The Lonely Path to Diversity - Taking Action to Move to Equity, Diversity & Inclusion


Women occupy less than 15% of executive roles in the technology sector according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Two-thirds of women engineers are leaving the profession within 15 years. The business case for having more women in leadership positions is clear. For all the benefits of having women leaders in the workplace, organizations have not made much improvement recently. For the last 10 years, the proportion of women in senior roles in organizations globally has been stuck at 24%. The percentage of women who head Fortune 500 companies is only about 6%. Minority representation is dramatically lower in all aspects of leadership. Research has shown a desire to be surrounded by “people like me” and the rejection of those who are different especially women and people of color. And yet there are those in the industry who have remained. What can we learn from their experience and encouragement? Who stays and why? Women who rise to the top typically have a strong sense of self-efficacy, are passionate about their work, have positive support at work, are loyal to their team and others, and cultivate strong personal and professional networks. Yet some diversity efforts have failed. The Harvard Business Research Institute found that if there is only one woman in the candidate pool, there is statistically no chance she’ll be hired. Why do some diversity attempts fail? HBR also found that by adding a second women to the candidate pool the chance of a woman being selected went up 79 times – women became part of the group instead of standing out as a token representative. The same was true for candidates of color. How can companies avoid setting up their diversity efforts to fail? How can they turn around the trend in their own organizations and move to an improved bottom line? This keynote will focus on how to cultivate and advance diversity by including women and people of color into upward career paths and leadership roles. (Kay Chopard, Kimberly Sutherland, Professional Development, Vision & Strategy)

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