Conversations of Hope, Heart, and the Human Spirit

with Dr. Maya Bugg


Hummingbird Humanity videos now with captioning.

In this episode, Brian and Maya cover. . .

  • What is White Supremacy, and how does it permeate into the workplace? (30 min mark- Brian quote)
  • How to conduct effective Learning & Development work with a DEI lens?
  • The importance of having integrity as a DEI practitioner

Leaning Into Humanity

In the episode, Brian and Maya brought up the definition and misconceptions of the term White Supremacy. As a white person, Brian stated: 

White Supremacy is the concept that the world that we live in, certainly in the United States, is dominated by white images, white stories, white references, white choices. And one of the simple examples of that comes to me is for children of color, are crayons. 

The skin tone color intended to match white skin existed in crayons forever. But there weren’t colors for children who are Latinx, Black, or from other communities of color. And so that choice and decision were made with the white supremacist mindset. And as the dominant.  

Cultural norms have historically been made in mind to meet the needs of one group and not consider the needs of others. This cultural pattern is why:

  • Workplace dress codes use white appearances as a standard (hairstyles & facial hair grooming). 
  • Eurocentric first names are primarily viewed as professional. 
  •  Non-white forms of conflict mediation and decision-making are rejected.
  • White majority teams are accepted as a norm and not as an inclusion issue.
  • “We want to make sure the most qualified person is hired” is used as a response to the questioning of institutions about their lack of a diverse set of candidates for a vacant role. 

Leaning Into Humanity

Consider making company parental policies gender-inclusive

Ben encourages companies to consider making their parental policies more gender-inclusive and using the word “people” to identify parents as opposed to mothers, fathers, men, & women. Reasons for this are:

  • Pregnancy is not limited to cisgender women, trans men and non-binary people can also become pregnant. 
  • There are many other forms of family planning that are utilized, especially by LGBTQ parents, such as surrogacy and adoption. 
  • And oftentimes, becoming a foster parent is excluded from company policies.

Leaning Into Humanity

Learning & Development (L&D) can disrupt White Supremacy in the workplace. Learning & Development is an organizational structure to develop the skills of employees and promote company values. However, the recognition of employees’ past education is often missed in Learning & Development strategies.

K-12 and higher education can define how a person perceives a group of people. Dr. Maya Bugg shared a horrifying practice of schools taking students to tours of former slave plantations and romanticizing the experience of Black slaves. The encouragement of false narratives has dangerous consequences on how Black people get treated in the workforce. When conducting Learning & Development work, it is crucial to focus on the disruption of damaging lessons taught in youth.

Keep Your Integrity as a DEI Practitioner

Dr. Maya Bugg strongly emphasizes the necessity for DEI practitioners to have boundaries within their work and say no to opportunities that compromise their values. DEI practitioners are responsible for challenging and shaping culture at companies. A practitioner will not have success when they are wavering in principles and ethics. 

Dr. Maya Bugg wears many hats. She is a DEI consultant with Jennifer Brown Consulting and the CEO of The Tennessee Charter School Center. The Tennessee Charter School Center advocates for policies that create strong charter schools for systemically vulnerable children in Tennessee. Outside of her roles, she is a mother of three girls, a wife, and a Black woman concerned for her community.

Dr. Maya Bugg changed her original path to becoming a surgeon and went into the classroom to later inform her work within education policy. Dr. May Bugg challenges lawmakers and organizations to re-imagine policies that decide access, storytelling, and the future of Black children.