Rosie's Riveters Day 1: The Next Generation meets the Pioneers of the Women’s Movement

Editor's Note: This is the first post in a series showing genKP's trip to the White House with a group of Rosie the Riveters! Stay tuned for future posts!

Day 1: The Next Generation meets the Pioneers of the Women’s Movement

By: Jessica Johnson and Jaimie Reyes

It all started on a busy Tuesday morning in March. I got a phone call from Ije Udeze, chief of staff, asking me to participate in meeting that I was not a part of, but I didn’t hesitate to say, “I’ll be right in.” At the end of the meeting, Jennifer Scanlon, community relations director, was nonchalantly talking to the group about an amazing project she had been assigned to. She was in charge of putting together a White House trip to Washington, D.C. for six Rosie the Riveters. I was familiar with the Rosie the Riveter picture. I mean, who doesn’t know the cute girl with the red bandana, flexing her right bicep?! But I didn’t know the “story” behind that historical picture. I vaguely heard Jennifer say they wanted two genKP members to go on this trip to represent the past, present and future of Kaiser Permanente. Ije quickly looked over at me and said, “Do you want to go?” I of course did not hesitate to say, “Heck yea I do!”Rosie-the-Riveter

I wanted to learn as much about the Rosies as I possibly could. I read and skimmed all of the articles and bios that I could find.

A couple days before the trip, Jennifer invited Jaimie and myself to the Rosie Memorial Center in Richmond, for a meet and greet with the Rosies. All of the reading, skimming, browsing I did about these ladies did not capture the energy, excitement, strength, wittiness, and determination I learned just from a 15 minute in-person meeting with them. The short amount of time I got to spend with these ladies before our D.C. trip made me 10 times more excited and honored to travel with an amazing and heroic group of women.

As we started our journey to SFO at 4:30 AM on Sunday, March 30th, I started to realize the importance of this trip. Jaimie, Jennifer, and I have the opportunity to accompany the pioneers of the Women’s Rights movement, before Lean In, before Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This trip is everything to me; I have the honor of being in the presence of fearless women.

As an early professional I know the joys and pains of innovation, and pushing the envelope when you’re passionate about something. These heroines will teach us perseverance, patience, and strength without flexing through their stories alone.

These women answered the nation’s call for help, and supported Kaiser Permanente’s vision for lean and agile methods way before Six Sigma was written into the DNA of corporate operations. So as we descend into Washington D.C., I’m thinking about everything, how to enjoy these phenomenal women, how to stay rosy, and how to contribute to something that is bigger than yourself.

KP Share article: Kaiser Permanente Shipyard Rosies Headed to White House

Innovation through Diversity: A Conversation with Dr. Ronald Copeland

Dr. Ronald Copeland
Dr. Ronald Copeland

Dr. Ronald Copeland, Senior Vice President & Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of Kaiser Permanente, sat down with Lauren Duffy of genKP to discuss the role of diverse perspectives in the innovation of new ideas, the value of Multicultural Business Resource Groups, and tips for developing professionals on standing out and discovering your strengths. Dr. Copeland transitioned to the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer role in January of this year and is the co-chair of the Kaiser Permanente National Diversity Council. He was previously President and Executive Medical Director of the Ohio Permanente Medical Group, and brings his technical knowledge as a surgeon of 25 years to his current role. He offered his insights on the latest advances in neuroscience and how they play a role in discovering our unconscious biases.

On September 4, Dr. Copeland spoke at the Diversity Speaker Series event in Oakland, where he described his formative experiences that lead him to become the person that he is today. He explained that inclusion starts with understanding your own unique life story, going below the "water-line of the iceberg" and realizing the significant role your experiences play in your perspective, both consciously and unconsciously. Once you become comfortable with your own personal framework, the second part is gaining the confidence to articulate those experiences to whoever, whenever. "Telling people about who you are at a granular level, and more importantly how you became who you are, the influences, that’s where the real magic happens," said Dr. Copeland.

In a business context, Dr. Copeland emphasized the tremendous opportunity and value gained by bringing varied perspectives to the table, through leadership creating an environment where people feel empowered to bring their true selves. He described how diversity is an accelerant for innovation, breakthroughs, and complex problem-solving:

“Innovation happens most often when you intentionally bring diverse elements together, knowing that it’s going to create temporary chaos and collisions, and that’s exactly what you want. That’s your test environment, and from there comes new ideas, new looks at things that you couldn't have anticipated, but one or two sparks are going to be very enlightening, and now you’re going to say, 'A-ha,'” said Dr. Copeland.

Dr. Copeland cited KP's Multicultural Business Resource Groups (MBRGs) as innovation opportunities that leverage value for leadership as well as participating members. MBRGs, which include genKP, provide an opportunity to tackle issues and gain enrichment of different perspectives through cross-functional collaboration. An example would be genKP's participation in an Onboarding Think Tank session with Human Resources, where genKP members from various areas of the organization came together and provided feedback for leadership on revitalizing onboarding structures, training resources and goals regarding career development paths.

Discovering your "highest point of contribution" - via Harvard Business Review
Discovering your "highest point of contribution" - via Harvard Business Review

A challenge for developing professionals is finding a balance between their creative passions and a sustainable career path. Dr. Copeland advocated the concept of discovering your "highest point of contribution" through determining the sweet spot between your talent, passion and business/market value (see image). Growing up, Dr. Copeland was passionate about art and expression, and sold his first painting when he was only 12 years old. One day in ninth grade, he had a fateful encounter while dissecting a frog that piqued his interests in life sciences and anatomy, and eventually lead to his pursuit of medicine as a profession. Dr. Copeland recommended self-assessment tools like Myers-Briggs and Strengths Finder, to take action and make choices regarding what field, organization, or area of expertise to pursue.

In navigating the corporate world, Dr. Copeland advocated the notion of sponsorship. He defined sponsorship as working with an individual in a leadership role who gives you a shot at a highly visible project, thereby putting their own credibility on the line. By achieving or exceeding expectations on a high impact project, people start to think of you differently, in that you are entrusted to deliver results. You are then able to develop your brand within the organization and make an impact. On an individual level, Dr. Copeland mentioned involvement with a MBRG as one opportunity to stand out, as a way to develop your interests and discover your "highest point of contribution."

For more information on diversity at KP or how to get involved with a MBRG, please see the National Diversity website.

Lauren Duffy is the Communications + Social Media Lead for genKP.