The Diversity Leadership Stars Awards

This past October, Diversity Woman magazine presented its Stars Who Mean Business Peer Awards during our evening reception at the 2013 National Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference at the Gaylord Resort & Conference Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
The awards recognize, celebrate, and honor individuals whose work, passion, commitment, and results have helped to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. “The Stars Who Mean Business Peer Awards honor diversity executives who share Diversity Woman magazine’s vision and commitment to support the leadership and executive development of women of all races, 
cultures, and backgrounds,” says Sheila Robinson, conference founder, publisher, and CEO of Diversity Woman Media.

StarsWho Mean Business
Recipients of the 2013 Stars Award

Super Star, Jackie Glenn, Global chief diversity officer, EMC
Super Star, Shari Slate, Chief inclusion and collaboration strategist, Cisco
Leading Star, Patrick Finn, Senior vice president, U.S. Public Sector Organization, Cisco
Strategic Star, Pamela McElvane,Chief executive officer, P&L Group, Ltd.
Peer Star, Candi Castleberry-Singleton, Chief diversity officer, UPMC
Peer Star, Sandy Harris, Vice president, Corporate Diversity Strategy & Internal Operations, Sodexo

Recipients of the 2012 Stars Award
Super Star, Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale, President, Leading From The Heart
Leading Star, Howard Ross, Founder & chief learning officer, Cook Ross, Inc.
Strategic Star, Deborah W. Foster, Executive vice president & chief diversity officer,  United Way Worldwide
Strategic Star, Dr. Shirley A. Davis Sheppard,Vice president, Global Diversity, Society for Human Resource Management
First Star, Rosalind L. Hudnell, Global chief diversity officer & director of education and external relations, Intel
Rising Star, Marques Benton, Vice president & director, Diversity & Inclusion, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Recently, Diversity Woman sat down with three of the committee members and judges, Anise Wiley-Little (committee chair), Tiane Gordon, and May Snowden, to talk about the state of diversity and inclusion today.

Anise Wiley-Little
The first vice president of HR & chief diversity officer of Allstate Insurance Company, where she served for 26 years, Anise Wiley-Little is currently managing partner of MEGA-K Enterprises. She is the author of Profitable Diversity.

Diversity Woman: What are some of the common focuses of diversity initiatives in corporations today?
Anise Wiley-Little: The most prevalent are the innovations that are looking at diversity as a business strategy. Those folks are having the most success. They understand that having the best talent and tapping into different segments of the marketplace is going to drive the future of their organization.
DW: Has that been a change of philosophy?
AWL: Years ago, it was only about acquiring the talent. Nowadays, organizations are looking at the different avenues for utilizing that talent. One of the most integrative programs is Cisco’s. They pay a great deal of attention to technology and use it to drive diversity.
DW: Why has the focus shifted from diversity to inclusion in recent years?
AWL: We’ve realized that you need both. Inclusion means that whatever diverse talent you bring to the table you then know how to use. The bottom line, however, is that you can’t have inclusion if you don’t have a base that is diverse.
DW: What does diversity of thought mean, and is there a growing recognition of its importance?
AWL: As women, or as African American women, we may have a connection with one another, but that doesn’t mean we have the same background, values, education, or life exposure. We may look alike, but we bring different things to the table. That is diversity of thought—when you bring together people of different backgrounds, disciplines, and worldviews. Your team may consist of a woman from Europe and another from Asia. Bringing together different levels of understanding of an issue gives you more options to find solutions.
DW: What are some challenges in implementing diversity of thought in an organization?
AWL: Oftentimes you have different groups—it may be women, it might be men, it might be people of color—who are working toward managing the issues their group is facing, and sometimes they don’t see that they all may be facing the same issue. So collaboration becomes extremely important. We are not talking about the old days of the melting pot. Instead, we are making sure everybody acknowledges that everyone is different and that each person’s point of view is valid. You used to hear people say, “I’m blind to color.” You know what? Today it is different. I want you to see I am not the same. I want you to see that I am a woman or I am of color. I want you to see that this adds to your business.
DW: Where do you think the D&I work will be in 10 years?
AWL: I believe that diversity and inclusion will continue to be a challenge for large organizations. After the last economic downturn, some organizations restructured and cut staff and programs in this arena. I fear they will continue to be shortsighted and think, the customer will come to me anyway, so why do I need a chief diversity officer? But I think that middle-size and small companies will see the opportunity that some large organizations are walking away from. They will take advantage of diversity and will see new market opportunities.
DW: Why is this work important?
AWL: Because the world has changed, and along with it, the workplace must evolve. It is now multigenerational, multi-
ethnic, and there are more woman in the workforce. Companies must be cognizant of this and, to get the most out of their workforce, they must tap into the right demographics. Customers have choices, and they will choose to do business with companies that understand them.

Tiane Mitchell Gordon
Tiane Mitchell Gordon is the principal and founder of Square One Consulting and a former AOL senior vice president and chief diversity officer.

Diversity Woman: What are some of the common focuses of diversity initiatives in corporations today?
Tianne Mitchell Gordan: Most companies have been focused on those groups that historically have not been well represented in organizations: women, people of color, LGBTQ, working parents. And initiatives for these groups seem to be focused on creating programs for these groups. However, the evolution of the work is really about how to create a climate and culture that allows and supports anyone of any diversity dimension to be successful.
DW: Why has there been a shift from diversity to inclusion in recent years?
TMG: I would say it’s a necessary shift because diversity is not the end goal; inclusion is. All of us are diverse. But the notion of diversity has evolved from being a simple black–white or male–female issue to embracing diversity of all types. 
DW: What does diversity of thought mean? Is there a growing recognition of its importance?
TMG: We take a lot of pride in hiring people from the best schools. But if you think about it, schools have their own way of thinking, and usually if you have people that come from an educational background, they’ll tend not to have diversity of thought. So if you hold onto the theory that creating innovation requires differing perspectives, you have to ensure that you have people whose experiences, thoughts, and backgrounds are different and that they bring those differences to the conversation. Because if we’re all in groupthink, nothing will be created, nothing will be innovated, nothing is going to push our thinking beyond what is already there.
DW: In terms of implementing inclusion in the workplace, what are some of the challenges you envision?
TMG: The greatest challenge is that the real work around inclusion and diversity is a mind-set change and a behavioral change, as opposed to simply putting programs in place. When you’re asking people to change their ways, you have to do it from a position of not making them feel wrong about it.
Second, think about the work that Howard Ross is doing around unconscious bias, that we are hardwired not to be as openly accepting to things that are different. We have to be consciously aware that there are some things that we do behaviorally that influence our actions and that keep us from being all-inclusive or welcoming or embracing of differences.
DW: Where do you think the diversity and inclusion work will be 10 years from now?
TMG: I think we’ll always have discussions around race, gender, class, and age. There will always be those kinds of constants that will need to be discussed. I think that in the next frontier, people will start thinking about the concepts of diversity dimensions and power and privilege.
DW: Do you think the examination of power and privilege has been underplayed up to this point?
TMG: I don’t think it’s even been talked about. I think there are many levels to the conversation around diversity and inclusion, and we’re just starting to peel back the onion. When you look at all things being equal given these issues around race and gender, what else is missing? Why are things still happening? What are the other variables that we need to discuss openly to see the impact and influence?
DW: Why is this work important?
TMG: If you look at diversity and inclusion in the workplace, you can go to almost any corporation and they will tell you their most important asset is their people. They want to engage people—and that’s a current term; every few years, when people get uncomfortable talking about diversity, they talk about something else, but we’re all talking about the same thing. Engagement and inclusion are how to get people to contribute 100 percent of who they are and what they bring to the table in alignment with a goal or objective that an organization or corporation wants to achieve.
So, if you’re not getting people to bring the best of who they are—their diversity of thought, experience, perspective, or education—then why are they there? That to me is why the inclusion piece is about answering the question, so what? 
In what context is that important? How do you leverage that difference or similarity or commonality or relevancy in a way that’s important to something you’re trying to achieve?

May Snowden
May E. Snowden is an affiliate of The Conference Board and Future Work Institute and the former vice president of Global Diversity for Starbucks Coffee Company, chief diversity officer for Eastman Kodak Company, and executive director of Diversity for US WEST.

Diversity Woman: What are some of the common focuses of diversity initiatives in corporations today?
May Snowden: There are still a lot of basics being done related to hiring, retention, development of people, succession planning, and all the things that involve the customers, such as multicultural marketing and external focus on the community. That said, one of the newer focuses is making people aware of unconscious biases.
DW: What are the primary components of diversity and inclusion?
MS: I think implementing change within organizations is personal, focused on three areas—the head, the heart, and the hands. We all value the intellect so much, but the head alone is not enough. It’s very much like health and physical fitness. We know that exercise is good for us. We know that eating properly is good for us. Yet, we are the most obese country in the world.
The heart piece is also very important because that gets into our unconscious biases. It also gets into our fears and doubts, whether they’re internal fears about ourselves and what it is that we can accomplish personally, or external fears, wondering about this other person who’s different from me. For example, can I take a chance on moving a woman into a particular role? We worry because we may not have ever had a woman in that role in the past. I don’t want to be shamed by my comrades who have not moved women or people of color into executive positions. We need to learn to recognize the role of the heart in our decision making.
Then there are the hands. You’ve got to get in there and get your hands dirty. You have to be willing to communicate and be willing to make a mistake. We need to be able to honestly talk about things, whether it’s race, or people with disabilities, or the LGBT community—in short, any human trait that’s different from our own. And then in the corporation, not only do you have to communicate but you also have to have someone who will make a commitment to take some action.
DW: Why has there been more of an emphasis on inclusion in recent years?
MS: For many years, the focus was on numbers—affirmative action basically. Companies were bringing more women and people of color in at the lower ranks, but they weren’t moving up. They were not included in the decisionmaking. So we started ensuring that people felt like they belonged and were able to use their skills to benefit the organization as well as themselves. As a result, we were able to see the engagement level of the employees rise—along with the performance of the organizations themselves.
DW: What does diversity of thought mean?
MS: There was a lot of discussion about this when I was in the role of chief diversity officer [at Eastman Kodak] because some leaders only wanted you to recruit from their alma mater. If you only recruit from one school, you’re going to get people who have been trained, educated, and had their experiences through the lens of a similar thought process. But if you recruit from different schools with different programs, you’re going to get people who have different bases of thought. The same goes for any difference, be it race or ethnicity or geographical location.
DW: Where do you think diversity and inclusion work will be 10 years from now? 
MS: It’s really important to have a vision. Your company should be asking constantly, what is it we want to be doing? What do we want to look like? What kind of culture do we want to have? We need to create a vision and stick with it. It has to be in everyone’s thoughts. And then we can move toward that vision because we’ll know what it is we need to do to get there.
DW: Why is this work important?
MS: Number one, the population is so much more diverse. Not only do we have diversity within our population, we all operate in the global economy. There’s a bottom-line benefit that results from building the culture and generational fluency muscles within your organization. There are benefits in driving and leading change. DW

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