Lottie Holland — Diversity In the New Era
By Megan Kirk
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have recently become the center of several corporate conversations in light of an uptick in racial justice issues. George Floyd being one of the pivotal cases causing change, many businesses have pledged to increase their diversity initiatives to be more inclusive and representative of the communities they serve. Stellantis is making strides to positively impact minority communities and create a diverse talent pipeline in the process.
Named Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of North America in May 2020, Lottie Holland is in a unique position — as an African American woman, the impact of being a minority in a position to improve the corporation’s talent pool to include more qualified minorities. Her role also calls for creating a harmonious work environment with varying views that can converge to create a company with an emphasis on more than just automobiles.
Born and raised in Detroit, Lottie Holland is filled with pride for the city. Studying Packaging Engineering during undergrad at Michigan State University in 2000 and earning a Masters of Business Administration from Wayne State University in 2006, a career in the automobile industry was her calling.
“When I graduated, I went quickly into the automotive industry. I originally wanted to go and work for a L’Oréal or one of the cosmetic companies, but being in the Midwest, an opportunity presented itself at the Big Three. I went to work for them in project management. I did that for a few years and went and got my MBA from Wayne State and then I went to work for one of the largest minority real estate advisory firms in the country,” says Holland.
The 2008 housing crisis caused significant shifts in real estate. The ripple effects were felt for years, causing a career change. The drastic change helped Holland decide to return to the automotive sector.
Although Holland now sits in a critical role to become a changemaker, diversity matters are not new for this leader. In 2011, the professional relationship with Chrysler began. As the then Program Manager for Supplier Diversity Purchasing with Chrysler Group LLC, a chance meeting on an elevator would take Holland from the engineering side of the automotive industry to the purchasing realm.
“I had a chance encounter with someone on an elevator who told me I looked like a buyer and that I should pursue opportunities in purchasing. From a chance meeting riding up the elevator, we realized we had very similar backgrounds in engineering. “From just an introduction with a manager, I moved over into purchasing just a few weeks later,” says Holland. “I started in supplier diversity, which is the corporation’s responsibility to be intentional about sourcing with minority businesses. That role honestly changed my life.”
In 2019, Holland rose in the ranks of corporate America, serving as the Director of Mopar Purchasing and Supplier Operations.
“I am able to be a voice for the voiceless, if you will. I’m able to use my voice to really speak on behalf of people who have historically been disadvantaged or underserved. Really for me to be able to leverage my knowledge of various business functions, tie that to the mission of the company, which is to create a better atmosphere for all people, increasing representation, and really holding us accountable to stand tall in our declaration to be more than just a car company,” says Holland.
During a time when the country was in an emotional, racial, and social uproar, assuming the role of Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement would
“I think we were going down one path when I first was appointed to the seat and then after that happened, it shed light on just how critical our response needed to be and how we really needed to be intentional about our efforts to drive true inclusion and true diversity in the organization,” says Holland.
Resulting in actionable steps, Stellantis is now driving down a path that could inevitably impact not just their business but the surrounding communities.
“We decided to sit down with all of our leaders and really be intentional with devising a multi-year strategy that was corporate-wide in terms of how we would address some of the gaps in representation and the steps we needed to take to truly create a more inclusive culture,” says Holland.
With many accomplishments, including being selected by Crain’s Detroit Business as a Top 40 Under 40, “Top Champion for Diversity” by Diversity Plus, and Top 100 Under 50 by DiversityMBA, the trailblazer has no plans of slowing down. Taking each advancement as a chance to mentor others, Holland uses these accolades as confidence builders for herself but to help continue laying the foundation for other minorities coming up.
“When you’re acknowledged by organizations like that it leads to a lot of mentoring opportunities because I’m really demonstrating what is possible. There are other Black women who aspire to be in leadership and they see me and think ‘if she can do it, I can do the same,” says Holland.
The notion to “lift as we climb” was first established by Mary Church Terrell, civil rights activist, a fighter for Black women’s suffrage, and racial equality warrior. In this belief, reaching the pinnacles of success is just as important as bringing the next person along. For Holland, this message continues to ring true, despite having to continue to press against bias.
“I love to talk about the intersectionality of being Black and being a woman in corporate America. We call it ‘double jeopardy.’ For me, sitting in this seat, using my voice and my perspective, in my opinion, is extremely critical because a lot of injustices I fight against on behalf of others, I still experience those same or similar injustices and I’m faced with them despite being a leader,” says Holland.
Climbing the ladder to success requires tenacity. Holland has based her success on a higher calling and found her center in faith.
“The secret to my success is my faith. I’m a believer and I truly believe that all things work together. I believe nothing is impossible. For me, I pray to make sure my plans align with what God has for me,” says Holland.
As the Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement, the opportunity to sound off against inequalities, injustices and level the playing field for minorities is not taken for granted. Forging a path for others is the name of the game, and Holland is going it unapologetically.
“I don’t take this responsibility lightly and I do consider it a privilege to be able to work in a space where I’m able to tap into my purpose and my passion to be able to use the critical voice of the Black woman at this time,” says Holland.
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