The “Purple Rain” movie soundtrack was playing on repeat in Lisa Tabor’s head. Her retail management career was relocating her from the East Coast to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The only thing she knew about it was that it was where “Purple Rain” was filmed. And that Prince, the iconic musician who starred in the movie, lived there and was biracial like her. Lisa wanted to feel welcomed and accepted in her new surroundings. Surely the city that brought the world Prince would wrap its arms around her and provide a sense of belonging.
Lisa packed up her life and headed to the Midwest. As she settled in, she began to appreciate what the Twin Cities had to offer. She also realized it was not nearly as culturally diverse as she’d thought it would be. She ended up leaving her job in retail to work for the chamber of commerce and then the convention and visitor’s bureau in St. Paul. In these roles, she asked business owners how they were making diversity a priority. She learned there were many well-intended companies and leaders that wanted to do so, but they struggled to create environments where a diverse workforce could succeed.
The informal research Lisa conducted sparked a business idea for her. She could educate organizations on the importance of leveraging cultural diversity to create workplaces where everyone could thrive. She hadn’t thought about entrepreneurship up to that point, but now friends and colleagues were encouraging her to take the leap. In 2005, Lisa launched CultureBrokers, a consultancy partnering with businesses, nonprofits and government organizations to help them get immediate, measurable and valuable results from their diversity, inclusion and equity efforts.
Lisa developed the Diamond Inclusiveness System to deliver results to her clients. It’s a proven formula where diversity plus inclusion times discipline equals equity. The discipline part is where many businesses get stuck. It requires leadership to take a good look at the organization’s infrastructure—communications, operations, policies and practices—and consider how each stakeholder group is being served. She provides clients with a two-year road map to achieve results. Her goal is to empower organizations to deliver on promises to staff, customers and the community to build credibility and achieve better business outcomes.
When Lisa started the business, benefit corporations had not yet been established in Minnesota. Her goal for CultureBrokers was to use it as a vehicle for creating a positive impact for workers, the community and society. So she simultaneously established the CultureBrokers Foundation, a nonprofit connected to her business, to ensure her services were accessible and she could bring her bigger vision to life.
Influencing cultural intelligence is energizing for Lisa. She’s inspired by organizations that are open-minded about possible solutions and dedicated to making change. “When it comes to diversity and inclusion, it’s important to take the time to explore and understand the root issues,” she says. “Only then can we create environments where everyone can thrive, regardless of race or culture.”
To learn more about Lisa’s business, visit CultureBrokers.com.
Photo: Kate Pearson Halyburton for My Founder Story
About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator and author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose”. Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story and Publish Her as platforms for doing so.