Mount St. Joseph University

Reflection on Leadership

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Garrett Bascom

Creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment. This was the main idea discussed by keynote speaker John Lechleiter, CEO of Eli Lilly and Company, and the other panelists at the Duffey Conway Ethical Leadership series in October.

This theme should not be unfamiliar to the Mount community, as we have added a Diversity & Inclusion Officer to our community, and have promoted many diversification initiatives. The importance of this topic reaches far beyond just our university.

The discussion was focused on first, how Eli Lilly has approached the diversification of workers and then focused on broader barriers and solution experiences of the panel. A focus on how large corporations are working to find solutions to societal problems is rare in our society.

Corporations are often vilified and criticized by the public about how they treat their workers, but we saw a different vision from this program. We heard about the substantive work that was being done to ensure that all members of the diverse Eli Lilly family were being heard at all levels of the company. Eli Lilly Company organizes advocacy groups within the company where diverse peoples can feel free to discuss what they feel is lacking from policies.

Lechleiter said there are even more benefits that a company can receive when their internal organization reflects their workers and customers. This reflection helps to ensure that the products and services the company is providing are best suited to fit the needs of the customers.  While diversity and inclusion should be the goal for an organization simply because that makes sense for the common good, this boost for the bottom line is an added benefit to drive this initiative.

The event progressed with questions and answers by members of the audience. Questions turned the discussion to the makeup of the boardroom in the corporate environment. Although the majority of corporate boards are still homogenous, there is growth in diversity. It was mentioned that the makeup of the board could have an effect on what is provided to the customers.

The audience for this program included members of the community from all areas, from students and professors, to business leaders. This discussion was relevant for a room full of these stakeholders. It is the hope that business leaders take this concept and implement it in their companies. It is the hope that these issues are discussed at the university level, so that when students enter the workforce, they have been primed with success stories and the reasons to implement solutions into their future careers. Overall, it was a timely and relevant discussion for the community.

I know that after attending this program it has given me hope that companies in the world are working towards a more diverse world. This will have a direct impact on us as we are entering the workplace. As more of us enter diverse fields, we can be assured, with these efforts, that we will have opportunities based on our job skills and the unique experiences that we have, instead of our race or ethnicity.