50 - Abercrombie & Figure Your Sh*t Out

Alexa's not-so-secret obsession with documentaries comes out in this episode, kids. The dynamic duo discusses the recent Netflix documentary about Abercrombie and Fitch, which involves talk of lawsuits, hiring practices, cologne, collars on collars, and lots and lots of nostalgia (sorry 'bout it). Please tune in for a spirited discussion about shallow hiring, illegal firing, and some of our high school drama.

Release Date: June 15, 2022

[00:00:00] Female Presenter: Warning. This podcast is about the realities of working in People Operations. This is not a stuck-up, PC, compliance-based, or employment law podcast about stuffy, outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here and we assume no responsibility.

[00:00:16] Alexa Baggio: Just another day in the office.

[00:00:18] Tyson Mackenzie: There's nothing better than a bunch of people who work in HR getting a round table and sharing these stories. We have this out-of-body experience in HR where you're like, "How did I get here?" HR is not that bad. It's not.

[00:00:29] Alexa: Come hang out with Tyson and I on this podcast. We'll make you laugh.

[00:00:31] Female Presenter: This is the People Problems podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson Mackenzie.

[00:00:39] Alexa: Tyson.

[00:00:41] Tyson: What's up?

[00:00:42] Alexa: What up? How are you living?

[00:00:44] Tyson: Not too much. Just the usual thing. I've been working a lot in my garden these days.

[00:00:50] Alexa: Nice. What are you planting? Anything delicious?

[00:00:53] Tyson: I have no idea. Honestly, I just go to the store and I look for-- right now I'm looking--

[00:00:57] Alexa: Throwing shit in the ground?

[00:00:59] Tyson: Yes. I'm working on my perennial garden, so I want to do all perennials in my front garden, and I don't know what anything is. I just see whether it's a perennial. "Okay, yes." Then what type of sun it needs, then I just plant and pray.

[00:01:13] Alexa: Yes. I just did this at my Vermont place. I was like, "I don't know. I'll just stick it into the ground. Hope it comes up in the air."

[00:01:19] Tyson: Exactly. That's what I love about perennials. Then we're going to do our vegetable garden once we've finished our decks. My husband has been a busy little bee working on our decks. I can't wait for that to be done.

[00:01:29] Alexa: I don't have anywhere to build a deck, but I need someone that will build a deck for it. [chuckles]

[00:01:33] Tyson: I know. It's so nice.

[00:01:34] Alexa: If you guys know anybody--


[00:01:37] Tyson: Taking applications.

[00:01:38] Alexa: Yes, taking applications. Sweet. Well, I'm enjoying my last couple of stationary weeks here in my apartment, for what's been my apartment for five years, and then I'm going on the road.

[00:01:51] Tyson: I'm so excited. I just can't wait to live vicariously through you.

[00:01:55] Alexa: I hope it's entertaining at the very least for all of us. No, I'm excited. Yes, I'm excited to come to you live from across the country, across the globe actually. Although I'm not really going any further than Europe.

[00:02:07] Tyson: Well, that's farther than the country.

[00:02:09] Alexa: That is farther than the country.

[00:02:10] Tyson: Farther than I'll be going.

[00:02:12] Alexa: Both of our countries, yes. Speaking of which, I will be seeing you in the fall in September in California, very excited to see you at [unintelligible 00:02:21] San Francisco on the 15th of September, and LA on the 21st, we're going to do a little Cali road trip. I love that. Let me just do our homework and housekeeping while I'm at it. Today's episode is brought to you by Ink'd Stores. Are you looking to build your company swag store? No minimums, no cost to build, no monthly host fees, all the merch, and none of the fine print. Visit inkdstores.com, I-N-K-D-stores.com, and mention People Problems to receive your discount.

In addition, our episode is brought to you by the People Ops Society, a group near and dear to both Tyson and I. Join hundreds of People Ops professionals to share war stories, exchange ideas, and best practices, share and download resources, and just be yourself. POPS is a community of new and experienced practitioners, built for the "people" people by the "people" people, no salespeople or sponsor participation allowed. People Problems listeners can get 20% off an annual POPS membership with the code PPLPROBLEMS20 at peopleopssociety.com. That's P-P-L-PROBLEMS20 at peopleopssociety.com. That's all I got on [unintelligible 00:03:16].

[00:03:16] Tyson: Awesome.

[00:03:17] Alexa: It's fucking hot here today and I love it.

[00:03:19] Tyson: Is it? It's cool down here a lot. It's dark and cold, kind of a yucky rainy day, but the gardens need it.

[00:03:28] Alexa: Sunshine gives me life.

[00:03:29] Tyson: I know. It's so nice.

[00:03:31] Alexa: It's a fucking game-changer.

[00:03:33] Tyson: Rain gives my garden life. I'll--

[00:03:35] Alexa: Exactly. That is the cycle.

[00:03:37] Tyson: I'll take it.

[00:03:38] Alexa: All right, Tyson, I'm super excited to talk to you about our episode today because we're going to do something a little different today.

[00:03:44] Tyson: All right.

[00:03:44] Alexa: I have to give a major shout-out to my friend group because we're going to rip off a thing that I actually do monthly with some very close friends of mine here in Boston, although I guess I'll be a virtual participant in the future, which is a documentary club. Today we are going to discuss a documentary that both you and I watched on Netflix. I'll tell you the general format of how we normally run doc club, and we can run the episode a little bit like that. It won't work perfectly because this isn't a group setting, but the documentary is called White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch. If you have not seen it, it is on, I believe, just Netflix right now.

[00:04:18] Tyson: I think it's in Netflix.

[00:04:19] Alexa: I think it's just Netflix. It's a Netflix original. It came out maybe a couple of weeks ago, a month ago or so, and very much specifically talks on some things that are relevant to what we talk about here on People Problems all the time. Before we get into that, let me give everyone the general gist of what a doc club is. Similar to a book club. Although I do find that book clubs tend to be very gender-specific and genre-specific, and doc club is like for everybody, all the people, regardless of--

[00:04:44] Tyson: Wait, I'm part of a book club.

[00:04:46] Alexa: Is it all chicks?

[00:04:47] Tyson: Yes.

[00:04:48] Alexa: Yes, always. They're always all chicks. doc club is a good way to be co-ed. It's a good way-

[00:04:52] Tyson: We got romantic thrillers. [laughs]

[00:04:53] Alexa: Yes, they're always usually romantic. It's not for everybody, but doc club is great because you learn about different things and documentaries are always true and fascinating. I wouldn't think-- they are always some truth to them. We'll talk about that in a second, but the general format of a doc club, and I hope that people rip this off because it's super fun, is that once a month someone hosts the doc club. It's really just an excuse to drink wine and hang out together, but we call it doc club.

[00:05:17] Tyson: I don't have a beverage. I feel like I'm already missing out on the point of doc club.

[00:05:20] Alexa: I have a seltzer water. Does that count?

[00:05:23] Tyson: I don't have my water bottle here.

[00:05:24] Alexa: Would you like me to pour a whiskey? You tell me, Tyson. You lead tonight on vibe. You’re chief vibe officer tonight. General format is that once a month someone hosts the doc club. You rotate the host, and whoever hosts, it's at their house or their venue. They get to choose. Some of us don't have apartments big enough to host what sometimes is up to 20 people. I would not recommend they get that big, but host picks the doc. You choose what the documentary is. Some best practices are, do not make a multi-part documentary, and don't do Wild Wild Country or you're just going to watch 8 hours of television.

[00:05:58] Tyson: I loved Wild Wild Country. I loved it.

[00:06:00] Alexa: It was incredible. It's really hard to get 15 people to watch 8 hours of television in a month. Try to pick things like-- I think the Tiger Woods documentary was two parts and we all made an exception because that was so good. It was just the best transition from part one to part two I've ever seen.

Anyway, then the host makes the meal or brings the food or buys the food, whatever. Then everyone else brings averages and dessert. It's like a potluck with the booze and the desert, then the host picks the documentary and hosts the dinner, then you rotate throughout the group. At the end of that doc club, you pick who hosts the next one and the date, and it's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

It's super fun because you get to talk about really interesting things. I love documentaries. I'm totally obsessed with documentaries because they're usually incredible stories and you get to learn something that's true. The rule, Tyson, to kick this off, is that the host gets to start with the opening comments about the documentary. Since you have the idea to pick the documentary, you get to be the host, so you get to open us with your comments. I'm happy to give you some other ideas for structure of the conversation because we can comment on things like the style, the narrative, the general subject matter, lots of different subtexts we can get into here, but what was your just first gut reaction when you watched this?

[00:07:13] Tyson: All right, my biggest takeaway and something that I found really interesting, and I find this interesting because we've been talking a lot about generational stuff that's been-- generational changes, how we're different than the new generation that's coming into the workforce, that sort of thing, so what I found really that stuck out to me is just this idea of the exclusivity, which was really popular in the '90s to the 2000s when we were teens pretty much, and how that has shifted to companies that are really successful are ones that are selling inclusivity.

Think about the difference between one that sticks out obviously as Victoria's Secret, which is exclusivity, versus Rihanna's Fenty or [unintelligible 00:07:55] or something like that, that's all about inclusivity. Different sizes, different body types, whatever. That was one of the biggest things that stuck out to me, is just how that whole thing has shifted. We talked about actually before this episode began, really how the newer generation wants everyone to be equal, and that's leading to this trend of the inclusivity side of things.

Anyway, that was high level. I think that's how the document actually ends is a little statement about exclusivity versus inclusivity. I think that that was obvious to a lot of us as a major takeaway. The other thing that I kept thinking in my head-- when I was in college, I took an employment law course. Something that the teacher said was that it is not illegal to hire or fire someone based on attractiveness. I remember everyone in the class was like, "What? What do you mean?" It was like a whole thing. Our jaws hit the floor. What do you mean? You can't hire someone because they're good-looking. You can't fire someone because they're not good-looking enough. What she said is, "So long as your definition of good-looking has nothing to do with, in Ontario, specifically, the six prohibited grounds of discrimination," I'm not going to list them, look them up, "As long as--"

[00:09:28] Alexa: I imagine it's like race, gender--

[00:09:30] Tyson: Race, gender, sexuality, gender identity.

[00:09:34] Alexa: Socio-economic class, et cetera.

[00:09:36] Tyson: Exactly. Family status, stuff like that right. As long as your definition of good-looking has nothing to do with that, it's totally within the law to hire based on attractiveness. I kept thinking that as we went through and I might be getting ahead of myself because at one point, there's a class action suit that was taken against A&F, and nothing actually-- I don't think anything ever became of it. They had to make a few changes--

[00:10:02] Alexa: They had to have a court-appointed-- I forget what they call it. Basically, a supervisor they had to report to, but there were no consequences if they did not.

[00:10:10] Tyson: There was really no consequences. They hired a chief diversity officer.

[00:10:14] Alexa: Yes. For people who didn't watch it, you should definitely just go watch it because this is-- what do they call it? A companion podcast. This is the companion podcast to the Abercrombie documentary, so go watch it first. This whole thing will make a lot more sense because it's like an hour and a half long. If you listen to this podcast, you will love this fucking documentary. It's right in line with the shit we talk about all the time.

For people who didn't watch it, the general gist here is that, and Tyson, jump in because I'll butcher this a little bit, but the general gist is that early to mid-'90s, Abercrombie & Fitch becomes this very hot mainstream brand that is targeted exactly at people like-- I'll say at least me, probably also you, Tyson. Abercrombie & Fitch was the brand when I was in high school. It was like half-naked dudes in fraternities, all the beautiful, popular kids wore it, and it was kind of aspirational. They talk about this, like just aspirational enough to be cool. You wanted to earn your allowance to go buy it, but not so aspirational that it was unattainable, right? It's not Gucci. It's not Versace.

[00:11:14] Tyson: Wait. A quick little caveat here. If people don't know, we didn't actually have Abercrombie & Fitch in Canada. To get Abercrombie & Fitch-- we just had American Eagle, but in order to get Abercrombie & Fitch, you would've had to go to the States on vacation and get it.

[00:11:34] Alexa: I used to walk around New York City when I lived there and people would just walk up and be like, "Where's the Abercrombie store? Where's the Abercrombie?"

[00:11:39] Tyson: Add that level of exclusivity for us Canadians. If you were wearing Abercrombie & Fitch-

[00:11:45] Alexa: It was hot shit.

[00:11:46] Tyson: -you were fucking cool, okay?

[00:11:48] Alexa: To be fair, at the time, it was a cool fucking brand.

[00:11:52] Tyson: It was cool.

[00:11:53] Alexa: If you were under the age of 25, it was a cool fucking brand.

[00:11:55] Tyson: You kept the bag, and they talked about that [unintelligible 00:11:59] companies that people keep the bag. I kept the bag.

[00:12:02] Alexa: Exactly. The general premise of this, and I will say that they try to insinuate a few things in this documentary and documentaries do this all the time, they try to insinuate a couple of other problems going on, and then they never double-click on it, and you're like, "Ugh," which I'll talk about in a second. The general gist here is that Abercrombie becomes this absolutely fire brand. Every teeny-bopper in the fucking United States wants to be part of this brand.

Basically, the image of the brand is very strictly from the top, without saying it in so many words, beautiful half-naked white kids, full stop. We'll come back to brand imagery because I think that's actually a bit of a mixed bag here, but from a hiring perspective, one of the things they did in stores is they were like, "You have to look like the brand to work here. No Joe Schmoes, no sloppy people, blah, blah, blah." Also wound up eventually meaning basically no people of color. If you were of color, the documentary insinuates that basically, you got put in the back room.

[00:13:00] Tyson: Or night shifts and stuff like that.

[00:13:01] Alexa: Or night shifts, or basically, you were not the face of the brand-

[00:13:03] Tyson: Cleaning and--

[00:13:04] Alexa: -the brand ambassadors were the people-- Yes, you were cleaning, you were in the back room. They give a couple of examples. Basically, from the top down, they were basically doing some pretty fucked up recruiting and internal practices to keep the people who were not the white store employees out of the brand image, which means if they--

[00:13:21] Tyson: If they even got hired, yes.

[00:13:22] Alexa: If they even got hired, people working in the stores, then it goes on to tell the story of the-- I think it was six people, all employees of color who basically file a class action lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch, and they win for discriminatory practices in hiring and labor, whatever. Then it goes into a tangent about how the founder was a closeted gay guy with too much plastic surgery and the creepy photographer who was maybe potentially trying to molest dudes.

[00:13:49] Tyson: Sexually assaulting guys.

[00:13:50] Alexa: Then they just backed away from that. Then they jump in back with the class action lawsuit, are like, "This place got kind of fucked," and now they're trying to be-- they take the standard narrative of hiring a diversity and inclusion--

[00:14:02] Tyson: Female CEO.

[00:14:03] Alexa: Yes, well, and before that, they hire a chief diversity officer, and everybody goes like, "This is tokenism." Then they try to be more inclusive, but they're basically just still putting people of color in the back. Basically, just that kind of behavior was a little bit pervasive. The documentary maybe tried to touch on a few too many things because it was trying to be like this exposé or Abercrombie & Fitch but the general arch of the story is that this brand came out really hot, but the thing that made it really hot meant that they had to stay exclusive and the CEO said a bunch of stupid fucked up shit he never should have said. That's fair.

[00:14:43] Tyson: Oh, yes. He's like, "Are we exclusive? Absolutely." I remember when that happened.

[00:14:49] Alexa: Just to be fair, I don't know that 20 years ago that would've been such a fucking big deal because--

[00:14:55] Tyson: A lot of brands said it. Lululemon said it and Tommy Hilfiger said it.

[00:15:00] Alexa: Just to be clear, this is a little bit of my issue with documentaries. They kind of drop this bomb on you, and this is what you have to take with documentaries. It's like they can't solve the whole problem in 90 minutes. They only cover one angle. It's always biased by the makers. You always have to take that into account, but my issue with this one is they're trying to basically villainize Abercrombie & Fitch here and that's fine. These guys are absolutely the example. They are 100% not the exception.

This shit happens all the time, and I'm glad that someone brought it up and talked about it, it's why we're talking about it today, but my issue is that what they don't at any point address because it's hard to do is that where is the line between a brand persona and sort of discrimination. I would argue that the line is in your hiring practices, and your screening practices. Brands all the fucking time go like, "I'm exclusive. You can't get in here if you're not rich. You don't get to wear this if you are not cool. You don't get to buy this if you are not this, this, and this."

It happens all the fucking time. It's how you build a brand. You have to tailor the brand to a certain buyer, right? Nobody's mad at Victoria's Secret for the Victoria's Secret models, but I'm sorry, I find them wildly exclusive. I'm not going to look like a Victoria's Secret model any time soon.

[00:16:12] Tyson: Well, that's why I opened with, first of all, this exclusivity versus inclusivity, generationally, I think that it's out of vogue now to be exclusive. When we were-- I remember watching the Victoria's Secret show every single year religiously. I lived for that shit. I loved it, but now people who are teenagers or whatever, they just wouldn't find that cool anymore. I don't know how to explain this, but I feel like generationally, there's a different thing happening right now, which is part of it, but again, going back to this definition of what actual discrimination is, that's where Abercrombie really fucked up because they could have been exclusive, but the problem was that their definition of good-looking was white, and that is--

[00:17:03] Alexa: -which is a fucking problem.

[00:17:04] Tyson: It's a fucking problem.

[00:17:04] Alexa: I'll be honest. Some of the most beautiful people I know in the world are not white.

[00:17:07] Tyson: Well, it takes away from the fact that they're hiring good-looking people. It's like, "No, you're not just hiring good-looking people. You're hiring good-looking white people," which is not-- - not the same.

[00:17:18] Alexa: Right. It's not the same. It's definitely-- it's not the same. Good-looking people and good-looking white people is not the same.

[00:17:24] Tyson: Right. It's like the WASPs. They really tend to the WASPs. [crosstalk]

[00:17:28] Alexa: It's funny because actually not even WASP, it is literally cornbread girls from Pennsylvania like me. This brand was built for me, but it was started by a guy in Ohio. It used to be elite hunting gear met cheap Ralph Lauren. They explained this in the documentary. "These are the two brands we tried to merge together." One was Abercrombie, one was Fitch, and they were trying to make it for middle Americans. The guy who started it is from fucking Ohio. There are parts of Ohio where-- I had two black kids in my high school. [chuckles] That's a lot of rural--

[00:17:56] Tyson: I had no idea that Les Wexner was a part of this and he was--

[00:18:00] Alexa: Oh, Les Wexner? Yes.

[00:18:02] Tyson: He was the guy-- he's a real creep. He was the guy-- I had listened to--

[00:18:05] Alexa: Is anyone surprised? [chuckles]

[00:18:07] Tyson: I had listened to another podcast. I think it's called Fallen Angels, and it was specifically about Victoria's Secret and the rise and fall of Victoria's Secret. He was involved in that one as well with fricking-- I'm not even going to say his name.

[00:18:19] Alexa: Jeffrey Epstein.

[00:18:21] Tyson: Yes. That was--

[00:18:22] Alexa: Which is another bomb this documentary drops, and it's like, "We're going to back away from maybe the insinuation that Les Wexner was doing some weird shit," and then the CEOs, this weird gay guy who comes out of the closet, and then decides to be really aggressive about his gayness, and gets all this crazy plastic surgery. Then he's buddies with this super creepy photographer.

[00:18:42] Tyson: The photographer was creepy.

[00:18:44] Alexa: Trying to touch guy models, it was like, "Where the fuck are we going?"

[00:18:48] Tyson: Yes, there was a lot.

[00:18:50] Alexa: It was a pervasive culture, I think, was kind of the takeaway, it was like, "This is not bred from a place of inclusivity, let alone--" and I will be honest, Abercrombie was probably the first brand I ever saw as a teenage girl that was like, "Holy shit, these guys are basically naked. Oh my God."

[00:19:12] Tyson: It was such a big deal.

[00:19:14] Alexa: It's such a big deal.

[00:19:14] Tyson: I actually don't remember how-- some of the imagery that it showed in the documentary, I was like, "Whoa, that's actually almost pornographic."

[00:19:21] Alexa: I think some of that was that photographer's stuff. It wasn't used in ads. It was his personal--

[00:19:24] Tyson: I was like, "This is a little weird, selling clothes on people with no clothes." [laughs] I'm like, "What are you trying to sell here?"

[00:19:30] Alexa: It's funny how that works.

[00:19:33] Tyson: It was always such a big deal too if someone went to an Abercrombie in the States to get a picture with one of the models that was standing at the front of the store. That was-- it's so strange.

[00:19:45] Alexa: I just remember being so insecure in high school and being like, "I have to wear Aeropostale because I can't afford Abercrombie & Fitch. My mom won't let me shop there," and just being like, "I wish I could wear more of that." It looked so good. That was the poor man's Abercrombie & Fitch.

[00:19:59] Tyson: I remember because I got it when I was in the States and I thought it was so cool because I came back with Aeropostale, and I'm like, "Yes, you can't get this in Ottawa." [laughs]

[00:20:07] Alexa: Aero had its moment, but it was like a light post-A&F moment. Anyway, the one other thing I took away from this documentary that I thought was, again, I wish they had just not done the Jeffrey Epstein and the gay guy thing, I wish they had just focused on this again because we're also nerds about this stuff, but they skipped over, and they didn't show a lot of his interview, which was kind of a bummer, but I think I know why, which is they skip over that they bring in this chief diversity officer who basically appears to get fucking steamrolled the whole time.

I don't remember his testimony or his interview, as well as some of the other parts of the documentary, and I didn't take good enough notes, but they kind of interviewed him, he's kind of the guy they bring in. He clearly tries to do his best, but then there are some examples where they ask him things like, "How did you feel when they did this?" He's like, "I felt how you think I felt about that, but I can't comment." You're like, "Wait. Wait a minute."

[00:21:02] Tyson: Yes, I have thoughts on this.

[00:21:04] Alexa: Yes, please. I thought this was the exact moment where it's like, this is a real-life example of someone trying to bring in a diversity officer after the problem is fucking fully baked, and it having absolutely no impact. Not because that person didn't try, but because it's just not real.

[00:21:20] Tyson: That's like a strategy, it's like the signaling strategy. That sort of--

[00:21:25] Alexa: Also, tokenism, but yes.

[00:21:26] Tyson: Well, that's exactly it, but that's the exact sort of thing that companies do after they get in trouble and after something is brought out into the forefront. They're like, "Oh, look at us. We just hired this black chief diversity officer. Look how good we're doing." They made a little policy book or something I feel like from that.

[00:21:46] Alexa: Right, this person has no budget, this person has no initiatives, this person has no team.

[00:21:52] Tyson: He did report to the CEO though, which I thought was like, "All right--"

[00:21:57] Alexa: Optics.

[00:21:58] Tyson: Okay, it's good optics for sure. Again, it's all very strictly--

[00:22:01] Alexa: Or the CEO was like, "Yes, cool. This guy is going to report to me, so I can keep him real close." [chuckles]

[00:22:05] Tyson: Yes, and I just felt as though that was textbook what companies do after they get their hand slapped and they just need to do something that-

[00:22:13] Alexa: Absolutely.

[00:22:14] Tyson: -signals that they're doing something better. I actually didn't--

[00:22:16] Alexa: I just was so glad that they put it on screen and it was like, "This is the guy they hired." You're like, "This poor fucking dude."

[00:22:22] Tyson: Right.

[00:22:23] Alexa: I mean, he's an adult. He knows what he got into, but the chief diversity officer, but not really, is-- I just call bullshit on that whole tactic.

[00:22:32] Tyson: Yes, that's what I mean. That's why it's very much just signaling-- it's not actually effective. I want to go back. What was that thing? They had this like book. Oh, yes, this is what good-looking is. They actually had a book that said exactly it.

[00:22:48] Alexa: It's like their Burn Book, yes.

[00:22:51] Tyson: I thought that that was very interesting. Basically, the managers were rated not based on sales. Anyone who works in retail knows how heavy it is on sales and numbers and if you're not meeting your sales, blah, blah, blah, but it was based on the attractiveness of your staff versus actual sales. They made a joke about when you went in there, the sales associates weren't even helpful.

[00:23:17] Alexa: Supposed to-- yes. I do remember that part.

[00:23:18] Tyson: They're like, "Specifically, more you--" I do too.

[00:23:20] Alexa: Well, apparently, they actually trained them that way because they wanted it to be, again, exclusive.

[00:23:24] Tyson: Were too cool.

[00:23:25] Alexa: Right, which is-- if I now interact with a person in a retail setting and they're like that, I'm like, "Yes, I just don't need to shop here. I don't need any part of this day to be friction for me. I'm trying to buy shit from you." Also, don't work in retail if you don't like people, but where have I heard that before?

[00:23:42] Tyson: It even makes the comment about how parents hated the stores. I remember my dad because I'd go to the States with my dad, he'd always wait outside because it's just so dark and loud, and he's like, "I'm not going in there."

[00:23:52] Alexa: Yes, and there's a fucking half-naked dude on the entrance, so your dad's like, "I'm all set, thanks."

[00:23:57] Tyson: Or an actually naked dude, they're there, beckoning people in.

[00:24:01] Alexa: I don't know if, in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, we had the live models all the time, but yes.

[00:24:05] Tyson: No, only certain ones. I feel like people, when they went to New York City, they would get the live model. They never had them in frigging Syracuse where I would go. [chuckles]

[00:24:16] Alexa: I distinctly remember the smells of those colognes though. Obsessively, I remember those.

[00:24:22] Tyson: Okay, this is really gross. I'm telling you a really gross story.

[00:24:23] Alexa: Because it was like, in high school, you either dated a guy that wore Abercrombie & Fitch, Polo Sport, or Curve. I remember the smell of that cologne like nobody's business.

[00:24:32] Tyson: I actually love the smell of Abercrombie. I'm not really big into perfumes or fragrances anymore, but I love it, and when I was younger, when you'd buy the clothes and you took them home, they would smell like the cologne, and I would delay washing because you couldn't get it here. I'm like, "Oh my God, I still smell Abercrombie and I'm going to delay washing it," because I wanted to have this smell.

[00:24:54] Alexa: You're like a 14-year-old girl and everybody's like, "No, Tyson, you just smell like hormones right now. Wash your fucking clothes." [laughs]

[00:25:01] Alexa: Obviously, within reason. I remember I wouldn't wash it before I wore it. I would keep the smell on it-

[00:25:05] Alexa: That's hysterical. I love that.

[00:25:07] Tyson: -which is so gross.

[00:25:08] Alexa: That's so funny. I'm glad someone made this documentary because I think the point of a good documentary is just to get people talking about this shit and to bring new lenses to life about these things. I was glad that they interviewed some recruiters. I was glad that they talked specifically about the labor practices. I was a little pissed they didn't double click on like, "Okay, but what is the actual process to get a job here?" Then and now.

They just glossed over a couple of comments from a couple of recruiters, and you're like, "No, no, no. I want to know exactly how you get hired for this shit. Tell me, minus the book," but that's after you're hired. That's the "Are you still hot" book. They didn't do it all justice for me.

[00:25:52] Tyson: I want to share. I worked for-- Should I say that brand? I don't know if I really feel like it. I worked for a high-end retail store when I was in university.

[00:26:07] Alexa: How high-end? Super high-end?

[00:26:11] Tyson: Not like Chanel, but higher-end than Abercrombie & Fitch. Should I just say it? Just oust them. I worked for Club Monaco. Do you guys have that in the States? Club Monaco?

[00:26:20] Alexa: Yes. Actually, I just was there not that long ago. They're a real hit or miss for me.

[00:26:25] Tyson: Real hit or miss. I still wear the clothes that I bought there on discount.

[00:26:28] Alexa: Sometimes their shit is fire and sometimes I'm like, "What are you guys putting out this season?"

[00:26:32] Tyson: It's really fucking overpriced. I find their stuff to be really overpriced. Anyhoo, I worked for Club Monaco. When I went in, I went in to apply, I actually walked in and dropped off my resume. That's what you used to do. That's what retail stores really like you to do so that they can take a look at you. I was still in the mall handing out resumes when the person called me to come in for an interview. I remember sitting down with her and all we talked about was fashion.

She's like, "Who are your top three favorite designers?" I was dressed nicely, I was probably wearing head-to-toe Aritzia back then. I think I was hired right on the spot. It was not a process. Maybe they called me later that day. I'm not trying to toot my own horn and be like, "Oh my God, I'm so beautiful, I got hired right away."

[00:27:18] Alexa: For those of you that are not watching the YouTube, she's a hottie.

[00:27:21] Tyson: No. [laughs] Anyways, it's not what I'm trying to say. That was my hiring experience with Club Monaco, but now, I'm working there, and a young woman walks in, and she hands in her resume the same way that I did. The manager is-- "Thank you. Thank you for handing-- for giving in your resume," or whatever. The person leaves, she goes behind the desk, she's got this person's resume, takes a big red marker, "Do not hire," writes right across it. I was like, "Wow. Rude."

[00:27:49] Alexa: Do you know why?

[00:27:51] Tyson: Yes, I do know why because they proceeded to shit-talk this poor individual. "Oh my gosh. Did you see what she was wearing? As if she thought that she could get a job here. Blah, blah, blah. I can't believe she was wearing that. She looked like this." It was really, really brutal. She was also a person of color. I'm not going to make judgments or anything, but the response to that was appalling. I remember in that moment being like, "What the fuck? Is this actually how these sales associates talk about people as they're coming in to apply for jobs?" It's despicable.

[00:28:31] Alexa: It's also like, you work there too. Why are you above them? They're applying for the fucking same job you have.

[00:28:35] Tyson: You're fucking selling clothes. Get over yourself. You're making $14 an hour.

[00:28:41] Alexa: The retail world has changed. People used to drop resumes, people used to get hired on the spot. Also, the turnover at retail is fucking bananas.

[00:28:50] Tyson: I think I only worked there for two months. I didn't even work there for that long.

[00:28:53] Alexa: Most people in those situations work there seasonally, they work there very part-time. It's not like you take people off this fucking street when they drop a resume and you're like, "Yes, anybody's cool." Now the brands have gotten better about being like, "When you're here, you need to wear Banana Republic. When you're here, you need to wear Old Navy." They'll give you an employee discount to do that. I actually think that's bullshit, I think they should just give you fucking clothes.

[00:29:16] Tyson: Club Monaco gives you clothes, which is good.

[00:29:18] Alexa: It's like, what does it fucking matter what she walked in wearing? She's going to wear the same shit as you when she's behind the register. That's just people being assholes, which you can't fix, unfortunately. I'd like to say the process has gotten better. I don't know that it has. I figured if there's more computers involved--

[00:29:32] Tyson: I don't know either because this is a few years ago, but I also remember, I think another one, American Apparel, my older brother applied to work on American Apparel.

[00:29:40] Alexa: I forgot about American Apparel. Jesus.

[00:29:43] Tyson: That was a whole other situation. You had to send in your photo when you applied.

[00:29:47] Alexa: I remember that, yes.

[00:29:48] Tyson: There was a spot where you'd have to send in your photo. Absolutely brutal. Even just the general culture when I was working in retail, they used to do this stupid shit like they would send out an email every week with your names in order of who sold the most to highest to least. Our manager would put snarky little comments next to their names based on what they sold.

[00:30:13] Alexa: I still think a lot of that's pretty common.

[00:30:15] Tyson: Yes. If you're at the bottom of the list, you didn't get a shift that week. You wouldn't get shifts based on how much you were selling. I remember I was like, "I just literally don't give a fuck. I don't care about Club Monaco. I don't care about you. I don't care about your sales." I just quit. [laughs]

[00:30:31] Alexa: That's why retail does shitty things because retail are like, "It doesn't matter. You're going to be here for fucking three months," and that's fine.

[00:30:36] Tyson: It's just bullying though.

[00:30:38] Alexa: It's bullying. It's stupid. I think that it's very shortsighted because I think the little I know about some of the brands in retail and hospitality that do this a little better-- actually, they do better. They keep people longer, they have better results. Treating someone like they're going to leave-- Actually, Ryan Bond on our speech theater debate episode talked about it, he's like, "If you treat people like they're going to work here for three months, they are going to work here for three months. If you treat them like you want them here for years, they will be here potentially for years."

I think all of that's true. I think what I struggle with this still is, as someone who's built businesses, as someone who has to hire for some sometimes-- I used to work in a optometry business that had retail employees and doctors. You'd have to hire for people that can do the interaction. It's like, "Where does-- can you be a brand ambassador for me and really lean in and represent this brand in a way that I need you to, as the person employing you," and just blatant discrimination, where's the line there? Again, it's like, "Okay, you're attractive, but you're white."

[00:31:38] Tyson: That's what they do now with influencers.

[00:31:41] Alexa: What's that?

[00:31:42] Tyson: That's exactly what brands do now. That's what influencers are now.

[00:31:49] Alexa: Right, which is just all outward. It's just you saying, "I'm going to give one person the voice for this brand to go spread it." That's different than when you walk into my store, how I get to choose whether or not you'll be a good ambassador to this brand.

[00:32:01] Tyson: Well, I feel like now brick-and-mortar is just going away. I feel l like--

[00:32:09] Alexa: I think people are going to have to lean more into this shit. That's why I worry about it because if you're going to get your ass to a store, it's either going to be because you're like, "I can get it cheaper there. I can get it faster there, or the experience when I go is truly different." I walk in and you know my name, you know my size, you know the last t-shirt I bought there, and you have it laid out for me in four colors. You're like, "I'll go back to the store." [crossstalk]

[00:32:30] Tyson: That's if you're going to Saks or Nordstrom. I live really far out. I don't live near any malls.

[00:32:38] Alexa: Yes. We know, you're in the fucking country. [chuckles]

[00:32:40] Tyson: If I'm going into town and spending frigging $2 a liter on gas, it's for a damn good reason. I want to be coming home with shit. You would be shocked how many times I will go into town with the intent to purchase something, and I'm like, "Hey, do you have this?" They're like, "Well, did you see if it was available online?" I'm like, "l don't know, I didn't know I could do that." They're like, "Well, open up the app." I'm like, "Seriously?" They're like, "Do you have the app on your phone?" I'm like, "I do actually." They're like, "Hey, it looks like this isn't available in stores. You should probably just get it online." I'm like, "What the fuck? Seriously?"

[00:33:18] Alexa: They're not wrong. If you went all the way to the store and they didn't have the thing, you'd be pissed, right?

[00:33:23] Tyson: Why would I bother ever going into the store ever again when I can just sit on my ass and order shit to come to me? That's why I'm thinking--

[00:33:31] Alexa: Because of all the things I just talked about, you can get it faster. You can get it cheaper, or it's a better experience. Or truthfully, I think people--

[00:33:37] Tyson: That doesn't exist anymore though.

[00:33:38] Alexa: I disagree because I think humans still need shit to do. You still want to go walk around on a Saturday with your mom-

[00:33:43] Tyson: Well, that's why I want to go into town sometimes.

[00:33:43] Alexa: -because there's nothing fucking else to do. Right, but then you don't go into town for the thing you absolutely have to get that thing. You go shopping for the random shit.

[00:33:51] Tyson: Just to spend gas.

[00:33:52] Alexa: Exactly. You go shopping now for like, "I popped in to see what they had. It was more for the experience with me and my girlfriends or me and my parents," or whatever, than like, "I'm specifically going for the yellow cardigan in medium from spring 2021 season." That shit you buy online.

[00:34:09] Tyson: Again, I wonder then if I really give a shit about what the associates are or-- You know what I mean?

[00:34:18] Alexa: With all services, I just care that the people are fucking friendly and try to be helpful. I don't give a fuck if they're perfectly branded, I don't give a shit if they're able to do anything above the sun, I just care that the person actually tries to help me. You've given them the autonomy to do that whole stuff.

[00:34:34] Tyson: Going back to your question though, about the people working the store versus the brand, I don't feel anymore as though the people who are working in the store are selling me the product. Yes, they might physically check me out, but I don't think I'm looking at the sales associates thinking, "Oh, I love that outfit that you're wearing. I think I'm going to buy it because you're wearing it." I used to be a little bit more like that. [crosstalk]

[00:34:56] Alexa: The expectations changed. That's fair. Maybe just the way we treat retail is different.

[00:34:56] Tyson: I used to maybe be a little more like that. With makeup, I remember I'd go to buy makeup and do that with people wearing it, but why I wanted to bring up influencers is what I will do is I'll see an influencer wearing something from the brand, and then I might go to the store or buy it online or go into the store because I'm like, "Oh, I saw X influencer and I want to buy the product that they have." I do think that a lot of that brand ambassador stuff is happening in the influencer space like TikTok, Instagram, et cetera, versus the actual people in the stores. I think that the people in the stores really just, as you said, have to be helpful.

[00:35:34] Alexa: This is such a fucking tangent, but do you think at any point, influencers will try to unionize in some way like Uber drivers and shit are like trying to unionize? That's actually more in some ways the States and other things that are applying pressure, but I don't know, I could see a world where you're like, "I pimp a lot of your product with a lot of my time." I don't know.

[00:35:53] Tyson: Well, I do think--

[00:35:54] Alexa: It's just an interesting thought experiment.

[00:35:56] Tyson: I do think that because that world is so saturated, there's enough people now that will push product for free.

[00:36:05] Alexa: Yes.

[00:36:06] Tyson: Just for free product, like, "Oh, just send me the product and I'll talk about it and I'll push it," that companies no longer have to pay people to push products. Obviously, if there's really high-level famous people, but from more micro-influencers, I feel like it's so saturated, and there are so many people that are willing to do it for free that they-- I don't know. I think that there was a window where people could have made a lot of money doing that, and now I'm just thinking that a lot of brands take advantage of people--

[00:36:30] Alexa: There's no barrier to entry, right? You just got to have an iPhone and be willing to whore yourself out and your time, which is like, there's no barrier for that. A lot of people can do that. Doesn't make you special, which makes it increasingly hard as a brand to get awareness through those people, but yes, for me, the struggle is like-- because look, I talk about employer branding all the time. That's my fucking jam, and if you're going to brand yourself and your company as a product or your employees, a lot of the cult-- God, the fucking C word, not the culture, but a lot of the environment that you build is part of your product. I would imagine if you walk into-- actually, I know this for a fact because I used to fucking work there, when you work for Nike, the general leaning is that those people are pretty fucking athletic and they're pretty fucking healthy, right?

[00:37:16] Tyson: Yes. Okay, so--

[00:37:17] Alexa: That's just who works there, but is that because that's who applies to the brand, or is that because that's who the brand weeds out? I don't fucking know.

[00:37:24] Tyson: Right. That's another very interesting ethical question. Lululemon got in trouble for saying that their clothes are not for people who are overweight. "I don't make clothes for fat people," or something, I think the CEO said something like that. I also tried to apply to Lululemon, let me tell you a story about this. I went in to apply to Lululemon, and--

[00:37:46] Alexa: To work at the store?

[00:37:47] Tyson: To work at the store, and I had my resume. It was probably the same day I went to Club Monaco, and I wanted to give them my resume, and they were like, "Oh, sorry, we don't accept resumes," and I'm like, "Oh, well, then how do I get hired here?" They're like, "Well, you really have to start joining-- we have a running group, we have a yoga group, you have to join-- you have to be part of the fitness community and you pretty much have to know someone who will refer you through the fitness community. We only hire people that are like runners, yogis, et cetera," like actually in--

[00:38:20] Alexa: Is that discriminatory?

[00:38:20] Tyson: It's not a prohibited ground unless you're saying that you can't be physically fit because maybe you have a disability, which is why--

[00:38:30] Alexa: Look, if you run an art supply store, you probably want to hire people who like fucking art supplies. You probably want to hire people who paint and play with clay. It makes them better able to do the job. They're much more likely to be attracted to the job because it's an affinity for them.

[00:38:45] Tyson: To be engaged when they're at work.

[00:38:46] Alexa: Exactly, but at what line, where is the line that it goes like, "Well, you're a slightly skinnier runner than her, so I'm always going to choose you"?

[00:38:55] Tyson: This is where I would say-- I would say that you should be someone who's into fitness and understands fitness and that sort of thing, sure, that's fine, but then, again, it's not weight based. I know a lot of people who enjoy yoga or running or other things.

[00:39:12] Alexa: But attractiveness is the same bias as weight, right?

[00:39:17] Tyson: No, I know, but I'm saying that there are a lot of people who are yogis that might be considered overweight, and I wouldn't keep them out of the application process. I'm not going to be like-- if you know about yoga, I don't give a shit what size you are or what you look. You're a yogi and I want you to know about yoga.

[00:39:36] Alexa: How do you weed that out? Everyone that works at Lululemon happens to be-- I'm not saying this is true. I'm just-- everyone happens to be a beautiful, pretty, slim, slender, fit, largely blonde female, and you're just like, "These are just the people that love our brand, the people that apply." How would you-- the goal of the recruiting practices is to be as equitable as possible through the process.

If these people are just attracting more of a certain person because that's the brand, that's not the brand's fault, that's the whole fucking point. You need to attract the customer and the person who buys into your brand. I have no fucking interest in representing a certain kind of oil or car gas or shit I don't care about. If I apply to work at a brand, it's like, I worked at Nike for a reason, I was a fucking athlete. I loved Nike. Where does it become the issue is like, "You don't fit the brand," versus, "The brand just has an affinity with a certain kind of person"? That's tough.

[00:40:39] Tyson: I would just take that away-- I would just take looks out of that equation. Look at it, let's think about Nike. They're a sports store. Their purpose, I guess, is to create clothing that makes people better athletes.

[00:40:56] Alexa: Shoes and t-shirts.

[00:40:57] Tyson: You might want to hire someone who is an athlete or who plays sports or does some sort of physical activity, and they know about how to use these types of equipment, what type of equipment works better for what sport, that sort of thing. That has nothing to do with what you look like. That has something more to do with--

[00:41:18] Alexa: It's not illegal to hire based on attractiveness. If Nike says, "Yes, we definitely want the people that love the sports, but we also want people who love the sports that are attractive," that's fine, so long as attractive does not exclude people of color, certain genders, sexual identities, et cetera, which I get. I'm saying that's fine. I understand the formula. It's very hard to screen, especially-- I'm not letting anyone off the fucking hook here. I'm actually saying this because this, I think, is the problem. That is really fucking hard to do when you have a 23-year-old hiring people on the spot for shift workers that turn over every two fucking weeks.

In this case, Abercrombie was the opposite problem. They had the luxury of being like, "No, no, no. We just take the hot white people. Everybody wants to work here." I don't think that's the case in retail so much anymore.

[00:42:08] Tyson: The one thing that was interesting, I think it was towards the end of the documentary, someone who wore a head scarf had applied and there were some issues that went on with that.

[00:42:19] Alexa: That was a good one.

[00:42:19] Tyson: She had all these tweets from people that were like, "Why would you even apply there?" As if to say, "You don't fit in, why would you even apply? Why would you do that to yourself?"

[00:42:34] Alexa: That was hurtful.

[00:42:36] Tyson: That was interesting, that was the response, and it was funny-- going very quickly back to American Apparel. My mom had a friend back in the day and she actually worked in HR as well. She found out about what American Apparel was doing with the pictures. She was an older lady. She was I guess in her 50s or 60s, and she's like, "I'm going to apply and I'm going to send my picture in and see what happens. When I don't get an interview because I'm qualified for this job and I'm actually overqualified for this job, we'll see what happens." She never did that, but it would've been really an interesting experiment.

[00:43:12] Alexa: Again, is that based on attractiveness? Is it because she doesn't fit the brand? Because American Apparel is for a certain age kind of a person.

[00:43:22] Tyson: Age is a discriminatory ground. The second you start talking about age, that's when things-- Actually, no, but you know what was funny about age discrimination is it actually only applies to people who are between the ages of I think 18-- it used to be 18 and 60, but I think they might have just removed the cap. There used to be a cap. You could have actually discriminated against people who were older than 60. I think the cap has been since removed. That's interesting.

[00:43:52] Alexa: That's fascinating. It's interesting. Is it because you're older? Is it because you're not attractive, and are they not the same to some people? That's my point. It's a fucking weird line-- [crosstalk]

[00:43:59] Tyson: I think that's how Abercrombie got off with just a slap on the wrist. That's why they never really truly got in trouble. They didn't.

[00:44:06] Alexa: There was the woman, it was a blonde woman who was on a TV interview they showed a clip of. Very young, she was a young woman. She's clearly like a store manager or something. She was like, "What am I supposed to do? I'm supposed to lie to these people that work for me? I'm supposed to tell them that I'm letting them go because they're not hot enough?" I was like, "Yes, I think that's exactly what you did."

[00:44:26] Tyson: What does that conversation look like?

[00:44:28] Alexa: I don't know. None of them are good, and I don't want to ever participate in any of them.

[00:44:33] Tyson: "It was a business decision."

[00:44:35] Alexa: "It was a business-- You are not hot enough to work here."

[00:44:39] Tyson: [chuckles] So bad.

[00:44:40] Alexa: It's just fucking messy because also, models get hired on their looks and discriminated against-

[00:44:45] Tyson: All the time.

[00:44:46] Alexa: -for age, weight, and shit all the time. Same thing with brand ambassadors. People are picked as a formula to represent brands, the same way Abercrombie picked white frat kids from fucking Pennsylvania, and I had horrible nightmarish flashbacks from high school, watching that documentary. There's also brands that are like, "No, I want the slightly obese person of color who lives in a certain neighborhood that does this." It's the same thing. It's just a different ambassador that you're picking. It gets real dodgy when you start to do this stuff, and you try to be all-inclusive or all-exclusive. It's real hard to do both.

[00:45:25] Tyson: Again, I think that's why you can discriminate-- and I'm not going to use the word "discriminate". You can hire based on attractiveness. That's allowed. That is within the law. There's nothing wrong with that. What happened with Abercrombie is they actually had a book that defined what attractiveness was.

[00:45:45] Alexa: It did not-- I think the issue is that it went so far as basically to insinuate that it meant white, but it didn't actually say white.

[00:45:54] Tyson: Right. [crosstalk]

[00:45:55] Alexa: If it had said white, It would've been like, "Oh, fuck, you're done."

[00:45:59] Tyson: I think my takeaway from the documentary at least was that Abercrombie really never got in that much trouble. They really didn't.

[00:46:04] Alexa: Yes. That was one of my takeaways. They actually got away with a lot.

[00:46:06] Tyson: They got away with everything.

[00:46:08] Alexa: Also, "got away" with-- a lot of this stuff was within their rights. Again, it's a fine line between building a brand and a look. A lot of people went to those stores because there were half-naked dudes out front. It was part of the experience. [crosstalk]

[00:46:20] Tyson: No, it's within their rights until they start putting their people of color in the back or firing people of color with no other-- with no reason at all. Just because the fact they are black or because--

[00:46:38] Alexa: Then when the chick was like, "Oh, can I work a day shift? I can switch with a friend," they were like, "No." Then they let her go basically. That's fucked.

[00:46:42] Tyson: That's explicit-- or is that the word? Explicit? Is that the word? Racism? Is that the word that I'm looking for? Obvious racism? Implicit, explicit? I don't know if that's the word I'm looking for. Anyways.

[00:46:57] Alexa: I get my [unintelligible 00:46:57] mixed up.

[00:46:59] Tyson: [chuckles] Yes. That was obvious. That's where things got--

[00:47:03] Alexa: It was blatant is what it was.

[00:47:05] Tyson: That's where things got shady.

[00:47:07] Alexa: Then they uncover some of those things, where there was an email from the CEO that was kind of fucked up that they talk about.

[00:47:13] Tyson: Their graphic tees. We haven't even talked about that. It's not much of an HR thing.

[00:47:18] Alexa: I don't know. It kind of is.

[00:47:20] Tyson: Sort of. Who was making those?

[00:47:22] Alexa: I don't remember. That was one part of the documentary where I stopped having flashbacks from high school and was like, "They sold that?" I don't even remember that. I also hate graphic tees, but that's a different conversation.

[00:47:33] Tyson: What I found interesting about that--

[00:47:36] Alexa: Two Wongs-- the laundry, something-

[00:47:38] Tyson: "Two Wongs make it white."

[00:47:40] Alexa: Something laundry. "Two Wongs make it white", which is fucked up.

[00:47:44] Tyson: Brutal.

[00:47:45] Alexa: I loved the guy on the documentary. They talk about one angry man, the angry Asian man blog guy. He was great. I liked him.

[00:47:52] Tyson: Where the HR component of that does come in was their response was, "Oh, but there were two Asians on that design team." That's a really interesting conversation because then the guy that-- I think the one angry Asian--

[00:48:08] Alexa: Yes. He was the angry Asian guy, I think it's his blog.

[00:48:09] Tyson: He said, "Well, when are they going to-- are you just expecting these people to stand up against their whole team, their company?"

[00:48:17] Alexa: You've got a team full of white people being like, "You okay with this, bud?" He's not going to be like, "Oh, yes, this is my moment to take a stand."

[00:48:23] Tyson: Exactly.

[00:48:25] Alexa: It's a good point. It's why the tokenism thing is dangerous because-- and actually, to bring this full circle, the chief diversity officer thing, it boomerangs like that. They bring him in, and then by the end of the documentary, the CEO's doing the same shit, but worse. He's writing it in his emails, and he's saying basically, "We're letting these people--" I forget what the example is, but they catch him in an email doing the same shit, but actually worse than the beginning because he had the guise of the diversity officer.

They had band-aided it with, "Oh, there were two Asian guys on the graphics team that okayed this." I'm sorry I don't speak for all Asian people either. It's two dudes in the room, and that's what the one guy called out, which I thought was a really good point. I was shocked by that one.

[00:49:08] Tyson: I think the chief diversity officer did say, I'm just looking at my notes here, something like in just six years, it got to 53% non-white employees, and that was something he was celebrating. What I found really interesting about that was one of the recruiters was considered a person of color, and he acknowledged himself that he looked like a white guy.

[00:49:40] Alexa: This stuff gets touchy. I was glad they made this documentary. I think it was-- as with all good documentaries, it sparks good conversation, makes you think, makes your gears turn a little differently. I like that. I could have done without some of the Jeffrey Epstein bomb over here and gay photography, molestation bomb over here. I hate when documentaries do that.

[00:49:58] Tyson: It was like clickbait or whatever. It was like a shock factor. It was just like, "Ooh."

[00:50:02] Alexa: Yes, it was like, "Oh, we'll just make these guys seem so much worse because these other random things that aren't really affiliated." Their hiring practices have nothing to do with the photographer being a fucking creep.

[00:50:13] Tyson: That could have been a documentary in itself, investigating that photographer.

[00:50:15] Alexa: Literally. The CEO's weird plastic surgery meltdown could have been its own fucking documentary and probably should have been because I'm sure he's fascinating, but I hate when documentaries do that. Just pick your storyline and make your fucking point. Although I don't know, maybe they're not supposed to make a point. Maybe they're supposed to let you make the point. That's the beauty of a documentary. [crosstalk]

[00:50:36] Tyson: I will also say that I was living for the music. Talk about nostalgia, I was brought right back to the 2000s, and I'm like, "Oh, damn."

[00:50:48] Alexa: I'll be honest, I didn't love high school. Some of that was like, "Oh, man, this reminds me of being at the mall by myself. I hate this." [chuckles] Anyway, I did love high school. I went to high school. I was not cool in high school. Shocking I'm sure. I went to high school, it was a very hostile environment. All those frat boys shirtless in the cornfields, I went to high school with some of those kids, and they were not friendly.

[00:51:13] Tyson: We had those too. People in our high school all wore Lacoste Polos.

[00:51:22] Alexa: Yes, I like Lacoste. I was a tennis player, so Lacoste was more like a European, "Oh, you're cool. You're from the country."

[00:51:28] Tyson: Those were the assholes. They were either turquoise blue, like--

[00:51:31] Alexa: Do you remember the Double Polo?

[00:51:33] Tyson: Oh, yes.

[00:51:34] Alexa: Or the pink.

[00:51:35] Tyson: Or the pink. All the guys wore pink.

[00:51:37] Alexa: Yes, the pink under the white. Oh, man.

[00:51:40] Tyson: They all played hockey.

[00:51:41] Alexa: You rolled the sleeves up. Oh, man, fucking douche bags with the shell necklaces and the [unintelligible 00:51:45]. Fucking horrible.

[00:51:45] Tyson: Oh, yes. Oh my God. I think I dug out a shell necklace in my husband's childhood room, and I was like, "Oh, fuck, were you one of those people?"

[00:51:54] Alexa: Well, they're going to come back, so save that shit. That look fire on you in two years when that shit comes back.

[00:52:00] Tyson: Yes, I was not part of that at all.

[00:52:04] Alexa: Well, normally at the end of a doc club, we never successfully do this because it's completely unattainable, but we try to come up with social action. What is this going to make you do differently in the future now that you've had time to think extra about this? Again, actually impossible to literally take an action every time, but what are you going to try to be more conscious about in the future? I don't know. You got any thoughts there, Tyson?

[00:52:29] Tyson: Yes, well, I think anyone who's listening to this right now, who works in HR, has a shitload of takeaways that they have actions that they could probably do. I think the biggest one that we've learned only recently, I would say, this word tokenism, it's a bit new. I don't think it's a new word, but it's come to the forefront probably in 2020. It's not new at all, but I think that it was something that a lot of people maybe weren't educated in and didn't know what that meant, and I think a lot of people still don't actually know what it means.

I would say if people don't know what tokenism is, go figure out what that is, and try to find yourself some examples of how it actually shows up and manifests in the workplace and what that looks like because sometimes you'll see stuff, and you'll be like, "Oh, shit, I didn't realize that what we were doing was actually tokenism." That would be my biggest takeaway.

[00:53:20] Alexa: I think that's a good one. I think people should watch the documentary.

[00:53:24] Tyson: [unintelligible 00:53:24] If you made it this far and you haven't watched documentary--

[00:53:29] Alexa: God bless you.

[00:53:31] Tyson: We just ruin the whole thing for you. [laughs]

[00:53:33] Alexa: It wasn't like the world's most linear discussion about it. You'll probably have some other takeaways, and we'd love to hear them. Please share them with us.

[00:53:38] Tyson: Absolutely.

[00:53:39] Alexa: We want to know what you thought and how you feel. I guess my people problem for the episode is someone who I'm having dinner with just texted me and said, "Is no white pants before Memorial Day still a thing?" I was like, "We are talking about fashion right now."

[00:53:56] Tyson: Wait, we say no white after Labor Day. You're in the clear anytime before.

[00:54:04] Alexa: Yes, but when does that start? January?

[00:54:06] Tyson: I don't know. Memorial Day, I guess. [laughs]

[00:54:09] Alexa: Exactly. That's what I mean. She's like, "Oh, no white." It used to be that you can wear white between Memorial Day and Labor Day and really no white after Labor Day, but I'm pretty sure that taboo has been busted. [unintelligible 00:54:19] or somebody was like, "No, no, you're good. We're done with that shit."

[00:54:22] Tyson: Is someone going to stop [unintelligible 00:54:23] and arrest her?

[00:54:25] Alexa: No.

[00:54:26] Tyson: What's going to happen?

[00:54:27] Alexa: I don't know.

[00:54:28] Tyson: If she wears white. If she's going to feel good and look good, then--

[00:54:31] Alexa: That's how I always feel about things, but I went to fashion. I like to be fashionable. Nobody gives a fuck if you're wearing white pants right now. It's 75 fucking degrees out, go nuts.

[00:54:42] Tyson: Well, that's what I mean. If it feels like summer, then white's okay, even after Labor Day.

[00:54:47] Alexa: Yes. Well, then there's winter white, like, "Yes, that's options." I think you should-- I don't know.

[00:54:53] Tyson: I don't know. We'll leave that to the audience. [chuckles]

[00:54:54] Alexa: We get so few opportunities in this part of the world to dress like it's fucking warm out. I say lean into it.

[00:55:00] Tyson: If it's warm out, you dress however your little heart desires.

[00:55:03] Alexa: Exactly. I'm in a fucking tank top today, and I'm stoked about it. Normally, I'm in my fucking sweatshirt.

[00:55:06] Tyson: I'm in my classic black hoodie. I actually think that this is Lululemon. [chuckles]

[00:55:12] Alexa: All right. Well, we still love them. They still make some good shit.

[00:55:15] Tyson: I love Lululemon. Yes.

[00:55:16] Alexa: Amazing. All right, Tyson, any parting thoughts? This was fun. Congratulations on your first doc club. Thank you for letting me bring this new format to the podcast.

[00:55:23] Tyson: Yes, I want to do more of these, but I don't know enough ones that could be work-related.

[00:55:29] Alexa: I'm obsessed with fucking documentaries. I'm sure I can find them. I have seen hundreds of documentaries. It's all I do.

[00:55:34] Tyson: Let's find more.

[00:55:35] Alexa: Happy to find more. I would also love to know if people want us to do a book version of this because there are also some good books that I think would be fun, that are not like, "Oh, let's read a book about change management." No. Let's read a fucking good story or a good piece on things that are interesting, and then discuss it. I think we should ask people what they think about that.

[00:55:56] Tyson: Absolutely. Just be kind because I'm also part of a book club, and I'm already struggling to keep up with that, and we're reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. [laughs]

[00:56:04] Alexa: Oh, I read that. It's good.

[00:56:05] Tyson: It's so good.

[00:56:06] Alexa: It's a fucking beach read.

[00:56:08] Tyson: I love it. I love a good beach read.

[00:56:10] Alexa: It's so colorful. I literally read it on the beach in Miami last summer. It's very good, but it's not like you're reading a fucking Warren Peace. [chuckles]

[00:56:19] Tyson: No.

[00:56:19] Alexa: That is a guilty pleasure read on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee.

[00:56:23] Tyson: Awesome.

[00:56:23] Alexa: Or on the beach. Yes.

[00:56:24] Tyson: Send us your recs if there are books, docs, or whatever.

[00:56:26] Alexa: Send us your recs, can't wait to hear what you guys think of this. Welcome to doc club. Do it with your friends. It's super fun. I highly recommend it. It's been a highlight of the last five years of my life. It's a good excuse to get your friends together to talk about something that's not stupid, drink wine, and eat food. Happy doc club.

[00:56:42] Tyson: Sweet.

[00:56:43] Alexa: Yes. Later.

[00:56:45] Tyson: Bye.


Wait a minute. Before you leave, take some time to leave us a five-star rating. We'd really love your feedback. Also, if you'd like to see our lovely faces each week as we're recording these episodes, check us out on our new YouTube channel. Thanks.

[00:56:58] Alexa: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Baggio, with audio production by Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. Our intro music was also done by the wonderful Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. You can find more information about us and future episodes--

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