Reckoning With Issues for Women of Color in the Workplace: Inside the Gender Parity Collaborative’s Spring Solutions Summit
Earlier this spring, members of the Collaborative gathered for a Solutions Summit, which fostered learning and conversation around the summit’s theme: Designing an Inclusive Workplace. Spread across two days, the agenda featured a mix of internal and external experts who led us in exploring ways to accelerate our accountability for women’s parity, workplace equity, and leadership allyship influence.
Solutions Summit, which fostered learning and conversation around the summit’s theme: Designing an Inclusive Workplace. Spread across two days, the agenda featured a mix of internal and external experts who led us in exploring ways to accelerate our accountability for women’s parity, workplace equity, and leadership allyship influence.
For the executives gathered from member organizations, a big topic of conversation was the fact that one third of all women of color are ready to leave the workplace by next year. We witnessed just a few of the stories behind this alarming data point with a screening of Arise Firebird, a new film that Jimi Okubanjo created after leaving her 20-year career working in a range of leadership roles for Fortune 100 companies. “Eventually, I saw the almost cartoonishly apathetic and cruel treatment I had been receiving was everywhere,” Jimi explains. “That began my journey where I found many others whose voices were unheard.” After the screening, we split into breakout rooms for facilitated and often vulnerable conversation based on what we’d seen, leaving everyone with plenty to think about — and act on.
Other highlights of this gathering included:
- A walkthrough of member company Parexel’s 2022 DEI milestones with insights and lessons learned from the front lines of implementation, led by SVP and Global Head of DEI Aida Sabo (She, Her, Hers). One insight she shared: The company, winner of a 2022 Catalyst award (just one example of the recognition that its DEI leadership has received) created a group called the “Gender Partnership Committee,” a name they chose because Sabo and other leaders wanted to help men see themselves as part of this work — not to mention, helping people of all gender identities feel included. “What we name things matters,” Sabo observed, “for people to feel included and welcome.”
- A conversation about how and why it’s essential to engage men as allies in efforts to increase gender parity, featuring author and consultant Jeffery Tobias Halter, Gender Strategist and moderated by Susan Childs, MBA, Principal Managing Partner of LCA Enterprises. Halter noted that true allyship takes place behind closed doors, when marginalized groups are not present, and that white men must utilize their privilege and take action to drive change.
- A synthesis of where the Collaborative has been and where it’s going, with HBA’s Chief People and DEI Officer, Nikki Jones, SHRM-CP, emphasizing the intimate, powerful conversations that have come to differentiate our gatherings.
- Planting the seed for a “Communications Squad,” a group of Communications leaders from Collaborative organizations who, as HBA’s Senior Director of Communications, Nancy White, and storytelling consultant Amanda Hirsch, explained, will demonstrate the impact that’s possible when we work together to tell our collective story.
Yet another highlight was a surprise appearance by newly appointed Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association CEO and former Real Chemistry Collaborative representative, Mary Stutts, MHA. Mary shared her support and excitement for the future of the Collaborative and the impact that the member companies are making in advancing gender-balanced leadership in the healthcare ecosystem.
As the Summit closed down on day two, attendees shared feeling energized to take back insights to their respective companies for implementation and accelerate measurable change, with great expectations for our next Solutions Summit coming up on 27 June, where the theme will be talent optimization. We can’t wait to reconvene, reconnect, and continue this work of holding ourselves and each other accountable for making meaningful progress.