Shelton Haynes on Raising People One at a Time at Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation

Our world is undergoing significant changes, and Shelton Haynes, CEO of Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, understands the role that diversity, equity, and inclusion play in this process. With a strong belief in helping people become the best versions of themselves, Mr. Haynes himself came up through the corporation, hired as its first black COO in 2016. When he was promoted first to interim CEO in 2020 and then to full-time CEO in March 2021, Mr. Haynes understood the importance of lifting populations that have been discriminated against in the past. Starting with a 100-day plan to update the entire organization, he’s made significant progress in enfranchising employees at all levels of the corporation.

Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

Creating a work culture that looks like the world we live in is at the core of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). These programs bring people from all walks of life together to work as one team toward common goals. Building on an inclusive culture often means investing time and resources into fostering relationships with all employees at the company. At Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), President and CEO Shelton J. Haynes’ Administration understood the keen importance of building such an inclusive atmosphere to extract the best from their workforce.

With an executive team that includes over half as members of minority groups and four women, Shelton Haynes mentions, “I let people write their futures and carve their paths here at RIOC. You can be and go on to achieve just about anything. Within reason, there are boundless opportunities for unlimited growth.” As part of the 5.9% of black CEOs in the country despite black Americans making up 13.6% of the country’s population, Mr. Haynes is well aware of the need for diversity and for those in power who have the opportunity to lift those who will be successful leaders in the future. This approach strongly drives the company’s promotion process.

Shelton Haynes encourages leadership and has high expectations.

Shelton Haynes encourages leadership at Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation to promote from within whenever possible and for managers, directors, and department heads to send in employees’ names who have done an exceptional job in their role and have been vital team assets. This forward-thinking approach creates a pathway for advancement to boost employee success and growth. This is just one part of the reason why 57% of the corporation’s workforce has been promoted. 

This is an encouraging thing to see, notes Shelton Haynes, “One of the things I am most proud of is fostering a workforce that has the requisite skill set to do the task at hand and promoting staff to roles where there are many ‘firsts’ for themselves and their families, which is always amazing to see and show that anything is possible and most importantly the powerful message it sends to the world. You cannot put a price tag on that.”

Positive changes to improve Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation

This culture has been promoted through a restructuring that includes modernization, the creation of a robust work culture, improved efficiency through technology and streamlining, moving employees into positions where their strengths can be used effectively, increasing employee activities to build camaraderie, encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and employee innovation, and investing in employees through robust training options. These changes will create effects long into the future. Hayes stated recently, “Incredible things are in store for Roosevelt Island; the opportunities are endless. The sky’s the limit. Stay tuned for what’s to come because I promise you won’t want to miss it.”