By Evan J. Cutts
Monica Diaz is a force of innovation and disruption in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) field. Having held executive leadership roles at organizations such as Campbell Soup Company, ESPN, Microsoft, and Merck, Diaz strives to fuel innovation, business excellence, and add value to power.
“My position enables me to create spaces at work and in communities where people feel valued and respected,” she said. “When leaders chose to add value to their power, they increase the impact they have in the organization’s culture.”
“Ways a leader can add value to power,” she continued “include engaging in active mentoring, sponsoring diverse talent within an organization, and requesting other leaders to do the same.”
For Diaz and many others, D&I is more than a job, “it is work that transforms who you are.”
“Working on this field has taught me that people connect on their similarities, but learn from their differences.”
“A Chief Diversity Officer must embrace the challenge of being a constant listener, but also a necessary disruptor. Our role is not to agree with everyone, but to devise ways to influence others and build trust with people at all levels of the organization. And doing so requires both determination and resilience,” Diaz said.
As a CDO is called to embrace their role as a disruptor, Diaz adds that one’s personal values should also be a guiding force. For Diaz, integrity, humility, curiosity, and respect are inseparable from her responsibilities as a D&I practitioner.
“These values, which I learned from my grandparents, keep me grounded and focused on learning more about and value the experiences that make others who they are.”
In the next several years, Diaz foresees a reaffirmation of the value of all people, led by a generation of digital natives who grew up in a globalized world with unprecedented access to information.
“[Millennials and Gen Zers] will be the majority leading our organizations,” she commented. “Businesses and communities will need to find ways to confront, resolve, and learn from issues that divide us. In other words: find a common purpose.”
“Until we see leadership teams and organizations where people of color are appropriately represented, being a person of color will require that we support each other, seek mentorship, build sponsorship, and remain relentless in our quest to ensure everyone has the access and opportunity to thrive.”