Wendy Hanson 0:24
Welcome, everybody. It's wonderful to have you here today because the topics we talked about on the BetterManager podcast, are so important to our success at work. And today, we're gonna talk about check your preference and improve your results. We are in need of taking action right now about diversity and inclusion in all companies. Part of that is understanding how we think what our biases are. You can't change what you don't realize. So I have a wonderful guest today, Dwayne Hughes, who's going to walk us through our preferences and how they change our results and how we can look at that. And Dwayne and I were just talking about what we do on the BetterManager podcast is about actionable, actionable things that we can do that we can take, take charge of something and make sure that when we get off of this podcast, it's kind of make a difference. But let me tell you about Dwayne Hughes. Dwayne spearheads Oryx inclusion and client relations strategy, and is a member of the firm's executive leadership team. Wait Dwayne's unique multidisciplinary backgrounds, but spans economics and finance, international business and corporate law. With this broad experience, Dwayne is deeply valued executive team member known for making key connections, building careers, leading inclusive teams and leveraging his global network across Wall Street to connect people with opportunities. Dwayne has served as a business unit CEO and managing director for each of JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. Duane started his career in Wall Street law firms Sherman and Sterling and Simpson Thacher and Bartlett, with an interim stint at Lucent Technologies. Dwayne holds a JD MBA and ma degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA degree Summa Cum laddie from Howard University. Dwayne also speaks Spanish and Portuguese, a very well rounded man. Welcome, Dwayne. I am so honored to have you on the show today.
Duane Hughes 2:37
Thanks, Wendy. Happy to be here.
Wendy Hanson 2:39
Yes, you did a fabulous TED Talk, which will give people the link to and we'll also put it in the show notes, check your preference and improve your results. And you wrote it from a very personal experience. So I thought maybe it's a good way for you to start off, you could share that story with us. How did you come up with this idea of your preference, and how it improves results and how it relates to diversity and inclusion?
Duane Hughes 3:06
Well, thank you, Wendy. I appreciate that perfect setup. You know it. I came to this by growing up as a young black boy and the main and the mainly black environment with black and Jewish environment, I should say in Cincinnati, Ohio. And I felt very much like I was a member of Central Casting. I had the right look, as some black people would say at least back in the day I had good hair, which was which was a big deal. And I was somewhat the favorite son, I would go to the stores and people would smile. pat me on the head. And that was pretty much filling my my oats. I've later moved to Schenectady, New York to an all white neighborhood and proceeded to be in a series of first first black in the neighborhood, first black in the school system. My dad was like the first black in his job. And we we were proverbial strangers in a strange land. And we received the opposite reception we would walk in and we would be a stranged we suffered deep discrimination and ostracism and this is in the mid 70s in upstate New York. So what I realized early on in my life was that that that could be given could be easily taken away. In in, in the sense that you have this you have this series of of characteristics that are completely outside of your control. In the case of Cincinnati I grew up in I was I looked the part that I moved in I did not look the part. And so the question then became, you know, how, how do how does one's preferences? How are ones preferences or biases or tastes likes very subjective points of view. of the world, shaped by your environment, and how that can change over time. So that was the predicate for the interest. But what was really the trigger is different in a moment of tragedy and deep sadness, and frankly, ongoing devastation for me, my wife passed away six years ago, six and a half years ago. And she was just a beautiful woman, I was married for 23 and a half years, we raised three children together. And she is she's a black Puerto Rican from the South Bronx, very strong woman. And she reminded me sort of much of my mother. So I was completely out of my control thrown back in the world of being a single man. And, you know, just it took sort of years and years, and still, I'm recovering. During that period, though, my wife had made it very clear to me that she had trained me up well, to be a good husband. And that all of that beating, all that beating I took over the year should not go to waste. And that, that I would be a good catch for someone in the future. In fact, he was
Wendy Hanson 6:10
clearly a good woman there is absolutely
Duane Hughes 6:14
wonderful. And she said, I need to meet your future wives. And I said, sweetheart, I don't want anybody I want you. And of course, it was just a devastating moment, even as I remember it. But what she had said was true. And it's often true for many widowers, who were, who are, who are in love, they do want to, they're sort of trained to be husbands. So I went back out in the world to be a husband, again, at some point in the right way. And, of course, this was after decades of of life. And I realized that when I was out dating, I was sort of politically I wanted to be politically correct. I'm like, Well, you know, it's really the person that matters. It's sort of like, you know, all of this other stuff. It's like this deep meaningful connection. And, and I was dating, and I was really like, No, I'm just not attracted to that type of person. But I am attracted to this type of person. And I realized I had this strong, ingrained, what what biologists might call imprinted preferences from an early age. This imprinting that goes on through the television, through your, when you look in your parents eyes, how you're conditioned, gives you a standard of attractiveness, and you can afford to be deeply subjective. Because this is, among probably the most personal choice you can make in your life is Who do you want to spend the rest of your life with? Right? And then, but it was these strong preferences that made me realize, how could that affect my view, in the professional world? Once you realize that you have a strong, like, let's say you have a strong taste for, I don't know, steak, or a certain spice, probably a better analogy, paprika, or something like that? How could that then affect every other type of food that you taste? Right. And in some cases, there's no consequences. But in the case of perception of with respect to people and working with others, there could be very significant consequences if you're unaware of this preference. So it's really through this bitter, sweet, deeply tragic story. And this Renaissance, this renovation of my life, this rediscovery of my of my life, that I found, renewed interest in the in group out group dynamics that I experienced in Cincinnati is connected to growing up to the in group out group dynamics and the heightened consciousness of my preferences later in life.
Wendy Hanson 8:55
So what I'm hearing too, is that when you would think about memories, and correct me if I, if I, if I'm wrong, when you think about memories of your wife, you're kind of looking for somebody that fits that same genre, because that brings comfort when you know, this is what that person looks like. And you had clearly as a black man in Schenectady had really had a new what being on the outside fell. Right, exactly. So when we when we look for people that that are like us and remind us of something that we want. It's very comforting them exactly outside. Yeah, yes,
Duane Hughes 9:33
yes, it's the so called similar to me preference. It's a natural inborn preference of people are similar to me. Now we're talking about race, we're talking about gender, maybe class, but that's not the totality of human being. And that's not the necessarily but for determinative factor of the similar to be preference. For the sake of this conversation though. Let's just assume that it's very Important?
Wendy Hanson 10:00
Yes, yes. Because there are other factors and I'm not going to give it away. But if they people will listen to your TED Talk, they'll see that there are other pieces that are not race related that one looks at and says, Yes, that's an important factor to me. Yeah. So the big question that we have is knowing, like me is so is so important than that imprinting thing? How do we translate that into our hiring preferences at work? How does how do we make sure that we're being unbiased? Because I think a lot of people now that we're talking so much about diversity and inclusion, think, well, I don't really have biases until they really begin to look deeply. And they say, wow, I do have bias absolutely
Duane Hughes 10:45
right. Because you actually hear and sense people differently. People who are similar to you. Let's take let's leave it, let's take it from your, to the extreme, people who are from your same block, who grow up sounding exactly like you do. You can speak to them in shorthand, you can you can understand their body language. Therefore, when they come and they interview for you, or they have a work project with you, you're more likely to look at them, like yourself, overlook their failings, and exaggerate their successes, just by natural happenstance, that sort of subjectivity is fine, when you're thinking about who to invite over for dinner over asleep over. But when you are operating in the employment context, particularly for an organization whose stated purpose is in part, the fair and equitable treatment of people to have an inclusive environment, free from that type of subjective exercise of subjectivity, you can't afford to be unaware. In fact, you need to contracts take specific steps to counteract that type of that, that that natural instinct, if you will, to treat people better, who look and sound like you. So here's one thing you can do. Again, back to your practical outcomes, practical takeaways, shall I? Okay, so one of the things that you can do is be very aware of how you spend your discretionary time at work. In the old days, they would call it the how Who do you talk to around the water cooler? There's, I don't even know if there's any water coolers anymore. Maybe it's a pantry nowadays. But the idea is, you know, you're working your eight to 12 hour days, but there's breaks that you have breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee breaks in the like, often, we in management, choose to spend our coffee break as discretionary time with people who are similar like us. And we don't think there's a price to pay for that. That's just okay. That's my downtime. And as a result, during that downtime, there's key information that is shared in the informal network. Did you know that this person is leaving the company? There is an opportunity that's coming out? Were you aware of the change in the compensation system? Were you aware about the new product that's about to be launched? Did you hear about so and so's not getting along with so and so are they are getting along really well? Whatever it is that that piece of news, you have inside information? Right? That inside information puts you in a powerful position to make decisions with respect to your own career. And the compounding effects of that over time. lead to inequalities in equities differences, for sure are certainly barriers or you could call headwinds for the out group members and tailwinds for the in group members. Right.
Wendy Hanson 14:09
Good. I think that's so fascinating, because that's one of those things that we may not realize until someone like you have pointed that out to us. And now all of a sudden, it's going to be Wow, that is true. Because there's an undercurrent that always goes through companies where people are the in crowd is learning things. And that's the problem we have these days, right with remote offices and people not being in the office that you don't get to hear those things. So I think it probably gets multiplied these days. And so we have to look at how do we how do we handle that situation in hybrid environments as well as work because we don't have coolers office water coolers anymore around the office to hang out and have that undercurrent happen.
Duane Hughes 14:54
Yeah, no, it's it's a it's a really good point. In fact, and it leads to the takeaway here. That a hybrid environment in some ways could make it ironically easier to reduce the bias in the following way. So the point that I was going to make as a takeaway was this concept of a one on one ratio that you consciously manage your calendar to schedule a scheduled time without group members in a put in an equal proportion to in group members. And this is a practical takeaway, you could even have your admin or calendar person handle it for you. What you just say is like, Look, you know, my calendar, you know that I have lunches, dinners, downtime, make sure if you're, let's say that you're stereotypically the male in charge, that a woman in an equal level is giving same amount of time and attention and opportunity to have time with the CEO or the CFO of the C suite person, or vice versa, if you're the woman in charge, and you tend to spend your downtime with women, make sure the male or whatever other in group out group dynamic, maybe it could even be people with families and people without or vice versa. It just the world is open when you're using in group and out group concepts. And not just black and white male, female, and the like. And so the point here is that in the hybrid environment, it could be that much easier, because you don't have the water cooler, and the person sitting next to you. And so you're scheduling time on the calendar. And so that takes another that takes more conscious deliberation than just walking in the halls. And so that conscious deliberation could be used to the advantage to make sure that there's equality and equity in your calendar. Yeah.
Wendy Hanson 16:43
And I think you were calling that floating. Is it floating between groups, you used a great story about your seventh grader trying to float between different groups in the lunchroom? And how do you doing that at work is equally important that we flight?
Duane Hughes 16:59
Yeah, I think that's right. So the first lesson is for an left takeaway for the in group member, to develop the one on one strategy, the second lesson is for the out group member. So if you're a traditional out group member operating on the outskirts of society, much like I was in Schenectady, New York, couldn't get a date to the, you know, to anywhere, you know, sort of not the, the, the antithesis of Central Casting in many ways. How do you break in? How do you how do you operate and not allow yourself to be victimized, and to internalize the negative feedback and to have that affect your self esteem, very important to do that, just because you're an out group member is not an excuse to not live a happy life. It's not an excuse to, to, to, to not develop the muscles that are required to jump over the hurdles that have been placed in front of you, even if they're artificially placed there. And even if it's unfair, so what do you do, one of the ways you do is is you, you figure out and sometimes you have to just by definition, you figure out how to float among groups. Because if you're an extreme minority, you're sort of a group of one or several, you know, you have, there's so few people that you can't form a social group, so you naturally figure out a way to is subsist in the majority group. Later in life, though, you, you could take refuge in your own social group to the exclusion of the majority group. And if so, at least professionally, you would do so to your detriment. There have been study after study that shows that the most value some of the most valuable professionals in society are the ones who float among groups. So so if you're at the cocktail hour, and you're that tech person among lawyers, you get a lot of attention. Or if you're the lawyer among tech people, or if you're the person, another way to think about it is you are the the the the politically centrist person who can bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans that far left and far right now, all of a sudden, you're extremely valuable because you're accepted in many groups. My daughter learned this when she was trying to figure out what, what table to sit at in the cafeteria. She was like data like to smart kids, because they studied but I also like the athletes because I'm athletic. But then finally, I have started the knitting club, in her case. And when I go for the lunch of there's such peer pressure, that they require that people just want to sit with their time and they want to shun everyone else, as teenagers are trying to develop their sense of identity. And they're pointing at other fingers to other people to make themselves feel better. And I said, Tell you what, why don't you on Tuesdays and Thursdays do one thing Wednesdays and Fridays, do the other, see if they'll accept it. And lo and behold, that's exactly what she did. And they did accept it and she became a floater. And learn this concept of floating. And we need to do the same thing professionally, not go to lunch with the same people every day, change it up constantly. And that also develops what pilots call your situational awareness. So you're flying the plane aware of where the other objects are in the sky. And that ability to develop that situational awareness is consistent with being a benefit or an outcome of being a floater.
Wendy Hanson 20:24
Well, I admire your daughter for pulling that off. Because at that age, that's a hard thing to do, you know, to say, oh, you're my Tuesday, Thursday group, and you're my other group, I think that's really quite amazing. And I have a great example, to have one of our client companies amplitude, I'll do a call out for them. I may not get this exactly right. But David Evans, who's their head of learning and development, NIH have worked together for years. And David told me that at amplitude, what they did to have floating happen was they really wanted people of different groups and one on ones to have lunch together. So you could go and find out, they actually had a system of some sort. So you could pick somebody to have lunch with, the company would pay for you to have lunch with that other person. And he said, It was an amazing experience, because once a week, I take somebody from a different department and go out and have lunch with them. And I think that floating piece that you're talking about how that expands how we look at things, you know that we go to the other side of the table, we talked to that other person and that I loved, a great networker feels very comfortable at these events, when you talk about, you know, being an engineer and going to one of those and trying to float around, it's a lot harder. So it's good to have people that are floaters to take other people with them on this journey and make you feel comfortable
Duane Hughes 21:48
100%. And that example of that company is I think, a brilliant, a brilliant example. And it's also the case that the floaters are the ones that tend to have the greatest amount of inside information. Right, and so they're able to trade on that information in a way that endures to their benefit.
Wendy Hanson 22:07
It's like the honeybees. Yeah, they're traveling around and they're picking things up along the way. And, and that's very, very helpful to accompany that's for sure. And how do we develop ourselves as leaders to really get one thing you talk about, too? Is that situational awareness? How do we how do we develop that and make sure that we're not we're walking the talk, where we're doing the floating we're promoting floating with within teams, and providing opportunities? What else? Can we be doing Dwayne? Yeah, I
Duane Hughes 22:38
think I think that if you're, if you're a traditional and group member, being very visible in those out group experiences consistently, provides wonderful leadership and reminds me of colleague, when I was working at Morgan Stanley, he was a senior person in operations. And I was very impressed that he was a member of every affinity group, he's a white male. But he was a member of the Latino group, the black group, the Asian group, the LGBTQ plus group, and would make it a priority to attend all of those meetings, sit in the back and pay attention. And so what ended up happening, he was the minority every single time he was the straight white male in the room, and he wouldn't talk wouldn't address attention to themselves. So what ended up happening is that everybody in those groups became very comfortable with him. And he learned a lot of the internal sort of mores, logic, arguments, customs of these of these groups, and became like a trusted adviser slash leader within the company, and had a genuine interest. It wasn't fake and false, he wasn't checking the box. He was, he was a good observer. And, and that was, I think, really, really key to his leadership style, and how he developed if you will, a broad coalition of support.
Wendy Hanson 23:59
I love that because sometimes if you come into a situation, in my experience, when you're only there, as an observer, people get a little bit like, no wonder what this is about, you know, but clearly, if he did it consistently and over time, people probably came up to him and talk some more. So it was a even a better strategy. I love that because I would have thought you would need to have your voice heard a bit just to was to show that you're that you know, you're not just there watching, but you're you want to be part of the No, that's
Duane Hughes 24:32
that's a fair point. And what I meant by observer, I meant that that was his default position. But he was certainly respond, unsolicited, or what we'd say in Wall Street reverse inquiry. So if somebody would come up to him, he would be a very active participant, but he didn't go in with an agenda, the checklist to try to determine the agenda. He would respond to the agenda. And that's what I meant by observer.
Wendy Hanson 24:58
Yeah, yeah. Good to see Yes. And then another piece is is privilege. You know what? I'm making a guess that you've seen both sides it's connected to you didn't feel privileged at all. And then you were on Wall Street. There was some privilege there. So tell me about privilege. How does privilege show up? And how do we make sure that that our social groups even in our whole life, that we're we're being inclusive and where we're walking our own talk there?
Duane Hughes 25:30
No, I think that's I think that's fair. I get I refer back to the categories of in group and out group. So the in group enjoys a privilege or an advantage. The out group typically, you know, suffers a detriment or disadvantage. The other way to look at it is headwinds and tailwinds headwinds face you and tell winds blow have the arrow, the wind at your back. And I think it's all the same sort of stuff. I think the important thing to realize is a real big distinction between unearned privileges and earned privileges, or privileges or detriments are disadvantages that are outside of your control, and what ones that you are in control or potentially can influence. For example, for the most part, you don't control. You know, absent plastic surgery or some other thing you don't control really how you look, you know, your basic phenotype, how tall you are, the symmetry of your face on the left and right sides, you know, that the the the texture of, you know, your, your, let's say, your actual skin color, for the most part, clearly, there's things you can do with modern technology, but you come to the world with the basics, right. And those basics have implications, right, they have implications for your, for your probabilities of you doing one thing or the other. If you're if your voice has a certain natural bass pitch, like Obama, that's gonna carry a certain amount of gravitas when you're speaking.
Wendy Hanson 27:11
On the other hand, if you have talked like this, it's gonna be a little bit more difficult maybe for you to convince people,
Duane Hughes 27:15
right? And you can really take voice lessons in the light. But the point I'm trying to make is, it's important to make those distinctions. So Wall Street, I didn't consider it to be a privilege, because it was earned. I did. I do, but I had to do to sort of get there over the years. Being a black male, everything else held equal is not a privilege. But that doesn't mean it's not a privilege or to benefit in every circumstance. In certain circumstances, it absolutely is an advantage. Where we're being a black males highly valued. You know, for example, if you are, you know, you know, if certainly like the state, you go to Howard University, and all black school, you walk in, and you're part of Central Casting. And that's that that's a good feeling. Right, so and so so so I think it's important to realize that these are flexible concepts, they vary by the sort of environment. But I also think that the more that you are aware of where you came into the world, like, for example, both of my parents have graduate degrees, that was outside of my control, I was raised in a household that valued education, academic education, that is a privilege in the sense that that is a tailwind behind me, just the family that I was raised in. And so the more that you are aware of the things that you did not work for, that just benefit you, the things that you do not work for that hinder you, the better, more sensitive, you can be around people who have a different bucket or different combination of advantages and disadvantages. And so I think that managers who are in charge should be very aware of their unchosen gifts that they got, and they can also be aware of their of their hindrances, and none of us should just pretend that we did sort of everything ourselves. But we also shouldn't pretend that we did nothing ourselves. So I think i think i think a balance of all of those sort of confluence of factors, a very environmentally determined context, but context I think is important. Yeah,
Wendy Hanson 29:33
yeah. Wow, great things to ponder and things that we can take control of, you know, that's what I like to be in group and out group and, and being able to flow being conscientious about where we spend our time, what people we spend our time with, and what people that we have an opportunity to introduce to other people, and I think that's also one of your gifts. You're a great networker because you've worked with so many different companies and people That you bring people together. And I think we all need to see who we can bring into the circle that may be a little bit shy about being in the circle or for reasons that you've discussed today, you know, aren't part of that. So lots of good things that people can take action on. If there was one takeaway that you want people to leave with today, what would you be doing?
Duane Hughes 30:22
The one takeaway is, we all have, we're all human beings are combination of many, many complex factors, multi dimensional, and we walk around with a collection of in group and out group experiences, like a deck of cards. And those deck of cards, the combination can give you advantages in some contexts, and disadvantages and others. So the takeaway is, when you are having in an in group position, play the deck of cards to be inclusive, play inclusive and open hand if you will. And make sure your schedule is open for our group members to get on it. If you're in a powerful position, if you're in an out position, float, float like a butterfly sting like a bee. And, and so and that will avoid the self exclusion that can happen. Staying in your comfort zone, if you're an out group member with people who are just like you doesn't help you get in. And so what you have to do is figure out ways to float among various in groups, and to have a little bit of that M group power rub off on you. And one way to do that is to reflect on your own in group positions, experiences where you are in power, that could be in your home, your church, your synagogue, among your family, among your group, where you are the in group member where you are celebrated. Think about that, when you're out in the workplace and figure out how to work that into your, you know, float among those various groups and, and bonding have something in common?
Wendy Hanson 32:00
Yeah, great, great, great lessons for us and, and great things that we could do to make a difference in the world because the this, the human factor is really what makes business tick. And we need to make sure that we're always focused on that. So if people want to connect with you, Dwayne, and they want to learn more, and maybe listen to your TED Talk, give us some information, the best way to find you.
Duane Hughes 32:23
Sure, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn, and just refer to this conversation. I'm very active on LinkedIn. Duane L. Hughes, and I work for Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe. And then you can also go on YouTube and look up my TED Talk. It's under my name Dwayne Hughes. And it's check your preference and improve your results.
Wendy Hanson 32:46
Great. And we'll put that in the show notes so that people can find you. And I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much. It's great lessons for all of us in the world of work and, and managers so that we can really keep moving towards how do we make work more inclusive? And how do we understand what our preferences are? And how do we move beyond them so that we can include other people. So thank you so much doing today for sharing your wisdom.
Duane Hughes 33:12
Thanks, Wendy. And I'm a big fan of BetterManager. Thank you.
Wendy Hanson 33:15
Thank you. Yes, where we're doing good work in the world. We're very proud of it. So we're very happy to have you on our team here. Yes, take care, everybody. Have the best day ever and go out and make a difference. Thanks. See you soon.