According to the World Economic Forum, at our current pace it will take 217 years for women to achieve parity in the workplace.
Yet, study after study shows the performance benefits that gender diversity (and diversity of all kinds) has on corporations. Research from Morgan Stanley recently demonstrated that companies with greater gender diversity actually outperform less diverse companies in terms of stock performance over time. Diversity is an essential asset that, as a society, we just can’t seem to unlock.
So, what is the missing ingredient delaying the advent of gender parity? I believe it’s collaboration across companies. Without more coordination or partnership, there is terrible inefficiency in our slow march toward gender parity.
Across America, corporate executives and diversity leaders spend billions of corporate dollars on programs, training, and initiatives to drive gender diversity. Seemingly, the first and most prominent practice that companies engage is building and funding women’s employee resource groups (ERG’s).
These ERG’s — also sometimes called business resource groups (BRG’s) or women’s networks — are formal or informal organizations that convene special interest groups within organizations for mentoring, networking, social, and business purposes. (Think Women at Google or the Goldman Sachs Women’s Network.)
These groups range dramatically in their effectiveness and their ability to drive change. Some boast membership in the tens of thousands, with executive sponsorship, full-time leaders, and and extensive governance structures. Some are ad hoc, run by volunteers that meet infrequently. Some have helped make changes to parental leave policies and promotion structures. And some end up inevitably reduced to cocktail mixers, leading the groups to be taken less seriously.
And yet, the one seemingly universal truth about these groups is that they operate in a silo. Consistently, I’m surprised to learn that there is almost no conversation or collaboration of these groups across companies and across industries to share learnings and best practices. Every single one of these groups is reinventing the wheel, every day. There is room for improvement to make every one of these groups more effective, and the lack of coordination between them is a serious impediment to these groups’ success. No wonder we are on a 200-year trajectory to achieve gender equality in the workplace.
So, what can we do about it?
To answer that question, Fairygodboss, the largest online career community for women, created our signature GALVANIZE: Making Women’s Resource Groups Powerful annual summit.
Fairygodboss is founded on the premise that, through sharing information, women can help each other increase the pace though which we can achieve equality in the workplace. Similarly, GALVANIZE: Making Women’s Resource Groups Powerful is designed to bring leaders and key stakeholders in these enterprise resource groups together in a single room where we can share findings and information and collaborate so that we can reduce this outrageous 200-year timeframe to something much more reasonable.
The outcome: Better treatment of human beings, and better corporate performance. What could be better than that?
Join us at our second annual GALVANIZE: Making Women’s Resource Groups Powerful event in New York City on October 15-16. At the event, diversity leaders, executives, and ERG team leads will have a chance to meet each other, form lasting connections, and share best practices, thereby transforming previously siloed efforts into a powerful alliance. And we’ll be hearing from some incredible luminaries and thought leaders, including:
Carla Harris, Vice Chair of Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley
Cindy Robbins, President and Chief People Officer, Salesforce
Andrea Smith, Chief Administrative Officer, Bank of America
Nicole Anasenes, CFO & COO, SquareSpace
Tiffany Dufu, Founder & CEO, The Cru
Leanne Pittsford, Founder & CEO, Lesbians Who Tech
Brian O’Kelley, Co-Founder & CEO, AppNexus
Herb Johnson, Chief Diversity Officer, Michelin
Valerie Kay, Chief Capital Officer, Lending Club
Amy Philbrook, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Fidelity Investments
Stephen Orban, General Manager, AWS Marketplace, Amazon
Tammy Yee, Vice President of Benefits and Mobility, American Express
Monica Diaz, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Campbell Soup Company
Laura Zelenko, Senior Executive Editor for Diversity, Talent, Standards, and Training, Bloomberg News
Amber Grewal, SVP Global Talent Acquisition, IBM
Panel discussions at the event will cover topics such as:
What I Wish My ERG Knew — hear from female executives about what they would really like their ERG to do for them
How To Drive Retention Through Best-In-Class Benefits and Work/Life Balance Programs
Unity in Diversity: Inclusion and Intersectionality
Changing Minds and Eliminating Bias
This year’s GALVANIZE event will also differentiate from others in the gender diversity space by including a “Male Allies” panel, during which we’ll hear from engaged men about how we can best enlist their partnership. These kinds of conversations, of course, have become all the important in order to create understanding across genders in the wake of this year’s #MeToo movement.
Over 200 corporate professionals are scheduled to attend, representing companies from diverse industries including: ADP, Amazon, BlackRock, Blackstone, Bloomberg, Boston Consulting Group, Boston Scientific, Campbell Soup, Capital One, CDW, Charles Schwab, Cognizant, Dentsu Aegis Network, Dell, EY, Gartner, GoDaddy, Goldman Sachs, Grubhub, HPE, Honeywell, John Deere, LiveNation, Magellan Health, Palantir, RBC, Shopify, Southern California Edison, Stryker, SubZero, T-Mobile, Unilever, Visa, and many more.
Major sponsors for the event are Burson, Cohn & Wolfe, IBM and Sterling Talent Solutions. Other sponsors include AppNexus, GSV AcceleraTE, Morgan Stanley, TBWA, United Technologies, and Extend Fertility.
In 2017, attendees of GALVANIZE: Making Women’s Resource Groups Powerful said things like, “The event exceeded all my expectations. I came in wondering if I would get anything out of it and came away with so much information about re-working my women's ERG plan.” Additionally, 100% of attendees surveyed said they wanted to attend again.
The 2018 event is on track to be twice as big, and dominated by productive, thoughtful and inspiring conversation. We hope you’ll join us there.
GALVANIZE: Making Women’s Resource Groups Powerful — hosted by Fairygodboss
October 15-16 in New York City
Registration and more information is available here!