By Nicholas Conley
April 20, 2018
One of the most defining moments in United States history occurred on August 28th, 1963. A crowd of 250,000 people joined together at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington—a mass protest against systemic prejudice. Standing with that crowd was an 11-year-old girl named Carol who took Dr. King’s famous dream to heart. Fifty years later, Carol Fulp sees echoes of the past in today’s social movements, including the March for Our Lives and Black Lives Matter.
“I realize the impact those marches will have,” Fulp says. “We’re in a pivotal time. Movements and marches, they start with young people. These young people who are marching today are going to change America. I know that because I’ve been there when it was done before, and I’m so confident that we’re seeing it done here today.”
Today, that young girl has grown into an inspirational leader in her own right. Rising from humble beginnings, Fulp has become one of Boston’s most prominent changemakers through a combination of determination, intelligence, sincerity, and passion for her mission: building a more culturally diverse future. She currently serves on the board of trustees for Eastern Bank, but that’s far from her only accomplishment. She’s also the President and CEO of The Partnership, Inc., an organization dedicated to attracting multicultural professionals to New England. In the past, she directed a $12 million philanthropic program for John Hancock Financial. She’s been a trustee for the Boston Public Library and a member of the Massachusetts Advisory on Wage Equality. On top of all of that, she served as a member of the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, appointed directly by President Barack Obama.
She may be one of Boston Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful People,” but Carol has walked a long road to get here — her story is one of triumph over adversity. “Not only am I black, not only am I a woman, but I have a disability. I’ve found that all of those differences have helped strengthen me, and it has enabled me to be sensitive to others who might be different.”
Fulp’s unique journey through the business world has given her firsthand experience of why championing diverse communities is not just a moral necessity, but also the key to success. As she puts it, “Everyone has a voice and everyone should be heard.” Referring back to her days at the United Nations, Fulp recalls speaking with the ambassador from Nigeria, who echoed her views. “Can you afford to win the race if you are only running on one leg? If you’re only hiring one people of one kind, you’re missing out on a huge amount of talent. If you don’t hire that talent, your competitor will and they’ll win.”
She also champions the importance of women from all backgrounds joining together to advance causes such as the fight for equal pay. Pointing out that different calendar dates represent different equal pay celebrations for various groups (such as April 17th for Caucasian women, August 7th for Black women or September 27th for Native American women), Fulp states her belief that, “We need to band together to advance as women, and leave no one behind.”
Fulp is fully conscious of her position as a role model to young girls across New England. And she has immense faith in the youth of today protesting for their beliefs — despite the adversity they face. They motivate and inspire her every day. When asked what advice she would give young women—like the Carol of 1963—she knows that women still face unfair challenges in the workplace, even in 2018.
“Today there are more men who are in positions of power than women. And as such, you may be perceived as the other. The one who’s different. You quickly have to indicate or demonstrate your value to others.” Put simply, Fulp advises young female professionals to not waste time worrying about what others think of you, don’t let your mistakes define you, and keep pushing forward against any challenges you face.
About The Partnership, Inc.
Carol Fulp’s The Partnership, Inc., was first formed in 1987 as a launching pad for the advancement of African Americans within corporate Boston, and it has since grown to support multicultural professionals at all levels. Today, The Partnership works to create broader diversity at workplaces across New England and has collaborated with 4,000 diverse professionals and 300 organizations. Learn more about The Partnership, and join Carol Fulp on her journey to creating a more inclusive workplace.
“We’re in a pivotal time. Movements and marches, they start with young people. These young people who are marching today are going to change America.” – Carol Fulp