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#MobilizeWomen Summit Recap: Disrupting Diversity By Working Together To Close The Gap

#MobilizeWomen Summit Recap: Disrupting Diversity By Working Together To Close The Gap

#MobilizeWomen is a movement propelled by change makers in business to commit to taking action against gender inequality. Ellevate Network hosted incredible speakers in NYC on June 21st, 2017. This is a recap of part of the event, with the most relevant concepts you can use to take action in your everyday life. Download the Mobilize Women Action Guide here.

The business case for diversity is nothing new: we’ve heard that companies with diverse teams outperform their peers, have better ROIs, are more creative, etc. We’re tired of talking about why it matters — it’s time to start doing!

The diversity council and other good intentions have not gone a long way, so in this discussion, we take a fresh look at a problem that has been around for years. Our panel of change makers, leaders, and disruptors that are making an impact around the world and have data to prove it included:

  • Stephanie Lampkin, Founder and CEO, Blendoor
  • Michelle King, Head of Integrated Strategy and Partnerships For Innovation, UN Women
  • Candice Morgan, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Pinterest
  • Caren Ulrich Stacy, Founder, Diversity Lab

Tools And Techniques To Reduce Unconscious Bias

Pinterest and many other tech firms are using the Rooney Rule as an effort to increase the number of women and minorities represented in the organization. The Rooney Rule is quite simple where at least one woman and one underrepresented minority must be considered in the slate of candidates for every open position. Candice said, “One is not enough, because moral licensing takes place, we check a box and boom, we’re done.” In addition to the Rooney Rule, which worked for their Head of Engineering, Pinterest made their D&I goals public.

Stephanie Lampkin has a birds eye view of working with companies in this space and her technology, Blendoor, is software that mitigates unconscious bias. She said, “a lot of companies talk about the pipeline problem contributing to why their workforce is homogeneous. But this is only part of the story. There are systematic things in how we evaluate talent and the ‘like me’ and ‘status quo’ bias that often goes into why people don’t make it to the second and final rounds of interviews. We shine a light on the fit of candidate, but don’t shine a light on the managers and their behaviors. So we use data to drive transparency and accountability around what is actually going on when this person ‘isn’t a culture fit’.”

Focus On The Fundamentals

There are simple changes that don’t require technology, innovation or big investments that can have a huge impact on inclusion in an organization. Michelle King is a huge fan of the entry interview, for which she credits Ariana Huffington.

Michelle said, “We give more credence to those that exited the firm than those that survive. Sit down with a new hire and ask what’s important to you outside of work and how do we make work for you. Of course, you need to do in a way that makes it feel comfortable for both parties. And the challenge is you need mature managers to manage this process.”

Candice suggests, “Start with welcoming everyone. It sounds so fundamental, but women experience a higher degree of belonging uncertainty. In the first few weeks with a new hire, share stories, normalize it and it becomes this thing that doesn’t grow and make you feel with less confidence”

Talk Data To Me

A lot of organizations are going public with their diversity data, statistics, targets and goals, but they are not specific. Being specific helps you catch things you may have missed. Candice explained, “Numbers play a very important role, but I will caution that the data has to be intertwined with the stories. It can be very impersonal when leaders say are we on our metric or off.”

Caren knows from her experience in the legal industry that “you can also have data tell the story you want to tell.” Stephanie believes that “accountability drives behavioral change.” Blendoor looks at not only objective data, but also subjective data - the qualitative and quantitative. What’s happening in organizations, today, tomorrow and what will it look like five years from now. “There is not a one-size fits all, but the best example is when the CEO makes it a huge priority.”

Drive Change and Take Action

There are simple actions we can do to make inclusion and innovation work for everyone.

For companies, Michelle suggests:

  1. Including women in the innovation cycle. Make sure you have women on innovation and tech teams
  2. Throughout the innovation cycle, consider what are the needs of women and girls
  3. Then design solutions around those needs that will benefit us now and in the future

She also encourages everyone to build awareness. “You really drive change when leaders have an awareness of inequality and an understanding where inequality happens. If a leader doesn’t get it, you’re lost. Have the courageous conversation about who and where inequality lies and make these conversations an ongoing process”

Candice asked all of us to “go talk to somebody who wouldn’t show up at a conference like this and start a conversation. People are very awkward and nervous about saying the wrong thing about diversity. Meet people where they are and start a conversation. Ask them about them and when they may have felt excluded.”

Stephanie encouraged us that, even if you “feel tokenized, we need be a representative and demonstrate that your presence in the room is valuable and it will help those that come after you. It’s important that you take credit for the things you possess naturally - qualities, characteristics, assets - that will be valuable and not thinking that you were given a handout because of your gender and race, and own it.”


Now is the best time to invest in yourself. Join the community that is committed to your success, and has your back no matter what. We’ll see you at an upcoming event!


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