On Thursday, September 12, I was honored along with several other awardees at a luncheon held by the Triangle (NC) Business Journal for their inaugural “Leaders in Diversity” Awards. I received the “role model”and was cited specifically for my leadership for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Diversity work during my 31-year career at IBM, now as the President and Founder of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer and in various community activities. Other honorees included small, medium and large companies as well as individuals from corporate and non-profit settings. And the winners themselves were quite diverse: women and men, older and younger, various racial and cultural backgrounds, even a woman from Iran who formed a construction engineering firm. (Link to list of all winners.) Additional link: my own award interview.
I feel this kind of recognition is very important. Not only does it encourage those doing the often difficult diversity work to stay diligent, it also signals to the larger community that rigorously pursuing diversity is very critical to economic growth and success in our communities.
The lifetime achievement award was given to retired University of North Carolina basketball Coach Dean Smith. What is special about Coach Smith is that he strongly supported diversity without a lot of fanfare simply as a core value of his life and coaching philosophy. He was a leader in college sports for racial integration of college teams, and was known for individually focusing on every single player he coached to help them maximize their growth both as an athlete and a person. Assisting others to reach their full potential, particularly within a difficult environment, is a key facet of diversity and inclusion.
I also commend PNC Bank for stepping up as the lead sponsor for these awards. The PNC senior leader for all of Eastern North Carolina, Regional President Paula K. Fryland, was present to help hand out the awards as well as deliver a brief keynote address. Paula succinctly articulated the importance of diversity and inclusion as a core value of PNC and the tie to business success. She mentioned the importance and pursuing diversity with clients, employees, supplier and the community, and highlighted four PNC initiatives:
• Their 34 employee resources groups with over 6000 participants for engaging their workforce.
• Education efforts across all levels of PNC so that everyone understands the compelling business rationale for diversity and inclusion initiatives
• Recognizing the various diversity constituency months throughout the year to further engage employees and the community
• Investing financially in philanthropic such as their recent significant investments in North Carolina for early childhood education.
Even within the LGBT community, PNC Bank does follow through with their strategy; they are a corporate sponsor of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), which promotes business development of LGBT-owned business in the US and globally.
PNC Bank and Triangle Business Journal – well done!