Taking ownership in the current culture shift
Most companies strive to have an inclusive and exceptional culture. A strong, robust culture helps support a memorable brand, unique value proposition. A McKinsey report found diverse companies were 35 percent more likely to have financial results above the industry average.
The latter has always been a priority. But, the former — the inclusive culture — is what business leaders are realizing they need to drive innovation and revenue. Strides have been made, but gradual ones. The discourse following the #MeToo movement exploded. Companies that made hiring diverse teams mandatory supported this. The Mansfield Rule, and other ground-breaking initiatives, reinforced this prompting of actions to be taken. Leaders are talking about the issues, challenges, and results. Change is happening, but is it a revolution or a transformative shift? And, if not, how do we get there?
All of this is great, but we need to do more. Companies endeavor to create inclusivity, there are diversity and inclusion programs, committees, strategy sessions, retreats, perks. But ultimately, it is what we all bring to the table. We are all part of the process. And we all could do more.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives are great, but not enough. Everyone needs to tackle inclusion in a 360-degree way. We are in the midst of a culture shift, and more needs to be done to facilitate progress.
Take ownership. Being mindful is not enough, it’s acting on that mindfulness and communicating the intention. This year’s theme of the Diversity Leadership Forum is “Ownership” — taking ownership of what we can control. That word struck a chord as I was talking to my kids about my upcoming Women Leaders Forum retreat and how proud I am of the program and its focus on development and advancement of women in the legal industry. Struck, as I am talking to my gender-fluid child and realizing she may not identify with this program the way I do. At that moment, I realized I wanted to make a difference for my children and others.
Ownership starts with me. That said, I changed the name of the Women Leaders Forum to the Diversity in Leadership Forum to encompass all races, religions, and genders — all underrepresented individuals. It comes as no surprise the program has majority comprised of white women. But, this year the program is more diverse and it is the best year yet. Dynamic conversations, collaborative encouragement, smart advice and tips and an overall warm fellowship. Increasing diversity elevates business to the next level and it starts with each of us taking ownership of what we can control.
Take a leap of faith. Getting over your fears is a challenge. Once you do, there is a strength that is uncovered. And in that strength, there is a force. A friend recently committed to run the New York Marathon. She enjoys running, but she can only run consistently for about 37 minutes. So the next few months are going to be challenging, but she is committed. Push your boundaries. This applies to professional boundaries. Some of the best successes are from leaps of faith.
Learn, practice, prepare — and prepare some more. One main reason for the Diversity in Leadership Forum is to support and prepare people to become better managers and leaders. Cultivate your skills, learn new innovative strategies, and practical concepts that you can utilize in your firm. Do your homework, learn from your peers, leverage new insights, and hone new techniques. We are so fortunate at this point in time to see amazing women “break the wheel.” In sports, for example, Serena Williams and the Women’s US Soccer Team, there are women who face gender bias in multiple ways, but they’re always prepared. Their hard work and determination to refine their physical talents as well as their psychological skills ensures their success. And as we can all see, success is an amazing platform to change the face of equality.
It is time for everyone to take ownership, walk and talk with purpose, and act in a proactive and meaningful way.
When you prepare, take a leap of faith and own your future. And with that leap, leverage your success, and hopefully our culture shift becomes a revolution.
Written by: Kim Stuart
Kim Stuart is the founder and president of Key Group a strategic consulting firm that delivers marketing, business development and leadership services to law and professional services firms and executives. She co-founded the Diversity in Leadership Forum, a comprehensive professional development program that provides the insights, management principles and framework essential for effective law firm leaders. She can be reached at 415-215-6308 or firstname.lastname@example.org.