Debra Gray’s mantra is “How do I make people better and happier in their roles?” And she knows that sometimes it’s as simple as asking why and challenging people to look at things differently.
So when she joined Kohler Co. as the HR manager of our Huntsville, Alabama, plant, Debra worked to find ways to work smarter, not harder by removing obstacles and driving process and efficiency improvements—giving her team and others the confidence and power to grow themselves and create change.
“People at every level should be able to make decisions,” she explains. “That’s how we put them in a position to succeed.”
Her philosophy quickly earned her the admiration of colleagues—and a promotion. Debra now manages HR for six Kohler Co. plants, and she’s excited to find solutions that can be replicated at multiple locations.
She’s always curious about what can be done differently and better—and this extends beyond the job. As an African-American woman, Debra takes pride in Kohler’s commitment to addressing racial inequity—especially after the events of 2020 brought a sense of urgency to issues that were anything but new.
“The depth and level of commitment that comes from the top is important,” she notes, adding that it has reinforced her decision to stay at the company. “I can be happy here,” she says. “I can be myself here.”