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Diversity drives business, Lenovo exec says

Thursday, March 26, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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"Even though we come from different companies and industries we face the same challenges," Yolanda Conyers, vice president of global human resources and chief diversity officer for Lenovo, told NEW members and supporters at the NEW Western Michigan learning event at the Western Michigan University Food Marketing Conference on March 16, 2015 at The Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The high-tech industry veteran led "Managing Culture and Diversity to Drive New Business Growth," sharing the problem-solving insights found in her book The Lenovo Way – Managing a Diverse Global Company for Optimal Performance, which she co-authored with Gina Qiao, Lenovo's senior vice president of human resources.

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Conyers shared how she followed her father's advice to "get an education, travel around the world and embrace the future." Later, she succeeded by blending Eastern and Western business cultures to nurture an increasingly diverse workforce.

"Remember, every family community and company has a culture," Conyers said, adding that it's important to watch for "I" mentality. "Culture is about the 'we.' People drive culture. Culture drives strategy. Success isn't about our products, it's about the people."

Evolution to a diverse, inclusive culture won't be immediate or easy, she said. "You have to be patient, have to have time, have to be willing to make sacrifices."

Past success does not equal future success, Conyers said, noting that change won't always look like success. "People look at turnover as weakness, but often it’s not — it’s needed to change and grow."

Conyers advised leaders to bear in mind that "change is what makes success possible."

Organizations represented by large groups at the event include Altria, Kellogg Company and Kraft Foods Group.

NEW Western Michigan regional committee members came together at the
WMU Food Marketing Conference in Kalamazoo.

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