Julie sweet

Ac­cen­ture Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer - North Amer­ica

Forbes - - PROMOTION -

“i de­cided that when i had the op­por­tu­nity to lead, i would make it dif­fer­ent for the women that came af­ter me. now i think in broader terms, across all as­pects of di­ver­sity.”

Skip Spriggs: elC is at a real in­flec­tion point around gen­er­a­tional change. Julie, you are in­te­gral in help­ing us make the tran­si­tion. What in your back­ground would you say in­flu­enced your view on di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion?

Julie Sweet: I come from a mod­est back­ground, but my par­ents re­ally be­lieved in the Amer­i­can dream of ed­u­ca­tion and hard work. I al­ways be­lieved in a sense of fair­ness and ev­ery­one hav­ing an equal op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed, but I didn’t al­ways know what that meant, even for me.

When I was first work­ing, as a young lawyer, I be­came more self-aware, start­ing with an un­con­scious bias train­ing course. I de­cided that when I had the op­por­tu­nity to lead, I would make it dif­fer­ent for the women that came af­ter me. Now I think in broader terms, across all as­pects of di­ver­sity.

SS: How do you en­gage your lead­er­ship team to be­lieve as you do that d&i drives busi­ness re­sults?

JS: We don’t spend any time to­day mak­ing that gen­eral case, be­cause we be­lieve it and we’re trans­par­ent about it. We re­port our U.S. de­mo­graph­ics ex­ter­nally — to­tal head­count and a break­out of the ex­ec­u­tive level. In­ter­nally we set goals by busi­ness unit and re­gion.

SS: do you al­low op­por­tu­ni­ties for your em­ploy­ees to dis­cuss what’s go­ing on out­side the work­place, like Char­lottesville?

JS: Those events do af­fect how our peo­ple are feel­ing, and we want to be a work­place where we can have re­spect­ful con­ver­sa­tions around those is­sues. We don’t have for­mal fo­rums that ex­ist at all times. We use what we call our “Build­ing Bridges,” which are can­did con­ver­sa­tions with the goal of con­tribut­ing to a broader un­der­stand­ing. Those hap­pen wher­ever and when­ever they’re needed.

For ex­am­ple, we’ve been en­cour­ag­ing em­ploy­ees who don’t iden­tify with a par­tic­u­lar Em­ployee Re­source Group to join as al­lies and spon­sors. I now have the na­tional lead­ers of our ERGs talk to my lead­er­ship team on a ro­ta­tional ba­sis, so we’re in touch with their is­sues. And I hold we­b­casts for ERG lead­ers to ed­u­cate my man­ag­ing di­rec­tors on what’s go­ing on. These tools — not one spe­cific an­swer — are prov­ing very im­pact­ful.

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