One of the challenges organizations often cite with respect to hiring and promoting diverse talent is known as the “pipeline problem.” The argument is that it’s hard to bring diverse talent to top positions because there aren’t enough diverse employees coming into the company.
While there are certainly many valid criticisms of the pipeline problem argument, two elements of it ring true: 1) Childhood education is key to success in later life, and 2) the decentralized education system in the United States opens the door for extremely varied quality in the education received by American students.
Fewer opportunities at an early age for many people of color mean that less privileged students often have a poorer education than those from wealthier backgrounds or communities and, consequently, are at a disadvantage when it comes to their careers.
That’s what makes the mission of Curriculum Associates (CA) and the mission and background of its Chief Inclusion Officer, Sabrina Williams, so powerful. Consider, for example, the passage below from the CA website’s About Us section:
For 50 years, Curriculum Associates (CA) has been united around one common purpose: to make classrooms better places for teachers and students. In the years since, we’ve remained driven by this mission, introducing and then constantly improving innovative and exciting products that give every student the chance to succeed. We believe teachers are the essential glue between our programs and classroom success, so we strive to empower them with the tools and resources to accelerate student growth. Together with educators we’re making equitable learning programs a reality—raising the bar and making it reachable for all.
The last part here is key to our point: “[W]e’re making equitable learning programs a reality—raising the bar and making it reachable for all.” It’s a sentiment that resonates well with Williams.
Williams has more than 2 decades of experience in Human Resources (HR). Throughout her career, she has worked as a powerful change agent, laying the foundation for long-term success through the implementation of comprehensive strategies that put in place people, systems, and organizations that enable new business capabilities and revenue opportunities, cost savings, leadership development and pipelines, succession planning, cultural transformations, and best-in-class internal service delivery.
Before coming to CA, Williams led HR departments for companies like Brigham Health, Tufts University, Hill Holiday, and others. Along the way, she has been recognized many times for her success as an HR and diversity professional, receiving numerous awards, including making the Boston Business Journal‘s Best Companies to Work list and winning The Rosoff Awards and the YWCA Women Achievers Award.
Paying It Forward
Williams says she wouldn’t be where she is today if it weren’t for her experience in the public school system. As a first-generation American educated in New York’s public school system and who received a full scholarship to college, Williams has always felt a strong urge to give back. She’s long been an active advocate for greater diversity in education, starting at the admissions process.
Professionally, Williams has felt similarly grateful for the opportunities presented to her and has sought to provide the same kind of support to others. “This work of DEI has been a thread throughout my career,” she says about her diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.
“My first foray into it was being exposed to HR through the power of a mentor who’s a black woman—she took me under her wing and showed me the importance of having mentoring and sponsorship as a person of color in the workplace. I have always integrated that into my career,” says Williams.
That desire to pay it forward didn’t stop when Williams was promoted. Instead, she found that her position as a leader in HR gave her an even greater ability to support others.
“It’s been a personal and professional passion for me, because I benefited from that kind of support in both education and my professional career,” she adds.