When I was little, I remember receiving Sears Big Book catalogs in the mail. I would peruse them from cover to cover and (oh so carefully) bend the top corner of the pages that contained the toys or clothes that I wanted. Once this was accomplished, I would share these items with my parents in the hopes that they would be my rewards for good behavior and good grades.
Going to a Sears department store in-person was magical. As you walked in, there was always a smell of fresh buttered popcorn. I recall my mouth watering and feeling so excited that we were in THE place that housed happiness and joy. I wanted to stay in that Sears forever and experience all that it had to offer.
It has been years since those moments, yet the memories came back to me as I reflected on what I heard during a fantastic panel sponsored by OnBoard, Inc. One of the speakers shared examples of the experiences in her career, both good and bad, that led her to become a seasoned leader. She gained depth, breadth, and knowledge that could only have happened as a result of her journey.
Then someone asked her how she responded when she was ignored, disrespected, and even mistreated. Her answer: “I looked for an exit.” Initially, I thought to myself: how unfortunate that that team missed out on the brilliance of this leader because she did not feel treated as a valued member.
My second thought: how empowered she must have felt knowing that her value wouldn’t be minimized or diminished by the immediate situation she faced.
Fortunately, her career was not negatively impacted for long. She continued to thrive and became even more valuable, sought after, aware, and more importantly, supportive of others.
I believe that companies that fail to offer inclusive and diverse environments will eventually succumb to history. Similar to Sears, organizations have to evolve or they will become extinct. Holding onto the past and surrounding yourself with old mindsets, ways of operating, or people who only agree with you, feels comfortable and safe. It is, however, not sustainable in the long term.
Conversely, companies that intentionally listen to different voices and incorporate diverse perspectives will disrupt and innovate. Companies that operate with integrity and seek to include others regardless of their level, generation, gender, ethnicity, color, religion, sexual preference, political party, or any other “D” will be a magnet for talent.
Who wouldn’t want to be associated with an organization where you feel included, respected, and valued?
About Patrice Graves: a visionary business leader and HR strategist with a passion for making a positive impact on society, Patrice has extensive experience in driving innovative solutions that support business success. Her career spans diverse industries such as technology, aerospace and defense, engineering, commerce, manufacturing, and insurance. She is committed to supporting under-represented talent and closing the wealth gap by advocating for organizations that provide opportunities for diverse communities.
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