Lorraine Hariton’s Speech at the 2019 Catalyst Awards Dinner

The following is a transcript of Catalyst President & CEO Lorraine Hariton’s Speech at the 2019 Catalyst Awards Dinner.

2019 Catalyst Awards Dinner Speech
14 March 2019

Good Evening. I am thrilled to be here. Thank you, Cathy.

I am deeply honored, humbled, and incredibly excited to be standing here before you tonight as the new leader of Catalyst because the power and commitment of this community—of all of you—is extraordinary.

I want to thank the Catalyst board, staff, and Supporters.

These events: the Conference today on the Future@Work and the Dinner tonight would not be possible without you. Your commitment and passion for our mission are remarkable and it inspires me every day.

Thank you, Bank of America, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Eli Lilly and Company, and Schneider Electric. Your bold and forward-thinking initiatives are this year’s recipients of the Catalyst Award.

Thank you for showing us that we can make real change through intentional commitment to action.

I’d also like to thank our Lead Conference Sponsor: Target. (A 4-time Conference Sponsor!)

Our Future@Work Trend Session Sponsors.

Our Dinner Chair Sponsor, Chevron and Mike Wirth.

Our Champions For Change Reception Sponsor: Nationwide and Gale King – who is also a Women On Board alum.

Our Board Reception Sponsors: Shell Oil Company and Sodexo.

Our Highest Donors, that are listed on the screen.

And all of you tonight who have enabled us to raise $4.92 million to support our mission.

I also want to give a special thanks to Ilene Lang. Your support has meant so much to me during this transition.

I pledge to do my best to honor your legacy and take it forward.


I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this community in support of my lifelong passion: advancing women in the workplace.

I have benefited from the work of Catalyst for my entire career. And I am honored now to have this amazing platform to pay it forward.

When I joined IBM—our 4-time Award winner—in 1977 they already had a progressive culture that enabled women to successfully advance in the workplace.  So much so, that I decided to return after taking a leave to get my MBA at Harvard.

And it was the right choice. IBM invested in me valued me and I had role models that inspired me like Ellen Hancock who was an executive at IBM in the ’80s and later became my mentor when I was an executive in Silicon Valley. She is in the audience tonight at the Colgate-Palmolive table where she has been on the board since 1988 and I would like to thank her.

Throughout my career, I have worked to pay it forward whether by serving on the board of Watermark, one of the top women’s leadership organizations in Silicon Valley at the US Department of State creating their Global Women’s Entrepreneurship initiatives or at the New York Academy of Sciences advancing girls in STEM.

As Jacquie Hinman, a Catalyst Board Member, said to me during the interview process “I bet you feel like you have been preparing for this all of your life.”

And yes, that is exactly how I feel.



I’m especially excited to be leading Catalyst at this pivotal moment in time.

We are at an historic moment in the evolution of workplaces and gender equality.

There’s so much energy and momentum on this topic right now.

The MeToo movement has been incredibly important because it has raised our collective awareness that there are still systemic issues and barriers for

Since I entered the workplace in the ’70s on the heels of the women’s movement, there has not been such momentum and we need to seize this moment.



We’re in the midst of a generational shift in the makeup of our workforce.

Millennials already outnumber baby boomers.

A recent survey stated that 77% of millennials in the U.S. think there should be gender balance at home and at work.

And I have seen this very personally. My highly accomplished son, who is expecting his first child in May, plans to take a three-month paternity leave and is moving to Boston for his wife’s career. He even did the baby registry!  I can tell you that did not happen in my household in the ’80s.

As leaders in the business community, you more than anyone see the forces shaping the workplace.

The war for talent is real and it’s only going to get tougher.

In the coming years, talent retention is going to be a bigger and bigger issue, because the global workforce is shrinking and is more mobile.

So, if you want to continue to attract the best talent, your organization needs to be a place where employees want to be.

And that means a place where they feel like they belong.

Diversity and inclusion are more critical now than ever before.

When people feel safe, they feel free to express themselves, to take risks, to speak up about concerns.

They become more engaged and that drives innovation, competitiveness and financial

Social movements, globalization, changing demographics and rapid technological change, are impacting everything.

It’s time to redefine what work looks like to create a more equitable, inclusive and fulfilling workplace, where everyone has equal opportunity to reach their full potential.

This is one of our most important priorities To help define the future of work. To help shape that discussion.

Today’s conference is just the beginning.

Everyone in this room gets it.

You are the leaders in this space and together we have an enormous opportunity, to lead the way.

How we respond at this critical moment in time can have a profound effect on that future.

It’s going to take all of us, working together, to make the right change happen.



When I was working in Silicon Valley, I learned a great deal about technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship but the most valuable skill I learned … was partnership.

I observed that the companies that were the most successful built an ecosystem of partners.

And that is how I think about our work at Catalyst.

Catalyst has a great legacy of pioneering research and thought leadership. We’re going to keep building on that with you, our partners, the Catalyst community.

We will be expanding our research on the intersection of gender, race, and ethnicity globally.

And we will continue our work on Creating Inclusive Work cultures.

One of our new initiatives is the Catalyst Inclusion Accelerator which we just launched today. It is a premier diagnostic that helps companies identify how employees and teams experience inclusion, so they can make real change.

It’s been piloted with 15 supporters and is informed by decades of Catalyst research.

With this data, we are going to continue to learn from you, evolve our understanding and share the learnings back.

We want to make sure we keep developing programs that are practical, actionable and scalable…so we can impact change across as many organizations as possible.

With the launch last month of our new web site, we are enhancing the support of our community through better navigation and enabling virtual communities where all of our supporters can share best practices and learn from each other. Please give it a try. You will be amazed at the depth of content.

And we will continue to champion the mission through initiatives like hashtag bias correct that we launched with all of your help on International Women’s Day.

And, we are privileged to be partnering with all of you to make it happen.



Never before has so much been asked of CEOs and senior leaders.

In addition to running your companies, you are expected to provide guidance on key economic and social issues.

People are distrustful of so many institutions, but they trust their employers, and they expect them to comment on critical issues.

This means that you—our corporate leaders—are more important than ever in setting the direction for our collective future.

By instituting policies and programs that support diversity and inclusion and by role modeling the right behaviors you are influencing millions and millions of people around the world.

In an era of increased fragmentation, together we can show the world how it’s supposed to be.

We can show the world what a safe and inclusive environment looks like and what it feels like.

As partners in this journey, we can create a future that works for women, and for everyone.

As I said at the beginning, I’m thrilled to be leading Catalyst at this historic moment in time.

And I’m excited to have such great partners to work with like our four Award winners.

I’m also so fortunate to have such a committed board of CEOs who truly walk the talk and are playing key roles in advancing women in the workplace.

Tonight’s board member and Dinner Chair Mike Wirth, the CEO of Chevron, is also an extraordinary example of leadership in this area.

He has been a supporter of our Men Advocating Real Change or MARC programs for years.

He intuitively understood that to make change happen, you can’t leave men out of the conversation.

And, we all know that despite what the headlines would have you believe the vast majority of men are good, honest individuals who want to help. They want to be part of the solution.

They just don’t know how to participate.

So, Mike embraced our MARC program and he adapted it to Chevron, creating “MARC Teams.”

And you know what?

He pushed it farther and made it more successful.

And he brought those lessons back to all of us.

So we can learn, adapt, be better and share the learnings with all of you.

That’s the true meaning of partnership, how together, we all are going to move the needle.

Thank you, Mike, for your commitment to Catalyst and to our cause.

And I also want to give a big thanks for your generous support of Catalyst.

Chevron has just invested $5 million to help scale MARC 10x. Our largest investment ever!

Thank you all so much for your time and support. I look forward to working with each of you over the coming years and encourage you all to support our mission.

I’d now like to turn the program over to Mike.