in Diversity are Guides on the DEI Journey

There is no question that doing business today is more challenging than recent memory can imagine, due to the many geopolitical, environmental, and economic issues that keep developing. However, there are constants amid the turmoil: people’s need for fair opportunities to succeed and an equitable, inclusive workplace where they feel a sense of belonging because of who they are and what they can contribute to organizational success. History has proven that bias has prevented millions of diverse people and women from fulfilling their potential, and the Top 15 Influential Women in Diversity are the leaders changing the narrative in their organizations and communities of operation and creating opportunities.

The Influential Women are making an impact in many ways, using their communication and collaboration skills to help their organizational leaders embrace diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) as core principles of humanity and organizational success. Their vision is large because it embraces shared values on a global basis. They are guides on an ongoing DEIB journey, strategic thinkers with aspirational goals, and always putting people first. The Influential Women listen carefully to organizational leaders, peers, women and diverse employees, and people in communities, encouraging and participating in difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion. They recognize that global operations are situated in countries and cultures that each have a different understanding of diversity, so they must be flexible and convincing.

There are certain principles all the Influential Women rely on to guide their efforts. They include a holistic approach to DEIB, a people-first focus, shared values, transparency, and compassion. Each woman has the personal and business skills needed to connect with people at all levels of the organization, from the CEO to the frontline workers, and to encourage change as a positive approach to organizational success. Noël France at Avantor employs curiosity and flexibility to pursue DEIB with global teams. Birgit Boykin at BlackRock embraces inclusion dialogue, while Bridget Hurd with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan continuously focuses on improvement. Kalisha Holland at BNSF developed a strategic vision, and Nashunda Williams at JLL established aspirational goals.

Each diversity leader has developed a unique approach to promoting a more diverse workforce and diversity of thought. Adaptability is critical, because each organization is at a different point on the DEIB journey. Pamela Wheeler at NFP developed a whole new system, effectively building the DEIB effort from the ground up. Sandy Cross with PGA of America is integrating leadership into DEIB. Lauren von Stackelberg at LEGO is focused on prioritizing women and children, and Beatrice Rodriguez at Bayer evaluated all Human Resources points from recruitment to succession planning to identify barriers to diversity and inclusion. Christian Bryant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is focused on gender inclusion and belonging, and Aaysha Noor at The Giant Company is addressing neurodiversity and holding compassionate conversations.

The Influential Women are also instrumental in establishing unique initiatives, tools and metrics to, as Suzanne Cardwell at CarMax says, add structure and have the ability to measure DEIB training effectiveness and progress. Yetta Toliver at Xerox developed performance KPIs and social KPIs, and Olivia Djibo at SLB Technology established pay transparency and developed a Returnship Program with metrics for women. Employee Resource Groups are important to developing inclusive organizations nationally and globally. For example, Adiat Baker at Mintel collaborates with ERGs globally and believes she serves as a guide along each manager’s journey to learn model inclusive behavior.

Training, training, training is the mantra of the Top 15 Influential Women in Diversity. They must overcome so many barriers to achieving goals, and all acknowledge that top-down support, frequent training and dialogue about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are essential to changing people’s hearts and minds. These people in the business world create psychologically safe workplaces, increase opportunities for women and diverse people to achieve personal goals, change the status quo in talent management systems, and selflessly contribute their time to advocacy organizations and community nonprofits.

Read the bios of the Top 15 Influential Women in Diversity with an open mind, because leaders across organizations are sure to find one or more innovative strategies that can be adapted to accelerate progress within their businesses. DiversityGlobal Magazine is pleased to showcase these women leaders who have set uncompromisingly high standards in the DEIB space. Change is seldom easy, especially when it involves ending biases and discrimination. However, this is a challenge that women gladly embrace as an opportunity to make the world more inclusive and a better place to live and work.

Noël France

Vice President Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Birgit Boykin

Managing Director and Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Talent and Culture

Christina Bryant

Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Bridget Hurd

Vice President, Inclusion and Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Kalisha Holland

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and General Director of Talent Acquisition
BNSF Railway

Olivia Djibo

Global Technology Diversity and Inclusion Manager
SLB Technology

Aaysha Noor

Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The GIANT Company

Yetta Toliver

Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB)