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Journeys to Equity
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Journeys to Equity

Author: CenterForce USA

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On Centerforce's Journeys to Equity Podcast, hear diverse leaders from across Corporate America, discuss the factors that led to their success. The goal of the podcast is to offer the strategies and tools to accelerate impactful and long-lasting change.
46 Episodes
In this episode Colleen Sweeney, Jennifer Andres, Janet Hamilton, and John Mielitz from TCDI discuss the unique challenges faced by military spouses that can make it difficult for them to pursue their personal and professional goals. Frequent moves, deployments, and the demands of military life can make it difficult to build a stable career or find a supportive community. TCDI is committed to providing resources and support to navigate through these challenges.  We discuss personal experiences and insights on the difficulties that military families face, and the resources TCDI provides for them, such as career development programs and creating a supportive environment for military spouses.   Tune in for perspectives on: The realities of military spouses and how they adapt and thrive to changeExploring the intersection of technology and lawHow TCDI stands out in the world of E-Discovery and litigation support
Building a Foundation for Success  This episode highlights the career journey of Eva Heintz, Chair of The Board of Directors at Solvay GGF. Eva initially trained as a chemist, and therefore, understands the advantage that comes with being exposed to science at a young age. This goes doubly so for women and traditionally underrepresented groups. As an Asian woman, Eva learned how to leverage that background in order to move her career forward. She is now in a position to offer invaluable advice to those coming up behind her. She believes it is imperative to get straight with what you aspire to and be forthright in pursuing your goals. "Ask for forgiveness and not for permission.” She is also a tireless advocate for diversity in the sciences, having formed ERGs and other programs within Solvay to give women a voice and a safe platform to express themselves. Tune in for perspectives on:  • Allowing for failure and embracing feedback in order to grow• The importance of being clear in your intentions when making an ask• Paying it forward in order to foster a climate of diversity, equity & inclusion in the workplace
We can all do something to become better.In this episode, Desiree Wolfe, Senior Director at Salesforce, highlights the importance of intentionality in our processes towards progress. She emphasizes that as leaders, peers, colleagues, and professionals, it is imperative that we all be transparent in recognizing the areas of our workspaces and mindsets that need to be transformed. She tells her audience that every opportunity is one to learn, develop, and advocate. As a woman of color and the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Desiree shares how her compounded experiences have brought to light the numerous barriers and hurdles that are presented to underrepresented groups. She brings attention to the importance of representation and points out the work that must be done to move past tokenism and step into reworking corporate structure to most efficiently utilize diversity leadership roles. She elaborates on the impact of lack of representation and inspires her audience to make deliberate decisions committed to enacting change. Join Desiree as she encourages her audience to invest in DEI and do the most compelling action that impacts their own compensation.Tune in for perspectives on:●      The Power of Representation●      Reconstructing the DEI Elements of a Business ●      Investing in underrepresented groups●      Intersectionality, Advocacy, and Sponsorship
Honoring Commitments to Others While Honoring Commitments to YourselfIn this episode, Noreen Kelly, Partner at McGuireWoods, shares her career development from a junior associate to a partner while being a single mother of two. The key to her success is getting clear with what she wants and actively advocating for herself. Her stories reveal the same struggles many working moms have with balancing their professional and personal life. This especially holds true in the legal profession. As a member of McGuireWoods' Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Noreen has observed first-hand, the positive impact her corporate clients have had on improving DEI initiatives at the firm. She offers valuable insight on this, and on how the pandemic will change the way we work post-Covid.Tune in for perspectives on: • Tips on how to use self-advocacy and mentorship for career advancement• The rewards and compromises of being a working mom• Obstacles and opportunities for more flexibility at work and more diversity in law post-Covid
Taking Affirmative Steps Towards InclusivityIn this episode, Deborah Solmor, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at TCS Education System, shares her journey up the legal ladder. She highlights her interest in and passion for the general counsel culture and also provides a perspective that usurps misconceptions and assumptions of her role. Deborah emphasizes that in all spaces, diversity is needed, but we must identify our why. She pulls inspiration from her experiences and exposure to other leaders to encourage us to reflect on why we care about equity and inclusivity and how we can prioritize DEI implementation within our company structures. Deborah also addresses the importance and significance of sponsorship. She accents the value in having personnel who can vouch for you behind closed doors. Join Deborah as she encourages her audience to be intentional within every sector of their life - personal and professional!Tune in for perspectives on:●      Balancing Work and Personal Life●      Advocation in Leadership●      Differentiating between Mentorship and Sponsorship●      The Roles of General Counsel
Using your Power to EmpowerIn this episode, Nicole Kelsey, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary at Amyris, Inc., shares how we can all step up to the plate by using our compounded experiences to adjust, adapt, and aid in advancing ourselves and others through advocacy. Nicole shares how her familial upbringing stemmed her interest in justice and equity at an early age. Realizing that the systematic structures in place can permit the marginalization of certain groups, she decided she would focus on advocacy throughout her career. Nicole highlights how we all have to be intentional with using our privilege to empower underrepresented groups and disrupt the prejudices and biases that prevent advancement. Nicole also points out how the key to advancement is pushing past our shortcomings and using them as opportunities to develop and improve. She reminds us that mistakes mold us into becoming the best version of ourselves. Join Nicole as she encourages her audience to give themselves grace and strive for progress, not perfection, while pursuing their passion.Tune in for perspectives on:●      How to Speak Up and Create the Avenue for Change●      How to Develop Legally ●      Advancing through Failures●      Being Intentional in Advocation
How Women of Color Can Self-AdvocateIn this episode, Sabria A. McElroy, Partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, shares her perspectives on the challenges women and people of color face in the legal industry. She offers her insights on how firms and clients can create change by understanding the importance of the ROI of DE&I. She knows that gaining confidence and overcoming internal struggles were part of her path to success. Sabria also realizes that having the support from senior leadership had a tremendous impact on that success. Here, she shares this experience and offers insight into how and why formal mentorship and sponsorship programs are integral to the long-term survival of any organization. Tune in for perspectives on:• Methods on dismantling imposter syndrome and achieving career goals• The value of white male allies• How companies can create mentorship and sponsorship policies that encourage the pairing of those that do not look like you.
Being Purposeful in ProgressIn this episode, Indhira Arrington, Managing Director and Global Chief Diversity Officer at Ares Management, gives us valuable takeaways on how to succeed in the corporate space. She highlights that success is always accompanied with support and shares how her support team and sponsors have equipped her with the needed skills, attributes, and attitude to climb up the corporate ladder. As a DEI lead, Indhira emphasizes how her compounded experiences have given her the ability to pay it forward, and be the support, guide, and lead to direct management in a way that promotes growth and effective change. She touches on the challenges presented when implementing sustainable change management, but also offers tangible solutions rooted in communication, feedback, and combining business imperative with recognizing value. Indhira reminds us that while we all have unique abilities, strengths, and talents - we are stronger when we have a dependable and expanding support system in our corner. Join Indhira as she encourages her audience to step into their strengths while also stepping outside themselves to pay it forward.Tune in for perspectives on:●      How to Educate Managers on Leading across Differences ●      The Products of Sponsorship ●      Gauging Support when implementing change●      Being purposeful in Mentorship and Leadership 
Show Up For the Job You Want Not the Role You Have In this episode, Courtney Statfeld, Principal at McKool Smith, addresses the importance of confidence, preparation and staying true to yourself as you progress in your career. Early on, she stayed open to different experiences which eventually led her to the law. Her passion for her work and competitive spirit has been instrumental in propelling her forward. As a result, she is recognized as a top-notch litigator of large-scale, complex cases. Courtney supports being a team player but recognizes the importance of self-promotion and broadcasting your wins in order to progress professionally.  Tune in for perspectives on: •Recognizing your limits and when to say no or you need help•Using grit, confidence, and faith to get you through any situation•Acknowledging those who are ahead in their journey and learning from them 
Creating a Culture of BelongingThis episode highlights the career journey of Kyle Lewis, Senior Counsel, Safety & Insurance Litigation, US East at Uber. Here, Kyle discusses the importance of cultivating a diverse talent pool. He also talks about vulnerability in leadership and its impact on company culture. Being open creates a forum for your team to fully express themselves, and this in turn, creates a sense of belonging so essential for retention. At the same time, this must be balanced with your own professional ambitions and personal needs. And, therefore, setting boundaries is an integral part of the process when managing a team.  Tune in for perspectives on: • Being a champion of DEI • The role of vulnerability in leadership • Setting boundaries and finding balance 
Cultivating a Sense of Belonging In this episode, Cassandra Labbees, Firm Member at Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., shares the importance of creating a culture of belonging. As a child of Haitian immigrants, Cassandra highlights her unique experience of integration into American culture. Having gone to a primary school that celebrated her ethnic roots, Cassandra developed a strong sense of identity and had a clear example of inclusivity at its fullest. As Cassandra climbed her way up the professional ladder, she was able to use her roots and experience as strategies for how to confront microaggressions, overcome corporate challenges, and establish community. Cassandra expressed that her environments, academic and professional, provided her with a blueprint of expectations for how to hold herself and her peers accountable and taught her techniques to get her peers engaged in spearheading change. Cassandra also provides standards of what action behind DEI implementation looks like and how we can measure impact versus intention. Join Cassandra as she encourages her audience to stay true to themselves and take pride in their identity.Tune in for perspectives on:●      The Haitian Immigrant Experience●      The Importance of Education and Identity ●      Mediating and Confronting Microaggressions●      Redefining your Standards
Moving Past Passion and Utilizing Strategy In this episode, Natalie Edwards, Global Chief Diversity Officer at National Grid, highlights the impact of expertise in DEI initiatives. Her insights on DEI prompt change agents to examine their current inclusion strategy and ask the important question: “What does diversity mean and look like for our company?” Natalie encourages Chief Diversity Officers to become experts in their field and understand that diversity is not a box to be checked, but rather a topic to be studied to produce lasting change in corporate culture. Natalie shares how we must push past passion and outspoken characteristics, specifying that the ability to understand why diversity is needed does not automatically equip individuals with the role qualifications to effectively implement inclusion strategies. Natalie also emphasizes that organizations have to be more intentional about understanding that diversity is not a “one size fits all '' model and focus on what areas must be prioritized to advance company culture. Join Natalie as she challenges her audience to examine the skill set needed for diversity leaders.Tune in for perspectives on:The Intrinsic Value behind DEI Being a Strategic Leader The Research behind ChangeLeveraging your Expertise 
Listen to All Voices but Trust Your Own This episode highlights the career journey of Marla Sofer, Financial Services Lead, Industry Solutions CTO at Microsoft. She has followed her passion through various sectors including Wall Street and Fintech. Marla emphasizes the significance of understanding your strengths and positioning them to evolve into new opportunities. Self-evaluation, commitment, and personal experiences are invaluable when crafting your story so that it aligns with your career objectives. Listen as she shares insights on how to build confidence and adapt to lead strategically and with intentionality. Tune in for perspectives on:• Fighting complacency with accountability • Building courage to take on new responsibilities• Participating meaningfully and aligning career goals with your passion
The Price and the Rewards of Pursuing Growth In this episode, Tamara O’Neill Moreland, Shareholder at Larkin Hoffman, discusses her journey from  young attorney to making partner, and the difficulties women must overcome to make their voices heard. Tamara provides a candid perspective on the challenges of recruiting and retaining diverse candidates, calling out micro-aggressions, and developing personal resilience. Tune in for insights on:• Making your voice heard in a male-dominant world• Creating value and building a book of business• Building sponsorship programs that work• Using your legal skills to advocate for…yourself!
Creating a Culture of Acceptance and BelongingIn this episode, LeeAnn Jones, Partner at Taylor English Duma LLP, shares her thoughts on the recruitment and retention of diverse attorneys.  With so much emphasis being placed on front-end recruiting, long-term impact is bound to fail if the follow-up back-end process, diversity retention, isn’t equally as effective. LeeAnn has experienced this first-hand as both a woman and a member of the LGBTQ community. She knows how it feels to be told to leave what makes her unique at the door and  believes that until organizations focus more on creating a true sense of belonging that encourages and celebrates our differences, we will only be making performative, and not lasting, change.Tune in for perspectives on:•The negative impact of having employees “check their diversity at the door” on company profits, productivity, and more•Ways to encourage authenticity and best practices for retention•How programs improving the retention of diverse talent contributes directly to the bottom-line. 
Creating Opportunities to Change our Behavior In this episode, Janine Jansen, Global Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Lead at Organon, shares what it means to be authentic in our equity journeys. Janine explains how we all have the opportunity to change our behavior, but real change happens in our hearts and minds. This is what leads to true allyship and advocacy for those impacted by inequity. She highlights how the lack of representation in spaces she has occupied motivated her to establish more inclusive environments. Janine expressed that it takes a bigger collective, that goes beyond lip service, so that diverse perspectives can thrive. She challenges her peers and colleagues to take risks to get buy-in from leadership because every community looks different and what works for one does not work for all. She points out the need for a culture shift and how we can gauge the needed metrics that encourage involvement, growth, and commitment. Janine also provides ways we can keep track of early wins and how we can use them as markers for progress and momentum to push us forward. Join Janine as she motivates her audience to push beyond a moment and strive for continuous progression and change.Tune in for perspectives on:●      Unconscious and Implicit Bias ●      Setting Achievable Goals ●      Telling a Story of Participation●      Creating Awareness Builders 
Handling Responsibility and Recognizing High Potential In this episode, Lori Stacy, CEO at Trader Interactive, shares how to balance the responsibilities of career and caretaking. As a woman in a male-dominated field, Lori emphasizes how her professional and occupational experiences have equipped her with the skills, mindset, and motivation to juggle her passion for her work with all the commitments and obligations that come with being a mother. While she does not minimize the challenges of work/life balance, Lori points out that her confidence in her abilities have allowed her to out-perform expectations making her not only a great mother, but also a strong role-model for her children. She also explains how her knowledge and mastery of employee development and the customer experience has given her unique opportunities to develop and climb the leadership ladder. Join Lori as she encourages her listeners to ask what value they can bring to the table, and how we can exceed our own expectations.Tune in for perspectives on:• Out-Performing Expectations • Extending Reach Beyond Role - Increasing Visibility • Impactful Leadership - Effective Management • Balancing Professionalism and Parenthood 
Bigger is Not Always BetterIn this episode, Susanne Jones, Founder of Jones Robb–a boutique law firm handling patent prosecution and counseling–and Elizabeth Burke, a Member of the firm, share their insights on being women in STEM and how they steering their small firm to success. Because both Susie and Liz pursued careers in engineering, they are used to being the only woman in the room. They then both decided to add to the challenge by layering it with a career in law. In order to make this work, they advised that you have two things: a strong stomach and unfailing support from mentors, colleagues loved ones. How does one navigate through all that and then have the gumption to found a law firm?  How do you attract clients and stay profitable in the world of IP when you are competing with Big Law? Even though Jones Robb is WBENC Certified (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) and corporations are looking to hire diverse outside counsel, it is not easy. Susie shares that while diversity is important, in the end it boils down to trust. And, trust comes through building relationships. Despite the challenges, Liz was attracted to Jones Robb because she wanted the flexibility that comes with a smaller organization. It meant more autonomy and more variety in the work she gets to do. Hear how she and Susie have created a culture that reflects these values for themselves and their employees. This is imperative in order to attract and retain talent in the time of the Great Resignation. They also speak candidly about how RFPs are geared to the larger firms and what clients can do to be more inclusive when vetting outside counsel. Don’t limit your options from the get-go by having an RFP that sets standards that fail to capture smaller, and therefore, more diverse prospects.Tune in for perspectives on:• Leveraging a background in STEM to succeed in the legal industry• The benefits of working for a Boutique organization• Why corporations should consider hiring smaller, more diverse outside counsel• Advice for the CIPO: What to consider when drafting an RFP
Defying the Odds through Science, Law, and Ambition As a physics major at Oxford University, Emily Collins, VP of Kilburn & Strode’s San Francisco’s Liaison office, knew early on that science was her passion, but she also had a unique knack for interacting with people. Patent law allowed her to blend the two into a rewarding career. But the path to success in the highly male-dominated field hasn’t always been a smooth one. In this candid interview, Emily shines a light on the invisible barriers that often hinder the career advancement of women and other underrepresented individuals. She also shares insights on the importance of mental health and why it’s critical for law firms to have open conversations about these issues with the entire staff. Tune in for perspectives on:• Acknowledging privilege - Recognizing it in others and in ourselves• Seeing is believing - why representation at the top is crucial• Revealing and breaking invisible barriers  • The Importance of having open conversations on mental health
Breaking the Glass CeilingIn this episode, Lale Topcuoglu, Head of Credits at Swiss Re gives her outlook on what true inclusivity looks like. She provides a unique point of view by expounding on her experience immigrating to the United States. Lale explains how transitioning to this country provided the opportunity to compare her preconceptions of equity in western culture with reality. Her own experience inspired her to claim her seat at the table, culminating in her current position in finance with a global organization. Lale shares how her vision of meritocracy reflects inclusion at its highest peak, and she further details how Wall Street has evolved since she started. While there is more to be done, it is encouraging and awe inspiring to see the new generation push past the status quo. This is a far cry from her own experience and it is gratifying to see emerging leaders demanding and developing a culture of inclusion, belonging, and respect. Join Lale as she calls on her listeners to break the glass ceiling.Tune in for perspectives on:• Moving Past the Status Quo• Retention in Finance • The value of initiative 
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