November 2, 2015 — Recently I kicked off Catalyst’s third in-person Expert Community event in Boston. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces—as well as a number of new faces—in the room, and to feel united in our shared commitment to building inclusive workplaces.
What is Catalyst’s Expert Community? It is a cross-industry group of global business leaders committed to making change for women and other diverse groups within their organizations. This group has a mission to drive change, a focus on creating collective impact, and a dedication to upholding Catalyst’s mission and testing our research findings.
Members of our Expert Community serve as role models for other Catalyst member companies by not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. These companies and their leaders focus on actions, solutions, impact, and outcomes. We don’t just talk about best practices; we test ideas and work together to understand and create the best solutions. We are pushing beyond recognizing the business case for diversity to implementing real-world programs and policies that will help drive inclusion.
The theme of this year’s event was “Embracing What’s Next.” As we look ahead to the next year and beyond, we are focusing on impact. Each member of our Expert Community continues to work with us and one another to close gender leadership gaps, practice inclusive leadership, expand opportunities for women of color, and engage men. The group’s mandate is to drive impact and results, and it connects directly to Catalyst’s own recently refreshed strategic priorities for the next five years. We, too, are committed to walking the walk, and I look forward to unveiling our exciting new direction in the coming months.
In our increasingly complex global world, one thing I’ve learned is that the more you know, the more there is to know! The bar for change is higher, the world is bigger, and talent management solutions are getting more and more sophisticated. Yet some key takeaways always remain. The leading organizations and executives in our Expert Community understand this and continue to focus on these hot topics:
Everyone is accountable. It is essential for senior leaders to encourage and role model transparency and accountability. But employees at all levels should also be held personally accountable for creating inclusive work cultures.
Use stories to illustrate impact. We all know that we can’t improve women’s representation and strive to achieve gender parity if we don’t know what the numbers are. But while it’s critical to track and measure, personal stories and lessons can yield even greater impact.
Culture matters. The global nature of today’s business world makes it incredibly important to understand the power of culture, both organizational and societal, as many obstacles for working women are related to longstanding beliefs and expectations about their roles.
Less talking, more doing. It’s time to pioneer small and powerful solutions and create opportunities for sweeping change!
Whether or not you’re a member of our Expert Community, I urge you to take part in this important conversation. Consider how to do things differently, and do different things, to move the needle on inclusion in your workplace and in the wider world. Every single one of us can take at least one action today that will have a big impact a week, a month, a year, or even five years from now.
Together we can create environments where people of all backgrounds can succeed—and improve lives, communities, and companies in the process.