“A ship is safe in a harbor, but a ship was not built to stay in a harbor”
Karen didn’t always know that she wanted to work in diversity and inclusion (D&I). But being an adventurer and risk-taker from an early age, she eventually found herself in a career that she loves. Originally from Jamaica, West Indies, Karen was raised by her grandmother and mother, who was an educator. Her frequent moves with her family made her comfortable with the unknown and the unfamiliar. This contributed to Karen’s no-fear approach to her own career. Much like how a ship is safest in its harbor, it is not meant to stay there, Karen explains, which is the idea behind Karen’s willingness to explore and challenge herself. In fact, she’s only comfortable when she’s uncomfortable.
Karen admits that moving often as a young child, coupled with her focus on her career, made building and maintaining relationships challenging and less of a priority. However, in her late twenties, she discovered its true value personally and professionally. She started by building her own support network, her own “galaxy of people,” which she refers to as her “Board of Directors.” Most recently, she created a network of friends and colleagues (who refer to themselves jokingly as the “Wolfpack”) who support, encourage and hold each other accountable both professionally and personally.
What is diversity and inclusion and why is it important?
Karen asks us to think of diversity as a soup: the more ingredients in a soup, and in balanced proportions, the more nutritious and robust the flavors. But diversity is just the mix, inclusion is making the mix work well. She encourages the companies she works with to see the benefit of adding more people from underrepresented groups as a business value, rather than simply a PR, compliance or social justice obligation. In her work on diversity and inclusion, Karen prides herself on being a “voice for the voiceless” and an advocate for superior business performance.
Taking time to reflect…
As a self-proclaimed introvert (“an introvert in an extrovert’s world”) Karen encourages us all to take time for ourselves and our health — to reflect, think, and rest. While Karen herself goes through life confidently and boldly, she has some advice for those familiar moments when we all struggle with feelings of uncertainty or inadequacy: she suggests that we take the time to graciously accept the good things that others see in us — in other words, they are the mirrors to ourselves, reflecting things in us we don’t often see in ourselves.