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Volume 25 No. 151
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NCAA's Katrice Albert Works To Give Organization "Inclusive Excellence"

NCAA Exec VP/Inclusion & HR Katrice Albert shared the stage with SBJ Executive Editor Abe Madkour for a one-on-one interview on Day Two of the ’18 Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, detailing her first year in the new role that she described as a “realigned position where inclusion is now tied to human resources.” Albert earlier in her career worked with NCAA President Mark Emmert at LSU, and two retirements of longtime NCAA execs last year led to the creation of her position. She likens the move to how Fortune 500 companies are making inclusion central to talent management. Albert calls it “inclusive excellence,” saying an organization can’t have excellence without inclusion or diversity. She believes diversity is a “business imperative,” noting when companies “have diverse teams there are better performance outcomes in every metric.”

POWER FOR CHANGE: Albert said the NCAA is “making significant strides in terms of gender diversity, especially at the AD role, (but) not so much in ethnic diversity.” She feels there are “too many great, talented people being left on the sidelines because we just go for what it is easy.” Albert pointed to having “courageous leadership,” and said college coaches, ADs and presidents “all have the hiring power” to make that change. She wants to make sure university presidents and executive search firms have the names of diverse, qualified candidates, saying when looking for new hires, it “can’t just be the five people that your friend is telling you (about).”

THE BEST IS THE BEST: Albert hopes to move away from the notion that hiring a woman or ethnic minority is “skipping out on excellence.” She said, “You want to hire the best, but if part of what you also want to do is have a diverse team, diversity is a criterion. How is this person bringing a diverse perspective?” Albert: “I’m not going to say, ‘Don’t hire the best.’ But I want us to understand there’s implicit bias when we’re thinking women and people of color don’t rise to the level of the best.”

QUICK HITS:

  • On growing up as one of the only minorities in her high school: “I certainly became the window of what it’s like to be a person of color to my white friends, and then to my black friends I was able to say what happens in the white world. … I keep saying I’ve been a chief diversity officer all of my life.”
  • On imploring companies to hire more diversely: “We have to be much more courageous in having these conversations. We’ve got to actually become comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
  • On the challenges facing minorities in the industry: “Part of the ways in which we have to undo implicit bias is to know that women and people of color have been trained up. You’ve got to be 200% better to look half as good.”