In celebration of Black History Month, AHLA is proud to offer this two-part podcast series on health law after the killing of George Floyd. In Part 1, Thomas J. Wronski, Director of Legal Talent Solutions, EBG Advisors, speaks to Ricardo Johnson, Vice President at Healthworx at CareFirst BCBS, and Clifford Barnes, Member, Epstein Becker & Green PC, about their own career experiences and how they got to where they are now. The podcast discusses the corporate perspective on what changed in 2020, including that companies are paying more attention to structural racism and diversity, how COVID-19 is impacting minority communities disproportionately, and how companies can target resources. The speakers also discuss the concept of social capital and how Black Americans can leverage it. Sponsored by EBG Advisors.
Listen to Part 2.
To learn more about AHLA and the educational resources available to the health law community, visit americanhealthlaw.org.
Support for A H L A comes from E B G advisors, a national strategy and management consultancy based in Washington DC but serving clients globally. They assist the healthcare and life sciences industries with business strategy and program development, policy analysis, regulatory compliance, human resources training, executive compensation, performance improvement, data security, and benefits consulting and legal talent solutions. For more information, visit epg advisors.com .Speaker 2:
My name is Thomas Roski . I'm Director of Legal Talent Solutions for EPG Advisors. I'm a legal search consultant who specializes in recruiting, healthcare and life sciences attorneys for law firms, and for in-house counsel , uh, corporate council positions. The title of today's podcast is Health Law after George Floyd. This is a special program that the American Health Law Association is producing for Black History Month. We have two extremely distinguished panelists for today's discussion. The first is Ricardo Johnson, vice President at HealthWorks at Care First , B C B S at HealthWorks, Ricardo leads a team of healthcare experts and strategists who are dedicated to creating a healthier future for everyone. Ricardo has worked in the field of healthcare and health law his entire career, and has seen the business from both the perspective of an attorney and from a corporate officer. We also have Cliff Barnes renowned partner at the Epstein Becker Green Law Firm. Cliff is co-chair of the Epstein Becker Green Health Plan Compliance Group. He's been with the firm for over 35 years. In 2020, cliff was elected a fellow of the A H L A and recognition of his career long achievements, contributions, and his tenure with the A H L A . Uh, he's a distinguished career and leadership in the legal profession. So this is going to be a free flowing conversation with two brilliant and distinguished minds. We have a lot to offer. So I'm gonna start off today by Ask Cliff to tell us about yourself and your career and life path, and how you got to where you are now.Speaker 3:
Uh, challenges and tribulations. That's how I got here. <laugh>. Uh, but , uh, uh, and I look back , uh, I've , uh, I would call it , uh, a checkered career. Uh, I actually started out in , um, in health administration. I , um, in , uh, in the early, actually late sixties, I was going to college and , uh, was in a , uh, business program. And , uh, as I thought about what I wanted to do , uh, I decided I didn't wanna be a Xerox man or an IBM m man. And that healthcare just made a lot of sense because , uh, it was diverse. It , the lot of different people, kinds of people from the to the neurosurgeon were involved. And it had an impact on society. It made a difference. Uh, and so I , um, I went , uh, I looked around. I went to , uh, I found, I think one of the only programs that had an MBA in health administration. And , uh, went , uh, went to Cornell. I, I , um, I, I had the fortune of , uh, one of my criteria is , uh, finding a school that can give me money. So , uh, so, you know, that's a needle in a haystack, but I did find one. Uh, and , uh, and so , uh, went to Cornell and got out in hospital administration and started working with , um, uh, the Commission of Health in New York City , uh, Lowell Bellon back in the , uh, early, actually seventies, a long, long time ago. And about a year into working with him. And , uh, he was the , uh, chairman of the board of the Health and Hospital Corporation, which in the 19 municipal hospitals, and the chairman of the board of the Health Systems Agency. And I was his assistant on those, on those fronts. So it was a great, great job. About a year into it, he says, cliff, you know, there's gonna be a real , uh, there , there's gonna be a tremendous opportunity in health law, and there's a real future in it. And so I'm 25 years old with a couple of dollars in my pocket. And so future for me in New York City was the weekend. And so <laugh> , that's about as far as I knew. So , uh, he's talking about the future in health law . I said, okay. But he was a brilliant guy. And , uh, so it just caused me to think about it quite a bit. And , uh, roughly about three years later, I decided, you know, that's a , it's a good idea. Uh, and , uh, so , uh, I sent my sites out to , uh, uh, find a law school that would have me and give me some money. Uh, and so I , uh, I was able to do that. Went down to University of Virginia, and , uh, spent one summer in Washington in the summer in Houston, and decided to come to Washington. But the firm that I went with was a , a , um, it's a business. Uh, they were into business. They weren't into health. Uh, but , uh, two months after I got there, the firm broke up. Uh, and , uh, and , and, and literally, I , it was just like, what? Uh, and broke into two parts. And, and at that point, I had a little bit more ego than I had now, and I was kinda like , I don't think I wanna go with these guys. So I looked around and one of the associates in my office said, cliff, you got all this health experience. You ought to go to health law. I said, that's what Dr. Bellon said. So I interviewed a bunch of firms , uh, and went up on the hill, just looked all around. And , uh, I interviewed over at Epstein Becker and, and , uh, hit it off with , uh, uh, with , uh, a couple of the partners there and said, well, let me try that for a couple of years. And 38 years later, I'm still at Epstein, Becker and Green. So it's all to say that , um, uh, at there was a period of time there where, you know, things were not going well. So it seemed because the firm was breaking up, I had , uh, at that moment, I had actually failed the bar. So I had to regroup on a number of things. But every challenge is really an opportunity. And , uh, and so had that firm not broken up, I would not be in health law today, potentially. Uh, so , uh, so , uh, it, it became an opportunity. And , uh, and so, as you mentioned last , um, actually now 38 years, I've been at Epstein, Becker Green . I , I do a transactional and regulatory practice. Uh, I focus a lot in Medicaid managed care. Uh, I , uh, I actually started the , uh, current trade association, Medicaid Health Plans of America. Uh, uh, back in the actually late eighties, I started working with Medicaid plans. Uh, and that's when Medicaid and managed care was just beginning. Uh, and now it's , uh, fairly significant. Um , and then I also work , uh, a good deal in post-acute. Uh, I've worked on hospital transactions, but , uh, more recently, the post-acute area, I think is fascinating. All that's happening with home care and nursing homes and, and , uh, and how this integration , uh, needs to occur, coordination and integration. Uh , and , um, and, and so I'm, I'm having a good time and I continue to have a good time.Speaker 2:
Good. And how about Ricardo? Can you give us some , uh, background yourself?Speaker 4:
Yeah, I would love to , uh, and , uh, um, in awe of , uh, of , of Cliff's career . But , um, I'll , I'll tell my short story for , uh, for what it is . So , um, you know, product of , uh, of West Baltimore. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and , uh, went to college at a small liberal arts college in , uh, in Philadelphia. Came back home , uh, to study at the University of Maryland's Law School. And , uh, went through University of Maryland , uh, has a , has a house law program. And so a decent number, amount of exposure. Um, before I came back to, before I went to law school, I worked briefly , uh, for the CEO and the General Counsel of Independence, blue Cross Blue Shield in , uh, uh, in , in Philadelphia. Um, during the time where there was a proposed merger between , um, I B C and , uh, and Highmark , um, and really got the , um, the, let's say the healthcare bug. Um, and the , and the corporate bug , uh, um, that year, it was a really, really interesting experience, really fast paced experience. And so after I , when I was finishing law school , um, it was right after the , um, or it was actually probably a year or so after , um, the crash , uh, uh, the 2008 financial crash. And , um, the firm , uh, a lot of firms were doing this. And the firm that I was thinking of going to , uh, uh, had deferred , uh, the hiring of their associates. And , uh, you know, you were basically sitting home. And so , uh, I had somebody ask me, a mentor, ask me , um, you know, student loans are a real thing when you're coming out as a, as a young lawyer. And so , um, somebody said, well, you know , if money wasn't a thing , um, what would you do? Right? If, if you, what would you do with, with your legal career? And, you know, I said , I really loved my time at , uh, independence Blue Cross, and really being , uh, you know, an advisor to people who are, who are building things and being in-house, right? And being in the mix of the corporate , um, world. I said , I , you know , I think I would do that. And so I , uh, uh, I didn't, I didn't know exactly how to, to break into , uh, being in-house counsel as a , uh, newly mentored lawyer. So I , I should say, after law school, I did a clerkship for , uh, chief Judge Robert Bell. And so this was during this time where , um, it was timed in the clerkship. And , uh, I was now deferred. So I wrote a , uh, a letter to about 15 general counsels and deputy general counsels , um, in , uh, in the region. Cause I needed to stay in the DC uh, Maryland region. Um, I met a girl , uh, and , uh, um, we, we, we decided to settle down and , and , and , and this region. And so , uh, wrote, wrote letters , um, got about five hits on those letters , uh, wrote , wrote letters, and then opened my, my Rolodex and , um, started making calls to folks who , um, I knew at those companies. I'll say , um, it wasn't particularly healthcare . Um, it was, I mean, they, they ran the gamut from t Rowe Price and Financial Services to McCormick and Spices , uh, and , um, and then , um, to healthcare . So I couldn't move back to I bbc , uh, but it was general counsel and, and , and the CEO there. So , well , let's introduce you to folks , uh, at , uh, a company called Care First , um, which is the Blue Plan , uh, in the, in the Mid-Atlantic region. And so , uh, got that meeting , uh, had , uh, a good conversation with the ceo , general Counsel , um, and was hired as Associate General Counsel , um, at, at Care First . Uh, and, you know, began there , really loved , um, being an in-house lawyer , um, uh, the, you know , the , the pressure , um, that, that Cliff experienced as a , um, as a young associate , um, you put on yourself and you , and it's still there. You , you don't want to , you don't wanna fail. Um, you're working still a lot of hours, but you love those hours, right? You're working with the clients, they're right next door to you, you're kind of building. It's , um, you know, it's, it's, it's 60% legal, 40% , um, business. Uh, and , uh, I, I really loved it. And I was put on an assignment that probably, quite frankly shouldn't have been in the legal department, but we had received a grant from the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Innovation , uh, to take a program that we had and apply it , uh, to about 50,000 Medicare beneficiaries , um, uh, in the state of Maryland. And so that was put into the legal department. We had some corporate , uh, uh, organizational changes as our, as our general counsel retired. So the Deputy General Counsel who became GC handed me this project and said, like, you're gonna have to run this now . Um , and it was an absolutely amazing experience. And so , uh, did that , um, loved it and thought, if I could make this a hundred percent of my job , um, I would absolutely love doing this. And so decided to make a pivot into , um, the corporate , uh, setting , uh, or sort of over on to the business side. And so I had another conversation with the CEO of Care First at the time , uh, Chaparelle . Uh, and , uh, we, we thought through a number of things that I could do in the company, and quite frankly, I was looking outside the company , uh, and he said, how about you come work for me? And so I became the special assistant to the CEO of , uh, of Care First. Um, it was really a bird's eye view across the, the enterprise and , um, and across the industry , uh, and did that for , uh, a few years. Uh , and as Chet retired and , uh, uh, a new CEO came on, Brian Pennick , he asked me if I would take some work that we had been incubating , um, CHE nine , some other folks at the company , um, uh, at organization called HealthWorks , um, if I would take HealthWorks and make it the , uh, the venture capital and corporate development , um, and now innovation arm of the , of the company. Um , and so I did that. And so at HealthWorks, I , I lead a , uh, an organization that , uh, has, you know , venture capital responsibilities. We , uh, have about a 120 million portfolio and investing another a hundred million in healthcare startups and healthcare technologies, corporate development where we do m and a for the company, and strategic partnerships , uh, commercialization, where we build , um, new products that are , um, sort of non-core to the company , uh, and diversify our revenue. Um , and then innovation where we're looking at the next horizon of healthcare and how can we better support , uh, the people we serve , uh, and the industry at large. And so , um, that's , uh, probably more than you need to know about me. But , uh, thereSpeaker 2:
You go . <laugh> , you know , you know, we can come back to this, and when we get to the later segment where we , we offer advice and suggestions, but I noticed that both of you, both Cliff and Ricardo in the course of your careers have changed and pivoted, and you've, you've , uh, been very , um, opportunistic in a good way. You , you see something that you want to do , um, and neither of you were afraid to do it. Cliff didn't start off to be , uh, a lawyer. He didn't start off to be the Cliff Barnes at Epstein, Becker Green . We know he was doing something else. And then the opportunity came, he goes to law school. He , um, uh, goes to a law firm that they snookered him. They got the poor guy to join the firm, and then they broke up. Uh , and then he, he turns and goes a different direction and, and , and , and just, just just goes, and you, the same way. You , you , uh, uh, you start off , uh, in one direction, you go to law school, you, you go in-house, you're an attorney, and then you see an opportunity to actually run , uh, HealthWorks. They, they, they obviously, they, they know how to spot talent and without batting it. I'm sure you did bat and I , but you turned , you pivoted again. You went a different direction. And , um, and we can go back to that, but , um, what , let's, let's, maybe what we should do, we'll get into the kind of the bread and the butter of, of the, the , the , the subject today and it's , um, uh, health law after George Floyd. And so we'll kind of start off from , uh, a corporate perspective, and then we'll work in the second segment into the , uh, law firm , uh, perspective. But , um, but Ricardo, what changed in 2020, in your view?Speaker 4:
So, I mean , I , I think, you know, 2020 as, as everybody knows , uh, a monumental year for , um, the history of the country, the history of the world , um, and particularly the history of healthcare . And so, a , a as we think about , um, sort of what changed from , uh, uh, uh, a cultural perspective and a racial perspective , um, I think a few things changed , right? From a corporate perspective , uh, we are paying a lot more attention , um, to structural racism , um, in , uh, uh, in the country, both external to the corporate environment and internal into the corporate environment. I know at Care First , you know, we're looking at what percentage of our , um, of our leadership reflects , uh, the rest of our company and, and the membership , um, that we serve and the communities that we serve. Um , and so, you know, the, the, the , the uprisings of, of this past summer , uh, and I think the continued activism around , um, uh, structural racism and how we improvement in this country , um, feels different to me , um, than , uh, what we may have experienced in , in previous years , um, on, you know, when we, when we've had a , an incident in law enforcement , um, it really has pierced into , um, the corporate environment, which I think is a great thing. Um, I , I think the other thing , um, from a corporate perspective, specifically in healthcare, is when you had a , a conversation about structural racism happening , um, broadly , uh, in the country, and then you have , uh, a pandemic that sweeps through the country that disproportionately affects , uh, uh, people of color, we start asking ourselves about structural racism and , uh, and public health. Um, and in the healthcare system, right? We saw the, the Covid 19 death rate was about four times higher for black Americans than it was for whites. Um, and , uh, I think about either two and a half or three times higher , um, uh, among Hispanic populations. And , uh, we, we started to ask ourselves some questions about, you know, the , the foundation of what we've built , um, has a lot of cracks in it . Um , and I know for us , um, parti at HealthWorks and I Care First , um, we're just paying a lot more attention to it. And , uh, you know , leveraging the power of partnerships , uh, you know , to , to , to begin to try to, you know, fill some of those cracks and, and heal some of the wounds that we've had over the last, you know, decades, centuries.Speaker 2:
Excellent. And , um, um, uh, what has your experience been in terms of, of overall population health and an investment opportunities? Uh, uh, are there, are there, are there things that you're working on , um, both in terms of the business and in terms of promoting people internally , uh, you know, what type of special awareness, how does it translate into action at your level?Speaker 4:
Yeah, so , uh, I think on the , um, so I'll talk about what we do , uh, in the business. Uh , we have put a, a very large focus of , um, of both our investment dollars and of , um, of our time , um, into social determinants of health. And so if you think about the , the , the , uh, the disparities that occur in the healthcare crisis, in the , in the healthcare system, those disparities have their root in disparities that occur , um, in housing and in transportation, and in food security , um, and in education. And so, like , uh, like a , like others are , are , are starting to do , um, we are putting , um, a lot of our , uh, our weight and our investments into serving underserved populations and trying to swim upstream to help them . Um, and so, you know, care First has committed 10 million in, in regional funding and addressing , uh, the social determinants of health that, that affect diabetes. Um, and so, you know, that's food insecurity. Um, that's, you know, health literacy, that's homelessness. And we're targeting six communities , uh, in our region , uh, to , uh, to make sure that we focus on , uh, uh, all of the things that impact their , uh, our members overall health. On the Healthwork side, we're making investments in things. Um, so we , we made an investment in the company called Socially Determined , um, which is a social terms of health analytics company, because while we do believe it is, it's time for action, and it's time for us to , uh, you know, as I said, you know , make an impact upstream for pe , uh, for people, particularly in underserved communities, we, we know we need a lot more data, and we know we need that data , uh, a lot more organized so that we, so that our , we're using our funds , uh, productively. And so we're targeting, we, we use the , we use social determinants of health data during the pandemic to really target those communities where we said, okay, for every people are, are , are socially distanced, we are people were locked down in their, in their homes. Well, where are the pockets where we see folks who have diabetes or who have conditions , um, where their health would be really affected if they can't get out to the grocery store, or if they can't take the bus to usually get their food. Um, and so we began to target those communities , um, in a , um, in a much more direct way. Um, we're doing a number of other , uh, things in the community, but I'll say internally into the company. Um , we're taking a hard look at our diversity, equity, and inclusion , um, and making sure , um, that we have , uh, uh, for the people of color in our , um, uh, in our company , um, that we're giving them opportunities to grow. Um , we're giving 'em opportunities to , uh, want to be hired by our company. Um, and they're taking some steps on the HR front , um, as well. And , uh, I'll say we we're beginning that work, or have begun that work , um, and have a lot , uh, a lot further to go. ButSpeaker 2:
Is there special things that are done in terms of , uh, uh, integrating the , um, the HR department into the overall goals? Uh, and are , are there mentorship programs and things like that that, that HealthWorks , uh, and carefree , uh, offer? Yeah ,Speaker 4:
So there , there are, there , there are mentorship , uh, mentorship programs in the company. There are , uh, there's definitely goals that we are setting for , um, uh, diverse candidates that we include on panels , uh, on hiring panels, and particularly in HealthWorks. So what I've found , um, what , well , what is found in the spaces in which HealthWorks does business, which is, you know, the venture capital space, the investment banking space, the innovation space , uh, those, those, those areas , um, you know, I was surprised coming into 'em. I mean, they are generally , uh, dominated by white males. Um, and you know, what I've said is, you know, I , I think the number is either 94 or 97% of venture capital funding , um, goes to white male founders. Um, and so what I've been saying is either you believe that 25% of the population has 97% of the good ideas, <laugh> , uh, or we're leaving a lot of money on the table , um, and we're leaving a lot of people behind. And so , um, we've invested in a fund , uh, CIA ventures, who's , who has a particular focus on , uh, founders of color. Um, and, and, and you find that founders of color and, and , uh, founders that are women , um, they create products and create solutions that better the lives of people of color , um, and of women. Uh , and so we're putting , uh, our money into, into CIA ventures. Uh, we, we also , uh, are starting a , uh, a mentorship program , um, in , uh, within healthwork, so I should say an internship program within HealthWorks , um, where we are , uh, looking for high quality , uh, candidates , um, and particularly candidates of of color and women who we can , um, integrate into , uh, the venture capital space, the innovation space , uh, give them some experience that they can put on their resumes , um, their junior and senior years of college that helped 'em get the , uh, the beginning jobs in venture capital firms and , uh, um, and, and design firms , um, that, you know, maybe they didn't have the social capital to get , uh, uh, before, but now hopefully it boosts their resume , um, to, to, to give them more experience and , uh, and hopefully get the job.Speaker 2:
What do you mean by the social capital?Speaker 4:
So, I , I mean, I'm sure , uh, right , and I I'm sure Cliff gets this a lot. I'm sure you get it, Tom. Um, you know, and especially you get in the corporate world where, you know, you've got a , uh, a vice president or a senior vice president of , uh, of something whose nephew needs an internship and , um, you know, they, they know the right people to call. And, and even if you're making , um, you know, decisions squarely on merit , um, which , uh, we do, and I , and you are still choosing from a body of people who had the social capital, right ? Had the relationships, knew , uh, knew the, the, the leverage to pull to get their resume in the pile. Um, and , uh, uh, for a lot of , uh, uh, black Americans, I say people of college generally , um, historically, you, you have just not been in the room. You've not known pe , your community has not been at the table. And so you don't have the leverage to pull now. You don't have the people who can get you into the room. Um , and , uh, we need to start creating that social capital for those communities, but also making our processes in corporate America, not so dependent on that social capitalSpeaker 2:
<affirmative> . Now, cliff, you have , uh, uh, uh, sons, right? And they're , uh, in school and yeah , they're kind of at that stage where they're , they're setting out and they're doing interesting things. Um , mm-hmm. <affirmative> that social capital, you , you're probably seeing it and in your own life, you know, when, when you started off with your , um, your career path , uh, you mentioned probably three or four times the issue of, of, of money and loans and, and, and Ricardo did too mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm . <affirmative> , uh, you know, you said the , the student loans are no joke when you're, you know, you're young and you're , you're, you're thinking about getting married and getting started, right ? Right . Re real capital is also important, right ? Yes . Capital , it's social capital.Speaker 3:
Yeah. But I think , uh, I think that , um, uh, Ricardo's, you know, he hit something really on the head with this issue of social capital, and it is a significant, significant issue. Uh, but when I think about what Ricardo did is he created social capital , uh, uh, by persistence. And for African Americans and minorities , uh, it , it , it , it amounts to doing something that others haven't done. Uh, and having the chutzpah , having the wherewithal to just keep on going, knocking on the doors , uh, and , um, and , uh, effectively making it happen, no, is not a response, not a no is not an answer, but it's also being in the right place at the right time. Uh, Ricardo's previous experience with Blue Cross became something that could be leveraged with this current experience. So it , you know, you're using what you have to make it work. Uh, and , um, and so it is , um, there is a lot to that cuz the reality is, is most , uh, African Americans , most minorities don't have the typical social capital. Uh, and so , uh, we've gotta take what we've got and leverage it , uh, leverage it. Uh, you know, like in all financial deals, it's all about leverage, and we've gotta find the leverage , uh, and , uh, and, and make that work , uh, in order to get in the room to be in the place. Um, and , uh, and so it, it's , uh, it's an uphill battle. Uh, but , uh, it is a, I I think it's a , it's a requirement. And then , then , then the other thing I would say, and reflecting again on, on , uh, Ricardo and the corporate world, you know, we're in different worlds, but , uh, uh, but we're still, we're, we're pioneers in each of these worlds. Uh, and , um, the, the value of what I call luck and , uh, luck as I see it, is , um, opportunity meeting preparedness, being able to see opportunity because opportunities abound . There are in infinite numbers of opportunities, but they come and go. And the real question is, can you see the opportunity? But even if you can see it, the real question is, can you take advantage of it? Uh, and to the extent you can take advantage of it, you end up being in places where other people look and say, wow, that guy is lucky. That woman is lucky. But it's really about , uh, it's about being able to see the opportunity. And, and, and when I think about Ricardo, he was able to see an opportunity he was in , uh, he got into , uh, uh, care first, he started working, he got on a project , uh, and he liked it. And then he began to look for the opportunities , uh, and , uh, created some opportunities , uh, and then took advantage of him . Uh, and that combination is, is , is, is critical , uh, particularly for , uh, minorities, but for everybody,Speaker 2:
You know, of the things . Some folks , Ricardo, that I , I'm sorry. That , uh, um, that I, that struck me about the social capital issue in , in African Americans or any minorities, is you pointed out that the, you know, 25% of the population , um, being involved in 96%, I believe was the , of, of the , the investment positions. Corporations that aren't attuned to the, this issue of social capital, of, of identifying talent that they wouldn't already know are letting a lot of talent, it would seem to me they're not doing themselves , uh, uh, the , the service that they deserve. If the only people I know are the people, I already know that that doesn't help me. W it it , it makes me less competitive. It , it , it , uh, it, it, it, it turns, it turns the company into , uh, or the corporate world into a , a self , um, reinforcing chamber. Yeah . Whereas if, if you can get those , um, you know, maybe you have to open things up to a degree that you , you force , uh, corporate leaders , uh, and companies force themselves to look at a wider pool, both of talent and of overall opportunity to overcome that, that, that echo chamber, yeah . They'll be better off. They know things. They can learn things that are different and be more receptive to their customers. Yeah.Speaker 4:
And , and , and it , it takes an investment, right? I mean, it , it , it really takes an , it takes an investment , um, uh, and a vision for what you wanna accomplish, because you , you could look, you know, when we, we, you got you, you gotta get the people, you gotta get the talent right? To do the job and to do the job at the greatest, you know , at the greatest level , um, uh, uh, that you can. And the problem that you see is that , well, if you're looking at some resumes, there's some resumes of folks that have done some great things , um, but they haven't had the same experiences , uh, because of some of the structural , uh, uh, problems that we have in , in , in our society and in corporate America. Um , and so what you have to do in , in my opinion , yeah , there's no silver bullet, but like, what we're doing is saying, okay , well, we're gonna invest in bringing on some folks , uh, to do this work who are extremely talented , um, and they don't have the experience. So we're gonna bring 'em in at the junior level , um, and we're gonna give them experience. We're gonna invest in them, and we're gonna grow , uh, uh, in their , uh, uh, we we're , they're , they're , they're gonna grow , uh, in their own development. Um, and we'll grow because , um, of them and keeping them, you know, close to us, and some of 'em will leave, some of 'em will stay, but Right. But we've made an investment , um, in , uh, uh, in diversifying that talent , um, both bottom up , um, and top down . Um, and I think you've gotta , you've gotta be willing to do both and willing to make the investment.Speaker 3:
Yeah. Yeah. Healthcare , I think is, is a phenomenal area because anyone in healthcare has to deal with the population. Uh, and it's a public health issue, particularly in the insurance business. It's a public health issue. And, and so you are gonna be dealing with minorities, all kinds of people as customers, and for corporate America that does not understand that they need to have some executives that understand that population, but not only understand that population that , uh, can identify with that population to create the innovations that that population can recognize. Uh, and so , um, it is a business imperative , uh, and in my mind, and I think corporate America is really beginning to understand that , uh, because if they don't make the right decisions with respect to talent, they're outta business. And, and we have seen in , uh, the, the , this last 10, 20 years, some of the major corporations, major businesses going outta business because they haven't been able to adjust. They, they haven't been able to make the critical decisions, the adjustments that , and that's the , the one thing I love about business. It's all about adjustments. And no matter who you are, if you don't make the right of bus , the right adjustments, you're outta business. Uh , and so , um, so the, the , um, the, the care first of the world and other corporations are, are seeing that and bringing in folks , uh, because they understand that the populations that they serve , uh, uh, are diverse. Uh, and so to be competitive, to be able to do the things that need to be done , uh, they need , uh, a more diverse talent pool. And, and so I think the enlightened companies are , are really, are really, are really seeing that.Speaker 4:
Just to add on the , and I , and I would say Cliff's exactly right. Um, and, and as I said , Tom, right ? Both bottom up and , and , and top down . Um , and it starts , uh, and I should full , full disclosure, you know , cliff used to be my boss as a , uh, as a board member , um, uh, a former board member of , uh, of Care First. Uh , but, but you need that. You need that type of leadership right at the top of organizations who are then asking , uh, you know , the executives of the corporation and holding them accountable , um, to making sure you make those pivots , uh, uh, for those who are closest to it, who see those pivots coming , you know , the need , the need for those pivots coming .Speaker 3:
Yeah. It's , uh, it, it takes a village. Um , and , um, it, it is , uh, it's a , it's about identifying, having the corporations identify the talent. It's about holding them accountable , uh, uh, so that they create the opportunities, the opportunities are out there , uh, uh, but , uh, but enlightened executives , uh, and, and I can talk specifically about Care First, Brian Pennick is enlightened. Uh, and , uh, and so this opportunity, I think that, that , uh, Ricardo has a tremendous opportunity, but it's an opportunity for him. Uh, I mean, they picked the right guy for the situation. Uh , and , um, and so , uh, so it , it's , uh, it , it , it's all of that. It takes all of that , uh, it takes the top down , the bottom up, and then it takes the people inside , uh, to be able to also look down and pull people up. It remains a , it's a constant loop , uh, in order to create opportunities , uh, because as you create opportunities, other create opportunities that you created that you could take advantage of.Speaker 2:
So , um, it sounds like , uh, in your experience, things , um, uh, the post George Floyd era and the corporate world, you're seeing specific steps that are being taken and ,Speaker 3:
Uh , yeah. Well, I think, I think it, it , it , it was a , it was a magic moment in my view. Uh , you know, the combination of the pandemic , uh, but also people could see , uh, in real time because of technology, because of the iPhone , uh, uh, could see a motor , uh, and, and, and , uh, a fairly callous murder. Uh, and it was upsetting when you look at it. And, and what was interesting is the person that was taking the video was a little white girl, <laugh>, that's who the video taker was. Um, and so again, it takes a village. Uh, she was in the right place at the right time and, and kept that video , uh, that camera going, but it wasn't for that camera. That event would not have been in any way as impactful. Uh, those events have occurred for years and years and years and years and years. Uh, unfortunately , uh, uh, black and minority folks have had , uh, uh, uh, experiences with police that have ended up with their death. Uh, and typically what happens in those situations as it happened with George Floyd , uh, the , the police will say it's their fault. They were resisting. But then the, the , uh, the, the, the , the , the , the , the recording then tells a different story, and then they have to, they have to pivot. But here, corporate America, and, and I think it was really the demonstrations, the demonstrations that occurred where everyone was involved in those demonstrations for a significant period of time, made an impact. And that was all over the planet. There were demonstrations in India, there were de demonstrations in England, there were demonstrations in Chicago, in Washington, in California. And so it caused people to stop and look at it , uh, that there's a, there's a dysfunctional relationship and there's some things that we have to do. There's a lot that needs to be done. Uh, but , um, uh, but, but I, I do think that , uh, corporate America is, is making, is making a difference. And, and you know, when you think about, just to pivot to , uh, look at something like the name of the Redskins, people have been talked about that for years and years and years. But when the corporation said, it's time to change cuz I'm gonna move my money, all of a sudden, all of the issues that were issues before <laugh> , they're resolved. You know, we're gonna change this name and we're gonna even have a temporary name , uh, until we find the name. So corporations are , are they , they play a significant role. And so positions like , uh, Ricardo's is, I mean, it, it creates, it makes, it enables these corporations to pivot the way that they're pivoting because they're people inside that are fundamentally saying that, you know, we gotta do something.Speaker 2:
Uh , I think that that's absolutely true. And what we're, we're going to do that was , uh, the, the corporate perspective , uh, that, that Ricardo was giving us. And that , uh, cliff has been able to add to , um, we're gonna take a break and then we're going to begin the discussion of the law firm world, which is a different world, but it's, it's an interrelated world. And , uh, so this is Thomas Roski , uh, with E B G advisors . We'll be back in a moment.