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A Best Practice in Diversity and Inclusion and Employee Resource Groups from Advance Auto Parts

Kiwanda Stansbury, Director, Inclusion and Diversity, Advance Auto Parts, Speaker at the North Carolina Diversity Best Practices Meeting.

In the diversity and inclusion field, there continues to be continued discussion on the importance of Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs. Traditionally, they have been referred to as “affinity groups” as they bring together employees around a common constituency factor such as Black, Hispanic, Women, Young Professionals, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender), Veterans and more. These groups help make employees feel more at home and included in the workplace, and provide activities such as professional and social networking, mentoring and community involvement.

As a diversity and inclusion consultant, I often attend various workshops to continue to pick up the latest development in my field. In early July, I attended a half day “Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices” seminar organized by the National Diversity Council – Carolinas in Durham, NC. One of the presenters was Kiwanda Stansbury, Director, Inclusion and Diversity, Advance Auto Parts.

Ms. Stansbury started off by stating that Advance Auto Part’s and her mode of operation is to foster change and target to do things differently and better. That was evident in the way they structure and execute their employee resource groups, which they call “Team Member Networks” which follows their corporate nomenclature of referring to their employees as team members. Current Team Member Networks include:
• Women in Motion Network (WIMN)
• Knowledge Network – Diversity of Thought
• A.L.I.G.N. – African Americans Leading Inclusion and Growth Network
• S.E.R.V.I.C.E. – Serve, Educate, Recruit, Value, Celebrate and Empower (Veterans)
• #Connext – Millennial Network
• Amigos Unidos – Hispanic / Latino
• Advance Pride – LGBTQ
• R.I.C.E. – Recognizing International Cultures and Ethnicities

And Ms. Stansbury’s position title was different than normally found in the diversity and inclusion field in that her title is Director, Inclusion and Diversity. This highlights that inclusion is the real emphasis since that is where the work happens. Diversity is a fact of life, but inclusion is the hard work or making sure everyone is welcomed and valued in the workplace.

Company Resource Groups very often staff booths and tables at community diversity activities like this one I attended on my 60th birthday.

The major best practice that Ms. Stansbury shared was Advance Auto Parts’ robust and structured approach to inclusion and diversity which includes aligning their Team Member Networks to the overall organization’s strategy. They have established a structure and approach around four agreed upon key focus areas (i.e. pillars) that keep the networks aligned with corporate strategy:
Team Member Inclusion and Development
Talent Acquisition and Retention
Customer and Community Outreach which involves connecting team members to the customers and communities they serve through outreach and community service projects.
Business Alignment which includes aligning with the cultural shift, corporate strategy, tying to organizational health and establishing metrics to measure efforts.

Providing a strong framework around inclusion efforts will surely benefit Advance Auto Parts’ Team Member Networks by providing them a structure to operate so they thrive and be effective for both the corporation and the team members over the long term.

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Other Blogs I have written about Employee Network Groups:

Evolving Employee Resource Groups – a Creative Approach from Erie Insurance, which I wrote after the 2016 National Diversity Council – Carolinas Best Practices meeting.

Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups – Not “either / or,” but “both / and” which I wrote in response to one firm planning to close down their employee resource groups.

A cool event: “The Art of Money” with David Rubenstein

David M. Rubenstein, speaker at the October 27, 2017 “Ignite Talk.”


One of the most engaging series of events here in the Triangle, NC area is “The Ignite Talks” hosted by the Jewish Federation of Durham – Chapel Hill at the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham. Ignite is a networking and educational forum offered to members of our local community. Through talks and interviews with business and community leaders, the series provides a unique venue to promote social responsibility, community building and continuing education.

This season’s series theme is “The Art of ….” and the first session dealt with the art of money – Making money, investing money and then giving money away. Speaker David Rubenstein, with a net worth of over $2.9 Billion, is among the wealthiest people in the world. He was a delightful fast-paced speaker with just the perfect dose of humility and humor.

Currently, Mr. Rubenstein is the Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager with $174 billion of assets under management. He grew up in a blue collar family in Baltimore, Maryland, with his father working as postal services worker earning $7,000 annually and his mother a housewife. He attended Duke University on scholarship and law school at the University of Chicago. He was a deputy domestic policy advisor to President Jimmy Carter and worked in private law practice before entering the equities business.

Most notably, Mr. Rubenstein was among the initial forty individuals who have pledged to donate more than half their wealth to philanthropic causes or charities as part of “The Giving Pledge.”

Key points and quips Mr. Rubenstein made during his delightful talk and Q and A session:

• He has always been inspired by the President John F. Kennedy’s quote that “A lot of money does not equal happiness.” Throughout the talk, I could easily see that Mr. Rubenstein has never defined himself by the huge wealth he has accumulated.
• He started in the equity business with 4 investors providing $5 Million with plans to build a totally different and innovative type of investment business. His quote: “Do something no else has done before – people may make fun of you, but you can succeed.”
• Mr. Rubenstein defines philanthropy from its Latin root meaning of “loving humanity,” not as “rich people writing checks.”
• Mr. Rubenstein felt he had 4 viable alternatives for his wealth:

    1. Be buried with it like the pharaohs of Egypt
    2. Spend it all on houses, planes and artwork
    3. Give it all to his children and ruin their lives
    4. Give it away while he is alive so he can see the benefit it reaps. This is the option he has chosen.

Mr. Rubenstein with the one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, that he specifically purchased to share with the public. (photo: David Yellen for Forbes)


• Quote: “When your mother says she is proud of you, then you know you have done the right thing.”
• When asked about the US political situation, he decried the “hollowing out of the political center” leading to the polarizing politics of today with sides that cannot work together for the common good of the nation.

I look forward the next installment of this Ignite “The Art of ….” series, and if they are as inspirational and interesting as this one, be looking for another blog!

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My blogs about Ignite sessions from earlier years:

From December, 2014, “Three Women Igniting Social Change in Second Careers.”

From December, 2013, a blog about two very different community and business leaders who spoke at two different Ignite Sessions, “Local Leaders as Social Innovators.”

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