AN INTERVIEW WITH DEVRAY KIRKLAND, CHIEF DIVERSITY OFFICER, VP, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION, CARDINAL HEALTH
Why was it critical for your organization to be involved in the Gender Parity Collaborative?
As an organization led by our CEO Mike Kaufmann, we have been on the gender parity journey for quite some time now. We understand that without keeping very intentional focus on this area we will not see the significant change that we know is needed for our company to continue to grow and flourish. We joined the Collaborative with the intent to continue emphasizing both internally and externally just how important this business initiative is for us. We know that we do not have all of the answers, so by collaborating with other likeminded organizations we can all learn from one another and make a more significant impact on the healthcare industry.
Of what current company gender parity initiative are you most proud?
I am very proud of our Partners Leading Change work that we offer to female and male leaders in our organization. We have been partnering with the Institute for Women Leadership (IWL) for more than 10 years to help provide personal awareness about how each leader’s life journeys can influence gender-related interactions in the workplace and in their personal lives. Having men and women in the same learning environment focused on a shared understanding of the differences between genders in the workplace has allowed for more constructive conversations.
As one of your organization’s leaders, why are you personally committed to advancing gender parity in the workplace?
As a minority in corporate America, I have seen first-hand the challenges of equity and equality throughout my career. I have focused my career on work that is going to level the playing field for all underrepresented voices. We know that women represent about half of the workforce, so if we are not able to get this right with this population then we are certainly not going to be able to positively impact any other groups that feel marginalized or are underrepresented.
Why has it been necessary to create the Collaborative—this first ever industry consortium?
I think many organizations have tried to create change and make a difference in their organizations, but you can only go so far within your own four walls. This consortium is about impacting the full scope of the healthcare industry – and that takes all of us. Combining some of the best and brightest minds and focusing on shared industry challenges really sets us up for some amazing breakthroughs. We have all seen the data year after year that show flat or minimal changes in the areas that we have all been working on, so this is something new that hasn’t been tried before and may yield results that we have not seen to date.
How does your participation in the Collaborative complement what you are already doing?
Our participation helps us to continue to focus on areas that we see as critical for us to grow and evolve our organization. We always want to consider “outside-in” thinking as an important data point to leverage as we target issues or problems that we would like to address. We never think that we know it all. This is another way for us to stay in the mode of learning so that we can continue to enhance the culture of our organization to better support all our employees.