“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being invited to dance,” Beatriz Rodriguez shared this known quote at Scheller College of Business’s Impact Speaker Series.
As chief diversity officer at The Home Depot, Rodriguez is responsible for developing strategies to accomplish both of goals internally, with suppliers, and in the community. “The easiest part is diversity -- getting diverse people to come to work together. The harder part is making sure they feel as valuable as everyone else.”
‘The Power of YOU’ is a tool the Home Depot uses to encourage all of its associates to embrace inclusion by how they treat each other. Diversity and inclusion are important for Home Depot from a business perspective as well, ensuring that they understand their customers’ diverse needs. To this end, she shared facts on diverse consumers: 41% of DIY customers are women; 37% of Asian-Americans’ spending is towards home improvement; and by 2020, 50% of new home buyers will be Hispanic. These statistics reflect the need to include these customers in the organization’s people, processes, vendors, and surrounding community.
Rodriguez shared that she is hopeful about new, diversity-and-inclusion-minded generations entering the workforce. She shared with students, “You have such a clear antenna about inclusion; you are very aware, very welcoming, and very accepting.” She shared that not all generations have this level of understanding on how to embrace diversity and inclusion. She also shared her own personal example – being a Puerto Rican in the United States and of having to assimilate to fit in. “I had to conform to the rules of the majority in the room.”
She also charged the audience to be open to listening and learning from those with experience. Rodriguez emphasized the importance for students to successfully make the transition from the college environment to the unwritten norms of the business environment: “You need a mentor to help navigate this.” But, she encouraged students to bring their enthusiasm and willingness to change the status quo into their future workplaces.
Organized by the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ILE) at Scheller College of Business, Impact is a weekly series that brings successful leaders from the corporate and nonprofit sectors, as well as innovative entrepreneurs, to campus for an authentic discourse with students and staff.
Events for the series take place every Wednesday at Scheller College in room 200, at 4:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted. The series is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.
Watch past recordings on the ILE YouTube channel.