Shakin' It Up


For the most part, Corporate America sucks at Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Wait, you don't believe me? Look at the numbers for this nearly 60 year-old practice. In most organizations today money is thrown at training, messaging, and an inability to match one's brand articulation with reality.


Enter John Graham, a diversity leader with a recruitment marketing and branding background, not to mention practical experience with logos like Amgen and Merck.


But wait there's more...


Shaker Recruitment Marketing, a nearly 70 year-old agency, barges in the room and plants its DEI stake in the ground by hiring John as their VP of Employment Brand, Diversity, and Culture.


PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:

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INTRO (1s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.


Chad (34s):

I am Chad Sowash. Today we have a guest host. Give it up for John Graham. Everyone. Let me hear it.


John (43s):

Hey, Hey!


Chad (45s):

We're lactose free today, John.


John (47s):

Yes, indeed. Indeed. Dairy-free for sure.


Chad (51s):

Let's just jump into this real quick. Why don't we have John on the show? That's a good question. First and foremost, we needed to up the show's IQ. That was number one. Yeah, many requests from, from the peanut gallery saying that we need to up up the IQ of the show, but John is a brand strategy stud with logos, like Merck Amgen under his belt, attended Lincoln University went to this little school called Yale. I mean, John, do me a favor. Give the listeners a little Twitter bio about you.


John (1m 26s):

Yeah. I would label myself as a dot connector between history and modern day reality. Oh. As I attended the first degree granting HBCU in the country, the Lincoln University, I was an African studies major/ history minor, originally comp science, funny enough, but that's a whole other story. That's an easy parallel, you can see how somebody would veer off to African studies. But, but yeah, and then I did my master's in education and decided I'd never set foot in a classroom, but ultimately what I've come to understand is I'm one who can articulate the brand at the tip of a company's tongue, right? Like they're on the verge of understanding who they are. And I helped him get all the way there, but even more so I help improve the daily lived experiences of the marginalized.


John (2m 13s):

And I feel like that's where, you know, sort of the marketing and the branding and the storytelling converge into this shabang called employer brand and culture marketing.


Chad (2m 22s):

So today you are Senior Manager, Global Employer Brand and Recruitment Marketing at Amgen. Is that, is that, is that what's happening?


John (2m 32s):

Well, not exactly Chad.


Chad (2m 35s):

No, wait a minute! Your LinkedIn says you're an Amgen. So therefore.


John (2m 40s):

Well, you know, you can't believe everything you see on the internet, Chad.


Chad (2m 43s):

Well, what the hell's going on here. Tell me what's going on?


John (2m 45s):

Well, I had a great run at Amgen. We built an amazing EBP and employer brand and it's, you know, globalizing and localizing as we speak, but I have taken a new path, a completely venture, some might be shocked and some might be like, yeah, that makes sense. But I have gotten into now the consulting side of the game and stepping outside the sort of expand the impact.


Chad (3m 12s):

Smart.


John (3m 13s):

And so I there's this the small, but mighty shop how'd that some know who have courted me and we've seen eye-to-eye on where the future of employer brand can go and believe that DEI and employer brand are going to merge. And so now we're on this new venture and I'm happy to say that I have joined the good folks over at Shaker Recruitment Marketing.


2 (3m 36s):

Oh, Joe Shaker. You gotta be kidding me. That's awesome. Yeah, the little shop that's been around 50 plus years for goodness sakes.


John (3m 45s):

Indeed.


Chad (3m 46s):

So what made you jump ship from a big logo to go into recruitment marketing as a service and really what are you going to be doing there?


John (3m 59s):

That's a great question. So I think what, you know, after conversations about the disconnect between the roses and the champagne of employer brand that is today versus the realities of cultures within organizations and seeing that gap, I saw very clearly that DEI, you know, with great internal initiatives, lack of external face. And I also saw that employer brand's job is to package and articulate a company's culture to make it attractive to talent. And I'm like, well, you can't talk about the culture without incorporating DEI because that is the culture, right?


Chad (4m 37s):

Oh, you hope it is right.


John (4m 39s):

One would hope, one would hope, one would think. And so for me it was like, okay, I'm in a, you know, a big pond, you know, Amgen twenty-three thousand global employees, Merck was, you know, 180,000 global employees. And I'm like, okay, you can do so much,


Chad (4m 59s):

Damn!


John (4m 60s):

.... within one company. What would it look like if you could expand this and really bringing new pathway to exploring an employer brand and an EBP from a means that that helped the company's marketing match their reality. And that's where I said, you know, you can't do that from one company. You know, you can do it from many, but that's where it made sense to take a whole new approach.


Chad (5m 23s):

Well, is that how you feel like you can really make a much larger impact is like, you can only do so much under one logo, but if you are at a shop like Shaker, you have many different logos that you can perspectively impact around brand articulation and DEI.


John (5m 43s):

Yeah. That's the 100% correct. In my mind, I think I had always done the speaking engagements and the conference circuit, you know, talking about these things and I loved it. Right. I would see after, you know, you get off stage and you're when we could be in person with people. And you're having the conversations with your peers who are doing this great work at other companies. And you're seeing just like, man, you're you're you're so right. Like it's, we need to do a better job of incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into the employer brand story. But how, and for me, you know, I realized that this is not, this is a new capability in, in the space of, you know, recruitment, marketing, employer, brand, and EVP developments for companies.


John (6m 28s):

So, you know, what we're building is Shaker. It's going to be a first of its kind. It's going to push companies past performance, which is, I think a very important thing, not only for myself, but Joe was a hundred percent behind that in the sense that he didn't want to get into this work, right. It's, it's a, it's a 57 year old practice, DNI consulting, $8 billion industry. And you see a lot of companies now throwing a ton of money at it. So, you know, outside looking in, it looks like a great business move, but, you know, Joe was very clear and we agreed from the start. It's like this isn't about making money. This is about making change, like doing really good work that actually moves needles and, okay if there's money on as a result of that. Cool. But, but let's, let's do good work and have fun while doing it.


John (7m 10s):

Change, change the landscape and have that really help the marketing match reality.


Chad (7m 13s):

Making change, and you've got to feed the family at the same time. I mean, let's get through that real quick. Yes. Here's the thing. So brand articulation to me over the years with recruitment marketing, especially around DEI has been fluff. So tell me about what yourself and Shaker will be doing to drive real outcomes. We're talking about companies who, as we can see the tip of the iceberg have 8% female representation in the CEO position alone. Right? Because that's just what we can see. You know, the rest of that iceberg is even worst when it comes to workforce composition, equity and inclusion. What are you guys going to do?


Chad (7m 53s):

Not just to talk about the fluffy shit and articulation, but actually drive outcomes?