What It Will Really Take to Break the Bias: Thoughts from IWD 2022

What It Will Really Take to Break the Bias: Thoughts from IWD 2022

On March 8, 2022, WOTW celebrated IWD 2022 by hosting an incredible webinar that was attended by over 1,000 global leaders. Our panelists included top-of-industry leaders including: Guillermo Miranda, Digital Transformation Executive at Boeing; Julie Klinger, COO of Nothing Bundt Cakes; David L. Gonzales, President & CEO, David L. Gonzales and Associates and Former Global Chief Diversity Officer, Bristol Myers Squibb; Erich Hoch, a Member of the Executive Board at Körber AG and COO/CTO Körber Group at Körber; and Mike Mann, Vice President at Topgolf. 

Watch a recording of our IWD 2022 webinar here.

Like everything she does, WOTW founder, Audrey McGuckin approached IWD 2022 with a systems approach: 

“You don’t move the needle by fixing the women, you move the needle by making systemic changes. You can’t just check the box. If you’re a woman leader, you must demand supportive leadership at your company, because you deserve it.”

Her goal with the IWD webinar was to address the ways supportive leaders show up for women on their teams. To bring an amazing group of leaders together to share their insights on gender equality and what it means to break the bias. To help other leaders improve. 

During the webinar, panelists discussed how organizations can identify, with precision, the changes that have impact on an organization. It resulted in a watershed moment for all of us. 

In fact, all participants agreed that to close the gender gap every leader needs a new way. Gender equality is not going to happen if we do the same old thing. We need a new way, or we risk getting the same results (and according to a recent study by the World Economic Forum, at our current rate it is going to take us 108 years to close the gap). 

WOTW founder and CEO, Audrey McGuckin kicked off the webinar by asking participants to be curious. To think about what gender equality means for each person, as well as for women leaders. How can we truly break the bias? Audrey specifically asked leaders to be curious about their systems and where they might be holding women back.

You see, Audrey has identified the 14 systemic challenges that leaders face in the fight for gender equality. These are challenges that can actually be solved through systematic changes (that’s what we do at WOTW). 

Our panelists, who are all committed to changing the system, addressed the systemic challenges they have faced. From intentional leadership to culture to mindsets everyone agreed that when done right leaders can lift up women leaders and move the needle of gender equality forward. 

David L. Gonzales, President & CEO, David L. Gonzales and Associates and Former Global Chief Diversity Officer, Bristol Myers Squibb, kicked off the webinar by talking about the unprecedented business environment we all find ourselves in today.  He argued that in this environment women are uniquely positioned to be able to help all companies manueuver for competitive advantage.

Guillermo Miranda, Digital Transformation Executive at Boeing, said it very well: ” When you are pushing for a change and a little revolution, sometimes the devil is in the details and the details relate to the systems. We have to architect the workplace architecture to be supportive as it can create blocks or opportunities.”

Indeed, there are social and environmental issues that challenge all corporations and working environments right now. A whole new set of leadership skills are needed to navigate these tectonic changes. Being a leader is a journey of discovery and what better way to adapt than to take a hard look at your systemic challenges. 

Julie Klinger, Chief Operating Officer, Nothing Bundt Cakes, inspired our attendees with her discussion on mindsets. She argued that when you learn from your mistakes, you learn to navigate the system and all women need to do just that. “I used to think it was all about working hard, but that’s not what the game is about.” 

Julie discussed mindsets as our driving forces and the need for women leaders to create a vision for their lives. She touched on confidence and how women must champion their achievements. Finding mentors and using data to highlight work results are also mindsets Julie touched on. 

WOTW CEO, Audrey McGuckin, agrees with this stating that learning new mindsets is one of the most important things you can do to better navigate your career as a woman.

Erich Hoch, a Member of the Executive Board at Körber AG and COO/CTO Körber Group at Körber, talked about the importance of leaders being involved in any women leadership program saying, “Don’t even think you can outsource it to HR.” 

Why? Because you can’t argue with the numbers. Gender diversity feeds into the entire enterprise. By giving the women on your team a chance and supporting them to be successful “demonstrate superior leadership” in today’s world. 

Audrey added to Eric’s perspective by saying, “One of the things that leaders can do is create psychological safety for women leaders to take risks. One of the things we know is that often women lack confidence. There is much research that shows women lose 30% of their confidence during puberty and they never get it back. That is why a supportive system is so important and also why leadership is part of it.” 

Mike Mann, Vice President at Top Golf, focused on the importance of culture in an organization and how much leadership plays a role in that. He argued that culture attracts talent, drives engagement, and is the satisfaction people find in their jobs. It affects the overall importance of the company as well. 

He said, “You get culture by recognizing and rewarding what you want it to be.”

Mike’s call to action for participants was to encourage women to show up at work as themselves. To find leaders who value them for their contributions, perspectives and commitment to the organization. At Topgolf he found an approach to developing an inclusive culture for women leaders where they “feel truly valued, recognized and cherished.” And it has enabled the Topgolf organization to be successful.

But, why care about IWD 2022?

Audrey ended the conversation talking about how systematic changes are close to her heart.  She said, “We work with a lot of organizations and we take a hard look at the talent systems. I can tell you what we find. When we lift the hood, we find compensation disparities. We see CEOs who say they support women leaders and have a staff that’s 50% women. However when I ask how many are at the top of the house? I find that there are no women in those power roles. That’s not good enough. There needs to be women in the power roles.”

Indeed, the devil is in the details. It’s all about how leaders approach their talent systems. How they identify and change the system. How they support women in their organizations to navigate that system. And Women On Their Way can help them do just that. 

Want to learn more? Click here to set up a quick call to see how we can help you change and navigate the system.

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