The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 13, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Dec. 8.
Next is Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Industry Executive of the Year finalist Shelli Green, who’s executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Vectrus. Here, she talks career turning points, key achievements, career advice and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020/2021?
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to our team’s positive enhancements over the last year within the Vectrus DE&I department.
As I reflect on the year, several key achievements stand out among the many that make me proud. We established five employee resource groups: Allies of Pride, People with Disabilities, People of Color, Vectrus Veterans, and Women at Vectrus.
We extended our celebration of national and global diversity awareness to include month-long curated inclusion webinars focused on educating the workforce on addressing implicit bias, leveling the playing field with business acumen knowledge and a focus on caring for our mental health.
Each event had a record attendance with increases over time, proving our employees seek out these enrichments to add to their daily activities. In addition, I have worked diligently to create a safe space for conversations regarding racial inequities, harassment and micro-aggressions.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
We recognize that we continue to grow through the process of creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. My best career advice for those who want to follow in my footsteps would be to remain flexible. It’s OK to make mistakes early so you can learn from them and move forward.
This continual learning will allow you to adjust and change quickly when necessary. It’s imperative to remember not to take things personally, as others generally approach matters from their perspective and not from your own.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
In my own career, finding an extraordinary mentor in my manager was a turning point for which I will always be grateful. While I was in the midst of feeling like a bit of an outsider in my particular organization, my manager began to observe my work ethic, took notice of the abilities I possessed and began to mentor me toward a leadership role for which he knew I was capable. Two months later, I earned my first leadership role and soon led mid-size to large teams within the organization.
What are your primary focuses going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
There is always work to do in the DE&I field. Working together and understanding the uniqueness each individual offers our workplace, as well as our lives, enriches every experience. My primary focus going forward will be to expand the DE&I strategic vision by expanding our focus in three areas.
The first is to sustain a diverse workforce by embedding DE&I in talent acquisition and retention. The second focus will be to advance an inclusive workforce by creating more inclusion and engagement strategies as we develop our human capital metrics dashboard to understand the diversity dimensions within our organization.
Finally, the third focus is enhancing our business performance by reaping the benefits of the diversity of thought as everyone brings different experiences and perspectives to the table. This plan includes mentorship, sponsorship and developing an internal and external DE&I brand that carries through all Vectrus activities and workstreams.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
The most significant professional risk I’ve taken has not only benefitted my own career and growth but also those working within the Vectrus organization. I recognized the need for someone to lead the DE&I initiative in my organization, and understanding the weight of the responsibility and the work needed to develop such a system, I requested to be the one to lead us through that challenge.
I was confident in the support of my leadership, but did not have the same clarity as to whether the broader workforce was ready to start this journey. However, from the beginning, I received support and encouragement that this path was a sound one.
We do not have all the answers, but if we create safe spaces to dialogue and educate each other on what we need to feel supported at work, it could move the entire workforce closer to equity. My largest professional risk has been my most rewarding professional experience.