Driven by Dignity
Driven by DignitySeptember 27, 2021
MSU School of Criminal Justice alumnus Carlos Cubia is senior vice president and global chief diversity officer for Walgreen’s Boots Alliance. Throughout his career, Cubia has always tried to make room for everyone.
“On my way up the corporate ladder,” he says, “I was always respectfully challenging the status quo and helping executive management to see and hear others.”
Before making waves in corporate America, the Pontiac, Michigan, native followed his older brother and sister to MSU—the only school he applied to and had any interest in attending. Upon graduation, because he always wanted to help others, Cubia applied for a position in the United States Secret Service. While enduring the arduous application process, Cubia began a career in insurance, which gradually led him into human resources work.
Hear more from Carlos Cubia in the podcast episode below:
It was here that Cubia began making strides in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion before the work even had a name. “I always had a longing for helping people,” he says. “Being a voice for the voiceless.”
As diversity, equity and inclusion efforts advance around the country, Cubia says the key is to value our differences, which led to his twist on the Golden Rule.
“When you accept people for who they are and treat them not the way you want to be treated but treat them the way they want to be treated, then I think you have a more engaged and a more productive society.”
DEI work continues to evolve as more organizations realize that embracing diversity, equity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do but also sound business practice. When an organization does DEI correctly, it impacts everything.
“Most CEOs and Fortune 500 companies realize the value of having a diversity strategy that touches every aspect of the business, whether that’s how they market, how they communicate or where they recruit.”
"Had Michigan State not given me the chance and the opportunity to show what I can do, I probably would not be where I am today. Michigan State creates an environment where everyone is welcome and where everyone can realize their full potential."
But there is no time to slow down, so Cubia continues to bring the importance of DEI to the forefront. “There are still individuals who feel that this is social work and has no place in business or in decision-making,” he says. “One of the challenges is getting to those individuals and showing them research where if you have a real strategy that’s comprehensive in nature, it contributes to the bottom line and the success of your organization, regardless of what your organization is.”
For all of us, the first step toward embracing DEI is to educate oneself and not turn the other cheek. Because to Cubia, DEI comes down to two words: dignity and respect.
“The sooner that we come together and work together and value the differences and understand each other’s perspectives and points of view, the sooner we’ll start to see the world differently and understand other people.”
Cubia sees that happening in East Lansing. As big as MSU is, it always seemed small to him. The university gave him so much in his student years, and if he had to do it over again, he’d be a Spartan every time.
“Had Michigan State not given me the chance and the opportunity to show what I can do, I probably would not be where I am today. Michigan State creates an environment where everyone is welcome and where everyone can realize their full potential. I see Michigan State constantly striving for that.”Author: Russ White, '82, '01