Recently I was privileged to host Visier’s inaugural Women in Leadership event in Charlotte, NC. Our aim was to have our attendees–all women leaders and aspiring leaders–leave the event feeling uplifted, inspired, and armed with key takeaways they could apply to their own lives right away. Thanks to our incredible speakers, I feel we succeeded. Here is some of what they said.
“If it is to be, it is up to me.”
Our first speaker was Maryann Bruce, a founding member of Paradigm for Parity, a coalition of business leaders who are dedicated to and passionate about moving the needle on the gender gap in corporate leadership. Maryann is a true trailblazer. With more than 30 years of experience in business strategy and marketing, she has been recognized as a top female board member to watch and as one of the 25 most powerful women in banking.
In her talk, Maryann shared some of her early experiences as a woman in the financial services industry, which led her to adopt her mantra: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Maryann talked about the reasons behind founding Paradigm for Parity, and why CEOs need to lead by example. She emphasized the need for companies to “know their baseline” — where they stand today on gender parity in leadership — and outlined Paradigm’s five-step action plan to helping companies achieve gender parity in leadership.
One key point: companies need to not just coach and mentor women, but also sponsor them. She explained: A coach speaks to you, a mentor speaks with you, and a sponsor speaks for you. Men and women in leadership need to sponsor women to help them move up the corporate ladder.
Maryann also shared her 3 Ps philosophy: to live life with purpose, passion, and perspective.
With over 80 enterprises signed on with Paradigm for Parity in a very short time, agreeing to actively work towards achieving 50% women in corporate leadership by 2030, Maryann is certainly embodying these three Ps.
“Give yourself grace to not be perfect.”
Our next speaker was Kathy Cook, Ingersoll Rand’s Vice President of Processes and Analytics. With a background in Finance, and many years of experience as an HR leader, Kathy’s responsibilities today include planning, analytics, operational excellence, technology, and M&A. Ingersoll Rand is one of the early signatories of Paradigm for Parity, and Kathy’s team is playing a key role implementing its 5-Point Action plan.
Kathy started her talk sharing Ingersoll Rand’s focus on sustainability — of their people, their business, and the world — and how Diversity and Inclusion drives all three. Kathy explained the importance of organizations not only setting, but also measuring progress against, diversity and gender equity goals. This helped Ingersoll Rand identify the need to focus on both their current and future workforce, through their talent acquisition pipeline and processes, as well as their employee development focus.
Kathy shared her own personal learning: to give yourself grace. It’s OK not to be perfect at everything. She talked about how Ingersoll Rand is looking at how it can help women grow in their roles, while still meeting their personal needs. In Kathy’s words, “How Ingersoll Rand can make it work for her.”
“Be caring, convicted, and courageous.”
Our final speaker was Jocelyn Caldwell, TIAA’s Vice President of HR Strategy and Planning. Jocelyn has a background in financial services, and an impressive record of driving large scale change through the use of data and analytics. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Jocelyn for several years now, and every time I have the opportunity to hear her speak I leave impressed with her vision and her message. This event was no exception.
During her talk, Jocelyn discussed how today she sees herself as a change advocate — but that it wasn’t always that way. For many years Jocelyn has been passionate about advocating the importance of education in her community — and about mentoring and helping to develop others. But, to become a change advocate at work, Jocelyn talked about how she had to give herself permission to find meaning in her work beyond the daily transactions. To do this she had to learn to bring her whole caring self to work; to speak up with conviction; and to be courageous. These three Cs — caring, conviction, and courage — guide her today.
The Business Case for Gender Parity
Diversity and inclusion is key to driving business performance today. It’s not just a matter of fairness and rightness. Research has shown it’s a matter of good business sense. Diverse businesses outperform others financially — it’s that simple.
Visier’s Women in Leadership event series focuses specifically on gender equity. In particular, on what women leaders, aspiring women leaders, and the communities around them can do to accelerate us towards achieving equity. The research we’ve done at Visier into gender equity has made it clear — it is about a lot more than equal pay for equal work. It’s about opportunity — ensuring women are equally represented in management and leadership roles, and not skipped over because they have increased childcare demands at home or took some time off to have a baby. It’s about routing out the micro-inequities that happen at work each day — like where people sit, how they are introduced, or when and where networking takes place.