How the longing for justice and social progress can power our personal and professional journeys
When I first joined the Conduent team more than 20 years ago under a different organization, I never expected Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) would be an important aspect of my role. I’ve had numerous roles during my tenure in the organization, but my last one as Operational Excellence Consultant focused on leading account management teams across the globe to enhance service delivery, operational efficiency, productivity, and quality. While much of my personal time was devoted to giving back to the community, I viewed that as mostly separate from my work tasks and responsibilities.
In May 2020, following the tragic death of George Floyd, I realized I could not keep my two worlds separate any longer. I emailed Conduent CEO Cliff Skelton a blogpost I had written about being the mother of a black son, and what it feels like to fear for my son’s life every day. It was Cliff’s thoughtful response that prompted me to join Conduent’s Black Impact Group (BIG), one of our employee groups created to enrich diversity, elevate equity and empower inclusion. BIG is a place where people of color can come together to celebrate culture, support and give back to our communities, and foster professional development.
Over the past two years, my position has evolved, and I am proud to now serve as a Senior Advisor, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Conduent and Co-Chair of the Black Impact Group. This role combines my passion for community service with my professional background in client management. My responsibilities include external engagement and partnerships with public sector clients to craft and implement DEI best practices for new government market opportunities. In this capacity, I develop and shape business development priorities, present ideas to key public sector decision-makers on innovations that support equity goals, create roadmaps for government client outreach, and partner with internal business partners to support growth objectives.
A calling for community service
I grew up in Bronx River NYCHA Housing in the 1970s. I watched my grandmother give food to our neighbors even though we received EBT/SNAP benefits. Her compassion showed me that the smallest of actions matter. Whether she knew it or not, my grandmother taught me the tenet of servant leadership — serve my community by helping others with empathy and humility. I was lucky to get a great education in New York City public schools and I went on to attend Lincoln University, the oldest degree-granting Historically Black College & University in the US, where I double majored in Accounting and Business Administration.
There I joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an organization of college-educated women committed to constructive development of its members and to public service with a primary focus on the Black community.
Today, I serve as the President of the West Windsor Plainsboro African American Parent Support Group, where we collaborate with the school board, school officials and local police departments to successfully run programs benefiting African American students. Additionally, I’m the Advisor for the West Windsor Plainsboro NAACP Youth Chapter, a Girl Scout Troop Leader and a former member of the Girl Scouts of Central & Southern New Jersey’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Racial Justice Advisory Council.
Incorporating DEI into the Conduent mission
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion are core values for Conduent, which is why we were recognized by Forbes as one of America’s best employers for diversity for the third year in a row. Our commitment to DEI is evident in the work that we do, serving our clients every day, from community health initiatives to curbside management to instant payments.
Conduent’s Healthy Communities Institute (HCI) is a great example of the impact we can have on improving lives. Conduent HCI provides an end-to-end solution for community health improvement that links health and social determinants of health data with technology and expertise. Working with hospitals and health systems, health departments, local collaboratives, and non-profit organizations across the country, Conduent HCI provides tailored solutions for each community.
The HCI Platform brings stakeholders together by putting centralized data, high-value analytics and evidence-based practices at the user’s fingertips. More than 100 million lives have been impacted by the HCI Platform, through innovative technology that enables users to visualize and act on social inequities, identify health disparities and improve access to and investment in vital resources. Conduent HCI shows the power of partnerships to advance health equity.
Improving social equity through better curbside management
Equity in transportation is a top priority for Conduent. One example is our curbside management work in Chicago. The City of Chicago Department of Finance is charged with the enforcement and collection of revenues, including parking fines. The department issues approximately 1.3 million parking citations annually and administers several programs to benefit disadvantaged motorists.
Administering the curb is not easy. City parking managers lacked data and made assumptions about when and where to enforce. Despite best intentions, the allocation of enforcement may have perpetuated the inequitable distribution of citations by “overworking” certain neighborhoods, including issuing disproportionately higher fines in some disadvantaged communities.
Working with the City of Chicago, we used data to redeploy the City’s parking officers away from disadvantaged communities to areas where higher impact tickets could be written that would improve safety and alleviate congestion. The net result is a reduced financial impact on disadvantaged communities; a more efficient flow of traffic; and a safer, more equitable community.
Creating equity in instant payments
Instant payments have emerged as a vital tool for individuals and businesses to conduct seamless financial transactions. However, the widespread adoption of instant payments must be accompanied by a focus on equity and accessibility. Recognizing this need, the Federal Reserve has introduced the FedNowSM Service, which aims to provide expanded reach and equitable access to instant payment capabilities.
Conduent is the first business process solutions company to integrate with the FedNow Service. As an integration point in our Digital Integrated Payments Hub, Conduent can provide another means of instant, digital payments to those who may not have had access to them before. By coupling our expertise in business processes and digital payments with the FedNow Service, Conduent continues to lead the market with a comprehensive suite of solutions and services that provide all our clients and their customers with a fast, secure and efficient way to send and receive payments.
These innovations in digital payments are essential to ensure that the benefits of instant payments are accessible to all, empowering underserved communities and fostering economic growth.
I know firsthand what it means to families when they depend on government services, so being part of a team focused on improving how those services are delivered is something that gives me an enormous sense of pride. It’s a servant leadership lesson my grandma taught that I still practice each day.