Meet the Panelists from Session 2: Company Culture

In the Company Culture session, we explored what company culture is: how it’s formed, what it means, and how we can take steps to make it more inclusive. Three panelists joined us to share their experiences in this work – read on for some gems of advice from each:

LaKendra Adesuyi

Senior Human Resources Generalist, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

adesuyiKendra’s gems from the Session:

  • Every tough conversation can be a learning moment. If someone asks you a personal question, recognize the bravery it required for them to ask you, and take the opportunity to learn more about that person.
  • There is a subtle and not-so-subtle indication of bias when we talk about potential candidates being a good fit or being overqualified. There is also an issue when the hiring committee or person requests more information from a candidate that they wouldn’t from other candidates. For example, the person that might have an accent or come from a different background as most of the other people in the company.

LaKendra is a dedicated Human Resources professional with over 10 years of experience in her field. With a history of working for fortune 500 companies such as General Electric (GE) and Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting group, she is keen on employee developmental needs. She is currently a Senior Human Resources Generalist at InterVarsity where she specializes in employment, labor relations, and talent acquisition. LaKendra holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Communications from Indiana State University and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management. She is the current Chair of the Personal and Professional Development Committee for the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals (ULGMYP). LaKendra is credited with coordinated ULGMYP’s Opportunity to Lead seminars, which was offered in collaboration with the United Way of Dane County, as well as various YP talks centering on professional development. As an avid believer in mentorship and community leadership, LaKendra also serves as a big sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane county.

Claudio Diaz

Chief Human Capital Officer, Wipfli LLP

diazClaudio’s gems from the Session:

  • RAVE: Respect, Appreciate, and Value Everyone. You can respect someone, but not appreciate them. You can appreciate someone, but not value them. You can value a person, but not everyone. You need to do it all to really have an inclusive work environment.
  • Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in a workplace can be like a rocketship. You have to spend time (often, a lot of time) to build a solid foundation before you launch, or you’ll burn a hole in the ground with all of your energy.

As Wipfli LLP’s Chief Human Capital Officer, Claudio leads a dynamic group of HR professionals in their quest to ensure the firm’s human capital investment is realized to the fullest. He also co-leads the effort within the organization to clearly define its Wipfli Way culture, including support of firm values, vision, mission, and operational strategies. lastly, he champions continuous improvement of organizational performance through associate engagement, performance management, and executive coaching. Claudio concentrates all of his efforts on doing whatever it takes to help Wipfli’s associates be more successful, both as individuals and professionals.

Sandy Eichel

Financial Representative, Member of Diversity & Inclusion Field Committee, Northwestern Mutual

eichelSandy’s gems from the Session:

  • When faced with an offensive comment or question, give the person a second chance and say, “I’m going to give you a chance to rephrase that.”
  • Ask questions. If you find a comment or question offensive, ask the person to explain what they meant.

Sandy Eichel’s core value is joy and she brings that to everything she does. Even in difficult financial conversations, Sandy makes financial planning fun (yes, even though you don’t think it can be, she will make it fun)!

Sandy is passionate about changing the financial services to be more inclusive for women, people of color and the LGBT community by speaking at financial services offices all over the country and by serving on the Northwestern Mutual Diversity and Inclusion Field Committee.

Sandy is an advocate for changing the world for the better and appeared in Brava Magazine as one of the areas Women to Watch. Her passions include serving on the Board of Directors of CASA (which works with abused and neglected children) and on OPEN (Out Professional and Executive Network). Her band, One Note and the Rhino, raises money for deserving nonprofits.

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