The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

178: Transformations and Trust Building When Creating Equitable Workspaces with Dr. Jill Wener

August 24, 2023 John Neral Season 3
178: Transformations and Trust Building When Creating Equitable Workspaces with Dr. Jill Wener
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
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The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
178: Transformations and Trust Building When Creating Equitable Workspaces with Dr. Jill Wener
Aug 24, 2023 Season 3
John Neral

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Ever pondered over the secrets to a remarkable career metamorphosis? Or how one can foster a culture of trust and growth within diverse environments? Sit back and let Dr. Jill Weiner, a board-certified physician, anti-racism educator, and conscious health meditation teacher, unravel these mysteries.

Dr. Weiner's own career transformation stands as a testament to finding that perfect fit in professional life, a place where you not only perform at your peak but also make a positive impact. Together, we delve into the art of building trust, particularly in spaces enriched with diverse identities. It's a journey of learning to navigate these spaces with grace, humility, acknowledging the automatic respect often granted to white professionals, and the need to foster an environment where mistakes only pave the path for growth. 

But the journey doesn't end there. We navigate further to unearth the impact of stereotypes on career advancement. Dr. Weiner shares her insights into the challenges marginalized professionals face in being recognized for their potential. We discuss the importance of acknowledging personal biases and finding ways to counteract them. Wrapping up our insightful journey, we highlight the importance of personal growth and allyship. Because at the end of the day, it's our actions and thoughts, our willingness to align with our values, and act upon them that can shape us into better allies and leaders. Tune in for this engaging conversation, and you might just discover a new perspective.

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Ever pondered over the secrets to a remarkable career metamorphosis? Or how one can foster a culture of trust and growth within diverse environments? Sit back and let Dr. Jill Weiner, a board-certified physician, anti-racism educator, and conscious health meditation teacher, unravel these mysteries.

Dr. Weiner's own career transformation stands as a testament to finding that perfect fit in professional life, a place where you not only perform at your peak but also make a positive impact. Together, we delve into the art of building trust, particularly in spaces enriched with diverse identities. It's a journey of learning to navigate these spaces with grace, humility, acknowledging the automatic respect often granted to white professionals, and the need to foster an environment where mistakes only pave the path for growth. 

But the journey doesn't end there. We navigate further to unearth the impact of stereotypes on career advancement. Dr. Weiner shares her insights into the challenges marginalized professionals face in being recognized for their potential. We discuss the importance of acknowledging personal biases and finding ways to counteract them. Wrapping up our insightful journey, we highlight the importance of personal growth and allyship. Because at the end of the day, it's our actions and thoughts, our willingness to align with our values, and act upon them that can shape us into better allies and leaders. Tune in for this engaging conversation, and you might just discover a new perspective.

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

John Neral:

Today's conversation is about a powerful career transformation and finding your fit where you get to do your best work, and work that is needed. Plus, my guests and I talk about some topics that might be a bit uncomfortable, but let me assure you they are needed. In this episode, you will meet Dr Jill Weiner. Jill is a board-certified physician, anti-racism educator, conscious health meditation teacher and EFT tapping instructor. Jill's holistic method of teaching balances science, social justice and spirituality and delivers the incredible benefits of this integrated approach. Jill is the co-creator of the CME and SHRM Accredited Conscious Anti-Racism Training Programs with her business partner, dr Maisha Claiborne. They have worked with clients both in healthcare and corporate, such as the Georgia Aquarium, yale University, the American Medical Association and more. Jill is the host of the Conscious Anti-Racism Podcast and the author of the best-selling book Conscious Anti-Racism with Dr Claiborne. Jill and I talk about how we build trust, especially as white people working with diverse populations. Plus, we discuss various DEI initiatives and how, as mid-career professionals, you can navigate multiple leadership and career situations with grace, even in the face of knowing you're going to mess up.

John Neral:

Let's get started. Hello, my friends, I'm your host,John Neral. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized. Show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, by using my proven four-step formula.

John Neral:

If you're looking for some help navigating your mid-career transition, I've got a free resource to help you. My guide, called Five Mistakes Mid-Career Professionals Make and Need to Stop Doing, will help you focus on what matters in your job search and your career progression. You can check the show notes or visit my website at https://johnneral. com to download your free guide today. While you are there, make sure to check out the resources tab on my website for other free and paid resources. While this podcast often addresses various stages of career transition, we recognize that the mid-career journey is very dynamic. My goal is to help you along your leadership journey as well and discuss various hot topic and issues you may not get to hear elsewhere. Thus one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to Dr Jill Weiner. As you listen to our conversation, I hope you will appreciate our ability to be vulnerable and uncomfortable and stretch toward being better leaders and professionals as you build your mid-career GPS to whatever is next. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Dr Jill Weiner.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

I am Jill Wener. I am living in Atlanta, georgia, really married, stepmom of two. I am a formerly practicing physician and I am now an anti-racism and anti-oppression educator and meditation and tapping specialist.

John Neral:

Well, Jill, I am going to make sure that people know where to follow you and everything, because your YouTube channel is incredible. Make sure that is all linked up in the show notes and everything in addition to your podcast and such. On the Mid-Career GPS podcast. One of the things that unifies us is we all have this mid-career moment. I'm wondering if you can share with us what yours was.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

Yeah, burnout. I was 34. I was five years into practicing as an attending physician. That's for anyone who doesn't know the terminology, that's like the head. I finished my training. I was a real doctor and got really burnout. Several other steps led me to find this meditation practice which I never, ever thought I would want or need. It was amazing and life-changing, called Vedic Meditation. I started practicing meditation and I was all good. That actually made my burnout better.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

Then I was pretty happy and successful in my job Because of the meditation. I was like, oh, there's something, there's something else out there for me. Maybe I'll practice medicine in a different state if my boss recruits me somewhere. I didn't have any paradigm outside of practicing medicine. I had this big craving to do something bold. I decided to do meditation teacher training, which was three months in India. I talked to my boss about it and he's like that's cool. Then I was going to come back and practice medicine and teach meditation. Then I had the opportunity to move to China. Before I went to my teacher training in India, I left my job to move to China. Then I went to India for three months, decided not to go back to China, decided not to go back to medicine and started teaching meditation. That was my first shift outside of practicing medicine.

John Neral:

It's such a fascinating story because it's another example, Jill, about how when we are open to the possibilities and opportunities that can happen in our career, we never know where they're going to take us. You find yourself today doing a lot of work around anti-racism. We talked a little before the episode two about the whole component, about DEI and what that specifically means. There was something in our pre-conversation that you and I specifically talked about trust. What I want us to hone in on here is that for the people who are listening, who are leading teams maybe even for the first time that are at that manager to senior director, maybe even a VP role, and they hear all the time that you have to build trust. You shared something with me previously that you said we don't earn trust by existing. I'm wondering if you can just expand on that a little bit and how you specifically believe leaders and colleagues should be earning others trust.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

It's like it's all coming back to me, the conversation. So when I say we, I mean white people specifically don't earn trust by existing or we sort of do, but outside of whiteness, we don't earn trust just by existing. So I'll kind of clarify what I mean there. So I'll give an example. So I was a practicing doctor and then I'm a white woman for anyone who is listening and if that hasn't been made clear and you get a white coat and then poof, you get respect Theoretically, you're behaving yourself and learning and nice and all those things. And then I left medicine and went into teaching meditation and that was the doctor that became a meditation teacher and everyone just thought like that was the coolest thing ever and that gave me instant credibility, trustworthiness, all of these things because I was a doctor. So I like show up in spaces, I'm white, I'm a doctor, I've made this big career shift and like I've been fed this line that like I deserve that on some level.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

Now I went on a allyship training in 2019 and I was talking to, I kind of had my big life white fragility moment. That was mostly in private, but like I had this realization that because I was talking to one of the leaders who's a black woman and I'm like I'd love to teach meditation to people who have a lived identity, you know, a lived experience of racism or some other type of oppression. And I was trying to figure out like we're kind of ingrained like compensation and do people give something of worth to receive something of value. And I was like talking to her about that and she's like I don't even know if anyone would really want to learn from you Because they're not. And she like went on her Facebook group and she's like hey, would any of you all be interested in learning meditation for a white woman? And they're like I honestly know, and I had this realization that like not only am I not in black communities, I'm not speaking for all black people, right? So this is like not at all a blanket statement or it's not intended to be, but I don't.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

Not only do I not automatically get trust, I am automatically like dangerous and I need to be aware of my identity when I go into spaces that are not, that are not all white spaces or mostly white spaces, as most of the world kind of is. That I need to come into that, being fully aware that, like people with my skin color have caused a lot of harm and we're the dangerous ones, and we I don't. I don't assume that anyone will trust me now when people come and interview, you know, on my podcasts and anti-racism podcasts, if I don't know them in advance. I have that whole conversation with them. I haven't earned your trust yet and we kind of kind of go through a whole thing. So I'll stop there and see where you want to go.

John Neral:

Yeah Well, first of all, I appreciate you sharing all of that right Cause you know, as I think pretty much all my listeners know, I am a white, gay male and happen to host this podcast and everything. But my mid-career moment saw me moving my teaching career to an administrative role where I worked in an urban district and I supervised 21 instructional coaches across 13 middle schools. 19 of those 21 coaches happen to be African American. And here I am, I'm the white guy standing in front of them all and I'm like it's going to take some time for you to all trust me.

John Neral:

And I remember in that job Jill and I don't know if this is similar, different, whatever but I remember standing in front of them and having a conversation with them at our very first meeting and saying, can we just acknowledge I'm the white guy from central office that has to wear a tie? And they all applauded. It was like nobody had ever grounded that kind of realness with them that I had heard or had experienced. And I remember moving through that job in the 14 months I was there so worried I was going to screw something up Right. And so in your background, in your training, how do you help people deal with any kind of internal fear or worry that they might screw up or they might unintentionally say something or an implicit bias may come out that isn't intended? How do you help them navigate through that?

Jill Wener, M.D.:

Such a good question and thanks for sharing your experience. It's an interesting world to be in, to turn the tables and be the one who is entrusted, and it's so eye-opening and humbling in exactly the way it should be. So I think thank you for sharing that. So I guess my answer to your question is there's many answers, but I'll start by saying that you will mess up. I messed up today. I misgendered a person who's non-binary and I referred to her, them as a she just like as I was on my cell phone and I was sending them a text and I just said, oh, let me send her a text. And someone said them. I'm like, oh God, thank you, and they know that I'm their ally, and also in that moment I slipped up. So I apologize and I changed it and whatever else. So I do this work all the time and I mess up.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

So I think for people to come into this work I'll say specifically white people but anybody coming into this work with people who are of different identities than their own, worried about that, you're going to mess up and most of the time, if we're coming at that and we're going to have bias, that's like a scientific fact. We all have bias. People of all identities have bias about everything. So it's not just a white thing to have bias. But if we come into it with a humility of I know I've got bias, I'm going to do my best to be as fair and equitable as I can.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

And when bias comes up, I would love to have created an atmosphere of trust that my people that I work with can be like no, it's them, like it's to correct me and to welcome that and to know I mean I felt kind of lousy about it, even though I probably know better and I didn't cause harm, but it doesn't feel good, but it's still just. If we're creating an environment, in a mindset where we're okay, we're just acknowledging baseline it's going to happen, then that leaves room for everybody else to show up and be courageous and be vulnerable and learn. But it's not easy to be uncomfortable and so I think that's one of the things that my partner, marisha, and I do in our trainings is kind of teach people how to be uncomfortable, because it's uncomfortable no matter what your identity is. And if we don't come into these conversations and these sort of mission-driven ways to approach our work and we don't know how to be uncomfortable. It can shut the whole thing down in a second.

John Neral:

That whole piece about being uncomfortable. It actually made me a little uncomfortable, right. So I'm listening to you and I'm thinking about the trainings I've been through and the conversations I've been in and stuff, and I am somebody who loves and I mean loves my comfort zone, right. So even in terms of stretching and things like that, I'm certainly better at it. But being uncomfortable to your point is not something that's easy, especially when we are having conversations around race or gender identity or inclusive pronouns I mean anything like that where it is. So I was going to use the word foreign and I'm going to self-edit here because I don't think that's the right word to be using but it is that part where, okay, I feel like I have to lean into my uncomfortableness in order for me to work through it and grow so I can be a better ally, a better advocate, a better boss, manager, leader, supervisor, whomever that is. How do you help people embrace being uncomfortable when it comes to talking about these issues?

Jill Wener, M.D.:

So I think I have like three ways I want to answer that question. First, one of the early people in my podcast was a woman named Crystal McReary who is a mindfulness and yoga educator and she's brilliant and she was like she paraphrased a quote for me. First off she was like get over it, why is it such a big deal? Just like speak up, but anyway. So she had a way of putting it where I was like why does it seem so hard? But she said for every time that a white person leans into their discomfort, it gives space and breath for a black person or someone of another marginalized identity breath and space from their discomfort. So what I always try to do is I think about what is it like to go through the world, always on alert, always questioning, thinking about what you say and how you behave and how are people gonna see you? Emotional and physical harm are kind of almost always a possibility in a way that white people don't think about. So when I think about discomfort I'm like all right, well then I can take some of that on. That's great, like that's my way of leaning in, help someone else to take a break. So I really like that philosophy or that idea.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

Also, for anyone familiar with Temma Okun's work, the characteristics of white supremacy culture, which is kind of a whole big thing that the word white supremacy also makes people very uncomfortable, different from white supremacists. One of the characteristics is right to comfort this sense that we should be made comfortable at all times, and so part of the culture that upholds racism, white supremacy, is this like insistence on being comfortable all the time and that's physical and emotional discomfort. And so that's kind of blows my mind into a million pieces when I learned that. How many times I've expected that at a restaurant or in a conversation that I have this right to be comfortable all the time. So that's part two of my answer.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

And that gets internalized by the way, for people who are on the living end of the lived experience and by trying to make other people comfortable, by trying to make white people comfortable. That's a way that it gets kind of internalized. And then the third thing is we teach tools like communication tool about how to get uncomfortable communication tools. We use EFT tapping, which is one of my specialty's, basic kind of mindfulness work, growing emotional intelligence. All those tools are going to help people keep themselves regulated. It's all about keeping yourself regulated in discomfort.

John Neral:

Thank you for that.

John Neral:

Those are some great things for us all just to kind of listen to, and if you're listening to this, maybe you need to hit the back button a couple of times and go back and hear Jill's comments on all of that.

John Neral:

One of the questions I definitely wanted to ask you today, though, has to do with career advancement, and so when we think about moving from this mid-level tier in an organization and we think about the opportunities that are available, we think about the visibility and representation of all people across the organization and what that looks like.

John Neral:

As I was prepping for our conversation, and there was something we had talked about, and it had to do with the phrase angry black women, and this one is important to me in the sense that I have had the opportunity, and have been blessed in the opportunity, to work alongside some amazing African-American women as leaders, who I just absolutely have the utmost respect for, and I would never think of them as the quote unquote angry black woman, right, and so when that stereotype is introduced or it's in the room where promotions are being discussed, I think it's important for us to acknowledge that I don't know that experience.

John Neral:

I don't know that experience as a black woman. But in talking with my friends who are black women, who have shared the biases and the missed opportunities that have happened to them when those conversations are going on about promotion, can you talk to us a little bit about why stereotypes be it about, quote, unquote, an angry black woman, or even to another another person of color or of culture why is that so hurtful when it comes to career advancement in promotion and what are some things that I'm just messing up this question? What are some things that they can do to maybe counteract some of that that they might be facing?

Jill Wener, M.D.:

You're talking about the white people. Yeah, okay, it's a great question and it's one of those things where we kind of have to come back to the basics of like. I have bias. I was raised in a culture that has indoctrinated me with the philosophy that whiteness is somehow better and that blackness and anything else that is different from white, male, hetero, ableist-ness is different and not as good. Everything schooling, journalism, the media, everything I see is reinforcing that. So we see pictures. I mean you can see pictures of like female athletes and then you're gonna see like Serena Williams.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

The picture of her is like ah, like taking an overhead shot, like looking amazing and fierce, but like a grimace on her face, and then there's a picture of like a fill-in-the-blank white tennis player, like looking cute and smiley. That's the kind of stuff that we see all the time. So there's like we're constantly inundated Everybody is not just white people, everybody's inundated with these images and concepts. So for me, I look back on my years as being a supervising doctor at the hospital and there weren't that many black folks in my training program, but when I was an attending, I totally like, would intern, like I had that angry black woman stereotype and I didn't even realize it was a stereotype. But I'd be like, oh, she's an attitude, or oh, she's playing the race card, or and those are all kind of versions of that. And now I think about it and I realize that we have been taught as white people to fear blackness and that emotions coming from a black person can somehow perceived as a threat. Not every time, right, not every person, but this is kind of a general thing. So okay. So when I see this happening and I feel myself saying like, ooh, she's intense, or I have an emotional response, I stop because I can recognize it now, because I know I have that bias. It's ugly and it's horrible and it's wrong, but I have it. And so then I can say okay, what am I gonna do to counteract that? What might okay?

Jill Wener, M.D.:

First off, if she's angry, I don't blame her because the amount of crap that she has had to face, that I have not had to face, is infuriating. So, first off, if she actually is angry, I wanna support her and I wanna listen. I wanna like, if a black woman is coming to me and she's upset about it, I'm gonna automatically take her side. I'm gonna automatically assume that she's right, because probably most of the time dealing with white people she has been assumed to be wrong and she comes with a complaint and she gets gas lit or something else. So I'm gonna listen to the person, I'm gonna take at face value whatever they're saying and I'm gonna empathize with them and I'm gonna listen and believe them. I'm gonna acknowledge my own things.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

If they're not angry, I can just be like wasn't that funny that my like programmed mind is interpreting emotion as threat somehow? And how can I embrace that and how can I kind of take that back in my own mind and if I see anyone else making that judgment, bring that up to them as well. And then the other thing is really just thinking about some of my black women friends have talked to me about and I've heard other people talk about this the energy that it takes to not be seen as the angry black women. It's like a fight that you can't win. They can't win because no matter what they do, they're kind of seen that way. And so just thinking about all that energy that's being expended on that and how can I somehow mitigate that? How can I allow them to show up as their whole selves? Not allow them, but, like, provide whole space for them to show up as their full selves and not judge that.

John Neral:

So I hope that kind of got to that. It does, and I can't recall the exact study, but it was, and I'm gonna give myself a little latitude on the exact percentage here, but it was something like with a white male leader of a meeting. Like 70% of the time, women are often asked to take the notes during the meeting, like to take care of the general housekeeping, and I forget if there was a specific breakdown in terms of like, say, with African-American women or women of color. But the reason why I'm bringing this up, jill, is that I remember a situation with someone I was working with who this specifically happened to them, and she came to me and she said how am I ever going to move up in this organization if all I am thought of is as the damn note taker?

John Neral:

And when you were sharing some tips there and everything, and you said I'm gonna believe her, I was in the meeting, of course, I believed her, so it was and I was like, oh my gosh, how do we? My first thought was how do we fix this? Like typical guy answer how do we fix this? And I was like no, like this was just yeah, you're absolutely right, this shouldn't be happening and it's that kind of thing I wanna offer the people who are listening today, too is just to be more aware and mindful of not only the decisions you're making but also the thoughts you're having. Right, jill, you talk so well today about just like, about bringing in a clear definition of where our implicit biases are and how you shared examples of how well, like geez, I didn't realize I had this bias, but then I realized I did and I think that's one of the takeaways I want for people listening today is just to take that harder, look at yourself and get a little bit uncomfortable and see where maybe some of these things are factoring into your day to day.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

Absolutely. I guess I have one thing I want to add.

John Neral:

Please, yeah, absolutely.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

A lot of times what happens is white women. Because we're women and we've had sometimes very traumatic experiences because of being women, we sometimes think that we understand what it's like to be a black woman or a woman of any other identity, and that were some or that and or that were somehow like off the hook for needing to be understanding of those things. And I just I see White women don't can sometimes have a response of like I've been shushed enough in my life, I don't want to be shushed, I don't want to, and I and while I like empathize with that, I think that's like one extra step to take is like there's a yes, and we've had our experiences, white women, and there's so much else that we can learn from and grow and grow and learn. So wanted to put that out there as well.

John Neral:

Thank you so much for that. You and I could keep talking about this and I truly enjoyed you being here for this conversation, but we do need to start wrapping up. So, jill, what advice would you have for people listening today to help them build their mid career? Gps?

Jill Wener, M.D.:

Oh, maybe I said everything that I know. No, I'm just kidding. I think Lean into your values and at every point we have a chance to either lean into them or not lean into them and be open to learning even better ways to lean into our values. So if we see ourselves as people who want to create equitable workplaces and opportunities and diversity in all of those things, we always have chances to do that and when we are given an opportunity, given feedback perhaps in that area, to to receive that as a gift and a chance to further live into our values.

John Neral:

I love that. That's a nice way for us to end today. Jill, if people want to connect with you, follow you, learn more about you and what you do. I'm going to turn the mic over to you now, so please share with us all the great things about you and where people can connect.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

So my website is Jill Weinercom. It's J-I-L-L-W-E-N-E-Rcom Spelled a little different than most people expect. That has access to my meditation stuff, my tapping stuff and a link to my anti-racism website, which is conscious anti-racismcom, so you can go there as well to find out more about the anti-racism work. On Instagram and LinkedIn. I'm at Jill Weiner MD. I'm on Twitter, but I have mixed feelings about Twitter and I don't not very active there. So you can find me there, but I'm not too active and, yeah, I think that's probably the best way to get me.

John Neral:

Are you on threads? I'm?

Jill Wener, M.D.:

not yet. I'm taking a moment to figure out.

John Neral:

I got off of Twitter, gosh, probably a year ago, and then threads started and I was like I was sitting in front of the TV. I was like, oh, what's this all about, you know? So? So occasionally I'll post something there, but I'm not not advertising it, but it's the tone spent a little different. So that's, that's been kind of that's good.

Jill Wener, M.D.:

Yeah, it's still Facebook, you know, it's still like owned by the same people so. I find that I get it. I want to know I totally get it Absolutely Well.

John Neral:

Jill Weiner, thank you so very much for spending some time with us today on the mid career GPS podcast. Thanks for having me All right. My friends, if there's one thing I want you to take away from today's episode, it's this Take some time to explore your thoughts, your actions. Be a better ally. I'm sure the people who are listening to this podcast, you're probably already really good at being an ally, but there are always ways for us to be even stronger and better allies. And, as Jill said as she was wrapping up, you know, lean into your values here. They will certainly guide you.

John Neral:

And remember we build our mid career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the mid career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple podcast. Visit JohnNarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid career GPS or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at JohnNarrow coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.

Career Transformation and Building Trust
Navigating Trust and Uncomfortable Conversations
Stereotypes and Career Advancement Challenges
Improving Allyship and Personal Growth