Paula T. Edgar, Esq., is a partner at Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC, a consulting firm that provides innovative and strategic solutions on organizational diversity efforts, intercultural fluency initiatives, sexual harassment prevention and EEO compliance.
Paula speaks and consults on these and other topics by facilitating workshops, conducting live and virtual professional development training, delivering keynote speeches and coaching executives. Paula is an expert in inclusive executive/leadership development, personal branding, networking, social media and career strategies. She is a past President of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA), New York’s largest black bar association.
Paula has previously served as the founder and CEO of PGE LLC, the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer at New York Law School, and as an attorney for the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
I met Paula at a conference in 2019 at which we were both speakers. I was so moved by her talk, that I went up to her, let her know that and asked if we could keep in touch. We started following each other on LinkedIn and I became an even bigger fan of hers. Learn more about why Paula is so awesome below.
Why did you choose your profession?
I chose to become an attorney after my mother was killed in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. I decided I wanted to help people in the same way that the lawyers that helped my family after my mother was killed helped us. I realized quickly after I began practicing law that my skill set was better utilized by helping others to advance themselves. That’s when I decided I wanted to become a diversity and inclusion consultant and a professional development trainer.
What is great about what I do now is that every single day I know that I am being impactful by helping others be better at what they do. This has a multiplying effect and I’m able to ensure that the impact I want to have in honor of my mother is vast and meaningful.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love being a diversity and inclusion expert because the information and expertise that I have can be helpful to any business environment. In the work that I do as a diversity and inclusion consultant, I utilize my legal training in order to bring a different perspective in terms of strategy and risk management to the work. This helps to strengthen the advice and engagement that I have with my clients. As a trainer and facilitator, I love interacting with people and helping them to do whatever it is they do better because of the information, skills, strategy and tips that I provide during my sessions.
Any advice to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
My advice to young women who want to succeed in the workplace is three things: 1. Be excellent. 2. Remember that mistakes are a part of learning and growing and 3. Understand that bias exists in our interactions and you will experience it. However, it is important to not let the biases of others or your own imposter syndrome get in the way of building your personal brand, building confidence, and achieving success.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
I wish I could tell my younger self to be confident in my authenticity. I recall several times as a young professional, particularly when I started out as a young lawyer, others telling me I had to conform in order to be successful. In some ways, their advice was true however, I have found that my personal brand and the amplification of my authentic self have been key factors to my continued success. If I had learned this and embraced this earlier, I would have saved myself a lot of time and energy that I wasted doubting who I was and what I could achieve.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
The best career advice I’ve ever received is to always keep learning. Even though I have several areas of expertise, I continually read, collaborate with other experts in my field and stay up to date on research in order to continually better myself. Doing this ensures that I don’t become stagnant and that I’m always innovating. These strategies and perspectives also enable me to provide a better product for my clients.
What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?
The key to success as a diversity and inclusion consultant is to become a subject matter expert, a strategic partner to clients and to continually develop your empathy muscle. I encourage clients who are looking for the right diversity and inclusion practitioner to not just assess experience and training, but to also ask for references and evidence of the impact that the person they want to work with has had with past clients.