The Fortune 500 CEO has made promoting gender and racial equity a company priority—and a personal mission.

When I was researching my January Columbus Monthly cover story (“Women and Power,” available on newsstands on Dec. 31), there was a common refrain among interviewees: “Talk to Mike Kaufmann.” The CEO of Cardinal Health, I was told, is so focused on gender and racial equity that he has stopped accepting speaking engagements on any other topic. “He is a huge champion of diversity and inclusion,” says Nancy Kramer, founder of Resource/Ammirati, now at IBM iX. “Huge. And he’s very passionate about it.”

So I talked to Kaufmann. He told me that around 2008, when he was running the pharmaceutical division of the Dublin-based Cardinal Health, he asked to oversee the companywide Women’s Initiative Network. It was an employee resource group aimed at helping women develop their careers within the company, and he thought leading that group would be an opportunity to learn.

Kaufmann’s boss, he says, “thought it was a little odd that a man was asking to run our women’s initiative. But he agreed to let me do it. And I completely underestimated how powerful it would be.”

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