, we tend to attract people who are like us. This is the whole unconscious bias field. We are drawn to hiring people who will challenge us the least. If you’re not thinking about diversity, you can end up with five employees. All of them will look like you, but then you don’t understand the differences because if you’re not a person of color, an indigenous person or a person who lives with a disability, you don’t know what their lives are like. You don’t know what their needs are.

Small shops and solopreneurs need to be thinking about this very early on. That’s not to say that straight, White, able-bodied men are endangered species or that you should be ashamed of being who you are. Are you thinking about who you are hiring? Are you thinking about the needs of your client through that lens? Statistically, in Canada, straight, White, able-bodied men make up about 30% of the workforce. In the US, it’s about 20%. You’re not hiring the best and the brightest if your entire team is straight, White, able-bodied men. Statistically, it’s just impossible.

You have a staff that is reflective of the clients that you want to serve. Small consulting firms and large entrepreneurs need to be thinking about who they are hiring. They need to be thinking about how they are presenting themselves to clients. They need to be thinking about the diversity of their clients. If you’re dealing with a client from Japan, there are specifically different cultural norms of how to do business in Japan than in North America. If you don’t know that, you are going to stick your foot in it very quickly.

I saw it firsthand. I’ve lived in Japan for 5 to 6 years. I had a business over there. You’re right. If you try and bring the typical North American approach into a place like Japan, you’re going to make so many mistakes. It’s understanding the culture and the nuances and how to listen and watch a lot more than just try and speak. There are so many things that are critical from that standpoint.

It’s as simple as how you present your business card and how you receive a person’s business card. In the North American context, we take it, jam it in our pocket and look at it later. In Japan, you present it with honor and you receive it in the same way. You can destroy a business relationship by quickly putting someone’s business card in your pocket. If you don’t know that and you are not thinking about diversity and inclusion, you stand to lose business. It’s not just about the tokenistic, “I got to hire a person of color.” It’s about the impact that has on your business. You need to look at it through that lens. This is not about social justice. It’s not about us saving the world. It’s about what’s good for your business.

That’s such a powerful message. I appreciate you sharing that. What would be the good starting point for the business owner, whether they have a team or it’s just themselves, to begin thinking more about this? I know you have your book, Birds of All Feathers. Is there a framework or are there certain questions? Is it as simple as starting to consider some of the things that you mentioned about who do you want to hire, who do you want to work with, who are they and what are their needs? Is there something else that you would encourage people to begin thinking through?

There are a number of things. All joking aside, the book contains a bit of a roadmap. When I wrote the book, I was specifically thinking about small businesses, because they don’t have an HR person. If they do, they have one person who’s responsible for everything. For a lot of people, this is a bit of a confusing world. It’s simple. What’s your business case? What’s the problem? Do a bit of an assessment. It doesn’t need to be complicated. What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? What’s the strategy? How are we going to solve the problem and then measure it? How are you going to measure? What does success look like? Rinse and repeat. It’s not that complicated. Reading is one thing. Doing is more important.

Look at different actions. Have conversations. What can you do differently? Also, raise some awareness of your own. Do some education for yourself to understand that you don’t know it all. There’s a lot of learning to be done around this topic. That comes with a lot of humility. It is important that you’re learning about other people’s lived experiences and how you can make yours an organization where they will feel comfortable and welcome. Do something. I promise you, it’s like going to the gym. Just because you have a gym membership doesn’t mean anything is going to happen. I can speak from experience. If you do nothing, nothing will happen. Do something and start the ship moving in the right direction.

Michael, before we wrap up, a couple of other quick questions for you. You’re involved with this nonprofit that you founded. You have a consulting business with almost 50 people. I would imagine that your day is quite busy. When you look at your performance, your productivity, and the success that you’ve created in life and in business, what do you feel are 1 or 2 things that contribute to that? Is there a habit or a practice that you’re doing daily or regularly that you think creates the impact or the positive performance you’re able to have?

CSP 232 | Diversity & Inclusion

 

A big one would be self-care.

What does that mean to you?

Doing what I need to do to make sure that I’m not burning myself out.

Could you be a bit more specific? Is that going on holidays or massages or meditation?

All of the above. I make sure I take my vacation every year. I lead by example with my team by making sure they know that I’m on vacation and I’m unavailable. I’ve always said that the only reason to call me is if the building is on fire. If the building is on fire, my instruction is to leave the building. There’s nothing that can’t wait until I’m back from vacation. I make sure that I try not to work on the weekends. They’re a bit sacred, so I can spend time with my family and do things that I enjoy that have nothing to do with my work. Making sure that I’m taking care of my mental health and that I am going to the gym. I go for a walk with my dogs every morning for about an hour.

That’s how I start my day. It gives me that fresh outlook. It’s important to know what works best for you. I can’t define it for everybody. You should have a hobby. Have something you do outside of work. See friends. Particularly when you’re running your own company, it could become all-encompassing. There was a point when I was working 60 hours a week and I was in the office on Christmas day, and doing all sorts of things to get the business where I wanted it to be. I had to step back and say, “I’m burning the candle at both ends. We’re running out of wick here.”

Taking care of yourself is important. The other piece is to be willing to let go. That means trusting people that you hire to do the job you hire them to do. I had a bit of a lesson on this with my IT manager, now my Chief Digital Officer. Because of my background in IT, I was always sticking my nose in his business. It could be something simple like, “I need you to create this mailbox.” “Don’t worry about it. I’ll do it. It would take me a few seconds.” I needed to give him autonomy. I hired him for a reason.

I needed to give him the opportunity to do that job. It was very freeing once I was able to let go of that and say, “I know that piece of work is taken care of entirely.” It’s important to let go and not micromanage and not be on top of people. You don’t hire people to be robots. Let them be creative, let them make suggestions and innovate. You will be better as a business owner for that. Those two things are probably always front of mind for me in running the business to make sure that I’m doing the best I can.

Second to last question, what’s your favorite book that sticks with you that you’ve read or listened to? It could be fiction or nonfiction.

After George Floyd’s death in May of 2020, I did a lot of reading on specifically anti-Black racism. It’s things like How To Be An Antiracist. White Fragility is another one. I’ve been very much into that line of books, which I know. This is what I do for a living. It’s gotten entrenched in it. Those are the books that I have been focused on and getting a lot of awareness of. One thing about doing this work, diversity and inclusion, is you have to have an open mind. There is not a point where I have all the knowledge. Reading books by Ibram X. Kendi or Brené Brown has helped me to step back and learn something new and change my own perspective about how I act in certain situations. As of late, I have been knee-deep in my new book that’s coming out. I have been reading that over and over again.

Reading is one thing. Doing is more important. Click To Tweet

Do you want to give a quick plug or a little bit of information about your upcoming book so people can look forward to it?

It’s called Alphabet Soup: The Essential Guide to LGBTQ2+ Inclusion at Work. It’s coming up on March 29th, 2022. It is available for pre-order. It’s taking the work from Birds of All Feathers and adapting it specifically around sexuality and gender. How can employers be more inclusive of people from the LGBTQ2+ communities? It’s almost simplistic. I’m not an academic. It is not Tolstoy, either of my books. I try to keep them light. I try to use humor. Some will not call it humor but I go for humor. This book, Alphabet Soup, dives into a world that for a lot of people, particularly those who are straight and cisgender, is very confusing and hopefully will help clear up some misconceptions.

Michael, I want to thank you for coming on and sharing some great perspectives and ideas. It will add a lot of value for people and is certainly worth considering and looking at how you can implement or improve your business, your life, your relationships from this. I want to make sure that people can also learn more about you, your books, your work, the nonprofit, the for-profit consultancy. Is there one website or where should we direct people that they could go into learning more about all of that?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one website. For me, you can go to MichaelBach.com to find out all things Michael Bach, including my social media handles. For the charities, CCDI, you can go to CCDI.ca. For the consulting, CCDI Consulting, CCDIConsulting.ca.

Michael, thank you so much for coming on.

It’s my pleasure, Mike. Thanks for having me.

 

Important links

 

About Michael Bach

CSP 232 | Diversity & InclusionMichael Bach is the founder of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and CEO of CCDI Consulting Inc. He is nationally and internationally recognized as a thought leader and subject matter expert in the fields of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility, bringing a vast knowledge of leading practices in a live setting to his work.

Prior to taking on this role, he was the National Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for KPMG Canada, a role he created and held for seven years. Additionally, Michael completed a 2½ year secondment as Deputy Chief Diversity Officer for KPMG International.

Leave a Comment, Join the Conversation!