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Irma Zoepf
The Z Bridge
Driving Business Results From DEI
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Irma is a strategic and collaborative bilingual leader committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in both the workplace and the community. Irma reinvents, develops, and implements systems and processes that align with an organization’s goals, its people, and its values to ultimately achieve better results, increased productivity, and a more engaged workforce.Irma’s blend of experience from engineering, HR, and culture, enables her to bring a unique skillset and perspective to her client work. She blends her technical and leadership experience, including Lean and Six Sigma to design and develop strategies that organically blend systems and people to reach goals in a diverse and inclusive culture where everyone can thrive.Irma has a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Sonora, Mexico, and an MBA focused on Business Strategy from Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain. She is certified as a Diversity Executive (CDE) by the Institute of Diversity Certification. Irma serves in various nonprofit boards and is the founder of Women in Silicon Valley Network. 

The Z Bridge is a woman-owned boutique coaching business specializing in cultural development and leadership focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, to reach better results.

In this episode

We are all aware that there's a social obligation for businesses of all sizes to be compliant with DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). Irma Zoepf of The Z Bridge argues it's also good for business. She tells us that it contributes to innovation, making people feel comfortable with what they do and producing more for the company. It also improves your understanding of your target market. Irma says you need to fully commit in terms of people, time, and effort to get the business benefits from a DEI initiative. She advises that implementation starts with forming a small team to lead the effort, establish clear and measurable goals, and be accountable. Listen to the end for a nice gift Irma is offering our listeners.

Driving Business Results From DEIIrma Zoepf
00:00 / 22:02

A glimpse of what you'll hear

02:33  DEI makes good business sense.

05:14  Fully commit to DEI to get both the business and social benefits.

06:26  Results you can expect from your DEI efforts.

09:06  Four-step process for implementing a DEI program that drives business results.

12:20  Learn about Irma.  Email Irma at

Episode Transcript
(Note: this was transcribed using transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast.)

Centricity Introduction 0:04

Welcome to the Best Kept Secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a B2B services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co founder and CEO of Centricity, Jay Kingley.

Jay Kingley 0:42

I'm Jay Kingly, Co founder and CEO of Centricity. Welcome to our show, where our guests share their provocative perspectives on what their target market is missing out on. I'm happy to welcome to the show Irma Zoepf founder and principal of The Z Bridge. Irma, coaches, executives and their teams on cultural development and leadership focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. Irma is based in Redwood City, California, which is in the San Francisco Bay Area. Welcome to the show. Irma.

Irma Zoepf 1:16

Nice to be here. Thank you for having me.

Jay Kingley 1:18

One of the buzzwords in today's business climate is DEI , which I had just mentioned is diversity, equity, and inclusion. There is increasing pressure from society, that all companies have to embrace the principles of Dei, they need to create organizations that are diverse, that are equitable, and that are inclusive. And of course, at that level, it sometimes comes across as a bit of motherhood and apple pie, let us salute the flag of DEI, and everybody's talking about it. Everybody wants to help everyone else become organizations that are compliant with the principles of DeiEI But what you don't hear a lot of is, while it has social purpose, does it have business purpose? Does it actually move the needle on the bottom line for a person's business? And Irma? That's where I'd like to start our discussion today. D E I. Sure. Hard to argue socially. But is there really beyond that social purpose? Is there really any business value associated with the concept? Tell us what you think?

Irma Zoepf 2:43

Yes, this is this is very exciting. Because this is what I truly believe that is not only the right thing to do, but it is really helping you at the core. And I will explain how it increases innovation, it helps people feel comfortable of what they do. And they produce more in all aspects of the business succeed. And it's proven in many ways, their pain points that organizations have when they're lacking for DEI or diversity, equity and inclusion, which is this engagement. Because there are biases, that a lot of biases at work, we all have it we have been listening to, you know, on social media, we all have this wrong perceptions. So that's one thing that are not helping the businesses to be more successful. Another point is having a blind spot, not knowing what you really need, not knowing what you your clients, or your target market really will benefit from or how to approach to them, right. So this is part of being aware of what is in your subsystem or your ecosystem. And the other thing that I want to highlight is that when we don't understand our internal processes, our people, our team, and then it expanded to our clients, our market. It's hard to to collaborate and thrive. It's hard to know what is needed and how one can help the other to succeed. So once we are aware of all this, we can enable better collaboration, better understanding or better addressing the pain points that we have.

Jay Kingley 4:45

So the lack of organizational diversity, equity and inclusion. Clearly from what you're telling us has a real business impact. And there's still lots of companies out there that while they get the social purpose, it can frequently come across as we just better tick that box, do it superficially, and get back to work business as usual. And you're pointing out the errors and the mistakes, that and the underperformance that you're going to have if you do that, so that sort of begs the question, Erma is what should companies be doing to infuse these principles of DEI into their organizations to maximize business performance,

Irma Zoepf 5:32

I think that the best approach is to the commitment to be aware that this is not only for social commitment or for being doing the right thing, but how DEI is really going to help your business. So it's a commitment, as you do with other systems or other you know, continuous improvement process that you bring to the to your, your company. So when you are aware of this, then you can commit to your resources, that means time, you know, people and efforts on how you're going to do this. So I think that this is the main key for success on how to implement DEI in your organization.

Jay Kingley 6:22

So Irma, if that's what you need to do, let us be a little bit more specific about how the organization is going to benefit from moving down this path. And I want to start with how it improves the business side. So what would be the argument on how doing what you suggest can improve business results?

Irma Zoepf 6:44

So research has said, you know, research after research have said that having diversity, the top level of the organizations, and if you have gender diversity, for instance, it increase or outperforms other businesses by 25%. And if you have ethnic diversity at the top level of the organization, you in you have you outperformed by 36%, that homogeneous groups, right. So and that is proven in many ways, but still, you know, fortune 500 companies don't show that in the executive at the executive level having 25% or less women representation, and only women of color 3%. So that says a lot. So there is a lot of improvement that we can do.

Jay Kingley 7:37

And what about the decision maker themselves? Obviously, going from check the box, let's make it look to the outside world that were diverse and inclusive and have equity to really infusing it in to your DNA, that's a big change effort, it's going to take a lot of leadership. So talk to me about how that leader who makes the decision to fully embrace what you're talking about, tell me how they benefit. Tell me sort of the emotional impact on them.

Irma Zoepf 8:12

You mentioned, it's take, it's a journey, it takes a it's takes time to get into a place where you have a more diverse and where people feel that they belong, more included. But once you have that leaders can will have peace of mind. Why? Because they will know that they're making the decision based on more information, they are aware of their surroundings, they are aware that they have blind spots, and then bringing people with different perspectives to target or to collaborate and find better solution. You know, there is a phrase that says two minds think better than one mind. Right? And it's applied to hear because one can't know everything. But you know, collectively as a team, you have more power than one, the smartest person in the room.

Jay Kingley 9:08

You've articulated some real quantitative benefits to having diversity in the organization. You talked about how the leader can actually benefit from moving down this path. So talk to us now about what are the steps you would take to implement the kinds of changes that you're talking about.

Irma Zoepf 9:33

We started with commitment. They're not the commitment to bring this work, or this tool or resource to your organization. Then you create a small team that will help you to succeed. I will help you to put this together. It's very important to have clear goals, because this is not a subjective topic. This is not only qualitative, but it is objective. So you You can create goals that will make your reach better results. That means, you know how you're diversifying your team, how you are enabling collaboration? So you have heard about smart goals, right?

Jay Kingley 10:14

Can you just define that for us? For those who don't know,

Irma Zoepf 10:18

So SMART goals are defined as specific, measurable, accessible, resourceful, or having relied, being reliable, and time bound. And this is something that helps us to, to reach those goals, right. And so I will add the I for inclusion. So how to be more inclusive with this course. Whether to your team or to your market, your product, and II as equally, how fair is that goal, not only to you, but your team and your organization? So I'm sorry, so we were talking about this. And the last thing is, you know, being accountable. So how you're following up? How is that related to the end business? Right? So because if we leave it very subjective, then it's hard to, to know, did it work? Did it? Did it not work? And how was that related to our end results, our profits, so follow up and be accountable,

Jay Kingley 11:24

I'm gonna thank you for sharing your insights on how DEI goes beyond just ticking the socially responsible box, but also drives real business value, we're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we're going to learn a bit more about arrma.

Centricity Introduction 11:46

Wondering how much longer you have to grind and chase after every lead conversation and client, Wondering how much longer you have to grind and chase after every lead conversation and client, would you like clients to knock on your door so you no longer have to pitch follow up and spam decision makers. Well Centricity's The Tipping Point program uses a proven five step process that will help you get in front of the decision makers you need by spending less time on doing all of the things you hate. It's not cold, calling cold email, cold outreach on LinkedIn or any other social media platform, or spending money on ads. But it has a 35 times higher ROI than any of those things, leveraging your expertise and insights that your prospects and network value. The best part even though you'll see results in 90 days, you get to work with the Centricity team for an entire year to make sure you have all the pieces in place and working. So you can start having freedom of time and a life outside of your business. So email to schedule an 18 minute call to learn more.

Jay Kingley 12:44

Welcome back. We're talking to Irma Zoepf of The Z Bridge. Let's find out a bit more about Irma. Irma, let me start by asking you, what are the pain points that you solve for your clients? And why do they need you to get rid of the pain?

Irma Zoepf 13:00

I help them in the entire process from creating this awareness by helping them create the the team that is going to be working with DEI and coaching them throughout the process? You know, what are the goals that are trying to reach how they're going to reach them how they're going to make people accountable, and deliver the results. It requires, you know, follow up of all the initial steps to get to where you want to be. And then how you are making not only your team, but the entire organization responsible for this new way of approaching business.

Jay Kingley 13:46

I'm sure you've heard the expression, you are the company that you keep. So every business executive that I know, when they bring in someone from the outside to work with only wants to work with the best. Could you imagine if somebody said, Well, I brought in Irma with The Z Bridge because she's average, because she's mediocre because she's dirt cheap? Because that would reflect on me. So let's hit at the answer to that question, which is what makes you great at what you do?

Irma Zoepf 14:24

You start but that questions when you start doing this work right? Like why why am I doing this and why is it am I better than most people or so I had the luxury to start as an engineer, quality engineer with process improvement. And and I have this background and then I work in HR. I work with the managers I work with the employees and I've worked with the executive team. So how I I really love the data, the process, the system following the system, but I am So have the soft skills of people and understanding the importance of the culture of the organization. So I, I brought this two together. And then I worked with my, with my systems that I know you're not lean methodologies design thinking to tackle very soft and qualitative topics or that we think that they are as people, but in creating or just presenting in a way that we can know we are targeting the right goals are the right situation, what are the things that that bother us and how we can get to a better solution. And this is what I come strong, and I can help you and I have the the experience of working with different companies at different levels. And and that's what I bring to the table. So it's all my experience together.

Jay Kingley 16:00

And I think our my people can get even a better sense of your experience by going to your LinkedIn profile, see the different types of positions that you had, on the lines that you indicated your education, your background, all I might add, very impressive. But I'm going to ask a little bit of a different question. I'd like to understand what happened in your life that would most explain why you're doing what you do today.

Irma Zoepf 16:26

So yes, we all have a, you know, like, a reason for doing this, right? So mine started, like very early on my career. I remember now minority in many dimensions are in many ways. So I'm an engineer, I'm 23 years old, and I'm working in a very male dominated company. And I was very young. So I was put in charge of a team to lead changes and, you know, top quality team. So at the beginning, people didn't like to work with me, they were offended, because young woman was leading the team, and we're talking about you no operators in the automotive industry. So it was very hard to start. But because I was coming, fresh, new, I was willing to listen to everyone, even if it was a big team, I was willing to, you know, follow the lean methodology that we were using. And I was working very hard to gain the trust and confidence of the entire team bringing everyone together. So that's the inclusion part, right? You know, after a couple of years of working together, and trying my best to understand to listen to all these things that intuitively, intuitively, I realized when I was doing, we got the best result that ever had that team, people at the beginning, people started trusting me working together, and then you know, we we won, we won the first price of JD Power in that system. So I was very happy. And I think that that experience, follow me for the for up to today. So when I started working with people in HR, when I started, you know, supporting executives and coaching them to how to best manage this, their teams, I mean, I keep remembering how important it is to, to bring this inclusiveness in this sense of, you know, team collaboration, for everybody to you know, to perform better, and preach the calls, get better results, and anything that you do, and I have seen time and time again, that this is the secret sauce, and it's not secret, you know, like design thinking also has, you know, all the real, you know, tools that we have to succeed based on how we collaborate to each other how we feel comfortable, and and validated at what we do. We we feel that people listen to what we have to say. And that then we can, you know, feel comfortable providing more and sharing that enables not only better environment, and you know, you know the cultural environment, which is super important. But ultimately at the end you get better results. People are happy, they do better with jobs, they do better at everything that they do.

Jay Kingley 19:26

Well, that is certainly very inspirational and shows, I think a character trait a character trait necessary to success, which is perseverance. So I am I am sure that we've got a lot of people in the audience that would love to reach out to you continue the conversation about how you get real business value from a dei type of initiative. What's the best way for them to get in touch?

Irma Zoepf 19:52

That's why it will be over my email. It's or my website also it's a good resource you can find a lot of information there and how I work,

Jay Kingley 20:05

I will be certain to put that in the show notes and in the insert into the video make it easy for our audience Irma you have been very enlightening. I think you've put a nice perspective on why dei goes well beyond ticking social box, and is essential in order to get the business results that owners shareholders boards of director and employees, not to mention customers are expecting from any organization that they do business with. So truly enlightening, if not inspiring. And, you know, most shows, they would sort of say, Okay, thanks, bye, bye, we're done. I'm not most shows, I always represent the interests of my audience, my goal is to extract the most value that I can out of every guest that we have on the show. So I have gotten to know you a bit. And I'm just thinking to myself, I think I can do more. I think maybe we can extract a little bit of a gift. A little bit of something extra to offer our listeners, Irma, you're on the spot. Give us something.

Irma Zoepf 21:27

All right. All right. So yeah, I you know, I love what I do. And I, you know, I do it, because I believe in it. And I want everybody to use it. I want everybody to to, you know, advance DEI not only on the organization's but imagine if all the world is, you know, being conscious and aware of where we are and listen to each other. So because of that, and because I'm happy to be part of the solution. I I will offer 30 minute consultation to all your audience chose when they reached out to me, they said, You know, I saw you or listen to you with Jay, the podcast. And that will be it thirtyminutes you can we can talk more one on one on your own situation or what you're trying to accomplish. What are your challenges, and then I can give you some advice and then we go from there.

Jay Kingley 22:32

Okay, folks, you heard her reach out to Irma send her an email and her email address telling you her on the Best Kept Secret show. Take advantage of that very generous consultation. And let's move the ball farther down the field. Irma. Thank you so much for being such a fabulous guest to my audience. Let's continue to crush it. Until next time.

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