Schott graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Business with an emphasis on management from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. Prior to her new role, Schott worked for Principal Financial Group for 23 years.
Schott also serves as a Human Rights Commissioner for West Des Moines and is an active member of the Society of Actuaries Diversity & Inclusion committee.
“We are very excited to have Heather join us,” said Matt Spackman, Senior Vice President of Grow People (Human Resources) at Kum & Go. “She will help move us forward on our journey to becoming not only a more diverse and welcoming organization, but a more successful organization as well.”
CStore Decisions spoke with Schott about her background, her new role — and what businesses can do to stay relevant and drive growth.
CStore Decisions: Tell me about your background. What led you to the Krause Group and to the role of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager?
Heather Schott: My background is what makes me unique in this field. My training is in mathematics, technology and business, but had a few ah ha’s along my journey that reminded me that at the core of all work is people. There were perspectives — really, voices — missing in these disciplines and, most importantly, missing at the decision-making tables. I started becoming an advocate, learned that my passion of problem-solving was helpful in this space and that companies not only needed this work but valued someone taking it on.
What led me to the Krause Group is the opportunity to drive real change toward inclusion in an organization that will continue to overflow into the communities they operate. The Krause family has been showing up locally, and when this position opened, I did some research on their intent — the alignment of our purpose, “Make days better,” and the how as “Connecting with people.” Driving equity and inclusion in both our company and the community is perfectly aligned to my values and what motivates me to work harder each day!
CSD: What are your responsibilities? What do you see as the biggest opportunities for this role?
HS: As you can imagine, on my second day, I’m still figuring that out. I think the biggest opportunity is to bring alignment to all the activities happening across the organizations. Equity and inclusion need to be intentional and coordinated. My focus will be to bring those to all our efforts and infuse the work into our business strategies.
CSD: Why, in your opinion, is it important for companies to have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager, or a comparable position?
HS: The importance is to recognize that the work is needed to stay relevant in business. The secret is that the DEI manager doesn’t “do” the work alone. It is our job to help find the root causes and drive skill development that all employees can utilize in building the right culture toward inclusion.
When successful, all areas of the organization understand how their accountability to inclusivity and equity drives business results — and, as an added benefit, makes our world better!
CSD: On LinkedIn, you wrote, “Innovation comes from diverse perspectives, and I need to keep challenging my own perspective.” Can you elaborate on this idea? Why is it important to continuously challenge one’s own perspective?
HS: Innovation can only come from different thinking. In other words, you can’t get to a new solution by doing the same thing over and over. That’s true, even for me. I believe in the power of positive disruption. I even describe myself as a disruptor. But I’m human, and I only have one lived experience. I need other people with other lived experiences and perspectives to challenge me and to help me grow! No one person will have all the answers; but one person can make space for others, leading to those other perspectives coming forward.
CSD: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
HS: I’m excited to begin my journey with the Krause Group. I had an amazing experience with my last organization for over two decades, and it’s always hard to change. As a change agent, I often ask people to step outside their comfort zone. I decided now was the time for me to model that behavior and challenge myself to grow.
While I know both the Krause Group and I won’t be perfect, I’m confident that if we continue to partner with organizations and people in our communities, we can drive positive change and be part of what makes our communities so wonderful to live and work in. I look forward to hearing how we are doing and the work we have ahead of us!