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Special International Women's Day Q&A With Ellyn Shook of Accenture

Special International Women's Day Q&A With Ellyn Shook of Accenture

As we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day here at Ellevate, we’re highlighting women in business who have made a difference and are paving the road for female leaders of the future.

On a special #EllevateYourself Twitter Chat this week, we were thrilled to have one of our own female role models Ellyn Shook, chief leader and human resources officer for leading global professional services company Accenture. Ellyn answered questions about what Accenture is doing to celebrate International Women’s Day, diversity in the workplace, Digital Fluency, her #FemaleRoleModel, and more.

We learned a lot about the way Accenture is leading the way in diversity, work-life balance and the new way of work, and we’re pleased to have had the opportunity to chat with Ellyn.

On International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month:

What are you and Accenture doing to acknowledge this day?

We are celebrating being #GreaterThan with more than 235 #IWD2016 events across 49 countries, and tomorrow I'mhosting a segment on #PayEquality.

Tell us about #GreaterThan – what does it mean exactly?

#GreaterThan is our #IWD2016 theme - Stretching boundaries to empower a new generation of women leaders.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Ellevate Network is asking people to use #FemaleRoleModel and tell us who their female role model is. Who’s yours?

I have two. Arianna Huffington and Marge Magner. She says: you don't respect some people; you respect all people.

On Digital Fluency, Inclusion, and Diversity in the Workplace:

Today Accenture released interesting research about the impact of “Digital Fluency” across the career lifecycle. What is Digital Fluency? What did this research find?

Digital fluency is how people use digital to become more knowledgeable, connected, and effective. We found that digital is closing the gender gap and leveling the playing field in the workplace.

Have you heard about the movement #PledgeForParity? What does it mean to you?

I agree it is time for gender pay equality. $.76 doesn't equal $1.00. Our commitment to gender equality extends to pay.

How can men get more involved?

Just raise your hand. This is not an issue women can solve on their own.

How are companies like Accenture leading the way in diversity and parental leave in the US?

Transparency creates trust, so we reported the diversity stats of our US workforce.This is the first time we released these stats - we are committed to reporting annually on our progress. Another key is creating an environment where our people can be successful at work AND at home. For example: we expanded our paid maternity leave in many countries around the world. These expanded benefits include new fathers too. It isn't all on the shoulders of women!

Why did Accenture get rid of performance appraisals? How will employees thrive in an environment without performance appraisals?

It wasn't helping our people achieve higher levels of performance, and it took A LOT of time. Feedback is real time and on demand. Not once a year!

What is your most important diversity goal at Accenture right now?

We want to be the most inclusive and diverse company on the planet. One specific goal is growing the percentage of women we hire to at least 40% worldwide by 2017.

What do you find is most important to working professionals today? Are priorities changing?

There’s a priority on working in an environment where people can succeed personally and professionally.

How can women better enable each other instead of compete? What needs to change in your opinion?

We need to create an environment where we can all achieve our aspirations.

Advice For the Rising Business Woman:

What advice would you give to young women who want to improve their presenting skills?

Practice in front of the mirror! I do!

What is one piece of advice to all women who are juggling between home and work?

Set your principles and stick to them. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

How can we ask for a raise? How can we show our worth?

It starts with knowing your worth. Seek information, and bring examples of your contributions.

What advice would you give women struggling in a male dominated industry?

Look for mentors and invest in relationships, be authentic but see things through another lens.

On the Importance of Mentorship:

What advice would you give women struggling in a male dominated industry?

Look for mentors and invest in relationships; be authentic but see things through another lens.

How can women develop a long-term career plan? Who do we talk to? Get advice from?

It's important to be open to new challenges you never had on your plan. Use your mentors, but also be clear about YOUR aspirations. Roxanne Taylor says "dream it, do it."

How can young women find mentors? How do we ask for mentoring?

Seek a wide range of mentors, including men!

On Her Own Career Path:

What do you think helped you get so far in your career? How can we mentor young girls to dream bigger?

I had great support from my husband and terrific sponsors Accenture who helped me believe. Jump into to mentoring; it's about helping girls see the possibilities.

Do you feel that you have achieved what you wanted to?

I have achieved more than I dreamt of. But I have new dreams!

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Dream big, be courageous, and ask for help.


Continue learning with this Ellevate Playbook:

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