There is a network of diversity professionals who spend their days challenging the status quo and finding solutions to challenges to create an inclusive corporate culture within their respective organizations. They bring transparency and authenticity to their roles as initiators of continuous change.
Changing a corporate culture is difficult at best, but it is an even greater challenge when it involves a global mega-corporation. A diverse organizational culture is not necessarily an inclusive one, and that goes right to the heart of the role of the 2019 Top 15 Champions of Diversity. The men and women selected for this honor are focused on creating diverse and inclusive organizational cultures across industries – food services and facilities, food manufacturing, banking, global electronics and HVAC equipment, insurance, healthcare, professional services, beauty and home products, retail department store, broadcast and radio network, toy manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals.
The broad array of industries represented reflects the outstanding work of the Champions of Diversity that DiversityGlobal is so proud to introduce to its readers. Though Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) as an operational and cultural principle has long been pursued in the United States, as the country's demographics changed over the decades, it is Europe that first set quotas for women on boards and required transparent reporting. It proves, once again, that any effort can be enhanced, improved on, and taken to a higher level. Combine what is done in the U.S. with the forward-thinking leadership of people like the Champions working in global corporations, and a new energy in the D&I space emerges.
Upon nomination, the 15 Top Champions answered questions about what they consider their most successful D&I initiatives or achievements, how they bring innovation to their role, and what they consider to be their leadership strengths. Each professional has developed unique approaches to promoting D&I within their organizations. There are two elements tying the individualized efforts together. One is that creating an inclusive culture is a priority. The second is that the diversity professionals believe in the importance of embracing uncomfortable conversations that address the lived experiences of diverse people.
It is certainly not enough to look at a person, recognize their differences to yourself, and politely work side-by-side. The Champions recognize that people need to understand each other's life experiences in order to understand the strength of differences. They start programs like Lynette Collins' "Real Talk" series at Amway, where tough and uncomfortable conversations are held about the sense of belonging of employees, and Danyelle Granger's "Speak Up" program at Old National Bank that empowers associates to discuss difficult situations with respectful dialogue.
At Partners HealthCare, people with different backgrounds and expertise are brought together to discuss applying a D&I lens to old and new challenges. Grady Crosby at Johnson Controls purposefully engages female engineering candidates on campuses. Bright Neu convenes minds from multinationals and across geographies to gain input on her strategies. Many of the diversity professionals have created employee resource Groups that are forums for conversations about real–world experiences, challenges people must overcome on a day-to-day basis, and career aspirations.
Do not get the impression it is "mostly talk, little action" because a common quality of the 15 Top Champions is the ability to bring change through innovation in the D&I space. They are always busy building internal relationships with business leaders who can leverage their new understanding of D&I to improve the lives of their diverse employees by delivering unbiased opportunities. The Champions reach out to community organizations and advocacy groups to promote economic development through inclusion. They initiate and globally expand ERGs that reflect unique needs, like those of working mothers; develop KPIs for leadership accountability purposes; design and hold learning workshops; develop inclusive leadership tools; work with product designers to ensure they are culturally savvy for customers; and perform a host of other activities.
The Top 10 Champions of Diversity are also storytellers who combine people's life stories with hard data to drive continuous change. The men and women selected are "people persons." They are humble, empathetic leaders who deeply believe they must personally continually learn from others in order to remain effective D&I professionals.
DiversityGlobal Magazine is pleased to introduce the Top 15 Champions with the wish readers will continue their own journeys with new vigor and enthusiasm as we all work together to create an inclusive world.