IWD: Let's Together Lead the Charge for Change
IWD: Let's Together Lead the Charge for Change
It feels right that my first published article as a newly appointed Chief Executive Officer is in celebration of our day—International Women’s Day. And as I embrace my new role, the weight of being one among the 19% of women who hold a C-suite position in the US is a reality I take to heart. Being a woman in technology and financial services for over 30 years, I know a little something about the challenges and hurdles of the path to leadership. As an executive with a strong network of women and men, I am compelled to help lead the charge for change. Leaders play a significant and key role in seeing to it that today’s talent can elevate to become tomorrow’s diverse leaders. As I am discovering, my own efforts toward this mission are among my most fulfilling and, I believe, mutually rewarding.
Diversity of thought has become an expectation at the company I lead—Tegra118. It’s magical to see what happens when unique perspectives come together in collaboration. Deloitte’s published insights on the net benefits of diverse and inclusive organizations support this. Diverse and inclusive companies are two times as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes. Teams with more women have been shown to be better at logical analysis, coordination, planning and problem solving. A Peterson Institute report found that 30% female representation on boards can increase company net profits by 6%. If you’re a leader, those are some motivating findings.
Small changes can yield BIG returns! Leaders set the tone and must lead through example. Colleagues should support one another. To reap the rewards of success—and to simply do what is right—we, as leaders, must instill, nurture and maintain a culture that celebrates diversity and inclusiveness 365 days of the year. Here are my recommended top seven must-have actions that all of us can adopt to create an equal and enabled world.
- Mobilize Outreach: Start Early and Create Awareness by establishing partnerships with local colleges and universities; participate at campus events and job fairs. Generate early awareness and bring what you do to life by volunteering your time at grade schools and high schools.
- Create Internships that recruit gender and culturally diverse interns and; so important, provide meaningful work and define roles and deliverables while letting your interns know they are valued and may be candidates for full-time hire.
- Be Authentic: Bring your full selves to your role, use your connections and open communication and establish personal, transparent and authentic relationships with the people you serve.
- Establish a Personal Advisory Board: Seek out people with varied skill-sets, backgrounds and perspectives. Meet regularly and be open and honest. Ask your Personal Advisory Board to support you and ask what YOU can do to support them.
- Nurture Your Business Relationships: Success in business comes down to your ability to build and maintain extraordinary relationships. There’s no better endorsement than strong client advocacy.
- Mentor and Reverse Mentor for Mutual Benefit: A formalized mentor program greatly enhances its chance for success. Mentors develop leadership skills and get a personal sense of satisfaction and mentees expand their knowledge, skills and professional networks. Reverse mentoring offers unique experiences, learning and fresh perspectives—it’s truly a win-win!
- Be a Sponsor: Invest in others career success. Promote them in meetings and discussions by using your influence and networks to connect them to high-profile assignments, people, pay increases and promotions.
The progress we’re seeing around much-needed change is encouraging, particularly over the past few years as important causes and advocacy have gathered sustained momentum. Leaders who encourage promising and eager talent, lead with an inclusive mindset, and drive meaningful and tangible actions will reap the benefits. And while we celebrate International Women’s Day, the rise of women is not about the fall of men. Many men have played an integral part in my career advancements and opportunities. Men can and do play a critical role in championing women and helping us advance. Offer a seat at the table to a promising, aspiring woman. Together, we can empower each other while contributing to gender equality—and our business success.
Champions of diversity recognize that every effort contributes to the overall cause. As we celebrate International Women’s Day with a “Balance for Better” theme, we’re encouraged by the growing number of surveys correlating positive company performance with bridging the gender gap. That includes a report by McKinsey & Company that found 90 percent of financial services companies say they are committed to gender diversity.