I had the pleasure of interviewing Desmonde Shalom Monroe the President and C.E.O. of The Monroe GRoup,llc. Desmonde is a valued partner and sought-after consultant to small, mid-sized, non-profits and large organizations seeking Subject Matter Experts in program management, operational excellence, disaster recovery, and strategic planning. An influential leader with over 10 years of experience in providing a solid range of advisory services and guidance to private organizations, NGOs, government agencies including the City and State of New York.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I started in community-real estate development in the early 2000’s working for a company in Philadelphia, the company I was with at the time had the great idea, to marry Real Estate development with Social Justice. Once I saw that business model I wondered to myself “why isn’t every development company doing this”. This was the founding principle of what would form my organization.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Before leading my own organization I was a high-level executive. But I soon discovered after starting my own firm I didn’t actually know half of what I thought about leadership. I quickly realized how different running a company is to leading a project. I was obligated to teach myself how to be a C.E.O. and an actual business owner. At my first big meeting at the New York City Mayor’s Office, I completely bombed. There I was looking sharp amongst all my colleagues and the people I respected in the industry, all was going well so I thought, until I realized in my haste to make the meeting in time, I forgot to grab my presentation material. I was so embarrassed! I told myself, that’s it, you get one chance to pitch to the Mayor of New York City and you choked.” Apparently, I didn’t do as bad as I thought. Today our company works with the City of New York on several different initiatives.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
We deal in Disaster Recovery, Program Management, and Construction Compliance; all these services have a connection to the community and focus on improving the human condition while building better resilient neighborhoods. As a company, we believe that each community we encounter is a village — and as a village “we get there together.” I think what really makes us stand out is our policy of inclusion, for instance our efforts in hiring and contracting, we implement strategies to recruit local residents and seek out Minority/Women Business Enterprises for contracting. Our Mission is to open doors to social and economic opportunities for everyone.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Yes, we’re always excited about putting effort into infrastructure projects with the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery to reverse the effects of Super storm Sandy. We are hoping to get involved with recovery efforts in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
The advice I would give to another CEO is that diversity is key to long-term success, also be receptive to critics, and remember just because you are the CEO it doesn’t mean you have all answers right now. Listen to your team — your advisors are there to steer you in the right direction.
6. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I have been blessed to have had wonderful mentors on this journey. However, Ms. Latoya Murphy has been like a 2nd mom to me. Ms. Murphy (or Mamma bear, as I affectionately call her) came into my life a few months after my mother passed away from cancer. She immediately took me under her wing and thought me how to be a CEO and strong leader. Ms. Murphy is a force to be reckoned with. Her credentials are stellar, she worked for the Obama administration and is currently Chief of Staff at Care.com. She has always been there to guide me and lift me up when times get tough, and I will forever be grateful for her mentorship. Affectionately
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The Monroe Group takes pride in being able to use our platform to help rebuild communities after declared disasters, and we continue to advocate for other Minority/Women Business Enterprise including different multi-billion dollar City, State, and Federal contracts.
Can you share the top five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line.
1. We have seen firsthand that diversity in the workplace creates a happier environment and helps fosters remarkable creativity and collaboration. It has had an impacted on the way we communicate with our customers and allowed us to identify more with the communities we serve. By having diversity inclusion as our HR directive, we have witnessed an uptick in our contact list and have grown our current footprint within a very diverse market like the one in New York City. Companies that show gender and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to outperform those that don’t, according to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
2. When employees are also members of diverse communities, it increases the credibility of organizations working with and within them, and it increases common ground with consumers, clients, and stakeholders. Research indicates that organizations with more racial and gender diversity bring in more sales revenue, more customers, and higher profits.
3. Workplace diversity has shown to increase workers performance and a give a boost in company moral. As a result of diverse opinions we can uncover more insight into customer behavior, can follow business trends eventually lead to discovering improvements on how the company operates. Also, the more effective an organization is at supporting diversity and inclusion, the more engagement that organization will experience among its employees. A diversity of experience may also bring different ideas to problem solving, allowing for more creative, more effective solutions to complicated problems. Diversity, ultimately, can contribute to a more effective decision-making and efficient problem solving methods by providing a range of perspectives and ability.
4. Networking and building relationships with ethnically diverse professional organizations and associations is one way to source talent when companies are looking for candidates. Taking proactive steps to create initiatives that help managers and employees overcome their own biases. Many regions and governing bodies recognize and reward companies who are dedicated to diverse hiring practices, and more diversity leads to more talent, more productivity, and contracting opportunities. Research shows that embracing diversity helps businesses experience higher performance and increased profitability. However, whether or not a business benefits from cultural diversity depends on their ability to integrate diversity into the workplace.
5. Diversity in the workplace does not begin and end with hiring. Organizations should aim to address both personal and collective differences throughout the entire employee life-cycle. Diversity and inclusion need to be ingrained in the company’s culture and be considered in every phase of talent management — from recruiting, and on-boarding to professional development, leadership training, performance management, workforce planning, and more. By making diversity a part of a company’s brand, organizations will let the world know that they embrace difference and welcomes all. Business leaders can show that their company cares and Invest in diversity by offering internships and scholarships to people from underrepresented groups. If companies want to diversify their workforce, they can start by understanding how many people of various ethnic or racial backgrounds are available in your geographic area by job function and set growth targets and be accountable for meeting them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours. “Richard Bach”
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)?
This is tough, there are so many people I would like to sit down with, but I would have say the top two would be Oprah and Obama. I would like to know, what kept them going when faced with extreme poverty like Oprah as a child or the amount of racism Obama faced during his 8 years in office, what were their motivators and how can I apply it to my life to become the best version of myself.
Originally published at medium.com