Cynthia Marshall is the former Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President of Human Resources AT&T from March 23, 2015, to 2017. She also served as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources of AT&T Inc. from December 2012 to 2017 and was its Chief Diversity Officer for the better part of 2015. She was the highest-ranking African American women at AT&T during her 36 years with the company, but she does not want to be the last.
Obviously, it is different, moving from corporate America, but people are the same and want the same thing when coming to work, whether that’s for the Dallas Mavericks or if they are walking into the headquarters of a major corporation.
“People want to be respected and the ability to work with individuals who have character and bring their authentic self to the workplace,” Marshall said. “They also want to be safe physically, emotionally, and be a part of a team orientated environment.”
These are values common at any venue Marshall stressed and these are the things she wants to focus on as the CEO of the Mavericks. That is what she accomplished while steering AT&T and she strategically plans to do with the Dallas Mavericks.
“Sometimes I look back and it is almost textbook because I was taught to work very hard, but it was more about having great mentors, great sponsors, and always being around a great team of people,” Marshall said. “Sometimes I was behind the scenes, and I knew how to follow, but often I have been out in front and knew how to lead. I also know how to give credit to those around me and rely on others expertise. I’m truly blessed because I was able to make it up the ranks and the key is to bring others along. So, a lot of the time I am asked about being the first African American women, but I do not want to be the last.”
She continued discussing her story by giving Mark Cuban praise. “I do not know if he was aware that he was appointing the first women as CEO of an NBA team, because I was not aware, and he was just looking for talent. As I stated before, I am blessed, I have had a lot of people invest, and give me training to help me develop. Giving me the talent and the skill set that Mark needed for the job.”
It has been a busy time in Marshall’s career beginning with making the transition from starting her consulting practice to eventually shutting down that venture to focus her full attention on her duties as interim CEO with the Mavericks. She discussed that this is a very emotional time due to the nature of the situation, how she was brought in, and why Mark called her. However, they are all trying to process it and doing what is needed for their employees, the individuals that are involved with a commitment to come out together as a better organization.
“Considering how devastating some of these allegations are, I still have a sense of excitement about the village coming together, and when I say that, I mean inside and out,” Marshall explained. “Men and women will come together to make sure this bad situation is behind us and moving forward, this can be a model for the NBA. That is what I love about Mark Cuban, he is very serious, passionate, and is still responding to this situation in a way that others can use as a learning experience and become better from it.”
Marshall went on to emphasize that both her consulting business and the Mavericks are built on diversity and inclusion. She explained there is a major difference between the two with diversity being about the numbers and representation, while inclusion is making sure everyone is being valued and has a sense of belonging in the workplace. This is the environment she wants to create within the Dallas Mavericks organization regardless of your gender, race, ethnicity, background, and social economic status. To also build a culture where every voice matters and can make a difference in the organization.
“Mark is all about the community and if you think about the word ‘community’ the end of it is unity,” Marshall said. “So, what we want to do is unify the people in the area and bring everyone together. That is what I liked about talking to those 1000 kids tonight. I looked at this group of kids, which was very diverse, from different walks of life and they are all here with us this evening. As part of this fabulous community, we are going to intensify our efforts in the city. I have a passion for community and the village that is coming together to make a difference for women who have been victims and families who have been victims of domestic violence.
Also, for children in foster care and need homes that is my passion providing permanent stability for our children and there are so many needs out there, and some of us are blessed with our individual and our companies to be able to make a difference.”
Marshall said what she loves about the Dallas area and the region is that we take our resources and help each other. The Dallas Mavericks are leading the way and we will continue to do so.
“By the year 2019, the Dallas Mavericks will be the standard for inclusion and diversity in the country.”
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