I was recently recognized for Achieving Workplace Diversity by The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, for which I am humbled and honored. This body of law professionals works tirelessly to secure equal justice for all, targeting the inequities confronting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities. It is a mission that I embrace and applaud. Our American and now our global journey for civil rights—the civil rights of all people—continues. Throughout history, we can never forget that our country’s foundation is based on the resilient principles of freedom—freedom of choice regardless of the subject.
In my acceptance speech, I quoted Pema Chodron – a Buddhist nun who once stated, “If you don’t know the nature of fear, then you can never be fearless.” This quote reminds me of my own journey, starting as an immigrant from Jamaica and becoming Vice President and Global Chief Diversity Officer at EMC. In the early stages of my career, I landed a job in one of the hospitals in Boston, which allowed me the opportunity to interact with patients and their families. Often I became nameless and would be referred to as “the lady with the accent.” I would fear speaking because of my accent and the differences in some word pronunciation. It was not until I decided within myself that it was so much easier to be me and to bring my authentic self to work that I started to excel. Not only did I excel, but everyone embraced me for who I was and what I brought to the table, far above my accent. Aspiring professionals often ask me the secret to my success. In a split second I reply, “Being authentic and of course, hard work.” In my opinion, authenticity is reflected in everything a person does, resulting in high engagement and quality results.
As a Global Chief Diversity Officer, I constantly focus on making sure we develop a culture where our employees are encouraged to be authentic and embrace differences. I believe that when we encourage and embrace differences, we create an environment without the boundaries of convention or the limits of the status quo. We create a culture where we are able to think beyond visible differences such as race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. We are able to unlock the real potential of the human mind and create new opportunities to shape the future.
Pema Chodron offers us inspiration once again with her words: “The future is completely open and we are writing it moment to moment.” I encourage everyone to start writing a future that embraces all visible and invisible differences.