On this episode of Yahoo Finance Presents, Jimmy Etheredge, Accenture North America CEO and Emmanuel Acho, Former NFL Player, speak with Yahoo Finance's Andy's Serwer at the Milken Global Conference 2021 on the issue of the covid pandemic disproportionately affecting women in the workforce. This economic era has been dubbed the “shecession” and companies are exploring ways to help women return to work. They also discuss tackling racial and social injustice, as well as the wealth gap.
ANDY SERWER: All right, I'm here with Jimmy Etheredge, Accenture CEO for North America, and of course Emmanuel Acho, former NFL player and author. So these two guys do a podcast together. And I'm going to start off by asking you about that, Emmanuel, tell us about your podcast.
EMMANUEL ACHO: Yeah, the podcast Changed Conversations. It's really just a authentic real dialogue that Jimmy and I host to really drive change around finance, around the workplace, around culture in the work space, around sexism in the workplace. Any issue that is not often talked about enough, Jimmy and I just try to tackle in real, authentic, transparent, vulnerable, and humble ways. I've learned a lot over the course of it, and hopefully the listeners have as well.
ANDY SERWER: And Jimmy, how did you guys get connected?
JIMMY ETHEREDGE: Well, I read the book, right? And if you haven't, you know, Emmanuel has a fantastic book, "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black man." And I'm somebody that's done a lot of work with clients, where awkward and uncomfortable conversations are how you make progress. And so I was really looking for the opportunity to tackle some of these topics from mental health, to gender diversity, to race, and-- and really to look at it not just through a corporate lens but entertainment, sports, non-profit, government. And so Emanuel has been a fantastic partner for that.
- So obviously, after the murder of George Floyd, a year ago, May, and others, there is an outpouring of concern from corporate America. And I want to start with you Jimmy, is this legitimate, and is this sustainable?
JIMMY ETHEREDGE: You know, I hear people a lot of times talking about, you know, how do we take this moment and-- and really make it a movement? You know, looking-- as someone who always looks for silver linings where I can, I do think that it has transformed the way corporations are looking at race, and they are leaning in.
And you know, a lot of companies, ourselves included, had set objectives, you know, we're going to measure what our representation of people of color are in our leadership ranks as well as amongst our employees. But I think now what you're seeing is even more effort to let people bring their authentic self to work, which means you've got to talk about what's happening outside the four walls of work. And it was one of the things that really struck me from one of my Black leaders, who, you know, the day after the George Floyd murder, comes in and it's just dead silence. No one's talking about it at work. It's like, if I can't talk about it at work, I can't be myself.
ANDY SERWER: Emmanuel, what about you, how real is the response from corporate America?
EMMANUEL ACHO: I think that varies depending upon the corporation, dependent upon what aspect of America. When I first sat down with Jimmy, true story, we're sitting down and we're dialoguing, and we're getting to know each other, breaking bread if you will. And he seems so natural, like there was a figure of speech that he used. I forget what phrase. I forget what he--
JIMMY ETHEREDGE: Code shift.
EMMANUEL ACHO: Yes, code-- code switching, code shifting. And I said-- I paused. I said, wait a second, Jimmy. How do you know what code shifting is? How you know what code switching is? And he was like, I've been talking to my Black colleagues, my Black peers, my Black coworkers. And I said that's when I knew it was real.
A lot of people in corporations, a lot of leaders, Andy, have dialogue and they do things just for action's sake, just to check a box. But there are certain leaders, and Jimmy in particular, not even to toot his own horn, but rather just there are certain corporations, certain leaders where you know this isn't just for show, this is serious.
ANDY SERWER: What are some of the biggest challenges you've seen, Emanuel, when it comes to corporations getting it. You know, you talk about box checking performative stuff, other than that.
EMMANUEL ACHO: The biggest challenge and it's so very simple is putting yourself in someone else's shoes so you can actually get it. If you don't ever step in someone else's shoes, Andy, I've realized then you might hear them but you don't understand them, right?
There's a difference between listening, and hearing, and understanding. A lot of America's listening, but not a lot of America's understanding. So I think the biggest challenge is understanding what is the plight that women are going through? What is the plight that people of color are going through? Not just hearing the statistics, not just 5 million women lost their jobs over the course of the pandemic, but why? And understanding the why and doing something about it.
ANDY SERWER: Yeah, I wanna drill down on that women piece that Emanuel just talked about. You're two men but you're concerned about women in the workplace as well, Jimmy.
JIMMY ETHEREDGE: Yeah, well-- I mean, the way I see it, every business right now needs as much talent as they can get. It needs as much creativity and innovation, which all of our research shows is linked to how diverse your team is. And women have been adversely affected even more than men by this pandemic. I saw a recent study, 5.3 million women lost their jobs or have left the workforce. And so I've heard the term the "Great She-cession." It's too much of a tongue twister to make it into popular culture, I can assure you that. But how do we get women back into the workforce?
And you know, one of the things that we're doing, we're partnering with Future View, an AI platform that enables organizations that need talent to have women who are out of the workforce, who are able to put their skills in, their adjacent skills. And this platform will help match them up with job opportunities outside of the industries that they are in, outside of the functions that they've been in. So I think this is an area that technology can help bring women back into the workforce.
ANDY SERWER: And Emmanuel, let me ask you about inequality when it comes to income and wealth. And what role can you guys play there, how can you guys move the needle when it comes to that problem?
EMMANUEL ACHO: First things first, I think is exposure. I'm like-- when I heard the numbers, some of the statistics that Jimmy just mentioned, my jaw hits the floor, right? $1 trillion you're talking about in loss of wages from women, talking about there is a 10 year regression period from where we have come from to where we were going because of COVID.
5 million women who have lost or left their jobs as opposed to 4 million men, that's an additional million. First off, the numbers have to be known. But they can only be known if they're told. And after that, now there has to be action. It's not enough to just talk about it, but what are we going to do about it? And I think the biggest point we have to make in society is going from hearing, from understanding, which I just spoke of, to now, what can we do about it? Enough complaining about problems, let's put our energy toward solutions.
JIMMY ETHEREDGE: Yeah, I mean, I totally agree. The problem is well documented. We need to move from optics to outcomes. And if I borrow-- you know, we had Cynt on here, CEO of Dallas Mavericks. And one of the things that she shared was her view is, diversity is about being asked to the dance. Inclusion is about being asked to dance. And I think that's the key thing for corporations today is not just the representation numbers, it's how are you really changing your leadership ranks and developing people to grow their careers.
ANDY SERWER: All right, we're going to have to let you guys go. Before I do that though, can you flash a little of that, like UT stuff going on here Emmanuel.
EMMANUEL ACHO: I'm always representing the alma mater.
ANDY SERWER: For you Longhorns out there.
EMMANUEL ACHO: At all times.
ANDY SERWER: Do we have any Georgia Tech linings here?
JIMMY ETHEREDGE: I do not.
EMMANUEL ACHO: Wrong suit, Jimmy. Wrong suit. Always wear the Georgia Tech one
ANDY SERWER: It is an opportunity missed. Emmanuel Acho, Jimmy Etheredge, thank you so much for joining us today.
JIMMY ETHEREDGE: Thank you Andy, appreciate it.