Women of Color and Their Allies

On Oct. 2, 2018 in Atlanta, DiversityInc brought together top corporate executives, across various industries, to have frank conversations about the challenges women of color face in corporate America.

Wells Fargo's Le Nette Rutledge Talks Transferrable Veteran Skills and Why it's Important to 'Show Up'

Rutledge, a Senior Learning & Development Consultant at Wells Fargo, talks about her journey transitioning from the U.S. Navy and why it's important to allow your authentic self to show up whether in the military or Corporate America.

Le Nette is a Learning & Development Sr. Consultant within Talent Development & Organization Effectiveness (TDOE) at Wells Fargo. She facilitates courses and programs providing leadership coaching that reinforces the vision and values of the Company for team members across all levels of the organization. Le Nette's 'why' in life is "…to courageously and compassionately impart excellence in every life, place and situation" presented to her.

Le Nette joined Wells Fargo in 2009. Prior to that, she served as a leader of learning teams for Fortune 100/500 companies to include QVC, Inc.; Lowe's Companies, Inc. and Family Dollar Stores, Inc. She retired from the United States Navy after ten (10) years of service. During that time, the fields in which she focused included Leadership Development, Facilitation/Instructional Design, Career Counseling (specifically recruiting) and Anti-submarine Warfare.

Le Nette holds a B.A. in political science from Norfolk State University in Norfolk VA and has begun work on a M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She holds Lean Six-Sigma green belt, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and various coaching certifications.

DI: Tell us a little bit about what it was like transitioning from the military to Corporate America.

Overall, it was fair. I had served in the US Navy for close to ten years. Prior to that time, I had held (what I refer to as ) my first 'real' job as a Bank Teller. The thought of re-entering corporate America and now having a son for whom I needed to provide was a bit intimidating. Thankfully I had a really good Transition Assistance Program experience that equipped me with information and resources to begin seeking employment. I was unemployed for approximately one year before finding continuous employment.

DI: Were there any skills you developed while in the military that have been useful in your current role?

While my primary area of expertise (rating) in the Navy was not directly applicable to most occupations in the corporate sector, the opportunities to direct teams and hone my leadership skills proved to be a great asset. Additionally, collateral assignments provided exposure to and experience in various HR disciplines. For example, since I was a Naval Instructor I learned about facilitation techniques, principles of instructional design and evaluation program effectiveness. As a result, I was able to easily transition into Learning & Development as a civilian occupation. The time I spent as a Naval Recruiter exposed me to recruiting practices, policies and experiences that were helpful when coordinating/supporting mass recruiting efforts (i.e. job fairs, seasonal hiring, conferences, etc…) in the corporate arena.

DI: Were there any ERG's, programs, or even some personal methods used to help with the initial transition of getting acclimated to a new workplace?

Great question! This is where for me there was a most noticeable void. Prior to Wells Fargo, employers with whom I worked offered nothing to assist Veterans with the initial transition. If I found an external resource that could help in my transition, my employers were typically supportive. But again, they offered/developed nothing. It would not be until several years later when joining Wells Fargo that I would (for the first time since I exited the military in 1998) have an employer who offered internal resources/programs to assist members of the military community within the organization.

DI: Also, did you always have an idea of what career or industry you wanted to pursue post-military life?

This question makes me smile. Actually, I credit the Navy with helping me realize that creating consistent and compelling learning experiences was my sweet spot; the point at which what I can do, what others need me to do and what I love to do converge. Since exiting the military, no matter the position or employer, some component of Learning & Development has been a critical component of my job responsibilities. So, a huge 'shout out' and "thank you" to the Navy for helping me discover my passion.

DI: Lastly, there are stereotypes that women can't handle the mental strain of combat or aren't strong enough. In what ways have you personally opposed these gender stereotypes in the military and continue to do so in your new role?

People will think what they think until they are willing to be open to new and different perspectives. For me, it's not so much about challenging stereotypes but rather ushering in a paradigm shift. Reality is, yes. For some women the mental strain of being in combat is more than they can bear. AND, the same is true for some men. Whether I failed or succeeded at points in my military career, it wasn't because I am a woman. It was because I am human and imperfect. This is not to say that others have not had experiences tied to gender stereotypes. It is to say that adversity due to gender was not my reality.

That being said, it is no secret that (generally) women disproportionately face certain dynamics in corporate settings than our male counterparts do (e.g., glass ceiling, equal pay, etc…). How do I usher in a paradigm shift/challenge stereotypes? I simply show up. As my best, authentic, unrelenting self – I show up. I do my best. I challenge the status quo if there is viable challenge to be made. And, I focus on helping others realize and walk their full potential. I'm a woman. When people see me, they know that. So, just in my showing up in this authentic yet results-oriented way, I offer the opportunity for others to reconsider gender stereotypes and shift their paradigm. As my mom would say at times, "Sometimes you have to show 'em rather than tell 'em."

I heard one Wells Fargo leader share this, "The military is a microcosm of society." This is so true. The same stereotypes that abound in society exist in the military…because those who serve in the military bring with them the life experiences, assumptions and beliefs of the societies of which they were previously a part.

Kaiser Permanente's Anthony B. Coleman: Veterans Should Discover Their Passion and Allow it to Lead to a Profession

Coleman, talks with DiversityInc about his journey transitioning from life in the U.S. Navy to working as an Assistant Hospital Administrator for Kaiser Permanente.

Anthony B. Coleman, DHA, is the Assistant Hospital Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente, Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

He was born at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving aboard the USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Ardent (MCM 12). After completing a full sea tour he was transferred to shore duty, and earned a Bachelor's degree in Workforce, Education and Development, as well as a Master of Health Administration.

He later earned a commission as a Naval Officer serving in various roles overseas and afloat, including Chief Financial Officer at U.S. Naval Hospital Beaufort SC, Human Resources Director at U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan and Medical Operations Officer onboard the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

Anthony retired in 2016 with 20 years of honorable service and holds a Doctor of Health Administration Degree and currently serves as the Assistant Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

DI: What was the initial transition like going from the armed services to a civilian career?

My initial thoughts on transition brought unnecessary anxiety. However, when I learned that my preceptor was a retired Air Force Colonel, it helped put me at ease about the transition. On my first day at Kaiser Permanente, the staff and physicians welcomed me and ensured that I had the support I needed to make a successful transition.

DI: What are some skills or habits you developed while serving in the military that have helped you in your current role?

Two things stick out in my mind as important.

The first is transitioning mindset from duty to desire. I joined the navy at 17, and during the first 3-5 years of my military career I didn't realize I was part of something bigger than myself so I competed tasks out of obligation (duty). After completing my first full sea tour, I realized how my efforts contributed to the overall mission of the U.S. Navy and the duties I carried out started to come from a desire to do so. This realization helped shape my leadership style and how I groomed young sailors early on in their enlistments. I wanted them to realize their very important part in the overall U.S. Navy mission and motivate them to bring their "A" game every day.

This has helped in my current role overseeing nine non-clinical departments (Housekeeping, Food and Nutrition, Engineering, Construction, Parking, Safety, Property Management, Telecommunications, Security and Supply Chain Management) where the majority of the employees I oversee are entry-level and can feel disconnected to health care because they are not physicians or nurses. However, I stress to them as often as possible that whether their job is to nourish the patient, clean and disinfect a patient room, make sure life-saving equipment is in working order, or any other of the hundreds of non-clinical functions they perform day in and day out, they too are vital to a patient's health and healing.

The second is attention to detail. Most times, my staff are the first and/or last interaction our members have with Kaiser Permanente. It is crucial for them to pay attention to every detail about the patient they encounter because each and every detail about the patient, large or small can help us do a better job in serving them. Sometimes, it may be as simple as a smile or word of encouragement that could make all the difference in the patient experience.

DI: What career advice can you offer to veterans or current military folks who are looking to pivot, and what types of jobs should they be looking for?

Stay current in world health affairs, as well as the political climate in the US. Now more than ever, politics are shaping our approach to health care and vice versa. Veterans and current military members should make sure they have an idea of where civilian health care is, as well as where it's going in the future, so they can demonstrate their value to potential health care employers.

Devote time to discovering their passion and allow it to lead them to a profession. So often, when military members plan to transition to civilian life, they tend to focus on their ability to continue providing for their families beyond military service. This can cause us to accept positions for the sake of securing post military employment, or accept positions that are not aligned with our core beliefs, or passion.

DI: Did you always have an idea of the type of career you wanted to pursue after the military?

Yes. As a matter of fact, I began planning my exit from the military in 2005 when I discovered my passion for eliminating health disparities however, because I was a single father of a 5 year old girl, my mom convinced me to complete a full career first.

In 2004, the Navy sent me to graduate school to learn how to be a health administrator. During the summer of 2005, I interned at Wallace Thomson Hospital in rural Union County, South Carolina. While there I met a kitchen worker who impressed me with her skill in preparing meals for all of the sick patients at the hospital, specific to their individual needs. Her name was Pee Wee and even though she never finished high school, and worked a second job to make ends meet she somehow found a way to show compassion for each patient while contributing to the healing environment.

After the rotation was complete, I went back to finish graduate school and learned that Pee Wee died of a stroke. She was 52. Her death really affected me and I began to look at how a person in America could die so young of a preventable health issue. That's when I learned about health disparities and discovered my passion for eliminating them. I understand that I may not be able to complete this task in my lifetime however, I am completely comfortable with making it my life's work at Kaiser Permanente.

Wanda Bryant Hope Shares Her Best Piece of Career Advice

Wanda Bryant Hope, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Johnson & Johnson, and panelist at DiversityInc's 2018 Women of Color and Their Allies event, shares the best piece of career advice she once received from a mentor. #DiversityIncWOC

Produced by: Alana Winns
Videography by: Christian Carew

From the Field to the Office: How to Score a Touchdown on Diversity

After leading a Q&A panel session with NFL Hall-of-Fame player Emmitt Smith, Kevin Muskat, Partner of Transaction Advisory Services at EY, shares how to score big on Diversity initiatives.

By Kevin Muskat, Partner and Southwest Region Black Professional Network Sponsor, EY

On Oct. 11, we celebrated our EY Black Professional Network (BPN), and all I have to say is wow. Thank you so much to this diverse group of 350 people from across EY and the Dallas community who showed up to support this organization. From listening to NFL legend Emmitt Smith, to being able to hear from our extended BPN team members that are truly building a better working world – it was an inspiring and fun night.

Throughout the evening we spoke with our leaders to learn what diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) means to them, why diversity is so vital to business success, and how differences can truly become our biggest strengths (you can check out a few of those videos here, here and here).

However – one question I continue to get through my five years of leadership with this organization is how and why I became the partner sponsor of EY's BPN Network.

And this question likely comes as no surprise, you probably asked it yourself. What role can I, a white man, play in leading an organization focused on connecting our community of black professionals at EY?

But I challenge that this should be a question at all.

In a recent EY survey of more than 1,000 full-time US American workers, we found that nearly half of respondents think white men are currently excluded from diversity programs and initiatives, and over one third (35 percent) think the increased focus on diversity in the workplace has overlooked getting more white men involved in D&I programs.

In order to truly create a diverse and inclusive culture of belonging, everyone has to play an active role in D&I. That means more white men, like myself, need to be held accountable for being actively involved in D&I programs and initiatives.

It should not be a question as to why I am involved, but as to why others aren't involved.

Research has shown a direct correlation between the sponsorship and mentorship of minorities and the number of minorities in leadership positions. At EY, equitable sponsorship is an integral part of our journey towards building a truly inclusive culture. One of our main efforts across the globe is to educate our people on the importance of sponsorship — helping men and women recognize its value and ways to obtain it.

Professional networks, such as our BPN, provide optimal opportunities for us as leaders to connect with and sponsor our people. Today, it is up to us as leaders, colleagues and team members to create an environment where all of our people feel – and are – valued. This is a place where they have a network that shows empathy and is supportive of them both personally and professionally, and makes them feel genuinely connected.

Creating this strong sense of culture not only betters you as a person, but can lead to better collaboration, retention and business performance. Multiple studies have shown that the highest performing teams are made up of diverse and inclusive groups of committed, passionate people brought together by a shared mission and deeply invested in each other's success.

My final point is I am involved in BPN because I want a better working world for my children and those who that will follow me at EY, and I know the only way to impart true change is to get involved and sponsor those who provide the diverse and unique perspectives that will better our firm and myself as an individual.

Being a part of the BPN network has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity and for the acceptance of the group. As I reflect back on my experiences with this organization, it seems to be more of a calling, as the role fits me well and has taught me to be a better, more empathetic leader and person. To others, I would say by not being involved in D&I organizations you are missing out on an opportunity to truly grow as a leader, professional and person.

My call to action: Get out there. Join a program or professional network you might not have previously considered. Reach out and sponsor someone who has potential. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Because when our differences become our strengths, there is no stopping the change we can create.

Accenture's Julieta Collart Shares Her Journey From Architecture Design in Honduras to STEM in America

"Anyone can reinvent themselves to find a role in this growing industry, especially as technology touches more and more of our daily lives," says Collart, the Technology Research Associate Principal at Accenture.

Julieta Collart is the Technology Research Associate Principal at Accenture Labs in San Francisco with over 10 years of experience as a systems thinker, entrepreneur and human-centered business designer.

She was born in Honduras and received her undergraduate degree in architecture and owned her own architecture design firm. After deciding to make a career change, she received her MBA from California College of the Arts in design thinking and used her two degrees to work for the San Francisco's Mayor Office of Civic innovation.

Julieta joined Accenture 1 year ago in San Francisco, where she focuses on applying Strategic Foresight to uncover opportunities and discovers the technology trends of the future. Her passion is to find creative ways to solve problems, and using new technologies to shape the future.

Julieta is an expert as a systems thinker and well-versed in emerging technology. Her passion for technology also expands to non-profit work, where she frequently volunteers for Girls Who Code- to promote women in the STEM fields in all stages of life. She also works with Accenture Labs Technology Vision team exploring emerging and innovative technologies to better the way the world works and lives. Locally, Julieta is a member of the Hispanic Employee Resource group.

DI: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey to the U.S. from Honduras?

I grew up in San Pedro Sula, Honduras – the country's second largest city. When it was time for college, I pursued my undergraduate degree in Architecture from Auburn University in Alabama. Afterwards, I moved back to Honduras to open my own design-build architecture firm with my husband. We practiced for about four years. It was hard work, but a lot of fun. Constant learning but also constant challenges. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good – as is usual with any new business.

The decision to move to United States permanently remains the toughest decision I've made in my life. It didn't come lightly, it wasn't easy, and it encompassed many layers of complexity.

We moved without jobs. Even finding an apartment was difficult as we didn't have recent rental history in the U.S. It took over two months to find a home. We burned through our savings and maxed out our credit cards, but we were lucky to meet amazing people – now our friends – who helped us in this transition. Finally, on the same day, my husband landed a job and my green card was approved, which meant I could now work in the U.S. There was light at the end of the tunnel and the next chapter of our lives began.

DI: What inspired you to change career paths?

After owning my business for a few years, I realized I most enjoyed interacting with people and helping solve problems. I was seeking a fast-paced environment where decisions are made quickly and where projects are constantly moving. Architecture is slow-paced. It can take months or even years to finish a single project, and I found it lacked the human interaction I was craving.

As a result, I decided to extend my education and pursue my MBA at California College of Arts in San Francisco. My program taught me how to use design thinking and human centered design to create strategies and solve problems. Human centered design, at its core, keeps people as the source for inspiration to bring services and experiences that increase a company's profits, as well as have a positive social and environmental impact.

I was hooked from the start. The program allowed me to leverage my creative and design brain to solve bigger problems that would allow me to make a greater positive difference in the world.

After my MBA, I worked for the San Francisco Office of Civic Innovation, where I analyzed societal behavioral challenges, such as littering, and designed interventions geared at nudging people's behavior towards creating a cleaner city. While there, I was introduced to Accenture through a colleague. He explained that at Accenture Labs, and with the Technology Vision team, I could leverage my background in business and skills in strategic foresight. I was intrigued and so I applied.

Cut to today and I've been at Accenture Labs for over a year, analyzing emerging technologies and trends to discover business opportunities, and creating long-term strategies that have a positive impact on businesses and society.

DI: Did you have any mentors or sponsors to help guide you along the way?

I have been influenced by many people in my life, the first being my family.

My mom taught me how to use reason, ethics and to always have respect for others. My father taught me to love nature, how to handle snakes and frogs, how to use power tools and drive a tractor. He never treated me differently because of my gender. My grandfather, who grew up in extreme poverty in Honduras, taught me that through hard work, education and ambition, anything is possible. He became a doctor, graduating top of his class in Mexico (and was always an extreme and proud penny-pincher).

In addition to my parents and grandfather, my husband has been my constant support. He is always rooting for me and my career. He helps makes sure our responsibilities at home are split equally so I don't feel overwhelmed by work/life responsibilities.

I have also learned from my colleagues, professors, friends and others I have met along the way who I lean on for advice and guidance. Stephanie Knabe, whom I met during my MBA, is my closest friend and mentor. We lean on each other to work through professional and personal situations together. Her support has been incredibly valuable in my career shift and growth.

The importance of a mentor cannot be understated. You need them in your career. At Accenture, every person has what we call a "career counselor" who is there to help guide you in your professional journey. My career counselor has helped me navigate my career and encourages me to bring my authentic-self to work.

If you are looking to find a mentor or sponsor and grow your network, join something like an Employee Resource Group (ERG). It's a great place to start. I am a member of Accenture's Hispanic ERG, which allows me to grow my personal network within the company and provides opportunities for me to mentor younger employees while celebrating my culture and giving back to the community. My local ERG chapter hosts networking events, celebrates holidays and sparks meaningful conversation surrounding both the successes and challenges that face its members.

DI: What's the best way for someone to get into tech who has a non-technical background?

There are many different sides to technology. It's important to understand that you can be in this field regardless of your educational background. Anyone can reinvent themselves to find a role in this growing industry, especially as technology touches more and more of our daily lives. To transition, find someone that can help you master the language (technology is a language!) and help you translate the skills you already have, but might not realize relate. For example, I no longer call myself a 'designer,' as I would have during my Architecture career. I now apply 'design-thinking'. I'm not an 'architect' – I'm a 'systems thinker.' Technology is a part of every industry, and every skill set can be utilized. Creativity is a huge part of being successful in this field.

DI: With programs such as Women in Tech and Girls Who Code, there's been an increase in women breaking through a male-dominated industry. But still, women only account for 26 percent of the computing industry, and Hispanic women account for an extremely low one percent. What do you think can help increase the number of Latinas in tech?

This answer is two-fold. One, companies and organizations must engage underrepresented populations at a young age and help them access STEM programs. This will enable younger generations to familiarize themselves with these subjects and better envision a role for themselves in the field.

Two, we must educate parents on the benefits of investing in their children through STEM programs. If parents understand the truly endless possibilities of a career in technology for their children, they will be more likely to inspire and enroll them. At Accenture, I volunteered my time with Girls Who Code to encourage young women to get involved in STEM. My aim was to make tech fun, and I shared my experience to help mentor young girls and build their confidence. I especially loved being a role model to young Latina women, showing them first-hand that they can achieve a successful career in technology.

Engaging underrepresented populations is key. It is so important to emphasize that diversity makes for better teams. Studies show that diverse teams create more innovative solutions – the diversity of thoughts, backgrounds and experiences lead to more inventive outcomes. My hope is that young Latina women embrace their heritage, culture and traditions as positive differentiators in the workplace.

Reaching Your Full Ability with a Disability

Comcast's Fred Maahs talks access to the boardroom.

By Frank Kineavy

Fred Maahs started his corporate career 36 years ago while working his way through college – just two years after a diving accident left him partially paralyzed.

Read More Show Less

Videos: Pros and Cons of Unconscious Bias Training Explored at DiversityInc’s Annual Event

Panel discussions featured executives from top Fortune 500 companies as well as academics.

Executives from across the country attended DiversityInc's fall 2018 event in Newark, N.J. on Tuesday to learn and exchange ideas on how unconscious bias training can be most effective.

Panel discussions featured executives from top Fortune 500 companies as well as academics who will discussed how unconscious bias training has evolved within their organization.

Speakers shared personal anecdotes and experiences with workplace bias and micro aggressions, key takeaways and tangible ways companies can disrupt bias as it occurs.

View videos of from following panel sessions:

Advances in and Limitations of Unconscious Bias Training

Interrupting Bias in the Recruitment Process

Testimonials About Unconscious Bias Training

Disability Inclusion: A Competitive Advantage

Unconscious Bias Training Isn't the Silver Bullet, What's Next?

Inspiring Words of Wisdom for Latina Women and Immigrants

"Take advantage of the excellent resources and tools available to you," says Corporate Finance Manager, Elsa Carballo

Produced by: Alana Winns
Videography by: Christian Carew


Career Advice on Handling Unconscious Bias

Executives from TD Bank and Monsanto collaborate to help us understand what unconscious bias is, how and why it exists, and how to address it from both an individual and organizational standpoint. The webinar concludes with almost 20 minutes of Q&A.


How Executive Diversity Councils Yield Talent Results

Sodexo's Rolddy Leyva, VP, Global Diversity & Inclusion, talks about how his company's Diversity Leadership Council sets strategic priorities & performance expectations for D&I at the U.S. regional level and drives accountability for progress.


The Differences Between Mentoring and Sponsorship

Randy Cobb, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Southern Company and Matthew Hanzlik, Program Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Nielsen talk about the differences between mentoring and sponsoring and give insights into how their companies leverage each.