L. Suzanne Cardwell is the founder and principal of Cardwell Consulting Group, LLC. She is a diversity and inclusion (D&I) thought leader, certified coach, LGBTQ business owner, and keynote speaker with over ten years of experience working with clients from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, and C-suite to entrepreneurs. Like her corporate engagements, Suzanne’s volunteer D&I efforts have led to more inclusive and thriving organizations.
Suzanne is uniquely qualified to guide leaders through the formidable process of organization-wide culture change. For five years, she created and implemented the D&I strategies for over 47,000 associates worldwide as Capital One’s Head of Internal Programs for the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. Suzanne is noted for her tenacity for conducting research, as well as learning and building new skill sets, all with a focus on leveraging the vital talents of every individual. During her over 15-year tenure at Capital One, she also directed corporate onboarding, operational infrastructure, process engineering, risk management, customer experience, and quality assurance across the U.S. Card business. Suzanne was twice awarded Capital One’s most prestigious honor, the Circle of Excellence Award. It is presented by the CEO and recognizes those who make an extraordinary business impact via leadership, customer service, or innovation.
Years before the rise of corporate social responsibility, Suzanne was conducting culture audits and serving as a D&I instructional designer at Capital One. Realizing that her expertise was both unique and at the forefront of the D&I movement, and eager to initiate courageous conversations in corner offices around the world, Suzanne founded Cardwell Consulting Group in 2015.
Upon first meeting a client, Suzanne is able to dynamically builds mutuality that breaks barriers and builds trust. She is an active listener and a kind truth teller. Clients note that Suzanne’s approach immediately creates a safe space for them to have open, and often difficult, conversations about belonging.
Research shows that different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives are good for business. A diverse and engaged workforce spurs creativity, is more productive, boosts revenues, and leads to greater customer loyalty. After a thorough assessment of a client’s D&I needs, Suzanne proposes customized engagements, both short-term and long-term. They include data analysis, strategic planning, and innovative programming and delivery. No matter what the engagement, Suzanne is impassioned in her commitment to work hard with leaders and their teams to make their business and corporate culture goals a reality.
To bring cutting-edge D&I practices to a wider audience, Suzanne is Chief Strategy Officer at Cook Ross, regularly hosts D&I meetups, and has moderated an executive insights panel at Network & Affinity Leadership Congress (NALC).
Suzanne has partnered with nonprofit and community organizations, including Chamber of Commerce, Diversity Best Practices, Human Rights Campaign, Leadership Metro Richmond, National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), and Working Mother, to shape strategies and build inclusive cultures through interactive workshops and speaking events.
Suzanne and her two sons call Virginia home. Adventures and the eagerness of learning are always on their agenda. Not surprisingly, Suzanne loves immersing herself in new cultures, whether in her community or throughout her travels. Her professional and personal missions are the same - connect with people, celebrate their stories, champion self-awareness and acceptance - and she strives to do so with passion and purpose.
— Keynote —
Power of Perspectives
When it comes to Suzanne’s professional and personal life, the mission is the same - connect with people, celebrate their stories, and champion self-awareness and inclusion. That’s why she brings authenticity into everything she does - from leading workshops and keynotes, to discussion groups, to one-on-one coaching sessions. As an expert in Inclusion, Suzanne values the importance of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, and how they directly influence a more balanced, efficient, and more profitable organization. And as a kind truth-teller, Suzanne dynamically connects our vulnerabilities and how they impact our success by leading individuals and groups into a more open and honest place. By breaking down barriers and improving communication, this approach leads to a culture without fear of judgment.
Suzanne’s Power of Perspectives keynote is an interactive event where participants experience the feeling of judgment and the fear of judgment simultaneously. Through a thoughtful exercise, participants will uncover and begin to recognize their own biases (conscious and unconscious), which ultimately leads to a new perspective on how vulnerability and inclusion influences our daily lives. With this new insight, participants will learn the value of fully listening, engaging with others, and valuing different experiences in a new and profound way.
Suzanne’s exclusive keynote and workshop will lead to profound and long-lasting outcomes: leveraging an entire organization's collective power to drive productivity, and ultimately, profitability. The Power of Perspectives keynote is the catalyst for organizational cultural shifts and builds the foundation for a company to maximize their in-house talent and increase employee retention.