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Performative Allyship Within Capitalist Systems | The Neurodiverging Podcast

Performative Allyship Within Capitalist Systems

Today, Danielle talks with neuroqueer LGBTQ+ trainer and community organizer Charlie Ocean, MSW to understand how performative allyship from companies led to a surge in DEI work post-George Floyd, and what the state of DEI is now several years later.

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Show Notes:

Guest Bio: Charlie Ocean, MSW

Performative Allyship Within Capitalist Systems with Charlie OceanCharlie Ocean, MSW (they/them) is an LGBTQ+ trainer and community organizer who is proudly neuroqueer and nonbinary. They obtained their MSW from the USC School of Social Work and currently serve as a board member for PFLAG Los Angeles, one of the oldest PFLAG chapters. Charlie started LGBTQ+ community organizing as a youth in 2001 and has been speaking and presenting about various topics ever since.


About Neurodiverging

Neurodiverging is dedicated to helping neurodiverse folk find the resources we need to live better lives as individuals, and to further disability awareness and social justice efforts to improve all our lives as part of the larger, world community. If you’re interested in learning more, you can:

Transcript: Performative Allyship Within Capitalist Systems with Charlie Ocean

DANIELLE: Hi, Charlie. Welcome to the Neurodiverging podcast. How are you doing today?

CHARLIE: Hello! Thank you so much for having me. I feel like that’s a really tough question to answer nowadays, only because I’d like to try to be as honest as possible but, you know, a lot of folks in the United States just ask to be polite so it puts me through a spiral, but I will say today I think I’m doing okay. But there’s a lot of heaviness with everything going on in the world right now, but how about yourself?

DANIELLE: There’s a lot going on in the world today, and, you know, it’s — I’m glad you called me on it because I think that despite doing a lot of training on neurodiversity friendliness and saying, “Do less small talk,” I still fall back on the small talk when I’m starting off an episode just because it’s like those get to know you questions, right? The how do you get to know folks? How do you get to know what people are interested in and what’s carrying them today or on their shoulders today? So, yeah. I’m also okay, I am a little tired, to be frank, and also it is doing this cloudy, rainy fall thing outside my window, which is messing with my energy a little bit.


DANIELLE: But it’s fine. We will move forward. It’s okay. I have some coffee and —

CHARLIE: I love it. You can send it my way.


CHARLIE: I mean, I know that’s not really possible, but if it were —

DANIELLE: That would be amazing!

CHARLIE: …if you could Dropbox it to me, I’d (laughs) happily take your weather. Yeah.

DANIELLE: Colorado — I’m near Boulder and we have the (pauses) I don’t know the word, the luck. The (pauses) —

CHARLIE: The privilege (laughs softly).

DANIELLE: The privilege!

CHARLIE: (laughs)

DANIELLE: Privilege is really what it is to get 300 days of sunshine a year and I have gotten very used to it. When I lived in Philadelphia, it was cloudy and rainy all the time and it was fine, but now I’m completely spoiled, so —

CHARLIE: Well see, it’s really easy for you to send it to me because I’m just down in Denver.

DANIELLE: Oh, yeah! That’s right, I forgot you were so close!


DANIELLE: That’s so funny, okay. And it’s nice in Denver? It’s really like, that’s half an hour away.

CHARLIE: No, it’s supposed to rain here today, too —

DANIELLE: Oh, okay.

CHARLIE: So it’s —

DANIELLE: We just have it now and it’s gonna come down to you.

CHARLIE: Yeah, but I’m happy to, like, just keep it coming.

DANIELLE: (laughs)

CHARLIE: So, I’m, like, happy. Maybe I listened to Garbage too much in my youth, like Only Happy When It Rains and stuff, but, like, it’s a good song, love that band, and, yeah, I don’t know, I like it. Probably ‘cause I feel like it better matches my mood most of the time, and also it’s just, like, really calming sensory-wise, because I’ve noticed the more I’m understanding about my neurodivergence, like, when I go outside and it’s super bright, I hate it, and I’m actually gonna have to get proper sunglasses again, which is going to suck ‘cause I have to get prescription-based ones —

DANIELLE: Those are frustrating.

CHARLIE: …but, I think I need to do it. Yeah, ’cause I’m starting to get these ocular migraines from the light, and it’s not good. So, yeah, bring the rain, bring the cloudiness. I don’t want it always, but I do enjoy it, and it’s a nice sensory experience for me.

DANIELLE: I get migraines from the pressure shifts —

CHARLIE: That too (speech overlaps)!

DANIELLE: …when it moves from the sun to the rain. So I think —

CHARLIE: Not always.

DANIELLE: …I have this inverse experience. Oh, okay, yeah. Where the light doesn’t bother me, like, I’ll wear regular sunglasses, but I wear contacts, so, but whenever there’s a big shift (speech overlaps) —

CHARLIE: It just depends how much it drops, yeah.

DANIELLE: Yeah, it knocks me down for a couple of days. So what I would love to just start with is, I know you do I was gonna say DEI training, and then I realized that lots of folks probably don’t know what that is. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, sometimes with a B at the end, Belonging, especially around gender, sexuality, et cetera. I wondered if we could just talk about it a little bit and let us know a little bit about what you do, why you do it, how you got into it, any of that that you like to talk to us about.

CHARLIE: Sure, thank you. What’s interesting and funny to me is that just the initialisms or acronyms for DEI work are hysterical. It’s like the same problem we have with the alphabet soup community.

DANIELLE: Absolutely.

CHARLIE: Just like there’s so many, ’cause there’s JEDI, and I know a lot of people like that ‘cause the J is for Justice, but, yeah, I just think having those similarities is really funny when you’re in this intersection. But that aside, yeah, I started out as a speaker. I was a very shy and awkward kid. I’d say I’m still very shy and awkward, but somehow, like, I can do training and speaking. And so I was very passionate as a young person growing up about different things, like the environment and people getting along and stuff like that, but it wasn’t until 9th grade I started to actually learn about the LGBTQ+ community and go, “Oh! These are my people.”

‘Cause previous to that, all I had was, like, tomboy, and I clung to that identity because it was the language my bullies gave me, but it also just felt like people got me better. And, basically, by the time I was nearing like getting out of high school, I started realizing that — And I was fortunate in some ways to grow up in Los Angeles, but I realized there was, like, this 11th-grade English class I was in, I remember that one of the students, and I’ll never know who — Somehow we got on the topic of gay authors, which was pretty progressive and especially for the early 2000s, even though it was LA. But we got on the topic of gay authors, and I just remember hearing a student say, like, “Being gay is a choice.” And, again, I was shy, awkward baby Charlie, and I, like, found my voice that day. I just remember going, “No, it’s not,” and then I started talking about everything I’d experienced so far with starting to piece together who I was.

Now, I didn’t quite have all of the language yet because I was mostly focusing on, like, the sexuality parts of it and not so much, like, who am I to those folks and gender and all that, so I still was clinging to the tomboy, but, yeah, I was really starting to get immersed. And, like, very quickly, I’m talking, like, literally, as soon as I started learning about the LGBTQ+ community, I became, like, a keynote speaker for this conference called Models of Pride that’s for LGBTQ+ youth, I ended up joining their board and helping to organize it every year. Like, I’m talking I just went deep.

DANIELLE: You jumped in?

CHARLIE: Yeah, I found, like, my special interest finally. So, yeah, I nerded out over it. So, by that point, I’d learned enough that I, of course, didn’t know everything, and I would still never claim that I do even now, but I knew enough to say, like, “No, it’s not.” And I know that that day, I gave a very passionate speech about what I’d experienced so far as a young person, and even up to just that point for only knowing who I was with that particular language for a few years, but I know that my main point of that speech was being gay, or whatever term you want to use there, isn’t a choice. It’s whether you can be authentic or not and sometimes we don’t have that choice.

And that’s something I can say more easily now ‘cause, again, I didn’t have all the language then, but, yeah, I just had a very passionate plea. It was interesting ’cause the teacher just sort of sat back and let things happen, ’cause, like, it seemed like she knew I had it or something, even though I didn’t know that I had it. And to this day, Mrs. Roth lives up in Oregon. She says it’s one of her favorite moments in her career, watching me grow in that way. And so we’ve been very close, and we keep in touch and everything, and I was so grateful she let me have that moment, ‘cause I do think it was really important.

So, I think from then on, I just sort of realized in any class that if we did happen to talk about the LGBTQ+ community, usually we didn’t go very far, and if it did come up in some sort of more organic way, the teachers or later the professors just never really knew how to talk about it, so I started community organizing. By my high school year, I became the president of what was the Gay-Straight Alliance at the time, now they’re usually called a Gender-Sexuality Alliance or Queer Club or something, but, yeah. So, then I started doing even more leadership, and by the time I got to college, I became a regular speaker for almost every class I was in. Like, I’ve been on my own midterms and finals, like it’s been wild. And so I, yeah, became a regular speaker for a lot of these different courses, like Human Sexuality, Psychology, you name it, all sorts of different kinds of classes. And, yeah, I was really finding my groove.

And it was interesting ‘cause at that point I was just heavily leaning on speaking and storytelling which was cool, but at some point after, like, I don’t know, 10 years of doing it, I started realizing I want to make this a little bit more formal and actually give people more specific concrete tools and guidelines and things and so I started transitioning away from sharing my story. And, like, I’ll still weave it in sometimes, but I feel like people need those tangible, like, here’s what to do, you know?


CHARLIE: And so, yeah, at first it was really hard to start being, I guess, what you would call gay for pay ‘cause there were just so many speaking engagements, right? And they’d be like, “Oh, but you’ll get all this exposure,” and I’m like, that’s cool but I also have to pay bills, so. I took on a lot of free gigs, especially just to get the experience. But sometimes professors especially, they’d be so kind and try to give me, like, a five to $10 Starbucks gift card or something, but again it, like, wasn’t enough. But I appreciated they were trying to do that because I know they were working with a limited budget, the schools didn’t want to pay for it, et cetera, so.

Yeah, so then it became hard to, like, have to turn those down and then only pursue people who wanted to pay me even if it wasn’t a lot to start. But, yeah, I started having nonprofits hire me, social workers, all sorts of kinds of people to just talk about how they can be more, like, culturally competent in this area, which no one can quite master that, per se, but at least to embrace the cultural humility of it and keep that thread going and continue to learn. So, yeah, I became like a regular trainer for different places, and, you know, I still do it now it’s just like I would just say that it’s gotten a lot harder because I think in 2020, with the murder of George Floyd and having that be so public and having people start to be awake to more issues that maybe don’t impact them, but, like, people they work with or people they know, et cetera, a lot of these companies, I think, felt pressure to start pursuing DEI or that kind of work, and I think a lot of them were just, like, scrambling to figure it out, and they made these big, bold claims and statements that they were going to commit to doing this work.

They were coming up with their statements and everything that they were posting on their website or whatever, but I think some of us that have been doing this work kind of saw through that and knew that a lot of it was performative and like the pressure because the world was watching and also employees were asking for it and starting to question, but now the economy has changed in such a way that there’s just been so many layoffs and that same energy isn’t happening, and it’s a shame because, like, when you are having to downsize and you are having to make the most of your budget, I mean one of the most important things to me that should be core in any sort of organizational structure is professional development.

Because if we can’t work together, if we can’t work through our differences or see how that’s good, that’s a good thing to have so we’re not just like a bunch of yes people and doing status quo, like, we need to be disruptors in good ways. So, I think these companies that now are starting to, like, take their foot off the pedal of this work, I think they’re gonna see very quickly that their bottom line is going to go down, that they’re going to have a lot of people leaving also by choice, just because they’re not keeping up that same energy. And also, it’s just gonna hurt them across the board in terms of profits, in terms of turnover.

I mean, gosh — And I imagine this number is higher, but I know around a little over 30% of turnover is experienced by LGBTQ+ employees because those companies aren’t speaking out, they aren’t doing something. They’re letting their coworkers misgender them or things like that. They don’t have programs in place, and I imagine that’s higher, but also because they don’t feel comfortable going to HR and saying, like, “I’m being discriminated against,” or whatever’s happening, too, because of the burden of proof and all that. But that’s why you need these things so that you’re not in those situations in the first place.

So, I think they’re going to find they’re trying to cut costs now, but it’s just going to be more costly in the future because even something like, again, around 30% of LGBTQ+ folks having turnover, I mean, that’s expensive because not only is it costly to find new talent and to replace those folks, but also there’s lost knowledge. So, I hate to make it about the bottom line, it feels really gross, but it also is hurting the bottom line.

DANIELLE: That’s how you speak to a company, though, right?

CHARLIE: Unfortunately.

DANIELLE: Because you and I can be, like, person-centered and wanting to develop our individual folks towards their best self, authenticity, and well-being, but a company is always going to look at, well, how is this gonna make us the money? But I’ve had a similar experience on the neurodiversity side of doing some neurodiversity-centered DEI. And there is, of course, a huge crossover between neurodivergent folks and queer folks, LGBTQIA folks, and the types of, the movement you’re talking about, about people leaving, people not feeling confident, speaking to HR, HR maybe not even having the training they need to create programs and respond appropriately to issues. I guess that it’s affecting more than one population, right? That there are, also, there are plenty of nonqueer neurodivergent folks, but there’s so many that have both of these identities that are also being affected, and so not doing this kind of training and support for DEI in one population can have vast effects on everybody in the whole group. That wasn’t the most beautiful way I could have said that, but hopefully, you know what I mean (laughs softly).

CHARLIE: Oh, yeah. I mean, I was literally talking to an ERG, so an Employee Resource Group leader last night on a call, and they were telling me that they just don’t feel very secure and confident ‘cause what companies are trying to do is have it in-house, right? Like, “Oh, if you’re willing to step up in this role and we don’t have to pay you,” right? Which there should be bonuses —

DANIELLE: There should be.

CHARLIE: …and that’s kind of stuff’s been published on LinkedIn before, including, like, some of the amounts that are suggested as an example.

But, yeah, and you can’t put that pressure, you can’t put that burden on the employee. And that’s part of it, too, is my background is also in social work. I got my bachelor’s and my master’s, and of course, that makes sense, it’s probably the most autistic thing I’ve done to date, just try to understand people and systems and how to change them for the better, but I empathize because even when I’ve been at queer organizations, even regular nonprofits, like, I became that tokenized person and I had to do all this in-house training for free, mostly just to make my piece of my day-to-day easier, but I should have absolutely been compensated for that. It’s additional work I was taking on, and I think there’s ways to navigate that.

But, yeah, especially if I wasn’t moving into a different position or something because of that work or whatever, yeah, it should have still been acknowledged in that way. But again, I did those things because it helped me, like, to not have all those one-off conversations. But, yeah, putting that additional pressure — I’m not saying don’t have leadership positions and stuff for those employees who want to do something like that, but don’t grossly take advantage of them and expect them to do your LGBTQ+ 101 or your ADHD 101 or whatever that’s gonna look like because it’s just like an unfair burden to put on those employees. And I think, honestly, it hits different sometimes when you take really serious issues like this and you bring in someone from the outside.

DANIELLE: Yeah, it shows that the company is paying attention to it in a way that it may not if you just sort of grab Susan from down the hall and say, “Okay, do this,” you know? That having that external (speech overlaps) —

CHARLIE: Yeah! And give them a budget!

DANIELLE: Mhm. Please give them a budget.

CHARLIE: Even if you can’t quite do that yet for whatever reason, then at least give them the budget as much as possible to try to do more, whatever that looks like, more social activities, whatever, so that something’s happening. But again, those budgets are getting slashed, too.

DANIELLE: Yeah, they are. I recognize that you’re being called to offer training to a huge variety of different groups of people with different needs and different gaps. Are there spaces that you feel people need the most education? Like is it people need language, or do people need consciousness raising in terms of understanding that diversity of gender and sexual expression exist? Do people need — You talked about tools in terms of maybe how to gender people correctly. Tell me more about, like, what are the gaps that you’re seeing? If there are any patterns in all of these trainings that you’ve done.

CHARLIE: I think every place is gonna be different, and what I tend to see are, again, the performative companies and corporations that are like, “Oh, if we hire you to do this 1-hour training on pronouns, we’re good,” and I’m like, you’re not, though. And I’m gonna tell you that you’re not good, and we’ll do it anyway ‘cause I need to like, again, keep a roof over my head and all of that, but it’s not gonna be enough because, okay, you follow that, like, pronouns thread; Pronouns are like a trojan horse, but in the best way, because you’re not just launching that but think about it: if you have employees coming to you that are trans and nonbinary and saying, “I want to transition on the job,” if you don’t have a workplace transition plan, you are going to be stumbling last minute, awkwardly going, “Oh, shit, how do we help this person? Oh, gosh, we needed this yesterday. What are we gonna do?” and they’re scrambling, there’s panic.

So, like, HR department needs to have its own workshop, and HR business partners need to be trained, mostly on — Like, they don’t need to necessarily understand, I’d say, I don’t think you need to understand anyone to treat them with the bare minimum respect, however, they need to be trained specifically in cool if you’re offering and you’re realizing that LGBTQ+ employees need certain kind of benefits and they’re gonna want to talk about them, then you’re gonna need to be trained on how to have those conversations.

You can’t just have someone put time on your calendar and be like, “So do you want a sex change?” Like that’s not (laughs), that’s not the vibe. You can’t do that, right? Or you shouldn’t do that, so, you want to be able to lead them. But if you have a workplace transition plan, I mean, they’re gonna be so impressed with you, because it’ll be almost everything that you’ve thought of that, “Okay, maybe I want my manager or my supervisor to tell the department or the team on my behalf.” “This is when I want this to be announced or to start more visibly living as this particular gender,” whatever that is, and then figuring out all the pieces, like do we need gender-neutral restrooms? What is that going to look like? How do we talk about those things? Do we have anti-discrimination clauses?

I mean, again, like, you have to sometimes scare these companies in places with either the numbers or also legal stuff, because like New York City, for example, has a law that says you must use the name, title, and pronouns of an employee regardless of whatever is on their documentation. Well, you’re gonna then need to know and need to network and coordinate with IT where all the legal name versus the name has to be.

There’s only very specific, like, a few very specific people who need to know the legal name, mostly for things like benefits or payment, right, things like that, but almost everyone else doesn’t need to know whatever’s actually on the documentation. So, like, how do you make sure that, yeah, only the people who need to see it are on that need-to-know basis. And then if someone wants to make that change again at some point, once they’re already at a place, what are all those things that need to happen? So, I try to explain, like you need to buy this bigger package, and we need to do all this work so that you’re up to speed and then you’re good to go.

There’s like an intranet page that has all of the information. Leadership and management have had a separate training so they know all of the changes to come, what their responsibilities are, and where to send employees. Employees get their all-staff training, so it’s the 1-hour one they’re alluding to, where everyone, again, is understanding like this is a cultural shift we’re making —

‘Cause then you forget too, marketing needs a say because if you’re adding something as simple as email signatures and updating it to include pronouns or business cards, marketing wants a say ‘cause those are external communications. So they’re gonna want it to be formatted a certain way, and make decisions like sometimes when you get those emails in parentheses it might say like, “What’s this?” question mark, and there’s a link sending you somewhere. All of those decisions need to be made, and it can’t be like last minute in a panic because an employee is finally coming to you. You need to understand, especially with, like, Gen Z and stuff coming your way, they’re already here, they’re there it’s just like they probably don’t feel comfortable telling you because they’ve maybe seen how you’ve, like, done other things and awkwardly stumbled through those, or maybe even just decided not to address those things, which would be even worse, so.

Yeah, it’s like a bigger picture. So like depending which thread you’re trying to pick at, I mean, yeah — So, I’d say certain people absolutely do need those definitions and stuff, so when we’re doing that pronouns training for all staff, right, then we’re getting into the specifics of you are going to make mistakes. Let’s just normalize this right now. You are. I don’t want that to stop you from actually practicing allyship though, so here’s what to do, like, in the moment if you misgender someone by accident. Here’s what to do if you’ve made a series of mistakes. Here’s what to do if someone’s told you they’re going by a specific name and pronouns, now. Like here are follow-up questions for them, but not in a way to bombard them. Like here are all the little things, and then once people can have those anchors, I feel like they do so much better because I think it’s gotten to the point where because of the rise of things like cancel culture, people are just afraid of saying anything, and then they just shut down so they’re just not even engaging at all because they’re worried, “Well if I don’t call Charlie ‘Charlie’ and I call them by their former name or if I use ‘he’ by accident, I’m going to get canceled.”

And it’s like, no, that’s not how that works. And we do want to hold ourselves and others accountable, and also, there’s, again, tools and stuff for that. I literally, two years ago, created a flowchart for what to do if you or someone else makes a mistake with misgendering someone or misnaming someone. And the last thing I’d say to that is it also includes a component of consent because you don’t want to correct on other people’s behalf without their consent, ‘cause sometimes the employees just don’t want to, I don’t know, I guess cause a ruckus or something, or they want to fly under the radar and not make a big deal out of it, or maybe they’d rather themselves do the correcting or whatever that looks like, but you want to give them that opportunity.

And there’s always ways to follow up with them later, like after a meeting, be like, “Hey, can I talk to you really quickly about that meeting?” Like, “I just wanted to check in,” like, “I noticed so-and-so used a different name and pronouns for you. Would you like me to correct them? Would you like me to correct other people in the future,” or whatever?

And that kind of stuff is just incredible because it’s just so much emotional labor and saying things like, “Oh, but I’m too old,” or, “Oh, but grammar,” or whatever — Just stop. Just stop. That’s all I’ll say to that right now (laughs softly).

DANIELLE: Yeah, I think it’s basic etiquette. And when I heard you saying, excuse me, this is how we handle pronouns, this is how we handle a name change, this is how — whatever, it does seem to me to be like kind of basic etiquette training for a social situation that it did exist in the past but wasn’t maybe written down in our etiquette books or our miss manners from 100 years ago, right? So, even though there is precedent for how we address somebody who’s changing something or who is going through a change themselves, it hasn’t gotten the attention that maybe it should have at the time, and so we’re having to do this work of catching up and being like, “No,” you know, “Trans people have been here for 100 years, it’s just not in the etiquette book,” so let’s reteach the etiquette, right? Let’s re-examine how we approach that.

CHARLIE: Yeah, and that’s not an easy program because that can take six to twelve months —

DANIELLE: Oh, yeah.

CHARLIE: …depending on, like —

DANIELLE: It’s an investment.

CHARLIE: …how quickly things are moving along. Because, like, one of the first steps is that someone in HR serves as basically like a project manager and I give them a whole list of questions and I’m like, you need to meet separately with each department and you need to follow these specific rabbit holes all the way down to know ahead of time how this one little change is gonna impact a bunch of people and their day to day, so everyone is clear on who’s responsible for which pieces, et cetera.

Like, all of that stuff needs to be figured out so you can have a game plan for it. But again, not every place wants to do that work, and, you know, it’s also a hefty price tag. And, you know, me being me, I’m trying to make it as accessible as possible, so I’ve been working on other ways that people could buy the stuff to try to do it themselves but honestly, there’s still going to be certain things that it’s just going to be best to bring me in for. So, like, you can get fairly far on your own, but you’re still gonna need to bring me in for the actual training and stuff and also consulting hours.

But you want to do this right and then not have to worry about it for a while so that any additional tweaks in the future, which are gonna happen, ‘cause now we tend to say trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive versus trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming for a few different reasons. But then it’s so much easier to make those changes because you’ve already done the work of, like, identifying all of this stuff. And yeah, it does make a difference because, again, if you’re trying to attract that talent, you need to have these things in place ‘cause allies are also going to be interested in seeing what you’re doing and want that aligned for their values, too.

DANIELLE: Yeah, and as you said, employee attrition. You don’t want to be investing in folks who are just gonna leave because you’re doing it haphazardly, or not prioritizing the right things, or not communicating well about it. If you’re gonna, you know — Investing in your employees is obviously investing in your long-term growth and well-being as a company, so.

CHARLIE: Yeah. But there’s also fear because I’d say I tend to get companies and organizations that realize they need to do this work but there’s a lot of fear of, like, backlash, of, number one, not doing it right, not implementing these things correctly, or because people are like, “(scoffs) Woke culture,” and whatever and saying whatever they need to say about it. But it’s like, you know, if you’ve committed this company or this workplace, whatever, to specific values, are you living them out by living in this fear? Because maybe it is gonna shake some people out, but maybe they needed to go so that the right people who do believe and align with those values can come in.

DANIELLE: Exactly, yeah. No, that’s the thing. It’s that if you’re a company that’s considering this kind of training, then clearly somewhere in there someone cares about, hopefully, inclusivity, diversity, communication across differences, those kinds of things. And so if folks are in the company that are not able to lean into that for whatever reason, you know, maybe it’s not the space for them. Even if it’s been the space for them for the past 20 years, if we’re making a change, we’re making a change, you know? But it is hard and it is frightening, I think, for a lot of folks, I think that’s important to carry or lift up.

CHARLIE: Yeah. And making sure these things are intersectional like you were talking about neurodivergence and the overlap with the LGBTQ+ community. So, also having, like, C-suite on board, ‘cause if C-suite also isn’t taking this seriously and they’re not also modeling this stuff, like sharing and asking of pronouns, changing their email signatures literally, physically, you can see them attending either through Zoom or in person, that they’re taking these seriously, they’re taking notes, they’re participating. I mean, that’s like another way that this could fall apart, too, is if, yeah, they’re not also on board with this and understanding the importance.

DANIELLE: Mhm, yeah, I agree. Employees need to see upper management being highly invested for them to take it seriously ‘cause they’ve got — We’ve all got so many things on our plate, it’s easy to (audio cuts out) the short term instead of thinking long term. But if you see your manager and their manager or their manager in that meeting, you’re gonna pay attention so I think that’s an important point. Can you let folks know where people can find you, hire you, learn about, you know, all the stuff you do?

CHARLIE: Yeah! I think the easiest way to find me is to go to Like, hi like hello to somebody, not high like a play on living in The Mile High City or something else related to being in Colorado and things being legal. But yeah, that’s probably the easiest way. And almost everywhere, including LinkedIn and Instagram where I spend the most time, it’s hicharlieocean.

DANIELLE: Thank you so much, and there’ll be links down below, folks, so please go check them out, we really appreciate it. Thanks so much for being here today! I really appreciate it.

CHARLIE: Yeah, thank you so much for having me on. I’ve been really looking forward to this, so, thank you for the honor (speech overlaps) —

DANIELLE: I’m glad it worked.

CHARLIE: …and it’s been wonderful. Yeah, to —

DANIELLE: Oh, good!

CHARLIE: …just connect and get to meet you. So, thank you.


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