Executive Women Archives - Lead Inclusively

Takeaways from Mckinsey's 2018 Women in the Workplace report

Mckinsey Women in the Workplace 2018 Report Showing More of the Same. Fed up yet? Me Too.

By | Diverity & Inclusion, Gender Inclusion, Gender Parity, News and Events | No Comments

In response to the 2018 Mckinsey Women in the Workplace Report: In what is widely considered the primary barometer for the state of gender equity in the workforce, McKinsey’s annual report of gender parity in the workplace summarizes a stagnation in gender parity that is concerning but also raises some insight into potential solutions through inclusive culture transformation.

The report: pooling from 279 companies employing more than 13 million people, and features data compiled from their organizations. Like past reports, we notice a continuing trend of women being under-represented in the workforce and continually squeezed out of the workplace as they move higher up the corporate ladder. Women still make up the majority of college grads and leave the workforce at the same rate as men, highlighting that another year has gone by with seemingly the same dynamics at play that continue to hold women back and thus perpetuate the bigger issue of gender parity as a whole. Tired of watching another year go by with the same story unfolding? ME TOO.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • The root of the problem is culture.
  • Inclusion is the key to sustainable change
  • Leadership is the catalyst

The root of the problem is culture.   

While the still-prevalent accounts of sexual harassment are concerning, appalling and worthy of mention, for the sake of this article, I would like to discuss the phenomenon of microaggressions and the “only” experience that highlight the nuanced complexities of the cultural roots behind gender workplace inequality. Being the “Only” woman in a room is an occurrence experienced by one in five professional women and results in the higher likelihood of a woman experiencing, microaggressions, disengagement or worse, sexual harassment. Microaggressions can be described as experiencing a demeaning comment, having to provide more evidence of one’s competence, or being mistaken for someone much more junior. These experiences are products of a workplace culture that fosters an environment that perpetuates the exclusion of female workers throughout their professional life cycle.

Inclusion is the key to sustainable change 

Women are far more likely to experience microaggressions than men. This is only augmented by women who are “Onlys” and all the above result in women being forced out of the workforce pipeline through blatant exclusion in the form of lower promotion rates, or indirectly in the form of attrition because of disengagement. As a result, the issue of female under-representation and exclusion becomes a compounded snowballing effect. Inclusion needs to be the key to changing the focus of our current corporate workplace culture. Through training, gender advocacy and a general shift in workplace values, we can create a workplace that invites, empowers and advances female talent while decreasing the tolerance of, and likelihood for microaggressions, being an “Only” and overall female exclusion.

Leadership is the catalyst  

Leadership is the catalyst for instilling and enforcing an inclusive culture. Buy-in for inclusion and intolerance for exclusion must come from the top and perpetuate all the way down to the entry-level. Leadership is also the key component to fostering inclusion through engagement and advancement. Currently, women are less likely to see their work featured by their managers (at every stage of the employee life cycle) and are far less likely gain valuable access to senior leadership both of which are primary factors in an employee’s ability to advance within a company, and subsequently not leave. Under an umbrella of inclusion, leadership practices are the catalyst for the culture change the current corporate workforce needs if it is to achieve the gender equity that is not only fair but extremely necessary and overdue.

women in leadership mckinsey stats

Women are excluded through a workplace culture that perpetuates inequality and is either purposefully, or inadvertently, upheld by workplace leadership figures from the management level all the way to the C-suite levels. The opportunity for change is there and the rewards for change are prevalent. The question is: who will be the ones to seize it?

How is Lead Inclusively working to change and leverage personnel in leadership to the benefit of desired D&I transformation?

Leadership and culture are complex, yet vital, components necessary to effectively harness inclusion to the benefit of company innovation and productivity. Increasingly, larger companies are losing out on top talent, and subsequent innovation, to more agile companies who are more flexible and capable of implementing culture change when needed. See some ways how larger, less agile, companies are effectively delivering key learning and culture change at scale.

Also, feel free to find us on LinkedIn and Facebook. We are a small team but we always find time to share content that is relevant to the most important D&I topics, and valuable towards inspiring dialogue to guide us all towards viable solutions. We ultimately are all Champions of Change and proponents of equity to all (Women and Men alike). Every interaction we can all share together is one more valuable step towards action and tangible change that makes our world fair and equitable for all.


Life Sciences Fireside Chat Program Recap

By | #bettertogether, Gender Inclusion, News and Events

Blog recap of Athena Life Sciences Special Interest Group program: Fireside Chat with notable women in science.

Linda Strause, PhD and Sara Gilman, LMFT met because they both enjoy cycling.  They became close friends because, in addition to cycling, they shared a philosophy that life’s challenges could create such deviations from the most direct route to success, that navigating without a map might actually make more sense.

As a scholar of leadership, I often hear inspirational stories about how professionals achieved success.  This is the first time, however, that I have heard a story of the syncopation of two leaders whose paths have intersected with such serendipity, despite the fact that both walked (or rather cycled) their journey without a map and that their respective compasses were not always tracking true north.

Linda, the Principal and Founder of Strategic Clinical Consultants, shared with us that as she was working tirelessly in the field of oncology, her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Sara, the Founder & President of Coherence Associates, Inc.,  shared with us that while she was working zealously as a family therapist to help others to battle addiction, she came to understand that her own son was experiencing his own battle with addiction.  Powerhouses in their own right, each was powerless to “fix” a problem in their own families, related to their respective expertise.  Their work, their cycling, their friendship and their family life worked in unison to help them heal, as well as stay focused on success, as the gentle sway of the road turned at times to hairpin curves.

The sons of both women eventually joined them in their “Mom-Owned Businesses,” and each credits her son with having insight into the business complementary to her own set of skills.

The definition of success varies with the individual.  It would be easy to define both women as a success.  Linda Strause has thirty years of experience in global clinical operations and clinical development in oncology.  Sara Gilman has created a company consisting of a team of counselors and family therapists.  As Sara explained a breathing technique that is used to reinforce the heart’s regulation of emotional response to create mental toughness, Linda ended the Athena session with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”  I might add that to thrive in business, while simultaneously administering to the needs of loved ones, takes great courage.  It would be easy to forsake one for the other, and the extremes of selfishness or selflessness are far more common than the balance between them.

Get more innovative! To augment your own life sciences organization, take a moment to learn more about about our Life Sciences Innovation Labs.

By Denise Hummel, Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Lead Inclusively, Inc.


Women on Boards: Tips From Debra Reed, CEO, Sempra Energy

By | #mentorher, #sponsorher, Diverity & Inclusion, Gender Inclusion, Inclusive Leadership, News and Events

On November 17th, I attended the 2020 Women on Boards Luncheon at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center in Los Angeles. I was fortunate to sit next to Debra Reed, CEO of Sempra Energy and the keynote speaker for the luncheon.

When Debra took the podium, her key message was to be optimistic, while also being realistic. “There are no glass ceilings if you do not believe that there are,” Reed said. “Be realistic about your board goals; start with a non-profit or a start-up before being wedded to aspirations of being on a Fortune 500 Board.”

Debra’s other tips were as follows:

1. Be the very best at what you do best.
2. Reach out to your network about your board aspirations with great specificity.
3. Be a team player at all times; this quality is not dispensable when working on a board.

Debra concluded by sharing her philosophy that leadership is not about knowing; it’s about how we learn. Our analytical ability is critical, but will only take us so far without a well-honed EQ. And since that EQ-IQ combination is what we do best as woman, we should be in good shape to move above the 19% of board positions we currently hold.

As a member of Marshall Goldsmith’s legacy team of executive coaches (the MG100), I am a firm believer that stakeholder-centered leadership coaching can assist women in becoming more well-rounded candidates for board positions. Lead Inclusively is committed to providing the coaching that can assist women in their journeys to the top. Learn more about our executive coaching services here.

Interview with Denise Hummel

By | Cross-Cultural, News and Events

You have two books available.  One is called SPEAK MILK. DRINK WINE. BECOMING A GLOBAL CITIZEN and the other is called DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & CULTURE INTEGRATION: LESSONS OF AN EXPAT.  Are both  centered around your life in Italy?  Can you give us a synopsis of both books?

SPEAK MILK was the first edition of the book and DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & CULTURE INTEGRATION is the second edition.  Both contain the same content, but the second book was re-positioned to be more aligned with the Mergers & Acquisitions clients and Global Mobility clients I was serving at Ernst & Young as a Principal there and helps readers to be connected with the relationship between becoming a global citizen in their personal lives and the importance of inclusive leadership and respect for diversity in our business lives.

Why did you write it and what does it mean to you?

I originally wrote it because what we were experiencing as American Expats in Italy was so powerful that I didn’t want to forget, and I didn’t want my children to forget, what we experienced.  What was happening to us was profound, joyous, sad, confusing and empowering all at the same time.  Later, after I actually developed a cross-cultural business optimization model based, in part, on those lessons, I realized that the book was actually a wonderful metaphorical voice for what I was trying to accomplish professionally.

Why are diversity and inclusion so important?

I think first we have to define the difference between diversity and inclusion.  In a business setting, diversity simply refers to having a proportional mix of diverse talent, whether that be gender, race, sexual identity, cultural differences or a diverse way of looking at life and business challenges.  Inclusion refers to what happens when we have diverse people working together and to what extent our leaders include, enable and empower diverse people to bring their best selves to work.

What happens when we ignore the fundamentals of inclusive leadership in our everyday life, business, etc?

One of the things that happens, is that we increase risk in our organization.  We increase the probability that just one point of view will be represented in decision-making thus leaving our organizations more vulnerable to bad decision making.  We also increase the probability of a lawsuit brought by someone who feels that their personal dignity and their professional achievement is being marginalized.  Just as important, if not more so, we cripple innovation by leaving people with the impression that they have no voice or that their ideas will not be supported and advanced in the organization.  In an age of intense competition, where great ideas and speed to market are imperative, we just can’t afford not to enable and empower diverse ideation.

Are there examples that you can give us as to why you know that inclusion can lead to better business results and if so, why does it seem that so many companies don’t create adequate budget or resources to make sure that diverse talent is, in fact, “included?” 

There are many examples as well as many studies that support this concept.  Let’s start, though, with common sense.  Let’s take the gender talent pool alone for the sake of simplification, and  agree that the talent pool of women in this decade is approximately 50% of the total available talent,.  It then defies common sense not to explore and remedy any trend or evidence that a non-inclusive environment impedes diverse voices that would otherwise speak out to signal risk as well as to share ideas related to new products, services, systems and processes.  An anonymous employee engagement survey that asks the right questions will easily yield whether the organization has challenges with maintaining an inclusive environment.  The remedy can be more complex, and the tendency to throw training, tests and rules at the problem has not lead to any meaningful organizational shifts.  Many of us who started our D&I careers on the legal or regulatory side and then moved in-house or to consulting on the business side are coming to the realization that we need to focus on “Engagement” (mentoring and coaching for example), “Contact”  (cross-functional and diverse teams, projects and activities) and “Social Accountability” (diversity tasks forces, oversight regarding performance reviews and promotion and other means of decision quality control).

Given the methodology you are developing at Lead Inclusively and  the methodology you developed, BMIA (Business Model of Intercultural Analysis) — a cross-cultural business model used by enterprise organizations globally, as well as the Big4 consulting firms — give us a snapshot of how the government would score under a Trump presidency, i.e. one with walls, deportation, religious bans, as opposed to a Clinton presidency that emphasizes the importance of respecting all races, religions, genders and points of view? 

Well, rather than answer that in a politically charged manner, let me focus for now on policies that influence global diplomacy and create a stable global market place and/or accelerated global growth.  Donald Trump has clearly demonstrated that there is a faction of Americans who are fearful enough of the violence and terrorism that has been progressively escalating, globally, to vote for someone who stands for exclusion of any individual who does not fit a narrow criteria.  The majority of the country, however,  still seems to align with the foundational core of democratic principles.  That’s good for global business because we obviously can’t achieve fiscal prosperity with global partners, clients, investors and stakeholders in the supply chain who we reject as inferior and/or who dislike or are fearful of us.

As we are all painfully aware, even within our own country, we are divided by culture and race and show little understanding of one another.  Based on your and your family’s experiences living outside the country, what guidance would you give parents to better teach their children that there are different ways to approach friendship, collegiality, food, traditions, politics, work, religion, gender roles and generational influences?

Great question because I’ve always said that global-minded executives begin as global-minded citizens and there is no greater way to become one than for that mind-set to be cultivated by the family and supported in the formative years at grade school.  By the time we enter the workforce, if we don’t have that general ethos that others are not better or worse than we are, but just different, it’s a very difficult “unlearning” process before we can even begin to move the needle on leadership behaviors that will support an inclusive organizational environment.  Not everyone can pick up and move their children to another country to give their children a first-hand cross-cultural experience, of course.  There is so much we can do, though, right in our own backyards to make sure that we are raising children who demonstrate tolerance, curiosity and understanding of differences.  We can bring up current events at the dinner table to talk about how a particular event demonstrated tolerance or intolerance.  We can share our values with our children to influence their thinking early in life.  We can expose them to people, events, music and traditions that are different from our own heritage, pointing out the benefits, joy and interest they evoke.  Nature abhors a vacuum and absent direct communication about this issue, children will simply absorb what experience in their environment (through peers, the media, etc.).

Tell us about “pazienza” and how living in Italy taught you what that meant.  You have some wonderful anecdotes in your book that illustrate the meaning. How do you balance the demands of running your company, Lead Inclusively, Inc. while at the same time embracing your own pazienza?  Give us some guidance.

Pazienza is the Italian word for patience and it is a word I heard every day of my life while living in Italy, multiple times a day.  I’m guessing that it began as a word the Italians used to respond to many of life’s daily annoyances like excessive bureaucracy for example, but I think it also stands for tolerance, generally, in the sense that there are few things that are worth getting really worked up about.  If your family is healthy and safe, you have a roof over your head and clean food and water, the rest of it is just really extra.  I do have a demanding life, including building my second business and supporting my now college-bound kids at this stage of their lives as well as trying to create a balanced life for myself.  I  find that beyond the boundaries of Italy and back into life in the United States, it’s very easy for me to revert to my more workaholic style, where I measure each day by how “productive” I have been.  I do have to remind myself to focus on how lucky I am to have so much “extra” in my life.  I live in beautiful San Diego, I am surrounded by family and friends who love me, I have a wonderful education and career.  So anytime I lose my “pazienza,” I close my eyes and remember all those blessings, and since I can no longer take a walk around the Italian piazza where I lived, I simply take a bike ride around the bay, watch the sail boats or setting sun, and feel grateful for all the different people who have contributed to making my life so joyful.