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Rising to the Occasion

Interview by Jonathan Kersting

Current Profile

Lance Hyde, Director of Global Inclusion at Koppers, has been working in the diversity capacity for the past 14 years and relocated to Pittsburgh eight years ago. Before joining Koppers, he established himself nationally in the Supplier Diversity arena and was subsequently promoted to also manage Inclusion & Diversity (I&D). Incorporating I&D experience enabled him to seek elevated opportunities in the diversity space. While managing Supplier Diversity in his new role at Koppers, his primary focus is on I&D efforts. Hyde finds value in implementing diversity best practices; however, he notes that you must adopt an innovative approach and create new ideas to truly lead and differentiate your employer in the marketplace. TEQ wanted to learn about Hyde and what makes him tick.

In case our readers don’t know, give us the nickel tour of what Koppers does.

Lance Hyde: Koppers, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is an integrated global provider of treated wood products, wood treatment chemicals and carbon compounds. Our products and services help maintain our railroads, power our homes and businesses, and keep our infrastructure strong. Primarily, we manufacture treated wood products for the railroad and electric utility industries, develop wood preservation chemicals for use in pressure-treated lumber for residential, industrial and agricultural applications and process coal tar into intermediate materials necessary in the production of aluminum, steel, plastics, resins, treated wood and rubber products.

What made the position of Director of Global Inclusion at Koppers interesting to you?

LH: Last year, I contemplated leaving Pittsburgh. At that time, Jerry MacCleary and Greg Spencer of Carnegie Mellon University’s TALI (The Advanced Leadership Initiative) program made an attempt to keep me in the region by reaching out to several CEOs in the Pittsburgh-area and asking them to consider me for an employment opportunity within their organizations or potentially create one. Leroy Ball (Koppers CEO) was the only CEO who reached out to me directly and invited me to lunch. During our lunch, I immediately felt connected to his leadership, openness to accept new ideas, his passion for inclusion and diversity and his desire to create a new leadership position in diversity. Since joining Koppers a few months ago, I now understand why so many local executives and community leaders assured me that working under Leroy’s tutelage would be an invaluable opportunity.

Tell us about your key responsibilities.

LH:  I am focused on leading inclusion and diversity efforts to support Koppers’ strategy to be an employer of choice for top talent of all races, genders, ethnicities and socio-economic statuses. Also, I’m looking forward to chairing our company’s new Inclusion and Diversity Committee, working with our LINKwomen ERG, serving as an I&D resource to the Leadership and Operating Council, and building a comprehensive Supplier Diversity program to better identify innovative products, services and improved business solutions.

Wow, that’s a lot!  Shortly after you started, the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. Koppers responded with the All One Pittsburgh initiative. Can you tell us more about it and what is special to you?

LH: In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in local underserved communities, I asked Leroy if he would ask Koppers employees and request his fellow CEOs to ask their employees to donate money to procure and distribute hard-to-find household items such as toilet paper, disinfectants and hand sanitizers. He immediately agreed and in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, we created a community-wide fund called AllOnePittsburgh. Thanks to the generosity of our local community, the fund raised $65,000 in just four weeks. In our initial distribution, we dispersed over 17,000 individual household items to seven different community centers in the Pittsburgh region.

This drive is special to me because, as a product of an underserved community who grew up sleeping on a mattress on my living room floor inside a one-bedroom apartment, I understand the importance of expressing gratitude and appreciation by supporting those who are less fortunate.  

Advice on how all businesses can keep inclusion top of mind and part of their business DNA?

LH: My advice is twofold for I&D leaders and CEOs. I recommend that I&D leaders identify and present objective data and research that will underscore the business value in being an inclusive organization by recruiting and retaining top diverse talent, proactively identifying diverse suppliers to include in bid opportunities and supporting local nonprofit organizations that help underserved residents in the company’s operational footprint. My advice to CEOs would be to view the data and research from an objective lens. Adopt inclusion as a core tenet of the organization and embed it within the company’s internal orientation and processes. In my experience, businesses that implemented this bilateral approach saw the positive impact inclusion made on their bottom-lines and those companies inherently kept inclusion top of mind and part of their business DNA.

Listen to Lance talk more in detail on TechVibe Radio: