Hello and welcome to another edition of State of Readiness with your host, Joseph Paris.
Today I am happy to have Billy Ray Taylor, CEO of LinkedXL and author of “The Winning Link“ on my podcast. Billy previously worked at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for 30 years; starting off on the plant floor and retiring as Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Executive Director of Commercial, Off Highway, and Support Manufacturing North America.
We start the conversation taking a stroll down memory lane. Soon after graduating from Prairie View A&M University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, Billy joined Goodyear starting where every recent graduate does; on the floor of the night shift.
A life-long learner, Billy recognized early on as he steadily climbed the ranks at Goodyear that he had to “earn the right” to be appointed to the various roles and to retain the right to remain there. This meant that he had to have both the technical skills and also the leadership skills necessary to succeed in the various roles.
The conversation comes to diversity and inclusion; with Joseph sharing that, having walked the Earth and worked with many companies located around the world, that the completive advantage of companies based in the States (along with those in Canada and the United Kingdom), is their diversity (regardless of what might be current assumptions).
People bring forward what they have learned during their lives. And if everyone on a team has had the same life experiences and brought-up in a homogeneous culture, then everyone will look at a challenge with the same solution set.
As the saying goes; “If everyone is thinking the same, then nobody is thinking”.
But Billy also drove the point that there is a significant difference between “diversity” and “inclusion”. Whereas diversity means there are a members on the team with a variety of backgrounds and expertise, inclusion means you use that talent.
I guess I never gave the difference too much mind because, as an entrepreneur since 1985, I don’t have resources that I would gain but not use. The thought would never occur to me.
So it’s not about quotas and making sure every race, creed, and sex is included in the picture (like marketing departments are apt to do). It’s about understanding that the differences are strengths, but only if you use them.
This was a really good, interesting, and valuable conversation.