"What happens in Vegas ends up on YouTube.” This was one of many memorable quotes from Nzinga Shaw at the Scheller College of Business “Creating Impact and Driving Growth through Diversity and Inclusion” discussion.
Shaw, senior vice president of community and chief diversity and inclusion officer of the Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena, shared her journey from human resources and crisis management to diversity and inclusion leadership -- a journey she created for herself and trailblazed for many to come.
Scheller College Dean Maryam Alavi welcomed attendees to the event and prior to introducing Shaw noted the importance of diversity and inclusion to Scheller College’s success. “Diversity and inclusion are not only key elements of our strategy here at Scheller, but they are also key elements of the world-class education we provide,” she said.
In her introduction, Alavi highlighted Shaw’s impressive career including her pioneering role at the Hawks – the first such role in the 30-team National Basketball Association (NBA).
Shaw (center) poses with Alavi (l) and Scheller
College of Business doctoral student Dionne
Nickerson (r) and Full-time MBA student Kiera
Patterson (front). Nickerson and Patterson are
Georgia Tech Diversity and Inclusion Fellows.
Shaw captivated the audience with the stories of her time at the NFL, Edelman, and in her current role. There were knowing nods as she recalled how Pepsi turned down an all-white, all-male pitch team from the NFL for their lack of diversity, and gasps as she explained how a holiday décor contest turned into a collection of shocking displays that relied on offensive stereotypes for LGBTQ and employees of color in the office. While these instances were glaring examples of insensitivity and exclusion, Shaw acknowledged that most of the progress in diversity and inclusion comes in smaller spurts. “Diversity and inclusion is a slow journey. Sometimes it takes small discussions and conversations to spark action over time.”
Shaw’s aforementioned Las Vegas comment emphasized the changing expectations for corporations when it comes to monitoring their work environments and responding appropriately when bad behavior comes to light. “When confronted with a crisis or major issue, transparency is the best thing.”
After her discussion, attendees reflected on Shaw’s advice for managing crises and promoting diversity and inclusion within their own organizations. She left the audience with three simple recommendations to making their own positive mark within their communities: “Be dialed into social issues, be fearless, and be sure your work is rooted in goodness.”