Lanesha Minnix has served as Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer at Flowserve since June 2018. She provides risk management, government strategies, and legal, regulatory, and compliance advice for global executive management teams and corporate boards. Flowserve is one of the largest suppliers of industrial and environmental machinery such as pumps, valves, automation, and services for the power, oil, gas, and chemical industries.
Minnix, who also serves on the DRC Board of Directors, talks career and the biggest challenges facing African Americans in the DRC’s on-going Q&A series for Black History Month.
What African American figures have had a major influence on your life?
I have a deep respect and admiration for Madame C.J. Walker, the first self-made black woman millionaire in the U.S. Her story is a testament to why hard work, strong values, and resiliency pay off. She was the child of slaves and became an orphan and a widow all before she was 20. Notwithstanding her many hardships, she went on to build a corporate empire from the ground up by solving a need for black women in haircare. She stayed true to her beliefs and values by hiring and promoting black women in her company and donating large portions of her wealth to important philanthropic causes. She is a true embodiment of “Black Girl Magic” and a trailblazer for all women.
What are the biggest challenges facing the current generation of African American leaders?
As black leaders in corporate America, we have been and continue to often be the “first” or the “only” black person in the room. That can present unique challenges. We have a duty to remind corporate America that success cannot be declared when there is only one of us in the room. As black leaders, we have an opportunity to provide a different but valuable perspective and sponsor other high-performing diverse managers in the pipeline for progression opportunities within our respective organizations.
As a business leader, how do you have effective conversations on race?
The most effective way to have any conversation is to truly listen. After the George Floyd murder, companies and corporate executives around the world began to lean into social justice causes and challenge themselves to do more as corporate citizens. At Flowserve, our executives began facilitating open forums with our associates about race to understand their perspectives and to hear their stories. By giving associates a safe outlet to discuss these topics, they fostered a newfound sense of trust and respect. I am proud to work at Flowserve where diversity, equity, and inclusion is paramount, and our global commitment to diverse thinking and strengthening our culture of inclusion is seen in action each day.
What is the best piece of advice you received on life and building a successful career?
The best way to motivate others and enable individual success is to nurture a team culture and lead with grace and empathy. The Golden Rule says, “Treat others how you want to be treated,” but I subscribe to the Platinum Rule in my personal and professional life, which says “Treat others how they want to be treated.” The Platinum Rule commands a heightened level of commitment to listen to others with empathy and seek to understand their perspectives and their motivations.