In 1 Sentence, Walgreen’s CEO Roz Brewer Reveals What We Still Don’t Get About Equality — And How We Can Get It Right.

In late 2021, CEO Roz Brewer of the Walgreens Boots Alliance sat down with The Harvard Business Review for a chat. The thrust of the interview? Empowering employees, the importance of learning the inner workings of a business, and the problems we still face in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

Brewer is a black CEO — one of two in the Fortune 500s — and has had an impressive career that spans from drive-through work through Starbucks to trucking for Walmart, and most recently, she led one of the largest health and wellness companies in the United States. country.

Her experience is a goldmine for entrepreneurs, as revealed by an interview with HBR. Not only does it show what potential business leaders have to do to climb the ladder (hint: pay attention, listen, work in the trenches, and do the “worst and best” jobs so they really know the business), but it exposes the embarrassing fissures in DEI that’s still cracking the workforce.

Perhaps the most stable snippet is this snippet from Back and Forth with HBR, particularly the last line:

“… [this is] THE HISTORY WE KNOW IN THE US: Give someone a start and then take it to the next level. …[But w]You haven’t done enough studying and thinking, what happens in someone’s life, when you’re more single than a kid, and you have to take care of that kid? Which is more than the cost, it has to do with their self-esteem. And so we started looking at things like, How do you feel about yourself and are we developing that in people? “

For many with ambitions to climb the ladder in the business world, the focus is on efficiency and productivity practices early in the journey: How do you position yourself to be a successful leader? How to reach the first class and stay on top?

However, Brewer highlights the work that still needs to be done when you get to the top, focusing on more than just dollars and cents. It is about people. Instead of asking questions about best practices for staying on top, the questions should become: How do I give my employees a fair and equal opportunity to climb their stairs?

This, as you imply, is not about blanket statements or generalized programs, but about asking people: What do you want, and what do you need to get there?

It’s about fairness, Brewer says. It’s about ensuring that the people who make your company successful feel seen and heard, while giving them a fair chance to succeed on their own terms.

“This is the next level of leadership,” she explains. “[W]We’re going to have to be very brave about listening, acting, and making people feel included in the environments we create, as leaders.”

This isn’t just how you resist The Great Resignation – this is how you thrive in the modern business world.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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