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

By Phil Chan

Phil Chan taking a photo of Emily Adams and Hadriel Diniz, principal dancers with Ballet West
Phil Chan taking a photo of Emily Adams and Hadriel Diniz, principal dancers with Ballet West. Photo credit: Jati Lindsay.

After the horrific shooting in Atlanta in 2021 that claimed the lives of six Asian women, it felt like the entire dance community turned to my co-founder Georgina Pazcoguin and I for leadership. What’s the hashtag? What’s the action item? This is not a role we expected to play when we founded Final Bow for Yellowface, which since 2017 has helped eliminate Asian caricatures on the global ballet stage. But looking around at the rest of the landscape, we realized we were “The Asians”— and woefully unprepared to deal with the largest needs of a confused, angry, and grieving community.

In response, we gathered AAPI leaders across the dance field and built up a Board of Directors for the Gold Standard Arts Foundation, a service organization dedicated to supporting AAPI creatives in the field. Our mission includes providing professional development and networking opportunities, data collection, and advocacy.

While many ballet companies continued to present Orientalist depictions in their repertory, we challenged them to commission actual Asian choreographers. The fruits of this work will be on display at ballet companies around the country, culminating in the 10,000 Dreams festival at the Kennedy Center in June 2024, which brings together four major American ballet companies to present a week of AAPI choreography.

In many ways, our work is still in its infancy. If you’re interested in learning more about us or joining our cause, please visit us at

Phil Chan

Phil Chan

Phil Chan is a co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface and the President of the Gold Standard Arts Foundation. He is currently a fellow at the Harvard University, Drexel University, the Institut National d’histoire de l’art in France, Dance/USA, and Jacob’s Pillow. He is a graduate of Carleton College and an alumnus of The Ailey School, and was just named a “Next 50” Arts Leader by the Kennedy Center.

He is the author of two books, “Final Bow for Yellowface: Dancing between Intention and Impact,” and “Banishing Orientalism,” and as a writer has served as the executive editor for FLATT Magazine and contributed to Dance Europe Magazine, Dance Magazine, Dance Business Weekly, and the Huffington Post. Upcoming projects include directing “Madama Butterfly” for Boston Lyric Opera in September 2023, staging a reimagined “La Bayadere” for Indiana University in March 2024, as well as producing ballet festivals at the Northrop and the Kennedy Center highlighting AAPI choreography.

By Rohini Anand

Online video meeting of multinational work team

The relationship between Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Human Resources (HR) teams can be fraught. This is in part because the role of DEI is to highlight challenges and gaps in the talent life cycle. HR can view this as DEI agents criticizing their work without a complete understanding of HRs priorities and workload. My HR colleagues share that while DEI exposes HR’s shortcomings, DEI is often the team that gets credit for any improvements.

Meanwhile, it is not uncommon for a DEI team to experience HR as being resistant and indifferent to DEI values and objectives – something that can be intensely frustrating for DEI practitioners who have a sense of urgency and vision for their organization.

Whether DEI is positioned within a larger HR Department, or forms a separate department, these tensions can block sustainable DEI progress. So, what can DEI professionals do to build more positive, collaborative and ultimately successful partnerships with HR? And what can HR do to ensure that they support DEI?

DEI teams need to:

Be Aware of HR’s Workload

Familiarize yourself with HR’s deliverables as a department. Is there synergy or are the DEI team and HR getting mixed messages about what their priorities should be? Are your DEI suggestions creating more work for an already overstretched team?

When I was the Global Chief DEI Officer at Sodexo, one of our objectives was to hold review panels for each posted job in the U.S. But we had 5,000 job postings a year and for HR this was an unrealistic addition to their workload. We worked together to come up with a solution: Instead of a blanket policy we targeted mission critical roles with the greatest challenges in diversity recruitment.

Instead of blaming one another for adding more work, or being resistant, we joined forces to tackle the problem creatively. I found that it was essential to listen to my HR colleagues, respect their workload, brainstorm creative solutions together and work to realistic timelines.

Get Buy-in from HR Leadership

Supportive HR leadership can make all the difference in implementing a DEI strategy – but unfortunately not all HR leaders have had the opportunity or exposure needed to develop a commitment to DEI. In my book, Leading Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I talk in detail about a variety of “head” and “heart” strategies that can be used to bring unaware or resistant leaders along.

One of the first steps is to assess your HR leader – where are they in their DEI journey? What are the potential entry points, and what might shift them? Secondly, look for opportunities to invite them to step outside of their comfort zone – either through listening to others’ experiences, appealing to their pragmatic side or tapping into their natural empathy.

In one organization, the White female Chief People Officer was focused on advancing women, but she hadn’t yet thought about intersectionality and the impact of racism on women of color. I invited her to a multicultural women’s conference. As the participants shared their experiences and perspectives, she began to see her own unearned privilege, and to realize that White women are not easily trusted by many women of color. This was a tipping point for her, and she ultimately became a strong ally.

Share the Limelight and the Credit

Often a lot of the implementation is done by HR but it is DEI that gets the recognition. It is essential that we share the limelight and credit with our HR colleagues, remembering that we need DEI champions throughout the organization – DEI is not “owned” by the DEI team.

At Sodexo, we had a mentoring initiative managed by my team, but in reality, HR was critical to identifying the mentors and mentees and to the implementation. The DEI team and I were very careful to always share the credit and position the initiative as a joint project. Not only did that give recognition where it was due, but it also helped to build a sense of positive ownership within HR, making them more open to further collaborations.

Remember that DEI is more than HR

Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, we are not able to bring leaders along. I worked with one HR leader who blocked DEI initiatives at every turn. It was frustrating, but I needed to find workarounds, and build other alliances wherever I could.

This reminded me that whether DEI reports to HR, to the CEO or elsewhere, DEI is not “just an HR issue.” HR is responsible for the talent life cycle, but for sustainable change, DEI must permeate the organization. We need to position DEI to be central to the business and the brand and build alliances outside of HR. At Sodexo, as we increased our visibility as a DEI thought leader, it attracted not only more diverse talent, but also new clients. Our DEI team touched over $1 billion in business and brought in more allies – within HR and elsewhere – who wanted to be a part of the journey.

HR leaders can also take steps to champion DEI and this takes curiosity, courage and commitment:


HR leaders should take responsibility for their own learning by seeking out disruptive experiences, reading, and having conversations about challenging topics. Mentoring, and engagement with employee resource groups are excellent opportunities to grow.


Inclusive HR leaders are willing to assess their own biases and make themselves vulnerable. This isn’t easy, but role modeling goes a long way to creating an open, inclusive organizational culture.


Commitment requires intentionality and accountability. HR leaders should hold themselves and their teams accountable for integrating DEI into the talent life cycle. For example, ensure that recruiters’ incentives are in part linked to sourcing diverse talent and the diversity of candidate slates. Require that search firms present you with diverse candidate slates.

Be intentional about embedding DEI in your talent life cycle. Are you incorporating inclusive leadership competencies into all your leadership development? Are you ensuring that underrepresented talent has access to development opportunities including high profile projects? In succession planning discussions, are you pushing for increased underrepresented talent as successors? Are you challenging biased comments and objecting when, for example, someone says, “She cannot take an international assignment because she has little children?”

Examine your talent processes and eliminate bias. Regularly conduct pay equity analysis and address any gaps. Conduct adverse impact analysis to spot and address bias in your recruiting process. Include DEI in your leadership meetings and on your meeting agendas and ensure that you are looking for ways to intentionally partner with DEI, to showcase DEI and give the DEI teams credit.

There are a lot of structural issues that can make the DEI – HR working relationship challenging. It is important that we resist personalizing the conflict, and instead look together at the root causes of tension and how they can be addressed. When HR and DEI are able to truly collaborate, it can become a transformative synergistic relationship that – leads an organization to lasting change.

Rohini Anand

Rohini Anand

Rohini Anand is a pioneer of DEI, an author, and Senior Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisor, Rohini Anand LLC. She also serves as a senior fellow for The Conference Board, a global non-profit think tank. She previously served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Global Chief Diversity officer for Sodexo.

Title: 2024-25 International Affairs Fellowship Programs
Agency: Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations is seeking applicants for its 2024-25 International Affairs Fellowship programs. These six programs enable U.S. citizens who are mid-career professionals with a demonstrated interest in foreign policy to gain experience in a new environment in the United States, Canada, Europe, Indonesia, or Japan, or at an international organization. Applicants with a background in technology are encouraged to apply. Selected fellows broaden their perspective on foreign affairs either by working in a policymaking setting or by conducting research in an academic environment. Applications are open through October 31, 2023, for all six fellowships. Visit for more information or to hear from past fellows.

Application Deadline

Applications are open through October 31, 2023, for all six fellowships.

How to Apply

Visit for more information or to hear from past fellows.

Profiles in Diversity Journal Job Board

Profiles in Diversity Journal 2023 Latino Leadership International Award

The 3rd Annual Latino Leadership Awards
PDJ Salutes our Third Class of Latino Leadership
Award Winners

For 25 years Profiles in Diversity Journal has honored outstanding individuals who have blazed new trails, welcomed challenges, mentored others, advanced diversity and inclusion in the workplace and the community, and excelled in their chosen fields. Now, PDJ is honoring Latino Leaders with our third Latino Leadership Awards.

The 40 profiles that appear in this issue recognize and celebrate the hard work and impressive achievements of these Latino Leaders. Each award recipient has also provided us with the answers to some interesting questions and an essay that will give you, our readers, a chance to get to know these multitalented, multilingual, and trailblazing individuals a little better.

Welcome to PDJ’s third annual Latino Leadership Awards.

2023 Latino Leadership Award Winners

Profiles in Diversity Journal 2023 Latino Leadership International Award Winner company logos
Profiles in Diversity Journal 2023 Diversity Leader International Award

The 15th Annual Diversity Leader Awards
PDJ Celebrates the Creativity and Commitment of this Year’s Diversity Leader Award Recipients

Every year, since PDJ began celebrating organizations and individual Diversity Leaders who are committed to taking diversity to the next level, we have been impressed and encouraged by their commitment, their intelligence, and their creativity.

The Diversity Leaders we recognize in the following pages are reaching out, locally and globally, to embrace an ever-expanding variety of employees, vendors, clients, and communities. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are central to everything they do. For many, who at one time or another have felt excluded or ignored because they belonged to a particular gender, or ethnic or cultural group, making diversity a reality is a personal imperative.

This year’s Award recipients are working to connect with a more diverse group of potential hires, reaching out to women- and minority-owned vendors, supporting their communities, and teaching company leaders and hiring managers to recognize and confront their own unconscious biases. Most important, they are cultivating workplaces that invite all employees to bring their authentic selves to work every day.

We invite you to get to know these extraordinary Diversity Leaders. You may discover ideas and strategies that you can use to help drive your own organization along the diversity highway. And we know you’ll be inspired by their insights, their enthusiasm, and their inspiring personal stories.

2023 Diversity Leader Award Winners

Profiles in Diversity Journal 2023 Diversity Leader International Award Winner company logos
Reggie Willis

Reggie Willis
Executive Director and Chief Diversity Officer

Ally Financial, Inc.
Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan
Industry: Financial Services
CEO: Jeffrey J. Brown

Credentials: M.B.A., Queens University; B.A., College of Holy Cross

DEI is a core value at Ally and the financial services company doesn’t hide its light. Leadership holds media interviews and meetings with other leaders within the industry and beyond to discuss opportunities to get more involved in community issues such as financial education, workforce development, equitable housing and access to technology.

The focus on DEI at this company is apparent in the numbers. The number of people of color was up 15 percent in 2022 and female representation at the executive level has remained steady because of higher retention and promotion rates. There has been more than a 50 percent growth in Employee Resource Groups (ERG), internal organizations for employees of different races, ethnicities and genders.

Everyone is encouraged to join or engage with Ally’s eight ERGs, which are conduits for action as well as listening – frequently, the ERGs host “Let’s Talk About It” sessions where employees can share their thoughts and reactions around relevant social justice, equity and inclusivity topics. The discussions are often difficult and raw, but critical in bringing the teams together and fostering a sense of belonging.

Because of difficult and uncertain economic conditions, 2023 will be the year of employee retention and being thoughtful about the approach the firm takes with existing teammates. Primarily, it will be focused on facilitating a ‘human’ approach to leadership and ensuring that the DEI team plays a big role in coaching and teaching managers.

That will also include improving mental health support and resiliency for all employees. Caring for managers and leaders allows them to continue to create an environment where their teammates feel a connection and sense of purpose.

Roshan Rajkumar

Roshan Rajkumar
Managing Partner, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair

Bowman and Brooke LLP
Headquarters: Minneapolis, MN
Industry: Law Firm
CEO: Paul Cereghini, Firm Chair

Credentials: University of Minnesota Law School, J.D.; Australian National University; M.A., Boston College, B.A.

This firm works hard to fight complacency in DEI work and sees both a lack of focus and complacency as dangerous threats to the progress of DEI. It refuses to rest. Currently, over 60 percent of its 2022 newly hired attorneys identify in at least one diverse category. Yet, it is still working hard to make sure that all lawyers and staff feel included. It keeps everyone on the same page by requiring lawyers and staff to participate in DEI training and providing opportunities to discuss race and gender.

Every attorney is held accountable through the firm’s Acts of Inclusion Checklist. The list is a smart, practical guide to help busy lawyers navigate DEI and stay on top of their goals.

The checklist requires the following: Each attorney must recognize and reject all forms of intolerance, addressing issues swiftly. They must also ask a new attorney about their career development plans and offer to help. Finally, the lead attorney should invite a diverse attorney and guest to a non-work-related event and introduce them to others. Attorneys are held accountable by formally reporting their efforts in their annual reviews.

The company also makes sure that the doors to the C-Suite are open to all lawyers. It does that through partnership planning, client succession planning and DEI evaluations for partners. The firm recognizes that their newly hired lawyers are the future. By becoming partners and being responsible for essential client relationships, women and minority attorneys will be in a position to pursue the highest-level positions in the firm as managing partners, executive managing partners and firm chair.

Satra Sampson-Arokium

Satra Sampson-Arokium
Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

Dechert LLP
Headquarters: Philadelphia, New York
Industry: Law Firm
CEO: Henry N. Nassau

Credentials: Masters of Public Administration, Marist College; B.A., State University of New York at Albany

Philosophy: In the words of author and activist Maya Angelo, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Take the time to listen and always treat people with dignity and respect.

The team had a number of accomplishments in 2022. Dechert’s Actionable Allyship and Inclusive Leadership training, which is open to all employees, educates Dechert’s staff on how to define and understand allyship, privilege and discrimination so that the firm can continue being an inclusive work environment. The firms has affinity groups that help foster numerous opportunities to members. Those groups provide mentorship and professional development opportunities to staff members. The company also holds an annual DEI week where colleagues are encouraged to celebrate and take pride in their identities.

Going forward, the retention of diverse associates is a high priority for the firm, particularly since demand for diverse legal talent still exceeds the supply. The DEI team will work with partners inside the firm to develop and enhance our firm’s mentoring program and it will hold intense, interactive sessions on inclusive leadership for all personnel. The firm will also host an in-person Diverse Lawyers’ Symposium that will bring together diverse associates for two days of programming, community building and networking. Throughout it all, the firm will track and analyze diversity data to ensure parity and to remedy any inequities.

William Heath

William Heath
Group Vice President- Medicines Innovation Hub, Lilly Research Laboratories

Lilly Research Laboratories-Eli Lilly and Company
Headquarters: Indianapolis, IN
Industry: Pharmaceutical research and development, manufacturing and commercialization
CEO: Dave Ricks and Dan Skovronsky, executive vice president, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer and President of Lilly Research Laboratory

Credentials: Ph.D., The Rockefeller University

Philosophy: Believes in “the coalition of the willing” to get things done to make Lilly a better place.

Culture change is the key to making DEI the “new normal” for this company and that includes engaging the broader workforce beyond leadership. One of the company’s most difficult challenge is gender parity because of a tight talent pipeline and a historical imbalance.

It’s been steadily chipping away at the roadblocks. The company created the Talent Development Academy to advance hiring, developing and retaining highly capable and diverse early talents who are the future of Eli Lilly. Senior staff have been key to its creation because they develop and implement talent acquisition and development programs. Metrics on DEI are integrated into the leader dashboard.

The result is a reliable, highly diversified talent pipeline including hundreds of interns and over 100 full-time hires, which boasts a 60/40 split in favor of females and members of underrepresented members.

In 2023, the company wants to capitalize on its investments in recruiting and talent development to broaden its DEI impact. Key measures will reflect growth in the number of scientists from underrepresented backgrounds and the progression of those scientists into positions of leadership and influence. In order to sustain this “new normal,” the company will have to remain committed to DEI while also delivering business outcomes. The two are not mutually exclusive but creating a steady pace is required for success.