Diversity Woman Magazine

WIN 2018

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

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/927951

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Page 19 of 51

We Mean Business > 18 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N W i n t e r 2 0 1 8 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m living it by the way we choose leaders to come and do these combined roles. So the good thing about it is I get to think about diversity and inclusion not only conceptually but also in a pragmatic way. I am now speaking from example, and it brings more weight to the space—and that is fantastic. DW: You began with P&G in 1985 as a process development engineer. What are the most notable advancements and achievements you have seen and been a part of ? WG: Looking back on affirmative action when I first started, I don't think we had targets. We knew we needed more women and those of African ancestry involved, but we didn't have clear corpo- rate targets of what that should be. As the company continued to go global, we needed to design objectives. We needed our employees to convey the sentiments that the consumers of our products ex- perience every day. Our mission became to represent our consumers from inside our organization. Our motto grew from a place of affirmative action to a place of everyone included and everyone valued. DW: How would you describe your leadership style? WG: My thoughts on leadership have evolved. Before, when I thought about leaders, they appeared to be all knowing, exceptionally bright, exceptionally aware, very visionary in their approach, and very articulate in expressing how to lead a company forward. I think most enter- prises today are challenging themselves on ways to redefine leadership. Today you have to rely on the folks who are closer to the day-to-day than you had to years ago, and therefore a leader must find a way to bring out the best in an organization and not just walk into a room and say, "is is what we are going to do." So the engagement model I've tried to work on as a leader includes forcing my- self to listen more and direct less. Insist that the people sitting around the table share their thoughts with me, and then arrive at an answer informed by those different perspectives. My leadership style has become more patient. It has be- come more of an engagement model. It has become more inclusive. I no longer see myself as commanding. I see myself as engaging a room of people, and that makes all the difference. DW: What advice would you give to the future workforce looking for longevity and eventual leadership opportunities? WG: e idea that people need to cross industries or change companies shouldn't be at the level that you're trou- bled by it every day. You shouldn't walk into work every day thinking, "I need a change." Find a place within an organiza- tion, an excellent company where you can renew, and invest in yourself and learn a new component. Find a way to get out- side your borders and look abroad to see what is there. e whole idea of perpetual learning is, I think, what you should be seeking, more so than a different corpo- rate shield. DW: As a leader who is a man, what ad- vice would you give to other male lead- ers who want to help women succeed in the workplace? WG: I want every male leader to think of a point where you walked into a forum and you were not at a place where your best was being brought out—and think about how you felt. ink about what you had to offer that wasn't necessarily easy to share. ink about the times you had to go with the flow, and then in your quiet time thought to yourself, "I really wish I had my voice." If you can reflect on those instances, I think you will be more willing to support someone that culturally is not being invited to the table, not being fully engaged. You should step in, invite her in, and insist that those points of view be heard. And you need to let her know that you support her. Find your point of empathy when considering someone that is different from you, or has been oppressed for whatever reason, and offer that comfort of sharing your stories. You need to do this in front of women and also when you are meeting privately with men, so they know the standard that you are setting for conversations with and about women, both publicly and privately. DW: Was there a moment, whether in your childhood or early in your career, that drove you toward getting involved with D&I on a big picture level? WG: I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, in the '60s. It was an epicenter for a lot of social rights movements. But I also felt very protected, surrounded by family members that sheltered me from a lot of that [turmoil]. ey found a way to put me in a cocoon. at enabled me to think I could do anything. When I look back on some of my dreams and aspirations, it's hard to imagine how a kid growing up in that environment could have aspira- tions. Now that I have gotten older, I have come to understand that not every- one has had that rich development, and not everyone has been that protected from things that could harm them at a very formative point in their life. I want to do all that I can to pay forward the level of support that I got. I want to be a source that helps people believe they can be more than their circumstances. People in our nation, our world, need to know they aren't limited by where they started. DW Julissa McClean is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Women's Health, Latina, Vice, and Prevention. My leadership style has become more patient. I no longer see myself as commanding. I see myself as engaging a room of people, and that makes all the difference. ISTOCKPHOTO

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