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Walking the Equity Talk: A Tempered Radical Approach to "Unsticking" Talent Systems
September 29, 2021 - 9:00am to 11:30am (PDT)
Presenters: Sean Kelley

Have you ever thought about how talent systems are designed?  In the January 2021 NWDLS session on values, presenter Matt Hayashi Echohawk made this profound statement: “If your outcomes are predictable, your values are clear.” In other words, a system that consistently delivers upper management without a diverse cast of characters—is designed to deliver that outcome!  When promotions consistently bypass people of color, women, non-binary people, trans people, LGBTQIA+ people, it’s not just a fluke! There are inflections points in a talent system that have make-or-break consequences for diverse talent successes.


During this interactive session, you will learn where talent systems get “stuck,” and the impact that has on individuals, managers, teams and the overall organization, You will gain insight into the potentially lasting bad outcomes of “stuckness” for accelerating diverse talent--from developing the employee, to promoting the employee, to having pay equity. 


We’re going to use a Tempered Radical* approach to address this problem—which means we’ll explore together how to get comfortable pushing for change at the individual, team and system levels —it will be based upon your unique role, readiness, and privilege to change the odds for success. 


In the process, you will hear varying perspectives on the points of inflection and real power struggles pushing for and against the system.  We will invite a panel of managers to share their circumstances and realities. We will invite a panel of employees to share their lived experiences, their challenges. And we will focus on identifying sources of power at your disposal to push for change.


You will leave this session empowered to influence change in your organization’s talent system. You will be equipped with strategies and new ideas to achieve better outcomes for developing and advancing diverse employees.


Most of all, we want each of you to feel empowered to embrace a Tempered Radical approach—to change the design of the system and push it to improve diverse talent wins, for you, your team, your organization and the world! As a Tempered Radical, you can send “ripples of change” into the world! You have the power to do so!


Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this session, participants will:

  • Understand the basic tenets of what it means to be a Tempered Radical

  • Be able to identify their personal center of power as a change leader

  • Know ways they can execute their power to “unstick” talent systems

  • Feel more empowered to push for change at the individual, team and system levels to impact talent systems


*Drawing on the book, Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work, by Debra E. Meyerson, Harvard Business School Press, 2001.

Photo Sean Kelley.png

Meet the Presenter:

Sean Kelley is a passionate and inspirational leader, start-up advisor, and board member who finds joy in supporting the success of others. Over his 30-year career, Sean led global teams at all levels of organizations in operations, supply chain management, inclusion & diversity, and talent acquisition.  His corporate career culminated in 2020, after scaling the global talent acquisition team for Amazon’s Worldwide Operations, a team of 1,000 recruiting professionals based in 15 countries. Sean began his career serving as a U.S. Navy Supply Corps officer specializing in submarine logistics, completing two deployments aboard USS Pogy (SSN - 647). Prior to joining Amazon, Sean contributed to the success of Starbucks Coffee Company and Microsoft Corporation, in critical roles during pivotal stages of growth and transformation. 

Sean holds a B.S. Economics from the U.S. Naval Academy and a M.S. Global Leadership from the University of San Diego. He serves on the National Board of Trustees for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, serves as an Executive in Residence at Duke University, The Fuqua School of Business, focused on the Veteran Transitions Research Initiative, and contributes to local entities which serve families experiencing homelessness, joblessness and general distress.


Sean makes his home on Whidbey Island, in the beautiful Town of Coupeville, in the heart of the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. He enjoys embracing the bounty of the island via backyard farming, hiking and walking miles of pristine beaches, getting out on the water as a kayaker and stand-up paddle-boarder and learning to fish for salmon and crab. Sean and his wife, Leslie, have been married over 30 years, and are the proud parents to Connor and Natalie, plus to four chickens and one tiny dog named Kermit.


Learn more about Sean and his advisory work at:

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