Growing up the youngest of eight children, one of the things you learn early on is to identify your greatest gifts, In order to know who you are and where you fit in. I spent my formative years with mentors in my parents and siblings. As an adult I have realized that two of those role models have become my heroes: my parents.
There are three values my parents taught my siblings and me: Be of service to others, be teachable, and be able to laugh at yourself. To live these values I need to authentically be who I am. I think that’s a right everyone should have. Accordingly, much of my life has focused on confronting bias and prejudice, and in the process, fostering inclusion.
I have been fortunate to connect my personal passions with my career at Deloitte, and be able to have my voice be heard from a leadership position as the managing principal at the recently launched Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion. In that role, I am currently collaborating with NYU School of Law Professor Kenji Yoshino to identify and help reduce the practice of “covering” at work, which occurs when individuals downplay their authentic selves as a way to better blend and be accepted based on what is perceived by the individual to be the prevailing norm.
At times I have covered one aspect or another of my life, and my potential impact suffered as a consequence. I’ve realized that making this mistake too many times is not beneficial for me, my team, or my clients. I’ve found that when I am able to bring my authentic self to any situation, I am better able to serve others, learn, and contribute to solutions. It requires a level of fearlessness to bring your authentic self to work, but when you do everyone benefits.
Among our core values at Deloitte is strength from diversity. We celebrate and benefit from different perspectives that lead to more productive team decisions as well as greater value and better counsel for our clients. I am proud to work for an organization that hires people for who they are, rather than for who they are not, and seeks to uncover talent by encouraging colleagues to be their whole selves in the workplace.
What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?
Never forget that you are in the service of others. If we ever become so enamored of ourselves and our own importance that we forget our reason for being, we limit our contribution and fail our clients.
We need to listen and comprehend our client’s needs and aspirations. A diverse team of professionals benefits from different perspectives and the opportunity to relate to clients that are also becoming increasingly diverse.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Never lose your authentic self, be fearless, and never compromise who you are, your values, or your passion. This is as true for men as for women, but is especially relevant for those who may face artificial barriers in the workplace.
I’d also recommend using mentors and seeking sponsors who can advocate on your behalf and help you navigate the path toward leadership and opportunity. Once you reach a leadership position, be a role model for others and a champion for an inclusive culture.