Episode 121 – Unstoppable DEI Legal Advocate with Terra Davis

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This episode is, I believe, one of the most engaging discussions about Inclusion and Diversity that I have had the pleasure to conduct on Unstoppable Mindset. Terra Davis is a graduate of Howard University with a degree in Journalism. However, she was lead not to take up a journalistic career but rather she began to work in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion workplace. Today, she works for a law firm as its chief diversity officer.

She will tell us that story, but for Unstoppable Mindset that is only the beginning. Terra and I discuss a wide variety of ideas and issues surrounding both the diverse workspace and how disabilities have systematically been left out. However, we also discuss how she is helping to work to change that.

On top of everything else, Terra and her family love to seek out the ice cream stores that claim they are the “best”. You get to hear about her favorite.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts after hearing Terra. As always, thanks for listening.

About the Guest:

Terra Davis is a diversity, equity and inclusion advocate and practitioner in the legal industry. She supports diverse legal talent and clients in deepening client relationships and business strategy around common goals and DEI initiatives.

Terra is a member of the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals and served as the co-chair of the Legal Marketing Association DEI Shared Interest Group, where she was responsible for developing DEI educational programming for its members. She is passionate about serving marginalized communities and pushing the needle forward for change.

When she is not working with these organizations, she is spending quality time with her husband and two-year-old daughter, Zoey. As a New Jersey native who was born in Bermuda, Terra loves to travel, meet new people and visit any ice cream store or stand that boasts it’s the best.

She is a graduate of Howard University and has her D&I certification from Cornell University.

Social media link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/terrasjohnsondavis

About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.

Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.


accessiBe Links
https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/

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Transcription Notes

Michael Hingson  00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i  capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson  01:21
Well, hi once again and welcome to unstoppable mindset. As usual. We hope to have a lot of fun today. We have a great guest, Terra Davis, she’s got a lot to talk about. I am sure she’s involved in diversity, equity and inclusion. She’s a graduate of Howard University and the most important thing about Terra the absolutely most important thing is that she likes to visit ice cream score stores who claim they’re the best. And so we definitely need to delve into that. Well welcome to unstoppable mindset and thank you for being here.
Terra Davis  01:58
Thank you, Michael.
Michael Hingson  01:59
So let’s get into this ice cream store business who do you think is the best so far?
Terra Davis  02:04
So I grew up in a very small town in New Jersey and South Jersey to be exact and so I grew up around a bunch of mom and pop ice cream stores if you will my for most of my life. And I have to give a shout out to cravings ice cream. They are locally all around and they have incredible ice cream. But if I’m looking at the guest the big retailer ice creams spots that you could find all over the country. Jenny’s ice cream is definitely one that I would recommend as the the up and coming
Michael Hingson  02:50
so when I lived in Westfield we would go over to I think it was in Cranford or Scotch Plains scoops, which I n people who work for me love to go to so we had a lot of fun go into scoops and thought it was pretty good. I wouldn’t say it’s the best but it was definitely something that made life worthwhile for us. And so we always enjoyed scoops.
Terra Davis  03:14
I have to check that out.
Michael Hingson  03:17
Yeah, I don’t know. If they’re there, where do you live now?
Terra Davis  03:22
So now I’m in Dallas, Texas,
Michael Hingson  03:24
here in Dallas. So yeah, that’s a little far from scoops. But,
Terra Davis  03:27
but when I travel, I try to make it a mission of mine to go out and find an ice cream.
Michael Hingson  03:35
The best place I ever experience was in Berkeley, a place called bots. And I learned about it from Hazel timbre who was the wife now the late wife of the founder of the National Federation of the Blind Dr. Jacobus, Tim Brooke. And the family had their biggest meal of the day at breakfast because that was when everybody was together. And also if you ate a big meal at breakfast, you didn’t need to eat as much the rest of the day and you had more energy and one of the things that they did was they would go down the hill from where they lived on Shattuck road and go to boxes, ice cream, store company and buy a quart of ice cream that had to weigh if it was a quart, two and a half pounds. It was about the richest and the most wonderful ice cream I think that I have ever experience it isn’t there anymore. There was another one I think in San Francisco called Bud’s which was pretty good. And I think it’s still around somewhere but bots was always great. Loved it.
Terra Davis  04:42
Well Bravo here in Dallas is phenomenal,
Michael Hingson  04:45
too. Well, you know, we’re just going to have to get to Dallas and go with you and do an ice cream tour. Well do. So now that we’ve dealt with the substantive part of the podcast. Tell me a little bit about you growing up and and all of that kind of stuff.
Terra Davis  05:00
Yeah, so I mentioned I grew up in a really small town in south Jersey, and I was about 1520 minutes outside of Philadelphia. And when most people think of New Jersey, they oftentimes think about New York. And they never think about the southern part of this itty bitty state. But that is where I grew up. And I grew up in a house of educators, my mom and my dad, are both teachers. And they have been in the industry for a very long time. And they really instilled upon me the importance of one education, of course, but also just treating people well. And my dad, actually, his, his father, was the NAACP, president of his local chapter in New Jersey. And my grandmother was very involved in the NAACP and also on the civil rights movement as well and met between the two of them a lot of civil rights pioneers, who they would invite over to their home, they would invite to come and speak. And so my dad, really growing up around that, could never leave that, and would oftentimes tell stories to my sister and I, about some of those experiences. And I think that now, you know, di is a part of what I get paid to do. But it’s always been a part of who I am, as a result of just who I have in my life and their own experience.
Michael Hingson  06:50
So you, you’ve been enculturated, if you will, into the Civil Rights world, especially right from the very beginning,
Terra Davis  07:00
from the very beginning. So go ahead, go ahead. No, go ahead.
Michael Hingson  07:04
What was it like going to school?
Terra Davis  07:07
It was so undergrad was amazing. I was actually just speaking to someone about this the other day, because at the time, I didn’t realize I, I didn’t realize that I wanted to go to Howard University. I knew a little bit about its legacy. And it really wasn’t until I stepped foot on campus, that I knew that that was the place that I was meant to be at. I really valued not only the professor’s but the conversations that we were having about racial injustice. And what that looks like from a systemic approach. Even though my major was in journalism, I wasn’t necessarily and I didn’t have this, in my mind is something that I would be doing later on. It was it was just embedded in everything that we did in every class that we took. And on top of all of that, I really learned just how I think how broad the diaspora is, if you will of, of black people, not only in the United States, but outside of the United States. I think when I growing up in a really small town, I grew up in a bubble, where I only saw the people who I saw who looked like me, we shared very similar cultural values because of the area in which we grew up. But going Howard University, it really expanded my my view of others who might be black and living in Sacramento black and live in New York, black and living in Cincinnati, Ohio. And one of the things that I think is so important in that is understanding that people and cultures aren’t necessarily a monolith. And it really depends on your environment and your lived experiences. And so I think that that was the it was one of the greatest teachers was just being there at at the university to be able to learn that.
Michael Hingson  09:27
What was it like when you were younger, going to elementary and secondary school and so on in terms of how you were treated or what your environment was like and how things were.
Terra Davis  09:38
It was lonely, but not I mean, the area that I grew up in was not very diverse at all. And so for me, I would usually be the one of only person of color, black person In my classroom or in my classes, and that can be an isolating feeling when you realize, because there’s a moment that you realize that you don’t necessarily know it going in. But when you realize that your are one of one of one or one of the few, it can become increasingly very lonely and very isolating. And usually, I would find myself getting picked to answer the questions around black culture, especially during Black History Month, which will be next month. And there’s tremendous weight and being responsible for an entire group of people that, like I said, I learned, you know, just depending on your environment, and your lived experiences we all are coming from, we all have different views and vantage points. And so to have to speak for an entire culture, it just was it was, there was a tremendous amount of pressure. I think that also growing up at the same time, in that environment, and going to Elementary Middle School in these areas that weren’t very diverse. It really prevented me from having the opportunity to get to know people from other cultures that weren’t white or Caucasian. And so it really wasn’t until probably later in middle school, and certainly not until high school, that I was able to interact with other other demographics, and get a better understanding of who a person was in what they believed and how their culture influenced their behavior and their personality. And it felt like it was done it it was it was such a meaningful experience for me, especially when I would watch Friends or peers who hadn’t had that opportunity, and hadn’t had those experiences, and had the stereotypical viewpoints in their minds of who people who are, are, are
Michael Hingson  12:27
did. Did you grow in any way to accept the concept that being one of a few are the only one maybe also gave you the opportunity to be a teacher? Or was there just too much pressure that that just didn’t really strike you or seemed like it was a relevant thing to do. And I’ll tell you why I asked that, because we who happen to have physical disabilities as our characteristics, and I’ll talk about specifically blindness, most of the time, we’re the only one. And today as an adult, especially, again, the only one that most people interact with. And people are always asking questions. And so you can resent that you can accept it, you can decide, well, this is a chance to educate. How did you react to all of that? Or how has your view changed over time? Possibly is a better question to ask,
Terra Davis  13:32
Oh, I welcomed it. I think I’m a unicorn in that sense, because I took it on as an opportunity for someone not to walk away from our conversation the same way that they entered. And so that way, when they met someone else, who looked like me, they had a better understanding of who that person might be. Because of it. Hey, so knew that there were some things about me that were not necessarily what those persons saw on television, or read in the newspaper when the newspapers were around, or it just just what they thought of. And so I really welcomed it because I thought that it broke barriers when we had those conversations. And also I don’t want anyone to walk to be walking on this earth, ignorant when they don’t have to be and ignorant in the truest sense of its definition or just not knowing. And so, if I’m around, I feel comfortable with I feel comfortable with someone asking me those Questions and wanting to understand it, I got questions about my hair, I got questions about the music that I liked the food that I eat, my family, just and then and then some of the more the more uncomfortable things about what people might see on television and the different portrayal of, of black people and fiction and also in documentary form that I was able, I hope to shed more light on.
Michael Hingson  15:32
It’s interesting, the way you describe it, and I understand it fully, for lots of reasons. Do you find it at all interesting or amazing that so often, people are uncomfortable, just because someone looks different than them,
Terra Davis  15:53
I find it just a part of the human condition. Especially when you have this upbringing where, and this was the case, especially where I grew up, where if you don’t, if you don’t want to, you will never have to see anyone else who who doesn’t look like you. Or who doesn’t have or who doesn’t have an experience or similar, you never have to, you never have to experience that person, or see that, at least in the very early stages of your life. And, you know, one of the things that I’ve observed is observed that most people will, depending on where they are living, will spend more time with people that look like them outside of the workplace. And when they’re at work, if their workplace is just slightly diverse, they will find themselves interacting with co workers but only during the nine to five time and then once five o’clock, it’s it’s like I’m back to my my world with with my my one group that I feel very comfortable with. And I really challenge that I think there’s there’s a space in place for you to be around like minded individuals, and those individuals who look like you and have very similar experiences to you, I think that that’s healthy. But I also believe that you should challenge yourself a bit. And because for me, I didn’t have the choice to just be in an in a one in one environment. Um, I didn’t have that I didn’t have that as a as an option. And from from the nine to five, even past the five, that’s not necessarily an option for me, especially depending on where I’m living at the time. And for some people, especially those who are in the I wouldn’t say I’m saying majority, but I’m saying it very loosely, who are in the majority. You don’t necessarily have to you don’t that’s you have to be more intentional about it. And so I challenge it, but I think it’s all just a part of the human condition. Well, it’s
Michael Hingson  18:22
part of the the human environment. But we also don’t need to allow ourselves to be conditioned that way from me, for example, I don’t focus on what people look like. Color is, is pretty much for me, for example, a meaningless concept. I understand it, I understand, and could talk to you about it from a physics standpoint all day long. But it amazes me that any one of one color could look down on someone else from another color because for me, it’s irrelevant. And maybe I’m very fortunate I do know blind people who are and have learned to be prejudice. But I don’t know that especially if they’re totally blind from birth, whether they truly understand the whole color concept, but it’s it’s still very fascinating that we can look at someone and who just because they look different than us another color or any number of other characteristics can decide that we’re less than they are especially when the day is the typical white majority. And there are more white people than in this country especially then there are other people although that is slowly evolving. But still, I think that that each race or each color tends to have some of that attitude where we tend to not be comfortable around the people that look different than us. And for me, that’s kind of really just an amazing concept.
Terra Davis  20:07
It is for me too. And I noticed growing up the people who are very uncomfortable, I mean, I’m a woman. And so the uncomfortability that I experienced is so much different from, from my spouse, who’s a man who’s a black man. And his level of what he experiences in terms of people who are uncomfortable around him is much more high end, people are usually afraid of him when he’s walking down the street. And we can definitely see that. And for me, I could pretty much go up to anyone. And I can sense that they might be uncomfortable from the start. But it’s much easier and faster to break down that barrier than it is for him. Especially with like the preconceived notions and ideas that they might have about me.
Michael Hingson  21:03
I remember once going with my wife to a restaurant for breakfast, my wife was in a wheelchair her whole life. So she told a different, and she passed away this this past November. But I have 40 years of memories. So that works. But we went into this restaurant for breakfast and went up to the counter. And the woman behind the counter, I, as I learned later just kind of stood there looking between us. Because me Being blind doesn’t necessarily make direct always eye contact. And Karen being shorter, and in a wheelchair. This woman didn’t know who to talk to just to say, Would you like a table or a booth or anything like that? And so she stood there mute. And finally, Karen said to me, I don’t think the hostess knows who to talk to or what to ask. And so I said, Well, you know, she could ask us if we want breakfast, and where we want to sit and all that. And we could kind of go from there. And that did break the ice. I’m sure she was a little bit embarrassed. But then she, she did ask all the right questions. And we went, and we sat down and we ate. And people were comfortable with us. But it is just amazing that we can live in a world where we’re taught. And I believe that’s really the issue is that we’re taught to think that people because they look different, or have some characteristics that we don’t, are different, and not necessarily as good as we are. And we are taught that all too often. And it’s it’s a problem that we have to address at some point. When we talk about diversity. The problem that some of us have with diversity is it is completely thrown out disabilities, when you ask people to describe what diversity means they’ll talk about race, sexual orientation, gender, and so on. Social justice and other things. You never hear disabilities mentioned, or, or so rarely, that it doesn’t even count to do it, which is unfortunate. But then they talk about Dei, and they talk describe it as the same. And my position is you can’t do that if you’re going to talk about inclusion. Either you are inclusive, or you’re not. And that really means you got to change your mindset. And recognize that people who have so called disabilities are really part of the world. And as I describe it, disability needs to be learned as something that does not mean a lack of ability, but just a characteristic. And we we it’s amazing how we are so stuck in our attitudes about how to deal with all of that.
Terra Davis  23:41
Oh, absolutely. I have watched people retreat as soon as they encounter someone with a disability, especially a physical disability. And I guess a one where and also a disability disability that is visible because there are some mental disabilities that are are visible. But the ones that are invisible takes an out you take time to actually have a discussion and talk to someone and sometimes that person then has to disclose it in order for you to know and then all of a sudden it turns into this Alright, now how should I act around you? What should I do and and I find that fascinating as well. And also that the DEI conversations that we’re having, it seems like the country as a whole is starting to get comfortable being uncomfortable discussing race, discussing ethnicity, discussing gender, discussing, even sexual expression and orientation. And when it comes to disabilities, and neurodiversity, all of a sudden it’s like retreat retreat retreat
Michael Hingson  24:59
because cuz we’re afraid that we could become like you. Mm hmm. And one of the things that we have to somehow get the world to understand is, so what? So you become like me, does that mean that you’re less of an individual and I know so many people who have had to go through the rehabilitation process, people who have become paralyzed, or blind or whatever, and they go through a process. And most of the time, I’m, again, dealing with blindness, but most of the time, the agencies will teach you to use some technologies and so on. But they don’t really get to the root issue of attitude and philosophy. It’s a fairly small number of agencies that truly will work to get their clients to understand that blindness is okay. It may be taking a different Lane down the road of life, but you’re still on the road of life. And it is something that we just tend not to deal with. And a lot of the professionals in the field of work for the blind, although they would deny it truly don’t have a great positive attitude about blindness themselves. And so the result of that is that they tend to operate in a way where they’re not really helping people who come to them to live up to or learn to live up to their full potential. It is still such a fear that we haven’t dealt with,
Terra Davis  26:40
for sure, and not knowing how to respond. I remember watching that with my grandfather, who I mentioned to did all these incredible things and was president of his local NAACP chapter and he was World War Two that, but he was blind as well. And he wasn’t blind to his entire life. But I but my entire life, that’s, that’s what I knew I knew of him. And I remember watching people who would meet him for the first time, he was well over six foot, and had a very deep voice that commanded your attention, and have that type of personality as well. But I would watch people want to treat him with kid gloves, and treat him as if he, he was a child in a sense, because of the fact that he was blind. And he didn’t, he didn’t need that treatment, he would very quickly let you know, in his own way, that, you know, he was this, this powerhouse of a person. But it’s, it just always intrigued me to watch people who were meet him for the very first time, we just see that.
Michael Hingson  28:09
I’m amazed when somebody meets me, maybe I’ve talked with them on the phone or whatever. And they say, You didn’t sound blind. And I’m sitting there going, what the heck does that mean? Oh, well, you know? No, right. It’s amazing. Well, you know, you went to Howard University, then what did you do?
Terra Davis  28:32
So after I graduated from Howard, I ended up sort of falling into. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I knew that it wasn’t going to be journalism in the traditional sense. And I knew that my passion and my gift was in communications. I just didn’t know where to put that. And I sort of fell into this place where I found myself doing more of like corporate communications and somehow someway ended up in the legal world. Did you major in journalism? I did, okay. Just want to hang out there. Oh, yeah.
Michael Hingson  29:20
And one of those reporters A.
Terra Davis  29:24
And they’re just so happened to being these, these law firms that were looking for people with journalism and communications backgrounds, because they needed people to be able to write and write well, and write in a way that as a journalist who who’s writing for someone who may only have a fifth grade education or you’re writing for the year as someone who is very simple So I understand like I can, I don’t need to do a whole lot to get the point of what you’re trying to say. And so I fell into this little industry. And one of the things that I quickly realized was that I was in an environment very similar to the environment that I grew up in the environment that I went to elementary school and middle school and where it was, there was maybe one or two of me. And there might be more people who were serving as enrolls that weren’t necessarily business professional roles like and like executive positions. And I, and then also, there weren’t, there wasn’t a whole lot of diversity with the lawyers. And I wanted to understand why that was. And so I started asking questions, and I started attending different events and noticing the same thing in the legal industry over and over and over again, and I really wanted to change that I really wanted to be that person who not only increase the diversity, so it looks like the world in which we live in. But one where someone who looks like me, can come in and feel comfortable being themselves there, and not feel like they have to wear a mask, when they’re working. And when they’re with their peers. And then when they go home, they can take that mask off, and there’s a sense of relief. Yeah,
Michael Hingson  31:39
it’s, it’s amazing that we hide so much sometimes, isn’t it?
Terra Davis  31:46
It is, it is. And I noticed that I mean, maybe auspices in this is probably in other industries is is probably also in the medical field. And it’s probably also in the corporate world, when you look at it, that there are so many people who just feel like they cannot be authentically them. They feel like they have to speak a certain way. And they have to have a certain educational background and a certain familial background. And they also need to potentially come from money, and they need to dress a certain way in order just to be accepted. And we spend so much of our time at work more time at work than we do at home with our family and with our friends. And that can become exhausting. And not only can it become exhausting, it can hurt you mentally, it can hurt you physically, it can hurt you, emotionally, and I I knew coming from Howard University, I didn’t want to I didn’t I didn’t want that for my life. I didn’t want to go to a workplace where I couldn’t be myself.
Michael Hingson  33:07
Why do you think that circumstances like that tend to be the case? Why is it that in the legal profession where we are supposed to not pay attention to those kinds of things, and that we’re supposed to really work for justice for all? Why do you think that still, the prevailing attitudes are as you describe them?
Terra Davis  33:34
I think it’s the systems and I better set up. And I think that it is, for a long time in the legal industry, and in particular, the corporate legal industry. What I believe has been happening is those who are diverse, don’t always have didn’t always let me say Not right now. But let me say you didn’t always have the means or way to get into law school, to go to law school and to succeed in law school. And so you end up with this oneness when when of graduates who complete the program, who go to the top schools who have the best grades, and then they go into this corporate law firm setting, and they create their own culture that mirrors the culture that they’re used to.
Michael Hingson  34:41
It gets back to society, dictating this whole concept of you need to be stereotyped in a certain way. And there’s no allowance for difference.
Terra Davis  34:54
Absolutely, absolutely. There’s none. It’s, it says if It’s as if difference is something that is similar to having a cold or something that’s not necessarily supposed to be in your body that your body rejects as a result, and I feel like difference is, is viewed the exact same way. It’s like, oh, no, this is something that isn’t, is it right to have and we need to reject it.
Michael Hingson  35:25
Do you think that with more people, say, who are black or of other cultures? And I would hope over time, and I think there’s some of this that is happening, people with disabilities going into a law, environmental legal environment, do you think that this will change any of the attitudes of not really tolerating difference and so on, that we see? Or are they just going to conform to the system?
Terra Davis  36:03
Oh, I definitely think the attitudes will change. I’m seeing it right now. Where there is an intolerance for not not accepting the change and not welcoming it. And being resistant to that. And I’m watching it with the policies that are created, I’m watching it with the positions that are being created to make sure that the culture reflects an environment that is much more welcoming and inclusive. I, I have hope, I also believe that there’s this younger generation that’s coming in. And the world in which they live looks much differently than the world that I grew up in, in the world that others who come before me have lived in. And I think that they just don’t have the patience for that type of environment. And I definitely am seeing a shift. If I didn’t see the shifts before, when I first came into this industry, which I hadn’t seen those things happening. I definitely saw it in 2020. And I am hoping to see that continue to evolve and expand beyond some of the groups that we spoke about. And I’m hoping to see that expand into disabilities more than it has already. I think that we we are due for a shift.
Michael Hingson  37:49
And that will be a good thing. If that can continually happen. That will be a really exciting thing to see. And I hope that it does. Where do you work?
Terra Davis  38:00
So I actually work at a firm called Norton rose Fulbright.
Michael Hingson  38:05
So you actually are at a law firm, I am at a law firm. And do you? Well, so what what exactly do you do there?
Terra Davis  38:15
So I am a dei manager. And my primary responsibility is to ensure that the clients that we have, that are really looking to us to make the change as well. And see equitable opportunities for diverse attorneys and inclusive practices adopted, that it’s happening. And so what I’m doing is I’m communicating that with our clients, and I’m collaborating with our clients on those efforts, and coming up with, with what I hope are good ideas, to make sure that that we aren’t moving backward and that we’re moving forward and that we are actually practicing what we preach and walking the walk and not just talking the talk
Michael Hingson  39:11
as a person who clearly has some deep thoughts and in good ideas and knowledge about this whole concept of inclusion and so on. Do you get ever to be involved in any writing of legal arguments and so on to or other things to ensure that things are presented in the most inclusive way? Or do you get to be involved in that into the legal aspect of it just because of your journalism background? And clearly you’re a great communicator.
Terra Davis  39:43
Thank you. Now I don’t I’m not involved in the legal aspects of everything. I save that for everyone who, who went through their years of law school and pass the bar. What I am I’m really inspired by our, the written policies that firms like mine are putting down to paper, to institutionalize inclusive practices, so that those things can only get built upon and not erased for the next person entering that is, is looking for an environment that is one that they can thrive in. And so what I’m really looking at is, what do we talk about? Having persons with disabilities and making life a lot easier for them in the workplace, but what accommodations do we have in place? We talk about the fact that we would like to see more LGBTQ plus attorneys in the workspace, but how are we allowing them to be their true and authentic selves and not feel like that’s a part of them that they have to hide when they come into the office every day. So really, what I’m looking at are more of the policies and best practices and things that make someone not only want to work for a firm like mine, but what to say.
Michael Hingson  41:19
And that, of course, is really the issue. It isn’t just getting there, but it’s wanting to stay. And a good work environment, a positive work environment is, of course, second to none anywhere.
Terra Davis  41:35
Absolutely, I mean, I don’t know how many cultural statements I read on various websites of companies and firms that said, we value our people, just just the standard language. And then, you know, when you get into those places, you find that none of what they’ve communicated on their website, or in their handbook is necessarily how it is how it is. And so I believe in training, I believe in uncomfortable conversations for the betterment of, of the place that you are at, I believe, in, like I said, pot adopting policies that are put to paper, but just, I think dei work at its core, and I know, others in the space will argue with me on this is is valuing and accepting people, but also caring for them for just who they are, and not expecting them to, to assimilate or form themselves into into something that they’re not. At the same time, someone could argue and say, Well, does that mean that I believe in this? And I believe in I, I don’t believe in, in gay marriage. And I come into the workplace, does that then mean that I shouldn’t have to work with someone who is gay? And I absolutely challenge that because I think that everything that we do, as DEI practitioners should be rooted in a place of love and acceptance. And the end of the day, when we’re building on we’re building up in our on what we’re doing. That should be the foundation that we look to and what we’re doing, like, is this bill in a place of love and acceptance?
Michael Hingson  43:55
Yeah, it’s it’s the usual thing that we tend not to tolerate difference very well, what my, my view about whether gay people should marry or not is really irrelevant. As far as they’re concerned. That’s their choice. And, you know, I’m amazed when people talk about God, and religion, and this isn’t right in the Bible. But Jesus also said, you know, render under Caesar, would a Caesar render unto God, what is God’s and the reality is, ultimately, if there is a problem, no matter what it is, that goes against God, that’s up to that individual and God to deal with. And there’ll be a time that they have to do that, but it’s not my place to judge that.
Terra Davis  44:49
Absolutely. And I think a lot of things are also just built in, built with fear. And I think we have to check that I think because that we find ourselves when when when we find ourselves saying no, because we have to really take a look at why we’re saying no. And if there’s some fear attached to that, no, then it’s probably not a good reason to say no. And I think when it comes to dei work, there’s resistance. More often than not, because of fear of the unknown. And we’ve got to, we’ve got to do I think, a better job of, of leaning into that fear and, and understanding Well, where is this coming from? And why are we doing that? And why does that need to be maintained?
Michael Hingson  45:43
Also, the fear of the unknown is easily addressed, because what is unknown, especially in this kind of environment, with what we’re talking about, can certainly become known. People can learn more, if they will.
Terra Davis  45:57
Or they can, I mean, I’m like, especially when I was in college, and even before then, the tools and access that I had were very limited. And so it took a much more conscious approach and effort to get to the information that I needed to get to. And now, I mean, we all have, we all have cell phones and our cell phones or little mini computers, and we can get that information right there. I mean, it’s discerning what information is the right information at. But I think that I think just using that, and using it as an excuse, as I just didn’t know, when I didn’t understand is not one that we can lean on anymore.
Michael Hingson  46:48
I know for me, just picking up a cell phone and doing that kind of research willy nilly at the drop of a hat is a little bit more of a challenge and slower to do. But I’m amazed when I go to family gatherings and so on, somebody makes a comment. What I discover is everybody’s on their computers, or actually their cell phones, or their iPads, looking up the information and and talking about what they they read, which I think is is exactly what you’re saying the information is there if we would take advantage of looking for it and using it and learning from it.
Terra Davis  47:27
Michael Hingson  47:30
And it’s it is it is so much of an information oriented world and the information is there, the internet is such a treasure trove. It is that is amazing that more people don’t do it and use it. And I realized that we have a lot of our population that is growing older, and they tend to not gravitate to it as fast. But I think even if they would, they would be amazed and would discover an incredible world that they could learn a whole lot more about which would benefit them and everyone else.
Terra Davis  48:06
If we were doing a privilege walk as a country, one of the things that we would all be able to step forward for is is technology, I think AXA and some some capacity. So I agree with you on that. Just how far do you want to step out of your comfort zone to access the information? That’s
Michael Hingson  48:28
exactly and of course, it’s always all about moving out of your comfort zone, we tend once we get used to something, we just don’t want to change what we do. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a little bit of risk, it doesn’t mean that you have to jump out of an airplane with or without a parachute. But you can certainly learn a lot more about skydiving. And maybe you’d find out well maybe this will be fun to do or not. Personally, I am not interested in jumping out of an airplane even with a parachute. But I also know that if I were in a situation where I needed to do it, I could adopt a mindset that says okay, that’s what I got to do. I know that much about me whether I want to do it or not. I can still do it. And probably that comes from being a risk taker most of my life and going to strange places doing things that I never thought I would do things that other people take for granted. But for me, it’s a new experience or something that, as I said involves from my perspective taking risks, but that’s okay to nothing wrong with a little risk to make life far more fun and exciting and adventurous. Not at all. It’s it’s always a good thing to do. So, what would be one thing that you think people should learn or know that they don’t know about? This whole idea of inclusion that we’re talking about?
Terra Davis  50:00
There are so many things that I think people should know. But if I had to drill down on just one thing, it’s, it’s really going back to what we were speaking about, which is it only takes you, it only takes you to step outside of your comfort zone, to want to understand, to want to learn to want to grow in this space. And I think what ends up happening is we lean on, people like myself who are, are dedicating our profession to this area, and not realizing how much we can influence it. On our own.
Michael Hingson  50:48
You live in a world where you’re constantly being challenged, you’re facing differences and so on. And it has to get from time to time frustrating speaking from experience, what, what motivates you, what’s keeping you motivated,
Terra Davis  51:03
what’s been keeping me motivated lately, is remembering why I started to do this in the first place. When I got into this, I would say what I did when I decided to dedicate my time to this and move away from what I had initially been doing, which was that communication side of everything. I was sitting in a hospital bed, I had just given birth to my daughter, and George Floyd’s funeral was on. And I remember one of the hospital workers who was responsible for taking vitals and, and cleaning out the rooms. She came in my room and she stood by me and we, we didn’t really know each other all that well at all, because you’re only in the hospital, but for so many days after you give birth. And we were in the room in silence, watching the funeral. And immediately, we’re connected from that. And I think when I go back after a challenging day, and I remember the way that I felt watching it, and the way that I was able to connect with the stranger watching it, it reminds me that there is greater good and doing the work that I’m doing that far outweighs the challenges that I have in a day.
Michael Hingson  52:59
Even so, what keeps you up at night, obviously, there are a lot of things that go on and weigh on your mind because of all this so what keeps you up at night,
Terra Davis  53:07
hoping that people get it open the people get what I do, and why it’s so important. And, and understand that I know, as of late, there’s been a huge focus, and a huge driver. I when it comes to the I work around the dollar, and that there’s monetary gain in focusing on diversity. And while I know that that is true,
Terra Davis  53:45
I, I What keeps me up at night is hoping that we can
Terra Davis  53:52
we can see a deeper reason beyond the monetary game. And that’s and that when we look at and I hate to say this because it sounds so it sounds so Speechy right. But and so motivational like but when we look at our kids and when I when I look at my my daughter’s two now when I look at her, and I look at her friends, and I think about the type of world that that they’re going to be in and I think about the type of workplace that they’ll be working in and and the hurdles that I faced when I first got in to into into the workplace are the hurdles I face just at school because I was different. I would like to believe that people aren’t looking at making it better for them just for the sake of mine. I would like to believe that people are looking to make it a bit better for them because that’s just The right thing to do and because there’s such good in it,
Michael Hingson  55:06
what is one thing, you’ve done a lot of things, and you’ve had some pretty amazing experiences. But what’s one thing that you haven’t done that you’d like to do? In addition to finding more ice cream stores?
Terra Davis  55:23
I think that I would definitely hold on to, we talked about risk earlier. And I’d like to be able to take many more risks that I have so far. I, I’d like to challenge myself in specific areas, inside and outside of this, this work. And risk for me is just as trying something new, not necessarily skydiving, but trying something new and in a slightly different environment. And I am hoping that I am able to, to find what that looks like, in the next couple of years for me, and take that leap.
Michael Hingson  56:12
What’s What’s one thing that you can think of? Or can you think of something right now as an example of taking that risk that you haven’t taken,
Terra Davis  56:20
I would have to say that, right now a risk that I hadn’t necessarily taken or pursued in a way that would be beneficial for me, is understanding more about these leadership roles. And these executive positions in the space, understanding a bit more about social impact Parilla dei lens, I’d like to, to see myself not only learning more about that, but stepping into that a bit more
Michael Hingson  57:00
makes a lot of sense. And I think makes for an interesting adventure. And when you do that, we want to have you come back so we can hear more about how it all went to. I would love to now, what would you like your legacy to be? How would you like people to remember you just kind of curious
Terra Davis  57:19
as someone who genuinely cared, as someone who not only genuinely cared, but when I, when I get up in the morning, my challenge to myself is to make sure that I am influential in a way where it’s giving someone else it’s getting someone else closer to where they want to be, and what they’re hoping to achieve. And doing it in a way where because of what they look like, because of who they are. isn’t, isn’t the reason why they can’t get to those things. And so I’d like my legacy to be the person that helped them do that. And even if it’s not 1000s of people, and it’s just a few, I feel good about that. And even if they don’t know my name, and they don’t know, that was the thing that I did in a piece of what helped them was something that I did, I’m okay with that. But that’s what I’d like my legacy to be
Michael Hingson  58:51
at the end of the day, or each day. Do you ever just take time to sit back and think internally and think about what happened in the course of the day and do self assessment of what was good? What wasn’t? How to maybe improve the things that weren’t? Or what could you have done better that even worked out great, right from the outset? Sort of self analysis, introspection,
Terra Davis  59:18
all the time, it’s and so when people ask you the question of what’s, what’s a weakness of yours, that introspective thinking is definitely one of mine. And at the same time, it’s a strength because I think that it’s important to do that, because then you can learn from from the day or the events that happened in that day. At the same time, it hurts me when I fall into this negative thought pattern around those things. I was just talking to someone about this, not that long ago, about how I Couldn’t get so caught up in my head, thinking about things that I should have said should have done, that I miss, I can miss the good things that happened. And I can miss the things that went right. Because I’m, I’m holding myself to the fire to do everything the right way and say all the things that I needed to say. And that’s just not how that’s just not how our lives work. If they did work that way, I don’t think we’d ever grow.
Michael Hingson  1:00:34
And putting things in, as you say, the right way, the fact is the right way. Might need to evolve or will evolve over time, because what seems right, maybe needs to change sometimes.
Terra Davis  1:00:50
Oh, absolutely. I was just listening to someone. So I’ve Sirius XM. And I was driving home from picking my daughter from school. And I was listening to someone who was asking the question of the day, which was, what things did you use to believe? Or stand by that no longer serve you? Or you’ve, you’ve now realized that that’s not really that’s not a part of who you are your core value or what you believe anymore? And it was interesting to hear some of the things that that people thought about and what and what they were their responses were to that question. And you’re exactly right. The right thing might be right, right now in this moment in the second, but it’s not necessarily going to be the right thing. In the next month or the next year or the next few years. Think about all the things that this country thought were right at the time, and they just simply and they could have been for that person or those individuals. And then later on, we come to find out they weren’t the right thing.
Michael Hingson  1:02:07
It’s It’s fascinating to think about it. And I think we all need to look at evolving our thought processes. And I’m a firm believer and introspection and firm believer and evaluating us each other, our ourselves every day. We’re our best teachers, we’re going to be the ones who can teach us the best. And we really should take advantage of that. It’s a wonderful gift.
Terra Davis  1:02:37
It absolutely is. I’m thankful for that. Again, like I said, I’m I’m thankful for when I when I’m able to do it in a way that isn’t bringing me down. And is it is it? Is it serving me in a way that’s helping me get to the point of growth that I need to be. And it’s it’s how I how I live, it’s how I started planning for my next few days, it’s how I how I can plan my life really is just having those quiet moments to myself. And some of that comes in journaling as well.
Michael Hingson  1:03:21
Yeah, I have never been a great journaler. But I understand it. And I tend to just try to think about things and keep things in my mind. But I do from time to time, find ways to make sure that I will remember things. I find reminders and other things that my little echo device and other things can do to remind me are very important things to do. So I appreciate the whole concept of journalism, journaling and vision mapping and so on and treasure mapping because they are extremely important tools, if we would use them to remind us and keep us centered. Absolutely. Well, Tara, this has been absolutely fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. And I certainly have. And I think that we have talked about a lot of things and given each other and hopefully you who are listening out there, lots to think about and I really am serious. We need to do it again, especially when you take a few of those risks and want to come back and talk about it. I am ready to do it wherever you are.
Terra Davis  1:04:33
Thank you Michael. I enjoyed my time. This has been a great discussion. And he really had me thinking with a with several of these questions. I’m gonna go back and look at my journal tonight and then start to map out. I’ve so appreciated it and I would love to join you again.
Michael Hingson  1:04:55
Well, we will have to absolutely do and I told you this would be a conversation and we’d go in All sorts of directions that probably never thought of doing at the beginning. But I appreciate all of your help and preparing for it. And I appreciate you and your time. And I’m very much looking forward to the chance to do it again. I hope that you listening will give us a five star rating go to Apple or wherever and please rate the podcast. It’s valuable and it helps us a lot. And also, I would appreciate it if you want to make comments, feel free to do so you can email me you can do comments with your ratings, but I always ready to receive emails, you can send me an email at Mike at Michael hingson.com. Better yet do Michaelhi at accessibe A C C E S S I B E.com How Terra can people reach out to you?
Terra Davis  1:05:52
You can certainly reach out to me on LinkedIn, you can find my name T E R R A Davis D A V I S. And that’s really the best way to reach out to me honestly, I found myself getting off of social media slowly but surely, over time. Consuming, it’s too time consuming, but I’m certainly on LinkedIn.
Michael Hingson  1:06:21
Well, I hope that you all will respond and let us know what you thought. And you’ll be back with us again next time when we do unstoppable mindset. You are also if you need to learn more about some of our other podcasts Welcome to go to www dot Michael hingson M I C H A E L H I N G S O N.com/podcast. And check us out and listen to some of our past episodes. Also, I will just tell you, I do keynote speaking and if there’s ever an opportunity where you feel that I might be able to add value and come and talk to your organization or some organization that you know, please reach out to me I’d love to hear from you. But again, Terra, this has been fun. And thank you again for being a part of this and giving us all of your time today.
Terra Davis  1:07:10
Likewise, thank you for having me.
Michael Hingson  1:07:16
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.

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