One of our most interactive and well-attended sessions this year was our Women’s Leadership Panel in October 2019. The audience and panel alike had open, honest and critical dialogue around supporting mentoring and helping to further advance women in the workplace. We've created a mini blog series to discuss the four topics that were dug into; Structure Around Promotion and Advancement, Getting Your Leadership to Buy-In, Engagement and Why It Matters, and Mentors and Sponsors. Today, we will be focusing on Getting Your Leadership to Buy-In.
The attendees were naturally curious about the next topic of discussion, which was leadership buy-in. A company event that is focused on women’s development, for instance, may not make as much impact on the culture if there isn’t any leadership buy-in. Those types of events show value for what women need in the workplace to become effective leaders. It gives women a chance to make connections with other women and learn more skills. Many HR representatives and employees can be hesitant to approach their boss about attending women’s leadership meetings/conferences or roundtables. Jill chimed in, saying that it wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be to get leadership buy-in at her company. Her leadership had recognized the need for change, and they were able to get the president of the firm to attend a launch of a women’s networking group. She said that this spoke volumes to the rest of the company and likely helped shift the culture simply because the other employees saw that the president of the firm cared enough to attend. This type of change is possible and taking the chance by asking leadership to attend events centered around women is a great way to influence the culture faster, as leadership buy-in is necessary to spearhead the changes that need to take place.
Kathy said that she is actively changing the mindset of her leaders to get buy-in at her organization, by bringing in diverse candidates for interviews, and educating the leadership about what women need in the workplace. Parental leave is something that she needed to address simply because employees, and even potential candidates, were asking about it. She pointed to the growing demand for parental leave by new candidates as a sign that things are changing whether leadership is aware of it or not. Hence, it’s up to her and employees in similar positions to help advocate for female employees, both current and new. Aileen agreed, referring to the changing values in the community, and how that must be translated to the world of business.
“A company has to mirror the community it serves.”
Women Get Things Done
The biggest piece of advice that the panelists emphasized, especially to young women who are just entering the workplace, is to remember that you’re more qualified than you think. Young women today are hard workers and need a place to showcase their strong work ethic. The group spoke about how women need to stop disqualifying themselves and stop apologizing for their needs – and perhaps apologizing in general. They emphasized the importance of speaking to girls in middle and high school and teaching them how to grow their confidence. Daughters see their working moms get things done both at home and at work, and this, in turn, affects how they perceive their own capabilities. The workforce is starting to embrace women in leadership and seeing the positive impact they have on companies and culture. Companies who provide women a seat at the table will continue to pave the way for female leaders now and into the future.
Where to Get Training for Leaders
Engagement (Surveys and other tools)
Saba (used to be Hallogen)
First, Break All the Rules by Jim Harter, Marcus Buckingham and Gallup