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General Mills' Ken Charles: Women are 'locked out'

Monday, October 5, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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NEW Inclusion Chair Ken Charles updates members on the Network's 10-20-30 initiative. 

Women and men start their careers on equal footing, but women are "locked out of progress," NEW Inclusion Chair Ken Charles told more than 1,200 industry leaders at the NEW Leadership Summit, Oct. 1 in Dallas.

Charles, vice president for global inclusion and staffing at General Mills, shared the Network’s efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive NEW with the 10-20-30 plan. The initiative calls for NEW membership to be at least 10 percent male, 20 percent early career professionals and 30 percent multicultural.

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Charles urged NEW Summit attendees to support and model the Network's diversity and inclusion efforts. "Industry leaders have an opportunity to consider how we show up in our workplaces and how we can benefit everyone," he said.

General Mills is committed to achieving a 50-50 male/female representation at every level of the organization and equal pay for equal work. "Until we get to that, we know there is work to be done," he said.

Acknowledging that not everyone wants to be a CEO, Charles said General Mills, like NEW, "wants to recognize choice and allow everyone to achieve their very best and go [as far as] they want to go."

Charles asked NEW members to embrace diversity in their personal and professional lives. The next generation, he said, are role models. His children already accept others as they are. "Inclusion is how they act and move through the world," Charles said. "Think of our own families and children, the kid next door, nieces and nephews. What are we doing to help them understand this is an inclusive world?"

At work, invest in your team and create a safe space where everyone can do their best, he urged industry leaders. "When you invest, value and give people stretch assignments, they will do tremendous things."

Invest in your community, too, Charles advised. "Think about your portfolio [of giving]. If you think about the change you personally want to make in your community, where are you placing your bets? Let the change begin within each and every one of us."

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