By Ellen McGirt
March 8, 2017

We’ve just posted a short video interview with Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor, a $2.8 billion enterprise software firm. Check it out, it’ll make you’re your day.

Phillips is one of the first executives I interviewed when I started the race beat at Fortune, and it was a great way to begin. (Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram has an extraordinary profile of Phillips here.) A former Marine Corps officer, who rose up the ranks in Wall Street, then jumped into tech to run acquisitions for Larry Ellison at Oracle. Now, as the head of Infor, he’s using his software and leadership chops to help companies embrace diversity both strategically and organically. “I didn’t work with any black people most of my career. And, it wasn’t even a thought,” he told me.

Now, he thinks about it all the time. He’s invested in specific education programs at the community college level that will help develop diverse candidates trained in Infor software, and he’s incentivizing his recruiters to make sure that diverse candidates don’t just walk in the door, they stick around. He routinely meets with young black tech executives coming out of Facebook, Google, and other Valley companies with start-up ideas. And he’s part of a small network of similarly focused executives, a supper club with a bias for action, who come together to discuss and fund numerous worthy ideas. One, like booking theaters to help thousands of kids across the country see Ava DuVernay’s Selma for free, came together after a few e-mails. Others, like a $1 million donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 2015 happened after president Sherrilyn Ifill gave an informal pitch for a police reform campaign at one of their regular dinners. “She had a good plan,” he says.

But like all leaders who are trying to shape the world, Charles Phillips was once just a boy, who needed some shaping of his own. In this often touching clip, he talks about his career path and the important role the military played in his development, first as a military kid and later as a Marine. Turns out, traveling the world is the best possible diversity training exercise, making everyone both an outsider and a potential friend. (Spoiler: I’ll be having fried chicken for lunch, as tribute to his very cool-sounding mother.)



You May Like