While spending time in Africa in the 1980s, Karen Fasheun saw women business leaders firsthand in the market of Lagos, Nigeria, including a work station owned by her sister-in-law. “I saw how women really became a part of the economy and supported their families and their children,” Fasheun says. “They were major contributors to the economy.”
Fasheun, 56, returned to the United States and worked 15 years in admissions, multicultural enrollment and campus diversity at Ohio University, Ohio Wesleyan University and Ohio State University. She joined Time Warner Cable in 2005 as a human resources business partner and was named Midwest region manager for diversity, inclusion and development in 2009.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to always do what I enjoy doing,” Fasheun says. “At each step in every job that I’ve ever had, it’s making sure that I learned something from that job whether it fits my passion or not.”
Time Warner Cable received the 2011 NAACP Champions of Diversity Award for Outreach and the 2011 Ohio Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities Employer of the Year Award. Fasheun was awarded the 2011 Madrina Award, given by Empleos & Employment and the Ohio Diversity Latino Talent & Leadership Conference.
When she’s not at work, Fasheun sits on the boards of the Jazz Arts Group, Ohio Business Leadership Network and Wright Choice and is the women’s track chair on the Empleos & Employment Conference Planning Committee. She also is involved with the Latina Mentoring Academy and Dress for Success.
What’s the best part of your job? “That it’s never the same on any one day and that I have the opportunity to work with so many people … at every level of the organization, from people who are in the customer care center on the telephone all the way to our vice presidents of the company.”
What’s your biggest challenge? “There’s always something to do because this company is always changing,” she says. “There’s always something new and there’s always that time constraint.”
How do you maintain a work-life balance? Understanding when to stop and recharge is important, Fasheun says. “You never really reach a true balance and then say, ‘This is the way it’s going to be forever,’ because life hits you all at once sometimes.”
What strengths do women bring to the workplace? “I entered the workplace in the ’70s and we were asked to act like, be like, talk like, walk like, smell like the men in my work environment,” Fasheun says. “I think that smart women bring to the workplace who they are, who we are as women, and don’t disguise it.”
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration? Fasheun—a grandmother herself—names her grandmother, Barbara Young, and other women in her family. “I have a photo of my grandmother, her two sisters and my great-grandmother on my desk, and I’ve had it on my desk in every single job I’ve ever had.”
What are your goals for the next five years? “I’m looking to see what the future is going to bring in terms of where it will be important to incorporate diversity and inclusion in the business place. … I’m looking to see what the future will bring in terms of other groups that will be in the workplace.”
How can employers ensure that more women achieve high-ranking positions? “By making sure that they recognize the contributions that are being made where they are. There are women in organizations making major contributions—making sure that we recognize those women.”
Michelle Davey is an editorial assistant and Jennifer Wray is a staff writer for Columbus C.E.O.
Reprinted from the May 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.