For Demetria Miles-McDonald ’11, her mission has never been more important than it is now.
With the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd shining light on the racial injustice and inequality plaguing the nation, Miles-McDonald knows there is nothing stopping it from being her, her husband, or even her newborn son.
“This work has always been important to me, but I have taken it more personally than ever before this past year,” she said. “It is my purpose to make the world better for my son and for all generations behind us. We have an obligation to do that.”
As the founder and CEO of Decide Diversity, Miles-McDonald is striving to make things better now as well as for future generations. Currently in its sixth year, Decide Diversity is a training and consulting firm working with organizations that are serious about improving diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
Miles-McDonald, who graduated with a degree in psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences, helps her clients learn the skills necessary for true and lasting transformation within their organization. Through a variety of products and services, she focuses on not only ensuring women and minorities achieve top leadership positions but thrive once in those roles.
“No one is going to get it right 100% of the time, and this is not going to look the same for every organization,” she said. “But we all have to get better, even if that means taking baby steps. It’s about progress, not perfection.”
While many organizations focus on increasing representation of individuals from protected classes, they often fail to recognize how very few people identify with just one underrepresented group. Decide Diversity fills in the gaps of traditional diversity programs by focusing on intersectionality, which occurs when an individual identifies with two or more minority groups.
Miles-McDonald was first introduced to the concept of intersectionality from an advisor while pursuing her doctorate degree. In attempt to find a way to help others comprehend the complex concept, Miles-McDonald created the Table of Diversity to discuss intersectionality in the same way as the periodic table of the elements.
“All of these organizations that are talking about diversity, equity and inclusion are not going about it from an intersectional standpoint. I knew that I could bring that to market, and it took off when I created it,” said Miles-McDonald, adding how the Table of Diversity has been the highlight of her career.
In addition to enhancing the way organizations hire and develop talent by educating leaders, a key element of Decide Diversity is advocating for voices that are often silenced. Considering herself a partner of the organization, Miles-McDonald relies on people from within to enact change by empowering them to do so.
“I’m very intentional about talking to people at all levels. My goal is to partner with people by bringing them to the table to amplify what they’ve already been saying,” said Miles-McDonald.
Working alongside companies to elevate their diversity and inclusion efforts, Miles-McDonald seeks inspiration from powerful leaders and activists who came before her.
A former Porter Scholar, she also found a support system at UofL that reinforced the path she’s currently on. Looking back, she knows her time in Louisville laid the foundation for the impactful work she does now.
“From how I continue to educate myself, my clients, and the community, I take from my UofL experience and I apply it today,” she said. “The success I have seen today is because of the things that I did and had planted in me at UofL, and I would not be where I am without it.”