by Lee Hall
Corporate Communications, Scripps Networks Interactive
29 September 2016
The fight for diversity and inclusion must form the basis of every conversation and action at work and at home. That’s the message presented by Alaka Williams, senior vice president of human resources at Scripps Networks Interactive. She delivered the keynote address at the annual Diversity and Inclusion Week at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Alaka Williams, SVP of HR and Scripps Networks Interactive, addresses Diversity Week at UT KnoxvilleWilliams spoke of growing up in the planned community of Reston, Va., a town “whose very foundation was based on diversity as a vision, a standard operation and an expectation.”
She urged her audience to participate actively in mentoring programs, which she called a fundamental tool in efforts to improve diversity. 
“Each and every one of us has someone who gave us a chance when it would have been easier not to. I strive daily to do the same,” she said.
Williams shared the story of the search for her first job. A woman at her church suggested she apply for a recruiting position at a local company. Williams survived several rounds of interviews before meeting the hiring manager, who turned out to be the woman who recommended her in the first place.Universitiy of Tennessee logo

“I gained more than a job, I gained a mentor,” she said “Someone took me by the hand. No
w I have to reach back and grab someone else by their hand and walk with them through this world.”
Mentoring is an essential element to success in business and life, Williams added. Companies like Scripps Networks Interactive that embrace diversity and offer structured mentoring programs understand the benefits for the business and its employees as well.
“We have to believe that diversity and inclusion matter,” she said. “Not because we are trying to check a box, but because it makes us better as individuals, as a company, as a nation, as a world.”
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