In June, The Executive Leadership Council, the pre-eminent membership organization comprised of C-Suite and senior level Black executives of Fortune 1000 and Global 500 companies, partnered with The Boule in London, England for a series of events focused on leadership development. During the three-day event, ELC board members networked with high-level corporate executives from the African diaspora to discuss the need for the diversification of director positions in the U.K. and issues related to director positions in companies that operate internationally.
The visit, which was in commemoration of Alpha Boule and its 111-year commitment to leadership development, was one of many upcoming trips the ELC has planned to increase its international appeal as a leader in the global arena.
”From my perspective, the event was a huge success. It gave us greater exposure to potential members in the UK; it allowed us to deepen relationships with folks we already had relationships with in the U.K.; and it gave us an opportunity to showcase our best and brightest Black executives for Board opportunities with Fortune 500 companies. So, it was a tri-fold effect since we are trying to expand our global visibility as a member organization. We would like to increase our global membership and the only way to do that is to promote our members, train them around leadership in the C-Suite and get them ready for that next level in their careers,” Rhonda Mims, chair of The Executive Leadership Foundation (ELF), and managing director of corporate social responsibility at Paul Hastings LLP, told TNJ.com.
Mims was just one of several ELC executives to attend. Also on the trip were Ehrika C. Gladden, ELF Secretary; Arlene Isaacs-Lowe, ELC Treasurer; Ronald C. Parker, ELC President and CEO, and Brickson Diamond, ELC Chief Operating Officer.
Here, we caught up with Diamond for his take on the visit.
TNJ.com: During the ELCs visit to the UK, there was a series of panel discussions with one of them addressing issues related to the need for diversification of director positions in the UK. Are you hopeful about the outcome of that discussion?
Brickson Diamond: Over the years weve sought to seek the representation of women. And significant progress has been made there. Weve seen a rapid and significant increase in women on those boards. This was an initial conversation. It was about level setting and timelines. You extend the hand, the hand is extended back, and then you begin the conversation. And thats what weve done with that one visit. I cant say that were going to accelerate from June to July and August and be where the 30 Percent Coalition is, but the ground has been set for some serious conversation and education.
TNJ.com: Tell us about the ELCs partnership with the Alpha Boule.
B.D.: In partnership with the Boule, we met a treasure trove of talent on the ground in the U.K. and it broadened our perspective on what diversity means in that market. For us, it was an opportunity to reach those who are easy to reach: expats who are already in the country. We have a number of members who are already in the UK. One of our members Arlene Issacs-Lowe, ELC board treasurer, has relocated to the U.K. with Moodys as a result of the conversation she had with the ELC about the need for a global perspective. So expanding on Arlenes network – the folks who were hosting us – we have a cache of Americans in the UK, France, Singapore, Hong Kong and various places in China. We even have one member in Russia. So I think theres an opportunity to expand on that and have a clear understanding from our members experience of working abroad. Another question is how do we serve Black Brits. In June, we were in Canada. There were Black Canadians there, Black French people, Afro-Latin Americans so theres a trajectory for us, but there are also some short-term, low-hanging fruit opportunities to recruit and then give a closer proximity to this board question as well.
TNJ.com: When did the ELC enter the global arena?
B.D.: In the 1990s, the ELC joined a CODEL with the State Department to Germany. That was our first salvo. But realistically, our members have been around the world for some time. One of our members was head of the world food program where she also held an ambassadorship; another member Demetri Stockton is just back from spending five years in France; we have Valentino Carlotti who is back from running Goldman Sachs in Brazil for 3 years
Our global presence has been evidenced through our members experiences and the better part of our history. Ron Parker in the last three years has been working with our board on our strategic plan to really narrow in and say we have anecdotal experience and real-life evidence of people who have lived this, so how do we expand the conversation, encourage our members to think about it in the context of their careers, and think about our impact strategically on a global perspective?
ELC members have been working around the world since our inception and we have been traveling around the world as individual members in leadership. In the last three years we have said, in concert, that we would develop the global scope for all of the enterprises in which we work. I worked for a global asset management firm, which literally invented the emerging market asset class and also the metrics that measure performance in European markets with EAFE, before coming here. So, I myself have had a global career my entire life and now we at the ELC are adding it to our strategic plan and executing around that.
(Photo credit: Theodore Wood)
CLICK HERE for a related article about the ELC.