Most business people are now familiar with the term Supplier Diversity & Inclusion, but do they really understand what it means in its widest sense? The 2021 Top 15 Women in Power are the passionate professionals who continue to expand a vision of SD&I that embraces both organizational members and society in general. SD&I once mostly referred to hiring diverse people or utilizing diverse businesses in the supply chain, but now the full vision embraces larger concepts, such as addressing social injustice and economic empowerment. These diversity professionals are the people who leverage their organizational roles in every way possible to ensure everyone is given equal opportunities. They want employees, suppliers and community members to thrive and find success in whatever endeavor they choose.
The women selected this year work in some of the most well-known and successful companies, including for example Janice Howroyd, an African American who founded ActOne Group, now a global billion dollar company. Like the other Women in Power, she has used both her position in the company and her network of influential people to grow opportunities for diverse people. That is what the Women in Power embody – opportunity. They want to expand opportunities for people, grow communities and gain community support for Supplier Diversity & Inclusion as a source of economic empowerment.
The Women in Power are leading their companies into an inclusive future, and that is exciting for society, as well as their organizations. It is no coincidence that, when it was time to find ways to be more socially and ethically responsive and address social injustice, executives called upon the knowledge and expertise of the Women in Power. Their leadership in the SD&I space means a broad range of industries are represented. They include public utilities, energy, health insurance, medical technology, international airport, electronics and technology, banking, consumer goods, hospitals, and employment.
The Women in Power were asked what drove them to succeed. Their answers included tenacity, a passion for ending discrimination, becoming a role model for underrepresented people, and a desire to see honest change in society. How they drive change is unique to each woman, who has determined the best fit strategies for their unique organizations. The variety of approaches proves that there are many ways to strategize for SD&I progress.
Sharon Manker and Jessica Gemmell focus on developing partnerships and connections. Daylana Ervin-Parker and Karin Cozzi developed operating frameworks to keep their Supplier Diversity strategies on course to reach goals. Holli Turner implemented a new mentorship program. Rosa Botello and Nalini Bates ensure Supplier Diversity strategies and goals are tied to business strategies and goals, making Supplier Diversity what Kate Kiselyk calls an intentional business imperative.
The Women in Power are role models for underrepresented people, for example Paula Gutierrez for BIPOC people. They are also promoters of peer collaboration, such as Hannah Fletcher. Like Marie O’Malley, they are excellent communicators with internal and external stakeholders. All have taken the diversity and inclusion effort to the next level. Hollie Harrington is driven by a desire to create a sustained economic impact. Kristen Malek looks at the Big Picture of internal business solutions to move real change at scale. Saken Khokhar leverages goal setting as a means of driving social justice.
In the 15 brief Women in Power bios you will find a wealth of ideas for continuing to advance Diversity and Inclusion through continued organizational transformation. Though these women take different approaches, they have one major fact in common. The women are successful leaders who understand how to hold uncomfortable conversations about bias, get senior leaders on board with their efforts, relentlessly help their organizations adapt in a changing business environment, and connect with community members. They are all deeply passionate about social justice and equality, expanding opportunities for underrepresented people, and gaining community support to gain an exponential advantage. These are women who give their personal time to sit on Boards of Directors, assist advocacy associations, and participate in charity work. They prove many times over that they are asking of others only what they ask of themselves.
DiversityPlus Magazine presents the Top 15 Women in Power, with the wish that their efforts inspire readers in their organizations and broadens the reach of SD&I into new industries. We can all read the bios and see that change is really possible.