As a preview for the upcoming Women of Color Leadership and Empowerment Conference, being held Thursday, June 23, 2016 at Harvard Law School, Color Magazine will publish a series of Q&A stories with the Executive Speakers for the event.
Our second interview is with Dawn Frazier-Bohnert, SVP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Liberty Mutual Insurance, who will be speaking on “Women of Color Unplugging the Power of Bias.”
Can you tell us more about your position as the Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Liberty Mutual? What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I am responsible for leading the design, development, and implementation of Liberty Mutual Insurance’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy and programs. This includes enhancing employees’ D&I capabilities and skills, internal and external communications, metrics and measurements, benchmarking, external partnerships, and the development of employee resource groups. I love being able to say that I am enhancing the Liberty Mutual culture and making us an even more successful organization. When I hear from one of our employees that they are proud to work for Liberty Mutual because of the inclusion work we are doing together, that makes my day.
How did you hear about Color Magazine’s Women of Color Leadership and Empowerment Conference? What is it about the conference that intrigues you?
When I began working here at Liberty, I had the good fortune to meet Josefina Bonilla and we developed a great relationship. At Liberty Mutual, we recognize the importance of highlighting men and women of color and fostering an inclusive workplace for all. As Color Magazine’s programs align with our mission, Liberty Mutual became a sponsor of the Women of Color, Men of Color, and the All-Inclusive Awards programs. We are big supporters of the new format as it gives participants an opportunity to dive deeper into the presented topics.
Please tell us more about the session you’re holding for the Women of Color Conference. What are your goals? What do you want others to walk away with?
The workshop will address both the internal and external barriers that hold women of color back from being their best, most confident selves. According to research from Catalyst, women of color “make up 17% of workers in S&P 500 companies but fewer than 4% of executive officials and managers.” The issues that sabotage the success of women of color range from messages that we have received from society, the media, and even our family members about what we are “supposed” to look like or how we “should” act. Years ago, I learned in my J. Howard Efficacy program that “it is not the stimulus it is the response.” It is how we individually respond to challenges or barriers where there is the opportunity for change and empowerment. We can’t control what others think or do, but we can control our response. So what messages are we telling ourselves? My hope is that participants walk away from the workshop with tangible ways to address the individual and often unconscious barriers that hold us back from reaching our potential and supporting each other as women of color.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? What else are you passionate about?
I love to travel with my family. Growing up as a military “Air Force Brat” we were always going to new places. That curiosity has not gone away. But I must say one of my favorite things to do is spend time in my kitchen. Early in my career I took a slight career detour and went to culinary school and subsequently worked as a chef before returning to Human Resources. I am most relaxed and happy when I am cooking, with great music playing and loving people gathered together around the table.
Who and/or what inspires you?
I am inspired by the generations of strong women and men in my family. I am fortunate to have many amazing role models of perseverance, courage, and sacrifice to remind me that I have an obligation to work hard and give back—just as others have worked hard for me so that I could have better opportunities.
How will you help to inspire other women career-wise?
A few thoughts that have helped me move forward in my career: We have to keep learning about ourselves. We have to continue to grow (no matter our age) and stay curious about others. We have to continue to stretch ourselves and step out of our comfort zone to accept new challenges even if it’s on shaky legs. Eventually our legs will stop shaking and we will have conquered a new challenge.
The Women of Color Leadership and Empowerment Conference takes place on Thursday, June 23, from 11 A.M. – 4:30 P.M., at Austin Hall, Ames Court Room -Harvard Law School. For tickets and more information click HERE.