2022 Marks the 25th Anniversary of WMFDP | FDP Global.
Twenty-five years ago a couple of White guys, Bill Proudman and Michael Welp, in partnership with JoAnn Morris, a Woman of Color, saw a significant problem in the corporate world. While workplaces were attempting to navigate conversations and policies around D&I, the bulk of the work in this arena fell to the employees who were already marginalized and burdened by the system. “Let the Black woman do it” seemed to be the prevailing wisdom
Those two White guys, along with co-founder Jo Ann Morris, went on to establish WMFDP | FDP Global as a response to this practice. They knew that meaningful change around diversity, equity and inclusion couldn’t happen as long as the insiders, typically White men, separated themselves from creating an inclusive workspace.
They recognized that if White men continued to remove themselves from this challenging work, corporate America wouldn’t become authentically inclusive and able to develop a place of belonging. The insiders had to be part of this conversation.
To do just that, WMFDP | FDP Global offers one-of-a-kind D&I solutions for Fortune 1000+ companies. Our facilitators craft cutting-edge workshops for your leadership levels, from the Board Room to your management layers. These bespoke opportunities provide in-depth, collaborative and empowering work designed with your leaders in mind. Developing internal leadership diversity, equity and inclusion efforts is crucial to building an inclusive culture and crucial to any company’s success and profitability.
The Landscape Shifts. Our Mission Does Not.
It’s been 25 years since we began bringing our unique DEI efforts to companies around the world. What does the landscape look like now?
This is a question that we’re examining here at WMFDP | FDP Global as we reach this anniversary milestone. We’ve enjoyed a quarter of a century of engaging in bold and challenging conversations with those who strive to lead across difference.
For two and a half decades, WMFDP | FDP Global has partnered with courageous leaders to cultivate equitable and inclusive workplaces. We’ve seen tremendous growth in DEI efforts around the nation and around the world, and it’s been an honor to play a role in this space. Yet, we know the work continues. We know there is still so much left to accomplish.
Our facilitators embrace the privilege of doing challenging work alongside brave individuals. We acknowledge and applaud that conversations around race, gender equality and workplace inclusion have become more open and prevalent.
But we also know that doesn’t mean those conversations have gotten easier to navigate. In some ways, they’ve become more difficult.
Corporate DEI Efforts Are Floundering
Events of the past two years brought D&I work into the limelight. Hiring for DEI positions has skyrocketed as companies scrambled to create inclusive workplaces. Suddenly it mattered.
But diversity and inclusion work isn’t new. It didn’t become important one day in May 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. Our founders have been engaged in this work for nearly three decades. And so have countless others who know how vital it is to connect on a human level even within a corporate structure.
It’s never “just business.”
So why did it take a Black man’s murder to bring these conversations forward in the US and global workplaces? And why did that collective outrage seemingly die away again just as quickly? The answer is that inequity and racism remain our fallback status quo, built on centuries of oppression and injustice.
Early DEI efforts in the 1960s relied on awkward and forced diversity and sensitivity training. These sessions were mostly ineffective and often served to create resentment. If progress happened at all, it was piecemeal, incremental and haphazard.
We can do better. We have done better. But we need to persevere, and we need to do it more boldly.
Our work bypasses the lists of “do this” and “don’t do this.” We aren’t here to bring shame or blame. Instead, our facilitators and partners bring provocative experiences to the room. They bring inquiry, accountability and an acceptance of mistakes to the table because those are the necessary components of change.
Business Is Personal
Companies don’t exist without the tapestry of individuals who do the work each day. Business is personal, and as such, it demands and deserves authentic inclusion and belonging.
At the end of the day, people work for individuals, not for the amorphous corporations that issue the paychecks. Your character as a person and a leader is critical to your organization’s success.
Leading across differences is possible, but it requires the bravery to examine our shared and varied experiences to understand how they impact our workplace relationships. We can’t reduce it to a list of dos and don’ts. Fortunately, more and more leaders are recognizing this shift.
The work of our WMFDP | FDP Global team seeks to include all voices in the room, both insiders and outsiders alike. Both groups are essential to actualizing change in the workplace. And we recognize that this work is challenging and scary for many leaders and their teams.
For 25 years, we’ve honored and celebrated the bold, courageous individuals who have joined our summits and caucuses. They have both talked the talk and walked the walk, and it’s a privilege to be part of this growth.
What does corporate DEI work look like now?
- It’s conversational and relational.
- It allows for mistakes and missteps.
- It asks insiders (often White males) to help shoulder the D&I efforts.
- It recognizes the fears and worries that can surround this work.
- It acknowledges the grief of shifting societal and power dynamics, without shame or blame.
It truly is a brave new world for DEI work in businesses around the globe. And it’s incredibly exciting and empowering!
It has been our goal for 25 years to empower business leaders in their DEI efforts and understanding of their role within it, and the work continues.
What are our next steps at WMFDP | FDP Global? They are the same as they’ve been for the past 25 years. While the landscape has shifted over the years, our mission and goals haven’t. We remain committed to giving leaders the tools needed to lead across difference in any setting in order to create an inclusive world where everyone belongs.
We know that in the hands of brave participants, this work impacts individuals, organizations, communities, and the world at large.
Our team continues to create inclusive leaders from the very top of corporate leadership all the way down. From Fortune 1000+ C-suite teams and boardrooms to managers of every level, we help people shift their mindsets to lead through inclusion and equity.
We serve bold companies who have the tenacity and wisdom to commit to this authentic and world-changing work. Our top-of-the-industry facilitators bring your team real-life DEI solutions designed for your needs. These opportunities are tailored to your leaders, your workplace and your needs. Connect with us to get started.