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Create a culture of inclusiveness

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Adriane Brown serves as president and CEO of Honeywell Transportation Systems. She runs a huge company (with annual revenue of $4.5 billion) that develops technologies to improve car performance and makes auto-related products, from antifreeze to spark plugs.

Brown, an African-American, has earned a string of promotions to climb the corporate ladder. In 2005, she made the Automotive News' list of 100 leading women in the North American auto industry.

Her rise to the corner office provides insights on how to manage diversity and create a work environment built around inclusion. Brown shares her experience in the coming book Good Is Not Enough, by Keith Wyche with Sonia Alleyne.

At a pivotal moment early in her career, Brown earned an MBA while on educational leave from a supportive employer. She had worked at the firm for 10 successful years and returned to the company with high hopes.

But Brown landed in a unit where she didn't know anyone. Female colleagues warned her that the division "chews women up and spits them out."

At first, she struggled in her new role. A handful of white males wielded influence and some of them didn't welcome her with much enthusiasm.

Undeterred, Brown cultivated respectful business relationships with these individuals. She sought their advice and incorporated their input into her dealings with the division's general manager.

But problems remained. They did not invite Brown to important meetings and did not involve her in key decisions.

Brown took bold steps to get fair treatment. She met privately with her boss to share her concerns. Instead of issuing threats or adopting a petulant tone, however, she proposed constructive ideas.

Together, they agreed that she wouldn't keep inviting herself to meetings where she belonged. Instead, the boss promised to stop a meeting if she wasn't present—and request that she attend.

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