PLAINVIEW, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) — The following is a press release from Wayland Baptist University:
Kevin McConic was born to lead; it was just a matter of nurturing those skills and finding a place to exercise them. Now, as the chief diversity officer for Covenant Health, McConic has found a home. A place where he feels that he belongs. A place where he knows the work he is doing is making a difference and positively influencing his community. A place where he can exercise those leadership skills that he knew were buried deep inside; he just needed a chance.
“I felt like I had the skill set to be a leader and to grow my career, but what I didn’t have was an open door,” McConic said.
Knowing that he needed a college education in order to take advantage of the opportunities put before him, McConic set out on his college journey. He first attended college straight out of high school like so many other students, but quickly found that it simply wasn’t for him.
“I tried several semesters. It just didn’t work out for me,” McConic said. “I struggled to get through the courses.”
Years later, sporting a negligible grade point average and poor track record, McConic knew he needed to get back into school to better support his family and reach his goals. He found Wayland where classes were full of people like him who were returning to school later in life. Wayland’s shorter class terms and evening and online classes met his schedule and made it possible for him to focus on the curriculum and complete the necessary course assignments. McConic earned his Bachelor of Applied Science degree in 2015 and proceeded to a Master of Arts in Management degree, graduating in 2017. Suddenly, with a solid educational background, opportunities were made available that just weren’t there before. Now, McConic is making a difference as a leader in the workplace.
Creating Value in the Workplace
As the chief diversity officer, McConic works with diversity, equity and inclusion in the Covenant system. He enjoys what he does, helping others find their voice and identity in an environment where they feel appreciated and valued. As beneficial as his work is to developing a well-trained, qualified workforce at Covenant, he knows, however, that it comes with detractors.
“There is sometimes a lot of negative connotation and attachment to the work of diversity, equity and inclusion,” McConic said. “But at the end of the day, when I think of my base of faith, it’s about making folks feel like they belong. Making folks feel like they are included. Making folks feel like they have a say and a place in what happens around them in this world.”
McConic said that too often diversity work is politicized. He tries to break down that barrier and remove politics from the equation. He understands, however, that there are differing opinions and all opinions should be respected, even when the parties involved disagree.
“[Diversity, equity and inclusion] is about perspective,” McConic said. “It’s about making sure that you understand my perspective and I understand yours. That I have receptivity enough to listen to you and to hear you out and that doesn’t always mean that I agree, but that I value what you are saying, that you value what I am saying, and that we have mutual respect for one another as we understand each other’s experiences.”
McConic said many people get lost in negativity when it comes to supporting diversity work as they feel attacked or that something is unfair. He said, however, that the work is not meant to pull anyone back from the progress they have made, but it is meant to help others catch up.
“There are some roadblocks,” McConic said. “We have to make sure that we create value. We have to make sure that we convince folks what the work is and what the work isn’t because there is a lot of noise around the work.”
McConic said it’s important to understand that not only does diversity, equity and inclusion deal with race, ethnicity and gender, but there are other factors such as cognitive differences and experiential differences that are important. His work centers around taking individuals from all backgrounds and giving them a voice, making sure they are treated fairly throughout the workplace. Through it all, he leans on his faith to communicate the value of what he is doing.
“That is really what it is all about – making people feel like they are being treated with dignity, with respect and compassion,” McConic said. “All things, as we know, that are themes that run through the Bible.”
Faith as a Cornerstone
Faith is important to McConic and has been a galvanizing factor in his life. Many of his jobs throughout the years have had faith as a guiding principle and he is glad he works with such an organization now. He was also glad to attend a university where Christian faith is a cornerstone.
“I think the faith aspect of Wayland is really crucial and critical,” he said. “It is the tapestry of life that is woven together and linked. As I’ve gone through, what I’ve found is that in the different places I’ve been, they have always had a very strong link to faith. It has helped me when I see faith working.”
Along with his work, McConic has been very involved in Lubbock, volunteering his time at Lubbock Estacado High School and serving on various committees. He works with several non-profit organizations, including Voice of Hope that is working to eradicate sex trafficking, and the Lubbock Area United Way. He is also involved with 100 Black Men of Texas that gives scholarships to deserving students. While it all keeps him busy, McConic said he feels that it is important to give back to the community.
“I really try to engage in the community where I can; to give a voice to people who may not have a voice,” he said. “I know that I can’t speak for everybody per se, but hopefully my perspective gives value to whatever the situation might be.”
(Press release from Wayland Baptist University)