It’s safe to say that 2016 felt like a long year. But as it comes to a close, I find myself looking back with gratitude and ahead with optimism.
My optimism is fueled by an important shift that I have observed in leaders everywhere—instead of asking “why” diversity and inclusion matters, leaders from all walks of life and business have been asking “how” we can build more inclusive workplaces. Most importantly, many are choosing to intentionally use their power and influence to say and do the right thing for their employees and the world around them.
I’ve been inspired by the letters of CEOs from major corporations—including Catalyst supporters like PepsiCo and Starbucks—sharing messages with their employees about their commitment to championing inclusion. And by the decision of 2016 Catalyst Award winner, GAP Inc. to truly deliver on their message of diversity and create an initiative that has successfully moved toward closing the gender pay gap. I applauded when IKEA announced a new policy that will provide up to four months of parental leave for salaried and hourly workers and will extend the benefits to mothers and fathers. And I celebrated when General Motors and Sodexo achieved gender parity on their Boards of Directors.
These are all visible examples of business leaders having the courage to reinforce their personal and organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion with words and actions, redefining the role of corporate leadership.
And I am proud that Catalyst is helping amplify these intentional acts of inclusion. Companies like Dell, Procter & Gamble, and CIBC, among several others, have engaged thousands of men through our MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) programs, such as MARC Leaders, MARC Networks, and the OnTheMarc.org community. Hundreds of thousands of individuals spanning the globe have enrolled in our online CatalystX courses. Through these programs and others we are doing our part in setting the path to realizing our vision of changing workplaces, changing lives.
And while we work hard to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion, we also celebrate. We are now preparing for the 2017 Catalyst Awards Conference and Dinner, a very special year for several important reasons. We strategically chose March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Catalyst Awards with our theme, Leadership Redefined. And it could not be more apt.
We must rethink old definitions of leadership and create a new vision, which requires:
- Redefining leadership in how we drive inclusion and equal representation at all levels, in all professions, and in all walks of life, including the home.
- Redefining leadership in how we “show up” on gender-related issues with our consumers and stakeholders and in how we amplify our voices externally.
- Redefining leadership in how we all connect and collaborate across organizations (businesses, NGOs/nonprofits, governments, and society) to amplify and accelerate progress toward gender equality.
With your help, I’m confident that we will achieve true inclusion and equity for all. Please join us at both the 2017 Catalyst Awards Conference and Dinner and take part in the thought leadership behind Leadership Redefined.
On behalf of everyone at Catalyst, I wish you all the joys of the season and the very best in the coming year.