In a recent McKinsey study, research showed that companies that are ethnically diverse are 33% more likely to outperform others – Lydia Smith helps companies and professionals prepare themselves to be ahead of the curve, not only by bridging, but merging the concepts of diversity, inclusion and equity.
Holding an MBA and a bachelor’s in marketing from Florida A&M University, Lydia began her career defeating the odds when she accepted a role in an opposing functional space, information technology. As an IT leader, she was selected to be part of a prestigious, fast-track leadership program at General Electric where she quickly rose to become a stellar leader in the global organization. Due to her tenacity, Lydia was tapped to lead the diversity recruitment initiatives, not only for the IT department but also for the company’s African American Employee Resource Group. With the creation of her professional development and retention strategies, GE Healthcare saw the number of underrepresented minorities in IT increase by a stunning 50%.
As her drive for recruitment grew, so did her passion for diversity. She became co-owner of the professional organization Social X, which focuses on connecting, developing and retaining minority talent in the city of Milwaukee. As the director of business development, Lydia was able to help grow the organization from 50 to over 1000 people in just three years. After her career in IT and marketing, she pursued her passion, making a courageous decision to move into diversity and inclusion (D&I) full time. She took her first D&I role with Northwestern Mutual, quickly being promoted to assistant director of Diversity & Inclusion.
Northwestern Mutual was not the last stop for this change agent. Amongst her promotion, Lydia obtained a coaching certification for managers and executives. With her drive and new credentials, she was able to launch A New Thing Coaching & Consulting LLC, a business where she helps clients address personal and professional challenges with clarity and direction. Lastly, her love for the community and developing professionals allowed her the opportunity to become a faculty member at Milwaukee Area Technical College where she teaches business administration part-time.
Today Lydia is the senior manager of Diversity & Inclusion at Kohl’s. She’s regarded as a subject-matter expert in the field and speaks nationally on diversity and inclusion topics. Residing in Milwaukee, WI, Lydia is a sought-after coach and a mother of three daughters who enjoys traveling and adventure.