MasterCard’s Chief Diversity Officer Donna Alligood Johnson loves to discuss diversity management during family get-togethers. Her father is the chief diversity officer at a major advertising agency; her sister, an attorney, sits on the diversity council at a prestigious law firm; and Johnson’s brother is actively involved in the diversity program at the architectural firm where he’s a partner.
“It’s something we all feel really passionate about,” she says, “having worked in industries that tended to be less than integrated.” Johnson began her career as an account manager at BBDO ad agency. She then moved into marketing management at Citicorp before joining MasterCardin 1995 asdirector of retail acceptance development, where she hassince taken on positions of increasing responsibility.
Three years ago, during the formation of MasterCard’s refocused diversity strategy, Johnson was asked to help start the company’s resource group for Black employees, called LEAD (Lifting Employees of African Descent). She developed the business plan, created the charter and presented it to senior management, and since its inception, she has watched membership grow from five to more than 200 people with chapters nationwide. Not only did this opportunity showcase Johnson as a valuable leader, it steered her career toward diversity management.
Last January, Johnson was appointed chief diversity officer. Thanks to the help of LEAD members, Johnson is “getting more people within the organization to walk the walk,” she says. For instance, LEAD members participated in a three-hour brainstorming session last year, she says, that “led the organization to look at the African-American market very differently. In 2010, you will see the results of that work.”
Johnson is also a member of MasterCard’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council, the Executive Women’s Steering Committee and the Multicultural
Steering Committee, which recently held its second multicultural summit expanding the company’s diversity efforts globally.
This leadership profile is featured in the upcoming June 2010 issue of DiversityInc magazine.