Client Story - Humble Oak Consulting
Client Name: Lucretia Witte
Business Name: Humble Oak Consulting
Business Website: https://www.humbleoakconsulting.com/
Industry: Management Consulting
Location: Etna, NH
SBDC Advisor's Name: Casey Trio
Even though it was a Zoom session, the facilitator could feel the tension in the room. It was a diverse team, many of whom had never met each other in person, only worked together online.
They were gathered to address several instances of microinequities, small exclusive behaviors that send a message about whose presence and contributions are valued. Team members were looking from square to square, and to the facilitator it seemed people were wondering, “how’s this going to go?” or “what’s he/she going to say?”
An elephant in the room like this can be tough to tackle. Luckily this organization turned to Humble Oak, a New Hampshire-based human resources consulting firm with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Founder Lucretia Witte facilitated the group through three classes on inclusive behaviors using her expertise in learning design from days as a public school teacher and principal.
While Lucretia typically works with organizations that are progressive in their thinking but haven’t yet done much with DEI (Diversity Equity Inclusion), this organization was seeking help for existing problems. She did not shy away from the challenge and led the team through a sequence of conversations focused on how to be more inclusive with one another and how our identity informs the work we do.
By the end of the third session, those flitting eyes had switched to smiles, relaxation, and words of gratitude for each other. At the end of the series, the team told Lucretia, "We feel like you're one of us!" Lucretia says: "They appreciated the blend of science and humanity I bring to topics like bias. Personally, I believe it’s not about my having all the personal experience, having all the answers, or all the research to present. It’s about building trust so people can have these conversations in their teams they work with on a daily basis.”
Humble Oak leverages best practices from the learning and development space to help teams work together smoothly, harness the creativity of diversity, and the resilience and adaptability that comes when everyone feels included. In particular, Humble Oak supports historically white organizations and communities to think big about how they can proactively include all identities in positions of power, build coalitions and partnerships across lines of difference, and remove barriers to access.
Since starting Humble Oak in September of 2020, Lucretia is loving the intellectual freedom, constant learning from new sources, and taking on projects that help her grow. She says, “I love getting to know my clients, learning about the impact they want to make, and helping them take their team to that next level.”
Like many small business owners though, Lucretia was feeling lonely. While she celebrated her initial success, she felt unsure how to replicate it more broadly. She was working hard on her goals, but understood that being just one person, her perspective was limited. As she explains it, “Being an expert in my field is sort of at odds with being CEO of my company, which is sort of at odds with running the day to day. So, it’s not only building out my skills to have both those capacities, it’s managing my time, so that I can authentically engage in all those ways.”
So, Lucretia looked for support, applying to the Grow.co incubator Program at River Valley Community College (RVCC), where she was matched with NH SBDC Business Advisor Casey Trio.
“I don’t know how I would have made it through my first year without the perspective Casey offers,” Lucretia shares. “Working with SBDC is a no-brainer. I'm grateful for the expertise and humanity of my advisor and excited for the opportunities he's shared with me.”
Lucretia has been working with Casey since November 2021 and proudly shares that her first quarter 2022 sales are four times what they were in the fourth quarter of last year. "Casey has been an invaluable resource,” she says. He has made her feel comfortable in bringing both her successes and failures to their conversations without embarrassment, and she often walks away with tangible next steps. “Casey has helped me close sales, push my marketing strategy, and rethink the value of my time,” says Lucretia.
Lucretia appreciates the curiosity Casey brings to conversations, wanting to learn about your business and what’s going on in it, rather than trying to apply frameworks. “He asks really thoughtful questions rather than ever telling you what you should or shouldn’t do,” says Lucretia. “He’s a compassionate listener who asks good questions and really cares about the future of your business.”
As for Humble Oak’s future, Lucretia hopes for continued growth through new partnerships and renewed engagement with current clients. She aims to be one of the go-to experts in NH to help organizations take stock of their impact, renew their vision for success, and identify specific ways in which they can leverage diverse perspectives and become more inclusive to achieve it.
Lucretia concludes, “Diversity and inclusion work is an ongoing commitment and I believe that as its tangible value to team performance becomes better understood, the market for this type of consulting will spread beyond just the progressive early adopters to the majority of businesses.”