November-December 2021: A Note from Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Inkandescent Women magazine — I had the pleasure of meeting Toi B. James in 2020 when Tony Farmer, my co-host of the Black Lives Matter Radio Show, brought her onto our podcast and video show. Scroll down for details, and be sure to check out the episode.
Fast forward a year. Toi reached out to ask if she could send me a copy of her new book, “Talk About It!” Of course, I welcomed the invitation, and am happy to share it with you!
The reason is simple: Toi brings a lot to the table. As the founder and Chief Impact Officer of RedInk Enterprises, LLC, her boutique coaching and consulting firm specializes in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Belonging located in Atlanta, GA. RedInk supports DEI&B initiatives for companies and organizations and provides collaborative, transformational experiences for individual clients to help ensure every individual is seen, heard, and respected. She envisions a world where you are empowered to be exactly who they are — wherever they are.
Talk About It: 12 Steps to Having Transformational Conversations … even when you disagree provides structured guidance to help build or rekindle relationships that are new, seemingly severed, or in need of strengthening – one conversation at a time. The steps outlined will prepare you to have conversations once considered taboo, difficult, or without purpose. Coach and Consultant Toi B. James shares techniques proven successful in coaching sessions that will help you or your organization talk about the things that matter.
“In a world where we communicate constantly using different modalities – online and off – at any time of the day or night globally, we are more disconnected than ever,” Toi knows. “Research has shown that we feel more isolated as time passes, with the ‘us vs them’ mentality widening the gap.”
What is painfully clear, she insists, is our diminishing ability to talk to each other from a place of authenticity, vulnerability, and courageousness.
“With social media now determining how we view ourselves and others, reclaiming our need for true connection is becoming increasingly important. Having more thoughtful conversations will allow us to unmask ourselves – leading to transformative experiences – at home and in the workplace. Doing so doesn’t have to be as scary or impossible. When conversations are rooted in truth and compassion, no matter the topic, they can serve as a catalyst to creating lasting bonds and revolutionary changes.”
Click here to buy the book! Scroll down to learn more about Tony Farmer’s interview with Toi!
Don’t miss our interview with Toi and Tony Farmer, co-host, Black Lives Matter Radio Show — Tonight we are thrilled to welcome to the Black Lives Matter Radio Show Toi B. James, a customer care inclusion and performance optimization expert, currently working for a large telecom firm in Atlanta, GA.
She leads all aspects of Customer Care’s Inclusion & Diversity efforts, developing programs, providing coaching and support, and serving as the primary contact and liaison for enterprise enablement resources, including leader and agent operational communications and tools. She has years of experience in communications, marketing, corporate responsibility, and public affairs working within both private and public sectors.
Toi holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Saint Augustine’s University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Georgia State University. She is also a certified project manager and certified diversity coach who has earned grant writing and technical writing certificates from the University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University. She is also a trained crisis communicator.
“I have a passion for ensuring each person I encounter feels seen, heard and respected,” she Toi, who is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and celebrates her life through her passion for art, reading, writing, hiking, laughing with family and her dearest friends — and coffee. “I try to bring a sense of overwhelming enthusiasm in every area of my personal and professional life.”
On today’s show, we discuss:
- Toi’s thoughts regarding the BLM movement?
- What she says to those who note, “All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter.”
- What makes inclusion important to her?
- What she believes corporations can do to ensure their employees feel they can bring their full professional selves to work.
- What she says to those who think diversity training — aka unconscious bias training — is enough?
- How she uses her coaching skills to support the advancement of inclusion, professionally or personally.
- And last but not least, what would you like people to know about BLM from her perspective.
Don’t miss it: Download our podcast interview now!
As for What’s Next for this Truly Amazing Woman, scroll down to learn more!
What’s Next: 4 Questions for Toi B. James
Hope & Cynthia: Tell us about your business/industry and its before the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Toi: At the start of 2020, I was so excited by the professional and personal opportunities presented. I’m an optimist, by nature, but 2020 felt special. “It’s a new year,” I thought. Why not believe it’s going to be amazing? I finished my Associate Diversity Coaching certification, developed a business plan, and obtained an LLC (for RedInk Enterprises) in late March. I also started writing a book that required collecting personal stories from others. My corporate work was pretty routine. I didn’t anticipate many changes, but I was excited about what I was creating for myself, which remained my main motivation source.
Hope & Cynthia: Where were you personally in your life when COVID-19 arrived in the US? What were your short and long-term goals at that time?
Toi: The impacts of COVID happened. Lockdown. Friends dying. Praying for other friends who got gravely ill by COVID but thankfully survived. George Floyd’s death also brought about a much-needed awareness of racial injustice, fueling social unrest as never seen before during my generation globally. The company I work for ensured everyone worked from home and gave us the tools to do it successfully, but it seemed as if we were all working so much harder. Without the ability to socialize with friends and loved ones in the same way, and work-life and home life blending, it all started to take a mental toll. The book idea and business took a back seat as I adapted to the new way of navigating the world – virtually.
Fortunately, my senior leader knew of interest in bringing my coaching skills and DEI education and resources related to building a more inclusive corporate culture and tapping me to lead the organization’s charge. It was definitely more work, but it provided me with the opportunity to contribute to the broader discussion about how to have inclusive, courageous conversations we all desperately needed to have to create a sense of belonging – of being seen, heard, and respected at a time when marginalization was discussed and experienced around the world. My short-term goals became shorter while I focused on doing the best I could each day. Even though I upskilled my certification to Professional Diversity Coach, my long-term goals took a back seat. I knew I was on the right path still. The path just took a detour that began slowly revealing itself. Coaching became my focus. Helping people identify the ‘isms and biases that prevent them from living the life they want or being fully themselves, or reaching their professional or personal goals is where I found my “magic.”
Hope & Cynthia: What are your thoughts now about your industry, your business, your personal life, your heart?
Toi: Thankfully, coaching is now being recognized as a way to really engage individuals and teams in organizations – especially as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Training is now considered a great “first step,” but engagement has always been key. That’s how connection – to oneself and others – is created. I’m thrilled about the future of the industry.
RedInk Enterprises, which focuses on coaching and helping clients fully understand and tell their own “life” story, is growing. Building partnerships has allowed me to expand my list of potential clients and to have more in-depth conversations with a broader audience. I remain open to all possibilities!
Although I can’t wait to hug and communicate with family and friends more often and more intimately, I’m eager to learn about the innovation that’s being born at this time! Creatives create. Innovators innovate. They are hard at work right now. Looking forward to seeing the pure goodness being shaped as we speak. My heart is open and receptive, as always. Remember, I’m an optimist – who has bad days on occasion.
Hope & Cynthia: Now the big question — What do you see coming next?
- For your industry: More corporations incorporating coaching as a must-have as opposed to a nice-to-have, as well as individuals seeing coaching’s true value as it relates to personal and professional development.
- For your company: More opportunities to support individuals and organizations in ways they never thought possible – while being both purpose- and results-driven. I’m particularly looking forward to how I can support DEI-related advancements for individuals and organizations.
- For yourself: Living a more purpose-driven life. There are not enough minutes in a day to do what you don’t like or care about. Time is not infinite. I plan to use it well.
- For the country: An openness and a shift that’s required for us to move forward. The genie of “us-vs-them” is out of the bottle and is shown to be false. Globalization is here to stay. What impacts one place impacts another, which impacts all of us.
- For the world: It’s time to realize that we, in fact, do need each other…that we’re connected. The sooner we understand that, the better. Once we knock down the exclusion walls, we can begin to see progress – for everyone – in real tangible, beneficial ways.
- For women: That we fully realize we deserve and will receive equity. That who we, as our whole selves, matter. Hindering us hinders progress for all. We don’t want what’s “yours”; we want what we deserve – what’s ours. That’s it.
Hope & Cynthia: One more question — now tell us the one question we didn’t ask you — and give us your response.
Toi: Why is this important to me? It’s personal. I’ve always seen the world as a huge place, filled with people who had fascinating stories to tell if given the opportunity. Instead, I was met with its desire for suffocating homogeneity. In my efforts to ensure everyone feels seen, heard, and respected, I encourage each person I encounter to be themselves – to tell their personal story and address the “things” they may not have realized about themselves that cause separation. At the same time, I want to give them the tools to help others do the same.
I know what it feels like to feel invisible. I know how it feels to watch others advance professionally while being held back. I know what’s it like to be judged negatively as soon as I walk into a room, for too often, people create their own false narrative about me. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like that. I believe your uniqueness is what makes you special – not just different – and it should be honored, not diminished. Being “you” shouldn’t be an option.