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Overcoming Diversity Challenges in Corporate America

Overcoming Diversity Challenges in Corporate America

People often ask me why I started blogging, and why am I more vocal than ever before about diversity and women leadership topics. To answer these questions, I've combined a series of podcast interviews into one article to inspire readers and offer actionable advice. You can find more information here.

When did you begin encouraging diversity of thought and inclusion of women? Was there a particular situation that happened?

I’ve been working in corporate America for over twenty years. I never focused on my challenges as a woman in the business world until recent years. It was easier to live by unwritten society “rules” and ignore my own feelings than to try to change something bigger than me. But then I WOKE UP!

There are two situations that shifted my thinking and desire to be a change agent. One stems from a visit to the Stock Exchange for a work event last year. I was listening to the tour guide explain that there used to be no women there.

That’s when it struck me that my mom is/was a trailblazer. She was among the first Options Traders at the American Stock Exchange. I never fully understood until then how much the odds were against her, and how much courage it took to be successful in that environment. My mom inspires me to make a difference. I wold love future generations to say that about me.

A second factor has to do with my current employment at Schindler Elevator Corporation. The Executive team offered me an opportunity to be part of a new ten-month Global Leadership Program to “elevate” women's careers. I have a documented plan and multiple mentors who are supporting my professional growth. Because of this program, I’ve gained a new sense of strength and inner confidence. I feel invigorated and a desire to “pay it forward.”

Do you encounter much resistance or do you find people are open to inclusion and diversity?

I believe there’s less resistance, especially as more companies are instituting diversity programs like Schindler, but we have a long way to go.

For progress to continue, we need a 100% focus and commitment from companies to make inclusion happen. We need diversity of thought in every meeting, and we also need to allow women to have leadership roles, especially in a traditionally male organization. If two individuals with similar skills and education apply for the same job or promotion, there should be no difference in the evaluation process, regardless of where they work.

On a positive note, there is now a cultural shift, and I’m so glad that my kids, especially my daughter, will benefit in positive ways. Companies are finally walking the diversity talk, and we need to keep it going.

[Related: Remembering This Simple "Lost Art" Could Land (or Cost) You a Job, Says This Co-Founder]

How have you started to promote your causes?

I’ve written and published articles. I’ve also been interviewed for various podcasts, which have exponentially broadened my global reach as companies shared them on social media channels.

To keep the moment going, I’m now actively involved in reputable organizations like Ellevate Network and MorphMom, and I also started my own online community called “Women Leaders Making A Difference.” When I noticed that 160 people (CEOs to Entrepreneurs) joined my group within a few weeks of launching, I knew that I was on to something.

I've started to get more calls for mentoring opportunities, including helping people brand themselves on LinkedIn. I am really enjoying this authentic journey that I'm on.

When and why did you launch your blog?

I launched DoingCXRight.com in 2017. It started as a platform to educate people about a topic I’m passionate about known as Customer Experience (CX).

I’ve been coaching individuals and companies based expertise I’ve gained from working on projects for reputable brands, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Martha Stewart Crafts, and others.

Besides CX, we need a lot of attention about employee experiences, which inclusion and diversity are part of. The fact is that happy employees drive happy customers. It’s all intertwined.

[Related: How In-Store Retail Experiences Push Customers to Shop Online]

What advice do you have for the next generation of women aspiring to advance their careers? 

I encourage everyone, especially women, to communicate openly and honestly, and deal with uncomfortable situations head-on versus an avoidance approach.

Be impeccable with your words and choose the right moments to contribute. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly.

Also, always be learning and advancing your skills through formal and informal education. I obtained my MBA years ago but continue to get certifications from prestigious institutions to sustain my position as a credible thought leader.

What's been the most pivotal piece of advice you've received in your career?

There will ALWAYS be obstacles. Know what you can control and focus your time and effort on those things. People often say “No” without even thinking about situations, but there IS a path to “Yes.” Be creative and figure it out!

Also, brand yourself. If you don't do it for you, no one else will. You can hear more about this on my podcast, as well as how blogging has brought me benefits that I never imagined. The same can happen for you!

[Related: 3 Ways Marketers Can Use Design Thinking to Innovate]

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Stacy Sherman's expertise is in designing and implementing customer-centric programs that differentiate brands beyond price.


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