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Breakouts explore hot topics at NEW Forum

Thursday, August 2, 2012  
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A dozen experts and industry leaders tackled three topics related to building a legacy -- championing other women, growing influence, and creating corporate and community sustainability -- during concurrent educational sessions at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, Aug. 1, 2012 at Terranea Resort.

Society’s perceptions of female ambition are hindering women’s ability to support each other’s career goals, according to Robin Ely, senior associate dean for culture and community at Harvard Business School, who facilitated "Diversity: Becoming a Powerful Champion for Other Women.”

One damaging belief is that women are pettier than men, Ely said. In reality, when women engage in petty behavior, it engenders more attention and criticism than when men are petty. "When men are petty, it’s naturally assumed to stem from a rational desire for more wealth and to win,” she said.

At the same time, the warm qualities expected of a woman compared to the ambitious qualities expected of a leader, is a distraction. "Leadership is about enabling others to bring their best selves to bear on a meaningful goal,” Ely said.

Not all women face the same opportunities and challenges when growing their careers -- a reality that needs to be addressed openly, Ely noted.

What’s more, not every woman is looking for the same type of employer or career path. Younger professionals can be viewed as the most entitled, or most ambitious, of generations, noted panelist Jenna Dudevoir, director of marketing for Kalypso. The millennial generation has approached life by wanting to create their own path, with the majority not willing to sacrifice their personal or family values to get ahead in career. They also want to work for organizations that accommodate these values.

Panelists also shared their personal views on championing other women. Lisbeth McNabb, CEO and founder of w2wlink, has hired many men and women during her career. She said giving feedback to someone who doesn’t look like you can be difficult. "It’s important to gain that element of trust, to surmount ideas of reverse discrimination.”

What’s more, the rights of black women are often treated as a "side salad” to gender inclusion, according to Sandra Finley, president of League of Black Women. "If we can strategize together, as sisters, both cultures can rise through the ranks.”

McNabb noted that inclusion improves decision making. "When we have more of our population at the table, we make better decisions,” said McNabb.

Expanding influence

Still, to grow the numbers of women in leadership roles, women must strengthen their sphere of influence. Unfortunately, women sometimes limit their own influence by suppressing character strengths in service to notions about executive behavior, noted Angela Joyner, vice president, general manager, refrigerator portfolio for ConAgra Foods, who faciliated the "Expand Your Influence, Create Your Legacy” session. When women use their strengths -- such as expressing gratitude in the workplace -- professional results increase.

Panelists Roz Hudnell, chief diversity officer, global director of education and external affairs for Intel Corporation, and Donna Giordano, president of The Kroger Company’s Ralphs Division, related how their careers have grown as they learned to leverage their personal strengths. Hudnell credits her success to being analytical, strategic and "a ruler.”

During her four decades at Kroger, Giordano has made mistakes and has had successes, she said. In 1972, when she began working in the retail segment and set her sights on becoming a store manager, she recognized that she was in charge of her own destiny and got an education.

Still, Giordano and Hudnell said, they have strengths they could use more often. Giordano said she needs to forgive herself for times he feels she isn’t doing enough, to let go of the guilt that often plagues women professionals. Hudnell said she should serve herself more often with the strengths she uses in service of others. "I was never as strategic with myself as I have been with work.”

During the third concurrent session, "Sustainability: Building a Lasting Legacy at Your Organization,” facilitator Kellie McElhaney, professor and faculty director of the Center for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley, and panelists Christy Consler, vice president of sustainability for Safeway, and Bruce Karas, vice president of environment and sustainability for Coca-Cola Refreshments, shared their views on creating a lasting impact on an organization. They encouraged attendees to create a lasting legacy by being a responsible steward for their companies and communities.

Jenna Dudevoir of Kalypso, Lisbeth McNabb of w2wlink and Sandra Finley of
League of Black Women share their thoughts on championing women in the workplace.


Donna Giordano of The Kroger Co., Roz Hudnell of Intel Corp. and Angela Joyner of 
ConAgra Foods join Forum designer Trudy Bourgeois before the "Expand Your
Influence, Create Your Legacy" educational session.


Bruce Karas of Coca-Cola Refreshments and Christy Consler of Safeway Inc. offered
their insights at the "Sustainability: Building a Lasting Legacy at Your Organization" session. The discussion was facilitated by Kellie McElhaney, a professor at UC Berkeley.

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