There is change, and lasting change. There is purpose, and a higher purpose. There is a seat at the table, and there is a meaningful seat at the table. The 2021 Top 15 Champions of Diversity apply words like “meaningful and lasting” to everything they do. The Champions are people who do not settle for anything less than broad change, because this is what it takes to create an equitable and just society. They are not just striving to create a diverse workforce. They are visionaries who believe diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are core values that should be embraced by all – employees, community members, business partners, and businesses.
There is a noticeable quality to the language of the Champions. Jennifer Vasquez wants to disrupt the status quo. Miriam Vidalon at NielsenIQ is leveraging a sense of higher purpose. Ronald Taylor at Mizuho Americas wants diverse people to have a meaningful seat at the table. Each Champion sees DE&I as the path to an equitable and just society. It is not a program that begins and ends, but a journey that will never end until diversity and inclusion are foundational principles of businesses and society. It is their vision of a better world, in which people truly have equal opportunities, that drives them to pursue excellence.
Some of the Champions are working in industries that have historically experienced significant underrepresentation of diverse groups. Quita Highsmith at Genentech is focused on results such as the inclusion of underrepresented groups in clinical research. Jenrette Thomas at Stinson proved that challenging goals were not impossible to meet, increasing the percentage of attorneys of color by 120%. Wema Hoover at Google is striving to help people across the organization see inclusion through a lens of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, religious affiliation and migration. Glenn Jackson at M&T Bank is not settling for workforce diversity. He is increasing the inclusion of people from underrepresented groups in the leadership pipeline. Angel Uddin at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota is a BIPOC role model through her position.
None of the Champions settle for anything less than continued effort to embed principles of DE&I in the workforce and society. All are building relationships as a key strategy, like Amal Berry at Ford and Trina Scott at Rocket Companies. Champions like Miguel Aviles at the U.S. Coast Guard have developed virtual training programs, so that everyone in their organization has access. There are also Champions who leverage their positions to address the wider marketplace, like Michelle Jones at Manulife. Marcia Dukes at Prudential developed a multiplier model to advance DE&I across all U.S. businesses. Timitra Hildebrand-Jones at Albemarle is at an early stage in the DE&I journey, yet has already started developing a global strategy.
Another common quality of the Top 15 Champions of Diversity is that they lead with empathy. As Stefanie Nickel at Sandoz developed strategic integration to create inclusive leaders, she had to address issues such as unconscious bias. Not just anyone can bring systemic change in the corporate world and in society. Not just anyone can be a diversity leader. It takes Champions such as those Champions of Diversity named by DiversityGlobal Magazine. These are the people who are driven by a higher purpose. They talk about bringing equity in corporations and political structures, initiating lasting cultural change, and mitigating the damaging impacts of unconscious bias. They extend their reach from inside their respective organizations into global communities through their work and their selfless participation as board members and volunteers for advocacy organizations and nonprofits. All give credit to executive level support as key to their success.
The staff at DiversityGlobal Magazine encourage readers to peruse each and every short biography to find inspiration for DE&I efforts in their own organizations. The Top 15 Champions of Diversity present the vision and ideals that support action leading to transformational change. This really is not simply about “change.” It is about helping all people in the workplace and communities enjoy equal opportunities to thrive. It is about making the world a better place to live.