The 2023 Diverse Voices honors program is part of the SFBJ’s ongoing DE&I initiative. In partnership with area businesses and organizations, we host panels that bring to light DE&I best practices. Several special sections throughout the year showcase these individuals, including allies, and offer their impressions on how to make our workplaces more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
And, year after year, we continue to learn from these honorees what it means to create a diverse, inclusive and equitable organization where people feel they belong and are heard.
Attention to DE&I efforts benefits employees, businesses, and communities, even more so among those organizations that make it part of their core values. This broader source of input bolsters innovative thinking, brand development and an enhanced reputation in the community, including among job candidates who see them as an employer of choice.
“South Florida shines as a dynamic and diverse community,” said our partner, Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh, president and CEO of the Urban League of Broward County. “Organizations that have made equity and inclusion part of their core beliefs enjoy rightful praise as employers of choice where people belong, feel comfortable and are confident bringing their full selves to work.”
Thank you to this year’s Diverse Voices supporters: corporate sponsor Wells Fargo, Out of the Box sponsor Amazon, along with partners the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League of Broward County.
Also, a big thank you to the 14 companies that have partnered with us on this initiative. It’s heartwarming to see so many companies step forward to support these important efforts.
Thank you, as well, to our honorees for their eagerness to participate in open and engaging conversations. They have shown how diversity – their own, and that of their employers – is a strength for them, their organizations and the community we share.
Since launching OneWorld Properties in 2008, Peggy Olin has been responsible for over $4 billion in luxury property sales. She’s worked with buyers from throughout the U.S. and over 60 countries, and consulted with leading developers and financial institutions.
In some ways, her own upbringing led to Olin’s adaptability and resilience. Born in Peru, she arrived in the U.S. at 17 knowing no English and moved in with her grandparents in Westchester. She enrolled in ESOL classes in public school. She quickly realized she wouldn’t learn English that way and switched to regular classes.
“I wanted to be immersed,” she said.
This gives Olin a unique perspective for her team, clients and global buyers. She’s understanding, empathetic and open-minded, which Olin believes is essential to leading a team in offices from Florida to Latin America, Europe and China. Much as diversity permeates her life and work, it’s not usually top of mind.
“I never think about me or my group from a minority or diversity standpoint. I just think about when I was younger and knew I had to work harder,” Olin said. “I had to take a different approach to my life and my business. But I have not been afraid to fail.”
Why is it important for businesses to embrace DE&I initiatives? One of the biggest things I can think of is the increased perspective, innovation and creativity. People come up with different ideas based on different experiences. That’s been one of the biggest impacts on my business. It’s easier because we’re in South Florida, but it has allowed me as a leader to make better decisions because I have a more diverse viewpoint, and that leads to better outcomes.
Any advice for diverse executives hoping to rise in the professional world? If you’re not present, you’re absent. It’s a huge thing to speak up for yourself, to be visceral and make sure your opinion is heard with a lot of confidence. That includes getting involved in your community in a way that showcases your talent. The more you’re able to have conversations with your peers in your world, it allows you to be known. As a minority, 15 years ago I was very afraid of sharing my opinions and thoughts. Doing so has allowed me to be very much more visible.
Does South Florida’s diverse workforce make it easier for companies to champion diversity? The community is just more accepting. There are more resources available from different organizations to help employees and to create a more diverse and inclusive environment. Also, you have a much larger pool of talent with people with diverse backgrounds and experiences that it’s just easier to embrace diversity down here.
What’s the most common challenge for minority businesses? It’s access to capital and succeeding. You have to work harder. It might take you 10 years for something that may have taken others five. I may be smaller, but small businesses are what fuel America.