In this episode, host Julia Streets is joined by David Goldenkranz, Educator, DEI Facilitator, Coach and Consultant and Simeon Greaves, Wealth Manager at Coutts. Together they talk about leadership and where the power lies. In parallel, they discuss intersectionality through the lens of race and sexual orientation; self-identification and ways to create safe spaces within the workplace. They address the role of men and the future of work, the direction we are heading without male allies, a greater gender balance and a more inclusive workforce.
After working as an educator for 10 years serving marginalized youth and BIPOC communities, David Goldenkranz transitioned into a full-time career as a DEI facilitator, coach, and consultant, working to eliminate structural, institutional, and systemic barriers within organizations. He currently serves as the Ally Engagement Program Manager at the Technology Access Foundation (TAF), where he is responsible for facilitating learning opportunities for white leaders in education to embrace antiracist and culturally responsive practices in their school environments. He is also currently an Associate Consultant with Full Diversity Partners (FDP) Global, where he provides inclusive leadership development for corporate leaders and large organizations. Johnny was awarded an OBE in the 2022 New Year’s Honours and recipient of multiple professional body and industry awards,
Simeon Greaves is a Wealth Manager at Coutts, helping high net-worth and ultra-high-net worth European clients bring long-lasting purpose to their wealth. He specialises in advising UK resident non-domicile Europeans; as well as non-UK resident clients in Switzerland and Monaco. Simeon is also passionate about driving an inclusive culture for minority groups. He is a key member of the Coutts LGBTQ+ network and as the Campaign and Events lead for the Wealth Multicultural Network, Simeon runs a team to create and implement internal and external inclusivity campaigns.
Series Fifteen, Episode Three Transcript
Julia: Hello, my name is Julia Streets and welcome to DiverCity Podcast talking about equity, inclusion, and diversity in financial services. On the podcast, we seek to shine a light on positive progress, call-out areas requiring further focus, and offer lots of ideas to help drive change. Before we get started today, I just want to take a moment to thank our friends at City A.M., who have given DiverCity Podcast a new home at Impact A.M. Their page is dedicated to ESG, impact investment, DE&I, and a lot more. We really appreciate that they publish and promote both our episodes and our supporting blog series so that their readers can stay right on top of the very latest diversity, equity, and inclusion debate. Thank you to City A.M.
Now, I’m really looking forward to this episode because I’m joined by two guests, David Goldenkranz and Simeon Greaves. Let me just introduce them to you. After working as an educator for 10 years serving marginalised youth and BIPOC, which is Black, Indigenous and People of Colour communities, David Goldenkranz transitioned into a full-time career as a DE&I facilitator, coach, and consultant working to eliminate structural, institutional, and systemic barriers within organisations. He serves as the Ally Engagement Programme Manager at the Technology Access Foundation and he works with white leaders in education to embrace anti-racist and culturally responsive practises in their school environments. And as a white man himself, he also embraces ongoing self-discovery, self-development, and growth, recognising both privilege and biases. David, it’s great to have you on the show. Thanks for being with us.
David: Thank you. I’m honoured to be here, Julia.
Julia: I’m so looking forward to the discussion because it’s a great pleasure to welcome our second guest on the show today, Simeon Greaves. Simeon is a wealth manager at Coutts helping high-net-worth and ultra high-net-worth European clients bring long-lasting purpose to their wealth. He’s also passionate about driving an inclusive culture for minority groups. He’s a key member of the Coutts LGBTQ+ network. And as the Campaign and Events lead for the Wealth Multicultural Network, Simeon runs a team to create and implement internal and external inclusivity campaigns. Simeon, it’s great to have you with us. Thanks for being on the show.
Simeon: Thank you. Really excited to be here.
Julia: Gentlemen, I’m really curious. I’m very keen to know what you’re up to right now. David, can I come to you first?
David: Right now my MO is being a new father, enjoying the 2:00 AM wake-ups, what am I doing professionally, personally invested in really focusing right now on the intersectionality between gender and race, and specifically looking at a book that I’ve been working on now for about four years. And I’m currently trying to get agents and get this book some traction, so I’ve been putting a lot of energy and focus into trying to get this book out.
Julia: Wonderful. You must let us know when it comes out. Can you give us any insights into what it’s about?
David: It is called White Male Privilege: How Did This Happen and Why it’s Even Worse than We Thought. And it’s really talking about the intersection between how we got here in America specifically looking at again, race, gender, and the impact it’s had and what we’re going to need to do if we’re going to try to turn around the current status quo.
Julia: Well, I’m sure some of that will come out in our discussion today for sure, but please do let us know when it comes out. We’d love our listeners to be able to access a copy as well. Simeon, can I ask you the same question? What’s your focus right now?
Simeon: A few things.One thing which is really high on my agenda is around responsible investing as well. And having conversations with my clients is a huge growth area for us as a business in terms of some of the net zero targets that we have in our funds and portfolios and really making sure that we’re holding ourselves to account around that. But I think in the other part of my role as the Events and Campaigns manager for the Wealth Multicultural Network, a couple of things that I’m super focused on right now are The Power of Black Wealth, which was our 2022 theme for Black History Month where we focused on entrepreneurs with a specific focus on the fact that historically businesses with minority ethnic founders are severely underfunded. And actually drawing attention to that fact and starting to think about what the role of financial institutions can be in starting to level that playing field was something that was really exciting.
What I’m focused on now is really trying to kick that into overdrive with the team on that side of things. And then also in my role within the LGBTQ+ network, starting to think about how we can talk more around queerness in the workplace as well.
Julia: There’s a lot in that we’re really keen to unpack. When we think about the conversation about inclusion, it’s really wonderful to have both of you on the show, so this is clearly something you think about very, very keenly. I suppose one of the questions that comes up a lot, and I’ve been doing it so much around the fifth anniversary, particularly about male role models, male inclusion, and there’s this question about space for white men as we increasingly have a discussion about race, which is for me a fascinating starting point for our discussion as well.
Simeon, I wonder if I could come to you on this first of all, about the very nature of this discussion. Is that something that you come across? And how do we pay attention to what’s going on at the moment?
Simeon: I think it’s a fantastic question. It’s something that I’ve had many conversations about within the Wealth Multicultural Network, but also across the business within which I work with some of our senior leaders and managers and people just throughout the business in general. It’s quite a delicate topic sometimes because you want to bring people along the journey with you. You don’t want to necessarily alienate anyone in that respect, but I think there are other things that we need to be paying attention to to some extent. I think somewhere there’s a bit of a red herring. I think we have seen quite a lot of progress generally. I think ultimately we’re not seeing as much of an echo chamber of the same voices and I feel like the proliferation of digital media has really helped that as well. There’s definitely more people that have a voice, which I think is fantastic.
But I think when we’re thinking about white middle-aged men becoming an increasing minority potentially, I think actually the reason why it’s a bit of a red herring is because you’ve got to focus on where the power resides. I think that’s the most important thing. I think bringing that to my role, as I say, within the Wealth Multicultural Network, I have a lot of influences within the bank. I’ve created so many things with the team around me, it’s so, so exciting, but I don’t have that final sign-off. I still have to identify which stakeholders I need to engage with to achieve that buy-in to get that sign-off. I think that’s why it’s important to think about that kind of concentration of power.
I think a multitude of voices to some extent can give an impression of an increasing minority of white men, but actually I think it’s just really important not to conflate it. I think at the heart of it, there is still very much a status quo. I think particularly when you look at financial services as well, white middle-aged men are predominantly the board members, the senior execs, the management. Whilst when you walk into the doors of a beautiful glass building, the workplace might look more diverse at a face value. It’s important to remember, I feel that racism generally is power + prejudice. So you’ve got to really think about that power element and think about the fact that actually, okay, well, yes, this is what the organisation looks like at base value, but how is that distributed across all of these different levels as well?
Julia: Let’s stay on that point because I think that’s really important. And bring in David, I’d love to hear your point of view about this because when we think about the concept of allyship and also about role models, and particularly from a white man’s perspective, where the power sits exactly as Simeon is saying is, and I talk a lot on the podcast about enlightened leadership, really keen to your thoughts about where you are seeing positive change in those positions of power to recognise what Simeon was just talking about in terms of driving change and on a wide scale.
David: I think Simeon hit on a lot around, I think the comment too around the glass buildings and this idea of when you come in and you see really who is traditionally in charge, oftentimes I like to kind of point out this idea that I really can’t stress this enough that white men are the gatekeepers in our society. Whether that’s in financial sector, whether that’s in education, whether that’s in politics, white men are the gatekeepers. So there’s always this question of what can white men be doing to open the gate? But then more importantly is asking, “Well, why is there a gate here in the first place? Who put this gate here? Does this fence even need to be here?” Because when we think about women’s suffrage, it was up to white men at some point to concede the right to vote for women in the United States. It was never up to women. Women had to fight for it and push for it, but at some point white men were in the position to actually hand over that.
Unfortunately, that has been the status quo on so many elements of power in society across the board. That is essentially what colonialism is and so many levels of it’s just consolidated power. Especially in the financial management sector, when we look at say even institutions like philanthropy, that is wealth that has been amassed, accumulated, and then is being distributed as white men see fit just to call a spade a spade. That has started to shift, and fortunately obviously we’re seeing a much higher presence of LGBTQ folks coming into this industry as well as women, but we’re still lacking a lot on folks of colour.
If you think about even in the United States, I think it’s 1%, less than 1% are Indigenous folks when it comes to the financial sector as far as philanthropy is concerned, which is kind of abhorrent when you consider that all of the wealth and the entire country itself was owned by those people. So what is it then that has allowed that for white men to get in that place? It was taking it. I think we ultimately need white men to be acknowledging their role as the gatekeepers and to really think about what it’s going to take to actually physically start to get out of the way when it comes to these practises of hoarding.
I think that just to give a couple examples, there’s different folks. You’ve got people who are in political leadership or influence and that is one type, it’s somebody saying, “Here I am as a leader, what can I do to actually lead for change?” Then you’ve got white men who are specifically committed to DE&I work like myself, where it’s really about leading other white folks on this journey and having these conversations and going into organisations and helping some of these leaders recognise that. But you’ve also got everyday white men. These are folks who just work within any organisation or just in any situation where they are in a position, such as myself, to leverage an opportunity to name something, to call something out, to bring something to the table that maybe say a person of colour or somebody who is marginalised in any identity simply cannot because their voice will not be heard, it will not be received, it will not be listened to.
Julia: Simeon, I’m really keen to hear your thoughts on this.
Simeon: I completely agree with what David’s talking about in terms of gatekeepers. I think some of the things you were saying about, “Look, does the fence even need to be here?” I think is totally right. I think ultimately you do need to make space for other people. I had someone speak about this actually in a conversation that I was having with a group the other day and someone was talking about the fact that it’s someone else’s turn to eat. And I think that’s a really good kind of phrase in terms of thinking about the fact that well, the status quo has been maintained at this level for generations and generations, and structures have been in place to oppress people and to keep people in a certain position and to keep people actually silent for generations and generations, so it definitely is someone else’s turn to eat.
I think, coming full circle, I guess back to something that I mentioned at the beginning though, whilst I think I entirely agree with everything that David has said, I think sometimes you also have to be relatively delicate with it. The reason why I say that is because of what I was saying about bringing people along on the journey. Some things need to be said, some conversations need to be had in a really unadulterated way and frankly to be honest, to get that message across. But sometimes it’s also thinking about what the bigger goal is here and actually what David was talking about in terms of white people and white men specifically being a part of solving the problem. In order to do that, you’ve got to have someone on your side as well, so that’s what I’d add.
David: One thing that I really think that Simeon’s touching on is this idea of really decentering whiteness and decentering the patriarchy is really important when it comes to how we have these conversations and how do we start to remove the central voice and the central position as always being given to white men.
Julia: I really feel we can have an entire podcast on this very conversation, but listen, I want to take full advantage of having you both on the show because you have such complimentary but also slightly different points of view. And it’s something you mentioned earlier, Simeon, the conversation about being queer in the industry and the LGBTQ+ point of view as well. And as listeners will know I am an openly gay woman in the city, I’ve had my journey as well. I’m really keen to hear your thoughts about how things are evolving from your point of view in terms of how people identify within the industry and also what you see organisations doing to make their firms safe spaces to be?
Simeon: From my perspective, within the business that I’m in, I do a lot of work on the ground within the network. And whilst sometimes it’s quite hard to collate some of the hard data around numbers across the business due to regulation around special categories of personal data, etc., there’s a lot of work that’s done in terms of taking the pulse or the temperature as to how people are feeling, where people are voluntarily declaring what their sexuality is or gender identity, etc. But I think one of the things that I noticed along with the team that I work with is around a part of the population within the business that quite prefer not to say. And I think to your question around making organisations safe spaces to be out, for me that would suggest as though not necessarily exclusively, but there might be a part of the population who don’t necessarily feel as though that they can bring their full selves to work.
I think that that creates a concern, that creates an opportunity obviously for change to happen as well and engagement, but I think there’s definitely something that needs to be done there, I think. But I think there is change. I think there are an increasing amount of people more widely outside of the business, externally across the industry, that are more comfortable bringing their full selves work in terms of their queerness. I think it’s also generational as well. I was reading Stonewall’s Rainbow Britain report, which came out in 2022, and it talked about I think it’s 71% of Gen Z identifying as straight versus 91% of baby boomers. So there is definitely a degree of change there to some extent, where people might not feel though that they need to necessarily suppress their sexuality or their gender identity to the same extent.
But equally we don’t live in a perfect world. I think organisations have started to do a lot more and are doing a lot more, whether that be in terms of policies, whether that be not supporting pride in a way which is extremely surface level, to be honest. I think all you have to do is take a look at social media during the month of June to see lots of things which seem very gimmicky and very performative in terms of their support for the community. I think a lot of organisations are starting to go deeper, but we’re just not quite there yet. And maybe we can touch upon this in a moment as well, but we’ve just got to get a little bit deeper as well. I think that’s one of the things that I’m trying to do as well in order to make our organisation a safer space for people to be out, for people not to want to put that quote, unquote, “Prefer not to say” and it’s about making space for talking about queerness.
I think we have less issues speaking about what it means to be gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, etc. But I think what people sometimes within our business struggle with is the idea of queerness. I actually used the word with someone the other day and they flinched. Now, they’re a little bit older than me, they come from a different generation where actually that word was used as a slur, but obviously there’s a conversation to be had there around that word being repurposed, that word actually being power within the LGBT community as well, and actually that being an umbrella term.I think there’s a fantastic quote that Bell Hooks talks about queerness not about being around who you have sex with, but it being about the self that’s at odds with everything around it.
I found that beautiful and it’s about that self-finding space to kind of thrive and be happy really.
I think it’s about reframing that in terms of organisations, but I think there’s a lot more to be done around language. That work has started, but I think what organisations need to do is encourage difference in their policies, is encourage individuality, and most of all I think be critical. For me, this is where the next phase comes in and coming full circle back to what I said in terms of what I’m focusing on this year is questioning what we deem to be normal, or neutral, or professional. Deconstructing those ideas there I think is very important, and that feeds into a tonne of things, dress code being an example as well, which feeds into all of that sort of stuff. That’s what I would say around how institutions are trying to make those organisations safe spaces to be out.
Julia: It’s really fascinating listening to you talk because I sort of have this other frame in my mind of other discussions I’ve been having about the power of intersectionality when we begin to look at other networks and other lived experiences. It’s an interesting question and I wondered, David, if I could put this to you, which is if you began to think about it in terms of parallels, if you took the experience of a white gay man versus a heterosexual man from an ethnic minority, what could we learn?
David: I think there’s a lot to learn when we look at parallels of oppression. I think especially when it’s taken from this insider/outsider model is one thing you oftentimes heard in the DE&I industry. Also, I hate that term, just DE&I and industry, those things shouldn’t be sandwiched together. This is heart work, not head work, but it’s not, so I just want to name that. There are certainly parallels when it comes to being an outsider, period, in the sense of not being able to show up as one’s authentic self, not really knowing if people are on your side, if people have your back, if people are judging you, if people are labelling you. Those are all very true things for anybody who is marginalised or put in positions as an outsider. I do want to be careful though just to say that there is definitely something different about how somebody, say a white man, is going to show up in terms of what parts of themselves they maybe can disclose more or less of, say than a person of colour coming into a workspace.
That’s not a matter of disclosure, that’s them being perceived as whoever they are in that physical realm. And so there is that one piece I want to name. But that said, I do think that it’s really a powerful leverage point for white men to start to build that empathy and compassion in those spaces, particularly when you have folks who do end up in pretty powerful positions. Especially in the US, there are a lot of gay men, a lot of queer men, a lot of bisexual men who are in very powerful roles in the financial sector who have made top living, top earning, and are embraced and accepted. That said, there’s certainly still so much stigma and so much attachment. I think it’s not a coincidence that in the United States, same-sex marriage and interracial marriage are being talked about on the same political ballot and the same bills. I mean, and this is the 21st century and we’re still at a point where those things are almost being used interchangeably in how they’re being analysed.
To me that speaks a lot to how that is evaluated and looked at in the workplace as the sense as there is still an old boys club, there’s still the boys club, and how people show up in heteronormative, cisgender elements of whether it’s you go play golf on the weekends or you go out to the bar after work. There are certain elements that whether you’re a woman, a person of colour, or somebody who identifies as queer, it’s not going to feel as safe or welcoming to be a part of or be thrust into those situations or scenarios where you just don’t know how other people are perceiving you and what parts of yourself you’re really able to share and be transparent about.
Julia: Simeon, would you like to come in here?
Simeon: I’d love to because I think that was a fantastic point. I think particularly around the old boys club, I think that’s something which is obviously very much the financial services as an industry particularly in the UK, has that history to it. I think to some extent we’ll get to a better place when people don’t necessarily feel that they need to conform to that standard necessarily. And I think actually to some degree, some people might feel that they need to be more palatable or have a closer proximity to being towards that status quo in order to be able to fit, in order to be able to progress within an organisation and generally within an industry.
I think that ties into this idea of heteronormativity as well. A lot of queer people don’t live a heteronormative lifestyle necessarily, and actually I think we’ll get to a much better place in the future where that difference, that individuality, is accepted and actually you don’t necessarily need to live a heteronormative lifestyle. You could be someone who is gender nonconforming in a polyamorous relationship, and actually that’s not going to be something which is going to completely other you from any sort of discussions and any kind of rooms which actually might be really fruitful for your progression in the future.
Julia: I have to say this is an incredibly thoughtful conversation and it’s really helpful hearing both your points of view, but also where they align and also where they differ. I think this is a great moment to bring in our colleague, Cynthia Akinsanya, for some research to support today’s discussion.
Cynthia: In the 2021 Financial Times article on workplace diversity and equity, the FT analysed anonymised data on the demographics of 3.6 million staff across 13,000 financial services employers in the US from 2007 to 2018. Black staff accounted for 13% of all financial staff and are the sector’s biggest ethnic minority, but in the most senior jobs they are the only demographic whose share fell from 2007 to 2018. The drop is from 2.87% to 2.62%. The research was conducted before the pandemic, so it will be interesting to see what the updated research will be.
Julia: Thanks as always to Cynthia for the research and let’s just take a few moments, if I may, to remind everybody how to find the DiverCity Podcast. And the links to research could be found on our website, which is divercitypodcast.com, where you can find all our episodes and sign up for early notifications of future recordings. Do also sign up for our newsletter, De&I That’s Caught Our Eye, where we share news stories and updates so you can stay on top of what’s current. Please do follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And DiverCity Podcast is available on BrightTALK, Spotify, and all good podcast channels wherever you get your podcast.
By the way, we’d love a rating. We’re so proud that we are a five star-rated show because it does help to extend our reach and also to support our guests.
I’m really keen if we could just pivot the conversation slightly. And I’m really curious, get your thoughts on what we think the future of work looks like. We’ve recognised that a number of women have left the industry of late and in this whole conversation about male patriarchy and then also the seats of power, etc., I’d love to get your thoughts on what do you predict for the future? David, coming to you first if you would.
David: I think that we are at a precipice right now. I think we’re at a very delicate state where a lot of the traction, a lot of the power, a lot of the rights that have been gained, especially for when we look at women in the workplace, are potentially being compromised right now by especially what we saw in the pandemic and how many women have left the workforce not by choice. To me, I see the future as if we do not have more white men serving as not just allies but co-conspirators, which really means the difference of just showing up when it’s convenient versus showing up when there’s risk involved and actually advocating and leveraging, we are at the potential of really stalling out in the work that’s being done around diversity, equity, inclusion in all spaces, and especially in the financial sector, especially in any, I’ll say education as well.
There are a lot of spaces where it is paramount right now that white men start listening, that white men start showing up, that white men are pushing back because the other side, so to speak, is more than happy to start chipping away all the progress that’s been gained. So while I would like to tie it up in a bow and say, “Progress is progress and we’re going to keep moving forward,” backlash is very common, pendulum swings very hard. And so my biggest concern here is that it’s going to take people who have something to lose, such as white men or folks in powerful positions, to really start advocating, showing up, speaking up, and listening if we’re going to hold on to a lot of the traction that we gained in equal rights. I really want to name that piece in terms of just the future is open based on the actions that everyone takes. The future is open based on the actions that we are all taking right now.
Julia: Simeon, let’s get your thoughts on this as well, if you would.
Simeon: Absolutely. I completely agree, to be honest, I like the word that you used, David, about us being on a precipice. To be honest, I’m a bit worried to be quite frank because you see post pandemic and you have certain businesses just effectively forcing employees to go back to work five days a week. And when we’re thinking about women in the workplace, we know that that’s disproportionately going to affect them. I think businesses need to be thinking about equal parental leave, flexible working, childcare costs, the gender pay gap, things like that. And I think ultimately we need to be having those thoughts, otherwise we’re going to get to a state where the male patriarchy is just going to get entrenched even further.
I think as a result, we need to be acting intentionally. Similarly, to draw just a slight parallel with climate change as well, we all need to be acting intentionally in order to make change there. And I think it’s the same here, otherwise we could get to a state where actually we do start going backwards. And given how politically polarised the world is right now, it’s a real possibility.
Julia: As we navigate these economically challenging times, we are concerned that possibly DE&I may well fall down the corporate agenda. And I’d love to hear your compelling reasons as we leave the show if you were to see us out about why this absolutely must remain high. Simeon, coming to you first.
Simeon: It’s not just because it’s the right thing to do, it’s not just because it’s good and there’s data that shows that diversity and inclusion leads to a more successful business generally it needs to remain at the top of the agenda, quite frankly because human inclination would be for it to sit down the agenda, people will end up prioritising different things. And without someone being intentional in their actions in terms of trying to reinforce that at all levels of an organisation. Quite frankly, because we live in a capitalist world, it will fall down the agenda and therefore it’s about making sure that it’s within all of the actions that we do in the training that goes on within an organisation, and then it’s actually part of the culture ultimately. Without that, I think similar to what we were saying about women in the workplace, it is something that can fall down the agenda and there could be a sense of inertia there, so we’ve really got to be intentional and proactive about it.
Julia: David, same question to you. Building on Simeon’s remarks there, why must this remain high?
David: There’s a quote that I really love by the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, where he talks about that it is no measure of sanity to be adjusted to a profoundly sick society. And I think that that really speaks to me in the sense of where we are currently at, the status quo is not sustainable. We are not living in a healthy society, we are not living in a society that has compassion, empathy, humanity, and humility at its centre. And when it comes to our industries, it is going to continue to prioritise the wealth and benefit of some at the suffering of others. And if we don’t actively push DE&I to the front of that, we are going to continue to see a hierarchical oppressive system.
Julia: It’s been a fantastic conversation. David Goldenkranz, thank you so much for being with us today.
David: Thank you, Julia. It’s been a great honour to be here.
Julia: Simeon Greaves, thank you so much for your time and all your insights.
Simeon: Thank you, Julia. It’s been absolutely fantastic to have the opportunity to have that conversation.
Julia: And as always, to all our listeners, thank you so much for listening in and you’ve been listening to DiverCity Podcast. See you again very soon.
Cynthia: This episode of Diversity Podcast was produced by Roshan Roberts on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. You can find out more about the guests from this week’s show on our website. That’s www.divercitypodcast.com. That’s DiverCity with a C and not an S. Whilst you are there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates. All our episodes are available in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcast app. If you enjoy DiverCity Podcast, remember to share on social media and give us a rating or review. And finally, our Twitter handle is @DiverCityPod. Thanks for listening.