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It’s Time Network is a California-based organization devoted to “engaging organizations and individuals in collective action to accelerate full equity for women and girls.” This is aligned with my passion: helping create workplaces where men and women are equally valued – so both men and women can reach their potential and so the organization can get the demonstrated value of gender diversity. ITN is launching a Network City Program to engage communities to act to advance the rights of women and girls in new areas. The first city on the list is my own home, Denver! This week, they will sponsor the Denver Gender Equity Summit. I’ll be there and am on the host committee.

ITN limited participation in the Denver Summit to assure interactive discussion and have had to turn people away. If you aren’t already aware, I want you to know about this organization and this event. I hope to share more after the Summit. The agenda is rich! We will explore three areas that drive gender equity in the workplace: Career Advancement, Family-Friendly Policies, and Organizational Culture. From the pre-reading material, I anticipate substantive discussions and actions.

The Career Advancement category will cover:

  • Data showing men receive more “hot” assignments, have projects with higher budgets and get more senior-level visibility than women;
  • The importance of equal opportunities for training, mentoring and networking, and research showing that women don’t get the same payoff as men for self-advocacy, lobbying, and negotiation;
  • The value of organizations being transparent about compensation and promotions; and
  • The importance of holding leaders accountable for performance against diversity metrics.

The work on Family-Friendly Policies will include:

  • The correlation between family-friendly policies and women’s’ “ability to engage actively and productively in the workplace”;
  • The importance of flexibility, predictable income, and paid leave;
  • Supportive services for women;
  • The financial impact of family-friendly policies, including the positive impact on attraction and retention of talent.

The segment on Culture of Inclusion draws my attention most (it is one of my key areas of focus). While a culture can exclude or block women through overt discrimination and sexual harassment, the main culprit is unconscious bias. Unconscious bias explains some of the phenomena described regarding Career Advancement and Family-Friendly Policies. Unconscious gender bias can lead to actions that undermine women’s sense of being valued and included. The result is often disengagement, causing women to stall out or leave an organization. At the Summit, we’ll talk about the value of inclusiveness and how organizations can create cultures of inclusion.

Watch this space for more l information on gender equity. I hope to come away with more ideas for ways to achieve it in our workplaces!