Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Myesha L Reynolds of Equity Lens Consultants Is Helping To Change Our World
Unite in one belief about equity. This is where it all begins. When we really settle in our minds and hearts that equity is not tied to color, gender, socioeconomic status, level or education or any other construct but in the fact that all people are valuable and deserve to be treated fairly, we will begin to see sustainable change in our world.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Myesha L. Reynolds.
Myesha L.Reynolds is the founder and president of Equity Lens Consultants. She provides quality, personalized equity coaching to schools, businesses, organizations and individuals. Myesha’s mission is to simplify equity and unite hearts in the belief that equity is doing what’s right and fair for all people, at all times, and in all circumstances.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Yes! First, thank you so much for this opportunity to share with your readers. After working about ten years in inner city schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I began teaching in what was known as a high performing suburban school district in Wisconsin. Shortly after my arrival, I began to notice some disparities in achievement. To be honest, this was unexpected and quite alarming to me because the opportunities available to students in this school district like the orderly classrooms and highly educated staff would lead anyone to believe that all students were being treated equitably and receiving a quality education. As I began to pay closer attention to policies, practices, conversations, and the actions of those working in this school district, my eyes were opened to the inequities taking place, many often unaddressed. Fast forward two years and I decided I could be part of the solution by coaching teachers how to engage in equitable teaching and relational practices. I wrote a job proposal to the district superintendent asking that he create a position for me to be the district’s first equity coach. This is when my passion began to evolve and I started my journey doing the work that I so deeply love. I relocated to the Los Angeles area four years ago with the hopes of starting my own equity consulting business. In 2020, I launched what has become a thriving consulting and coaching company because I believe equity done right sets everyone up for success!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
It’s not quite a story but the reactions I so frequently get after completing an equity workshop or training. Participants often tell me that the way I talk about equity is unlike what they typically hear from others. That my approach is inspiring and holistic. During a zoom workshop last month, one person wrote in the chat, “your presentation was so full of hope!” You see, people might assume that a workshop focused on equity, doing what’s right, would automatically be wrapped in optimism and inclusiveness, but the reality is that many workshops on equity leave people feeling discouraged and not knowing how we could ever overcome such a huge problem in our society.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made when starting off was that I wanted so badly to put out video content that I didn’t always give thought to the aesthetics, lighting, outfit choices, etc. I began to look over some of my video content and realized that many people may not have taken the time to even listen to what I had to say because of all the filming rules I had broken! Over the past year, I’ve learned how to create much better videos knowing that so many people would much rather watch than read and it’s important to me that nothing hinders the messages I want to get out to my audience.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Absolutely! Equity Lens Consultants works with businesses, schools, organizations and individuals to help them learn how to operate more equitably. Our work is all based on a definition of equity that includes all of humanity. That being, Equity is doing what’s right and fair for all people, at all times and in all circumstances. Our mission is to simplify equity by delivering services and creating content that teaches people how to decipher equitable practices from inequitable ones. What sets our work apart is our balanced perspective which allows us to approach matters of equity in an authentic, personalized way, removing the guesswork. One of the most impactful and requested components of our business are Equity Lens Cafes. These are intimate, safe, face-to-face gatherings facilitated by me, that allow people to engage in perspective-shifting conversations on Equity. These sessions can be held in coffee shops, homes, schools, library’s restaurants, churches, and just about anywhere people are willing to gather. Equity Lens Cafes are so empowering, richly impactful and I believe vital to the healing and coming together communities. Our positive and solution based approach diarms people and opens their heart to the true message of equity. I often say that equity work is heart work. And what makes me so happy is that I have witnessed the mindsets of individuals transformed, leading them to a solid understanding of doing what’s right and fair which has caused them to operate more equitably in their daily lives. I absolutely love holding these cafe sessions because I believe that in order to change the world, we have to start by influencing those around us which helps to unite as one race, the human race.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
This past June I conducted the workshop, “I am the Industry ‘’ for professionals who work in the area of media and entertainment. The industry should be home to all who want to use their remarkable gifts to impact the world. The underrepresentation of certain groups or people have left many talented creatives longing to find a place in the industry. Unfortunately, many haven’t even been able to approach the doors that swing wide open for others, because of the inequities that currently exist. In the workshop, I discussed the need for true equity in the entertainment industry and how we can work together to implement equitable practices. The goal of this workshop was to encourage those in the industry to do their part to usher in needed changes like getting rid of typecasting and to intentionally search for and embrace the talent of those who typically aren’t given roles or experiences. This workshop also provided an opportunity to share stories of inequity in order to bring awareness of the unfair practices that really do exist. About three months after conducting this workshop, I sat down with one of the female participants who with tears in her eyes, shared that she left that workshop feeling so empowered and could now confidently speak up for herself if ever on the receiving end of inequitable treatment.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Unite in one belief about equity. This is where it all begins. When we really settle in our minds and hearts that equity is not tied to color, gender, socioeconomic status, level or education or any other construct but in the fact that all people are valuable and deserve to be treated fairly, we will begin to see sustainable change in our world.
- Refuse to push narratives that cause division. When underlying messages of division and the push to intentionally segregate are encouraged, it pushes us as a nation back instead of moving us forward.
- Support those who are working hard to be part of a solution! I don’t hear enough about the positive things people in communities across this country are doing to rid our country of inequities. If not for publications like this one, many people wouldn’t know what Equity Lens Consultants is doing to be part of the solution. It’s important for us to link arms in the mission of creating a world where fair and right treatment is the norm.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I would define leadership as the responsibility to properly influence others through your actions and words in a way that positively impacts who they are and what they will do. As an equity consultant and coach, the greatest compliment I get is when people say “Myesha, equity is not only what you believe and teach us, it’s who YOU are. A leader leads by example.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- The first thing I wish someone had told me was that there is not a common understanding of the word, equity. Although most people are probably familiar with the word equity and may even use it in their weekly or even daily conversations, some don’t really believe that equity pertains to all. I have had many conversations with individuals who are only referring to race when they talk about equity but equity is doing what’s right and fair for all people, whether it’s the customer walking into your store who looks like you typical clientele, the co-worker in the wheelchair who needs to have things accessible to him, or the student who seems to be uninterested in school but is really a high functioning child. We must operate equitably towards all people, no matter the circumstance.
- Ask people for help when you need it. I don’t like to inconvenience people or to come off as inconsiderate of other people’s schedules so I would spend so much time trying to figure out how to do something that others around me were quite skilled at doing. I would have kept myself from feeling frustrated had I just made my request for help known as soon as I realized I needed it. Since starting my business, I have learned that many people love to help friends or even acquaintances who are starting a new business or adventure!
- I wish someone had told me that as a business owner, you must set your schedule and really try to stick to it! Being able to control your schedule can be the best thing ever or the worst if you aren’t disciplined. If you don’t know what to give your “yes” to and what to give your “no” to, you can look back in a month and realize you didn’t accomplish much!
- Telling people about your business, organization or social impact is not bragging. After starting my business, I didn’t initiate conversations with people about what I do for about a year. I never wanted to come off as though I was tooting my own horn so I wouldn’t say anything unless someone else brought it up. When I realized that people were actually pretty interested in my equity work, I began proudly sharing it even if it means that I am the one to start the conversation.
- Figure out what’s working and what’s not. I remember feeling overwhelmed by all of the ideas I had about how to grow my business. Every week I was either trying something new or repeating the stuff I had done the week prior. I started noticing that some of the things I was doing were taking me so much time but were not yielding much fruit. One day I sat and made a list of all the things I was doing each week or month. I wrote down every task on the appropriate side of my t-chart labeled, “working” and “not working” Needless to say I stopped doing those things that weren’t working and have been so much happier since!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like for Equity Lens Cafes to occur all around the world! When I started hosting these gatherings, it was with the intent that they would be replicated in homes. businesses, schools, churches or any place where people assemble. I believe these cafe sessions could serve as one way to both create and then strengthen relationships and cause people to ban together in a common purpose-equity for all.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Set your gaze on the path before you. With a fixed purpose, looking straight ahead, ignore life’s distractions.” I love this life lesson because now, more than ever, there are so many things that can distract us, leaving us unproductive and keeping us from focusing on our goals! I believe every person has so much to contribute to the world to make it better but when we are so consumed with life’s distractions, we can find ourselves regretting all the time we’ve wasted. As my business has picked up, I wish I had invested more of the free time I had in my past doing some of the things I am doing now. Times flies and we can’t put off till tomorrow what we can and should be doing today. Value your time.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would absolutely LOVE to have a private breakfast with Phylicia Rashad, best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show. Growing up, The Cosby Show was part of my family’s weekly routine. It was what I looked forward to each Thursday night knowing that I would be pulled into the life of this educated, fun, loving family. Phylicia’s character, Clair, seemed to be the epitome of what I thought a mom should be; smart, kind and able to keep her family functioning like a well oiled machine. I would love to meet Phylicia Rashad because she normalized higher education and a successful career for black women. I also loved that her character was a woman who treated all people with kindness and respect. As I have learned about her life, it seems like the character Clair Huxtable was quite the reflection of who Phylicia Rashad really is. I would love to sit and talk with her about her experiences as a professional woman and because I really love live theatre, I would of course hope to get all the tea about what life was like on Broadway!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can follow me on Instagram at @equitylensconsultants and on Facebook at @EquityLensConsultants. For more in-depth information, please check out my website at EquityLensConsultants.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Myesha L Reynolds of Equity Lens Consultants Is Helping To Change… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.