International Women’s Day 2023: Living Equality (Women in Leadership Blog)
What does equal opportunity in the workplace mean to you?
How can companies create more inclusive workplaces?
Bulan: Companies can become more inclusive by cultivating a company-wide culture of teamwork. For example, at Cornerstone Research I have worked on project teams composed of consultants of all levels of experience and seniority. Some of these project teams were predominantly staffed and led by women. Companies should strive for such equity as a matter of course in their entrepreneurial activities.
Cao: Companies can build inclusive, supportive cultures by setting the right “tone at the top”. This means being open to employee feedback and creating a space where everyone feels comfortable and valued, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or background.
Embrace and celebrate diversity. Get to know the whole person, not just the employee. Be open to ideas on how diverse employees can be authentic at work.
Hass: First, organizations should seek to provide safe environments where employees can openly discuss and share their resources, privileges, and challenges. Open exchange will allow for a better understanding of the areas where justice needs to be built. Then the promotion of equity can take many forms. For example, companies can commit to equal pay, focus on representation and advancement at different levels of the organization, and invest in workforce training.
Leary: Often small actions can have a significant impact on making others feel included. Anyone can practice these behaviors on a daily basis, and leaders can exemplify them too. Some examples: Make sure you ask for the thoughts of a colleague who dialed into a meeting. Notice and draw attention to a colleague who is trying to speak up but is being overshadowed. Avoid scheduling meetings on religious holidays. The list of such small actions is long. Most require no great effort, but rather a consistent awareness of the experiences of those around us.
McCabe: Embrace and celebrate diversity. Get to know the whole person, not just the employee. Be open to ideas on how diverse employees can be authentic at work.
Jaworski: Companies can commit to developing such a workplace and publicly announce their plans to implement it. By making their intentions public, companies enable their employees to participate in creating an inclusive culture and hold everyone accountable for results. For example, I have seen how Cornerstone Research has created an inclusive workplace by demonstrating its commitment to mentoring – women leaders have mentored and advised me at every stage of my career. In turn, I have made it a priority to drive this forward through mentoring less experienced colleagues.
How is CR shifting the needle towards more justice for women?
Bulan: Two of Cornerstone Research’s three co-founders are women. When the company was founded more than 30 years ago, female founders were unusual in a traditionally male-dominated field such as consulting. However, the firm maintains a large number of female officers, directors and office and practice managers. As the company has grown over the years, this focus on women leaders and equity for all has remained a guiding principle.
As Cornstone Research has grown, its focus on women leaders and equity for all has remained a guiding principle.
Cao: As a woman, I am inspired by Cornstone Research’s support and empowerment of women. Two of the three co-founders, the current president and almost 40% of the company’s current executives are women. The company strives to develop all of its employees and is justifiably proud of its long history of women in leadership positions.
As a first-generation immigrant who came to the United States from China at the age of 21, I am grateful for Cornerstone Research’s inclusive culture. The company’s support for its employees impressed me when I joined them; more than sixteen years later it is still doing well. I have been fortunate to have been mentored by many remarkable colleagues, both women and men, over the years. They have helped guide me through professional and personal challenges and given me the strength to embark on my path to professional success.
Hass: Cornerstone Research offers – and continues to expand – a range of benefits available to everyone at all levels of the organization. This includes fair remuneration, mentoring and training, and flexible working arrangements. The company also offers over-the-top assistance tailored to support working parents, including reduced-hour schedules, childcare assistance, milk stork benefits, and wellness rooms.
Leary: Cornerstone Research established itself early on as an organization where women could thrive. Women hold many leadership positions, including president, office and operational directors, and members of the firm’s governance committees. Our hybrid work schedule and the availability of short-time work schemes – both widely used by women and men alike – help to maintain equal opportunities for those with caring responsibilities, which still disproportionately fall on women.
I have been fortunate to have been mentored by many remarkable colleagues, both women and men, over the years. They enabled me to embark on my path to professional success.
McCabe: Women have held significant leadership positions at Cornerstone Research throughout its history and have helped attract and retain women. Additionally, our women’s affinity group, C-Her+, helps facilitate mentoring and development for our female and female-identified employees.
Jaworski: Cornerstone Research supports women at all levels of the organization by giving them the flexibility to balance professional and personal responsibilities. This support is invaluable, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with career breaks after the birth of children and returning to work part-time, I consistently felt supported in following my path to professional success. I have managed challenging, interesting projects; contributed to the company’s consumer fraud and product liability practices; and accepted these opportunities while remaining engaged in my family life.
The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of Cornerstone Research.