Finding Strategy in Crisis: Joyce Trimuel
“Organizations came out of the woodwork to connect with folks like myself in terms of what do we do? How do we respond?”
In a volatile discipline such as corporate diversity, equity and inclusion—laden with history, emotion and tangible consequences—what’s the contrast between developing a strategy and responding to a crisis? How are they related? How are they different? And how do you prepare to navigate those challenges?
On Memorial Day 2020, police in Minneapolis murdered a Black man during a routine traffic stop. In the context of that event, which sparked a deeper national reckoning on issues of racial equity and justice, business leaders across the nation grappled with their own response.
How should they support workers who were shaken by the tragedy and moved to act? How would they confront their own company’s record of inclusive leadership? Were they positioned to make a constructive contribution to the conversation?
The days after George Floyd’s murder were something of a professional turning point for Joyce Trimuel. Just three months earlier, she had launched her own independent consulting business focused on helping firms develop and execute their own strategies related to inclusion, diversity, equity and access.
That career pivot itself was a turning point for Joyce, who had started her career working in the insurance industry, where she’d risen to become her company’s first woman of color in its 130-year history to assume a branch manager role. Over four years and a series of carefully considered steps, she honed her passion—cultivating corporate competency in inclusive leadership—into a career, first as a chief diversity officer in a large firm and later as an independent consultant.
In our story, we track Joyce’s determination to make that career transition, pivoting around the days after May 25, 2020, when corporate leaders began to ring her phone for help. What prepared her to guide them through the challenges ahead? What themes emerged in her work? How did she navigate the range of corporate clients—some shaken to act for the first time, others seeking to build on existing track records?
What’s the contrast between developing strategy and responding to a crisis? Is it a challenge to make the case for inclusive workplaces? Has she had to deliver tough messages to clients? How did she do it? What were the results? What gives her hope for the future? What makes her despair? Was George Floyd’s death the start of something bigger in the context of corporate leadership?
- Gisele Marcus shares networking do's and don'ts, how to enhance your network, and how to stay systematically in touch with your network in this TEDx presentation (at left).
- Joyce Trimuel’s bio from The Kaleidoscope Group.
- Read about and watch Joyce’s presentation to WashU Olin, “DEI DIY: Creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment.”
This podcast is a production of Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School. Contributors include:
- Katie Wools, Cathy Myrick and Judy Milanovits, creative assistance
- Jill Young Miller, fact checking and creative assistance
- Hayden Molinarolo, original music, sound design and editing
- Sophia Passantino, social media
- Lexie O'Brien and Erik Buschardt, website support
- Mark P. Taylor, strategic support
- Paula Crews, creative vision and strategic support
Special thanks to Ray Irving and his team at WashU Olin’s Center for Digital Education, including our audio engineer, Austin Alred.
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Download the podcast transcript (PDF)