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Meeting in a Box: Women’s History Month

February 12, 2016 2:30 pm
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This Meeting in a Box tool is designed for distribution to all employees. You may use portions of it or all of it. Each section is available as a separate PDF; you can forward the entire document or link to it on DiversityInc Best Practices; or you can print it out for employees who do not have Internet access.

For Women’s History Month, we are supplying a historic Timeline of women’s achievements, Facts & Figures demonstrating women’s advancement (and opportunities) in education and business, and our cultural-competence series “Things NOT to Say,” focusing on women at work. This information should be distributed to your entire workforce and also should be used by your women’s resource group both internally and externally as a year-round educational tool.

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

1. HISTORIC TIMELINE

We recommend you start your employees’ cultural-competence lesson on the increasing value of having women in leadership positions by using this historic Timeline. It’s important to note how women’s roles have evolved, how flexible work arrangements allow more women to combine family and professional responsibilities, and how many glass ceilings still have not been shattered. The Timeline shown here illustrates significant dates in women’s history and major historic figures.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What have been the most significant changes in women’s roles in the past 50 years? in the past 10 years?

Ask the employees why they think there has been so much rapid change and, most importantly, if it’s enough. Have women talk about their own experiences and men talk about the experiences of their wives, daughters, sisters and friends.

Why are “firsts” important to note? What other barrier breakers have you witnessed in your lifetime?

This is a personal discussion designed to help the employees note other barrier breakers historically. Cite Elizabeth Blackwell, Muriel Siebert and female CEOs. There are 22 woman CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, including Virginia M. Rometty of IBM (No. 22 in the DiversityInc Top 50). Other Top 50 female CEOs are Christi Shaw of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (No. 1), Cathy Engelbert of Deloitte (No. 12). and Beth Mooney of KeyCorp (No. 49).

DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies include three Fortune 500 woman CEOs: Mary T. Barra of General Motors, Marillyn A. Hewson of Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Ursula Burns of Xerox Corporation.

Debra L. Reed is CEO of Sempra Energy, one of DiversityInc’s Top 5 Utilities.

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2. FACTS & FIGURES

After discussion of the Timeline, the next step is to review available data and understand areas in which women have made significant progress in the United States but major opportunities remain. The data we have chosen to present here represent information of relevance to corporate America, such as education (available labor pool), business ownership, and progress in gaining executive and management positions. Where applicable, national data are compared with DiversityInc Top 50 data to show what progress the leading D&I companies are making.

Discussion Questions for Employees

Why has it been so difficult to get girls and women into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) positions, and what should schools and companies do to change that?

To learn how some companies are convincing students to pursue a STEM career, go to http://bestpractices.diversityinc.com/war-for-talent/millennials-war-for-talent/why-stem-majors-opt-out-of-stem-careers/.

What are the best ways to convince girls at an early age of the benefits of math and science?

To see how some tech companies are working on getting girls early, go to http://bestpractices.diversityinc.com/talent-development-mentoring/women-in-tech-management-pipeline/.

How do you get more women in your company interested in operational roles versus traditional support/staff roles?

Why do you think women only represent 4.4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs?

To understand how important corporate culture is in defining a woman’s success, go to http://bestpractices.diversityinc.com/diversity-management/best-places-for-executive-women-to-work-diversityinc-top-50-companies/.

Who do you see as the leading female role models in your company?

Have a higher-level discussion on what it takes to become a senior executive at your company, the role of resource groups and mentoring in supporting this, and what employees see as valuable ways to increase the pipeline. To understand ways to support working mothers, go to http://bestpractices.diversityinc.com/working-moms-spouse.

Do women get the same support as men in your company?

Have an honest discussion on whether or not women in your company feel as comfortable as men when it comes to asking for help. For more information, go to http://bestpractices.diversityinc.com/talent-development-mentoring/career-advice-to-women-ask-for-what-you-need/.

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3. THINGS NOT TO SAY TO WOMEN AT WORK

Our popular “Things NOT to Say” series includes interviews with women leaders about offensive phrases they’ve heard in the workplace and how to best respond to them to further cultural-competence education.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What other phrases have you heard addressed to women and others from underrepresented groups?

Discuss how these phrases and stereotypes impact office morale and productivity. For more information on this topic, go to http://www.diversityinc.com/atwg-oxford-dictionary/ and http://www.diversityinc.com/ask-the-white-guy/ask-white-guy-karma-career-strategy/.

What role do you think the company should play when offensive comments occur?

Have the employees talk about under what circumstances they would report offensive comments and what they believe the company should do. Get advice from DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti at http://www.diversityinc.com/atwg-offensive-language.

After today’s lesson, what would you do if you overheard a colleague make one of these comments?

Continue the discussion with each employee having a plan of action on how to address offensive language.

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[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

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