By Rhonda Mims
On the eve of International Women’s Day, which is tomorrow, March 8th, I’m reflective on and appreciative of all the women who have paved an incredible path for me and who afforded me the opportunity to pay it forward by driving change for others. Thanks to a number of good women and a few good men over the years who mentored me, I have been enormously fortunate to work with some amazing community partners and thought leaders, while leading diversity initiatives for Fortune 200 and global professional services organizations. It has been an incredible journey, and the ride continues with fast-paced momentum.
I take my role as a C-Suite black female executive seriously. At WellCare, our company is comprised of 72 percent females. I realize that many of our associates are looking to me to serve as their voice at the leadership table, to remind others that the female perspective is one worth hearing, and to advocate for those who are struggling along their career path because they may be a first-generation corporate executive without previous role models.
Today, in addition to working as the Chief Public Affairs Officer for WellCare, I am also the Chairman of the Thirty Percent Coalition, an organization whose main mission is to strive for the improvement of the number of women placed on corporate boards. A few months ago, the Coalition was awarded a Nathan Cummings Foundation grant to conduct cutting-edge research and to drive isolated change to advance more ethnically diverse women on corporate boards. This is an area that experienced dismal improvement during the last few years. Long gone are the days of saying, “We can’t find qualified ethnically diverse women.” Trust me: They do exist. I see them in many walks of life each day. The Thirty Percent Coalition is focused on creating “the demand” for women on boards because “the supply” is already there.
I learned years ago that the most effective way to drive change isn’t always to be the loudest, but to quietly behind –the-scenes drive that change through tangible action. So to those who feel voiceless or faceless, don’t worry. I see you, and, as my closest friends might say, “I got you.”
Rhonda Mims is the Executive Vice President and Chief Public Affairs Officer at WellCare Health Plans, Inc.