“We can’t just role model our way out of these issues” - Ellen McGirt, Senior Editor at Fortune on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
D&I was top of mind for speakers and attendees on the final day of our For All™ Summit. Leaders tackled neurodiversity, leadership styles, giving back to the community, women in the workplace and much more.
Here are a few takeaways and themes from the day.
Advancing women in the workplace
Three trailblazing women from Marriott International Inc. provided our morning motivation: Stephanie Linnartz, Group President, Consumer Operations, Technology & Emerging Businesses; Debra L. Lee, Former CEO, BET, and Member, Board of Directors; and Julie Colwell, Regional Vice President, Human Resources.
The three leaders shared advice for women in the workplace:
- Learn about company boards and join them.
- Be a role model for equality – young women and men are looking up to us.
- Live a life that has many aspects to it – not just your job. This is key to resilience: when one egg breaks, you still have many other eggs in your basket.
- Be your authentic self.
That last one leads us to our next point…
Being your authentic self is essential for success
“Find your own leadership style. You can’t wear someone else’s leadership style. In my early career, I tried that, and it was an epic fail.”– Julie Colwell.
Jennifer Morgan shared similar advice. The Co-CEO of SAP America has made authenticity her leadership mantra. When she communicates with her dispersed workforce, transparency and vulnerability are her modus operandi. Some examples of her style include:
- Sending candid, fun, unedited video messages to her staff.
- Embracing imperfection, including having “messy” conversations.
- Not being afraid to admit she doesn’t have all the answers.
You can’t please everyone – and you shouldn’t try to
“You can’t make everyone happy. Women are raised to be ‘nice girls’ and encouraged to make everyone happy. If you want to make everyone happy, you shouldn’t go into business.” – Debra L. Lee, Member, Board of Directors, Marriot International Inc.
Debra encouraged women in the audience to find a board and join it. She also urged women to fight against how they have been socialized and to feel comfortable knowing they can’t make everyone happy. Trying to satisfy everyone will slow progress.
Moments when leaders show their stripes
Only 12% of employees are having a great leadership experience, shared Marcus Erb, Vice President, Data Science & Innovation at Great Place to Work®. This was a finding from our study of 75,000 employees and 10,000 managers. You can read more about it in our book.
Marcus called out five moments that “make or break” a great leader:
- Informal moments: making space for the personal side.
- Uncomfortable moments: connecting through differences.
- Purpose moments: answering the “why am I doing this?” question.
- Uncertain moments: guiding through change.
- Tomorrow moments: investing in everyone’s future.
Bias training isn't enough
It’s hard to eliminate bias blind spots that occur because of errors in the way that our brains process data. Judith Michelle Williams, PhD, Head of People Sustainability, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at SAP America shared strategies for mitigating unconscious bias.
Guess what? It’s not about bias training. Rather, you should:
- Slow down.
- Make new choices and not always tap your ‘go-to person’ for new projects.
- Consider the impact, not simply the intent.
- Request and internalize feedback.
- Question the stories when given excuses around diversity.
Neurodiversity in the workplace is a competitive advantage
“We innovate because of our differences, not in spite of them.” – Jose H. Velasco, Head of Autism at Work program at SAP.
SAP is building a pipeline of talent with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.
Jose debunked commonly held myths about people with ASD and explained the unique skill-set they bring to work.
Jose gave advice on how smaller companies can get started engaging a neurodiverse workforce:
- Tap into NGOs, non-profits and purpose-driven organizations that can help you get your own autism-at-work program off the ground, such as Neurodiversity Pathways.
- Work with local government organizations like the Department of Rehabilitation in California.
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