A Leader Reflects: Sandra Quince on Being the First CEO of Paradigm for Parity
Black History Month allows us to pause and reflect on the contributions of African Americans and honor all Black people from all periods of United States history. It’s a moment to celebrate progress while recognizing there is still much to do in creating a more unified society and equitable workplace for all. This month of observance has prompted me to reflect on my tenure as the first CEO of Paradigm for Parity.
I was afforded this opportunity through Bank of America’s Leader on Loan Program. Created in 2017, this innovative program—the only one of its kind—places leaders with a variety of organizations to help advance economic opportunity in the communities where we live and work. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish together. I am a firm believer that we cannot do this work alone.
Coming into my role as CEO, I had a great deal of support from Bank of America’s leadership and the Paradigm for Parity board and advisors—their trust and investment in me provided a strong foundation for my success.
After just two-and-a-half years, we have grown the coalition, enhanced our resources, and elevated the gender parity discussion for women of all backgrounds and ethnicities. We added our Multicultural and Intergenerational Women’s Summit and launched important seminars such as our Masterclass: Realities of Black Women in the Workplace, and our Courageous Conversations Series. I am especially proud of the team we have assembled who continue to take bold steps on the path to parity. As I prepare to return to Bank of America, I’m confident that the workplace I’m returning to is even better than the one I left—in part because of the work of our coalition.
Bank of America’s Leader on Loan connects the passions and expertise of our teammates with partners and community initiatives in order to help drive sustainable change. Bank of America’s investment in leaders like me is a powerful expression of support for both individual leaders and nonprofits whose valuable work requires time to strategize and create lasting change. The Leader on Loan program gave me ample opportunity to share my expertise in diversity and inclusion, as well as my human resources experience, with Paradigm for Parity’s more than 150 member companies, whose members include 41 of the largest Fortune 500 companies.
According to Korn Ferry, “When leaders invest 100% in their talent, they show that they care about their employees’ growth and well-being as professionals and as people. This type of engagement and empowerment will increase the chances that employees remain committed, purposeful and focused on delivering results.”
This investment by Bank of America has had exponential returns for me, for other bank teammates and, of course, for Paradigm for Parity. While I focused my efforts on strategically driving progress for women, this experience broadened my leadership skills. I’m excited about my future role while remaining actively involved in Paradigm for Parity.
This CEO role has given me the confidence I need to show up as my authentic self. As a woman and a woman of color, that confidence is sometimes the missing link between delivering mediocre or great work. Success starts with valuing and investing in those around you, trusting that they are good at what they do and creating spaces for them to thrive.
I am grateful to Paradigm for Parity for trusting in my abilities to bring innovation to the organization. According to the 2022 McKinsey “Lean In” study, 55 percent of Black women leaders said they experienced “having [their] judgment questioned” compared to 39% of all women and 28% of all men. Paradigm for Parity trusted my judgment and decision-making skills. With a strategic vision to weave the intertwined threads of race and gender into the fabric of everything we do at Paradigm for Parity, I led the creation of safe spaces to welcome diverse perspectives—a key driver of innovation.
As we settle into this annual month of celebrating the achievements of Black Americans throughout our country’s complex history, I’m reminded of Dr. King’s famous declaration that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” The same goes for equity, diversity and inclusion. Our individual identities are as complex as our nation and true parity invites the fullness of each and every person onto its path. I am so proud of the strides made in honoring intersectional complexity and that we’ve widened the path to make more room for the diversity that defines our country and our local communities.