By The Winters Group

Racial Justice at Work: Practical Solutions for Systemic Change by Mary-Frances Winters
Mary-Frances Winters, Founder and CEO of The Winters Group.
Mary-Frances Winters and Mareisha N. Reese
Mary-Frances Winters and Mareisha N. Reese, President and COO of The Winters Group.

Founder and CEO Mary-Frances Winters and President and COO Mareisha N. Reese of The Winters Group, Inc., commend Jim Rector and the team from Profiles in Diversity Journal® on 25 years of advancing the conversation on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice! It is thanks to the support of Profiles in Diversity Journal that businesses such as The Winters Group can thrive in bringing culture change to organizations around the world. Says Winters: “I have known Jim since the launch of the Profiles in Diversity Journal and have been inspired by his commitment and passion.”

Celebrating Milestones

Mary-Frances Winters also celebrates four decades at the helm of The Winters Group, Inc., a global diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice consulting firm that she started out of her basement in Rochester, New York, in 1984, long before it was commonplace for women to start their own businesses. Only 3% of Black women-owned businesses survive longer than five years, according to J.P. Morgan Wealth Management, and those that do rarely reach multimillion-dollar status. According to data from the Small Business Credit Survey, 63% of Black-owned businesses have revenues of $100,000 or less and only 3% report revenues of $5 million or above. Today, Winters’ firm partners with a broad range of clients including Activision Blizzard, Brookings, Harvard, and the Walt Disney Company, organizations that she helped shape and influence through her thought leadership in the DEIJ space.

A Look Back

Mary-Frances Winters
Mary-Frances Winters speaking at The Forum on Workplace Inclusion.

As Winters wrote in Profiles in Diversity Journal in 2007, “We either learn mutual respect and appreciation, how to share power and collaborate, or we will suffer what could be dire consequences.” This wisdom dates back to Winters beginning her career in human resources and affirmative action. She was one of four employees selected for an executive MBA program, after which she moved on to co-lead the first competitive intelligence unit at Eastman Kodak. Driven by her experiences as a Black woman navigating corporate environments that were sometimes hostile to her intersecting identities, Winters started her own consulting firm. Early clients included Fortune 500 companies such as Eastman Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch + Lomb. Winters was the youngest person and the first African American female named to the Board of Trustees at the University of Rochester at the age of 36. Winters’ other achievements include receiving the Avon Women of Enterprise Award; The Hutchinson Medal—the highest alumni award from the University of Rochester; the Athena Award from the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce; and the March of Dimes Mother of the Year Award for the outstanding achievements of her children: Joseph, a graduate of Harvard, Duke, and Princeton; and Mareisha with degrees in computer science from Spelman College, electrical engineering from Georgia Tech, and dual master’s degrees in business administration and information systems from the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business. Sadly, her husband Joe, who was a staunch supporter of The Winters Group, died at age 47 of a heart attack when her children were just 18 and 20 years old.

Focused on the Future

The author of seven books on inclusive leadership, including We Can’t Talk About That at Work! and Inclusive Conversations, Winters is ensuring her legacy by lifting up the next generation of thought leaders on culture change and equity and justice. In her latest book, Racial Justice at Work: Practical Solutions for Systemic Change published in 2023, Winters chose to amplify the voices and stories of 12 up-and-coming leaders in DEIJ who will all carry on the work of transforming organizations and creating a more equitable and just world. In 2024, she will celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Winters Group and also release the second edition of We Can’t Talk About That at Work!, which she is co-writing with daughter Mareisha N. Reese.

About The Winters Group

The Winters Group, Inc., is a Black women-owned DEIJ global consulting firm. For nearly four decades, The Winters Group has unapologetically challenged systems of oppression and pushed the boundaries of what it means to be inclusive. The company has unflinchingly guided hundreds of companies and organizations to reject the status quo, interrogate inequities, and dismantle unjust systems. The Winters Group relentlessly shepherds a new era of bold, fearless leadership that centers the experiences of the marginalized to create justice for all. For more information, visit