Since the George Floyd protests, companies from General Motors to Citi have made diversity a priority. But author Tara Jaye Frank believes their good intentions aren’t enough. Her book aims to teach executives how to become “Waymakers,” extraordinary leaders who “find both long- and short-term ways to change systems, processes, and norms to unlock opportunity faster.”
A former executive at greeting card giant Hallmark, Frank is now a diversity strategist. Drawing from her lived experience as a black woman and her professional expertise, Frank provides a practical approach for executives who want to improve their culture around diversity, equity and inclusion.
The author explains why companies struggle to change, how to measure progress and what individual leaders can do “to create and sustain an equitable workplace.” She counsels leaders to embrace the reality of what the systems they sustain mean for underrepresented people and to take accountability for them. While recognizing that corporate cultures differ, she guides leaders through steps they can take to increase representation in specific areas, such as hiring, retention and innovation.
The author strikes an effective balance between reflection and action. As she points out, most executives have a bias for action, but they also need to listen and reflect. Her recommendations – as in her chapter on the performance drivers for diversity, equity and inclusion – are detailed and actionable.
Frank’s writing is clear and relatively jargon free. She is also a skilled storyteller, as reflected in her account of her childhood in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and her personal awakening at Spelman College. Her prose exudes warmth, even while discussing volatile subject matter. She doesn’t shrink from sharp criticism where she perceives injustice, but she also points a way forward.
This is a superb book, in a burgeoning field. It has the potential to make an observable difference in corporate America.