Taking Action on Lessons Learned at the Paradigm for Parity® Annual Meeting

Last month, the Paradigm for Parity® coalition hosted our Annual Meeting. We have outlined several actionable steps our speakers shared throughout the conference that support our 5-Point Action Plan to start and sustain change in your organization:

Colleen Ammerman, Director, Gender Initiative at Harvard Business School, highlighted how companies can combat workplace marginalization:

● Create intentional, specific processes during the moments that matter — from hiring to promoting to retaining — to stay accountable to enacting structural change. Review each step in the process to determine where bias lives and then address it. For example, add transparency to negotiation. When everyone knows what is up for negotiation and the terms are clear, there will be less disparity in the outcomes. It is a continuous process of Assess-Address-Repeat.

● Mobilize men to be effective allies and sponsors in the workplace. Here are some examples:

● Offer opportunities equally to men and women and let them decide if they want to take it. Do not “protect” women from balancing too much.

● Call out gender bias when you see it and advocate for inclusive policies.

● Make space and time to have honest conversations. Then actually have these conversations.

In a conversation moderated by Cynthia Bowman, Chief Diversity & Inclusion and Talent Acquisition Officer at Bank of America, Accenture’s Julie Sweet and Ellyn Shook shared how companies can better understand representation and how Accenture is living up to its values in the journey to sustainable and equitable change:

● Set bold goals that treat diversity as a business priority but be sure to set goals by function, not just overall. These metrics are vital in the journey to creating sustainable and equitable change. Hold leaders accountable to meet targets that make a personal impact on their employees.

● Be transparent with goals. Transparency breeds and demonstrates trust.

● Measure culture as well. Survey employees to ensure that the culture you think you have is what employees are experiencing. Take swift action to address any gaps.

Leaders across industries, including Esther Aguilera (President and CEO, Latino Corporate Directors Association), Lance LaVergne (Chief Diversity Officer & SVP, Global Talent Acquisition and Associate Experience), and Shuchi Sharma (Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion, SAP) discussed best practices for activating advocacy:

● Make diversity and inclusion (D&I) a part of your company’s DNA — while D&I sustainability starts at the top, everyone has a responsibility to advocate and create a sense of belonging where employees have the confidence and courage to use their voice.

● Educate employees on the various dimensions of diversity that impact people’s experience in the workplace. Activate both global and local initiatives such as mobilizing men as allies and making the talent pipeline visible and providing special programs for underrepresented populations.

Trane Technologies’ Marcia Avedon (EVP and Chief Human Resources, Marketing and Communications Officer) and Silicon Valley Bank’s Angela Morris Lovelace (Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer) provided techniques leaders can use to create an environment where diversity thrives:

● Lead with data and follow with passion: leverage data to shape strategy and stay accountable.

For example, consider scorecards that evaluate progress on Diversity & Inclusion goals by level and business and tie them to management incentives.

● Measure performance over presence and visibility when it comes to evaluating talent. Set expectations upfront through collaborative conversations. Managers and employees can discuss how and where employees can work within a framework of options so that both home and work objectives can be met.

Joey Hubbard, Chief Training Officer at Thrive Global, addressed the question on everyone’s mind during the COVID-19 pandemic: how to support your team in the new normal:

● Take micro-steps to build resilience in yourself and/or employees.

● Communicate the concept of “reframing” to bounce forward, not backward. Reflect on the negative narrative in your head about a situation and use the awareness to reframe how you can handle it differently.

● Go beyond “how are you doing?” — ask specific questions and check in with teams at a deeper, more meaningful level to best support them and get an accurate read on capacity and morale.

● Use compassion, one of the most valuable but least discussed leadership skills.

We thank everyone who took part in our 2021 Paradigm for Parity® Annual Meeting and look forward to seeing leaders across industries put the important lessons learned into action. Every step of the way, the Paradigm for Parity® coalition is here to partner with you to problem solve, celebrate your successes, and share best practices. If you are interested in learning more about how to join coalition meetings and learning opportunities, please reach out.

About Paradigm for Parity®

Paradigm for Parity® is a coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap. The coalition is made up of CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members, and business academics who are committed to achieving a new norm in the corporate world: one in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity. The ultimate goal is to achieve full gender parity by 2030, with a near-term goal of women holding at least 30% of senior roles.