Celebrate Diversity Month: Reflecting on Personal and Professional Commitments to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Kali Wellington-James, Corporate Counsel, Human Resources

April is Celebrate Diversity Month, and in light of recent violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, the murder of George Floyd last summer which sparked global protests, and the continued police violence against the Black and African American community in the U.S., it seems a particularly pertinent time for a reminder to appreciate the diversity that surrounds us. Celebrate Diversity Month is a timely opportunity to help diverse communities of people gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other and to encourage conversation and education on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in our workplaces.

Reflecting on my experience at Jazz, I’m proud to work for an organization where a commitment to DEI is embedded into our company culture. Jazz empowers each of us to make positive change and is committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment for employees to share feedback and discuss biases.

One example of this is the formation of JazzSoul – the Black and African American Affinity Forum of our All Dimensions of Diversity employee resource team. Last year, following Mr. Floyd’s murder and the subsequent social unrest, Jazz’s Employee Engagement team reached out to Lauren Griffey, a member of our Training Development team, to explore how Jazz could best support their Black and African American employees. Lauren was empowered to take the lead and she enlisted support from me and Roddy McIlwain, Vice President, Sales, Hematology and Oncology, to organize a forum for Black employees at Jazz to connect as a community. After our first meeting in July, this community – later named “JazzSoul” – has come together regularly to encourage, uplift and support one another.

During these meetings, we discuss positive experiences at Jazz but do not shy away from identifying areas of improvement. These discussions have led the group to multiple open and honest conversations with Jazz Chairman and CEO, Bruce Cozadd and HR leadership about Jazz’s DEI commitments and future strategy. In less than a year, JazzSoul went from a simple idea of connecting around current events to a group of more than 70 participants committed to advancing and promoting Jazz’s DEI mission and hosting company-wide events and programming in support of it.

Another recent example of Jazz’s commitment to DEI – I was honored to be nominated by my leadership, and subsequently accepted to the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Fellows Program earlier this year. LCLD is an organization that actively promotes diversity and inclusion in the legal profession through initiatives like the annual Fellows Program, aimed at advancing a new generation of leaders in the Legal industry. The organization’s members work to promote inclusiveness in their organizations, circles of influence and society, with the ultimate goal of building a more equitable and diverse Legal profession. I’m proud to have been inducted into a Fellow Program led by an organization so committed to putting their mission into action, and look forward to bringing lessons from this experience to my work at Jazz.

While Jazz has enabled me to advance my professional DEI training and leadership, Celebrate Diversity Month is also an opportunity to examine my personal DEI commitments. This month I encourage us all to take a moment to reflect on the diversity around us and look for ways to celebrate and support it. Buy from a minority-owned business, recommend diversity training in your workplace, have a conversation with someone who is different from you. It is our words, our actions and our mindsets that are the most powerful tools for creating an environment where all people feel welcome, accepted and empowered. Each of us has the power to make a difference.