February 28, 2020
On February 12, Infor launched a new employee network (EN)―Black at Infor (BAI)―with leadership remarks and a panel of Infor executives representing various parts of our organization. Nearly 1,000 Inforians participated in the event, both remotely and in live group gatherings in several offices, to learn more about BAI’s mission and how all employees can get involved in planning and supporting future programming.
BAI Executive Sponsor, Rod Johnson, GM of Americas, sponsored the kick-off at Infor’s headquarters in New York City, with VP of Inclusion, Talent & Community, Diana Cruz Solash hosting a leadership discussion with BAI leaders. Panelists shared their career path to and at Infor, business insights on what makes Infor a leading-edge tech company, and reflections on why inclusion & diversity (I&D) matters.
The BAI leadership panel featured Infor leaders:
- Vynessa Alexander, VP, Infor Nexus
- Brandy Alfred, Regional VP, Sales
- Lynette Blatch, VP, Finance
- Dennis Creary, Account Director, Sales
- Nigel Stephens, VP, Government Affairs
Pictured left to right: Brandy Alfred, Regional VP, Sales; Rod Johnson, GM & Head of the Americas;
Vynessa Alexander, VP, Infor Nexus; Diana Cruz Solash, VP, Global Head of Inclusion, Talent & Community
BAI’s mission statement is to provide a support network that empowers Inforians to champion inclusion & diversity while creating opportunities for leadership engagement, mentorship, professional development, advancement and retention. Dennis Creary highlighted the importance of ENs like BAI, saying, “Representation goes a long way in motivating an employee. When an employee sees someone who looks like them and sounds like them making good progress and who knows how to navigate the corporate culture within Infor, that resonates and goes a long way.”
One question that the panel addressed was, “If inclusion & diversity is for and about all Inforians, why do we have employee networks that are focused on particular identities and backgrounds?”
Diana shared that ENs are an important way for us to address the desire of our colleagues to come together across different aspects of their identities and share experiences that may be unique to those identities – such as race, gender, veteran status, and sexual orientation. For example, it is widely recognized that the technology sector lags other sectors in gender and ethnic diversity, particularly Black and Latinx talent. With that, there is a natural question that arises: Are there role models and mentors that demonstrate I can be successful here?
ENs provide visibility and access to role models and signal to recruits that our organization is committed to improving representation and providing opportunities for historically underrepresented groups. They are a cornerstone of our strategy to increase employee engagement and enable us to meet the needs of our people, potential recruits, customers, partners, and stakeholders. While ENs are formed around shared backgrounds, identities and interests, they are open to all Inforians. Currently, our other ENs include the Women’s Infor Network (WIN) and Veterans Infor Network (VIN), with Out at Infor (OAI) to be launched in the coming months. Additional ENs are actively being explored as we continue to receive interest from employees globally.
The timing of BAI’s kick-off during Black History Month is very important.
The timing of BAI’s kick-off event is very important as it coincides with the week-long celebration that began in 1926 to honor the achievements of African Americans. Set during the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, Carter Woodson started Negro History Week, which combined both days into what we now observe as Black History Month.
In recognition of Black History Month, Infor participated in several internal and external events to honor the history and achievements of the African diaspora and the Black community. We also brought an intersectional lens to the BAI kick-off panel discussion, with Diana Cruz Solash highlighting that identity is multifaceted, and that various dimensions of identity influence leadership styles.
Brandy Alfred shared how her experience being a Black woman from Louisiana is indicative of how she leads. “I’ve had international assignments but I bring all that heritage with me and it shows up in probably every conference call I have, every board meeting I conduct or I’m part of… If I don’t hear your voice, I need your voice at the table, so we can yield the best decision and that’s really out of the heritage of family or heritage of southern Louisiana.”
What can you do to support I&D?
The panel also reiterated that all employees are invited to participate and explained how to engage with BAI or our other Infor employee networks. Hosting joint events with other internal, external employee networks and hosting events at Infor customer conferences like Inforum or external events like AfroTech were some of the ideas discussed.
Every Inforian plays a critical role in fostering an inclusive culture where our colleagues feel comfortable contributing ideas, providing feedback, and asking questions. Having that breadth of perspectives is critical for our organization, as Lynette Blatch pointed out during the panel: “Everybody has something to bring no matter what our differences are… I always try to recognize that other perspectives are hugely important to us being successful.”
Learn more about Infor’s people, culture, and values here: /en-nl/about/culture
See more from the BAI launch event in this Facebook gallery: http://ow.ly/VgB650yujef