Podcast

Diversity in Practice: Diversifying the Bar with UC Davis Dean of Law Kevin R. Johnson

MoFo Perspectives Podcast

15 Dec 2020

MoFo’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Natalie Kernisant welcomes UC Davis School of Law Dean and Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies Kevin R. Johnson during this installment of the Diverse in Practice podcast. The discussion centers around the California Bar’s decision to lower the bar exam cut score, and what – if any - impact such a decision might have on diversity within the bar.

Transcript

Speaker: Welcome to MoFo Perspectives, a podcast by Morrison & Foerster, where we share the perspectives of our clients, colleagues, subject matter experts, and lawyers.

Natalie Kernisant: Welcome to the Diversity in Practice podcast, a part of MoFo Perspectives. My name is Natalie Kernisant, and I am the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Morrison & Foerster. This podcast series is designed to provide a space to discuss a wide variety of issues related to diversity in the law and to introduce you to some of our talented, diverse attorneys, their areas of legal expertise, and the work that they and their MoFo allies do in furtherance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s also our hope that by sharing D&I best practices wherever possible, we can help make the legal industry a more inclusive place for those who are, in the words of our MoFo former chair, Bob Raven, just a little bit different.

Natalie Kernisant: I’m extremely excited to introduce today’s guest, Kevin Johnson, the Dean of UC Davis’s law school and professor of public interest and professor of Chicano studies. Dean Johnson, you’re a magna cum law graduate of Harvard Law School, where you served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review and earned an AB in economics from UC Berkeley, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. After law school, you clerked for the honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the ninth circuit court of appeals and then practiced at Heller Ehrman before making your way to UC Davis. Today, you are not only the Dean of the law school, but also President of the Legal Services of Northern California’s Board of Directors, where you served as a board member since 1996. You also served on the board of directors of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund for about five years in the mid to late 2000’s. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the fund, it’s considered one of the nation’s leading Mexican-American civil rights organizations. Beyond that, you taught a wide array of classes, including immigration law, civil procedure, complex litigation, Latinos and Latinas and the law, and critical race theory, earning the law school’s distinguished teaching award in 1993. Dean Johnson, welcome to the podcast.

Kevin Johnson: Thanks very much for having me.

Natalie Kernisant: So our topic for today, as you know, is the California Bar Exam cut score and its impact on diversity in the bar. But before we dive into that, I’d like to hear a little bit about UC Davis’s Law School, also known as the King Hall School of Law. At a school named for Dr. Martin Luther King, I imagine that diversity and inclusion is an institutional core value. Can you talk a little bit about how that manifests in how you lead the law school?

Kevin Johnson: That’s a very good question. And we are housed in the building named after Dr. Martin Luther King. There’s a statue of Dr. King in the lobby of the law school. There’s a plaque outside the front door where Chief Justice Earl Warren’s words upon the naming and opening of the law school are recorded. And the entire school in many ways is committed to the idea of social justice, social consciousness. Our law students often go into the private sector, but I think they leave with an education thinking about law in its broadest and most majestic respects and how it can bring about justice and change. In terms of the way it affects how I run the law school, it’s important that we have a diverse student body. It’s important that we have a diverse faculty. And when I joined the faculty, which was a long time ago in 1989, it had been an all-white faculty.

Kevin Johnson: There had been minorities previously in the faculty, but it was all white at the time that I joined. And since then, over basically a generation, the faculty’s become a majority minority faculty, one of the only ones in the country that fits that bill. And we take pride in that diversity. Our faculty is probably more diverse than our student body, and our student body’s pretty diverse. And the first-year class this year, 56% are students of color. 71% are women. And I think that those commitments to diversity, which are combined with excellence, are really part of this fabric of UC Davis School of Law. And I’m proud of that.

Natalie Kernisant: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, having a majority minority faculty is rare and really exciting to hear about in addition to all the other things that you mentioned. But if we were to turn to the bar exam score now, you know, all too well, that California, the most populous state in the country and a majority minority state, has for many decades clung to one of the nation’s toughest testing standards for admission to the bar. Now, just to level set, the average national bar exam passing score is 1350. Until this summer, California’s cut score was about 1440, the second highest in the country, while a state like New York, where I sit, their cut score was about 1330. For years, significant evidence has shown that high cut scores reduce the diversity of the bar. Many argue that there is no evidence supporting the idea having a high cut score makes for better lawyers. In fact, I think there was a report by the state bar of California that showed that 40% of California’s population is white, and 60% are people of color, but only 32% of the lawyers in California are people of color. Can you help our listeners understand the argument for reducing California’s cut score that has been put forth over the years and the impact these scores are having on diversity within the bar?

Kevin Johnson: I think it’s important to remember that our lawyers, the lawyers in the state of California, as you mentioned, really don’t reflect the demographics of the population of the state. We have a state that’s majority minority, where about half the graduates of our high schools are Latino, and our profession just doesn’t reflect that. And that’s a sad, sad situation. Now we had a cut score that, as you mentioned, was the second highest in the country, and we have a bar system, and you have to think, “Well, what is the purpose of licensing of attorneys?” It’s to ensure competency in the practice of law and to ensure protection at the public. And the question was: is the cut score, as the lowest score for passing the bar, isn’t it a reasonable barrier, a reasonable test to ensure competency and to protect the public? Or is it an unreasonable and artificially high test that goes well beyond protecting the public and well beyond ensuring the competency?

Kevin Johnson: And I think there was an argument, a persuasive one in the end, that the California cut score was unreasonably high and should be made more reasonable by adjusting it. And that’s exactly what the California Supreme Court ultimately did after studying the facts. After looking at the details and feeling confident that the public would be protected and that the competency of lawyers would be insured. I think that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about the cut score. I think it’s a mistake. And some would say that the cut score was lowered, and we were lowering standards. That’s a mistake because what we’re trying to do is to make sure that lawyers are competent to make sure the public’s protected, and we shouldn’t too rigidly and narrowly create barriers to the practice of law if those goals are protected. And one of the issues in the state besides the lack of minority representation among attorneys is the difficulty of low- and medium-income people to have access to attorneys.

Kevin Johnson: There was a concern that really what the California Bar was doing was trying to limit new lawyers to protect the ones with bar licenses and protect their jobs. I think that might be overstated, but I do think the cut score is now more reasonable than it was before the Supreme Court adjusted it. Now, the other issue that’s worthy of consideration is that we don’t have a diverse bar and it appears that the bar exam has a higher failure rate among minority applicants than white applicants. There’s a variety of reasons for that. And I think we can talk about them later, but if you have an artificially high cut rate and an unreasonable cut rate, you’re going to screen out more people of color from passing the bar and getting a bar license. So there are disparate impacts of an artificially high bar passage rate.

Kevin Johnson: And it’s also important to remember that a good chunk of the bar exam is composed of multiple choice questions that historically have been found to have a negative impact on minority applicants, whether they’re culturally biased or something else. It appears that standardized testing is one of the reasons that the minority scores on the bar exam are, on the average, lower than many whites. But I think the key thing to remember about the adjustment and the cut score, it was adjusted to a reasonable place, maybe still a little high in some peoples’ minds, but to a more reasonable place than it once was, and it will adversely affect fewer applicants of color than the previous one did.

Natalie Kernisant: You mentioned standardized testing and whether those are culturally biased. And I do want to turn to that topic in just a little bit, but before we get there, as you mentioned, in July, this past summer, the California Supreme Court, which oversees the state bar, agreed to permanently lower the passing score to 1390. Can you tell us a little bit about how law school deans and students were influential in this outcome?

Kevin Johnson: I’m not sure that the law school deans were particularly influential in the outcome. I do know that the law school deans raised the issue to Supreme Court in a letter sent to the Chief Justice. And I think this at least got it on her radar screen, but I think really what happened was the court knew that this was an issue, was informed it was an issue, and it took some time to collect the information. The state bar conducted a study. I know I certainly cooperated and provided information to help them with their study to try to figure out whether our cut score for the state was appropriate. And we also have to remember that the California Supreme Court, as a whole, was making the decision about the cut score, not one justice. And so when you’re dealing with a group, you have to persuade that group, a majority of that group about changes.

Kevin Johnson: And I think the court understandably, in certain respects, was deliberate and duly deliberate, but deliberate in looking at the question and changing the cuts score. I do think the deans deserve of credit for raising the issue and highlighting the issue for the court. I think the students were as well. And I think the students really stepped up and participated in very active form when there was a discussion about the testing, the July 2020 bar exam, whether it be online, whether it be live, there was a lot of student activism surrounding that. And after that discussion, that’s when a number of changes were made, including the first online bar exam in state history and the lowering of the cut score. So it’s hard to parse out who’s responsible for helping move these changes forward. But if I had to give credit, I’d probably give the most credit to the Supreme Court. And I think a majority of the Supreme Court came up with a solution that seemed very reasonable to me, may not be exactly the way I would’ve done on it, but these things aren’t easy. And I think that they considered the various concerns that possible health dangers of a live bar exam, the possible negative consequences of unreasonably high cut score, and tried to cobble together a reasonable change.

Natalie Kernisant: I would go a little further. The pressure to lower the cut score is not a new one. And the arguments that the high score were having sort of a disparate impact on diversity in the industry have existed for a while now. Why do you think the Court was motivated to act now? And do you think things like the pandemic or the black lives matter movement played any role in persuading the court or motivating the court to act now?

Kevin Johnson: That’s always hard to pinpoint what drove decisions. I do think the court was making some fairly significant changes to the bar exam. This came at a time when there are racial tensions, there’s heightened awareness of issues of race, and all together, the circumstances were such that this variety of changes could be put into place. And one of the benefits, I think, of the way that it was done is that there wasn’t a large outcry about the lowering of the cut score. In fact, in the discussions—the press discussions of what the court did, there was more of a focus on the October online bar exam and a resolution of the recent graduates concern that they didn’t know when their exam would be. They couldn’t take a live one and the uncertainty with their careers. So I think that I don’t want to say this was a political decision, but politically there was very little attention paid to the change in the cut score. People like law school deans and law students paid attention to it. But the truth is I think that our recent graduates paid a lot more attention to which would directly impact them. And that was the October bar exam. And I have to mention this. There was a fair number of our students, our graduates, who were unhappy that the court didn’t grant diploma privilege and basically allow for the licensure of recent bar graduates from the state’s law schools.

Natalie Kernisant: One of the things that as I was getting up to speed on this topic, one of the things that I was struck by is that the court didn’t retroactively apply the cut score. Right? So what is your prediction in terms of when we might see the impact of this lower cut score in terms of the diversity of a bar in California?

Kevin Johnson: Actually, it’s interesting you mentioned that because yesterday, the California legislature passed a resolution, encouraging the State Bar and Supreme Court to apply the change in cut score retroactively. We’ll see what happens, but the court has said to this point that they aren’t going to apply it retroactively, and it will take some time for there to be any changes in the demographics of the bar passers. I do think it’s important that even if there are some changes, I don’t think they’re going to be monumental. I think they’ll be small, although significant, especially to the bar takers. And I think that our chore, and I mean law firms, law schools, colleges are to how do we increase and improve the pipeline to bring more people of color to the practice of law? I don’t think it’s going to be changed by tinkering with the cut score, even though that’s beneficial. I think that we have to think more deeply about what we’re requiring in the bar exam, what we’re acquiring for admissions to law schools, and then there’s some deeper structural problems and systemic problems as well, including the disparate opportunities to first rate education in the state and across the nation. But I don’t think the cut score change is going to dramatically change the composition of the bar. And I think we all have our work cut out for us.

Natalie Kernisant: You brought this up earlier and alluded to it just now. Obviously people have argued for quite some time that the bar exam and other standardized tests are culturally biased, that standardized tests in general fail to measure what they intend to measure, right? The threshold ability required to competently practice law. In fact, of first-time test takers from law schools accredited by the ABA, 51.7% of white graduates passed compared to 5% of black graduates, 32.6% of Latinos, and 42.2% of Asians. What are your thoughts on the test validity and whether they are biased in some sort of way?

Kevin Johnson: I’m not an expert on tests. Although I have a deep suspicion of standardized tests and the consistent findings of social science studies that they are culturally biased. And I fear that bias in the testing will have ripple effects. And I worry about that in conjunction with the law school admissions test, as well as the multi-state part of the bar exam. And I think that efforts have been made to root out those biases, but we still see consistent disparities in scoring for African American, Latino, Asian, and White test takers. So I think we should be suspicious of tests, particularly standardized tests. And I think the California Bar Exam by at least for a time having performance exam, as well as the essay exams, was a move away from standardized tests where I think the bias is at its most prominent. So I do have these fears, and I think we should also be thinking about things like are the tests testing what is necessary to be a good and competent and ethical lawyer. And it’s never been clear to me that there’s a good link between the bar exam and the practice of law. And I know that’s a position that other law school deans, including Dean Mnookin from UCLA has taken. So I think we should be weary of relying duly on tests, but also constantly evaluating and reevaluating the test to make sure that at least they’re pointed in the right direction of testing what we want them to test.

Natalie Kernisant: Studies over the last 10 years have indicated that about 20% of white test takers never pass the bar even after multiple attempts. And by contrast, it’s 46.9% of black test takers and 30.5% of Latinos. Research shows that black and Latinos on average do worse than their counterparts on these tests. And I vaguely remember studying stereotype threat back in college. So I was a social psychology major in addition to African American studies. And we spent a lot of time talking about sort of stereotype threat. According to the theory, the fear people experience when they’re at risk of confirming a negative stereotype can actually undermine the successful performance of those tasks and lead individuals to basically end up fulfilling that stereotype, sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. With your background as a professor of critical race theory, what are your thoughts on stereotype threat, and are there other cultural or race-oriented factors that help us explain or understand the differences between black, Latino, Asian, White test takers?

Kevin Johnson: I think stereotype threat is real. And I very much think that minority students, law students, and bar applicants feel an incredible amount of stress in environments where they tend to be small in number and feel that they might not belong, often believe that they are somehow admissions mistakes at law school, and that they’re doomed to failure. And I think one of the things we’ve worked on here at UC Davis is trying to provide the kind of support academically and otherwise that allows students to feel confident that they do in fact belong, that they can succeed. It did not prepare themselves for success. There was a time a few years ago, I remember some students, one of the faculty advisors to La Raza Law Students Association, and one of the students came to talk to me and we were talking, and she talked about hoping to pass the bar in the second or third time, because that’s what she thought—

Kevin Johnson: That’s what happened to students in La Raza Law Students Association. And so I spent some time talking to her that should be one and done, prepare yourself for the best, be confident and work hard and take the test, but expect it to be one. I’ve known some excellent attorneys who are people of color who took the bar several times are smart. They’re intelligent. I think the test in some students, and I think this is particularly true for students of color, sort of looms like Mount Everest on the horizon that it’s impossible to conquer. I guess I feel very fortunate that after law school, I had the confidence that I kind of viewed it as a hindrance of sort but not Mount Everest of sorts either. So I think that law schools should be cognizant of that. I think the issue is most prominent among first generation students who don’t have experience with lawyers and law.

Kevin Johnson: And one of the things that some law schools, including ours, is doing is having a first generation students program to help integrate first generation students into law school, make them feel more comfortable, introduce them to lawyers, actually Justice Cruz Reynoso, who was on our faculty, often would come and talk to the students and to try to make them feel like this is a place they belonged. This is a place they could succeed. This is a place that really was for them. And I think that this has really been a change in the way law schools approach things. When I went to law school, academic support was basically nonexistent, and student wellness programs and first generation programs were nonexistent. And I think now law schools are being more conscious of what they can do to support all their students, the first generation, the students of color, as well as other students. And I think it’s a good sea change, but it really is a sea change.

Natalie Kernisant: So I did want to ask you a question about organizations from your perspective, preparing students to enter the legal industry and take on both public and private sector jobs. Why do you think it’s important for organizations who are committed to moving the needle with respect to increasing diversity and increasing inclusion in this industry to take the time to understand the potential impact of seemingly and innocuous policies and procedures like the cut score? Is that something you think is important as we try to tackle diversifying the bar?

Kevin Johnson: I mean, I think organizations that take diversity, equity, and inclusion seriously have to be intentional and conscious in each and every policy that they have and that they should work hard to be cooperating members of the greater society to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion. These things don’t just happen. And I also think that diversity and excellence go hand in hand. Diversity is demanded by many clients who go to law firms. Diversity is demanded by the citizens of the State of California that help fund the University of California and UC Davis School of Law. And I think it’s very important for us to work together in our particular niche, in our particular political, economic, and social sphere, to try to bring about more inclusion, more justice, more fairness than is existed. We know that law schools for a while didn’t have many women. We know that law schools at one time didn’t have any people of color.

Kevin Johnson: We know that was a mistake, and we are moving forward to remedy those mistakes. I think it’s critically important that if we want a more racially just society and better functioning society, we all have to work together in this regard. I think that we have to think things through as opposed to let things fall on our lap as well. In one area that I was thinking about, I asked the black law students leadership to come into my office and talk to me after the George Floyd killing. I didn’t want to wait until they came to me and wanted something. I wanted to talk to them about what can the law school do to make you feel better in these circumstances? Because many black people and others in our society were deeply troubled by the state of racial violence, which fits into a long and infamous history in the United States. And that in this law school environment to not discuss, to not acknowledge their hurt and their unhappiness and their commitment to change would be insensitive and just plain wrong. And so I think we have to be intentional in thinking about how our actions are perceived, what the impacts of our policies are, and try to think is that necessary? Should we do that? And how should we proceed in light of what we know.

Natalie Kernisant: I love that you spoke about how the law school or you in your capacity reached out to the black law students after the George Floyd killing really to do a temperature check and to check in and better understand sort of the human experience that those students were going through. It reminds me of the same decision MoFo made at that time to sort of convene all of our black attorneys for a meeting where we really just processed the emotions that we were having as black professionals at the firm in an effort to one, give ourselves some time for self-care, um, but also discuss what it is we needed from allies in that moment and better inform our colleagues that we know are bought in to diversifying this industry and supporting social justice at the firm. And we were really able to have a productive conversation about that. So it heartens me to hear that thoughtful leaders like yourself in the law school space were doing similar, supportive things for members of the community that were directly impacted by that incident.

Kevin Johnson: Well, those kinds of things, they don’t cost money. I understand there are economic limits to what we can do sometimes, but to support a human being and tell them you care, and you’d like to make it better, it doesn’t cost, and it’s positive. It’s a positive step. And it’s one of the that we have to think about if we want to move through a very difficult time in our history where there’s a lot of distrust, there’s a lot of harsh words being said, and I thought it was important for the students to hear from me. This is horrible. And I feel for you, and I’m not African American, and I can’t feel exactly what you feel, but I’m there to try to help.

Natalie Kernisant: It’s that humanity, you know? That’s often what I say. Like that’s more powerful than any really expensive program you can put together. So if I were to get your thoughts on something else that I’ve been thinking about, and that we’ve been discussing in the work that we do as diversity professionals. When I thought about dedicating an entire episode of the podcast to the California cut score, I really thought of it as one part of a larger discussion on diversity and the legal pipeline that we would have over multiple episodes. Looking at different issues, impacting that pipeline, how to seal leaks in the pipeline, how to increase the flow, the input to that pipeline. And obviously as we discussed, there are potential barriers to entry and understanding those are important. It’s an important part of the analysis, but I’d love to get your thoughts more broadly on the idea of whether the lack of diversity in the industry is truly a pipeline problem. Or if there’s something else from where you sit and from what you do and from the students you talk to and the alumni I’m sure you keep in touch with. If I were to ask you to put on your doctor’s hat and diagnose what you think is preventing not only diversity within the industry, but the advancement of diverse folks at the same rates as their white counterparts?

Kevin Johnson: I think there is a pipeline problem. And I think that that’s something that we all together have to continue to work on. I mean, we have a society with serious disparities and educational opportunities for all kinds of reasons. They’re very deep and enduring, and it’s very difficult for many people of color to navigate their ways through universities, through the law school. At the same time, there is an increasing diversity of law school graduates. And I think that the law firms have done some wonderful things in terms of recruiting. I think that the diversity fellowship programs that we’ve seen more of in recent years, where there’s an opportunity for a firm to get to know a possible attorney, a future attorney, really, and we’ve seen great success with that. I also think that law firms should think carefully about only talking to, for example, the top 5% or the 10% of the class.

Kevin Johnson: I think you have to wonder it’s like the cut score, is that a sensible restriction, is that a sensible cutting off point? And I think that if you’re really committed to diversity equity inclusion, you should think carefully about all the requirements you have because many students of color don’t have the kind of Ivy League pedigrees that many people at law firms do. And they’re smart, they’re hungry, they’re able, they’ll be good attorneys, but I think it’s important to evaluate carefully all the indicia of excellence that are employed to evaluate an applicant. I think that that’s pretty important. So what happens when you got all the firms looking at the top 10% is they’re all competing for that same group of people, and there’s only so many people of color in that group. And if you—I’m not saying going deeper in the class, but casting a wider net, is it probably a better way to approach it? And that’s not to say that all the people you interview you’re going to hire, but at least giving them a chance to interview makes a big difference.

Natalie Kernisant: It’s funny, it’s a conversation we often have internally about recruiting in the best approach to increasing diversity in the pipeline. And I often say there’s a whole host of reasons why students choose the law school that they decide to ultimately attend. And some of them are strictly a ranking. It’s the best school that I got into. But then, and I think this is particularly true for folks of color, who, like you said, don’t necessarily have the family history of generations of generations of lawyers or doctors or—to help them navigate just the application process. But I think for many lawyers of color, financial concerns are important. It’s a holistic decision made on a number of different factors and some with more or less guidance than others. So talent doesn’t necessarily mirror the rankings. The talent and the potential to succeed as a lawyer cannot be substituted the sitting down and talking to people, interviewing them, getting to know them, and assessing on an individual basis, whether they’re a good fit for our organization.

Natalie Kernisant: We can’t substitute that with just looking at what law school did they you go to and what were their grades in that law school. But with that said, I do have one final question for you. And we obviously have talked about some of the reasons why the lack of diversity in the industry is a complicated issue, but what are your thoughts on how law firms can partner with law schools to increase diversity in the industry and conversely, what more could and should law firms be doing to support greater diversity in the pipeline from your vantage point as Dean?

Kevin Johnson: I think the diversity fellowship idea does require some economic and other support, but it’s made a big difference. I think that it’s very effective for firms to reach out at different law schools, to the students of color, through their affinity organizations and otherwise, because many times there’s a perception that, well, they wouldn’t be interested in me or I’m not good enough for them. And I think that, like you said before, and somebody—partner talking to an associate, putting in a good word or putting it in an appearance at least indicates that you think it’s worth reaching out. And I think it’s important for students, if you want to diversify your attorneys, the only way you’re going to do it is you encourage people to apply, and they feel like they’re wanted there. I worked a lot with this student last year to think about working at a law firm.

Kevin Johnson: She was in second year, got an offer, all set to start there. And then sadly before summer started with the COVID was told there’s no job for you. I think she felt, I guess it wasn’t for me. I guess they really didn’t want me. And I felt bad for her because I had—I don’t think it had anything to do with her, but I think that the way the message was extended, wasn’t in a very human way. And I think, like you said, that human touch makes all the difference. And I think that if you really want to diversify your institution, whether it’s a law firm, whether it’s a law school, whether it’s a social club, you have to reach out and make people feel like they’re wanted and that they’re valuable and that they’re important, or you’re not going to convince them. So I think that reaching out to affinity organizations, reaching out to law schools is very important. I think it goes beyond just, I’m going to fill out the career service office forum and interview, although that’s not even happening this year. But I think it’s really showing an interest in particular groups of students.

Natalie Kernisant: And a sustained interest, right? I often say having practiced law myself and left the actual practice of law, still being at a law firm, it’s that sustained relationship that you build with I think all law students, honestly, but particularly for those who tend to feel othered, tend to feel that imposter syndrome that we sort of made reference to when we talked about stereotype threat. I think it’s particularly important in those situations to continue between summer programs, continue your conversation with the diverse attorneys that came to you for the summer, and take a vested interest in building real relationships. Not only is it great in terms of recruiting, but when they do matriculate into the organization, I think it’s a lot easier to have development conversations when you have a relationship of trust with that individual or a context for where that person came from, what that person has been through. So in terms of talent management, relationships are great. I think it’s particularly important when you’re dealing with someone who may not feel like they belong surely because they are a minority in a majority different organization.

Kevin Johnson: I think you’re exactly right. The issue is in very high speed, fast moving environments, you really have to be conscious and intentional in doing that and make it part of your job because as you know, it has economic consequences. People leave. Retention’s a costly issue. And so if you really want a better environment, that’s a way of investing. It does take time. It does take intentionality, and it does take a certain sensitivity.

Natalie Kernisant: You raise a good point. Not only is it good for the talent management perspective of, but it’s an organizational benefit to develop those strong relationships because it pays off in retention and in engagement and in innovation and openness to speaking up and giving your opinion and really contributing to a team. And so I think across the board, taking that time to add the human touch really is beneficial to the organization as a whole. I could talk to you about this all day, Dean Johnson. Thank you so very much for joining us on the podcast and sharing your thoughts on this important topic. We thank you for the great work that you do and that UC Davis does, and that your students do not only in school, but then when they enter the industry and in public space. So thank you. And it’s been a pleasure.

Kevin Johnson: It’s been an honor.

Speaker: Please make sure to subscribe to the MoFo Perspectives Podcast so you don’t miss an episode. If you have any questions about what you heard today, or like more information on this topic, please visit mofo.com/podcasts. Again, that’s MoFo, M-O-F-O.com/podcasts.

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