Miriam H. Lewis, chief inclusion officer at Principal Financial Group, gave a virtual lecture on diversity and inclusion to students Wednesday as part of Business Week.
After speaking about her background and her work at Principal, which includes conducting interviews with over 900 employees and former employees to learn what Principal can do to make the workplace better, Lewis defined diversity.
“Diversity is everything I am and everything I’m not," Lewis said. "It's a very broad range of distinctions that make us all very dependent on another, and mostly better together.”
Lewis then explained what inclusion means in the workplace and why it's important.
“When you feel at home in someone else’s house, you may go into the refrigerator and get a glass of water without asking," Lewis said. "When you feel at home at work, you bring your ideas to the table, you bring innovation to the table.”
Lewis also gave advice to the students about picking companies to work for in their future careers. She said diversity is a good indicator of the long-term success of the company, and doing research to learn about the company’s stance on representation is very important.
“As you weigh your decision, keep in mind that if you’re looking for something in particular and you don’t see it, that you may be the person they need to drive that change,” Lewis said.
Corey Wagner, a senior in management who attended the lecture, said in an email he thought Lewis was a great choice for a speaker.
“I thought that Miriam gave great insight into diversity and inclusion and how we as students could implement it into our own lives," Wagner wrote. "It was really interesting to hear her perspectives.”