Learning to Own It – The Power of Diversity and Being your Authentic Self

Thu, 05/10/2018

“Own it.”

Two small words, one powerful message.  In a recent presentation to Ericsson’s African American Alliance, Somos’ Chief Operating Officer (COO) William Carter challenged the audience to be courageously responsible with how they approach both work and life.  Included in this is being brave and embracing who you are and how your diverse background can contribute to the greater organization.  As Carter pointed out, diversity is a powerful concept that is all too often undervalued within organizations. 

So what can we do to promote diversity within our organization?  One important thing you can do is always be your authentic self and realize that there’s no limit to what you can accomplish. One way Carter exemplified this was to draw from his own past.  His parents, as survivors of the harsh Jim Crow era in the Deep South, were not afforded the opportunities others may have had.  His father, although forced to drop-out of middle school, always knew that he was not meant to be an passerby and instead of accepting what was given to him, worked tirelessly to build himself a successful and fruitful career in the automotive industry.    

Working hard and being driven; however, are but a small part of being courageous and owning it.  A large part of driving change and organizational success is to be the best you you can be.  As Carter noted, “You can’t be successful when you’re being someone else.”  But what exactly does this mean?  It means having a plan and challenging yourself to be a thought leader and shift the paradigm.  Similarly, it means not just sitting still and waiting for permission to be yourself. Instead of making excuses, consider yourself a valued member of the team and challenge yourself to make that team better.  OWN what was given to you – focus on life’s opportunities and always finish what you started.

A large part of changing the trajectory on a corporate level, Carter noted, is to recognize the power of diversity.  Surveys show and data supports that diverse teams improve a company by fostering creativity and innovation.  When we invest in our corporate culture and diversify our workforce, we are not only more successful; we’re more profitable.  Diversity should never be an after-thought – it should be a key strategic initiative that should NOT be overlooked.

Throughout his longstanding career, William Carter has both challenged adversity and embraced diversity.  He specifically cited how inspired he has been in his most recent role at Somos and how proud he is to be a part of an organization that so deeply recognizes the importance of a diverse workforce. He truly values how much Somos prioritizes encouraging team members to introduce new ideas and inspire others to be their most authentic selves and to promote diversity each and every day of the year.