Skip to content

‘Black Enterprise’ CEO Earl Graves Jr. says diversity enriches companies

Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. at the annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit

The Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit is a professional leadership conference designed especially for executive women of color. The event always promises to be a productive experience that gives women opportunities to enhance their leadership skills and network with executive decision-makers. Each year, attendees also learn new strategies for staying ahead of corporate trends and fine-tuning diversity initiatives. This year’s event brought together close to 1,000 corporate professionals and businesswomen from across the country to Las Vegas during the first week in March.

Rolling out was there and spoke with Black Enterprise CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. about this year’s conference and why diversity in corporate arenas is so important.

What’s excited you the most about this year’s Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit conference?

I think what excites us the most about this year’s Women of Power Summit is that, despite the coronavirus and the challenges that it created for a lot of corporations and individuals, the importance of these women getting together to be able to network and gain strength from each other’s love superseded the cautiousness that their corporations or others were trying to put in front of them. And so, this has shown the resolve and the strength of African American women in particular, who are serious about their craft.

So many different corporations attend the summit. Why is it so important for companies to embrace diversity?

Well, I think that the focus of [the word] diversity has been moved from being a dirty word to something that is actually a positive, where they are embracing diversity, [so] then they can enrich their company. Oftentimes, it gets looked at like it’s a negative rather than a positive. So, diversity of thought, diversity of initiative, both physical diversity of the color of people’s skin and the thought process really do enrich a company. [It’s no longer] diversity to check a box but because there’s strength in diversity rather than weakness. And, unfortunately, corporate America too often has thought about diversity as being a weakness rather than celebrating what could be the strength.