How Executives Become Waymakers for Workplace Equity


Tara Jaye Frank built a career as an equity strategist and teaching executives to become “waymakers” for workplace equity by listening and observing how people behaved and built relationships. She used that knowledge to become a greeting card writer at Hallmark Cards and used it again and again in multiple executive roles, including vice president of multicultural strategy, corporate culture and as a culture adviser to the president. For over 25 years she’s built her own bridge to success by being “really curious about other people and what they see, what they are motivated by, and how they build relationships and engage with others.” This has taught her about human nature and leadership, and given her the tools to advise and guide executive management to become “waymakers” for others. Tara says, “And here’s the thing of all the black and brown and women, the people who have been left out of the learning loop–everyone I know who’s made it to high levels of leadership in corporations have done so not only because of systems change, but because someone made a way for them. Point, blank, period!”


The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence

Tara calls her latest book, The Waymakers, an invitation to leaders “to get off the fence and into the arena.” She says that no one gets anywhere without someone removing the barriers to advancement, but she has found that while executives want to do the right thing, they don’t know what the right thing is, and more importantly they don’t want to make a mistake, offend someone and risk their professional reputation. They lack the “competence and confidence” to make the “bold and intentional” moves needed to truly achieve a more equitable and inclusive workplace. Tara says that she wanted to give them a way to do it, and also to inspire them to move forward.

When Dr. Nancy asked Tara what made this book different than all the others, Tara said that it is truly research-based. She did proprietary research asking employees what makes them feel seen, respected, valued and protected. Then she asked what makes them feel invisible, disrespected, and underappreciated. The answers showed what leaders do and don’t do to produce equity and inclusion. Next, she interviewed 30 of the top diversity, equity and inclusion professionals about what really works in their organizations—not theory, but real actions that drive progress. And most of all, Tara worked as an executive for many years and speaks “the language of power and position.” From her perspective, Tara says, “I seek to understand how the people around me define success, right? And then I very intentionally, very specifically help them build a bridge from where they are to where they want to be. I ultimately make a way right to that highest aspiration.” Her goal is for the book to become a tool for all leaders to become waymakers, and for it to help thousands—maybe millions of people reach their definition of success.

Learn Why Equity Is Taking So Long and Much More

Listen to or watch this conversation for more insights into leadership, how action differs from policy and what will really make a difference in the pursuit of equity. Check out Tara’s website for speaking, consulting and other insightful posts at And pre-order The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence from your favorite bookseller. It will be available in May 2022.

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