TOM VOSS Our most valuable asset is our
people. We’re trying to do as every company
is—the best job you can with the resources
you have. You can’t afford to be dismissing
people’s ideas. We found out as we invest in
our diversity efforts that it’s been helping
our company get better.
We had a long way to go. We had areas in
our company that had absolutely no diversity. We had people who weren’t hearing
or seeing people who were different than
Eight years ago, I recognized this and
said this is important for our future success.
We had to make that investment.
VISCONTI Can you think of a day that you
had an epiphany that led you to think more
inclusively about people?
VOSS Back when those Clarence Thomas
hearings were going on, the idea struck me
that there could be people in the workforce
feeling mistreated. I didn’t want that to
happen to my department at that time.
I made sure that the people working
for me feel like they’re treated fairly, that
they can progress and openly express their
There was another event when I was in high school. I was going
out to a restaurant after a prom. Some of our friends were African
American. They couldn’t go in those restaurants. I thought that was
just unbelievably unfair. I couldn’t conceive that there would be an
issue like that.
Art & Economics
VISCONTI You have in your bio one long paragraph on the different
not-for-profits that you have led. One that stood out was Dance St.
VOSS I have two daughters. They competitively danced. People
came and said, “We’re looking for a board member for this group
called Dance St. Louis.” This was 15 years ago, long before I was
a CEO. It always has something, some nationality thing—either
Spanish or Brazilian or something—tied to it besides the traditional
things that you would normally see. It’s been truly a community
thing, something for everybody.
VISCONTI You have been involved with the local St. Louis economic-developmental agency with this perspective of diversity. Could you
tell us a little bit about that?
VOSS About a year ago, I came on as the chairman of the Regional
Chamber & Growth Association. Right after I came on, the executive
director announced that he was going to retire.
This year’s been about looking for someone suitable to replace
him, a national search. The search committee made sure that we had
a first set of candidates to choose from.
The first set of candidates wasn’t diverse. It was just all white
males. They interviewed, got down to five and said, “We like this
group, but we want to see some nontraditional candidates—some
female and minority candidates.”
We regrouped and got about a group of 10, and then they inter-
viewed back down again. It’s been a process that’s ensured we get a
diverse candidate pool.