Michele Meyer-Shipp has a career full of pivots with four core principles: build relationships wherever you go, seek out challenges that make you learn and grow, ask for what you want (including frequent feedback) and access the “power of the collective.” All of this has directed her career from law into human resources and DEI management through different industries into the highest position a woman has held in Major League Baseball (MLB), serving as Chief People and Culture Officer leading MLB’s Human Resources, Office Operations and Facilities and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion teams for all 30 major league clubs and 120 minor league clubs. Each MLB team, she says, acts like an individual business entity, each with its own marketing, personnel issues, and profit-loss activities. Michele notes that she started this job at the beginning of the season, just after the pandemic hit, and at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd. Navigating the shut down in a very public business on a nationwide scope required all of her skills as a C-suite executive and culture strategist, plus she had to check Twitter and read the paper every day to see if some little episode was misinterpreted by the public.
Major League Baseball HR, DEI Strategy
Moving from finance to professional sports was risky and the high energy of the MLB gave her goosebumps. Fortunately, she says the amazing people on her HR, DEI and operations team were built-in mentors for working across all teams. Following her own adage of “You don’t know what you don’t know”, she listened, learned and engaged the power of her collective HR team, then developed relationships with some of the owners and the team HR and DEI leaders. She says that several teams were doing some form of DEI work, but there was no strategic operating model for all of them. She developed a strategy of three pillars to pull them altogether:
- Talent sourcing pillar
- Culture pillar
- External facing pillar
It gave everyone a lens through which to see their work and assess where they were excelling or falling short. They could also share their best practices with one another, which improved everyone’s strategy. Pulling together this nationwide collaboration with their collective experience and drive was truly powerful.
Next Pivot CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide
February 16, Michele started a new job, overseeing over 140 affiliate chapters in 23 countries of Dress for Success Worldwide, with the mission “to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” She says her first duty is to go on a “listening tour” to understand all the things she doesn’t know. Now is a particularly challenging time to start in this arena, considering the pandemic has set women back three decades in the workforce. Michele says that the 25-year-old organization does more than provide clothes for women. “In fact, we provide a host of other resources for women as they attempt to job search or career transition or re-enter after a break in their careers…including all kinds of professional development, career coaching, job searching.” She says that it’s ironic how similar it is to the MLB, and she intends to enact similar strategies of pulling the affiliates together to share the best of the best throughout the organization. Just as her MLB assignment came at a pivotal time, so has her CEO position with Dress for Success Worldwide.
Listen or watch this conversation to learn more of Michele’s insight into C-suite leadership, how to navigate uncertain waters and traverse decades of different industries as a transformational leader taking on challenges to empower women.