Women In Leadership Conference

This Saturday 18th of March, the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley organized the 22nd Women in Leadership annual conference.

Mostly women leaders and executives join the conference but there were some men too, like me!

The purpose of this conference was to shed light on the cultural mindset that is responsible for most of inequalities between men and women at work, on the role we can all play to change it and amplify the good stories.

It was definitely a really inspiring, motivating and eye-opening day. Thank you to the whole organizing team for staging such event!

Here are the few thoughts I will remember from this day.

Eve Chaurand
Eve Chaurand, President of San Francisco French-American Chamber of Commerce

Altruistic leadership

This is the kind of leadership that Eve Chauvrand, President of San Francisco’s French-American Chamber of Commerce implements every day with her teams. A leadership that values leading by teaching and that advocates for taking care of others’ growth. Simply inspiring.

Unconscious biases

What is really despairing about sexism at workplace is that it is mostly unconscious. We are mostly not aware of having such bad habits because they are profoundly part of most cultures.  But as Gloria Steinem said: “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off” and McKinsey x Lean In study figures reveal us a truth that shall not be ignored.

Women are three times more likely to get interrupted in meetings.

1 in 5 C-suite leaders is a Woman , with a large majority of Heads of HR. Only 1 in 10 C-suite leaders that make business-related decisions is a Woman.

Women are 18% less likely to be promoted as manager, and it is not for lack of asking, it is just that they do not get the automatic promotions their male peers naturally get.

Mentorship VS Sponsorship

It is easy to find a mentor, this person that advises you, helps you find the best ways to manage your career and that comforts you in your initiatives to move forward. Mentorship is great, however it is often provided  by your direct manager or boils down to peer-to-peer coaching. These are not the people who has the power to make your career move on faster. Look higher, step out of your comfort zone, set up a level up 30-min meeting with your boss’s boss and go get the promotion you deserve.

Women tend to be over-mentored and under-sponsored. Be proactive and save your front row for the people that support you.

Allyship

Allyship is an active, consistent and arduous practice performed by persons of privilege to amplify marginalized voices.

While performative allyship tends to be a trend, Michelle Kim from Awaken taught us the 7 principles of real allyship:

#1 KNOW YOURSELF: to which social categorizations do you belong? Which one marginalizes you? Which one gives you privileges?

#2 ALLYSHIP IS A VERB: it is not a status and does not define yourself. It is time-bound to your actions.

#3 YOU CANNOT SELF-DEFINE ALLYSHIP: positive intents do not always mean positive impacts. When in doubt, ask and respect people’s agency.

#4 DO NOT CENTER YOURSELF: follow their lead, first by listening. Allyship is not about recognition.

#5 UNDERSTAND INTERSECTIONALITY: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group. Through an awareness of intersectionality, we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us.

#6 PRACTICE: it requires courage and taking risks. But not doing anything is not an option, having a choice to disengage is a privilege.

#7 KNOW YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES: listen and fully understand the impact. Apologize and take accountability. Learn from it and commit to doing better. Do better.

It is time to take actions

At the pace things are going on, it will take more than a hundred years to fill the gap of inequalities between men and women.

This is not an option.

It is everyone’s duty to be aware of our social biases, to correct them everyday and to shout out when spotting them.

Thanks for reading and make sure to consult the Women in Workplace report, it provides an interesting road map to gender equality, in addition to sadly astonishing figures on the current situation of the American workplace.

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