On March 23rd, 2021 at 8am EST the Women Business Collaborative (WBC) and IBM held this panel as part of WBC’s “#FasterTogether” series which highlights the power of diverse women by building allyship across all networks. Gwen Young, COO of WBC, moderated the discussion while the panelists consisted of Carla Grant Pickens, Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, IBM; Andrea Stevenson Conner, Principal Stevenson-Conner Global Strategies; Anna Mok, President & Chairman of the Board, Ascend Leadership Asia Pacific Leader, Deloitte; Shannon Loutitt, CEO & Co-Founder International Indigenous Speakers Bureau; Ana Dutra, Global Board Director and CEO, Mandala Global Advisors. View a recording of the panel here. This release was originally published on ExpertClick.
The panel “Voices of Diverse Women: Weaving Moments for the Future” comes on the tail end of Women’s History Month, rounding out a monthlong campaign of events for WBC. During this event, speakers explored the underlying theme of collaboration between women in business and argued that allyship and collaboration are essential for equality to prosper. Moderator Gwen Young proposed the question: “Given the racial crisis and current global political climate, how can women support each other and not be pitted against one another?” In an era of seemingly constant conflict and competition on a global scale, this question hyper relevant.
Mok responded with “All women have to stop the idea that this is a pie that we’re all competing for. In business we’ve bought into the capitalistic view that we have to compete all the time. We need to work in community to get to action.”
In agreement and with reference to her own roots Loutitt added, “This culture of competition needs to stop and come to a culture of collaboration. In the indigenous world we call it the rise of the sacred feminine, and within us we live in a spectrum of where our characteristics lie. We’ve been practicing the sacred masculinity for a long time and competition stems from that. The sacred feminine is bringing the collaboration aspect out.”
Part of reaching this collaboration means embracing diversity and inclusion in all levels of leadership and within interpersonal connections. Currently women of color are the least represented of any demographic in executive board positions and in the C-Suite. Conner and Dutra explained that intentionally building a space of trust and mentorship amongst women, and especially women of color, will help build and expand the pipeline of women in business. Conner elaborated on why diversity training should be the core of any organization: “Usually we don’t understand the lens that each of us comes from. We’ve all walked different paths in our journeys. Understanding the way in which each of us views the world builds trust.”
In creating a culture of trust and compassion, colleagues become effective allies and advocates for women in the workplace so they can achieve fair treatment and reach these upper-level positions. Dutra championed the point that competition diminishes trust, and ultimately makes gender parity and racial equality unattainable.
“The WBCs, IBMs, ASCENDs, the Latino Corporate Directors, Indigenous Speakers Bureaus of the world are working together on building a strong pipeline and sharing resources with each other that will build a world of inclusion,” Young explained in concluding comments. These organizations are challenging the norm that competition and homogeneity are what make businesses successful. Grant Pickens praised the budding alliance of organizations coming together to defeat these ideas, saying “Already within this sustained group we share so much together; we’ve all connected on our backgrounds and differences and have such strong partnerships that are changing lives.” We are truly faster together.