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Inspiring Conversations with Ebbie Parsons of Yardstick Management

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ebbie Parsons. 

Hi Ebbie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Certainly – today I am the Founder and Managing Partner of Yardstick Management, a leading management consulting firm that provides comprehensive solutions to mission-driven organizations from conception to realization. It has been my passion for intentional impact, strategic thinking, and concrete results that guided my years as a business executive and led me to this role today. After working at Fortune 500 companies, including Intel, Medtronic, and American Express, I decided to transition from a promising career in business in 2007 to join the prestigious Broad Residency Program in Educational Leadership as the Chief Operating Officer of Hartford Public Schools. The Residency was my first introduction to the inner workings of America’s public education system. 

With the Broad Residency Program, I championed the overhaul of the district’s school funding methodology and negotiated the state’s first pay-for-performance teacher union contract. I also led the redistricting of the city to an “All-Choice” system of schools. 

Following my time in Hartford, I joined the founding team of the groundbreaking Relay Graduate School of Education, where I led the organization’s Human Capital function. From here, I took on a new challenge to serve as the Chief Operating Officer of the third-largest Charter Management Organization in the U.S., Mosaica Education, Inc. At Mosaica, I managed over 80 schools across eight states, Washington, D.C., the Middle East, and Asia. During this time, Mosaica marked two consecutive most profitable years in its 14-year history and its highest academic performance results in years. 

After this time, filled with tremendous experiences in business and education, I was compelled to bring my own vision to life. And so, I launched Yardstick Management with the intention to become a leader in transforming and impacting the global landscape of the management consulting industry. Less than a decade later, Yardstick has become a world thought leader and powerhouse in providing specialized Management, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Talent consulting services to renowned mission-driven brands and organizations worldwide. Our team is committed to building its clients’ internal capacity to enhance its ability to deliver extraordinary results to its constituents. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Since founding Yardstick Management in 2012, we have quickly grown to become the nation’s leading back-owned management consulting firm, consulting for Amazon, LinkedIn, Netflix, Coursera, and other global leaders of business from around the world. Since the beginning, we have grounded the playing field for people in marginalized communities, while simultaneously ensuring that DEI is truly rooted in our own DNA. 

Nonetheless, with growth comes a few challenges along the way. We are a minority-owned business and that inherently comes with the struggle to navigate the playing field of big names well-represented in the industry. Though I was starting off as a small business, my biggest asset has always been my network of incredibly successful black minority leaders. It was through these strong relationships that Yardstick was able to establish a strong reputation for effectively transforming organizations across the globe. Our hard work, which we call “heart” work and our dedication to creating representation for marginalized communities helped place us on that playing field. Yardstick’s relationships and continued delivery of exceptional work have vouched for our fast-growing brand name in the industry making us the nation’s leading Black-owned management consulting firm. 

All in all, it’s been an exciting and mostly rewarding time to work with corporate leadership teams as they determine how to best navigate the DEI space. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Yardstick Management?
Yardstick Management is the nation’s leading Black-owned management consulting firm with a focus on Talent, Management and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Today, Yardstick Management is proud to serve some of the world’s biggest names–such as Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, LinkedIn, Prudential, Medtronic, and more. It has serviced over 100 companies, government agencies, municipalities, and higher education institutions in the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Yardstick has a proven track record of successful transformation from conception to realization, and we are trusted by the largest companies in the world. 

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
The COVID-19 crisis presented several important lessons for myself and our clients at Yardstick Management. From a more broad perspective, time spent reflecting during the pandemic made individuals reassess their priorities and pursue a path that they feel truly passionate about. Workers, unhappy in their professional lives, become driven by the ability to advocate for themselves and call out the inequalities faced in the workplace. With the reality of the fragility of life projected all around us, there grew a desire to follow a fulfilling path, complemented with respect and equal opportunities. 

Furthermore, we’ve learned that a majority of minority employees feel hesitant about returning to work. While working from home over the past year, minority employees weren’t directly faced with microaggressions in the workplace. In efforts to ease employee concerns, a question we commonly get asked from HR professionals and corporate leadership is “what can we do to make our employees, especially our employees from under-represented backgrounds feel comfortable going back to work?” 

The lesson learned here that many of our clients have had to learn is exactly how to create a culture of inclusion within the workplace. That includes feeling valued, respected, and like they belong within the organization–at every rung of the organization. CEOs must understand what their organization currently looks like in order to ensure that women, people of color, people with disabilities (visible and invisible), LGBTQ feel welcomed. 

Another important lesson learned from the COVID-19 crisis was that many employees from underrepresented backgrounds often live with their extended family members. This includes children, elderly parents, and grandparents which directly puts employees who return to the workplace at higher risk. We know that the elderly are vulnerable and we also know that children under 12 can’t be vaccinated. 

Compounding this problem even further, nearly 3 million women were forced to leave the workplace during the pandemic, forcing them to take the brunt of parental responsibilities. Their ability to be able to return to work as a “back to normal” has now become an entirely new normal. Companies must assess how they are ensuring women have equitable opportunities to shine at work. For example, many organizations must decide if they are going to start offering on-site or paid childcare. This is especially important for many women of color who often take on the role as caregivers in their households. 

Finally, we’ve learned that due to health or religious reasons, not everyone is going to return to work vaccinated, so it’s important for organizations to prepare. CEOs and executive leadership must address how they are going to overcome vaccine-related obstacles to ensure all employees feel included. This includes offering separate lactation rooms, prayer rooms, etc. 

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Yardstick Management

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