Changing the Conversation: April 2017 Recap

From left: Jessica Grounds, Alexa Scordato, Carolina Velasco, Brandon Atkinson

This week marks the 44th anniversary of our founding (originally as Careers for Women), and we celebrated the best way we knew how--by holding our fourth event in the Changing the Conversation: Empowering Women in Business series. Generously hosted by Stack Overflow (an online community for programmers), nearly 100 women of all ages and industries joined us for wine, cheese, and conversation.

We kicked off the event with a presentation courtesy of Project Mine the Gap. Kristin Haffert, Co-Founder of Project Mine the Gap, described the business case for a gender inclusive work environment.  

Two key takeaways:

  • Studies show that including (even the presence of) one or more women raises a group's collective intelligence.
  • Among Fortune 500 Companies, the top quartile (ranked by # of female board members), outperformed those in the bottom quartile by 53% in return on equity (ROE), a 42% in return on sales (ROS), and 66% in return on invested capitol (ROIC).

Jessica Grounds takes questions from the audience

Following the presentation, Project Mine the Gap Co-Founder Jessica Grounds moderated an action-oriented discussion about why diversity and inclusion is important, and the steps we can take to create and build upon those initiatives. 

In case you missed it…

"I'm deeply, deeply passionate about [diversity and inclusivity]. Until we get to a place where the people who are making the tools that serve the world and connect people and ideas actually reflect the end users, our work is not done." --Alexa Scordato, VP of Marketing, Stack Overflow

On bringing men into the conversation: "I looked for men in senior leadership, who actually believed that a woman belonged at the table. I asked very directly for what I needed, and they were generally very open to helping me. They were interested [in being a part of the conversation], but I learned they weren't going to reach out proactively." -- Carolina Velasco, Senior Nonprofit Relationship Manager and Team Lead, LinkedIn

"There's a mental tax of being the only woman on the team. It's hard to be your best authentic self when you're not comfortable. When you're the only one who looks like you, it's hard not to be conscious of that." --Brandon Atkinson, Chief People Officer, AppNexus

Our presenters and panelists (from left): Kristin Haffert, Brandon Atkinson, Carolina Velasco, Jessica Grounds, Alexa Scordato

So, how can we help drive change within our own organization? 

  1. Consider the language you use throughout your organization on a daily basis.
  2. Create and better utilize affinity groups, or mini-coalitions.
  3. Be intentional in including men in the conversation. 
  4. Develop policies and procedures that take into account up-to-date research on gender inequality.
  5. Be explicit about your diversity and inclusion goals as a company--build them into your quarterly metrics.

Some of the feedback we’ve heard from attendees…

Another great event last night and I hope you're still buzzing with excitement. Last night was a reminder that diverse ideas + diverse perspectives = a more well-rounded team. The inspiration was well received! 

Kudos for organizing such accomplished & inspirational panelists. I only regret having to run out so quickly afterward - just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the evening. 

Thanks for a great and informative program last night.  I really enjoyed and benefited from it.  Good food for thought and some action points for myself going forward.  Well done! I wish I had more time to remain after the program to chat with you all and network.

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