page title icon How to Talk About Race at Work

What organizations can do to have conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion with their employees.

Racial disparity is more than just a hot topic on social media. Employees constantly face threats of social injustice and racial inequality at work, and leaders need to understand that in order for their organization to thrive, they must bolster their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and provide a safe space for their employees to talk about race at work.

In this episode, Kelly McDonald shares leadership insights on how to talk about race at work and what your organization can do to have conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion with your employees.

Kelly McDonald was born and raised in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was one of four kids and was second oldest in the lineup. Two parents, two brothers, one sister and two boxer dogs made for a lively household, to say the least.

The suburb in which Kelly grew up was one in which, everyone was largely the same: White and middle-class. In college, she realized the world was not all White and middle-class, and she made friends with people of many different backgrounds. The insights garnered from people with different perspectives shaped her interest in marketing and selling to different market segments.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she worked at global ad agencies prior to becoming a professional speaker. She has been a professional speaker for 20 years and has written four bestselling books on diversity, leadership, marketing and the customer experience.

She was the first professional speaker to teach people the value of diversity in business and how to talk about a topic that few know how to do effectively and confidently.

Kelly now lives in Denver, Colorado and when she’s not on the road speaking, she enjoys boxing (yes, boxing, not kickboxing) – and shopping for high heels. She’s also learning to play the cello.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @kellycmcdonald get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“Race is not the only way to be diverse.” – Click to Tweet

“People are so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they will say nothing.” – Click to Tweet

“In business, you have to be able to talk about problems and situations that are real that might be holding the business back.” – Click to Tweet

“Diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams all the time, on every kind of business metric.” – Click to Tweet

“Diversity is any way you can be different from me.” – Click to Tweet

“Stop saying, ‘you people’ or ‘those people’.” – Click to Tweet

“Bigger, better, fewer.” – Click to Tweet

Advice for others

Pace yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Holding her back from being an even better leader


Best Leadership Advice

Lead by example.

Secrets to Success / Tools

Listening to different perspectives.

Innovation is Everybody’s Business: How to Ignite, Scale, and Sustain Innovation for Competitive Edge

It’s Time to Talk about Race at Work: Every Leader’s Guide to Making Progress on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Kelly’s website: 

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Check out other episodes on diversity, equity, and inclusion: 

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