DEI must Die (at least in Alabama)

In this episode of the Own Your Genius podcast, Attorney LaConya Murray discusses the passing of bill SB129 in Alabama, which prohibits certain public entities from maintaining diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and from sponsoring diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. She reminds listeners of the importance of local elections and challenges business owners to be informed and engaged in politics.

Tune in to hear about the potential economic consequences of the bill and the power of small businesses to influence policies that affect their interests.

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About the Own Your Genius Podcast

The Own Your Genius podcast is the perfect mix of business, law, and mindset to help black entrepreneurs succeed in business and life.

Join Attorney LaConya Murray each month as she and guest share their entrepreneurial journey, tricks of the trade, and their secrets to getting out of their own way to succeed.

Inspired by her grandmother, the community bootlegger Attorney Murray‘s passion for helping entrepreneurs started early. Today she helps entrepreneurs throughout the country protect their brand, content, and ideas through trademarks, copyrights, and business development.


Until next week, keep building your business, growing your brand, and owning your genius!


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Episode Transcript

Baby January took its time getting out of here. February came and saw who was all over there and they left. But March, March feels like a combination of both January and February. I mean, time is flying, but my days are so long, and the week takes forever to end. Like, do y’all understand what I’m saying? I don’t know, but… Hello, Geniuses. Welcome to another episode of the Own Your Genius Podcast, where we empower entrepreneurs to use their education and their experience to create dope stuff. I’m your host, Attorney LaConya Murray. So last week, I did a little peopling. You know, I attended Allies and Access held by the Montgomery Chamber, which was hosted by Cherie Stokes, who is the executive director of Tech MGM, and Dr. Nicole Thompson, who is the executive director of the Lab on Dexter. It was a beautiful…It was also motivating and educational. The whole experience and the event were just top notch. This is the third year that they have hosted this event. I will attend next year. I encourage any of my listeners in Alabama to make sure they come. It is an event for professional women, businesswomen, and you will not be disappointed. I walked away with not only feeling empowered but with a few more connections and tips that I was able to execute before even leaving the building. It’s just what I needed, especially with the day that I had just one day prior.  

Welcome back to the Own Your Genius podcast where we discuss building businesses, growing brands and what else? Only your genius. I’m your host, Attorney LaConya Murray, owner of Off The Mark IP Solutions. Off the Mark is a boutique intellectual property firm representing innovative entrepreneurs aka geniuses who are looking to protect their brand and grow their business with ongoing legal support and business mentorship. We have a good one for you today, so let’s get started. 

Listen, if you have been around for a while, then you know that I have always considered myself to be a small business advocate because of the work that I do for my clients. Last year, I wanted to step it up a notch and really step into that role as advocate. And I became the advocacy chair for the Alabama chapter of NABO, which is the National Association of Women Business Owners. That was really thanks to Dr. Titania Adams who invited me to join NABO and encouraged me not to just sit there, but to participate. And yeah, I’m glad she did. So shoutout to you. My goal with this is to be able to keep an eye out for legislation and policies that affect small business owners and be able to inform them so that business owners can take the necessary steps to protect their interests. What happened on Tuesday that made Wednesday just like just a welcoming experience? Let me tell you what happened on Tuesday. 

Tuesday, I attended my first legislation public hearing. Yeah, that is right. First, let me tell you about this public hearing. The hearing was called one day before and it was held on Super Tuesday. Did that sound suspect? It sounded suspect to me, especially when you realize that these hearings are typically held on Wednesdays. You waited till everybody was distracted to host this public hearing. Okay. What was this bill that the House was considering that they had to be so super, it was not secretive, because it is a public hearing, they let people know, but they were just moving in ways that they typically don’t move in. What was this bill? They were considering bill SB129. What does this bill would talk about, what they wanted to meet about? Let us talk about it.  

Was the bill relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion prohibiting certain public entities from maintaining diversity, equity, and inclusion offices from sponsoring diversity, equity, and inclusion programs to provide prohibitions on the promotion, endorsements, and affirmation of certain divisive concepts in a certain public setting, with exceptions to provide certain circumstances that are not prohibited, to require public institutions of higher education to designate restrooms based on biological sex, and to authorize certain penalties for violation. Those, that is the bill, the introduction to the bill. Those are their words not mine. And when I attended this hearing, I heard everything from not wanting to be forced to participate in discussions that they did not agree with, to fear that young white males will grow up being labeled racist and oppressive, to conversations that made people feel uncomfortable. Like one of the House members said that he was voting for the bill because he participated in a DEI training and they were asking questions and it made him feel uncomfortable.  

And no one should ever have to feel that uncomfortable. Really, sir? No one should ever have to feel that uncomfortable? Well, how about we just change? You know what? Never mind. Despite having an overwhelming number of people opposing the bill, it passed, four to two. But I think the thing that got me is that it was just an emotional passed, like the bill was passed and the bill was written out of emotions and feelings. This bill was passed without any type of consideration of the economic harm that resulted from it. That is a growing body of research that supports the benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. And studies show that companies with diverse workforces tend to have higher levels of creativity, innovation, and financial performance.  

For example, there is a report by McKinsey and Company that found that companies in the portal for gender diversity in their executive teams were 21% more likely to experience above average profitability than companies at the bottom, really, these are numbers that should have been considered. And at the same time, companies that were at the top portal for ethnic and cultural diversity were 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability. And just from experience, being part of a diverse group, learning about people who have experiences different from yours is beneficial. I know that I am in a program, and we had to do an assignment where we were lost at sea and we had to grab 15 items, rank them in order of priority to keep us safe while we were lost at sea. I’ve never been in the ocean on a boat before, so I did not know. But working with my team members who had variety of experience and backgrounds, we were able to survive. So together, we can go far. 

They’re passing this bill in Alabama. And my question is, what happens to these companies, these companies who value DEI programs, they seek to do business in the state? A state where according to this bill, state funding cannot be used in support of diversity, equity, or inclusion. Does that mean that they will not get the tax breaks that they would normally get because they offer diversity programs? These are things that were not considered. But I will tell you this, my biggest takeaway from this public hearing is that representation matters and so do allies, people who may not be personally harmed by this bill but stand up against it anyway because they recognize that it is in fact harmful. And then another thing that I noticed is that a lot of people were all up in arms about the way this bill was moving, how fast the public hearing was, things of that nature. But what I learned was that this is not. 

Atypical whenever they are trying to pass something like this, they typically move like that. But we just do not know about it because it does not affect us. And because it doesn’t affect us, we turn a blind eye when we really need to be allies. We’re asking for allies for us, but we also need to be allies to other people who need our support. And I know that this bill, this SB 129 bill is written as an education bill. But it is part of a bigger agenda. 

Have you guys heard of the Fearless Fund lawsuit? The Fearless Fund provides early-stage funding for businesses owned by women of color. And there is a conservative group called American Alliance for Equal Rights. They filed a lawsuit last fall against the Fearless Fund arguing that some of their programs discriminate against people of other races. Yeah, so I feel like there is a literal attack on including diverse people and bringing them into spaces that are typically reserved for non-diverse people. It’s just like they do not want us here. Like you are interrupting, you are changing things. You are making me uncomfortable. And I keep talking about this word uncomfortable because if you read the bill, you can just see that’s what it is.  

One of the things that stood out to me when I attended the Allies in Access event on Wednesday, last week, is that one of the speakers said that basically when women show up and then when women of color, when we show up as our full selves and we don’t reduce ourselves, it makes white males uncomfortable, and they do not know how to deal with being uncomfortable. And she suggested we keep showing up so they can get used to us because they don’t know how to be uncomfortable. But what I am realizing is that when certain people with certain power and authority are uncomfortable, they do not just sit there and take it, right? They do not just keep letting you show up in their spaces. What they do is they go and they make laws so that they don’t have to be uncomfortable because as the guy said, no one should ever have to feel that uncomfortable. They go out and they make laws to change it so they do not have to worry about being uncomfortable. When it comes to this fearless flame case, my question is, who is here in this case? It is a federal case, so the judges are appointed by the president, and they’re confirmed by the US Senate. 

 And my point is this, that elections matter, both on the federal level and especially on the local level, because who we’re sending to Congress to represent our interests, it matters. Who are we going to send and what do they stand for? This year is an election year and not just a presidential election year. There are 435 United States House seats up for grabs in the 33 Senate seats. More importantly, local elections where people will be elected to make decisions that directly affect you are happening. It’s appointed to make your voice heard not just personally but on matters that affect your business. And I know people make small businesses seem unimportant. You know, that is your little business you are doing, you know, all that stuff. But what does the data say? According to the SBA, 99% of businesses are small businesses. Say what? And small businesses employ almost 50% of the US workforce. So to me, I do not know about you, but to me, it sounds like we have power. It sounds like my small business matters. It sounds like I need to be more intentional about who I will like to represent me, my interests in that in my business. And the best way to do this is to stay informed and to stay engaged. So it’s not enough just to know who the candidates are. You need to keep up with their policies. You need to know how they’re going to impact businesses and small businesses. At 10 local town halls, we’re having a town hall here in Montgomery today. Today from 11 to 1230 at the Lab on Dexter. If you have not registered yet, registration is closed, but keep an eye out. We do plan to take the show on the road, but attend local town halls, attend debates, read reliable news sources people, get different viewpoints. Don’t say committed to reading things that are biased and you know they are biased, right? Get some reliable news sources and engage in discussions with other business owners and community members to understand different perspectives.  

Cause I promise you that it is very important to have those different perspectives because sometimes people mention issues. Or maybe there’s an issue that you thought you understood, and you saw one way, but then someone brings up a point and you are like, Oh my gosh, I didn’t even consider that. So have conversations, talk to people. And I think by being informed, you can make an educated choice that aligns with your business interests. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Own Your Genius. I know that this was me being a little bit on my soapbox. I appreciate you hanging in there. Remember, every vote matters, and as a business owner, your voice can influence policies that directly impact your business and community. Geniuses, what are your takeaways from this week’s episode? If you found today’s episode insightful, share it with fellow entrepreneurs, and don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and leave a review. 

Let’s take this conversation over to the Markedlegal Community. I want you to share this episode with three people and have them meet you there. But you know what to do before you go. Make sure you hit that subscribe button and rate the podcast. Until next week, I want you to keep building your business, growing your brand, and owning your genius.