NAACP’s Roslyn Brock ’99: Lessons on Diversity
Roslyn Brock ’99 is the youngest person in history to be named a Chairman of the NAACP. She’s also the first female Chairman.
You won’t catch Brock resting on her laurels, though. Instead, she is focused on the work still ahead. “More than fifty years after the modern civil rights movement, race still matters in this country,” Brock said.
During the recent inaugural Kellogg Chief Diversity Officer Summit, EMBA alumna Brock shared her perspective on the state of diversity in the United States today. Here are some of the highlights.
Affirmation of others
Brock started with a reminder to all attendees: Thank everyone you meet, use their name and look them in the eye, especially those who are serving you.
“I see you. That’s what diversity and inclusion are all about,” Brock said as she illustrated her point with sign language. “Not only do I see you, but I affirm who you are because I acknowledge you for who you are and the gift that you bring.”
Confront your biases
“We all have unconscious bias, don’t we? The goal is to have courageous conversations about how we harbor & hold these biases,” Brock said.
Brock explained that while we all have biases, being able to openly discuss them is the first step in confronting them. Being conscious of your biases makes they are less likely to weigh into important decisions, which could determine an individuals’ trajectory in the workplace and beyond.
Create a culture of inclusion
Brock noted that the statistics around the economic drivers of inequality are still appalling. But diversity officers shouldn’t see it as a hurdle, but rather, data that can fuel progress.
Create a value proposition for diversity and inclusion that goes beyond black or white, she explained. Welcoming diversity of thought and ideas is often the first step in encouraging a culture of inclusion.
Brock closed by urging attendees, all high-ranking diversity executives, to continue their important work.
“There is still much more work to be done. And that’s what makes the work that you do so important to the future of this nation. I would dare say that your positions as chief diversity officers are one of the most pivotal roles of any organization.”