Beth Brooke knows what workplace exclusion looks like. When she accepted her first job at a major accounting firm in the 1980s, she learned within 48 hours that she would be expected — as a female employee — to provide inappropriate favors as a condition of career advancement. Instead of complying, she quit on the spot and drove overnight from Georgia to Indiana to start a new job at Ernst & Whinney, which became Ernst and Young in 1989. “I dashed into the office the next morning, and that was the beginning of my 30-year career,” Brooke said Nov. 1, 2011, during a question-and-answer session with students from the National Association of Women MBAs and the Thunderbird Marketing Association. “It was like coming home to my value system.”
Today Brooke works closely with government regulators as Global Vice Chair, Public Policy at Ernst & Young. She also oversees diversity and inclusiveness efforts at the global firm, which operates in more than 140 countries. She has been named four times to the list of Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and was named 2009 Woman of the Year by Concern Worldwide.
Brooke said workplace diversity often brings friction and dissent, but companies achieve better long-term results when they welcome different perspectives. She said authentic diversity and inclusiveness programs start at the top of any organization with the leadership.
“When we don’t have an inclusive leader, I watch things melt down into chaos,” she said. Brooke said one key is to develop leaders with Global Mindset, a trait defined and measured at the Najafi Global Mindset Institute at Thunderbird School of Global Management. Learn more in this Thunderbird Knowledge Network video on YouTube and China’s Tudou.com (2:22).