Building an engaged, inclusive culture where people can bring their most authentic selves to work—that’s one of the passions our newly appointed Executive Vice President and President of Milliken’s Chemical Division, Cindy Boiter, brings to her work at Milliken & Company.
Cindy believes in the power of inclusion to drive excellence as our community of innovators across the globe rally together to create solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.
We sat down with Cindy to learn more about her approach to building an inclusive culture at Milliken and beyond.
Milliken: Diversity and Inclusion initiatives are an emerging emphasis in today’s global business climate. Tell us why inclusion is important for Milliken.
Cindy Boiter: Inclusion is essential in today’s competitive business landscape because inclusion drives excellence. But it is also an important unifying force within our company. Milliken is a global enterprise and we have an incredibly talented and diverse group of associates. We are focused on building an inclusive culture where all our people can thrive—and frankly where talented people from around the world want to come and work.
Building a truly inclusive community doesn’t happen overnight—it requires keen listening, lots of intentionality, and time. This is one of the reasons that Diversity and Inclusion initiatives are so important. They give us structure in which to learn, to listen to the various voices, and to see the various perspectives represented in our company. These differences, which can span race, culture, socio-economic, and more, enrich our company and impact our ability to deliver on our purpose. Intentionally listening emboldens associates to use their voices and reminds us to make room for every perspective at the table.
M: How do you prioritize inclusiveness within company culture?
CB: Companies with more diverse leadership teams report higher financial returns. To keep that diverse pool, we have to recognize the crucial role an inclusive culture plays. As with many initiatives in the corporate sphere, it starts at the top levels of leadership. Those leading should align with the makeup of the company’s workforce, yes, but they should also boldly demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity. They set the tone, and associates notice their actions.
Another way to foster inclusivity is by recognizing how the hiring process comes into play. Push inclusivity to the forefront with diverse recruiting teams reaching out to diverse candidate pools. People often recruit other people like them, so challenge your leaders, hiring, managers, and HR departments to think differently and prioritize balance and dynamics throughout the hiring process. Once you find a great candidate, it is important to give them the best chance of success.
M: What are the benefits of fostering an inclusive company culture?
CB: Beyond improved results, the company mindset really begins to shift when you prioritize inclusivity. Groupthink diminishes, and our inclination towards maintaining the status quo is reversed. It helps a company be more progressively and proactively minded, which keeps us from getting stuck in the "way it has always been done" mindset.
M: What do you perceive as a barrier to fostering inclusiveness in today’s workplace?
CB: For me, the biggest barrier is when we aren’t willing to have open and honest discussions. Inclusion is about welcoming all to the table—including those who may disagree with a certain topic. Reluctance may be motivated by a lack of understanding, so we have to bring others along because everyone has the right to be heard. We must have courageous conversations and invite thoughtful interactions to achieve our inclusivity goals.
Often the most impactful ways to invite inclusion are the simplest. Bringing an inclusive mindset to the workplace is an intentional daily choice. Choosing this mindset helps build trust and inclusion within your team, which then radiates out within your company.
(These images predate the COVID-19 pandemic; please follow applicable health guidelines, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.)