This is the second in a three-part series by Elizabeth Derby, Senior Consultant at JBC, curating key takeaways from the Global Summit of Women’s 2017 Colloquium on Global Diversity, “Creating a Level Playing Field for Women.”

You can read part one here.

The event saw Irene Natividad, President of the Global Summit of Women, bring together a distinguished collection of senior-level speakers who each shared insights and best practices around achieving gender parity in the C-suite.

At this year’s Colloquium on Global Diversity, it was heartening to hear the next practices and bold actions that companies are taking to spur engagement with, and accountability from, leaders as they leverage their sphere of influence to drive sustainable change. 

Here are four next practices that I found to be of particular interest:

1. Increased Transparency, Accountability, Alignment and the Importance of Role Models and Storytelling

There is a growing need for increased transparency, accountability, alignment, role models, and a view that – if a company is going to push an agenda – it should reflect that agenda. With the advent of social media and values-conscious consumers, companies often experience a backlash where there isn’t alignment between their message regarding gender diversity and the reality. 

D&I practitioners play an important role in ensuring this alignment and should partner closely with the marketing department and ad agencies. Employees or consumers alike want to see role models and people who represent their identity and values.

For this reason, content and storytelling matter.

Content and storytelling matter. #diversity #inclusion Click To Tweet

Think of stories as the imagination of our society. If we don’t have diversity represented, we’re missing critical chapters.

In order to operationalize this concept, some companies are proactively looking at their customer base and aligning their workforce representation goals to reflect their marketplace. One company is being bold with transparent representation pledges to reflect their customer base.

Their General Council took the same stance vis-a-vis the company’s preferred law firms – and a 10% “hold back” for not reaching the goal. This externally-focused action expands the sphere of influence.

Now that’s accountability!  

2. A Forward-Looking Marketplace Focus: What Does the Voice of the Consumer Look Like Tomorrow?

With millennials now the biggest demographic in the U.S. workforce, companies are tapping into this talent base for ideas and inspiration.

Reverse mentoring programs – which allow older executives to gain insight into the next generation – are on the rise.

Reverse mentoring programs are on the rise. #diversity Click To Tweet

One CEO incorporated the voice of the millennial consumer based on insights shared by their mentee. Another firm took a bold move and is pairing board members with executives in a pioneering Board Buddies initiative.  

With this low-cost (albeit somewhat risky) yet high-impact approach, board members now have greater access and insights and can provide more meaningful guidance.  

Now that’s powerful!  

3. Conscious Use of Technology to Intentionally Disrupt the Workplace

A new twist that emerged is that technology is not disrupting Human Resources; HR is positively disrupting the workplace with the help of technology.

HR is positively disrupting the workplace with the help of technology. Click To Tweet

Participants underscored the need for humanity and ensuring that the human element does not get lost in the process.

The different ways in which technology is being used can be distilled down into five main themes:

  1. Truth Teller
  2. Connector
  3. Conversation Starter
  4. Reporter, and
  5. Employee Experience Enabler 

In the Truth Teller role, once technology enables you to get more objective feedback via a 360 assessment, you still need an actual human to provide the feedback and coach that recipient.  

As a Connector, technology allows us to bridge geographies and time zones and enable more human interaction. Via relationship mapping, company can more fully understand who the key influencers are, and where there might be gaps in terms of who has access to information or key people.  

As a Conversation Starter, pulse polling allows voices to have equal weight, thus removing the impact of implicit bias.

Some firms are using gamification with avatars for people to interact and demonstrate their leadership and strategy skills in a different way. Two really creative ideas that emerged during the Colloquium were both aimed at enabling colleagues to learn more about one another:

  • The first was that each person has a Spotify Coffee List (songs that energize them) and a Tea List (those that calm them). Spotify lists are exchanged and dialogue ensues.
  • The second vehicle, which came out of an Inclusion Innovation Lab, was intended to help people understand each other’s intersectionality. One company is piloting this with their BRGs. Each person writes a book about themselves, with each chapter revealing a different element of his/her identity. A virtual library acts as a mechanism for sharing each person’s chapters.  

As a Reporter, companies are using technology to report progress and hold leaders accountable. There was a call for more transparency in this regard.  

As an Enabler for a Better Employee Experience, firms are utilizing tools to mitigate implicit bias from the recruiting process and coaching leaders on interrupting their negative behaviors.

At the end of this discussion, we were challenged to think about the ways in which technology could remove barriers to gender parity… 

Now that’s encouraging!

4. Taking Gender out of Leave Policies

While technology is helping remove some of the barriers to gender parity in the C-suite, one company has removed gender from its leave policy in order to create a more inclusive culture focused on the well-being of its employees.

Six months ago, they announced a new “Paid Family Leave” policy through which people can receive 16 weeks of paid leave to take care of a child or other family responsibility, such as elder care.  

Now that’s enlightening!

Jennifer Brown Consulting (JBC) is a global diversity and inclusion firm with a unique passion for building more inclusive workplaces. With a deep expertise in all related aspects of human capital and talent management, we can help you realize the full potential of your workforce. Get in touch today to set up a consultation with our expert team.