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Stop Hiring Racists

It's time for the uncomfortable and hard conversations kids.

If someone you know or are connected to promotes racism what would you do? Would you actively engage and educate? Or would you just hide and hope it all goes away?

Well people, it is not going away and Madison Butler will not have any of it. Madison on LinkedIn aka Corporate Unicorn on Twitter speaks her mind and attracts racists on LinkedIn like a tiki torch magnet.

This podcast segment hammers away on one burning question...

How do we stop hiring racists?

As always, you're favorite podcast is powered by NEXXT.


INTRO (24s):

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.

Joel Cheeseman (29s):

Get a little Texas spicy, a little heat coming at you folks.

Chad (29s):

This is, this is going to get hot people. This is going to get hot today, we have Madison Butler. Madison, do you care if I call you Maddie? I see that on your profile.

Madison Butler (-):


Joel Cheeseman (43s):

Cool. So Maddie's cool. So tell us a little bit about you and then we'll dive into a little bit deeper about what this podcast is about, and then we'll just roll with some discussion.

Madison Butler (51s):

For sure. So I think most people would know me as the Blue Haired Recruiter, which I have since kind of changed my branding to just the Blue Haired Unicorn Recovering Recruiter, as I am no longer a full time recruiter, but I do a lot of work on the consulting side with culture and BI and how to create environments that are really healthy and safer, you know, your employees and your organization, but something that is also, you can continue to build on and create rather than like a one time workshop that everyone that comes out and then you never talk about it again until the next year.

Chad (1m 23s):

Gotcha. So we've obviously experienced a lot, not just with COVID obviously within the last, you know, six plus months.

Chad (2m 1s):

The murder of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, I mean the list goes on and on and on. And it seems like the, the conversation, the discussion has been elevated, which is which I personally believe, I hate that it had to happen because of murders, but I'm glad that it did happen from the standpoint of, we get to have this conversation at an elevated level where it should have been happening for many years. And you have been incredibly vocal in calling people out around racist comments and, and saying, Hey, we need to stop hiring racists. So.

Joel Cheeseman (-):

Shine a light.

Chad (2m 24s):

How did you get into this? What made you do this? What made you get up on the stump and say, fuck, this, this shit can't happen anymore, I'm pointing at you and we're going to have the discussion, whether you like it or not?

Joel Cheeseman (2m 24s):

Back story.

Madison Butler (2m 25s):

Well, so full transparency, I'm black, like navigating corporate America has been really interesting to me to see who has been able to be successful despite having like a really insufferable character. And I think a lot of times people are shrugged aside if they're really good at their job. Like if you are hitting your quota, you earn the business a lot of money no one cares.

Madison Butler (2m 59s):

And so we lived in this time for so long where it was scarier to call someone out for being a racist than it was to actually be a racist. And for me, that narrative is backwards, like you should be fearful enough to know that you can't say those things at work, or you can't say those things online because you should be held accountable for the things that you say that are hate towards other people. Instead we've made it so the victim of the abuse is the person who is now fearful. They're feel fearful for bringing up, you know, this person has harmed me, this person has traumatized me and instead they just keep it to themselves and like swallow that trauma because we've conditioned racist to feel comfortable in our workspace.

Joel Cheeseman (3m 33s):

Was there a moment where you sort of said, if not now, when, if not me, who and you made that decision to, to be sort of the light that shines on these folks? I mean, because it's dangerous for you as well, right? I mean, like you put yourself at whether it's verbal risk or I don't know physical, but like there's a risk in doing that. Was that ever a question for you?

Madison Butler (3m 55s):

So I've kind of always been like this I'm very much. My parents really raised me to like, say exactly what I'm feeling and to stand up for the things I really believe are right. And there's definitely, I've gotten lots of death threats, LinkedIn and on Twitter. And I think that's just, what's part of being...

Chad (4m 12s):

On LinkedIn people.

Joel Cheeseman (4m 14s):

And did you report it? What happened?

Madison Butler (4m 16s):

Yeah. And so I did report it. LinkedIn is pretty quick, usually about like violence and taking it down Twitter, not as great. Twitter is kind of a cesspool sometimes as we know. But I think for me, it wasn't a matter of like, if not who, then it was just like, I believe so deeply in this. And I see the trauma that's created in workspaces. And at the end of the day, like you may clock out at 5:00 PM, but like everything that happened to you all day goes, home with you.

Madison Butler (4m 49s):

And so I think we are really hindering the ability for marginalized communities to be successful because you can't be successful if you're spending your whole day trying to be someone else in order to fit in at your company.

Chad (4m 59s):

Yeah. Amen. So I was doing some homework before the show and noticed that your Twitter account was sort of private and Chad alerted me that it hasn't always been that way. Was there a moment where you went to a private account or were there, was it from threats or what, what's the story on that?

Madison Butler (5m 15s):

I went private basically because sometimes your mentions get really exhausting when it's just like people dropping me N-bomb repeatedly. And so I do it every once in a while where I'll go private for a couple of weeks to like save myself the sanity and I'll go back public when I feel like maybe those people have forgotten about me and moved on to their next adventure, which happens. I'm usually, you know, people really fixate on me for like a couple of weeks and then they go away.

Madison Butler (5m 45s):

And that's not new to me, so I'll just make it private for a little bit. And then come back when I feel like the world has died down a bit.

Joel Cheeseman (-):


Chad (5m 51s):

Administration that we've been in, unfortunately for the last almost four years, it seems like, you know, th the racists have been given the license to come out of their fucking holes. Is that just me as a white dude that I'm recognizing this more? Or is this something that you recognize as well?

Madison Butler (6m 10s):

Yeah, I mean, I guess I just feel like as of late, racists have felt really emboldened to believe that their views are normal.

Chad (6m 17s):


Madison Butler (6m 18s):

And that they're, and that it's a difference in political views, not a difference in morals and that's completely false because although I am not a Republican, I am very left leaning and liberal. I don't think, that like, racism and politics are correlated. Like, I don't think they're the same thing. Now, when we talk about this current political climate. Yes. I think there's a lot of those things that are tied, but for whatever reason, when you talk about racism, somehow people always end up on Trump and I'm like, why?

Madison Butler (6m 51s):

I didn't say anything about Trump. I didn't say anything about politics. Like, I didn't say like which way I went. And so for whatever reason, this political climate has allowed people to feel a little bit more involved in. I mean, my partner is a black woman and she would go into the gas station. We live in like a very conservative Lake town. And like, just like without question, like some dude in a truck called him the N-bomb, like, didn't even think twice about it. And that just like blows my mind. Like, cause I don't know what he stood to gain from that. And I don't know why he felt comfortable with saying that in a parking lot full of people, but that parking lot full of people didn't say anything.

Madison Butler (7m 25s):

So it's like, we've made it normal.

Chad (7m 26s):

And that was a person who didn't know you. I, but one of the concerns that I've had, I mean, I've lived, I've worked remote since 20, you know, 2012. But one of the concerns that I have is that's happening or at least some of those sentiments are actually happening in the workplace, whether it's a remote workplace or the actual physical workplace, that license is coming out there. Have, have you seen that? And, and I mean, one of the reasons why I'm asking is because you're, I think primary mechanism to see these racists actually come at you is on LinkedIn.

Chad (8m 10s):

It's not Twitter. It's not Facebook. It's actually LinkedIn a professional network.

Madison Butler (8m 11s):

Yup. Then, I mean, that's the crazy thing to me. And like, it's funny because people are always like, Oh my God, you're doxing these people. But like one that's not what doxing is. Doxing is like me, like researching your life and finding out things that I wouldn't have found out otherwise. However, what you choose to say publicly on a public platform that is linked to your employer, sounds like a personal problem, sounds like a lack of judgment, sounds like your inability to think that there is accountability in the world. So for me, it's like always mind blowing that people are so comfortable on LinkedIn. And I mean, it's not just racism.

Madison Butler (8m 42s):

Like last week I posted a post about women, not, you know, I don't, you don't, or you're not owed my response to a DM to a message to a comment. I recently had someone who commented on my post and I was like, Hey, DM, I need to talk to you. And I'm like, no, I'm good. And he's been like, messaging me, like blowing me up ever since. And so when I tell you like every predatory man on LinkedIn came out of the woodwork, they explain why women owe them smiles and femininity and conversation. I was just like, mind blown. Like, y'all say this in public. Like, I can't imagine what you're like in private.

Joel Cheeseman (9m 13s):

So I'm curious in regards to LinkedIn, and one of the questions I had was I think it was in June of this year, the company had, I guess, a town hall where people could comment anonymously and put input.

Joel Cheeseman (9m 60s):

And it went horribly wrong, which I don't think the CEO or a lot of the people thought that it would. And there were racist comments that were, that were anonymous, later the CEO apologized. I'm assuming you know about this story. I'm guessing it didn't surprise you, even though you're getting comments on LinkedIn, the fact that there are people working at LinkedIn that sort of share these, these attitudes. Did you have any particular feelings when you read about that? Did you want to boycott LinkedIn at any point?

Madison Butler (9m 59s):

No. And it's interesting. Cause so LinkedIn added me to their like amplify black voices page.

Chad (10m 6s):

Cause you have how many followers on LinkedIn?

Madison Butler (10m 9s):

I'm like 40,000 almost.

Chad (10m 12s):


Madison Butler (10m 12s):

But it's like, they added me to this list. But like when you look at the list, a lot of the people they added are like, the way the corporate world wants black people to look and act, so a lot of people who were less loud than me. But when you look at the pictures, it's a lot of people who don't have natural hair or all of these other things. And it's like, LinkedIn, what are you doing? And LinkedIn has a ton of its own problems where like, they just won't get rid of racists. Like it takes forever to have someone band for like constantly harassing you.

Madison Butler (10m 45s):

And that's what, I don't understand, that there's supposed to be a professional platform. So it really shouldn't be take a whole lot of harassment for you to be like, Oh, they're not really gaining anything professionally here. But instead LinkedIn spent a lot of time, banning activists who speak out about racism and black lives, they do a lot of time, doing that. And it's like, that is contradictory to what you're saying, because you're swearing that you believe in black lives matter. But now you are banning marginalized folks from your platform, which will then hinder their ability to find a job.

Joel Cheeseman (11m 12s):

Are you ever critical of LinkedIn on LinkedIn?

Madison Butler (11m 18s):

I actually a couple of weeks ago, they so like the LinkedIn page posted a question and it was like, how can we start hard conversations about race? And so I made a post and was like, Hey, LinkedIn let me help you, maybe the first thing you should do is stop like shadow banning black voices. Because although you amplified black voices, you make sure that they stay out of people's feeds.

Joel Cheeseman (-):

Sure that went over well.

Madison Butler (11m 37s):

And I mean, there was actually someone who, another black woman who made a post pretty similar to mine and a couple of weeks ago kind of showing the same topic and the CEO responded like, Oh no, that's not happening. So again, instead of like taking ownership for like, Oh, maybe our algorithms are biased, which is a thing, like if you don't have the right team working on your product, your algorithms are going to be biased. They're probably gonna be biased because that's how the human mind works. So instead of taking any ownership it's like that's not happening no.

Chad (12m 6s):

It's interesting because you have individuals in it. And before we started, you said that, look, I don't go in, I don't go looking for these people they find me. So I'm not doing a research and I'm not trying to tag people to start, you know, harassing them on LinkedIn. They actually find me. And that's where the hate starts spewing. How does, how does that happen just because you have so many followers and those people have like second connection links?

Madison Butler (12m 35s):

I don't, and that's the weirdest thing to me is so often the hateful comments I get are third connections so I don't know how they found me.

Chad (13m 11s):

Okay, but that being said, what you do, and I don't know if this is cathartic or what it is. You have to explain it to me. You have a ton of followers on LinkedIn, you really don't have that big of a group on Twitter, but yet you take the, you screenshot some of the stupidity that's happening in the racist comments and those types of things on LinkedIn. And then you put it on Twitter. So why, why did you start doing that? Was it to grow a following? Was it because it was cathartic? Why did you start doing that?

Madison Butler (13m 20s):

No, mostly cause I didn't want to do it on LinkedIn, I have a really scheduled on how I post on LinkedIn, how I post content, so I'm not one of those people who posts content more than once a day. Twitter is the only place where I can like go and post multiple times and like have conversation. I won't do that on LinkedIn. I won't do that on Facebook and I won't do it on Instagram. So it's the only platform that I feel like it's normal to post more than once in a day. I keep a small following because it's literally people who know me, or close enough to real life, I try to keep it close enough to the real world. I feel like on LinkedIn I am very accessible to a bunch of people I don't know.

NEXXT (13m 52s):

We'll get back to the interview in a minute. But first we have a question for Andy Katz, COO of Nexxt. Andy, if a company wants to actually come to Nexxt and utilize your database and target texting candidates. I mean, how does that actually work? Right? So we have the software to provide it two different ways. If an employer has their own database of opted in text messages, whether it's through their ATS, we can text on their behalf or we have over eight and a half million users that have opted into our text messaging at this point.

NEXXT (14m 24s):

So we can use our own database. We could dissect it by obviously by geography, by function, any which way and sometimes we'll even parse the resumes of the opted in people to target certifications. So we really can dive really deep if they want to hone in on, you know, just give me the best hundred candidates that I want to text message with and have a conversation back and forth with, versus going and saying, I need 30,000 retail people across country.

NEXXT (15m 3s):

And that's more of a, you know, yes, no text messaging back and apply. For more information, go to Remember that Nexxt with the double X, not the triple X

Joel Cheeseman (15m 16s):

Wanted to talk about solutions a little bit. Two that come to mind, one is, you know, Chad and I have interviewed a company that will basically, you know, search employees Twitter accounts, social media accounts, and sort of with their AI layover will say, Hey, this is a racist comment. This is a sexist comment. Or we've indicated this as a certain type of comment. So then employer's perspective and current can say like, we're not going to hire this person because of their activity. The other thing I would bring up is AI and every AI company that, that Chad and I talked to all talk about how AI is the you know, the pan of the panacea of unbiased recruiting.

Joel Cheeseman (15m 56s):

So I'm curious about your opinion on, on solutions. Is technology going to help solutes solve this? Is there a deeper solution that we should be looking at or is it hopeless?

Madison Butler (16m 46s):

Oh, God, I definitely don't want the solution, is technology, I think too often we try to use technology to solve human problems. That's why so many AI companies got into the BI world and then just kind of like messed it up because they thought they could call humans, with like algorithms. And so, you know, you think about the hiring process and cool maybe you did get some diverse candidates into your pipeline or even got them hired. But if you didn't create a space that was ready for them, you didn't do them any good. You're actually just doing harm. And so I kind of feel the same way about this, like the AI isn't right, then you probably end up with, again, a biased programming system that isn't going to work for everyone. I think a lot of the solution relies on education, but also really as employers being upfront about your values, I mean, as an employer myself, and when I'm interviewing people, one of the things I'm telling them is like, we believe that black lives matter. We believe in the LGBTQ rights. Like these are the things that I talk about in the interview process, because I want people to know that, like this isn't, if this isn't for you, but it's not for you. And I owe them that, I owe them my values and they can make the decision on if they're their values as well. And I hope that most humans will want to work at companies that emulate their own values.

Chad (17m 21s):

Should that be part of the actual interview process? Do you believe for pretty much just, just widespread America, do you believe black lives matter? I mean, that's an easy question, but the answer on the other side, that could be incredibly telling?

Madison Butler (17m 46s):

Of course it is, and I would like love to flip that around as well. Like when we're interviewing as candidates, we should be able to ask companies like, okay, you said black lives matter, but what did you do to back that up?

Chad (-):


Madison Butler (17m 50s):

Or did you, or was it a PR push, like was it just an Instagram post? And so I think there are lots of hard conversations that need to be happening in the interview process that typically aren't happening in the interview process because people are so bad at interviewing and making interviews, human. And so for me, that's a lot of what I do is I really get to know people and I let them get to know me. I let them get to know my company and where we stand on everything. And then when people are hired, we are continuously doing education and the continuing conversations. It's not a workshop that we do once a year. And then we talk about it again in a year, it's a constant conversation.

Madison Butler (18m 20s):

And it has to be because you can't allow these things to slip through the cracks because that's when people then get comfortable, in their bigotry and their biases and their hatred.

Chad (18m 29s):

Well, and that's coming out on different platforms as well. We, we talked about, I think it was last week, this, this, this want to be a Glassdoor platform called Cootbie where they're trying, they're trying to bring out all the hate, right in. And you were subject to part of that. I actually called the, whatever they call them CEO, the guy,

Joel Cheeseman (-):

The dude.

Chad (18m 55s):

Who the fuck knows? Anyway, I talked to him and the person who was actually commenting about you had never gone through the candidate experience and that whole site was predicated on rate your candidate experience. Right. So it seems like, it seems like that was a hit job. Number one, then number two, just this week, I don't know her. Her name is it's like Carlin, like Karl Marx, Karlin, Borisanko that's good. Karlin Boresanko she did a 35 minute like hit job where she's going through LinkedIn and tweets in a lot of what she's going through is, I mean, it's all opinion-based stuff, but she's obviously a Trumper and she wants to try to knock you down.

Chad (19m 41s):

There is a lot of hit jobs going on and I'm sure there are many more. How are you dealing with all this bullshit.

Madison Butler (19m 49s):

By napping a lot and not reading my comment section.

Applause (-):

Clapping and cheers.

Chad (19m 57s):

Don't read those fucking comments. Fuck them.

Madison Butler (19m 60s):

No, not reading the comments is a hundred percent self care, but I think that comes with, and I've learned it multiple times now, like being in the spotlight comes with people who don't agree with the things you say, but on the flip side, it's really easy to not say racist stuff to me. Like it's so easy. No one is forcing you to do that. I have a disclaimer, if you say racist stuff, man, I'm gonna tweet about it. It's not a secret. I told you not to do it. You did it anyway. I don't know. The fact that someone took the time out of their lives to make a 36 minute video to me is like, wild.

Madison Butler (20m 30s):

I mean, she used a very good picture of me. I'm very excited. I looked great in that photo. So I appreciate that. But I dunno, I think it just comes with the territory of like being really strong in your foundation and your morals and the things that you believe in are going to be the people who also are strong and whatever their morals are and whatever it is. And so we're in a world where people have lots of opinions, but we're also in a world where like, opinions can be wrong, like your opinion on racism and not believing black lives matter. I'm going to tell you your opinion is wrong. Like if I have to argue with you about why I'm at it, like I'm not going to do it.

Madison Butler (21m 1s):

I'm going to tell you you're wrong. I shouldn't have to educate you on the value of black lives or the value of any lives. It shouldn't be an argument and it shouldn't, and it shouldn't be a political one, for sure.

Joel Cheeseman (21m 11s):

Can I just, so I want to pivot back to your YouTube video because Chad and I were so jealous, we've been trying for 20 years to piss someone off so much that they make a 35 minute video about us. And the fact that you did it really makes us jealous so I just, I just want to put that out there for a second. My last question is Torrin Ellis, who you probably know a fantastic voice in our industry. Chad and I sat down with him a year or so ago. And we asked him a simple question, which was essentially what can two middle aged white guys do to help the cause?

Joel Cheeseman (21m 45s):

And I'm going to ask you the same question. What can Chad and I do to help move, move things forward?

Madison Butler (21m 52s):

Actually, I had a conversation last night. And so I think, you know, for me, the biggest thing about being an Ally is the ability to pull up. It's not performative. It's not the white cause not for shares. It's like really meaning it. And so I have a really great white Ally here in town, Adam. And so a perfect example of Adam's Allyship is like, when people like this are attacking me, he's always like, can you take this off of her posts? I'm happy to hop on a call with you. Let's talk about it. But it's for me, the act of believing us, as black people so often I have to show up in their seats. I have to explain myself 92 million times before I even get, you know, an ounce of credibility.

Madison Butler (22m 27s):

For example, I posted about driving through son downtown's last week. And like the whole world was like, Oh no, you're not, you're paranoid. I'm like Google is free. Like you can Google it and see this is like a real thing, I'm not making it up, but okay. And so for me, the most important thing from an ally is like normalizing, just believing people when they talk about their lived experiences. And it's not about see something, say something, it's about, say something regardless. It's about normalizing the experiences that black people and marginalized folks go through on a daily basis and them not being questioned about it. That we just believe victims over abusers.

Chad (22m 60s):

How do we change the workplace? Because this is happening everywhere. As we'd said that they're coming out of their holes, how do we overall change the workplace? These hard conversations need to happen. There's no question, but we have to have it in a civil manner. How do we do that? And how do we not? How do we stop hiring racists?

Madison Butler (23m 23s):

Part of that is writing policies that allow you to create the environment that you need at your organization. And so that means no tolerance policies. That means writing policies that are inclusive. So when you're writing your paternity or maternity policy, not just using men and women or husband and wife, because you immediately exclude people and when you exclude people in your policies, it allows other people feel like they can exclude them in the corporate setting as well. And so again, I write no tolerance policies. I have no room for hate.

Madison Butler (23m 53s):

You're not going to be homophobic, racist, transphobic here. I don't care how good you are at your job. I can find someone else who's also good at their job and a good person. Those are things that are super important to me. And again, it's just having these hard conversations, even when it makes us uncomfortable, we have to be willing to get uncomfortable and get our feelings hurt and just feel ih with conversations, it comes with the territory. All of this is a learning process. It's all a journey. It is all a journey that involves a shit ton of self awareness. And as we all know, self-awareness can feel gross and hard and icky.

Madison Butler (24m 25s):

And you have to be comfortable with that because that is the only way we can create change. So when we start making those changes within our own selves.

Applause (-):

Claps and cheers.

Joel Cheeseman (24m 32s):

Love it. Love it. Madison, thank you for sitting down with us. We appreciate it for those that want to know more about you or connect, where would you send them?

Madison Butler (24m 41s):

I'm on LinkedIn, under Madison Butler and I'm on Twitter as the Corporate Recruiter, but it's spelled funny, but you should still be able to find @corprteUnicorn. Sorry. I messed up my Twitter handle so often.

Joel Cheeseman (-):

Awesome! And with that Chad! We out.

Chad (-):

We out.

OUTRO (25m 20s):

Thank you for listen to podcasts with Chad and Cheese. Brilliant! They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Anyhoo, be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. We out.


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