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What does it mean to be truly diverse and inclusive in an organization? When should you remove yourself from the conversation to save your voice for others that would benefit you and that you would improve? How can you create true change?
In this podcast episode takeover, LaToya Smith speaks with Tania Hubbard about ‘getting up from the table when your voice is no longer heard’.
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Meet Tania Hubbard
Tania is a wife, a mother of 3 boys, and the owner of Psyche’ LLC, a coaching, counseling, and consulting organization in Wake Forest, NC. Psyche’s mission is to empower people and businesses to impact the world in the way they were uniquely designed to.
Tania is a free thinker who is passionate about learning, understanding how things work, and helping others to solve problems by asking questions.
Before starting her own business, Tania spent 15 years leading mental health and substance use organizations in various capacities including serving as a chief executive for 6 years. Over time, Tania realized the successes with her offbeat approaches were more than a fluke. They were positively transforming organizational cultures, systems and drastically improving their bottom line. Tania is now focused on this work full time via Psyche’.
Learn more about Tania here. Get in touch at [email protected] or 919-793-8757
In This Podcast
- Not top-down
- Diversity and inclusion
Tania worked in her previous organization fully on the ground and alongside her peers and co-workers. She did not create change from the top hoping it would trickle down, but spent time in the middle of it to really create change in the organization’s culture.
By doing this, you really invest in the people in the organization and create strong leaders.
Diversity and inclusion
In Tania’s organization, diversity and inclusion were not used and implemented with sincerity. The organization would claim to be diverse, but it would not include people different from the board: white men, and their opinions in the decision-making processes.
Culture is important and it is needed alongside diversity.
It’s not enough for organizations to be diverse, I always say that the more diverse an organization is the more dangerous and unsafe it is if intentional work isn’t done around it being an inclusive environment. (Tania Hubbard)
When Tania’s company did no longer serve her, when she felt that it was a never-ending, take-take relationship without her receiving any benefits or worthwhile promotions, she left to start her own organization that was truly aligned with her values of inclusivity.
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Meet LaToya Smith
LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. She encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.
She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.
Visit LaToya’s website.
Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Strong Witness Instagram, and Twitter.
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This is the Practice of the Practice podcast takeover episode with LaToya Smith, session number 507.
Welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. My name is LaToya Smith, and I’m doing a podcast takeover. So we know that we are discussing the need to push the conversation forward in regards to diversity, inclusion and anti-racism and just got some really good guests here on the show that I’m excited about. Today we have Tania Hubbard, she is our guest. She is a mental health professional. Tania, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast.[TANIA]:
Thanks for having me. I’m so excited about this opportunity to talk about this subject that I’m so passionate about. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, I know… you know what I do know you’re passionate. And I know that you are the founder of a consulting and coaching organization called Psyche. Just tell us a little bit about Psyche and what it is. [TANIA]:
So, Psyche is an organization that my husband and I started. And really, the scope of the organization is to help other nonprofits, behavioral health organizations, build their team culture. By building their team culture, they’re able to realize positive business opportunities by leveraging those people resources. [LATOYA]:
Okay. And I know that you’ve been in the mental health field for a long time. And what I would like for you to do is just tell us a little bit about the work you’ve even done recently. I know that you played a pretty big role at a nonprofit in your area. Just tell us about, you know, coming into that role and what you work to do to build for that organization. [TANIA]:
So yes, I worked for a large, nonprofit organization, in the Raleigh Durham area. The organization was very focused on substance use, and I was there for about six and a half years. I left this January, or February, right before COVID hit. So I was the Chief Operating Officer – COO – of this organization. And I really built the organization over the last six years. When I first started there, the organization was losing about $250,000 a month, month over month, for a period of time and got to the point where they were two weeks away from closing. I really drove the organization’s turn around by focusing on, you know, making systemic and systematic changes in the organization, bringing in different programs, focusing on culture, and really building that organization up so that it was a sustainable organization. And so when I left the organization, again, in January, February, they are about $3,000 in profits for the year. So we did a lot of work over that period of time to really build that organization with the different programs. [LATOYA]:
Well, I didn’t know that. So, when you started with them, they were losing $250,000 per month. [TANIA]:
Okay. So that’s huge. But tell us a little bit about, like, when you say, okay, I came in and I helped with the culture, I came in and helped with the systems, like, what specifically can you say that…? Because it sounds like you brought a lot of ideas to the table, like, you came in and shifted something. [TANIA]:
What was your title when you first started? You start as COO? [TANIA]:
Well, no, I didn’t start as COO. I forget to kind of mention that whole journey. So when I came in, I actually came in as a program director. I was supposed to be starting a single program, a community-based treatment program that worked with adults, and that was new for this organization because they had focused mostly on substance abuse. So I brought this mental health program in and pretty quickly, I started to notice a lot of things in the organization that needed to shift and change. So I went to the COO and asked a lot of questions, I gave a lot of suggestions around areas that things could improve. And so by having those types of dialogues, you know, I was elevated pretty quickly, over a year and a half period of time to become the COO of the organization.
In the beginning, the CEO was kind of taking the ideas that I was spoon-feeding him really, and implementing them as if they were his own. I didn’t really mind at that point in time, because I was seeing progress in the organization. So yeah, after I was a program director, I don’t even remember some of the titles. I feel like I was given some pretty ambiguous titles because he didn’t want to give me that COO title based on, you know, what some board members might say, and optics, because the organization at the highest level was not very diverse.[LATOYA]:
And I was a young woman coming into this position. [LATOYA]:
Okay, so what I hear you saying is you had the ear of the CEO, and he took what you said, he implemented it, he began to really trust you. But at the same time, he couldn’t elevate you quickly because of just how it looked of you being a woman, maybe even being a black woman. And, you know, he wasn’t ready to give you a seat at that table. [TANIA]:
Right. And some of it, you know, I really don’t know that it was all him. I think that some of it was the pressure he was feeling to keep things a certain way. Because he was open to the ideas, again, and it seemed like he was genuinely interested in the things that I had to say a lot of the time, but was very, very concerned with optics, and how he would look, and how others would perceive him. [LATOYA]:
And I want to get back to that in a moment. The optics, like, how things would look, and the perception. But I do want to spend some time because I think, again, I’m just like, man, this company was losing $250,000 a month, and you helped, you were a big part of turning that around. So just like what does it look like when you come in and ,again, Program Director, but you worked to shift the culture or you put systems in, like, what did that look like? [TANIA]:
Well, it’s funny, because I learned that the organization was losing that amount of money accidentally. I was getting something off the printer, saw the financial statement, took the financial statement down to the CEO and said, hey, I wasn’t snooping, but I found this. Can we talk about this? Is this accurate? And he said, yes. And I said, oh, well, is there an endless supply of money? Is the organization okay? He said, no, to both. No, there’s not an endless supply of money, and no, the organization isn’t okay. And I asked what the plan was to fix it. And he didn’t have a plan. He said that he was, you know, trying to figure out what was happening and why the organization was losing money. And I asked for how long, you know, this was going on.
So I really started to do an organizational assessment as a program director at that point, that was my title, but I became a consultant in that moment. And my role in the organization for a long time was really a consultant. So I began to kind of look at a lot of the systems, looking at their electronic health record, looking at their financial statements, looking at payroll and HR, observing how decisions were made, looking at, you know, the different service lines in the organization and what was bringing in money and what was losing money and why. So what it comes down to a lot of times when organizations are failing financially, there’s a failure in leadership. Somebody’s not making the tough decisions, somebody is not tending to organizational culture and ensuring that people feel both supported but also held accountable.
So really, I started to implement productivity expectations for staff members that were providing direct care. I began to kind of move different positions around, some positions were eliminated, you know, we brought in different programs that would keep people engaged in a better way. We talked a lot about, you know, the flow of clients. There were a lot of clients that would come in and engage and then disengage. So we did some assessments in the community to see what was happening and to see why people weren’t engaging. And a lot of times it came down to cultural factors. People did not feel seen and heard, they didn’t feel respected. So that feeling of disrespect kind of permeated the organization.
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So Tania, I know that you mentioned – which I think is huge to me – that the company was losing $250,000, right, per month? [TANIA]:
Mm hmm. [LATOYA]:
What did you do, specifically as a program director, and then all of a sudden having the ear of the CEO, what did you begin to implement to help shift the culture, change the systems? Like, what was the plan? What did you start doing differently? [TANIA]:
So culture, you know, that’s foundational in any organization. So I wanted to ensure that I had the buy-in of the CEO because there were a lot of changes that he was going to need to make, there were going to change that our board was going to need to make. And so I wanted to have conversations with him to see if he was bought in. That took a long time. And to be honest, you know, that’s one of the reasons I left the organization. That culture didn’t change at the top. But some of the things that I did while I was trying to work on getting the CEO’s buy in was making some programmatic changes, you know, looking at finances, looking at the systems, looking at processes, improving efficiency. And so things started to take a turn at that point.
After a few years of working on that, I really felt like culture couldn’t be ignored anymore. We had kind of addressed a lot of the things at a surface, like, we put all the band-aids in place that we could, and we needed to really start to address the needs of the community and the needs of the staff. And so the CEO would say that he was bought into making some changes, you know, something as simple as being more transparent and engaged, answering questions from the staff, taking the staff suggestions about how to solve different problems, listening to the staff about some of the things they were struggling with, and how they could be more effective, having a more collaborative, inclusive environment, where people were bought in and felt a part of the solution, really listening to the community members, and a lot of the community was diverse, but looking at our retention rates. And looking at the fact that African American clients were not engaging at the same level that white staff were and starting to have conversations with team members about diversity and inclusion and asking, you know, the clients how we could improve, what would make them feel more comfortable.[LATOYA]:
And you spearheaded these conversations, like, you were actually in the room? [TANIA]:
Yeah, all of those conversations. Mm hmm. So some of it, you know, it’s just as simple as just starting a dialogue. There wasn’t a… I’d like to say that there was some simple methodology, that we did this step, and this step, and this step. But there wasn’t, it was messy. We would try different things. And if that thing didn’t work, we would try something else. But one major thing that I could say that changed in the organization was I was not a top-down leader, I was an engaged leader who listened to the team, listened to the clients, and made sure I began to hire people that had that same mindset, that we’re in this together, really focusing on being a mission-driven organization, focusing on values, accountability and growth. And that began to change the dynamics in the organization. [LATOYA]:
I love that you say that. Okay, I wasn’t a top-down leader, like, I needed to be in there, like, boots on ground, getting things done and engaging. So I imagine that’s what made the difference and, you know, again, helped shift the culture and helped people to buy into what you were saying. [TANIA]:
Absolutely. And people knowing that I cared about them, aside from what they could do for the organization. You know, I cared about how they are doing, how their kids were doing, you know, I cared about where they wanted to be in four to five years, really investing in the development of people, developing leaders in the organization. That shifted so much. [LATOYA]:
Yeah. Now, see, that all is a culture shift, right, because you care about people. [TANIA]:
Absolutely. Absolutely. [LATOYA]:
So now, how does that work when you go from…? Because now you went from Program Director, you know, I heard you say, okay, I went immediately when I saw those numbers, now I’m like a consultant because I’m making moves. Because it sounds like it was completely out of your job scope but you just had these ideas and you cared that much. Okay, so how did you become the COO? [TANIA]:
I just really kept on implementing different ideas, and as the numbers turned around, we came out of the financial hole, I got buy-in from a couple of people on the board that were interested, and kind of felt like continuing to move forward. And I was promoted. I don’t even remember what that process really looked like. It seemed pretty informal. My role – not my role – my title changed, like, four or five times, I don’t even remember what they were, what those titles were. Ultimately, I don’t think I did anything differently, though, the whole time I was there; I just became responsible for more and more. [LATOYA]:
Okay, so as you became responsible for more, again, I know you mentioned okay, your CEO, he loved what he was getting from you. But there was still a part of him that knew, okay, the optics, or how would this appear to the board that didn’t look like you? So what was it like, when you did get a seat at that table? Did you feel received? Did you feel like, okay, my voice is being heard, and everybody sees my value in sitting here, not just what I can go out and do for that? [TANIA]:
So, you know, while I was at this organization, I was going through a – this was growth for me, too, right? So having these conversations with this white male, you know, that is obviously, very privileged, comes from wealth, is in this kind of high-level position, is always surrounded by other people that are affluent, and they don’t look like me, in the very beginning, I felt like I had an advocate and that things were really starting to shift for me, because I was going to be able to learn from this person. One on one, our conversations were always respectful, engaging, you know, but when we got in front of others, I, in the beginning, thought that that was going to be the same. I thought that the CEO was going to support and advocate for me. I thought that he would support the ideas that I had. But I was in for a rude awakening when I entered some of those board meetings. I was young, you know, compared to the other people in the room, I was brown, and I was a woman. And so I was dismissed, I was, you know, not really taken seriously, I was told that I needed to be mentored. And that, you know, as I got mentored I’d, you know, become great, my impact would be better. But, you know, I was never given that mentorship and that coaching. It was kind of held over my head in some way. [LATOYA]:
So even though you were at the table, they were still saying, you know, you’re not good enough to be at the table. [TANIA]:
Right. Right. I was there but, you know, it was clear that I was not at the same level as others in that room. And how could I be because I’m young and, you know, I haven’t had these experiences before. I’m not a business leader. I didn’t go to school for business. [LATOYA]:
That’d be hard. Because even, you know, all these changes that you made, and what you say, like, okay, by accidentally stumbling upon some numbers, all these changes that you made, and the evidence, like, your proven track record while with the organization, as you’re sitting at the table, they’re still looking at you like, that was a fluke, right? You don’t deserve to be here. [TANIA]:
Right. And a lot of those successes they assigned to the CEO. They would say things like, you know, great job, and mention the CEO’s name, and mention my name as a support, you know. So I was constantly being told that my voice didn’t really matter. I was being told that I needed to listen and absorb information, but I was not in a position to share information. You know, I was not in a position to make suggestions and influence change at that table. [LATOYA]:
A lot of times, when I would present a proposal or an idea to that board, they would shoot it down, ask me a lot of questions and tell me why it wasn’t going to work, give me assignments to do, to come back to them, to make sure that the idea that I had, that they understood the ins and outs of the plan. And I would reach out to them and say, here’s the updated information here, I addressed the questions that you asked, and they would flat out just not respond to any of the emails at all. And yeah, so a lot of the things that I accomplished in the organization was with other team members, other program directors, and we kind of implemented the plan without the blessing of the board in lots of ways because they weren’t that engaged in the day to day. [LATOYA]:
Okay, so you kind of went rogue or kind of kept them out of things, just to keep things moving. [TANIA]:
Mm hmm. Yep. [LATOYA]:
Okay. To me, I know that the way you’re painting this, even for me, that would be hard. Okay, I’m talking to the CEO, and he’s cool with me, and everything’s great. And he’s probably patting me on the back. But then when we sit in front of the board, and again, the board does not look like you in any type of way. So at this point, it’s fair to say that it is, like, white men at the table. [TANIA]:
It was all white men most of the time. And when it wasn’t, there were, you know, every now and then there might be another male there that might be brown in some way. But um, no, this was a white male board. Actually, the community will call the organization the Ivory Tower because it was known in the community that the people at the top were white males, even though the community that was being served was not. The community that needed to be served was diverse. [LATOYA]:
Okay. And this goes back too – and I think I heard you say before, maybe even a little bit earlier – it could be it looked at, okay, yeah, we are a diverse organization because we have one black voice we’re hearing, but inclusion was not a part of their game. They didn’t really, from what you’re saying, they didn’t want your voice to… They didn’t want to include you, but they can kind of consider to be diverse. [TANIA]:
Right. So, you know, the organization had diversity. There were, you know, some minorities in the organization, but not really in positions of influence. I was the only leader at any level in the organization, that was a minority. I did make some changes over time, and, you know, highlighted diversity and inclusion as a need for the organization for us to be able to grow, for us to be able to reach people of different backgrounds. And I would always kind of feel like I had to sell the need for diversity. I don’t feel like it was ever received, I always had to have a business proposition for why it could work. It wasn’t good enough that the population’s diverse, you know, we live in a diverse society, this is a behavioral health organization, and the issue is holistic. So, culture is important and it matters, you would think that that was enough. But it never was. I always had to prove why we needed to have diversity. [LATOYA]:
Okay. And then when did this start, like, and let’s talk about, okay, you worked your way to the top, you’re the CEO, you’re, you’re you’re making different moves, you’re pushing for diversity, you’re fighting for your voice to be heard at the table. But at a certain point, things really shift and what does it look like? It doesn’t sound like you know, from what we shared that you left, on your own, it was more so that, you know, you were asked to be excused or you were kind of you just got tired of working in this way. But what was the shift that you said, okay, you know, what? There needs to be change and change for me. [TANIA]:
Yeah, so I would go through periods of time where I was just over it, and I was just done. I didn’t mention that, you know, while I was at this organization, I was also starting a family. I have three kids, an angel baby who would have been seven in January, a five year old and an almost three year old. So while I was at this organization, while I was there I was pregnant for, what is that, about 27 months of the six years that I was there, enduring a lot of stress. I never really took any leave. I was always working, always trying to improve things, always trying to kind of prove myself to others in the organization. A lot of times being nervous that something was going to fall, and I was going to be blamed for it.
Over the last year and a half, things started to really shift for me and I started to just get tired. And I realized, I started to see my value and oh, my voice in a different way. And it started to not be acceptable to me anymore. I started to really not just advocate for others in the organization, not just advocate for the community as a whole, but advocate for myself, and really kind of question things that were not fair, like my pay. I would question things when I felt disrespected, like if I was treated unfairly in a meeting, I would speak up about that, I would ask for change. And so when I started to really do that, that’s when some of the shift started to happen with how I was being responded to. There were some changes in leadership my last year at the organization because of some unethical practices, and that change happened. The board brought somebody in, somebody else in, another CEO. I really should have been offered that position, but was not. And that CEO and I had some challenges. And I feel I was pushed out of the organization in lots of ways. I agreed to leave the organization because I was tired of giving and giving and giving and fighting. And that kind of really pushed me to move towards starting my own organization where…[LATOYA]:
Yeah, and tell us about Psyche and what it is because I know I heard you say before, this was planted in your heart. But now that you were pushed, like you say, to move and to do things differently, now Psyche really jumps off. So what is it that you’re working on with the company? What was, like, your vision? Tell us a little bit more about consulting? [TANIA]:
Yeah, so Psyche is really born out of a need to create safe spaces, safe working spaces for people to talk about… A safe space for me. I no longer felt like I could shine and be respected at work. And I don’t think that that’s a fair thing to have to choose between. I don’t think I should have to choose between my self-worth and selling myself out, you know, to kind of get by in an organization, especially at the executive level. So Psyche is about empowering people, it’s about empowering people to reach their potential, so that they can impact the world the way that they’re designed to. And that can look a lot of different ways. There’s multiple channels that Psyche helps with.
So with organizations, it’s kind of working with organizations to meet their goals. And in order to meet their goals, I look at the health of the organization, do an organizational assessment, and then helping the organization to leverage their people and really developing people, developing leadership, developing better workplace culture so that there’s a sense of team, a sense of ownership, a sense of a shared vision and moving that forward. In terms of the coaching, doing some of that individual work with people to help them to figure out, you know, what is it that they want to do? And empowering them to reach those goals.
Another component of Psyche is really talking about diversity and inclusion, and the importance of diversity and inclusion. It’s not enough for organizations to be diverse. I always say that the more diverse an organization is, the more dangerous and unsafe it is if intentional work isn’t done around being an inclusive environment.[LATOYA]:
Okay. Yeah, I like that you say that. I like that you distinguish, like, you need to put them both together and not just diversity by itself, or, you know, it’s not gonna be good for the culture. And Psyche sounds awesome and it’s, like, doing powerful work with organizations and in the community. And then how can people find you if they want to reach out to Psyche, if they want their company to begin to look at not only empowering the people but working on being diverse and inclusive? [TANIA]:
So people can reach me, either go to our website toopsyched.org. You could also reach out to me via email at [email protected], and then my phone number, 919-793-8757. I’d be happy to talk to anybody that’s interested in learning about what Psyche might be able to do for them personally or an organization. [LATOYA]:
All right, Tania, thank you so much for being a guest. I really enjoyed our conversation. I really enjoyed hearing more about your story and the work that you are doing around diversity and inclusion. And, man, I’m just really excited to see how Psyche is going. So thank you so much for being a guest today. [TANIA]:
Thank you, LaToya, for interviewing me and for keeping this conversation going about this important topic.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music; we really like it. This podcast is designed to provide accurate, authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.