Alishea Johnson Advises Women to Use Their Voices

Transforming Communities


Alichea Johnson headshot.

This Women鈥檚 History Month, 福利视频 is shining the Spotlight on women leaders making a difference. Alishea Johnson joined 福利视频 in 2012 and is now director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). She shares her thoughts on advancing 福利视频鈥檚 commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, understanding intersectionality, and her advice for female leaders at all levels.

Q.听听听听Tell us about your background and your current role at 福利视频?

A.听听听听I have a background in information technology (IT) and graduated from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, where I majored in management information systems. Near the end of my senior year, I realized that IT was not my passion. However, I wasn鈥檛 quite sure what it was, but it wasn鈥檛 IT. My parents always instilled the importance of education in my older sister and me, and my father was adamant about not being a fifth-year senior, so there was no time for change. I worked fulltime in IT at Edward Jones, where I initially was an intern.

While working full time, I returned to school to obtain a Master of Business Administration to expand my business knowledge. From there, I networked and identified gaps and found my place in campus recruiting at Edward Jones. That role ultimately led me to 福利视频 10 years ago to build the enterprisewide internship program. Through the partnerships and programs I managed, I was exposed to diversity and inclusion, which ignited the fire and passion for which I was searching for.

I have been fortunate to be a part of the DEI Office at 福利视频 from its inception, supporting the strategy and work to advance its DEI footprint. Today, I have the pleasure of overseeing the DEI training function, managing external partnerships, and collaborating with key stakeholders, such as the Executive DEI Council, to advance DEI within the core pillars of Talent, Community Engagement, Supplier Diversity, and Stakeholder Collaboration.

I am also a Certified Diversity Professional, executive board member of Diversity Awareness Partnership, and graduate of the St. Louis Business Diversity Fellows Experience. Most importantly, I am the wife of an amazingly supportive husband, and the mother of two incredible kids 鈥 6-year Aston and 21-month-old Autumn.

Q.听听听听What is the most meaningful part of your job?

A.听听听听I take great pride in supporting diversity and inclusion to create an equity-based workplace that supports and empowers all employees to be heard, respected, and appreciated.聽It is beyond rewarding to manage relationships that enhance 福利视频鈥檚 presence in the community, cultivate a diverse pipeline, and develop leaders. This ultimately supports 福利视频鈥檚 commitment to attract, hire, develop, and retain diverse talent at all levels that reflect the communities we serve.

Q.听听听听Who influenced you most during your career and why?

A.听听听听My parents have influenced me the most during my career. I saw them both work extremely hard to provide for my sister and me, and to put us in spaces they never had the opportunity to be in. They offered words of encouragement, but they also made it clear that we were not average and could achieve anything if we put in the work. I remember being in high school and bringing home a progress report with a 鈥淐鈥 and my father saying, 鈥淐鈥檚 signify average and my girls are not average.鈥 That has always stayed with me and is what drives me in everything I do.

Q.听听听听What advice do you have for aspiring female leaders?

础.听听听听Use your voice and lean in even when you don鈥檛 think you 鈥漜heck鈥 all the boxes or have all the answers. Don鈥檛 give in to 鈥渋mposter syndrome鈥 (doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud), you deserve to be where you are and where you aspire to be.

Q.听听听听How do you feel about 福利视频鈥檚 approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion?

A.听听听听It has been amazing to see the evolution the organization has made in this space from not having a DEI Office when I started 10 years ago, to putting out the second edition of the C-Index DEI Annual Report, outlining the collective achievements we鈥檝e made in DEI as an organization. It is clear this work is a marathon, not a sprint, and change isn鈥檛 made over night. However, through continuous work enterprisewide, the organization continues to demonstrate commitment to cultivate a workplace and community for all.

Q.听听听听Can you talk about the importance of intersectionality, 福利视频鈥檚 DEI theme for 2022?

A.听听听听Intersectionality is about how dimensions of diversity such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class, and others 鈥渋ntersect鈥 to create unique dynamics. When we work to better understand how intersectionality impacts us all in our personal and professional lives, it allows us to show up differently to build better community within the workplace and the communities in which we live and serve.

Q.听听听听What are your thoughts on the significance of Women鈥檚 History Month?

A.听听听听To me, Women鈥檚 History Month is about recognizing and celebrating the contributions of ALL women around the world. As a woman of color and a mother of a young girl of color, it鈥檚 important to pause and intentionally take this time to reflect on the past success, but not lose sight of the work ahead. I want her to know she stands on the shoulders of giants, and if she can dream it, she can achieve it.