After Stan Kimer retired from IBM 10 years ago after 31 years of service with the company, he founded a diversity training and consulting firm. called Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, the Raleigh, NC company hummed well for a while, until Covid hit and demand dried up almost completely. Then came the murder of George Floyd and the national racial reckoning that followed, and quite suddenly the phone started ringing red hot – and still continues to do so. “I went from working almost nothing to more than full-time,” he says.
Become an entrepreneur
As part of his benefits package, Kimer had access to one year of career counseling for retirees. He decided to make the most of the service and work with a coach on a plan he had been thinking about for a long time: becoming an entrepreneur. “When I worked at IBM, I was a small fish in a huge pond,” he says. “I saw this opportunity as a challenge for myself.”
During those three decades at IBM, Kimer had held a variety of jobs, from marketing brand manager to director of sales operations. But one of his gigs was a four-year stint as corporate diversity manager for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender diversity. He had found it extremely rewarding. “It was the most fun I’ve ever had in a job,” he says. That, he decided, would be the job of his new company.
So he put down his clapboard and planned to work part-time. Little by little, Kimer added his expertise to what he calls “my portfolio of diversity knowledge.” He helped a company with the first employee with a gender transition. He worked with another on diversity training. He developed workshops on unconscious biases.
Go beyond statements
The company grew steadily until March 2020, when it fell off a proverbial cliff. Then came the murder of George Floyd. “Suddenly there was a huge interest from companies in DEI training and strategy,” he says. “I had clients who realized they couldn’t just issue a statement. They had to change their own internal practices.” That interest has only grown since then, with the 2021 Atlanta murders of eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, and last May’s attack on a grocery store in Buffalo, NY, in a predominantly black neighborhood, killing 10 people. were murdered. dead and three injured, among other tragedies.
He’s also added more services, such as helping companies set up staff groups and diversity councils. The latter are groups of about 15 employees who volunteer to drive a company’s diversity strategy. And he’s working to build inclusive recruiting programs.
About a decade ago, on a trip to Kenya, Kimer learned about the struggles of the people of Mtito Andei, Kenya, and the Kamba tribe, who faced high rates of poverty and HIV infection. With that in mind, he donated seed money for the construction of the Kimer Kamba Cultural Center, which provides vocational training, HIV prevention education, and helps drive economic growth through cultural tourism.
Then there is figure skating. About seven years ago, at the age of 59, Kimer took up the sport. He recently won a gold medal at the bronze level for skaters age 66 and older at the US Adult National Championships. He says he has acquired three clients through contacts he made at skating events.