Michele Hunt joined Robin Anselmi and Emma Rose Connolly for a timely and touching conversation about the importance of living authentically, and how that challenge relates to our well-being as individuals, the cultures and priorities of our businesses, and the racial justice and equality our world is demanding.
Michele shares with us how her childhood and upbringing impacted her ability to take on the challenges she would face in life as a Black woman in America. She goes on to tell the story of how she found herself at Herman Miller, eventually becoming the first Black, first female on the leadership team, where she helped lead an initiative to realign the company around a common vision and set of guiding values. The project involved the entire organization in a process that led to a shared sense of what matters, and a commitment to allow the full humanity of the employees to not only be respected, but valued as an asset for the business.
Michele also explains why she believes Diversity & Inclusion initiatives on their own are not enough. From her deep experience with this work, she has learned that one-offs never work, and we must instead dedicate time and energy to getting to the heart of the issues and engaging in the challenging and often messy conversations it takes to truly understand what is needed. She says that it’s critical to give people permission to struggle with these topics because no one has the magic answer, and we are all learning together. Michele has found that if we can honestly come together as human beings and have these challenging conversations, miracles happen.
Michele leaves us with an inspiring and imperative call to action: This work is not just for the sake of the organization. As individuals and as businesses, we are co-creating a brand new world, and it’s time we take that impact seriously.
Michele Hunt is a Transformation Catalyst and advisor on leadership, organizational development, organizational transformation and strategic communications. She began her career in the Michigan Department of Corrections, later becoming Michigan’s first female Deputy Warden, leading programs for rehabilitation in an adult male prison. She then spent 13 years with Hermann Miller, including her role as Director of Corporate Relations. She then served on President Bill Clinton’s Transition Team and was appointed to serve as the Director of the Federal Quality Institute, a part of Reinventing Government, a bipartisan initiative led by Vice President Al Gore.
In addition to her current advisory work through her company DreamMakers, Michele serves on the Boards of Directors of One Earth and the Detroit Windsor Dance Academy. She also serves on the advisory boards of Magnolia Moonshot 2030, the David Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at the Stiller School of Business, as an Agent for World Benefit for Fowler Center for Business at Case Western Reserve University, and as a strategic mentor and advisor to the Junior Enterprise Global Council.
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