Leadership 101: Embracing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The pursuit of diversity and inclusion is a call to action. It is a call to leadership.

I am excited to share that I provided the keynote speaker at the Minnesota Twins Diversity Network event. My topic, “Leadership for Social Justice,” was more than just suggestions – it was a clarion call to action with concrete ways to accomplish the goal.

I have committed my life’s work to serving as an ambassador for diversity who empowers youth around the world and trains them to become the leaders of tomorrow. I have taken part in a number of initiatives in the U.S., China and Africa to share the importance of working and learning together.

My leadership theory, Planting People Growing Justice, is the manifestation of people coming together, innovation and problem solving. I shared my vision during the Diversity Network event with the Minnesota Twins baseball team of how people can work together to build a more just and inclusive society.

Find Your Passion

I encouraged attendees to discover what they are passionate about and actively work toward accomplishing those goals, whether it is education or criminal justice reform. Everyone needs to embrace a philosophy of caring for others no matter what their circumstances, treating each person as an individual, and being willing to go the extra mile for the sake of others for the betterment of all.

Redefine leadership

This involves people being willing to make a difference outside their title, job or perceived role in life. Individuals encounter multiple opportunities to be of service each day, but it is the leaders who are willing to act on those opportunities, thereby making a real difference and changing the world.

Make financial inclusion a priority

There’s been no better time in history than now to focus on financial inclusion by creating jobs and ending poverty. This is of particular importance in regions such as Minnesota that ranks 23 of 25 of U.S. metro cities where there is a significant white versus color unemployment gap.

According to Aristotle, "poverty is the parent of revolution and crime." The Itasca Project estimates that $500 million in new Minnesota state and local tax revenues could be generated through greater workforce participation that can then be reinvested in communities. This type of investment is the foundation of safe communities and strong families.

Develop a strategic plan

Truth be told – diversity and inclusion is the thread that weaves our organizations together. A strategic plan must include a mechanism of accountability that monitors progress, fosters innovation and encompasses the following:

1.     Policy – Develop a policy for building partnerships with minority-owned businesses for services and contracts.

2.     Retention – Develop an effective exit strategy to understand why people are leaving your organization, where they’re going and ways the organizational climate can be improved.

3.     Evaluation – Utilize the village approach of collective responsibility for creating an inclusive workplace (make it everyone’s job, not just that of the diversity and inclusion professional).

4.     Benchmarks – Develop a strategic plan for 2025 and beyond with goals that include increasing diversity in leadership, leadership succession planning, expanding social responsibility efforts, and building new partnerships in the community.

5.     Education – Focus on cultural competence as a core professional skill and as a lifelong learning journey. Utilize the free Harvard Implicit Association test.

Conclusion

You and I can make a profound impact in the world if we are willing to serve and lead. This leadership challenge provides each of us with a new lens to look at their hands and ask, ‘What’s in my hands to make a difference?’ What is in our hands is power – the type of transformative power needed to make diversity and inclusion more than mere words on paper, but a call to action to build an inclusive society.

In the words of the theme song of Miss Freedom Fighter Esquire: “We who believe in freedom. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes” (Ella’s Song). Let’s awake from our slumber and make diversity & inclusion a lived reality.