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Building Equitable Careers, One Best Practice at a Time

On Monday afternoon at Enterprise Connect 2024, I'll be moderating the keynote session "Women in Communications -- Building an Equitable Career Future for Everyone." The line-up of speakers is formidable and spans multiple industries. Yet in preparing for the panel with our speakers, I was struck by the similarities in the approaches each person took to crafting both their individual careers and their forward-looking workplace strategies as leaders.

In a way, preparing for this panel is a reminder that while some workplace strategies are implemented nearly overnight -- remote working in 2020 -- others take a while to successfully take hold. Building an equitable career future for everyone is one of those workplace strategies that should already be standard practice, yet when one looks at the following data, there is evidence that we have a long way to go:

  • McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2021 report, coauthored with LeanIn.Org, found women hold 34 percent of entry-level engineering and product roles and 26 percent of first-level manager positions. The authors of the report identify early promotions as one way women lose ground in workplaces: "By failing to promote and retain women in technical roles who are in the early stages of their careers, companies end up preparing fewer women for senior roles."
  • In McKinsey's Women in the Workplace 2023 report, the company sounded a warning bell about the continued weaknesses in the career-building pipelines, cautioning, "At nearly every step in the pipeline, the representation of women of color falls relative to White women and men of the same race and ethnicity. Until companies address this inequity head-on, women of color will remain severely underrepresented in leadership positions—and mostly absent from the C-suite."
  • Slack Future Forum's quarterly pulse studies showed that Black employees reported a higher sense of workplace belonging when working remotely than working on-site -- and even those higher numbers were far below the levels of belonging that Asian, Latino and white employees reported. The consortium had identified hybrid and remote work as a way to boost employee engagement and inclusivity -- which raises a question: With company leaders pushing a back-to-the-office initiative, what happens to those gains that some workforce members experienced?
  • A recent BBC story examined how gender-based biases can add an extra layer of labor to a woman's workload: "A paper in the journal Human Resource Management showed men could advance by being – and appearing to be – good at their jobs, but women also needed 'prosocial orientation'"

As I was chatting with our speakers during a planning call, they kept bringing up more elements to discuss in building a more equitable workplace -- how to cultivate and encourage ambition, how to mentor and how to build a succession plan for all, how to build an equity strategy, how to use metrics to support your work and hold workplace leaders accountable -- trust me, this is only a small sampling of the great, experience-based practices we plan to cover.

If you are already planning on coming to Enterprise Connect 2024, please slot this keynote session into your schedule -- and come up afterward to say hello. And if you're still mulling over whether to attend, you can learn more about our conference options here.

Lisa Schmeiser will be in the keynote panel "Women in Communications -- Building an Equitable Career Future for Everyone" on Monday, March 25 at 1:15 pm EST. See you there!

Enterprise Connect 2024 will be held at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, FL, from March 25-28. Preview the conference schedule or register to attend. To keep on top of all Enterprise Connect developments, subscribe to the weekly newsletter.