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Bold Leader Spotlight: James E. Taylor, Ph.D., Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Management Officer, UPMC

Two dudes working in an office with a ghost

You may not realize it, but the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is the largest employer in the entire state of Pennsylvania. With over 85,000 employees, UPMC’s culture is one that offers great potential for diversity and inclusion. And UPMC Chief Diversity Officer and Inclusion and Talent Management Officer Dr. James E. Taylor has risen to the occasion. Under his bold leadership, UPMC is well recognized as a beacon of excellence not only within its community but throughout the nation.

For James E. Taylor, being a chief diversity officer and inclusion and talent manager means much more than simply meeting metric quota. True diversity and inclusion efforts should extend beyond the organization and into the community where businesses operate. Likewise, perpetuating diversity and inclusion demands an evolution of corporate culture. These perspectives have guided James E. Taylor’s efforts, which have demonstrated why he epitomizes bold leadership. 

Because of his work in actively advocating diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we turn this week’s Bold Leader Spotlight on James E. Taylor.

Bold Leader Spotlight James E. Taylor Chief Diversity Officer Cartoon
James E. Taylor provides a great example of a bold leader because he highlights what it means to truly pursue a bold life along the way.

A Chief Diversity Officer Who Leads Through Knowledge and Expertise

Bold leadership embraces continual learning and knowledge-building to achieve excellence progressively. This statement reflects James E. Taylor’s efforts throughout his professional career.

In addition to attaining a doctorate in organizational psychology, James E. Taylor has advanced as a leader through experience also. His career lists serving as executive director of diversity strategy and workplace inclusion for Kaiser Permanente. Likewise, he has also been chief diversity officer and chief learning officer for Carolinas Healthcare System.

As chief diversity officer and talent manager at UPMC, James E. Taylor continues to appreciate the importance of advanced knowledge and expertise. Like many organizations, UPMC utilizes employee resource groups as a means to access diverse thoughts and perspectives. But unlike many businesses that use ERGs to primarily guide diversity strategy, James E. Taylor sees ERGs as support activities. The insights gained from these groups are highly valued, but they still require an in-depth knowledge of diversity and inclusion science. This area is where his leadership helps UPMC truly rise above.

True Talent Manager Skills Demand a Commitment to Challenge Norms

James E. Taylor’s father was employed at Kodak for over 40 years before he retired. As James E. Taylor recalls, the person his father was at home was not the same as the person at work. But times have changed, and organizations seek to encourage greater congruency between work and home life.

As Chief Diversity Officer and Talent Manager, James E. Taylor appreciates that constant change is essential for bold leadership success. As such, he continually challenges the status quo as it relates to UPMC’s organizational culture.

A significant part of these changes involves increasing the capacity for flexibility for UPMC members. James E. Taylor strives to create an environment where individuals can be themselves. By understanding that individuals have lives and priorities beyond their work duties, a company or organization makes its employees feel more included and respected. In the process, they are more likely to grow and align their personal preferences with organizational values.

James E. Taylor’s Broad Social Perspective of Diversity and Inclusion

In terms of basic philosophy, James E. Taylor sees true diversity and inclusion somewhat differently than other talent managers. One major distinction is his scope of influence where his role as chief diversity officer extends. Not only does he perceive a duty to promote diversity and inclusion in the organization, but he also envisions his role to create the same type of culture throughout the community. From his point of view, diversity and inclusion—in both an organization and a community—are mutually empowering.

In addition, James E. Taylor is committed to pursuing both diversity and inclusion simultaneously.

Many organizations do a good job of pursuing one but not the other. However, as he explains, the only way to achieve a true cultural competence requires leaders to invest in both areas. This statement means not only evaluating access and opportunity in the organization and community, but also evaluating the metrics you use, and the values promoted.

Indeed, his commitment to diversity and inclusion soars that it was only fitting that he was chosen to be one of the speakers of the Diversity MBA 12th Annual Elite Business Leaders Conference last year and the Chairman of their advisory board.

Bold Leadership through Role Modeling and Mentoring

In his role as chief diversity officer at UPMC, James E. Taylor exerts bold leadership in unique ways. All learning and development opportunities in which he participates is performed through a lens of diversity and inclusion.

Whether it’s physician development, new employee orientations, or leadership development programs, this is James E. Taylor’s approach. In providing an example of diversity and inclusion excellence, leaders can foster a diverse and inclusive organizational culture that is desired.

James E. Taylor has set some pretty incredible goals in his role as chief diversity officer and talent manager. Over the next five years, he hopes to increase the number of women executives by 20 percent. Likewise, he is striving to increase individuals of color by 40 percent at the executive level. He also plans to continue to grow both the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the greater community through diversity and inclusion initiatives. Indeed, James E. Taylor provides a great example of a bold leader. And he highlights what it means to truly pursue a bold life along the way.

To learn more about the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, check out this profile on the innovative nonprofit healthcare system.

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