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Army Veteran Reflects on the Power of Diversity

September 29, 2017

by Sam Swafford

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Army Veteran Reflects on the Power of Diversity

Sam Swafford, Sr. Systems Engineer and Board Member of the Darden Hispanic Network

Photo Credit: Darden Restaurants

Army Veteran Reflects on the Power of Diversity

September 29, 2017

by Sam Swafford

General Topics:
Brand Categories:

Looking at a photo of the Darden Hispanic Network’s (DHN) leaders, I’m reminded of the Sesame Street song “One of These Things [Is Not Like the Others].” A middle-aged, balding Caucasian male from Alaska on the leadership team seems like the obvious choice of the one who doesn’t belong. 

When I volunteered to join the board of the employee resource group, I intended to share what I had learned about leadership development in the Army to help the network build its leadership skills. It was a way for me to try to “own it” in terms of diversity and inclusion.

Reflecting on my two years on the team, I see how my perspective has changed. I have seen just how diverse the Hispanic community is and the variety of traditions each nationality within the Hispanic umbrella brings to Darden. I have seen how passionate the DHN members are about sharing their perspectives to make our company stronger, both for our team members and our guests. 

I have also been able to bring some traditions of my own to the Hispanic Network, such as introducing Challenge Coins as a way to recognize team members who have gone above and beyond for the network or shown an exceptional level of dedication.

One of the most important things I have learned is the power of talking about diversity in a company. It’s even better to have a senior leadership team dedicated to creating a diverse workplace such as the one here at Darden. 

The ultimate benefit comes from having a workforce that reflects the communities we serve. Leveraging that diversity of thought and perspective makes Darden a great place to work and helps us better serve our guests. With all of us involved, our careers, our relationship with our guests, and our company are stronger.