I recently attended my second Diversity Woman Business Leadership Conference, this year in Baltimore. Once again I welcomed the feeling of inclusion; we are all women coming together to support one another. If I were ever to feel set apart, I might expect this to be the place, where three quarters of the attendees were women of color, and where I was the only white woman on a panel of four. But that was not the case. I discovered again that when we share our stories we are more similar than different and we all want to make the world a better place.
This was the 11th year for the Diversity Woman Conference, although I just learned about it last year. My friend and co-author Kristin Andress, not only suggested I attend, but signed me up to speak on a panel. What an experience! I had never been among so many women (and men) working to help one another and it inspired me to reach out, sponsor this year’s conference and join a panel once again. This year’s panel, which included a millennial, baby boomers and women in charge of diversity in major organizations, answered probing questions aimed at getting all of us to work together to create more diverse executive leadership and cooperation in the workplace.
Millennials are the toughest women entering leadership today. If interviewed by a stereotypical white male businessman, they will walk out. They insist on working in companies that have management that looks like them and they have enough talent and persistence to persevere and follow their dreams. They are accustomed to obstacles of race and gender and have the determination to overcome them to reach their goals. The talent they bring to a company makes, not only a more collaborative place to work, but brings in new ideas, a fresh perspective and synergy that directly impacts the bottom line. Study after study supports this. If corporations want to make more money and succeed in today’s economy they must welcome diversity of all kinds within their management ranks. Companies and governments around the world are waking up to that fact. We can no longer limit the dynamic input from diverse genders, races and cultures and expect to succeed in any enterprise.
However, achieving this transformation will take all of us. No one person can change the world. We must realize that when we share our stories, we make connections. Women want to solve the problems of the world. We all want better places for our families to live, better communities, and a more secure future. We know when women serve on boards, in public office and in upper management, the conversation changes to include what will benefit people. Women nurture by nature and that makes us bring others together. Excluding others is actually against our feminine inclinations. When we authentically welcome the feminine leadership model, we become inclusive and understand fully how no one group can do it all. I’ll say it again: it will take ALL of us working together and welcoming everyone’s insight and effort to make the world a better place.
Kristin said it simply in my recent interview about her new book, “Why can’t we all just get along?” No reason at all that I can see. Yes, I know, there are all those issues of money and power and control, competing interests and different ideas about the best ways to accomplish goals we may share. But when I’m surrounded by all the energy, vitality, skills and creativity of diverse women and men, I’m inspired to do more. I feel optimistic that we can do it. We are so alike it’s just crazy not to be inclusive! We must help one another to nourish our own lives and the lives of others. It’s the only way we are going to create a world we can all live in and sustain for our sons and daughters, one in which all races and all cultures honor our diversity and the best of our humanity.
~ Dr. Nancy