gen-xyb™ High Tea Launches in Chicago
On Wednesday night this week something very special happened – the kickoff of my gen-xyb™ High Tea program in Chicago. I thought it appropriate to devote this blog post to this important milestone that I firmly believe will ultimately have a profound and positive impact on women in the workplace. Two years ago I started to formulate my vision around what I wanted to do to impact advancement of women in the workplace. This program is just one of the elements of what I am building for the marketplace to make a significant contribution to tackling this issue, and to make the most of an important opportunity. It has taken one and a half years of development, piloting some modules, going back to the drawing board, re-working and fine tuning to be ready to launch the program this year.
[text_box class=”blue”] Melissa, a participant from a Financial Services firm, commented: ‘The power of women coming together and what we can do when we are all behind one idea and have all that positive energy going on. There is a lot of potential in the women in this room.’ [/text_box]
The program embodies the philosophy of using cross-generational collaboration and taking more risk as key mechanisms to empower transformation and advance women into executive ranks. Companies have signed up to send pairs of women to participate in the program, with the two women comprising each pair coming from two different generational groups in their organization. Seven Chicagoland organizations are participating in this inaugural program, with Healthcare, Financial Services and Law firms amongst the industries represented.
[text_box class=”blue”] Holly – a program participant from a Law firm – had the following to say about the kickoff: ‘I am really looking forward to hearing the themes from other industries. Sometimes when you are in the legal community you tend to live in a vacuum so I am really interested to hear if there is consistency in themes or if there are different ideas that pop up. It’s nice to see a program that is geared towards women from across generations to learn from who has come before us, and also for the younger generations to impart what they have been able to experience to the older generations. I am really interested in seeing how the people dynamic plays out.’ [/text_box]
As I looked around the room on Wednesday night, I remarked to the group that for some of them, this is the beginning of a journey, the first steps on a road that we will travel together for the next eleven months. For others in the room, the evening was a window into the journey. Irrespective of which camp anyone fell into though, every one of us was there because we believe in the need to increase the pace of change at which we are advancing women forward and upward in the workplace, and because we believe that we need to do things differently in order to increase the pace of change.
[text_box class=”blue”] Holly: ‘I think this is really exciting for us to be involved in Daniella’ s vision as a whole for the program. It is invigorating to be surrounded by so many high-caliber sophisticated women in the room and to hear the complexity and diversity of opinions. A learning experience from top to bottom and I really look forward to what’s next in store for us…and seeing what the corollaries are and how we can all work together to build this into something spectacular.’ [/text_box]
Women are ambitious and talented. We have big aspirations and want to make the most of our credentials. We are great leaders. We build great teams. We are great collaborators. We matter and we make a difference. We have been making breakthroughs and progress, but even as Gen Y women may be more optimistic than the Gen X’ers and Baby Boomer women that laid the path ahead of them, they are still perceiving and experiencing the same types of issues that have been present for decades regarding gender in the workplace. Where women in the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations fought to create equity, the Millennials have been socialized to expect equity. As women across all generations seek to lay claim to their destinies, it is imperative that women of all ages collaborate across the generations to help more women move forward and upward in their lives and in their careers.
Every generation brings great value to the table. Baby Boomer and Gen X women bring professional expertise, institutional knowledge, patience, an ability to see the bigger picture, an understanding of how to use influence to drive systemic change, and an appreciation of the costs of women not taking more risks. Millennial women bring fresh perspective, a greater comfort level with vocalizing their aspirations and needs outright, an ability to seek and champion change, expectations around meritocracy, and a willingness to take more risks. On Wednesday night, everyone that was in that room was there because they believe in the power of cross-generational collaboration as a key to accelerating towards better outcomes for women in management and executive ranks. This program provides an opportunity for us to focus on our performance and growth as women so that we can, together, become an even greater force to be reckoned with as we go back and walk the halls and work in the organizations we are part of. Not just at the top levels of the organization, but at all levels.
[text_box class=”blue”] Amy – a panelist from one of the world’s largest global airlines – commented: ‘I think there’s probably going be a lot of really cool women in the room. It’s always good to be around other cool women that encourage you and lift you up. Some of the ways that Daniella set this up is going to set us up to have a really deep conversation about women in the workplace right now.’ [/text_box]
This program is not a small undertaking. The women that are participating in this inaugural year are part of something that is brand new. Something that hasn’t been done before. They are being asked to venture into the unknown, to try this out. When you are turning over rocks, when you are breaking new ground, it is hard and gritty and dirty and sweaty and uncomfortable work. But we have to challenge ourselves to change ourselves, and we have to challenge the current thinking and norms of how we are tackling advancement of women in the workplace in our organizations to get to better results. Decades of trying to tackle this issue and we are still laboring away at trying to move the needle beyond just 4% of Fortune 500 Companies having female CEO’s, beyond in ten major industries women holding only 18% of leadership positions. To be part of something new in order to be able to bring about change for yourself and for the organizations of which you are a part, that is something truly special.
[text_box class=”blue”] Felicia – a participant from a major Health Insurance organization – had the following to say after the evening’s activities wrapped up: ‘I am very motivated and excited about what I am going to get out of the rest of the program. I like the sharing of ideas, that there is a good cross-section of people from different generations, different ethnicities, different areas of business, different industries, different places in their careers. We’ve got a good group. I am really excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun…For me it’s thinking about opportunities of trying to get people to think differently, to reach for innovation and change. I can take that into my organization and potentially trail blaze for change.’ [/text_box]
I can’t wait to see the participants again in February. If there are any of my wonderful readers out there that want to have a peek into this journey, let me know. I am going to be inviting guests to participate in specific sessions as panelists, contributors to the conversation, etc. and I would love to have you join a session so you too can get to experience this wonderful program.
[text_box class=”blue”] Kim, a panelist from the Financial Services industry, commented: ‘I loved the enthusiasm of all the women and how excited they are to be part of the program. I think this is going to be a wonderful program and has wonderful potential.’ Yvette, a participant from a different Financial Services institution, said: ‘I am pretty excited to meet the ladies here and listen to their stories and share some of mine.’ [/text_box]
I want to thank everyone that has supported my vision. Thank you to everyone that has believed in me and what I am building here. Thank you to all the women participating in the program. It is my personal commitment to not let a single person down. To all the women participating in this program, I believe in you and the remarkable careers you have had and that you still have ahead of you, and it is my goal to equip you with concepts, tools, knowledge, relationships and power to accomplish everything you are capable of, and even more, for both yourselves and for others.
[text_box class=”blue”] Emily, a participant from a company in the Financial Services industry, had the following to say: ‘I thought tonight was full of incredible energy. You couldn’t have picked a room full of more vibrant, enthusiastic, authentic women. It’s always interesting to watch the progression from contemplative to good outburst. It’s going to be an incredible program…Daniella is very passionate about this. That’s the key driving force in anything to be successful. It’s very transparent she cares a lot about the program, believes in it. It’s hers, she is authoring it. But it is also very transparent that she cares a lot about the individuals participating and that they get a lot out of it, and that if they don’t know what they want she will help them find that.’ [/text_box]