Lori Rush Lancaster, president of Dakkota Integrated Systems, one of the largest Native American, women-owned and led companies in the United States, shares her Native American philosophy of Seven Generations and how it applies to their business.
During Native American Heritage Month in November and as part of our WBENC Women of Color Program, WBENC is celebrating the immense contributions these women entrepreneurs have made to our nation and the WBENC network.
Simon Sinek has widely shared his view that what is lacking in the world right now is not women leaders, but rather leaders who lead like women. I agree with his perspective that women harbor natural tendencies that make them especially effective in leadership positions, specifically their focus on people.
As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, I would add that just like being a woman can shape you as a leader, so do the principles of your heritage, particularly in regard to how you view and interact with people.
We all agree that people make a company great. It’s that simple. Of course, delivering quality products and services is vital, but without great employees we don’t have great customer service.
Our company, Dakkota Integrated Systems, is one of the largest Native American, women-owned and led companies in the United States. Dakkota is intensely dedicated to diversity and inclusion, specifically providing opportunities to anyone looking to gain the skills and experience needed for a fulfilling career or to enhance their current career path.
Seven Generations Mindset
Our mindset affects how this plays out in action.
As a leader and proud Native American, I believe in Seven Generations, a Native American philosophy that the decisions we make today should be influenced by the teachings and values of past generations resulting in a sustainable world for generations into the future.
Too often we are so caught up in the present that we ignore and disrespect both the wisdom of the past and the promise of the future.
At its essence, Seven Generations helps us maintain our integrity as people. And maintaining our integrity means we have an obligation to improve life not only for this generation but for those that follow. This is not a choice. It is an obligation.
How Seven Generations Guides Dakkota
Our priority is to create a culture of true diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We do not view diversity and inclusion as a numbers game. Instead, it is the mindset and actions where leaders genuinely believe that different backgrounds and thinking enrich ideas and innovation, so we all thrive.
Today our vision is to be the most respected and inclusive organization, helping to transform individuals, communities, and the manufacturing industry.
We have more than 2,500 people in the United States and Canada in 15 locations, managing supply chain complexity for customers through the assembly of complex modules and components sequenced and delivered just in time for larger original equipment manufacturers in the automotive industry and for others in need of our services.
We reduce complexity, time, labor, and material costs through automation, process data validation, proprietary materials management processes, and most importantly, our specially-trained people.
Because it really is all about people – how, as business leaders, we recruit, treat, train, listen to, reward, promote and respect them. Our success is intrinsically bound to our people’s success.
I like the way Chief Seattle of the Duwamish tribe said it: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
WBENC WOMEN OF COLOR
The Women of Color Program is an outreach and development program designed to build and strengthen a dynamic ecosystem for women of color entrepreneurs. WBENC launched the Women of Color Program in 2017 to create an effective and successful business ecosystem designed to engage, advise and drive the growth of women of color women-owned businesses. Since then, hundreds of women entrepreneurs have attended in-person and virtual sessions at WBENC events, designed to address the challenges faced by many women of color business owners and provide resources and programming to address those challenges.