Human ResourcesWomen in Leadership

Why Companies Need to Rethink The Approach to Diversity

By Courtney EmersonJuly 28, 2015

The fact that diversity matters is no longer up for debate. The research is clear: if you want more revenue, greater market share, and bigger return on investment, you need diversity in your leadership ranks and a culture that celebrates and rewards inclusive leadership behaviors.

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We also know that, for the most part, we’re not there yet. The numbers speak for themselves: despite graduating from college at higher rates than men and entering the workforce at equal numbers, women hold only 25 percent of executive/senior-level positions (and less than 5 percent of CEO roles) and continue to face headwinds as they climb the career ladder. Women, for example, are more likely to face unconscious bias and are less likely to have access to the powerful relationships, informal channels, and feedback they need to advance.

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The world’s leading companies are starting to pay attention to this disparity between aspiration and reality and are putting their money where their mouth is; in recent years, Intel and Google made headlines with the millions they’ve invested to create more diverse, inclusive cultures – $300M and $150M, respectively.But many companies debate over HOW to use their budget with regard to diversity and inclusion initiatives. Through unconscious bias training? Mentorship and sponsorship? Leadership development? Culture change initiatives?

Given the ever-increasing number of programs on offer, companies face significant challenges in identifying and vetting programs that will yield greatest impact. But many programs haven’t kept up with the pace of change: despite gains in technology, the majority of leadership programs are off site and off the shelf. In other words, learning is often completely disconnected from day-to-day realities of the participants and doesn’t address goals, strengths, and challenges of each individual. And if women lack high-powered mentors and sponsors, then why are development programs only talking about them – and not actually supporting those connections? We want to help bridge these gaps.

Everwise is proud to announce the launch of ELEVATE by Everwise, a 12-month leadership program for VP/director-level women designed to connect women with the relationships and resources they need to achieve their goals – and to provide companies (large and small) with effective, high-impact programming that will support the advancement of women into leadership ranks.

Built on best practices, expert and executive insights, and based on feedback from the thousands of women who have gone through the standard Everwise program, we’ve designed our program on four core assumptions:

  • Development programs shouldn’t just talk about the importance of relationships; they should create and nurture them. Relationship capital – mentors, sponsors, and peers – is critical, especially at senior levels but women are less likely to have the powerful relationships they need compared to men. ELEVATE matches women with executive mentors based on a proprietary, data-driven algorithm, connects them with peers, and provides concierge support to ensure success and hold everyone accountable.
  • 21st century leadership programs should take into account 21st century realities. Technology is an integral part of our lives, but many programs don’t leverage technology to its full potential (or at all). Combining the best of high tech and high touch, we offer in-person workshops and programs alongside virtual webinars and self-driven online learning (what we call “missions”) to maximize impact and make learning ongoing and sustainable.
  • One size does not fit all. Women are an incredibly diverse group and have extraordinarily different goals, strengths, and weaknesses. We provide skill-building support on core competencies required of leaders at senior levels (e.g., executive presence, personal branding, strategic thinking) but also on the individual participant’s goals – anything from upward management to time management.
  • Progress tracking should happen early and often. Participant satisfaction is important to us, but so is progress – which means different things to different people. Are participants meeting their goals? Expanding their network? Better positioned to achieve their objectives? We want to know – and so we track this and more qualitatively and quantitatively through our platform.

Over the 12-month ELEVATE program, participants will gain access to

  • An Executive Mentor
  • Facilitated peer group sessions
  • ELEVATE advisor (providing ongoing accountability and concierge support)
  • Expert-facilitated, in-person workshops
  • Exclusive fireside chats with women executives
  • Virtual webinars and learning journeys
  • Networking and community building opportunities
  • Customized assessments and progress tracking

Topics for both the in-person and online learning include Executive Presence, Sponsorship, Negotiating, Personal Brand Development, Managing Change, Values, Innovation, Authentic Leadership, Getting/Receiving Feedback, Influence & Impact, Management & Team Building, Sustainability, Strategic Thinking, and Leading Beyond Your Job.

Empowering women is important to us – in the private sector and beyond. That’s why 10% of profits from ELEVATE will go towards a charity or non-profit focused on empowering women and girls (charity to be determined).

We hope you’ll join us for our program launch this fall.

Interested in learning more? Download our ELEVATE by Everwise two pager here or contact Courtney at Courtney@geteverwise.com.


Courtney Emerson is the Women and Leadership Advisor for Everwise, where she supports women’s leadership content and programming. Formerly a Vice President at the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), Emerson advised Fortune 500 and global companies on the design and delivery of talent-based initiatives. While at CTI, she developed and led Levers to Leadership, a proprietary leadership program to empower professional women with the resources to accelerate their careers.

Emerson has been a featured speaker at organizations including the Council for Urban Professionals (CUP), Professional Business Women of California (PBWC) as well as numerous CTI Task Force member companies such as EY, Hewlett Packard, HSBC, and Schwab. Emerson has written for publications including Huffington Post, The Hill and co-authored the CTI research report, Vaulting the Color Bar: How Sponsorship Levers Multicultural Individuals into Leadership, profiled by NPR in 2012.

In addition to her role at Everwise, Courtney is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at All In Together. Emerson co-founded All In Together to ensure women’s voices are fully represented in political and civic life and close the most critical gender gaps in political engagement. As COO, she oversees partnerships, programming and general operations at AIT.

Courtney Emerson

Courtney Emerson

Co-Founder at All In Together

About the Author

Courtney is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at All In Together. Emerson co-founded All In Together to ensure women’s voices are fully represented in political and civic life and close the most critical gender gaps in political engagement. As COO, she oversees partnerships, programming and general operations at AIT.

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