Empower Women in Leadership: Supporting Flexibility and Inclusion at work Highlights

On 7th July, we hosted the third webinar in our ‘Empower Women in Leadership’ series to discuss the future of flexibility and inclusion.

The aim of these events are to shape, influence and inform companies within the Salesforce eco-system about how they can implement new ways to attract, support and retain women in the workplace to help increase the number of women in tech, support gender equality and women returners.

With a massive and unexpected shift in working patterns for most, leaders and managers have had to quickly grapple with best practices around flexible working and how to make a virtual team feel included and supported when they are juggling many different hats and schedules.

The webinar ‘Supporting Flexibility and Inclusion at Work‘ hosted by Heather Black, Founder and CEO of Supermums with guest speakers Liese Lord, Dr Stefanie K Johnson, Adam Healey and Anna Healey, focused on the future of flexible working for Salesforce customers and its partners. What has the impact been and what will be the ‘new normal’ be?

Liese Lord, Founder of The Lightbulb Tree

Liese brings considerable strategic & practical experience in creating flexible working cultures within organisations, helping leaders and people work as remote teams successfully. Her work is underpinned by foundation stones of wellbeing, engagement, performance, diversity & inclusion.

Previously Liese had a senior HR career across a variety of industries. Her last corporate role was Global HR Director at Pitney Bowes where she led the global flexible working programme, European/Asia Pac diversity & inclusion, European wellbeing and engagement projects.

Liese has 15 years accredited coaching experience, is also a MCIPD qualified HR professional (CIPD level 7), trained trainer and is an accredited practitioner in Insights Discovery and Liberating Leadership.

Dr. Stefanie K. Johnson is an associate professor of management at University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business.

Stefanie is a specialist in inclusive work practices and recent author of the Harper Collins book, Inclusify: Harnessing the power of uniqueness and belonging to build innovative teams.

She holds the Andrea and Michael Leeds Research Fellowship and is a fellow in both SIOP and APS. She has published 60 journal articles and book chapters in outlets Journal of Applied Psychology and The Academy of Management Journal and has received $3,800,000 in external grant funding. Dr. Johnson is member of the MG 100 Coaches, was selected for the 2020 Thinkers50 Radar List. She has presented her work at over 170 meetings around the world including at the White House for a 2016 summit on diversity in corporate America. Media outlets featuring Stefanie’s work include: The Economist, Newsweek, Time, and Wall Street Journal.

Adam Healey, Partner, PwC

Adam who is a Partner at PwC and manages Lead UK Sales Practise. Adam has been with them for over 10 years and fortunate to works across all Salesforce clouds and sectors for everything from SMB to large enterprise.

Anna Healey, Senior Manager, PwC

Anna is a Senior Manager in their Risk Assurance department and has been with the company for over 15 years. Since having her children who are now 7 and 9, she always been able to work flexibly around family life. She, like many others, is part of the sandwich generation with young children and aging parents so having this flexibility has really made a difference.

13% of UK working parents want to go back to the old normal. 45% want to continue being able to work remotely.

How do we transition out of lockdown?

Pre COVID-19, 87% of companies had a flexible working policy or agreement when in reality only 50% actually acted upon it. Come March and when lockdown happened, companies big and small were forced to close, albeit temporarily, and send their workforce to work from home. Those that had claimed it couldn’t be done had to find a way or they wouldn’t survive. With nurseries and schools closed apart from supporting children of key workers, parents had to learn how to juggle work, kids, homeschooling and life all at the same time. For many, it was and still is overwhelming and a daily challenge.

One thing that we have all realised is that one size doesn’t fit all. While remote working might work for some, others may feel happier and more productive in an office environment, especially those who are single, live as part of a flat share or live alone….I think even parents wished for the commute and days spent in the office to begin with.

I do think that lockdown has brought us all together. No longer do we worry about the kids running in to meetings or if our hair is done. Allowing all into one another homes has given us more empathy and gratitude towards each other. Long may it continue!

What’s important to take away from this?

The old ways of micro managing and old school behaviour and culture has had to learn to change, to adapt. With companies now reviewing their real estate costs vs investing in their staff and training, will we ever all go back to working from an office? Supermums are proud to be a fully remote team across continents and time zones. How do we make it work? It’s all about balance and trust. Trust that your team are working and capable to get the job done. Appreciate that with balance comes flexibility. If someone needs an hour off to do an errand or additional childcare, trust that they will make it up later that day or week. The power of communication is key. Daily team calls, weekly coffee hour or catch ups, and keeping everyone is the loop, understanding each others workloads and helping to all reach the ultimate goal together is what makes the team stronger and more productive.

75% of women in USA work full time, whether they have children or not!

Dr Stefanie shared how she was affected by the ‘motherhood salary penalty’ Despite working harder and more efficiently, she, as many others like her, were not earning the same as their male counterparts. As we have touched on in this series, for so long we have worked hard to make women’s roles equal with in terms of level, availability and salary but it seems that sometimes being a mother sets you back even further, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

The skills that you learn as a parent can easily be transferable into the workplace so just because you have a skills gap, doesn’t mean that you aren’t qualified or suitable for the job!

Adam & Anna, husband and wife who both work in senior roles at PwC shared how they were surprised at the resilience of their children. Whilst the initial worry of children missing out on school, friends and education was very much felt by all parents throughout the world, the children have learnt new skills, used their imagination more, learnt to manage their time, build trust and resilience. These are all important life skills that no amount of school can teach.

Adam shared how the pros of working remotely can outweigh the cons. For him and his clients, the benefits of being remote can reduce fees incurred from travel by as much as 10%. These are savings passed onto the cline who ultimately gets more for their money which can only be a good thing.

We asked the delegates if their company offers flexible working?

Yes – 100%

We also asked if their company is more flexible towards parents?

Yes – 91%

No 9%

With results like these, we hope that the effects of COVID-19 and learning the new way to work will long continue once we return to our new normal. The location of our jobs doesn’t matter, its the community, the culture and the business behaviour that make us want to show up for work each day and do our best.

Play Catch Up

If you missed the previous Empower Women Leadership Lunches check out the highlights and webinar re-plays here.

In May we talked about how to give power to women in the workplace and how leaders can empower them to raise their profile.

In March we set the agenda we looked at strategies and ways to support women in the workplace, with a deepdive into establishing a Women’s Network.

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