Last week, RDBA featured part one of an exclusive interview with Joan Toth, President and CEO of the Network of Executive Women to chat about the future of business. Read on for part two of an empowering conversation that all retail RDs need to know about and be a part of.
What do you think the main issue is that’s holding women back in the workplace?
There is no one "fix” but it starts with the way society looks at leadership — and the way we look at women. Women leaders are caught in a double-bind: If they are aggressive, they are seen as “bossy.” If they are not aggressive, they are seen as “too nice.” Recognizing unconscious bias is a critical first step in creating workplaces where women’s leadership is as valued as men’s.
That includes eliminating bias against mothers. Instituting family-friendly benefits and work arrangements is a win for everyone. It will help retain parents of both genders, attract Millennials, widen the talent pool, boost family income and create economic growth for all.
We also need to change how our companies — the organizations themselves — work. To advance women, we must broaden the experience and exposure of high-potential women, encourage sponsorship and stretch assignments, and create more flexible career paths. Women often work in specialties that are less likely to lead to senior leadership. They may be less able to relocate. Women lack role models, sponsors and access to senior leadership.
Let me add this: We need to recognize the role of multicultural woman and their unique career challenges and how their experiences, perspectives and insights are being ignored or undervalued or both, even more so than white women.
Lastly, change within our companies won't happen without engaging our senior leadership and men, especially, in our diversity and inclusion efforts. In many cases, D&I programs treat men — especially white men — as problems to be fixed instead of partners to be engaged. We need to enroll men as mentors, sponsors and supporters of women.
What are some of the programs and resources for women in the workplace within NEW?
The Network offers a power suite of learning programs, two national conferences and hundreds of regional learning and networking events, best practices reports, research and leadership development programs – all designed develop individuals, teams and organizations.
We recently introduced a groundbreaking leadership model that outlines the career competencies women need to succeed in our industry – and identifies potential career derailers. We call it the NEW Career Accelerator. It was developed in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership and provides a foundation for new career advancement tools and workshops developed exclusively for the retail, consumer goods and services industry.
Among them are: The NEW Executive Institute, our exclusive, year-long leadership experience for women executives, and custom-designed Career Accelerator Workshops that help companies accelerate the careers of women in their organizations.
We also offer three webinar series that are free to members or $99 each for nonmembers. The NEW Leadership Academy offers career-building skills and serves as a great training tool for emerging leaders. The Innovation You webinar series features selected speakers from our NEW Leadership Summit. And the new Multigenerational Leadership Course is designed to help leaders -- or aspiring leaders -- manage today's multigenerational workforce.
We also offer a number of best practices reports and white papers, including "Accelerators," which outlines critical career competencies for women leaders in the retail, consumer goods and services industry; "Tapestry," which focuses on the unique strengths and career challenges of multicultural women; and "Women 2020," comprehensive guide to benefits and barriers to women’s leadership in our industry.
Plus, our 20 regions across the U.S. and Canada are run through the dedication and hard work of more than 900 volunteer members, who are building their own leadership skills and creating lasting relationships as they advance women's leadership in their own organizations.
Joan Toth is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, the largest diversity organization serving the consumer products and retail industry. Toth, who was named executive director shortly after the association’s establishment in 2001, was appointed president and CEO in 2011. She is responsible for executing the Network’s mission of attracting, retaining and advancing women in this multitrillion-dollar business sector.
Click here to read part one of the interview.