5 Questions with Erby Foster Jr.
Friday, March 30, 2012
Director, Diversity and Inclusion
The Clorox Company
succeed, our D&I efforts must be tightly integrated with our business
of Executive Women Board member Erby L. Foster Jr. serves as director, diversity and
inclusion, for The Clorox Company. He is a certified public accountant with 15 years of experience
creating and implementing business strategies that increase customer
satisfaction, drive profitable growth and expand market share. Prior to Clorox,
he served as the vice president and chief financial officer for AAA Chicago. His
previous experience includes senior-level positions with McDonald's Corporation
and KFC Corporation. Foster began his career with Arthur Andersen LLP after
graduating from the University of Southern California. He serves on the board
of directors of the Glide Foundation, INROADS, Jazz Heritage Center, Museum of
the African Diaspora, Students in Free Enterprise and the United Negro College
you do as the director of diversity and inclusion at Clorox?
I advise senior management and the board of directors on our diversity
strategy, employment-branding initiatives and external partnerships, as well as
support our employee resource groups. A big part of my job is about building
relationships with diversity organizations, encouraging ERG engagement and
constantly looking for opportunities to make a business connection.
Why are ERGs so important to Clorox’s corporate
culture and business strategy?
A large part of our growth will
come from five communities: Asian, Black, Latino, women and the lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender community. To succeed, our diversity and inclusion
efforts must be tightly integrated with our business activities. In just a few
years, our ERGs have quickly moved from promoting cultural awareness to
developing talent to becoming trusted advisors and business advocates.
recently received a "Commitment to the Community Award” for inspiring others to
get involved. What inspires you to do this?
It’s just something I enjoy. In a
recent self-discovery exercise, my top two strengths were identified as a
connector and influencer. In other words, "Whom can I connect?” and "How can I
move you to act?”There’s a rumor that if you walk into my office
with a question, you will leave with an assignment. For the record, that’s not
true. Actually, maybe it is.
you characterize "diversity and inclusion?”
Diversity without inclusion is
like adding a few drops of vinegar to oil and calling it a great dressing. How
can new people be expected to fit into old models and drive new value? The
power of diversity shines in a culture of inclusion, where differences are
valued and encouraged. Common values are the foundation, but different
perspectives and behaviors lead to new understanding, ideas and growth.
How do you encourage diversity and inclusion
encourage a simple goal: Attend two diversity events this year. That could be a
Clorox ERG event or something hosted by a Clorox partner. By experiencing
different cultures and practices, we create an opportunity to better understand
each others’ hopes and motivations. And that can help each of us become more
accepting and encouraging of those who are different.