Dr. Mary McConner is a leading expert in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consulting. As the owner and principal of Inclusive Excellence Consulting, she has dedicated her career to helping organizations incorporate DEI into the core of their operations.
With over 14 years of experience in the DEI and international education sectors, Dr. McConner brings a unique perspective to her work, having navigated the workforce as a Black dyslexic woman who is hard of hearing. In addition to her professional accomplishments, she is deeply committed to promoting DEI, community engagement, and social justice in her community.
Join us as we sit down with Dr. McConner to learn more about her work and insights on how organizations can create more inclusive and equitable environments.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Mary McConner : Thank you for having me!
I am Dr. Mary “MJ” McConner, and I am the owner and principal of Inclusive Excellence Consulting.
Inclusive Excellence Consulting is a full-service diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultancy headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. We provide tailored strategies, resources, training, and professional development opportunities that enable organizations to incorporate DEI into the core of organizational functioning. Our clients range from Fortune 500 corporations to nonprofit organizations to institutions of higher education. Across the spectrum, we understand how to help organizations maximize the power that equity and inclusive diversity brings.
Professionally, I have worked in the diversity, equity, and inclusion and international education sectors for over 14 years. Navigating the workforce as a Black dyslexic woman who is hard of hearing has allowed me to experience firsthand the importance of centering equity, accessibility, and inclusion in organizational systems, cultures, and practices. My involvement in my community has been instrumental in my commitment to promoting DEI, community engagement, and social justice locally and nationally.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffett, how would you describe your company, services, or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Mary McConner : Anyone who knows me well knows I much I admire Warren Buffet and the impact he has had in the investing and business world. My pitch would go like this…
“Mr. Buffet, it is an honor to meet you. I am Dr. MJ McConner – your favorite inclusive excellence champion!
I am the owner and principal of Inclusive Excellence Consulting, which is full-service diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultancy headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. Our signature services include (1) in-person and virtual workshops and trainings; (2) strategy development; (3) organizational culture and climate assessments; (4) equity audits; and (5) one-on-one DEI coaching.
While there are large management consultancies that provide DEI services, Inclusive Excellence Consulting is a boutique consulting firm that offers a high level of customer service and customized services specific to the intimate needs of our clients. We recognize that every client and organizational partner is unique, which is why we provide tailored DEI services and solutions. Nothing brings our team more joy than having the opportunity to partner with individuals and organizations no matter where they are on their DEI journeys.”
What advice do you wish you received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Mary McConner : One thing I wish I would have known starting out is that the entrepreneurship path requires becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I regularly heard about business owners having to regularly take calculated risks and push themselves out of their comfort zones, but it wasn’t until I became a business owner that I truly realized my comfort zone had to become a thing of the past. For example, I used to dread the idea of being the “face” of my company.
Fortunately, I have a few great mentors who are seasoned entrepreneurs and business owners who have helped me navigate the business leadership and brand awareness journey. I now love being my company’s brand ambassador. My goal for 2023 is to continue elevating my company through strategic and consistent digital marketing and amplifying my business story.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Mary McConner : I love the opportunities that are available for our business a result of the online, videoconferencing, and hybrid tidal waves. In 2022, at least half of the trainings and workshops conducted for our clients were facilitated in a virtual format.
The beauty of online businesses is that it creates access for consumers who may not be able to buy products or services otherwise. The same is true for many members of the labor force; virtual and hybrid work have increased access to local, national, and even international employment opportunities.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Mary McConner : One of the biggest challenges I see for organizations in 2023 is attracting and retaining talent. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t read a headline about the “Great Resignation”, “employee burnout”, or “quiet quitting”.
At Inclusive Excellence Consulting we specialize is assessing organizational climates and employee engagement, therefore we have witnessed firsthand the importance of having fair, flexible, diverse, and inclusive work environments. Members of the labor force know they have options, and businesses need to prepare for the continued “War for Talent”.
In your experience, what tends to be the most underestimated part of running a company? Can you share an example?.
Mary McConner : The most underestimated part of running a company is developing a clear business plan. Admittedly, I started my business with no business plan or strategic priorities. Over time I realized that they only way we could achieve be successful is through having a clarity on our goals and desired outcomes.
Having a business plan equipped us with a better understanding of our industry, services, clients, sale goals, and marketing and growth strategies.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Mary McConner : If I could pick a business superpower, it would be the ability to make time stand still. Most business owners, entrepreneurs, and CEOs have experienced the pressure of trying to accomplish goals while also realizing there simply are not enough hours in the day.
And I am willing to bet that if I surveyed 100 business leaders, most of them would agree that having more time or the ability to stop time would be an ideal superpower. I would personally spend my extra time traveling the world, spending more time with family and friends, and reading a new book every day.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Mary McConner for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Mary McConner or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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