In the Spring of 2013 Moxie Exchange Movement convened its inaugural Summit on “Women, Leadership and Corporate America” in response to a need expressed by corporate leadership, diversity and talent development experts to connect with like-minded influencers committed to women’s leadership development. Participants in this groundbreaking meeting were a select group of female executives from well-known corporations who make up the Moxie Board of Advisors.

We are pleased to share a report on the findings discovered during the Summit, and we believe the ideas and insights contained within have the potential to change the status of women in business and achieve gender parity in corporate leadership. The Moxie report contains four key findings and action steps that will provide a roadmap for women and corporations committed to increasing the number of women in high-ranking leadership positions.

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The Four Findings

#1 Make Filling the Shoes Coveted The cultural norms and the daily experience of current leaders that women observe on a daily basis are key drivers in their decision to step into a leadership role, stay in place or leave altogether. She is watching what the leader’s daily experience is like and opting in or out based on what she sees.

#2 The Secret Sauce: The Role of the Respected Translator The respected translator is a woman in a leadership position who has the absolute respect of people at all levels in the organization and has deep credibility based on her experience and the understanding. She is also committed to the long-term health and financial stability of the organization. She is consistently translating the impact actions and decisions will have on the organization’s ability to successfully promote qualified women and on individual’s abilities to be prepared and positioned for promotions

#3 Don’t Let Her Pull the Plug: Offer Life Support Those companies that are proactive, and discuss both the emotional and practical implications of life events, and offer empathy and support solutions stand a much better chance of retaining their female talent. The best life-support solutions employed by Summit participant companies take into account the realities of balancing multiple priorities and ensure that women are not forced to make the choice; climb the leadership ladder or leave.

#4 Promise Little, Perform Much Efforts to get to gender-equity in leadership often start out as a business imperative, become a business strategy, and end up as a marketing strategy. Under-promising and over-delivering on commitments to investing in women’s leadership development strategies led to strong engagement of high-potential women.

Make Filling the Shoes Coveted

Seek feedback from a group of high potential women about the perception of what being a leader at your organization is like – the good, the bad and the ugly. Do something with what you learn.

As a leadership team, discuss the impression of leadership roles you are setting by your day-to-day activities (email, hours, flexibility of schedule etc.) Agree on norms and how you will communicate those norms in action and words.

The Secret Sauce: The Role of the Respected Translator

Identify women that are already serving as respected translators in your company. Discuss the purpose and the importance of the role with them. Thank them for playing a key function in women’s ability to successfully move into leadership roles at your company.

Add to the ranks. Gather a small group of women who fit the criteria of a respected translator and discuss the role and the importance it plays. Appoint several key, interested women to the role.

Connect new and existing respected translators to one another so they can discuss roadblocks, share ideas and solutions across the organization, and support one another in the role.

Don’t Let Her Pull the Plug: Offer Life Support

Be proactive. Have key life-event conversations with up-and-coming women, including “How I Did It” formal or informal lunches with senior women.

Map the typical leadership path in your organization, including travel and time commitments and timeframe for average advancement. Overlay the typical times at which major life events occur (marriage, children, care of aging parents) and note the intersection of those events and the leadership path. Use whatever methodology your company employs for business case problem solving, and design solutions that mitigate the risk of highly talented women exiting during the life-event intersection points.

Involve her family, especially spouses/partners in the conversation about her leadership path. Change the dynamic from ‘work vs. home’ with the woman caught in the middle to ‘we’re all in this together’ to help her succeed.

Promise Little, Perform Much

Make it real. There is consistent data about financial performance and gender diversity in leadership. Take that data and your company’s financial performance data and create a financial model showing financial performance with and without leadership gender parity. Add in the statistics about the impending labor shortage and war for talent to make the solid business case for gender parity being a business imperative.

 Make individuals and the organization accountable for results. Tie a name to a goal, a number and a deadline. What gets measured gets done.

More Information Available

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