In today’s world, it can sometimes be difficult to find good news. Even as we begin to come out of the transformative challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic, we find ourselves in a time of deep social unrest and political divisiveness. That’s why we at DiversityPlus Magazine are so happy to present to you the Top 25 Diversity, Equity, and Supplier Inclusion Leaders of 2022. These are leaders who have strived to bring light to our times, and who have tirelessly championed the cause of diverse suppliers. They come from widely varied backgrounds themselves, and they represent everything from Fortune 500 companies to non-profits, but all of them are united by the shared goal of building strong organizational cultures focused on the great value that diverse suppliers can offer.
Changing the way a large corporation does business can be a little like turning around a giant tanker ship and putting it on a new course: it’s an arduous process that sometimes takes longer than we would like it to. But that’s exactly the challenge that these 25 leaders have taken upon themselves. For them, it’s not enough to implement short-term policies focused on spending a given amount of money on DEI initiatives in a given year. Rather, it’s about changing culture from the ground up, so that the changes last, because they’ve become an enduring part of an organization’s core values. They accomplish this by taking on the heavy responsibilities of generating cultural buy-in from executive leadership, developing initiatives that lead to contracting with diverse suppliers, and then mentoring those suppliers to successful outcomes so that they can develop long-term relationships with organizations that can help them grow.
The leaders who have been selected to be honored in this issue of DiversityPlus Magazine all share a common goal of advancing the importance of DEI throughout their organizations. However, they also represent a truly diverse array of approaches to fulfilling that mission. For instance, Erika Gibson is bringing diverse suppliers together at Liberty Mutual by developing all-important outreach initiatives, ERG roadshows, panel discussions, and more. Lisa Zukauskas is embracing the tools of data and measurement to entrench DEI concerns into the organizational culture of Organon, working hard to communicate the full picture of the value that diverse suppliers bring to the table to executive leadership. Berri Heinz is growing organizational relationships with diverse suppliers at Prisma Health, devoting hours each week to one-on-one sessions with suppliers so that she can fully understand both the needs and capacities of diverse suppliers working in the health care supply chain.
Rupert R. Warner, Jr. is driving innovation in the non-profit sector by securing diverse contracts at the United States Postal Service, delivering more than 2000 contracts a year to minority and women-owned businesses. Chuck Stefanosky is focused on building opportunity at Independence Blue Cross, launching the Independence Networking Group, a consortium of local Black business leaders who regularly communicate with executive leadership. Clayton E. Judge III is continuing to spearhead inclusion for Nike, bringing in more than 1 billion dollars in contracts for diverse suppliers since his time stepping into the role.
Marleitha G. Williams is working to bring DEI to the Federal Reserve System, developing tools and resources that the organization can use to identify diverse suppliers and build working relationships with them. Mike Terrell is uplifting black-owned businesses at the Coca-Cola Company, mentoring local Black business leaders to obtain contracts with not just Coca-Cola but other Fortune 500 companies, and also securing hundreds of millions of dollars in outside investments to help them implement growth strategies. Maria Prince is focused on mentoring the next generation at Dupont, hosting numerous regional workshops that focus on helping women to develop professional skills and secure a competitive advantage.
These leaders are just a few of the many who are honored in this issue of DiversityPlus Magazine. Their achievements are all extraordinary, and represent a real change in the way that we do business in the 21st century, all the way from organizational communication with executive leadership to making the necessary external connections that allow an organization to successfully make relationships with diverse suppliers. Their faith in the cause of DEI shines through in a time of deep unrest and divisiveness in society, and we can’t congratulate them enough for the important changes they are bringing to the world.