Diversity and inclusion—women in leadership
by Jo Perrin
Verizon is focusing on the importance of diversity and inclusion for business success with its annual Global Women’s Summit, which brings together a broad global audience, both live and through the power of our technology, for a day of thought provoking and engaging conversation.
Melinda Marshall, from the Centre for Talent and Innovation, opened proceedings by looking at the business case for an inclusive culture. CTI’s research shows that the engine for serial innovation is a diverse workforce that’s managed by leaders who cherish difference, embrace disruption, and foster a speak-up culture. Inclusive leader behaviors effectively unlock the innovative potential of an inherently inclusive workforce, enabling companies to increase their share of existing markets and open doors to new ones. By encouraging a proliferation of perspectives, leaders who foster a speak-up culture also enable companies to realize greater efficiencies and trim costs – another way that innovation drives bottom line value. Noting that the majority of companies have yet to achieve 2D diversity—women hold few leadership positions in science, engineering, and tech industries--Marshall shared data underscoring the efficacy of sponsorship in moving talented women into positions of power. Sponsors help women change perceptions about their leadership capabilities by working with them on their “executive presence” skills.
Kathryn Nawrockyi, from Opportunity Now, then followed up with discussion on the reality of experience for women in the workplace today. Linking to Project 28-40 (the final results of which will be announced shortly), Kathryn offered a unique, data-driven view of women’s experience in the workplace, and guidance for both businesses and individuals on how to harness the power of a gender-diverse workforce for business success.
The Project operates on the basis that:
- Women at the top are underrepresented.
- There is still a gender pay gap.
- There is no shortage of talented, ambitious women in the UK & Ireland.
Putting the real-life experience of women in the workplace into the context of the diverse candidate pipeline challenge enabled Kathryn to discuss many of the broader themes that impact women’s professional development. Most importantly, she also discussed practical steps that individuals and enterprises can take to reap the benefits of a diverse business environment.
The event was brought to a close by Cherie Blair, who discussed the global diversity challenge. The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women has a vision of a world where women have equal opportunities and the capability, confidence and capital necessary to establish and grow businesses, resulting in a brighter future for the women themselves and their communities as a whole.
Drawing on her own experience, and her encounters with women around the globe, Cherie focused on how economic security gives women a more influential voice in tackling injustice and discrimination in their communities and wider society. Cherie suggests that business leaders around the globe also have a duty to create other leaders, and by sharing skills, technology, networks and access to capital, they can help women entrepreneurs around the globe to grow their businesses and create employment opportunities.
Find out more about Verizon’s culture of inclusion here. We’ll be posting links to conference sessions shortly, so watch this space! #VZWomen2014