What is diversity in an organization? The best way to define it is to explain what it isn’t. Diversity isn’t just a box that needs to be checked on a Human Resources form. It isn’t finding that single African-American or woman to sit on the board. It isn’t a picture on a web site, a lunchtime seminar or a poster in the break room. These are all visible aspects of an intentional push to include a variety of voices, but they are not diversity in and of themselves.
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I recently had the opportunity to go on a cruise in the eastern Mediterranean. One thing I loved about this cruise was the diversity of cultures of both the crew and the fellow cruisers. There were 42 countries represented from the cruisers and over 50 countries from the crew.
I had a very interesting lunch this past week with Garry Tabor, a fellow board member who is the President of a distribution company, Heico Distribution Group, LLC. In the course of our discussion he made a statement that really resonated with me regarding the “conscience” of a company. We were discussing the hard decisions leaders of a company have to make along with how the company and its leaders are held accountable.
How does a person prepare to run 100 miles climbing over 18,000 feet and descending close to 23,000 feet in elevation throughout a course that is on a wilderness trail and fluctuates from extreme cold to extreme heat? And did I mention the 100 miles is run in one day by many of the runners?!
Building Trust: Allow your team to take risks and make mistakes while creating innovative solutions.
Booker T. Washington, the famous civil rights leader, understood the importance of earning and giving trust. He was the son of a slave woman and a white man and was 8 years old when slaves were legally emancipated. He collaboratively worked with some of the wealthiest white Northerners and the founders of the African-American movement to fund schools for African-Americans looking for their place in a new, free, but segregated world.
Some people are more comfortable with change than others. Taking an organization or situation from one state and transforming it to another — whether it is business, personal or making the world a better place—is what I truly enjoy, what I thrive on. It comes from my childhood. My father is a retired admiral from the US Navy. We were a typical military family; by the time I was 12 years old I had lived in 11 different residences across multiple states.
I had the honor of attending the graduation of the 2011 class of the United States Air Force Academy. My niece, Maggie Goff, was one of around 200 women out of 1021 graduates in this year’s class. What an amazing young woman she is! Attending a four year university is rigorous enough; add on top the military training and regimen, wow.
One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned about being true to myself was while serving on the HP PRIDE Executive Advisory Board. I consider myself an ally to the LGBT community, which means that I openly support the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people. As an executive, I was asked to serve on the advisory council representing my business group at HP.
Can leading an organization or project with challenging goals, occasional turmoil and never ending change be fun? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, if it’s not fun then why bother? Obviously the popular answer is ‘because I need to make a living!’ I do understand and fully appreciate everyone’s need to bring home a paycheck; I do not mean to patronize this basic need.
With all of the efforts over the past 4 decades on diversity and women in leadership, there continues to be a huge gap. Women represent over 50% of the populations yet in the US continue to represent less than 17% of the C-Level (Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, etc…) and Board of Director Seats. Why is this?
The Power of Diversity to Transform your Organization
"Woven Leadership is one of the freshest concepts in the field of building a vibrant organization that will empower the reader to a new standard of excellence and performance. A must-read for all managers desiring to be their best!"- Todd Duncan, New York Times best-selling author
"Kim Box's Woven Leadership shows how much stronger you and your team will be when different types of people and talents are woven together." - Jennifer Basye Sander, New York Times best-selling author and speaker
Introduction to Woven Leadership
"It's time to start recognizing that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, demographics and life experiences. We must see diversity as a secret weapon to be exploited in order to build the most successful organization. And we must also acknowledge that acting based on our own authenticity is imperative to weaving together the strength of the very fabric of the organization. We will explore why diversity and authenticity are now requirements for any organization that wants to succeed." - Chapter 1-Woven Leadership