Carmen M. Carter, has over 20 years of professional experience that spans academia; faith-based, nonprofit, food service distribution, and government organizations; as well as has having held leadership roles with Fortune 500 companies in the oil and gas industry. She collaborates with organizational leaders to “unleash the power of diversity on demand,” which is her trademarked approach to diversity and inclusion work. As an educator, her reputation for innovation and understanding in the D&I field places her among the foremost voices in the diversity community.
Carmen has the distinguished ability to direct full cycles of complex, multi-site human resources, compliance, and change management strategic implementations. She works with organizations to implement quality improvement projects through well-managed initiatives aligned with business outcomes using tools such as the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organizations Around the World (2014. O’Mara and Richter).
1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?
When most people think about diversity and inclusion thoughts of EEO, advocacy and social justice immediately come to mind. Believe it or not, diversity and inclusion (D&I) is so much more. This role requires knowledge of behavioral science and expertise in numerous disciplines along the business supply chain such as strategy, planning, marketing, human resources, organizational development, sales, procurement, project management, community outreach, accounting and finance.
For me the journey included stops along the way to obtain degrees in accounting and labor relations, certifications in HR and assessment tools, teaching experience in academia, and leadership experience in private sector, faith-based, media, management consulting, and volunteer service.
1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?
As far back as I can remember I have always been fascinated with systems and how things are interconnected in nature and the environment. I admire the creative minds of children with Asperger’s Syndrome and individuals in information technology such as software developers. So the current stop along my learning journey is neuroscience and spiritual intelligence.
2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?
Yes, all of the above. Additionally, working with individuals from all walks of life in a global society requires relationship building, problem solving, conflict resolution, and a personal commitment to continuous learning across dimensions of diversity such as faith, personal styles and cultures.
Most importantly it requires integrity, compassion, and a genuine concern for the greater good and respect for all humankind. In this role the saying, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” is absolutely true.
3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?
I concur with Lou Adler that jobs and people can be a mix (Thinkers, Builders, Producers, and Improvers). To achieve sustainable results in D&I work being a mix is essential.
I would even go a step further to suggest the groundbreaking work of Cindy Wigglesworth, author of SQ21, The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence. It’s important to know what type of job we are in, but when we can also understand the assignment or why we are in a particular job during certain periods of our lives we go higher within ourselves and give the purpose of the work even greater meaning!
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
Yes, both. The number of direct or indirect reports varies based on the size or scope of the project. The job also includes coaching frontline managers and executives.
5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?
Oh my goodness, one of the first things to do is to identify the impact on the business by compiling a robust business case, identifying the value proposition including business drivers aligned with the relevant needs and goals of the organization. Business drivers include the current state of people, knowledge, or market conditions that influence business outcomes and the value organizations deliver to the customer.
This is a real game changer and essential to get buy-in and commitment from leadership and overall sustainability.
6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?
From the boardroom to the shop floor, this job is often performed in different types of physical environments and usually varies by organization. From a training and development perspective, it is very important that the D&I leader or facilitator fosters a safe learning environment for all. What this means is that credibility, ground rules and strategies for dealing with sensitive topics are essential.
7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?
In my view, life experience is the ultimate training ground where we spend our lives learning our purpose and then one day we finally find that position along the journey that ignites the mind, stirs our passion, and nurtures the soul. That’s what this role does for me.
Each assignment is a humbling and unique opportunity to better understand the needs of others and help make a difference. By understanding the needs of others, I continue to learn how to inspire excellence within myself and individuals I am privileged to serve.
Inclusion often takes us to a new place; from where we are to ultimately learn where we each (deep inside) desired to be. It’s a great time for diversity and inclusion and this is an important new lesson to keep learning.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.