How are our employees taking action to make LS&Co. a more diverse and inclusive workplace? Our DE&I Champions series sets out to answer exactly that. This month’s featured champions are Alex Isaac, District Manager, South Florida, and Steve Nelson, Sr. District Manager, North Texas. Alex and Steve are recent graduates of LS&Co.’s inaugural efficacy program Elevate: Accelerate Your Career, which honors the unique experiences and challenges of Black and Hispanic/Latinx talent in the workforce. Read on to see their perspectives on DE&I and more.
Tell us something that we wouldn’t know about you just be looking at you.
Alex: I am a father of three beautiful girls. Their names are Aleris (24), Alexa (22) and Kamelia (18).
Steve: I am a seventh generation Texan, the grandson of immigrants and a father of four beautiful multiracial children.
Most of my life I have been culturally ambiguous. When I think about being younger, there were times I was able to pass as straight or white and that gave me advantages, not realizing the cost or impact. At the same time, I have experienced moments of discrimination — not always realizing why. Seeing the impact on my friends and family while at times benefiting from that privilege created a level of guilt I carried through the years, not realizing how it affected me.
Now I am witnessing my own children find their way through a world with systems that perpetuate inequity. I’m watching their experiences and recognizing both the benefits and the familiar hardships I had. I am still learning to understand how I can be there for them while also continuing to learn as I navigate my own journey.
Why is DE&I important to you as a leader?
Alex: DE&I is important to me as a leader because it encourages greater diversity and inclusion across our teams and ensures that team members are heard, respected and valued, which means you have a higher retention rate.
Teams are more successful when you can create an inclusive environment, and results are sustainable. When all of this is at play, you can quite literally see teams and companies grow over time.
Also, I want to be in an environment where individuals are recognized for what they bring to the table and not for how they look.
Steve: Thirty years ago, before it was legal to marry my husband, I remember being added to his health insurance. At the time it was significant, almost radical in my mind. Where I grew up, there were no gay role models and very few public figures who had kids or a career — there weren’t public people who looked or acted like me.
Today, DE&I is about visibility and representation, about being seen and valued. People need to see themselves in the people they work with. For some, work may be the only refuge where a person feels valued, the only place they can be their true selves. I have a responsibility to those who come after me to help contribute to that environment — that place where people can be their best selves and be truly who they are.
It can’t just be good enough for some. It has to be good enough for everyone.
What is your call to action to your fellow LS&Co. employees and leaders?
Alex: We need to continue to build and create our inclusive culture together. When we have a diverse organization, we create a culture and have colleagues who are self-aware, curious, courageous, vulnerable and empathetic. This will ensure we have an environment where everyone feels respected and valued for who they are.
Steve: Use the resources we have at the company. Whether it is a DE&I training or a benefit, leverage those things to better yourself and those around you. We have the ability to affect change, even in a small way, just by being more aware of ourselves and others around us.