China Widener

How to Fight Workplace Discrimination
October 3 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Too Busy and Too Unfortunate

Let’s talk about generational gaps. I’m not talking about the beef between 80s and 90s kids. (I think we can all say the latter wins, am I right?). I’m talking about early career and late career divides. I witnessed this split first-hand at my doctor’s office: One 20-something receptionist sat beside a 60-something office manager, yet both acted as though the other wasn’t there. It was awkward. There was side-eyeing and audible, tired groaning. I knew instantly that neither was faultless. Today, examine your ageism. The first step is to admit that you do, in fact, have some prejudice against people that aren’t your age, so go ahead and check that off the list right away. Then, dig really deep and identify a time in which you sent a salty email or judgmental glance to an older colleague.


In those incredible and uncomfortable 15 minutes at the front desk, I recognized that some kind of mediation needed to happen or, better yet, a company-wide dialogue that bridges not only generational gaps, but gender gaps and racial gaps, too. You’re only as good as those who lead you, and it turns out people aren’t leading very well. According to recent data, 41% of managers say they can’t implement diversity initiatives because there isn’t enough room in their schedule. Newsflash! A full calendar doesn’t excuse systematic discrimination.

WOMAN TO WATCH: China Widener, Principal, Strategy & Operations Leader & Diversity and Inclusion Leader at Deloitte

Managers surely wonder how to even start a diversity initiative. The answer is to elicit the help of someone skilled and experienced in the subject; that way, employees don’t leave feeling more bewildered than before. Our Woman to Watch today, China Widener, sets an example for how to foster diversity at a company, and how to empower women to feel fearless in every decision they make along the way.

China has worked at Deloitte for more than a decade to build inclusivity in local and state governments. She’s been instrumental in developing diverse programming and guiding clients to better understand their nuanced roles.

Following law school in Maryland, China became a senior executive in the state and local government at Harvard Kennedy School before hopping over to Deloitte. One of the ways in which China shines in her current role is she gives space for women to take stock of both their professional and personal lives. Deloitte implements programs in which women unite to do this very thing.

Early on, Deloitte connected with the United States Army War College to take female leaders through battlegrounds. The women were tasked with climbing the very same hills that past soldiers had ascended. China remembers the participants’ “ruthless consistency,” and she uses that as a guiding light for business principles.

Feel free to casually share today’s On The Dot with a boss who needs to learn a few of China’s tips about taking a company’s leadership to the next level. First, she says, there has to be an opportunity for those in leadership to identify their own diminished skills. You can’t see opportunities for better inclusion at your company without examining yourself, first.

Next, create programs that are activities-focused. For example, a slideshow about the positives of generational diversity in the workplace is basically just a way for employees, of any age, to take a snooze. Instead, embrace conversation starters and games. Be sure to develop programs that employees can apply to their current job, too.

It’s downright uncomfortable to take off the rose-colored glasses and examine what’s really going on in your life or in your company, but as China shows, there’s no hill—or mountain—you can’t climb.


As China Widener said:

"You don't have to be fearless, but you do have to be courageous."

Meet China at our See It To Be It Success Summit on October 18th, where she’ll be speaking alongside Marjorie Clifton of Clifton Consulting and RetailMeNot’s Sharon Brogdon on a panel called, “Better Together: A Discussion of Diversity, Inclusion + Civility.” These experts will give you real examples and solutions to create a positive working environment for all establishing the “new normal” in the workplace. For tickets to the event, click here!

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