In this third installment of the Allyship in Action series, Mark Nussbaum, Chief Administrative Officer for DISYS and Signature Consultants joins host Leslie Vickrey, CEO and Founder of ClearEdge Marketing. The pair embark on a conversation about allyship and the importance of switching from a power stance to a learning stance, they share stories of putting that belief into practice, discuss the DEI efforts Mark has put in place at his own companies, and to wrap it up they dive into where our industry stands today and how we can move it forward with an eye toward diversity. 

After a powerful introduction to the episode from one of Mark’s mentees, Mark shares about his journey to the staffing industry, starting as a lawyer in the healthcare industry. The pair then dive into the conversation of allyship. Leslie often mentions the importance of a learning stance if you want to be an ally, and Mark shares that the way he often positions that is to think about connecting with people in a way that is mutually beneficial instead of putting yourself in a position of power. Being aware of your power and your privilege allows you to move from that power stance to a learning stance and bring curiosity and allyship to the conversation. Mark illuminates this idea with a story about a male colleague that joined a conversation with him and a female colleague, but was dismissive to their female colleague. While he didn’t say anything in the moment, Mark engaged in conversation with them separately and he goes on to share the outcomes of those conversations with Leslie. 

Building in opportunities for teams to learn together about diversity, equity, and inclusion is important to Mark and he shares some of the ways they have been doing that at DISYS and Signature Consultants. First, Mark shares about an unconscious bias training that the team at Signature took part in. The training fostered conversations within the team and built awareness of how unaware you are of yourself and your beliefs. Mark also remarked on the importance of revisiting this training and making sure that it is an ongoing conversation within your team. He also shared about monthly roundtable discussions called “Women and Allies” where they gather to discuss varied topics, from the tactical to the strategic. Along with these conversations, they also have a leadership development program, open to all, but with a focus on providing mentoring and coaching to a diverse set of leaders. This program will support these leaders in advancing in their careers. Lastly, the pair remark on an organization, Grand Circus, which the companies are partnering with. Grand Circus gives technical training through bootcamps to underserved groups in areas to provide skill training to groups that may not otherwise have access. 

Leslie then shares some stats with Mark about women in leadership, and how the percentages of women drop from 50% in entry level roles and closer to 20% representation in the C-suite. The pair then discuss different ways that we can work together to change those stats in our industry. Mark shares the importance of opening up the conversation, realizing that just talking about it won’t make the change, but without the conversation happening action won’t begin. He also encourages other males to get into mentoring and coaching, to pick people in their organizations and give them time monthly to provide insights to their career. The level of gratitude you receive and the accomplishment you feel from those conversations is disproportionate to the effort it takes, he says. 

This episode is full of so many take-aways, insights on how to have those courageous conversations we often shy away from, and ways to bring this home to your company to begin making small changes.