Taking the Lead in Inclusivity at Work

Bill Proudman is the co-founder and CEO of White Men as Full Diversity Partners, a Portland, Ore.–based leadership development consultancy that trains executives to foster more inclusive workplaces. As “stewards and shapers of culture,” Proudman says, business leaders—an inordinate number of whom are still white and male—have a responsibility to ensure that they create and sustain inclusive workplaces where everyone can thrive. That means more white men in leadership must step up in an effort that has been disproportionally shouldered by members of historically underrepresented groups.

Proudman ’78 H&HD, an Icers team captain at Penn State, came to this realization shortly after moving to Portland. “I started noticing patterns that had always been around me,” he says. “A white woman, man or woman of color, or an out LGBTQ+ person would almost always be tasked with the issue of leading inclusion and diversity.” 

Rebalancing this disparity became one of Proudman’s missions. He apprenticed with Harrison Simms, a pioneer in the DE&I space, and continued learning while developing workshops designed to help leaders acquire greater cultural competency. In 1997, Proudman co-founded WMFDP, which now has a global client list that includes Mass Mutual, Lockheed Martin, P&G, Dell, Amazon Web Services, and the National Hockey League. The firm offers a full suite of learning programs for inclusive leadership and partnership, as well as a “Full Diversity Partners learning lab workshop for leaders of any gender and race. “Today’s leaders must lead with both their head and heart connected,” Proudman says. “It’s about showing vulnerability, inquiring as much as advocating, and sometimes saying, ‘I don’t know, but let’s go find out.’” —Pete Croatto