In this interview, we speak to Raven Solomon, a global diversity, equity, and inclusion thought leader, about the diverse future of the scientific industry.
Please could you introduce yourself and tell us what inspires you every day?
Raven Solomon - Diversity Equity & Inclusion Speaker, Author & Researcher
Learn more about me here!
I'm inspired by those who have come before me and made substantial sacrifices in order for me to have a shot at health and wealth, well beyond the financial sense of the word.
Your mission is to solve racial inequality within the workplace. What does this mission mean to you and how are you going about achieving it?
My mission is to solve racial inequity by breaking down generational and racial barriers in the workplace, replacing them with empathy and synergy that fosters productive working relationships, drives business results, and prepares organizations to compete in the not-so-distant future. I do this through training & developing people leaders to effectively and inclusively lead across differences, as well as providing accessible tools, resources, and knowledge for working individuals often through their organizations.
One of your approaches focuses on the intersection between racial equity and generations. Why is understanding generations such an important factor in achieving racial equity?
Gen Z, the future of our workforce, is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation the US has ever seen. The expectations they have of the companies they buy from and work for around inclusion are vastly different from prior generations. To compete in this future of work, companies must do the work of racial equity. Secondly, I believe that the best solutions to the biggest of problems come from generationally diverse teams. It's the lived experiences, the phase of life, and the time that gives way to such diverse perspectives and skillsets.
Just like any other problem, racial inequality is one that cannot be solved without cross-generationally collaboration, commitment, and effort. We will never create racial equity with one generation. For those reasons, I don't think you can talk about racism or racial inequity and not talk about generations. Racism is generationally relative.
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How does having a diverse and inclusive workplace benefit not only employees but the companies and organizations themselves?
Attracting the best talent, retaining talent, creating innovative products and services, connecting with and marketing to a diverse customer base, quality of decision making is enhanced and so many other benefits. Having both diversity and inclusion is what yields these types of results, however. Diversity without inclusion will lead to the opposite of these things and/or a continuation of the same problems an organization currently has.
You are speaking at the SLAS conference in Boston on ‘The Clear Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Life Sciences.’ What can people expect from this talk?
People can expect to be informed, compelled, and engaged to take personal ownership of the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the industry and within their organizations. They will walk away understanding the critical nature of diversity, equity, and inclusion work in their businesses and why it must be an organizational imperative moving forward. They can expect compelling insight and candid conversation in a safe space.
What advice would you give to a professional looking to transition into a leadership position within science in today’s diverse workplace?
Invest in developing as an inclusive leader by focusing on: being rooted and versed in the why for DEI. being respectfully curious, applying courage, understanding and rumbling with your biases, growing your cultural intelligence, and actively collaborating across differences.
What can individuals do to help further the mission to achieve racial equity within the science industry?
Become an active ally following this process:
The influence and knowledge of scientists is growing increasingly important in today’s society. How do your approaches to generations, racial equity, and their interaction apply to this and how can your principles encourage scientific communication and innovation?
Are you involved in any exciting upcoming projects? If so, what are they?
I have an upcoming book set to release in Fall 2022. This book will equip everyday people with the tools and practical steps to create circles of inclusion everywhere they go. The DEI ER audio event series on LinkedIn. These are weekly value-adding, real-time conversations about DEI amongst the community of DEI enthusiasts, advocates, professionals, and practitioners on LinkedIn starting in Feb. I will be the host.
Throughout your career, you have inspired thousands of people and encouraged change within numerous companies and organizations. What has been your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement happens anytime I see someone’s light bulb go off and a genuine moment of awareness happens that leads to behavior change. That is irreplaceable.
What do you believe the future of diversity within the scientific industry will look like?
Honestly, that is up to the people reading this article and the people that will be in the audience at the SLAS 2022 Conference. I can help folks understand what to do and why they should do it, but I cannot make them execute or execute for them.
Where can readers find more information?
About Raven Solomon
RAVEN SOLOMON is a global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion thought leader and nationally recognized keynote speaker who helps organizations get future-ready by understanding generations, racial equity, and their intersection. Raven's mission is simple-- to solve for racial inequity by breaking down generational and racial barriers in the workplace, replacing them with empathy and synergy that fosters productive working relationships, drives business results, and prepares organizations to compete in the not-so-distant future.
She is the author of the 2019 release Leading Your Parents: 25 Rules to Effective Multigenerational Leadership for Millennials and Gen Z, where she shares leadership principles and practical advice for young professionals seeking to transition into leadership positions in today’s diverse workplace, the host of The Generational View podcast, and the founder of the Charlotte-based Center for Next Generation Leadership and Professional Development, a startup focused on providing soft skill development to the leaders of tomorrow.
Raven has helped tens of thousands, from podiums around the world, close the gaps inside of dozens of industry-leading companies, and create sustainable cultural change. She’s also consulted with household brands in the areas of generational diversity & inclusion and early talent development and retention. As the valedictorian of her college graduating class and one of the youngest-ever executives in the Fortune 50 company with which she spent nearly a decade, she has always shown that her approach to leading and influencing people yields results.