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Photography by Dan Henry / Wade Hinton, vice president of Inclusion and Diversity for Unum, speaks at an event to bring awareness of unconscious bias and offer tools to be more inclusive.

Wade Hinton is the vice president of Inclusion and Diversity at Unum. He's responsible for strategic diversity and inclusion programming to ensure Unum's culture, environment and business approach are inclusive and respectful to all. Prior to his role at Unum, Hinton served as city attorney for Chattanooga and deputy general counsel for Volkswagen Group of America's Chattanooga operations. He also served as a consultant to Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey on issues related to diversity and minority business programs. Hinton serves on the boards of the Benwood Foundation, the Chattanooga State Foundation, Co.Lab, and Sankofa.

 

What books have influenced the way you lead and develop your career?

In his autobiography "My American Journey," Colin Powell shares thirteen rules. The one that resonates the most with me is: "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." Like Secretary Powell, I have been the "first" in a number of roles throughout my career, and his autobiography, as well as Vernon Jordan's "Vernon Can Read," have helped me navigate this dynamic in both public and private sectors.

"Mindset" by Carol Dweck helped me name my ability to grow and develop different skills throughout my career. It's called a "growth mindset" and it's why I enjoy taking on more challenging roles and charting new territory. A growth mindset often leads to more innovative work from companies and individuals.

Books like "Linchpin" by Seth Godin often help me to reflect on the best ways to use my talents to add value to an organization. This served me well when I joined the legal team at Volkswagen and the City of Chattanooga where I looked for ways to contribute beyond my legal expertise. As I began to manage teams, books by Peter Drucker always provided me with practical leadership advice. And if understanding how to get the best out of your team is a priority, Amy Edmonson's "The Fearless Organization" does a great job of explaining psychological safety. This is a term we reference quite often in the inclusion and diversity work I lead at Unum.

 

What books have you recently read for pleasure and recommended to others?

Michelle Obama's "Becoming" was one of the most fascinating books I've read in the past few months. Her story provides a rare and authentic view of class migration and the journey to finding your voice. I would also recommend Simon Sinek's "The Infinite Game." Sinek's words helped me better understand why we will see more and more companies try to connect their work to a purpose or 'just cause,' as he calls it.

With all of the challenges we still face in this country, I'd be remiss not to recommend "Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson. It's one of the best non-business books I've read in the past year. The author reminds us that we are not defined by our worst mistake – a message that applies to anyone, not just those who have been connected to the criminal justice system.

 

What's up next on your to-read list and why?

I'm currently reading "Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead. While I don't usually indulge in fiction, this Pulitzer Prize-winning book received too many great reviews for me not to pick it up. The other book in my queue is "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson. His books are a great reminder of the importance of faith. For me, it's faith that allows me to keep that perpetual optimism.

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