5 Questions for Buffy Christie, Chair, ISF Diversity Committee
In 2021, The International Security Foundation (ISF) added a new Board committee: the Diversity Committee. This Committee, chaired by Buffy Christie, head of global security at Novelis, is charged with developing a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan for the ISF.
We asked Buffy to share more about this critical new committee, which includes ISF board members Erik Antons, Jerry Brennan, Kelly Johnstone, Dave Komendat, Margaret Levine, Nick Lovrien, Michael Peaster and Eddie Silverman.
Q: Why did the ISF board decide to create a Diversity Committee last year?
A: The ISF looked inward and self-identified the opportunity to assess its own diversity of our board and of the programs that we fund. We represent a cross section of the security industry and come from various organizations that are also currently addressing DEI issues. It felt like the right thing for us to do, and we are proud to make our commitment to DEI known as we move to execute on our goals.
Q: What are the board’s internal goals for diversity?
A: Our initial discussions were focused on where we want the ISF board and our programming (the ISF Annual Dinner) to be. It is very important that we practice what we preach, so we first worked at defining what we mean by diversity. We decided to use Nasdaq’s definition of self-identified underrepresented minorities: Black, Latin, Asian/API, Native, Women and LGBTQ+. The Diversity Committee also recommended that we include veterans within our definition.
Our guide, the Nasdaq’s Board Diversity Rule (approved by the SEC on August 6, 2021), sets goals of 50% diversity representation on boards within five years. The ISF board has embraced this goal, and we believe that we can meet this goal much earlier than five years.
Another very important goal is to diversify the speakers and presenters at the ISF Annual Dinner. Our goal of having 50% diversity of speakers/presenters was achieved last year during the ISF 10th Anniversary Virtual Reception. We were intentional in our planning to have two security legends who are female as our key speakers for the event: Secretary Madeleine Albright and Susan Gordon. We will continue to make this a priority in our planning of future dinners.
Q: What are the external goals for the organization?
A: Our goal is to work with our grantees to help them achieve 50% DEI representation in five years on their boards and in the programs that they ask us to fund. We also will explore ways that we can educate and support this work within the larger security industry.
Q: How does the ISF plan to keep diversity as a primary focus?
A: To reflect the board’s unity and our strategic-level commitment, we created Guiding Principles for our work:
- Promote a culture of respect, support and inclusion;
- Enhance demographic representation and retention; and
- Further educate ourselves and engage our community in actions to incorporate DEI in our organization and in the programs that we support.
With these strong principles in place, we are actively seeking a volunteer DEI Advisor to join our Diversity Committee. The DEI Advisor would serve as a catalyst to leverage proven practices and resources to promote a culture of inclusion where individuals from all racial and ethnic identities, ages, nationalities, social and economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, religious, political, and ideological perspectives and physical and mental abilities are able to thrive and be engaged.
Q: What inspired you to volunteer to chair the Diversity Committee?
A: I hear and have heard for many years about the need for diversity, equity and inclusion, but it goes beyond just gender and race! I wanted the opportunity to be a voice for diversity and work with a dynamic committee to shape diversity for the ISF. Being a part of this evolution is meaningful, and I’m honored to have been a part of this change.
About Buffy Christie:
Buffy Christie, CFE, who joined the ISF Board of Directors in 2019, has been the head of global security for Novelis since 2015. Prior, she led fraud investigations and security operations for Equifax, JPMorgan Chase and First North American National Bank. She has a B.A. in Business Administration and Management from Southern Polytechnic State University and a BSCJ in Forensic Science from American Intercontinental University. In 2020, she and Matt Payne co-founded the nonprofit Outer Circle Foundation supporting various service groups and purposes, including veterans, nonprofits addressing homelessness, etc.