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NEW initiative champions multicultural women

Tuesday, July 29, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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The Network of Executive Women is sharpening its focus on inclusion and multicultural women’s leadership. Industry leaders were briefed on the NEW Inclusion Initiative, which addresses the challenges and opportunities unique to career-minded multicultural women, at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, July 29, at Terranea Resort outside Los Angeles.

The Network is creating a new Board position — NEW inclusion chair — and a supporting committee. The NEW inclusion chair will be elected and committee members named in October; the existing NEW membership chair position and committee will be retired, according to NEW Secretary Regenia Stein, principal of Ingenuity Consulting. Stein was joined by NEW President and CEO Joan Toth and Subriana Pierce of Navigator Sales and Marketing at the NEW Inclusion Initiative Meeting, held on the first day of the NEW Forum.

The NEW Inclusion Committee will define and lead the Network’s inclusion strategy and mission, create accountability for diversity and inclusion among the Network’s 20 regions, increase diverse representation among NEW staff and Board members, and develop and report success metrics, Stein said.

"NEW will achieve cultural diversity and inclusion by aligning our efforts with our sponsors’ business objectives, reflecting the communities we serve,” Pierce noted.
"This will be manifested through advocacy, learning opportunities and leadership for all women and men in the Network.”

Survey says

During the NEW Inclusion Initiative Meeting, NEW Forum Conference Designer Trudy Bourgeois of The Center for Workforce Excellence and Ancella Livers of the Center for Creative Leadership offered a preview of the findings of a NEW survey on multicultural women’s leadership. The findings will be included in "Tapestry: Leveraging the Rich Diversity of Women in Retail and Consumer Goods,” a NEW Best Practices report co-authored by Bourgeois and Livers to be published this fall.

While most women (75 percent) rate their workplace experiences as "positive” overall, their organizations are not supportive in a number of key areas, according to the nearly 2,000 NEW members and supporters who responded to the survey. Only half (49 percent) of the women surveyed said they have a sponsor or mentor and more than half (54 percent) say they have been bullied or harassed at work.

Multicultural women perceive more barriers to advancement and perceive those barriers differently than white women, according to the survey results. More than 55 percent of multicultural women said they "face greater bias than white women;” fewer than 30 percent of white women agreed with that statement.

Similarly, 2.5 times as many multicultural women than white women believe white women are more likely to advance in their industry, Bourgeois said.

Although most women surveyed reported they trusted their supervisors, white women were more likely than multicultural women to say so, Livers added. "Multicultural women are less likely to share important aspects of their personal life at work and less likely to feel free to be their authentic selves at work.”

Multicultural women don’t get the respect that they deserve, according to Pierce, one of senior industry executives interviewed for the report. "They have to prove themselves over and over again. The stereotypes that multicultural women face are real. Bias impacts the lives of multicultural women holistically. The stress level is higher for women of color or multicultural women.”

Asked why there weren’t more multicultural women leaders in the industry, most women cited "corporate culture and a lack of diverse leadership.” "A lack of multicultural women leaders” and a "lack of mentors and sponsors” were the second- and third-most cited reasons.

The NEW survey results clearly demonstrate an opportunity for multicultural and white women to learn more about each other, Bourgeois said, so that "they can most effectively improve the workplace and career experiences for all.”

The first day of the NEW Forum, July 29-31, also included "Transformation Boot Camp: Unleashing Your Personal Power,” led by certified coach Jan Hill of Hill Enterprises Inc. Attendees learned how to remove the barriers that hold them back, understand the mechanics of behavior change, escape the "busy” trap and use their imagination to unlock new powers.

The day ended with an evening of networking at the Welcome Reception and Dinner.

NEW VP Kathy Bayert joins NEW Inclusion Initiative Meeting panelists Ancella Livers,
Trudy Bourgeois, 
NEW President and CEO Joan Toth, Subriana Pierce and NEW
Secretary Regenia Stein.

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