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Creating Change: A Conversation with Chris Singleton

Published:02/10/2022 | Posted by Laurie Canepa - Vice President - Texas - Finance & Accounting Search

By: Laurie Canepa, Vice President – Texas

I had the unique pleasure to sit down with Chris Singleton, an inspirational keynote speaker, former professional baseball player, and fellow collegiate alum, to discuss what he has seen on the front lines of discussions surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion in recent years. We were recruited to the same small, private Christian school in Charleston, South Carolina called Charleston Southern University for their Division I Athletic programs; myself for soccer and Chris for baseball. That’s where I first heard about Chris doing one of the most selfless and courageous things that even today I think about, and am inspired by.

Tragically in 2015, Chris’ mom, Sharonda Coleman Singleton, was murdered senselessly along with eight other victims in a church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. This hate crime was committed by a man who was determined to start a race war. At this moment, Chris had a choice – let the ugliness and hatred consume him or do something better. Chris did something better, much better.

After being drafted by the Chicago Cubs, he chose to step away from that opportunity in order to make a lasting impact off the field. Instead of continuing the cycle of hate, he used this terrible moment in his life as an opportunity to bring people closer, instead of pushing them further apart. He has a strong belief in that “love is stronger than hate”, creating a platform to inspire audiences through his personal experiences, specifically speaking to students across the United States, and advocating for real change in and outside the workplace.

When I asked where he sees the most change in the workplace, Chris said that larger companies have really stepped up and owned this issue by creating “Implicit Bias Training”, and hiring experienced professionals that are well-versed in the DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) initiative.  Though he wished these changes were faster, he does see them happening in a tangible way.  My takeaways after our discussion were that you lead by example, and leadership sets the tone from the top down. Also, we all have the opportunity to participate in these ongoing changes in the workplace.  And there are various ways that executives and business owners can be more informed and get involved in DEI development.

Knowledge is power and comes in all forms. There are DEI education and resources available online, as well as people open to collaborative discussions. Some exceptional resources which are available are the  Harvard Implicit Association Test, which is a “self-test” to discover and recognize our own implicit biases, The Alliance Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has a vast group of resources on hand, and Forbes Magazine has a great list of 11 Books To Read If You Want To Be A More Inclusive Leader.

Incorporating these practices into your hiring or recruiting practices and policies will enforce the goal of finding the best possible candidate, while ensuring you are providing all applicants equal opportunity.

Chris’ passion has inspired me to seek education and gain an understanding of the various DEI issues so I may guide and support clients interested in creating more inclusive and diverse workplaces, as well as help candidates find the best work environment that aligns with their values and needs.  Chris taught me that every moment – good or bad – can be an opportunity for positive change.  I’ve learned from him to be open to always learning more, bettering yourself, and that you can pay it forward by telling others what you have learned.

Feel free to reach out to me any time with questions about DEI initiatives, training or ways to create a more inclusive workplace. I am privileged to pass on any knowledge I have to better the world around us, especially when it comes to more diverse and equitable work environments.

Laurie Canepa

Vice President – Texas, Finance & Accounting Search     

Cell 512.569.5334

E-mail LCanepa@StevenDouglas.com     

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