Ingrid Watkins: Pioneering Diversity and Inclusion in Supply Chain

Ingrid Watkins, a trailblazer in the realm of supply chain diversity and inclusion, has carved an indelible mark in her career as the Principal and Chief Diversity Strategist of IW Consulting Group. With her visionary leadership, industry expertise, and unwavering commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion, Ingrid stands as a revered leader in the inclusion and equity spaces. At IW Consulting Group, Ingrid leads a team of diversity experts dedicated to providing top corporations in the U.S. and globally with winning strategies in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Supply Chain Inclusion (SDI), and environment, social, and compliance (ESG).

We at EliteX are proud to introduce Ingrid Watkins as one of the 10 Extraordinary Women Leaders to Watch, 2024.

Ingrid’s journey into this field stems from her profound recognition of the transformative impact of workplace and supplier inclusion on diverse businesses, communities, and families. Her personal experiences, particularly as an African American woman navigating through various industries, illuminated the disparities and inequities prevalent in corporate spaces. Driven by a deep-seated commitment to effecting change, Ingrid embarked on a mission to dismantle barriers and foster environments free from racism, biases, and microaggressions. Her overarching goal is to pave a smoother path for the next generation, ensuring they don’t encounter the same challenges she faced.

“True leadership lies in empowering others to shine, creating a ripple effect of positive change.” – Ingrid Watkins

For Ingrid, leadership is defined by humility, transparency, integrity, and empathy. She believes effective leaders should possess the humility to admit fault, the transparency to communicate openly, and the integrity to uphold ethical standards. Empathy and compassion towards others are paramount, fostering a culture of inclusivity and trust within the organization. Ingrid emphasizes the importance of continuous self-improvement, advocating for ongoing learning and development among her team. At IW Consulting Group, she shares her vision and values with stakeholders, fostering alignment and a sense of purpose across the organization.

One significant challenge Ingrid encountered in her career was navigating the consulting space dominated by long-tenured male counterparts. Despite the entrenched traditions, Ingrid and her team at IW Consulting Group embraced innovation and creativity, rejecting outdated approaches in favor of tailored, client-centric strategies. Recognizing the uniqueness of each corporate environment, they approach every client engagement with a fresh perspective, customizing solutions to address specific needs and challenges. In doing so, they’ve redefined the paradigm of supply chain diversity, carving a niche for themselves as pioneers in the field.

Pride in Accomplishments:

Ingrid reflects on her professional journey with immense pride, highlighting the evolution of IW Consulting Group from a solo endeavor to a thriving consultancy with a team of eight consultants and a prestigious client base. Her ability to scale the business while maintaining a commitment to excellence underscores her entrepreneurial acumen and leadership prowess. Ingrid credits the success to her exceptional team, steadfast colleagues, and supportive clients who have contributed to the consultancy’s growth and impact.

At IW Consulting Group, diversity isn’t just a concept; it’s ingrained in the fabric of the organization. Ingrid emphasizes the importance of embodying the diversity they advocate for, evident in the team’s varied backgrounds in ethnicity, age, gender, and geographic location. By fostering inclusivity within the workplace, Ingrid creates a conducive environment where every voice is valued and heard, driving innovation and collaboration. Embracing a virtual work model, IW Consulting Group prioritizes flexibility to promote a healthy work-life balance among team members. Encouraging physical exercise and self-care activities, Ingrid leads by example, incorporating morning walks into her routine. The team shares wellness tips, recipes, and products, fostering a supportive community that prioritizes holistic well-being.

“Diversity isn’t just a goal; it’s the driving force behind innovation and progress in the workplace.” – Ingrid Watkins

While Ingrid asserts her individuality in leadership, she acknowledges the achievements of African American women who have shattered glass ceilings in corporate America. Figures like Rosalind Brewer, Ursula Burns, and Mary Winston serve as inspirations, showcasing the possibilities for women in leadership roles across diverse industries. IW Consulting Group remains at the forefront of industry trends through their immersive client engagements. As researchers, writers, and educators, they glean insights from diverse projects, disseminating knowledge through articles and information-sharing sessions on platforms like LinkedIn.

Ingrid identifies the glaring disparity in female representation in leadership roles as a significant challenge. Limited visibility and accessibility hinder aspiring women leaders, underscoring the importance of representation. She emphasizes the need for amplifying women’s voices and fostering a culture of sharing leadership approaches to inspire future generations.

Advice for Aspiring Women Leaders:

Ingrid offers invaluable advice to aspiring women leaders embarking on their career journeys:

Embrace Your Brilliance: Never dim your light to accommodate others. Strategic action and clear communication are key to achieving your goals.

  • Build Your Brand: Establish your expertise early and develop a brand-building strategy to shape your professional identity.
  • Commit to Continuous Learning: Invest in your growth by taking classes, attending conferences, and engaging with industry groups.
  • Own Your Career Path: Take control of your advancement and avoid relying solely on others for opportunities.
  • Know Your Worth: If your efforts aren’t recognized or rewarded, have the courage to seek a more equitable environment. Keep moving forward.

The Evolving Role of Women in Leadership:

Ingrid envisions a future where women continue to excel and claim leadership positions across industries. As women demonstrate their leadership capabilities, she advocates for greater inclusivity at the top, urging men to share leadership roles and create more balanced environments.

Ingrid’s excitement shines through as she discusses IW Consulting Group’s expansion into the product market. They’re developing cutting-edge e-training tools and preparing to launch an online training institute, marking a significant milestone in their journey. Looking ahead, Ingrid is driven by her passion for helping others. As IW Consulting Group grows, she aims to expand their philanthropic endeavors, supporting initiatives focused on girls in STEAM and leadership development. Ingrid hopes to establish their presence in the philanthropic space as prominently as they are in the diversity consulting arena, embodying the fusion of business success and meaningful impact.

Ingrid Watkins embodies resilience, innovation, and unwavering commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Through her leadership at IW Consulting Group, she champions change, leaving an indelible mark on the corporate landscape and inspiring others to embrace diversity as a cornerstone of success. With her visionary approach and dedication to excellence, she paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable future, uplifting aspiring leaders and demonstrating the transformative power of leadership.

“Leadership is not about standing in the spotlight, but rather illuminating the path for others to follow.” – Ingrid Watkins