As we continue our celebration of diversity, equality and notable achievements, Team Somos wants to revisit a particularly influential moment for Somos’ President and CEO, Gina Perini. As we learned from William Carter in Learning to Own It – The Power of Diversity and Being your Authentic Self, to drive change on a corporate level, it’s critical that we have a broader perspective. Gina recognized this firsthand when she was extended an invitation to an event that was the perfect meeting of like minds on the power – and importance – of diversity.
When Gina Perini was invited to attend the 2019 CEO GameChanger Conference with fellow Somos Board of Director member Howard Woolley, President & CEO, Howard Woolley Group LLC, last fall, she was both flattered and a little surprised. The event, which was hosted by the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), a non-profit organization committed to increasing the number of Black executives, was held to provide a “catalyst for equipping organizations with disruptive strategies to advance Black leaders.” As a non-Black leader, Gina questioned her sphere of influence at the conference. It was moving words from Howard; however, that convinced her that she had an important message on diversity to share:
Gina – Take a look at your Board of Directors. It’s not just a group of executives; it’s a team that mirrors the face of the communities and customers it serves. The level of diversity it demonstrates is both exciting and inspiring.
The key to the Board of Director’s diversity is that it wasn’t built based on race, gender, age, etc. – it was built by engaging the best and brightest strategic leaders, regardless of background. As Howard mentioned, the goal in building Somos’ Board was to make it reflect our customers: a diverse group of professionals that bring a wide range of viewpoints to the table. Specifically, we wanted top executives that inspired and empowered employees and the company alike to always bring the best, regardless of background or skillset.
Just like the ELC challenges organizations to make intentional and substantive progress towards shifting the diversity paradigm, Somos too embraces the philosophy that diversity is essential to fuel growth, innovation and creativity. More so, diversity is a powerful concept that is deeply ingrained in corporate culture and a key strategic asset that touches everyone in the organization.
As Howard, Gina and the rest of the Somos Board of Directors continue to drive the future of the Toll-Free industry, rethinking what it means to be a leader will be a key strategic initiative. This includes leveraging disruptive strategies that employ change and diversity, while promoting advocacy and education from the top-down and right back up again.