CEO’SLE T TER
;‘WE’ AND ‘US’;
The Power of
Iwas invited to speak at Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a division of WellPoint, No. 36 on The 2011 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. After I spoke, their President and CEO Mark Wagar talked about his business, specifically about the com-
pany’s customers and employees, and consistently and emotionally used the words “us,” “our”
and “we.” There was no mention of “those people” or “them.” Mr. Wagar sees people as his
brothers and sisters.
He also spoke, with deep
respect, of his community’s diversity and the need to focus on it—in
the context of service.
Earlier in the year, I was
invited to speak to the Wells Fargo
Advisors (whose parent company,
Wells Fargo & Co., is No. 40 in the
DiversityInc Top 50). Their presi-
dent and CEO, Danny Ludeman,
closed out the event. Speaking to
the audience of roughly 200 senior
leaders, he asked how many of the
(mostly white) men had attended
an employee-resource-group meet-
ing; about one-third of the hands
went up. Mr. Ludeman said: “The
next time we meet, it had better be
all of you.”
Point made. I’ll bet it will be.
Ten years ago, I did not see the
consistency of switched-on leader-
ship that I see today. More than
half of Fortune 500 companies had
no diversity efforts; today, I’d esti-
mate that more than half do (even
if a significant number of those
companies’ diversity efforts are
little more than having tacos in the
cafeteria on May 5).
It is the personal commitment of those at the top of organizations
that makes the success or failure of managing diversity.