2024 Top 50: Tejuana Edmond on Inspiring Greatness  

“Greatness is not what you do. It’s what you inspire others to do.”   

Tejuana Edmond, Vice President, Plastic Additives Americas at BASF (No. 22 on the 2024 Top 50 list), spoke these words during her TED-style talk at the 2024 Top 50 event. They embodied the theme of Edmond’s address as she recounted leaders who shaped her career. These influential mentors demonstrated greatness by inspiring her commitment to inclusion and fairness. Edmond has often approached DEI through the lens of courageously challenging biases, even if that meant confronting those in authority.   

Confronting Bias

To demonstrate her approach to DEI and highlight the work of leaders who empowered her to live out her values, Edmond recounted a pivotal moment in her professional journey. It began with an opportunity to take on an expat assignment in Bosnia. However, her future supervisor’s biases soured an otherwise exciting prospect.

“The person who was over the country that I was moving to decided that he wanted to cut my salary,” Edmond recalled. “This decision was based on the fact that he was not going to allow a female to come to his country making this kind of money.” 

While Edmond was initially going to take the role anyway, a female leader encouraged her to reconsider. In an act of self-advocacy, Edmond eventually chose to decline the Bosnia assignment.  

“That female leader knew that I knew my value,” said Edmond. “She wanted me to own my value. She wanted me to make sure that I stood up for myself and to never allow anyone or anything to diminish my value, to not only be a voice for myself, but to be a voice for others who may be in the same situation.” 

Learning to Challenge and Be Challenged

While this encounter taught Edmond the value of challenging leaders to be better, another experience taught her the value of being challenged herself. This second lesson in inspiring greatness came at the end of a long recruiting process. Edmond was confident she had done all she could to mitigate bias during the recruiting process. However, one of her organization’s senior leaders offered some pushback.  

“I was pretty surprised because I didn’t expect to be challenged. I did all the right things,” Edmond said. “But I was proud to be challenged … It was a great example of how we should be as leaders, how we should challenge, how we should make sure that we’re finding the very best talent in a diverse pool of people.”  

These two pivotal career moments taught Edmond three principles she hopes to impart to other DEI leaders:

  • Hold each other accountable. 
  • Create believability.
  • Walk the talk. 

 To hear from more featured speakers from Fair360’s 2024 Top 50 event, view our event recap page.