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  • LEAD360 Mag

Now is the Time: For a New Direction in Diversity

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

LEAD360 is committed to helping corporate America develop a strategic plan to advance Black leaders. The national cry for racial and economic justice in our country and within corporate America is ringing loud. Accordingly, we at LEAD360 feel that NOW is the time for real change. And, we aim to lead it.

What Problem Are We Solving?

The number of Black executives in corporate America continues to be dismal. Today, there are now only three Black CEOs in the Fortune 500, Kenneth Frazier of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.; Marvin Ellison of the home improvement retailer Lowe's, and Roger Ferguson, Jr. of insurance company TIAA. There are currently no Black women among the Fortune CEO rank (Korn Ferry, 2019). The literature identifies deficits in leadership development, sponsorship, and role opportunity as limitations to upward mobility for many diverse groups.

Research conducted by LEAD360'S Think Tank revealed that mid and senior-level leaders feel underexposed to training efforts that position them for success at higher leadership ranks. Similarly, some believe that there are systemic barriers to both executive learning and line opportunities (LEAD360,2019)

Based on our research and experience, LEAD360 believes this trajectory can improve by creating platforms that break down barriers to executive education and career development. Our action-based approach begins with a sound strategy, and it requires that corporate leaders embrace the truth about racial disparity and inequity, and be willing to do something different. It requires a calculated long-term plan to transform the current narrative and turn the negative trends into positive outcomes. It also requires that companies provide their Diversity and Inclusion leaders with adequate resources to implement real change.



We know that the foundational issue that prevents Black leaders from progressing is predicated on decades of systemic racism and bias. Years of research by many companies have substantiatedthe problems and the opportunities, yet significant change has not occurred. The activism and public debate sparked by the recent Black Lives Matter protests have forced corporate America to admit they have failed Black professionals. Diversity officers across corporate America are under pressure to solve complicated, relevant, and sensitive issues related to race. In most cases, they lack the required organizational alignment, budget, and resources to create sustainable change.

Bold actions are required to identify solutions that will enable companies and their leaders to get comfortable with discussing racial inequity in the workplace. It will take bold steps to facilitate the dismantling of non-inclusive workplace cultures that enable equitable opportunity and advancement for Black leaders. It will require the collective sharing of education, ideas, strategies, activities, and best practices of many thought leaders and organizations that LEAD360's Think Tank provides.


We ask that your company join LEAD360's Think Tank and support our mission to increase

Black executives' success by providing financial resources and talent to help us deliver on the strategic imperatives required to positively impact the Black leadership trajectory over the next five years.

Based on our research, we have identified three strategic imperatives for our

Executive Advisory Council to focus on, with three distinct workstreams to achieve our mission.

1. Leverage platforms of innovation and critical thinking to develop disruptive and

measurable strategies to increase the number of Black executive leaders. Building a talent

hub that connects the most talented Black leaders with the most inclusive companies

through technology, community outreach, and other processes, to establish an accessible

mid-level and senior-level talent community for corporate recruiting.

2. Establish knowledge-based executive training platforms and collaborate with your

internal resources to deliver Black executive leaders' the ultimate training experience.

Training designed to adequately prepare Black professionals to lead globally complex,

culturally diverse, and interrelated organizations.

3. Build a council of experienced Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leaders to consolidate best

practices across industries for establishing quantitative and qualitative goals. This council

will serve as a resource and review board to help our partnering companies develop,

assess and measure both broad and narrow goals related to diversity, equity, and inclusion

throughout your organization.

Success be measured quantitatively by a percent increase in the numbers of Black executives in the E-Suite and C-suites of Americas Fortune 1000 companies. We also will observe qualitative measures related to belonging and job satisfaction through sponsored research. These observations will take place over the next five years. The team will report the progress during theannual readout at our C-Suite Advisory Meeting and related publications.

Benefits to your Company

  • Serves as an incubator for strategy among some of the nation's top companies

  • Builds company-specific strategy with help from dedicated diversity consultants

  • Elevates success that your company achieves through targeted communication and knowledge sharing

LEAD360 is dedicated to helping corporate America address these challenges.

Since our inception in 2012, our mission at LEAD360 is to increase Black leaders' prevalence and success by working with inclusive companies to invest in the professional development and advancement of Black middle managers, E-suite, and C-suite executives.

We started by initiating qualitative research in collaboration with Cornell University to understand the significant barriers for success among Black middle managers and executives. We interviewed 102 Black middle managers and senior leaders, including five company presidents and 52+ EVPs, the remainder being vice presidents and directors. We found that exclusion from opportunities, political bias, and microaggression led the list of unpalatable challenges to upward mobility. We also determined that more access to leadership development, sponsorship, and profit and loss responsibilities were required components of the roadmap for success.

As a follow-up to the research, we established the LEAD360 Think Tank and expanded our academic collaboration to include Georgetown University to explore solutions to Black leaders' dilemmas within organizations. We identified well-recognized thought leaders and game-changing Black leaders to form our group of Executive Action Committee. Some of those names included Cindy Kent, Brookdale executive vice president, and president of Brookdale Senior Living Inc., Rodney Gillespie, vice president, oncology sales & marketing, solid tumor at The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Lisa Coleman, senior vice president for global inclusion and strategic innovation, and chief diversity officer at New York University, and Dr. Tiffany Dotson, vice president of global talent, leadership and learning at Liberty Mutual Insurance, La'wana Harris, global diversity and inclusion consultant, Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, and Darryl Smith, senior client partner at Korn Ferry.

We began this work with alignment on the belief that to have genuinely significant results; we

must craft strategies and approaches that are courageously disruptive. Over the past seven

years, we targeted, assessed, and evaluated the four most significant areas for potential change or opportunity.

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