Deb Dagit, President of Deb Dagit Diversity, LLC has 22 years’ experience as a diversity practitioner and has worked as a top executive in both the Information Technology and Health care fields informing both HR and business practices and strategies.
She is known for her pragmatism, subject matter expertise with regards to all dimensions of diversity, and results orientation.
She recently retired from her role as the Global Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Vice President at Merck, where she spent over a decade advancing the Company’s global diversity and inclusion strategies.
From an early age most people’s expectations for Deborah Dagit were very low. Doctors told her parents when she was born that it was unlikely she would live to see her second birthday. They asserted that if she did live beyond that milestone, she would not be able to engage in any normal life activities. Educators were similarly pessimistic about her ability to learn. Her first two years in school she was segregated with other children who were considered too disabled to participate in a regular classroom, in an environment that was in essence a babysitting service for children with a disability.
Deb’s working-class single mother knew that although her daughter was physically fragile, she was also bright and capable of learning. Deb had learned how to read before Kindergarten, and was described as precocious by most adults. Deb’s mom pleaded with a local elementary school Principal to allow Deb to attend public school in the second grade. At that time (1966) there were no legislative policies or protections to promote school mainstreaming, and she would be the only child in her school with a disability through the remainder of her K-12 experience.
Despite more than 70 fractures and 25 major operations to repair and straighten her legs, Deb was always a straight A student and graduated from high school with honors in 1977, just before her 18th birthday. She was also active as a student leader and received many accolades at public speaking competitions. She went on to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in Clinical Psychology. She applied her academic and leadership skills to become one of the premier Fortune 100 corporate leaders in an emerging HR discipline that came to be known as Diversity. Along the way she married her husband Dan, and they adopted three children, who also have various disabilities. She also became very active as a community leader serving on the boards of a broad array of national nonprofit organizations.
Advocates and thought leaders for people with disabilities are often from the medical or health care community, who often consider people with disabilities as a population in need of a cure and/or relief from the symptoms associated with their diagnosed condition. No other diverse population is subject to this type of assessment in modern society. While women, racial minorities, and gay people have historically been labeled as genotypically predisposed to be weaker, less intelligent, and or medically compromised – only people with disabilities continue to bear this burden in modern times.
Throughout her career Deb has been a compelling and vocal advocate for people with disabilities. As the only Chief Diversity Officer with a visible disability, she has often found herself in the unenviable position of being the sole voice in the room to advocate for societal and workforce inclusion for people with disabilities.
Her journey to achieving personal and professional success is all the more remarkable given the lack of belief that these achievements were even remotely possible.
Deb has an anonymous advice column called “Dear Deb” on her website www.debdagitdiversity.com. It is a unique resource for practitioners to seek support, affirmation, and ask questions re: how to cope with the emotional roller coaster that can come with performing diversity and inclusion roles.
Visitors can pose questions and provide a name that is anonymous to others. Only Deb will know the original author from their e-mail address and any other identifying information they wish to provide. (e.g. signature that appears could be something like “Troubled in Toledo”)
Typical topics may include:
- expectations of colleagues who share the same demographic affiliation as the practitioner who are requesting a primary focus on their needs and interests
- concerns about how to respectfully address and show up as an effective ally for groups a practitioner is not familiar or confident with
- addressing internal conflicts that can arise when what is expected in the diversity role and how a person was raised to think about and interact with people from different backgrounds creates stress and/or confusion
- demonstrating confidence and executive presence when working with senior leaders
- friction that can arise with colleagues who do not share a similar priority/passion for diversity work
To learn more about Deb’s firm please visit:
Please visit Deb Dagit Diversity, LLC at www.debdagitdiversity.com