Creating a Culture of Belonging | Work Done Right™ With Stanley Kazibwe

In this thought-provoking episode of the Work Done Right podcast, join us as we delve into the world of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) with our special guest, Stanley Kazibwe. As an experienced DEI&B industry leader, Stanley shares his insights on creating a culture where diversity thrives, as well as the challenges that come along with it.  
Stanley emphasizes the importance of psychological safety when promoting change within an organization. Throughout the conversation, you’ll learn about the significance of tying DEI&B initiatives to an organization’s values and business case, while also learning strategies to reach and engage individuals at all levels. Get ready for valuable takeaways on fostering inclusive cultures and making a lasting impact in your organization.

About Stanley

Stanley is the Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Manager for Cheniere, where he focuses on increasing corporate involvement in DEI&B programs for the betterment of the local communities, the company, their customers, and all other global stakeholders. Prior to joining Cheniere, Stanley worked for US Steel Corporation, Bechtel, and Black & Decker. 
Through his positive attitude, driven mentality. and genuine respect for everyone around him, Stanley is able to dramatically impact the culture of an organization. 

Top 3 Episode Takeaways

  1. A program to support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEI&B) is important for any organization. Stanley emphasizes the significance of creating a work environment where individuals feel included, valued, and have a sense of belonging. When employees feel a psychological connection to the organization, they are more likely to contribute to better outcomes. 

  2. A strategic implementation in DEI&B efforts requires patience.  When implementing DEI&B initiatives, consider various aspects such as user interface, language accessibility, and recruitment practices to create a more diverse and inclusive organization. It’s essential to listen, learn, and understand the cultural dynamics and stakeholders of the organization before developing strategies aligned with the organization’s values and goals.
  3. Meeting people with grace and understanding promotes progress. Different individuals have different levels of understanding about diverse backgrounds. Stanley encourages extending grace and recognizing that not everyone has the same level of knowledge or experience. By creating a psychologically safe environment where people don’t feel judged, you can help individuals learn how to be more inclusive and close that gap.

Episode Highlight

“If we have a team and for example, one person tends to speak all the time and others don’t get a chance to speak. The way you implement psychological safety is say, hey, let’s look at it in an inclusive manner, show respect, and make sure you ask for the diversity of thought.   
As a leader, it’s incumbent upon you to do these things, right? So by doing that, then you bring forth new ideas. Then you’re also helping lift up some of these best ideas you may get from that individual that doesn’t tend to speak up or whatever, right?   
So you’ve enabled and empowered that individual. And what you’ve then created is a psychological safe space. And that’s the culture which you need if you’re trying to, for example, have this effective safety program where people speak up, where people at least ask.  
People take a pause if they’re not sure of something or whatever, right? And then that’s how you’ve helped improve the inclusivity of the organization. You’ve helped create the psychologically safe space. 
And you also tend to make things safer because then people will also be in a space where they can talk about, for example, potential mishaps or situations that could have happened and then you can sort of do root cause analysis. 
But all this goes to the safety. So if the organization’s reason for being is core value of safety, this is how you’ve brought some concept of psychological safety. You’ve embedded in sort of like the elements of inclusion and other things of diversity of thought on different ways of doing things, different way of doing something safer into that conversation.” 

Episode Transcript

Wes Edmiston:  

Stanley, welcome to the show.  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

Wes, thank you so much for having me. You honor me with that eloquent introduction. Like to think of myself as the global diversity, equity, inclusions conductor. So we have a great orchestra at Cheniere Energy Inc.  

Where I currently am recently joined. There, for the purpose of this conversation, we’ll be speaking more just in general about some of the experiences that I had previously and some of the things bringing over here.  

But it’s a great organization, man. I’m currently at and glad to be here and hopefully I can just provide some insights just from having been fortunate to be in this space and serve and work alongside great friends and former colleagues like yourself as well.  

So I’m looking forward to it.  


Wes Edmiston:  
Well, I’m looking forward to the conversation as well. It’s great talking with you again and thank you again for agreeing to do this to kind of dive right into some of this stuff.  

I think that we’ve all heard a lot. About DEI and CSR, and now there’s even a b at the end of Dei. But I don’t know if everybody fully understands what these terms mean, what these programs are, and what somebody like yourself does.  

Can you explain a little bit about just kind of that in that context?  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

Yeah, Wes, I’m glad to. So some of the terms you use DEI & B. So diversity, equity, inclusion, and then now belonging, CSR, ESG as well, environmental, social and governance.  

So there’s a lot of terminology and acronyms that are thrown around. What I always like to tell people, it’s basically like someone in my role, like I said earlier, I am a conductor, so it’s not one person or one team thing.  

It’s sort of like inherited in a lot of organizations culture, like safety, right? So safety is something that permeates throughout an organization, the physical and the psychological safety, right? This concept of like, you can’t work safe if you don’t feel safe.  

And so feeling safe is more like the mental, neurological. And there’s a lot of studies around this from Dr. Amy Edmondson from Harvard who sort of coined that phrase. So, same thing with diversity, equity, inclusion.  

I always tell people, all of us want to work in an organization where you feel included, where it’s diverse, diversity of thoughts and then obviously equitable organization. Then you want to feel like you belong in the organization because if you feel like you have psychological connection to the organization, you feel like it’s a work family, it’s a team, you’re more likely to produce better outcomes, better bottom line outcomes react.  

So tying it back to the business strategy and why it’s important. So that’s sort of like what the high level terminology is. Some of it obviously has gotten more it’s been more pronounced, I think, post 2020 with all the fortunate things happen to George Floyd.  

But thing I always try to rhyme individuals like this started way before because again, we as a people have always tried to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive. So it’s something that maybe has gotten a lot more pronounced over the past couple of years, but it’s something any owner organization has probably been doing in some way, shape or form, and some folks don’t know it.  

So what we try to do is try to help raise awareness and bring light to you, to what it is and help dispel some myths about what it’s not as well.  


Wes Edmiston:  

That’s a great way of kind of contextualizing even what exactly it is that you guys are doing.  

So I greatly appreciate that. You know, something that kind of stands you out as opposed to maybe somebody else in some of these fields is you’ve done this at scale and you’ve been doing these styles of programs for years.  

Is there anything in your experience that you’ve done that you’ve seen, that you’ve implemented that others can look to maybe as a model? And can you just kind of walk through a bit of your experience through this process?  


Stanley Kazibwe: 

So, Wes, one thing I always first tell this to all folks. There’s no one who has monopoly on knowledge or expertise in this space. I think the moment anyone says they’re an expert in SME in this space, that’s a red flag, right?  

Because we’re all continuously learning and it’s continuous evolvement and we’re all in this journey together. B it takes all of us collectively. Like, there’s this famous saying about the Ubuntu, so it takes all of us, it takes a village to help move an organization and change a culture.  

Now, that being said, you do have tactical, strategic elements you bring in. So there you may have individual or team that really is like tactically from a day to day operational responsible for. So that’s what my current role, I do, and over the years, what I’ve done before.  

And I think what I’ve brought to this role, again, through the experiences with back to organization Vector Corporation, as well as a U.S. Steel and other roles, is really sort of like that project management and bringing that strategic, thoughtful thinking on how do you implement.  

That tactical day to day, whether it’s short term and long term, because you have to look at, okay, there’s low hanging fruit things you can do, right? So it could be something as simple as looking at visuals on an organization.  

A lot of times if you go to a company’s website, that’s the first gateway and that’s the first thing the user interface, that’s the first thing people see about an organization. So if you’re a diverse organization and you say you are, but then someone Googles in this day and age with this, with all these devices that we all have, and I go on and I see the layout of your organization, if it doesn’t reflect what I’m hearing, well, that’s the first thing we need to change, right?  

So just the user interfacing. So something as subtle as that. But you have to do that in a thoughtful, methodic way. If you have global organization, you have to be mindful of, hey, we have a diverse candidate slate.  

So there’s going to be something if you have speak like different languages, are there ways you can make that accessible to those who speak different languages? You may have individuals who you need to change like the phonetic and other things of that nature.  

So that way those who are differently able may be able to access the information in different ways, right? So those are just two examples and then even some of the recruiting and other things. So when you go to that website again, if I’m a veteran, for example, and I’m trying to understand how my skill set transfers to this organization, patient do you have links?  

Do you have you set up programs to help address that need? Right? So all this myriad of things are just from that simple example. You have to really make sure it’s structured, it’s well thought through and it’s implemented before you sort of go live right, go on Main Street as it were.  

And so that’s some of the things that someone in my field will bring that strategic thought and focus to it then working with different individuals and then you’d work with your It colleagues, you’d work with maybe your talent acquisition and or other individuals.  

You’d work with different groups. Like if you have a veteran employee resource group ERG or business resource group to maybe help understand how do we then best put that role or highlight that we are vet friendly organization.  

So just in hoping that little snippet that’s why you need someone who sort of is the conductor of the orchestra but then you work with different parts of the business to help bring that to fruition.  


Wes Edmiston:  

I’d be curious, Stanley, to hear a bit more about how it is that you got into this into this doing this role.  

I know you have a background in supply chain management. You have an MBA from Rice, right? 


Stanley Kazibwe:  

I did, yeah. That’s right, yeah.  


Wes Edmiston:  

So you have an MBA from Rice. So with that and then you got into to all things supply chain management. So how did you kind of gravitate toward these positions or how did you get started in this role?  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

So let’s see. So post-MBA there really knows. But I go back to my new heritage is East Africa, Uganda, the original Wakanda, as they like to call it, right? I’m probably going to say I came to the States many, many years ago when I was a younger lad.  

And I’ve always been passionate about people and culture, just from growing up, just from my experiences, having family all over the world, having a friend group that looks like the United Nations. So even from a time I was a young lad, I was always fascinated about people and culture.  

Read a lot of books, I still do. So I’ve always been just fascinated about different places around the world in 80 Days, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, all those things tell to cities, all these things.  

And so the Jungle Book. So just history. So that just took my mind all around the world and just understanding people and culture. So I’ve always been passionate about that. Second thing is, so as I started working various roles I had so my first job out of college was working with Stanley Black and Decker DeWalt.  

Obviously I heard all the Stanley jokes, hey, your name is Stanley, you work for DeWalt. If I had a coin for everything, I’d be rich, right? But I digress. But I did that. So it was in southwest Florida, the Mark Sales and marketing development program.  

And I mentioned that to say so when I moved to that region, a lot of individuals there didn’t look like me. And also one of the things we supported was NASCAR, great organization, but we take a lot of our contractors to these races.  

So when you go to these races again, a lot of the demographics weren’t similar to mine, right? But you learn how to folks and my grandparents are being able to break bread and just build let’s find the commonalities, breaking down barriers and just finding commonalities.  

And so throughout my career, whether it was there in Florida, coming back to Houston, having again this very diverse friend group, even when I was at Rice, being involved in some of the student organizations, always trying to find ways to be the bridge builder.  

Bringing disparate groups of people together just through sharing food, sharing culture subsequent to when I came to bechtel. So when I was working in all these roles, progressing from supply chain market analysts, business development, so on and so forth, to the role where we had a good fortune of meeting People Culture and Communication Lead on the Pennsylvania Chemicals Project.  

One of my big things is always around people and working with our employee resource groups, business resource groups, so you can choose a terminology interchangeably. And so one was like diversity Advisory Council, I was the vice chair for that and then I was the subsequent chair for that.  

But I was doing those things in parallel to my and this is all critical work, but I was doing that in addition to my nine to five, to use the colloquial. And so through that, I was demonstrating confidence in that while doing this.  

And so at some point the organization said, hey, you are so passionate about this, you really bring a lot of structure and stop behind this. You know how to influence colleagues because these aren’t colleagues that reported to you, but you had an influence over them.  

You’d be able to manage up laterally and as well as younger colleagues or newer colleagues. And so let’s create this role for you. And that was the People Culture and Communication Lead role, which I had on the they were able to serve in that role on the Pennsylvania Chemicals Project from 2019 to 2021 till I departed and went to an organization, US steel.  

And then there I was, the diversity equity inclusion business partner for the organization.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Well, I will say that in the role that you served at PennChem, you did an excellent job there. So anybody that was there, I believe that they would definitely agree.  

You really do a good job of really personifying and living through that idea of, as you were saying, kind of breaking bread with anybody, really expanding out and being interested in all different cultures and ideas and types of people and just bringing everybody together.  

You do a great job of really personifying that and living practicing what you preach. So I commend you with that. I’d be curious to hear what sort of challenges you experience going into different organizations and maybe even whether it’s a current role, a past role, what you’ve heard from counterparts in other organizations.  

What sort of challenges do people meet when implementing a DEI-based program within an organization?  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

So, as I heard from a great mentor one time, still folks at an organization called KentLA Organization, phenomenal Organization, Bill Redmond, Kevin Berg and others, Justin Arnold Phenomenal Vigils, one of them always told me, don’t be afraid to go slow, to go fast.  

So change is a hard thing to accept initially. And so it’s, don’t be afraid to go slow, to go fast. What that means basically is that you have to come in there with humility to listen and learn first, right?  

So be observant as any role is irrespective of what the role is. When you get first into these roles and all the organizations, you’re really trying to understand the cultural dynamics and who are the various stakeholders, who are the influencers in the organization, the influencers before the influencers, right.  

All this social media stuff. But it’s really trying to understand that then it’s really trying to understand, okay, what is the organization’s North Star? So what are the value of the organization? Where the organization currently and where they’re trying to get to?  

And then how do you align the overarching diversity, equal inclusion strategy around that? How do you tie it back to the business needs? Right? Because this is a good thing to do for sure, but it has to be tied into the makeup and the sinews of the organization.  

Otherwise some then look at it all this is just a one off initiative or something that’s sort of distracting or taken away from the raising the entrance, like the reason for being for the organization.  

So once you do that, you tie it to that and from there then you start putting your programs together or your strategies around that and also understanding that different organizations are going to have a different continuum, be on a different continuum on the journey.  

So what works at this place may not necessarily work at that place. Right. And being mindful of that, because you can’t try to always fit the same things in different places, there’s some parallels and there’s some things you learn in different places as you go.  

There’s some mistakes you learn along the way. You bump your head, okay, don’t do that, that won’t work. So one of the famous ones I remember is if you’re in a lunch tent of good construction professionals on a job site, for example, and you want to do survey, probably not a good idea to do that during a 30 minutes lunch period, right?  

Because I don’t care how much folks like you, you’re not more important than their food. If they’ve been there for five and a half hours, 6 hours, and they have that 30 minutes to have their meal before they go back to do the great work that they do.  

So, okay, learn that lesson, right? So maybe what are different ways I can get that same information and engage it things of that nature, but there’s just a whole myriad of things you learn. Okay, hey, we’re going to do an awareness campaign around a certain issue, around a certain cultural heritage maybe.  

Okay, is organization in a place here where people even know why we celebrate various cultural heritages? So if they don’t, then maybe okay, well, let’s start first with the crawling. It’s like just raise awareness of like, hey, there’s this heritage you celebrate for this month or this month or that month, right?  

And then from there, once people you kind of create that psychological framework and organization to celebrate these type of things, then you can do more events, you can do different things around that.  

But you can’t go from doing nothing to all of a sudden you’re doing events, you’re doing all this because then people are like, what is this? What is that? So it’s like having that sort of the awareness, the EQ, the emotional quotient and the IQ to know when to lean in a little bit more and when to sort of maybe help progress an organization along at a different pace.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Yeah, really kind of I guess being met with potential for people’s kind of cultural competence to be lower or even just the general idea that people are slow to change. So those would be some of the restrictions that you’re being met with.  

And you were saying to just kind of be mindful of it, manage them through the process and do your best to be understanding of that yourself. Right?  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

For sure. And also meet people with grace.  

So one thing I said again, like being able to break bread, but also meet people where they are.  

So just because someone is not as knowledgeable as myself or others maybe who are in this space, doesn’t mean that individual is a terrible individual or whatever. It’s just like that’s where they are on the continuum.  

So, for example, I have the utmost respect for anyone who’s in the professional construction field. I’ve never welded a thing in my life. So if someone is trying to show me how to weld, they may say, okay, hey, this is what you have to this section of pipe.  

And this section of pipe, I may be like, hold on, what is the weld? What are the different types of weld? What kind of porch do I need? What kind of mass do I need? So someone else is over here because they’re an expert in it.  

I’m over here starting gates, right? I don’t even know. Do you weld pipe? Do you weld wood? Someone’s like, of course you don’t weld wood. Right? But it’s like, oh, I didn’t know that. Right? But if one person kind of like, chuckles and says, oh my gosh, you’re a lost cause, someone knows like, you know what, actually, let me just start from the basics.  

Why do we even weld something, right? So then that person is meeting me where I am, and they see the desire to learn. Now after a year of teaching me, if I’m still in that foundation, okay, there’s maybe some other opportunities, maybe you know what?  

This isn’t for you. You know what, go do another trade or something like that, or go do something else, right? So similar in this space, too. You try to help raise awareness and meet them where they are, and then you bring them along the journey with you.  

Because then, now ideally, hopefully, they could probably be able to then teach or help others along their journey. And that’s really how you start changing a culture where it gets away from just one person or one team, one group, to really it’s embedded within the organization.  



Wes Edmiston:  

So and honestly, in all areas of life, that meeting everybody with grace and as you were also saying earlier, having that continuous learning mindset, those are two just kind of staples to kind of live by in my mind, so no, absolutely.  

And. I very much love that. One of the things you said a minute ago was when you’re implementing these programs, making sure that you are tying them back to really the business case for the organization as well, and making sure that you’re really digging.  

Down and rooting it into the organization, changing that culture rather than this kind of being a fly by night program that we’re just kind of doing for the sake of right, I guess. How do you present this program to the different stakeholders in an organization?  

And what benefits do you see a Dei program, a CSR program bringing to an organization?  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

Okay, well, first back to the point where it’s about like when you tie something to an organization’s reason for being or value, it’s much harder.  

It’s obviously an easier ask when you ask for resource, whether it’s financial, whether it’s people, whether it’s time, whatever it is, right? So example I gave is something like psychological safety, right?  

So if you’re doing an initiative around, someone could say, well, how does that tie into dei? Diversity, equity, inclusion? You could say, for example, if you’re a team, you could be whether you work in the field or in a home office, whatever it is, if you’re in a team and say you’re not hearing all the voices because ultimately with safety, we want people to stop.  

If they’re unsure, speak up. Even if I’m not sure, I may be an apprentice, I may be someone new, whatever role I’m in, I want to sort of feel like that safety, where if I’m not sure, I can ask and challenge respectfully and say, hey, maybe that thing you’re doing, is that how you’re supposed to do it?  

Is that safe? Are you tied off properly? Is that ladder supposed to be that high? Are you supposed to lean it up like that? But if I don’t have that comfort and familiarity with you to even say, hey, Wes, I’m not sure, I could be right, I could be wrong, but is that right?  

And you’re like, oh, yeah, thank you. You’re looking out for me because you care about me or whatever, right? We have a psychological safety, but now as you scale it up across a large organization, that could show up itself and manifest itself in so many different ways.  

So if we have a team and for example, one person tends to speak all the time and others don’t get a chance to speak. So if you have a team of ten, so the way you implement something like a psychological safety is like, say, hey, let’s look at it in an inclusive manner, just show respect, make sure you ask for the diversity of thought.  

And you as a leader, it’s incumbent upon you to do these things, right? So that by doing so, then you bring forth new ideas, new. Then you’re also helping lift up some of these best ideas you may get from that individual that doesn’t tend to speak up or whatever, right?  

So you’ve enabled and empowered that individual. And what you’ve then created is a psychological safe space. And that’s the culture which you need if you’re trying to, for example, have this effective safety program where people speak up, where people at least ask.  

People take a pause if they’re not sure of something or whatever, right? And then that’s how you’ve helped improve the inclusivity of the organization. You’ve helped create the psychologically safe space.  

And you also tend to make things safer because then people will also be in a space where they can talk about, for example, potential mishaps or situations that could have happened and then you can sort of do root cause analysis.  

But all this goes to the safety. So if the organization’s reason for being is core value of safety, this is how you’ve brought some concept of psychological safety. You’ve embedded in sort of like the elements of inclusion and other things of diversity of thought on different ways of doing things, different way of doing something safer into that conversation.  

And it’s going to be hard for anyone in an organization to say, you know what, no, we’re not going to support or promote this thing that’s tied to our safety or of our colleagues and our employees. And then, oh, by the way, having safer colleagues and employees then makes for them be able to do different things maybe in the community, volunteers and all these type of things, right?  

Because if I’m healthy and safe, then I can do those things, right? So then that gets into the community aspect and the CSR and those type of things, right? So from that one thing, there are so many ways you can sort of connect that and tie that back to the core thing around safety.  

That’s just one example.  


Wes Edmiston:  

And that is a great example, really, just the overall idea of kind of strengthening everybody’s voice in an organization and just promoting everybody in order to be really well, as you were saying right.  

Included in the organization, the I of the DE&I. That’s a really good way of putting it to capture this and highlight that value.  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

The fact that you asked and I feel like I’m included, I feel like I belong.  

So that’s the B as well. Right. The DE&I and B in some organizations.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Right. Yeah, definitely. When talking about this, something that’s kind of come into my mind is really something that you’re really good at that maybe other people might not have as strong of a finger on the pulse with.  

And that’s how you reach the people at the boots on the ground level. Right. You were always really, honestly just powerful with the way that you would walk through and just got to get to know everybody.  

On a project of 7000, 8000 people, seemingly everybody knew Stanley. So how is it that you have done this in the past to where you can connect with those people and promote these programs at really, the boots on the ground level and all the way through the organization?  

And what can other people do in order to be able to, you know, I guess, go off of that same model and reach those same people?  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

I think like one of the things I said to alluded to earlier was just like the humility.  

So for example, I remember on job site we were on one of the things I used to try to do as often as I could, right? Obviously we were constrained by time and other demands but I would try to get out to the field in the morning when teams were having their 06:00 a.m.  

Morning starts going through like their plan of the day and this is out in the field. So you’re working with construction teams and things of that nature but just showing up and being visible, even if I didn’t have the foggiest idea initially what was going on, just to show up.  

So I think people appreciate that. Hey, you’re here with me. Early morning. It’s times it was cold because we’re by the Ohio River, that cold frigid area, great city, but that cold weather. Or a southern boy, someone from roots in Africa.  

Like cold is not my best friend, right? Yeah. But just showing up and being there all the time, you start learning little things and people get to know you and then again maybe their walls start going down a little bit and they see it’s genuineness.  

I’m not coming here with any prejudice or anything of that nature. I’m just coming to learn, listen, ask questions. So doing that over and over then oh, hey, let me explain this to you, let me take you around, let me introduce to this person.  

So then from that you start building organic relationships. It’s not some contrived thing and this is just on the job site. When I was organization, U.S. Steel, I try to get out to the steel plants as much as I could because I also realized that again, the largest part of our colleagues were in the steel plants, right?  

So if we’re going to put these programs, initiatives together, we have to really understand the stakeholders, right? Because you have stakeholders all across organization. You may have leadership that you have to get buy in from and support from a resource standpoint.  

You have colleagues that you’re maybe influencing whether it’s an ERGs or other ways but then you have other colleagues who are on the front lines or out in the field or whatever it is right in the trenches as some would say.  

And so if we’re trying to deploy a program or initiative or effort and we haven’t engaged all the various stakeholders in different ways and how you engage different stakeholders. It’s a much easier again ask when you go to like a senior level executive and say, hey, we want to deploy this, or I think this would be the good way to go about.  

And you say, oh by the way, this is back because I talked to 1000 colleagues, or I did brought the data that shows this is something that our folks are talking to us about, they want to see in the field.  

Or you’ve talked to female colleagues and say, hey, we need maternity leave for these reasons. Oh, by the way, that actually applies to everybody, not just our female colleagues. Even though that may be some how it’s perceived in a sense, right?  

But you have folks who are single parents, they could be fathers or whatever it is, so these things like that. But you have the data and the only way you get the data is just sort of doing like the brass tax and like the old school going out, meeting, engaging and talking to people.  

Then you can triangulate information because also you may hear it from one person over here, but okay, if I’m hearing it from different people across the organization in different facets and stuff like that, then I can start making some generalizations.  

Then from there you prioritize because you can’t do all things. So you have to say what are the things back to this aperture, okay, look at what are the most going to make the most immediate impact. Something maybe we do in a different period from now.  

Other things we can do right away, right? Something could be as simple as like, hey, we just need to put on lights in this particular building because that’s going to help change the culture over here.  

Or we need to do something else, we need to maybe adjust the start times or whatever it is because some folks, because of different concerns, they couldn’t get here on these. So like there’s little things like that.  

But you only know those things by engaging and meeting people and then hopefully building that rapport with them. And then from there that leads to respect. So when you do do things, people know where you’re coming from because they know who you are, they’ve seen you and your team, they’ve engaged with you versus just something coming from on high.  

I’ve never met this person, I don’t know what they’re talking about. And now I want to do this right back to that change. So if you’re that individual who never met me, never seen me, never heard about me or my team and now you’re getting this edict like you have to do this, you’re like that’s where that resistance comes in.  

But if someone’s seen you, they’ve heard of you, they’ve talked to you, they’ve broken bread with you, they’re like, oh, you know what, I know where Stan is coming from. And if I have a question, I can ask.  

He’s receptive or she’s receptive. Then it makes it that much easier to accomplish that change you’re trying to do for the organization’s benefit.  


Wes Edmiston:  

You know, something that’s kind of jumping out of me that as we’re talking and even, you know, I’ll be honest, I have more that I can learn in this space.  

I have more that I can learn in, honestly, any space. I don’t think that I’m necessarily professional or really the subject matter expert in any one domain, but something that you said that’s extremely simple.  

But I think really well what a DE&I program is. And you said something so small as changing a light bulb over here that can change the culture of this area. Right? I don’t think that most people would think of that as something that falls within the domain of DE&I.  

But really, I think what I’m hearing out of that is just listening to people, right? Listening to people. What is it that you need? What have you been asking for so that you can have your voice be heard and to really strengthen that idea of really being included, of that belonging aspect, which, again, strengthens that culture, the entirety of the culture of the organization.  

Which is funny, because it’s kind of like that light bulb moment for me, realistically, in all of this, which is hilarious, because we’re talking about changing a light bulb, right? But I don’t know if most people would ever think that something so small as, hey, changing a light bulb in an area would be part of a DE&I program.  

But I think that just goes to show that a DE&I program really is about top down, strengthening the culture of an organization. Would you agree with that? 


Stanley Kazibwe: 

Yes. Top down, bottom up, and it’s in the middle.  

But the reason I said, like, that light bulb because that could be you may have a part of like a facility or location where, hey, all the lights are on over there, but why aren’t our light bulbs on? Oh, and it could be deeper rooted.  

It could be like they’re not on because you’re from this region or you look like this background or whatever. So that simple thing for that affected group has helped improve the culture for them and now it’s made them all it’s equitable across their organs station right.  

So you could have, again, individuals that have different biases and things like that. So you help that group by addressing this immediate concern. Something as simple as putting bulbs, whatever it is, like putting toast, whatever, microwaves, whatever it is, something as simple as that.  

Changing out. The nothing we did is like just providing when you had, like, the restroom facilities, enabling all colleagues of all genders to sort of have the same time and these different things. Not on that project, but other previous projects.  

Right. But things like that. You have to meet people and engage with them to hear their concerns, because everyone has different everyone has different things that are impacting them, and it’s a big challenge for them.  

And so once you do that, you solve that one problem over here, then you solve this problem over here. That’s how you start creating a culture where it’s like, hey, people speak up. They have that psychological safety, they voice concerns, whatever it is.  

And that’s when you can start getting into some of the things around, hey, the reason we’re doing this is not to diminish or to say you’re less than or you’re holding down one group. It’s really like we’re trying to create this environment where all of us feel welcome, all of us feel appreciated.  

All of us feel like, hey, we can bring our authentic, true selves to this organization, which then leads to that great cultural change that we’re all trying to aspire for.  


Wes Edmiston: 

Oh, absolutely. It’s actually something I was recently listening to an audiobook by Ginni Rometti.  

It’s called Good Power. It recently just came out last week, at least as of the time of this recording.  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

Was it former CEO of IBM or is it intel? IBM.  


Wes Edmiston:   

That is correct. Yeah, IBM. Yeah, you’re absolutely correct.  

And in the book, she actually goes on and starts talking about competence does not equal what was it? Capacity. Right. Because not everybody with capacity has equal access to the forms of learning. Right.  

So just taking that, like you were saying earlier, right hand, meet everybody with grace in this situation. And I know in our past, working together, our organizations worked really to give back to the local community.  

And there were several initiatives in order to contribute to the outer line community around the facility. Is there anything that you would like to highlight for ways that companies and people inside of these organizations, organizations, can give back to their local communities?  

Something maybe you’ve done with, maybe something you’ve done in your past or something that you’ve seen?  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

Yeah, real quick on that confidence thing. I heard a speaker the other day say something about like, men tend to lead with confidence and women lead with competence.  

So do both, right? So they’re just advising all leaders. Like do both. So I mentioned that I was interesting. One thing I would say is to your point, when you do the external engagement, when you’re engaging in the community, bringing again that dei lens to it is like making sure you’re engaging with all parts of the community.  

I think at times, again, getting better and different. It’s like even how do you engage in the community? So if you have different parts of the community, some that are marginalized, you can make efforts to say, hey, we’re really going to try to help all parts of the community.  

But we also want to be mindful that we’re helping this group of the community that maybe doesn’t get the traditional help or traditionally hasn’t been helped or supported. So that’s again, how even something is not simple, but when you’re even looking at that thing of the philanthropy and the philanthropic efforts of an organization and how do you want to give up making sure you’re being intentional and focused?  

How do you give? Right? Because knowing that you have limited resources. So how do you structure those resources? How do you structure the giving? Sometimes it could be you’re giving financial resources.  

At times it could be the volunteerism. And so if you have colleagues and employees that are different backgrounds and maybe they want to give, and that sweat equity. You may say, hey, you have folks who are passionate about construction or folks who are passionate about building things, or naturally, you may have an alignment there with like, let’s go help build things in these communities.  

And maybe these communities and these colleagues who are doing that are from a different demographic in that group that you’re helping. So that then helps cross cultural awareness because this group is now going to do this thing that they love building, but they’re building in this community where maybe they haven’t traditionally been engaged or that hasn’t been their culture.  

So now you’re also helping Bridge because you’re helping people like, hey, we’re people, these folks are here helping me. So this folk, maybe they had a view of these type of individuals, but now they’re saying, well, this person that looks different from me, but it’s helping me.  

They’re solving my need. This person. Helping. It’s like, wow, people live like this. Wow. Let me help them. Right? And so right there, you’re having coast cultural engagement. You’re helping these folks are volunteering.  

So it’s like you’re doing so many different things just through this interaction. Right. So that’s, again, back to being thoughtful and strategic and what type of things you do as well. Right. Because that doesn’t happen by happenstance as well. So you have to be thoughtful about that. And that kind of goes back to the earlier question about when you bring in someone who has a vision and strategy in these roles, you’re balancing so many different parts.  

And that’s sort of like the overarching program. You bring all these elements into this program and that’s when you do these programs well, again, they’re not just programs like ad hoc one off initiatives, but when you bring structure and rigor and thought behind it, that’s when it really makes sense in an organization and helps, really.  

Because now that goodwill that’s generated for organization is again back to helping move the company from a bottom line standpoint. Perceive favorably in the community, perceive favorably with investors.  

So some of the ESG’s concerns and things of that nature yeah.  


Wes Edmiston:   

That is great. Stanley, one thing that I would like to get your opinion on. Out of the DEI and B, which one do you believe is the most important?  


Stanley Kazibwe: 

They’re all important. I think it’s like asking I don’t have little ones, but if you had little ones, like, which child is most important? They’re all important, right. So it’s different elements of it that I think will impact an organization in different ways.  

But there are all some of the parts is what makes it a great whole.  


Wes Edmiston:  

It’s a great answer. What are some of the most common misconceptions that you would say people have about diversity in construction or just DE&I programs in general?  


Stanley Kazibwe: 

Yeah, I think and again, it’s like it sounds like helping people run into what it is and what it is it. So I think some folks at times feel that, hey, this is going to be at the detriment of me if I help this group that has maybe been marginalized traditionally underrepresented that, therefore, that I’m not going to get an opportunity.  

We’re just saying at times like, hey, if you have a pie and maybe your slice was like. Half of the pie before. We’re just trying to make it more equitable where everyone gets a fair slice of share of the pie.  

And maybe before there were some that didn’t even get the pie right. So let alone they’re not getting that fair share of the pie. They didn’t even have access to the pie at times it could be something as helping people understand what things like privilege are, privileges that mean I have the good privilege, I have two hands and all my appendages and whatnot.  

But if I see someone who doesn’t have that and there’s a wheelchair ramp, individuals has different abilities, but in a wheelchair amp by them having that doesn’t mean that they’re advantaged more than I am.  

But I’m empathetic and knowledgeable enough to know that, wow, this person needs that because it’s going to be harder for them to get up on this step versus me, who’s fortunate, knock on wood, has those abilities still, right?  

Also knowing that there will be those elements of people in life, in society, right? Everyone’s not always going to understand everything. And so you don’t manage for those folks. You try to get the 90% of the organization or people who do, who are just generally good people.  

So I think you default to the goodness of people. You meet people with grace where they are and those who just can’t get it or whatever, you help sort of manage them into other opportunities or whatever, as it were.  

Or you just sort of like don’t be disruptive, right? You may have your view, whatever it is, but if it goes against our culture or the values of an organization, then there’s different conversations that need to be had at that point.  


Wes Edmiston:  

I think the thing to remember is that you said pretty well is nobody’s trying to take your pie away. We’re just trying to make sure that everybody gets more pie, right? Everybody gets a fair slice of pie.  

So that’s definitely a great way of putting it. We’ve heard a lot about. Labor shortages in the industry really overall. Not even just in the construction industry, but pretty broad spectrum. You can’t go into a single store really anymore without saying help wanted signs up.  

How is it that DE&I programs can help to facilitate getting people to fill these positions in these various industries?  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

Yeah, this goes back. What’s the point about next? So you’re looking at the pie and aperture and so you say, hey, if we have this pool of talent and we have 1000 roles and there’s only 100 currently available individuals to do these roles, and we’re saying there’s 900 individuals that, for whatever reason, aren’t even being looked at?  

Because maybe they’re veteran backgrounds. Or maybe someone thinks that they don’t have the skill set. Like, no, we have these are 1000 roles we have to fill. So we have only 100 right now. So let’s look at more thoughtful, inclusive ways to bring in these other 900 individuals who may be available to fill these roles.  

And it could be, okay, well, what programs do we have to put in place? If these are roles that we can be performed, say some of them may be performed remotely? So can we do things to help those individuals who maybe don’t have access to coming into a work because maybe they’re differently able, maybe they’re bound by a wheelchair or something like that, so they can’t but they don’t need to do that for that role.  

Right? So it’s like getting thoughtful about even like the role definitions or what are the requirements. I know some organizations have gone away from things like if you can instead of having say, academic qualification in that sense, you could say, hey, you have the life experiences of professional experiences that then can substitute for that.  

So you have to be thoughtful in the way you’re trying to open up the aperture to tap into like a broader pool of talent, which helps you as an organization, again, fill these roles for these roles that you do need to fill.  

So that’s where some of these programs, again, working with groups like your talent acquisition and or your HR teams and others to be thoughtful. But it also helps then if you have groups from some of these.  

Individuals who have similar traits. So if you have veterans, for example, if you’re trying to recruit more women into certain roles, looking at the demographics of who is graduating from these programs with Stem and other fields.  

So if your half your population is made up of this, but then you’re not tapping into that, you’re doing yourself a disservice, right? Because if you look at the trends in accordance with Duraliber statistics, we’re becoming a more multicultural, multiracial the society.  

And so you have to reflect that. If your customers like you want to reflect your customers, you want to reflect the communities. So these things are imperative to do. They’re not just nice to do. If you’re selling products and you want to understand, hey, how can I sell this product to the whole broader kaleidoscope of my customers?  

And the only way you do that is by having individuals in your organization who understand, who are from these cultural heritage or backgrounds who have competence in that. Because for example, if we’re trying to sell a product for an individual woman, those identify as women, you and I, we’re men.  

I have the foggiest idea. So it would be sort of presumptuous of me to say, hey, this is what you need to do to sell that product. How might I call someone sister or friend whomever have a colleague say, hey, what would be the best way to sell this widget to this individual?  

Right? So having that diversity of that thought but being inclusive, but you have to have that colleague in the organization first to even be able to do that, right? Otherwise you’re going to spend all this money and resources to probably put together a package that’s not even the thing that that individual wants.  

Or if you’re trying to sell a product to someone from a part of the world and you have not the all these cultural competence or knowledge of that individual’s background and you just assume, then you spend the money in marketing and research, whatever it is, or maybe you put together like a brochure.  

There’s so many reasons why it behooves an organization to be culturally competent. Have this multicultural understanding and awareness. And the best way to do that is bringing in individuals from different backgrounds and have this diversity of thought which leads to better outcomes.   

Rapid Fire Questions

Wes Edmiston:   

I’d like to take a quick minute real quick in order to ask you some questions to get to know Stanley, the person, not just Stanley, the professional. 
Stanley who’d you say your role model is? 
Stanley Kazibwe:  

I’d say my parents, for sure.  

They’re like the people who I’ve seen and just try to live up to I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but just try to live up to the great things they’ve done, all the lessons they’ve imparted on myself and my siblings, my parents, for sure.  

Wes Edmiston:   

What would you say your favorite book is?  
Stanley Kazibwe:  
My favorite book is in Scripture. So I’m not a saint, but someone who I try to live my life that North Star, right? And have some moral compass and everything.  

But outside of that, I’d say any Charles Dickens, favorite author. So I love Great Expectations.  


Wes Edmiston:   

Absolutely. What is your dream job?  

Stanley Kazibwe: 

So my dream job is a chief diversity officer. But really anything where I can help people and impact an organization.  

Just changing a culture and organization. So like from a CDO, that’s a natural sort of progression and that’s what I aspire to. But really any role where my passion for people and culture and strategy and project management all align and come together.  


Wes Edmiston:   

Stanley, what is your favorite quote?  


Stanley Kazibwe:  

Favorite quote? Oh my gosh. Be the change you want to see. Think that’s Gandhi and then Lao Zhao said what is it? A journey of 1000 miles starts with one step. So kind of goes back to that saying, don’t be afraid to go slow to go fast.