Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2016

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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38 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N Fa l l 2 0 1 6 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m great things. e work that Catalyst does and the role we can play resonate so much with my own life story and experiences." Anna Stuart, the managing partner of an executive recruitment and HR firm who met Gillis 20 years ago when they both worked in the Nova Scotia public sector, says Gillis's per- sonal background is key to her success. "e fact that Deb comes from humble be- ginnings has shaped everything she does and how she thinks about everything," says Stuart. "At her core, she knows that every human has value and deserves respect and opportunity. at has framed her public service and career to this day." F or decades, Catalyst has been primarily a research orga- nization, providing data on women's equality utilized by more than 800 organizations and companies to establish leadership training programs, launch campaigns, and change company culture. In recent years, the organization has begun to focus on leveraging its data and knowledge to pro- vide solution-focused programming. It has ramped up its con- sultation and training work with companies, launched propri- etary programs, and sponsored more seminars and conferences. For example, Catalyst is currently on the verge of launching an initiative focused on women of color. e program has not yet gone public, but Gillis says it will dovetail with the orga- nization's long-standing emphasis on research and program- ming concentrated on this demographic. For example, Catalyst is in the process of conducting a lon- gitudinal study on gender, race, and ethnicity. And several years ago Catalyst implemented an initiative to increase the representation of women on boards (today, women only hold 20 percent of S&P 500 board seats), with a specific callout for women of color. As a result, its first mentoring program for training aspiring women board members included 50 percent women of color. Another new initiative, MARC (Men Advocating Real Change), aims to engage men to be change agents for work- place diversity. e work is grounded in Catalyst research demonstrating that once men are champions of equality in the workplace for women, the needle moves more significantly. MARC offers programs that will help men both to see their unconscious bias and to understand their privilege while shap- ing strategies for action and change in the workplace. "e development of MARC is grounded directly in our re- search," says Gillis. "e work started with fundamental re- search that helped us identify, for example, which conditions really encourage and sup- port men to be champions of gender equal- ity in the workplace. en, by understand- ing those issues that our research revealed, we were able to take the next step in creat- ing programs that will help equip men to see their unconscious bias and most im- portantly to shape strategies for action and change in the workplace." Catalyst also recently launched CatalystX, its MOOC (massive open online courses), in collaboration with EdX. It offers a series of online courses in leadership develop- ment. Despite these new programs, and oth- ers, Gillis would like to see Catalyst do even more to help increase the representation of women at leader- ship levels. "I feel we're at a very important moment right now," she says. "I say that in part because of the fact there is so much conversation and attention in the workplace and society on the issue of gender equality and because I see the conversa- tion finally shifting from 'why' to 'how.' No longer do I find myself in rooms having to continually be answering the 'why' question. People now get the value of gender equality. Yet, the numbers are not moving as quickly as we would like, and is- sues and challenges remain, in particular for women of color." She thinks that the pace of change is slow because compa- nies are still overly focused on diversity and not enough on inclusion. Company culture and employees at all levels of or- ganizations are not fully equipped to understand how to act inclusively so that everyone within the organization feels a sense of ownership and accountability. Gillis acknowledges that fully embracing inclusion is more difficult than merely launching diversity programs and initia- tives. Implementing true inclusion requires buy-in and often- times cultural change, and the shifting of individual perspec- tives and behaviors that are frequently deeply rooted. "Look at your organization, she says. "Look around the de- cision-making table. You may very well see diversity in that room. But that doesn't mean the decisions reflect inclusion. Inclusion means intentional choices and actions that individu- als take on an everyday basis that reflect who you are, what you pay attention to, whom you call out, whom you spend time with, and whom you act as an advocate or champion for. is requires an intentional choice, just like at one point companies made an intentional choice that shaped policies for recruitment and retention and promotion of [diverse] staff." "If people are given the right kind of support, they can achieve great things."

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