Where you’ve been can be a huge inspiration for where you’re going. Our rich diversity inspires the people of Accenture to be more innovative, more creative and more competitive.
Our Britaini Carroll and Karla Kramer joined to discuss their Native American culture and how inclusion and diversity fuel innovation at Accenture.
Karla: It means we embrace differences and the richness that our differences bring. One recent example comes to mind when I volunteered at the One Journey Festival. It’s an amazing day, spearheaded and organized by Accenture’s Wendy Chan, that celebrates immigrants and refugees and the wonderful way our culture is enriched by the traditions they bring with them.
Britiani: Diversity and inclusion signifies strength to me. The more diversity of thought, experience, creativity and maturity of ideas, the more potential to find a unique approach to learn from each other and collaborate on a unique outcome.
Everyone learns something as a result—and if we aren’t learning, we aren’t growing. To me, including all perspectives helps everyone learn. I am so proud to work for Accenture, where these words truly mean something.
Karla: I agree 100 percent. How does inclusion drive innovation? Can you give an example?
Britaini: I strongly believe that being aware of and exposed to other cultures and experiences—within Accenture, with our clients and in our communities—spurs questions. And we know from research that asking questions from a point of curiosity unlocks innovation and new ways of thinking.
For example, in my current role, I work with clients to design ways to engage their workforce to grow their skills and prepare for the technology change that is impacting all careers. Last year, I tapped into a new hire with a master’s in industrial organizational psychology as well as an experienced hire who worked in customer service for the federal government. Their insights added a fresh perspective from both their cultural and academic experiences.
Karla: For me, this brings up a more personal example of the way innovation can spur inclusion. My son, Lucas, has a physical disability that can keep him from participating in school activities. To aid his mobility, he uses a scooter that folds up and transforms so that he can bring it anywhere, including school trips.
He gets a lot of positive comments and interest due to the utility and “coolness” factor. This innovation allows Lucas to feel more included since he gets around better and can participate more in school field trips. For a 13-year-old who doesn’t need a wheelchair full time, it’s the perfect solution for his independence.
Karla: Given it is Native American Heritage Month in the U.S., can you comment on how your culture shaped your childhood?
Britiani: My family is from South Dakota, where there are many vibrant Native American communities with rich cultures. I was first exposed to the Sioux culture when I discovered a book my dad wrote (and my mom typed for him!) called "Days Past", which highlights the history of the Yankton Sioux in South Dakota.
Reading this book as a teenager and learning about the history and perspectives on life in the Sioux culture lead to my appreciation of all the different cultures in the world and piqued my sense of curiosity.
Karla: How does your heritage impact you today?
Britaini: I’m honored to be part of the Accenture American Indian Employee Resource Group (ERG) as well as serving on the scholarship committee for our American Indian Scholarship Program for the past 10 years. Our objective is to invest in students who will be leaders in their community and continue to provide opportunities for these cultures to expand their livelihood.
It’s so rewarding to see scholarship recipients succeed through college, return to their communities and take on a role that demonstrates the impact education can have as well as the ability to apply knowledge for good.
I know you have a particularly special connection to how we celebrated Native American Heritage Month at Accenture with our people.
Karla: My brother Kevin Washburn, the dean of law at the University of Iowa and former President Obama appointee and assistant secretary of Indian affairs, joined our webcast as a special guest. I’m so proud of all his work on American Indian issues and for tribes.
Britaini: This year, I will be rereading my father’s book, so I can ask my parents questions about their experiences sitting with the elders and capturing their stories at a time where there was not a lot of curiosity and interest in native history.
The stories of the past are the building blocks for the future.
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