Embracing equality

IMBM celebrates 13 Champions of Diversity

By Abby Westcott

There is a group of Hoosier companies, entrepreneurs and professionals that not only understand what it takes to succeed, but also go beyond the call of duty to tap into the human element of business, making inclusion a priority.

We call them Champions of Diversity. The Indiana Minority Business Magazine (IMBM) believes a true Champion of Diversity exhibits qualities that transcend barriers related to race, ethnicity, sex, ability and sexuality; exemplifies the epitome of diversity through outreach and programs; and serves as a defender of inclusiveness. Champions make an effort to increase their diversity in the boardroom or in personal endeavors, among other noble qualities.

This year, IMBM celebrates 13 honorees for their achievements, three of which are being recognized for superior accomplishments reminiscent of some of history’s most distinguished champions.

SPIRIT OF ENTREPREURSHIP

Apex Infinite Solutions (AIS) was chosen to receive the William G. Mays Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. The minority-owned and led IT company helps organizations of all sizes — from small companies like the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper to major sports teams like the Indianapolis Indians — accomplish their goals using cutting-edge technology.

Steve Summerville, vice president–business development, says the company is staying true to its goal of serving small businesses by offering enterprise-level services to the small and medium markets. In addition, AIS works with a number of nonprofit organizations as a way to give back to the community.

“We are a for-profit business, but we don’t walk away from clients who need help,” says Summerville.

He believes a more diverse Indiana looks more like them as a business.

“Right now we are in an environment that not many organizations of color or diverse organizations exist,” says Summerville.

AIS fosters diversity and inclusiveness by giving opportunities to people of color. They’re not so set on that mission that they overlook other good candidates though, says Summerville.

“We recently employed a veteran. If a woman came to the business and wanted to work, we don’t discriminate against anyone. We’re about making an opportunity for who has a passion for IT.”

Summerville says he looked up to Mays as a mentor and is excited to be part of a team receiving the award bearing his name.

“We support the spirit of entrepreneurship that he portrayed. He was a very generous and caring individual as he grew his business. That’s one of the reasons we’re excited. We have the same entrepreneurial spirit,” he says.

EQUALITY FOR ALL

Salesforce, a cloud computing company that helps corporations and customers connect, was chosen as recipient of the Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award for its commitment to equality.

“We are honored to be recognized as a Champion of Diversity, but we know there is much more work to be done at Salesforce,” said Molly Q. Ford, Salesforce’s head of global equality programs.

Salesforce strives to reflect the communities it serves and ensure everyone feels valued, heard and included.

“This high purpose is best expressed in our drive to establish equality for all,” said Ford, “which means working together to create a world where everyone has equal rights, equal pay for equal work, equal access and equal opportunities for success.”

Salesforce feels it is important to focus on equality beyond their four walls.

“Equal access to a quality education and training is critical to set up the next generation for success in the future workforce. We engage with our local communities by adopting schools, volunteering in classrooms, promoting STEM education, and creating job-training programs. In Indianapolis, we recently announced a pilot for the Pathfinder workforce development program, designed to address the skills gap by providing participants from diverse backgrounds with the technical and business training they need to obtain jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem.”

Salesforce’s Office of Equality spearheads inclusivity programs such as Ohana Groups — employee resource groups created to provide a community for underrepresented groups and their allies, offer professional development and mentoring opportunities, and empower employees to be responsive equality leaders in their community. Ford said one in three Salesforce employees participates in at least one Ohana Group.

“We also created an ally campaign to help employees stand up as allies by asking, listening, showing up and speaking up,” said Ford.

Salesforce has voluntary self-identification options for all U.S. employees, including gender identity and gender pronouns, to create a more inclusive work environment.

For the past two years, the company has conducted an equal pay assessment, which resulted in the company spending approximately $6 million to address unexplained differences in pay. Company leaders have also begun reporting and reviewing equality data monthly, which Ford says helps keep equality top of mind.

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

The Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance (IUYA) has been chosen to receive the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award for its efforts to support undocumented immigrant youth as they navigate the education system and other common roadblocks.

IUYA is a youth-led organization that seeks to empower young immigrants to achieve higher education and engage in the community to demand more just and humane policies that affect undocumented families. IUYA believes it can build power by organizing at the local and statewide levels, all while providing resources to support undocumented students and their families and creating meaningful alliances with other advocacy organizations. The network is made up of undocumented and documented youth, allies and affiliate organizations.

 

Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF)

CICF stands as central Indiana’s premier provider of philanthropic services to local philanthropists. CICF connects donors with causes they care about.

Citizens Energy Group

Citizens Energy Group is a public utility company providing natural gas, thermal energy, water and wastewater services to about 800,000 customers in Indianapolis.

Antoine (Tony) Ezell, Eli Lilly, Elanco

Tony Ezell serves as the chief marketing officer and vice president at Elanco US Inc., Eli Lilly’s animal-health business.

Financial Health Federal Credit Union

FHCU is a credit union that serves 8,000 Indianapolis customers. Their goal is to assist members in their quest to save more, improve their credit scores and manage their money well.

 

Judge Geoffrey Gaither

Judge Geoffrey Gaither is a magistrate of the Juvenile Division of Marion County Superior Court. He has been on the bench for 20 years — the longest of any magistrate or judge in the division.

Danette Garza 

Danette Garza is owner of Jack Gray Transport, a minority- and woman-owned and operated business serving as the premier dump truck transportation company for Chicago and northwest Indiana.

Indiana Grand Racing and Casino Indiana

Indiana Grand Racing and Casino is a Las Vegas-style gaming establishment that offers non-stop gaming action, award-winning dining venues and a wide array of entertainment options.

Peace Learning Center

Peace Learning Center educates, inspires and empowers people to live peacefully, promoting peace-building and conflict resolution with programs replicated in eight U.S. cities and five countries.

Dawn R. Rosemond 

Dawn R. Rosemond is a partner in Barnes & Thornburg’s Fort Wayne, Indiana, office and serves as the firm-wide director of diversity, professional development and inclusion.

Dr. Nichole Wilson

Dr. Nichole Wilson is vice president of retail health services at Community Health Network, where she is responsible for a wide range of retail patient services including outpatient services for rehabilitation, physical therapy, sports medicine, imaging, telehealth and employer health.