We continue our celebration of Black History Month by recognizing leaders from several of the Paradigm for Parity® coalition companies. The five women below are inspiring others with their professional achievements and impact on their organization’s corporate culture.
Cynthia Bowman, the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Bank of America, talks about the initiatives her company has undertaken to create a supportive and inclusive work environment for all its employees.
“Our employees are our greatest resource, connecting with our clients and customers every day to help deliver our purpose to make financial lives better. We invest in our team as part of our focus on being a great place to work for all of our employees. For instance, our Black Executive Leadership Council brings together the top Black/African American leaders at our company to advocate for and sponsor strong performers. And our Women’s Next Level Leadership Program provides multicultural women with strategies and tactics to get to the next level in their careers. We also partner with the National Urban League, NAACP and Executive Leadership Council to address important societal issues. Working together, these programs and initiatives help ensure we are a workplace where all employees know they belong, and contribute to the responsible growth of our company.”
Shirley Taylor, the Chief Global Security and Safety Officer at Henry Schein, shares how her childhood and military experience prepared her for a leadership position at the company.
“My fondest memory is when my dad took us on family drives after church into upscale suburban communities, showing us homes and a lifestyle that we did not see in our community. Little did I know he was planting and nurturing seeds in his children to understand that we were not defined or limited by our environment. He instilled in us we had the potential to be anything we desired. His lessons prepared me well for my career in Corporate America and the U.S. Army. As a former Army Captain and Company Commander, I was responsible for hundreds of Military Police soldiers. Armed with my dad’s teachings and mentorship from influential military leaders, I was named the first female and first African-American Military Police Physical Security Officer in charge of the underground Pentagon. Today, I serve as the Chief Global Security and Safety Officer at Henry Schein. I often say—preparation meets opportunity. I never shy away from stretch opportunities, and I always focus on the role I am in and make sure that I leave it better than I found it.”
Collette Eccleston, PhD, the Senior Vice President for Pragmatic Brain Science® at LRW, discusses how she is working with her company to educate her colleagues about implicit bias and providing them with skills to minimize its impact.
“As the head of LRW’s Pragmatic Brain Science Institute®, I work with some of the world’s top brands to help them understand nonconscious influences on consumer behavior. So it only made sense for me to apply those same insights toward shaping LRW’s internal culture. Consistent with Paradigm for Parity’s action plan, I developed a training course that demonstrates how we can all be more mindful of our implicit biases and how we can structure an environment to reduce the impact of those biases in hiring and managing teams. Last year, LRW rolled out the course to top company executives, and then extended it company-wide. It’s now part of every new employee’s onboarding program. Even though it can be a sensitive subject, employees have been highly engaged with the topic and they’re thankful that we’re addressing it head-on. Only by helping people understand their implicit biases can we develop methods to minimize their impact.”
Candice Jones, a Senior Manager of Culture Diversity & Inclusion at Walmart, describes how having a diverse and inclusive corporate culture empowers its employees.
“Diverse and inclusive environments create a space for people to feel welcome, comfortable and safe. When that happens, people bring their best self to work every day and give their best performance. When you work for a leader who doesn’t embody inclusiveness you can feel unsupported and often times excluded. Those experiences make it hard for individuals to thrive and advance throughout the organization, especially for diverse individuals. Working for a leader who truly supports me and encourages me to be my authentic self each and every day has given me a platform to excel both personally and professionally. I feel empowered and am proud to work for a company that values the importance of its people.”
Melissa Hill, a Director of Digital Marketing at Walmart, discusses the importance of holding senior leaders accountable for creating an inclusive workplace.
“The most demoralizing moment in my career happened several years go. We had organized a day of learning for a group of Black students who were part of a mentoring program. The visit started off well but ended abruptly when a product poster was spotted featuring a cartoon that many considered offensive. We ended the day embarrassed…disappointed…angry. That was my tipping point.
“Speaking truth to power and holding leaders accountable for creating inclusive environments was not a place I ever thought I’d be. That day, I found the courage and my voice to create a teachable moment for our organization. I’m fortunate to work at a place that champions respect for the individual as a core value. Walmart isn’t perfect, and no company is. It’s just good to know that diversity is a priority and we’re committed to driving forward until everyone feels included.”