Stefen Welch is vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Detroit Pistons. Welch focuses on the team’s strategy to attract and acquire diverse talent, professional development opportunities for employees, and identify strategic business initiatives. Welch previously led DEI for national retailer Saks OFF 5TH and the country’s largest mortgage lender, Rocket Mortgage.
Welch attended the National Black MBA Association Men’s Leadership Summit and spoke with rolling out about Black men and their involvement with DEI.
Where is there greater opportunity in DEI development and initiatives?
Although there continues to be more investment and attention on Black professionals, I think one of the things that we have to continue to do is to understand where and how to find talent. I talked to so many people within the talent acquisition space, and they say, “Stefen, how do I find Black males? How do I find Black women?” The National Black MBA Association is a great platform to engage with Black talent. I think it’s extremely important to have cultural trade associations, so that they get a chance to be engaged and develop, but there is a market for organizations to tap into to find awesome and diverse talent.
How impactful has DEI been in the NBA?
I can surely say that the NBA is one of the most thoughtful and intentional sports organizations in all of professional sports. When I look around at my colleagues here in Atlanta, Minnesota, Cleveland, or Dallas, they’re doing phenomenal jobs across the league regarding engaging, raising awareness, and providing opportunities and access when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Why should Black men get more involved in promoting DEI?
Because we’re a part of it. Oftentimes as people, we have been historically excluded, or we are often targeted with being the answer or coming up with the solutions for issues that we didn’t create. It’s great to be a part of it, but everything shouldn’t be on us, and I think it’s okay for Black men to say that this is not something they should be taking on by themselves.
I’m excited when I see other groups get involved in the conversation. I think it’s great. Not only are we solution-oriented, because we’ve had to navigate through a lot, but that shouldn’t just be on us as African Americans or other marginalized groups. Other folks have to be a part of the conversation, not only allies, not only as advocates but also as accomplices as well.