This week I attended a Human Resources and People Development conference where one of the speakers referred to a presentation by Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Global Director of Diversity. He mentioned her views on using data analytics – especially when analysing success strategies involving people where sample sizes are small. In her talk, she valued “evidence-based talent management” but also questioned how to interpret conclusions and the level of certainty around them when considering under-represented populations.
Watching Maxine’s passion and natural style of engaging with her Wharton audience made me want to learn more about her own background, and what brought her to her current role. She speaks about “social justice” as her thread through her career, including her legal background.
I was delighted to learn she is a Rhodes Scholar. And, in keeping with the expectations of this honour, she is now impacting and inspiring so many around the world.
The Rhodes Trust states its mission is “to identify and develop leaders to achieve public good”. Its selection process looks for individuals “of outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service”, “truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship” and “moral force of character and instincts to lead, and take an interest in one’s fellow beings”.
And, as it is Youth Day in South Africa today, which commemorates the power of our young people to bring about tremendous social change, I felt it fitting to share a video of Maxine with you (7.5 minutes long). In it, she describes her route (often “by chance”) to becoming a lawyer, an actress, a media personality, a human rights activist, a diversity specialist, a writer, and a recorder of life stories. She talks about how she found herself, knowing “whatever I put my mind to, I could do”. She also refers to the people around her who helped her before and during her time at Oxford.
I found it inspiring, and I hope you do too.