Women At Work Crossroads

We are at a turning point. We now have this window of opportunity to reimagine the workplace and our role in it. Women at work and their organizations are at a crossroads. 

Many of America’s most powerful business leaders have been hard hit by the pandemic along with the rest of us. And they too are reevaluating what works and what doesn’t—at home and at the office. Some of these leaders shared their very personal experiences at PINK’s recent, 17th Annual Fall Empowerment Event, broadcasted from Atlanta. 

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/hL4qtd5SJGk

As we know, the Covid crisis has hit working women hard—and women leaders are not exempt. The Coca-Cola Company’s Global Chief People Officer, Lisa Chang, found out her mother had breast cancer during the pandemic. Luckily, she had the flexibility she needed to care for her mother. She told about 900 women and men watching via live-stream and in person at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel on October 18th, “One thing the pandemic gave us was the ability to juggle the work demands in a remote environment. Essentially, I moved in and lived with [my mother] during her cancer treatment. There is no other situation in my current role that would have afforded me the opportunity to do that.” 

The speakers’ honesty and candor drew tears, applause, and laughter from those watching around the world. And the speakers were emotional too. 

Heather Robertson Fortner, Partner, and CEO of SignatureFD, with nearly $6 Billion in assets under management, shared she has an immunocompromised child at home, and she is 30 weeks pregnant with her second child. She choked up saying, “what mattered most to me was my family.”

Heather acknowledged, as so few leaders do in public, “I can’t do this by myself,” saying she depends on support from her husband and people at work. “I couldn’t control what was happening in the world. I couldn’t control what was happening with my own family.

Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Walmart Inc., Donna Morris acknowledged it hasn’t been easy. “Don’t be hard on yourself. On any given day I’m not sure if I’m doing an A job or a C job—I’m going to keep on going.”

She said, “The pandemic put everyone on edge. Everyone at some point has felt very vulnerable. It has never been more important to be human and care about each other.” 

The PINK event conversation focused on what women and organizations can, and must, do now to move forward in the best way possible. This is crucial since three in five women employees say they fear their prospects of getting a promotion are worse in this new work environment, according to Catalyst. 

Deloitte US Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Kavitha Prabhakar talked about the Great Reset. “After 23 years being on the road, we had such a shift, a great reset in terms of family and health. People really need human connection.”

And Lisa urged attendees to step up and take on projects they want, and be visible. Donna added, “Set goals. Look for continuous feedback from managers and peers. Set expectations for your own growth and development. Declare where you want to go.”

Then there’s the issue of self-care in a work world that feels like it demands women step up 24/7. Jay Caiafa, Chief Operating Officer, IHG Hotels & Resorts, the lone male on the panel, said he sees women taking on too much. He would know. His wife Meredith, who attended the PINK event with her team, is a Partner at Morris, Manning & Martin LLP. “Forget about doing 120%,” Jay said. “You’ll keep asking yourself to give more and more until you break.” Instead, enlist support and say, “If you lose me, it’s a big deal.”

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Make sure to join us in May 2022, when the extraordinary Carla Harris, Vice Chair Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management takes the stage at PINK’s Signature Spring Empowerment Event. Details to come! 

 PLUS: STAY CONNECTED: Check out the Pink Power Alliance line-up. Do these topics (below) resonate with you? Become a member. Enjoy private coaching and exclusive access to these leaders.


Event Thanks:

It takes all of us to instigate change. We could not have these conversations without our sponsor’s generosity and commitment to diversity. Special thanks to Cox EnterprisesDelta Air LinesSouthern CompanyThe Home DepotInspire BrandsThe Coca-Cola CompanySignatureFD (and SignatureExec and SignatureWOMEN), Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, and Deloitte for sponsoring this event. It was broadcast by Presentations. 

Please support our event exhibitors and contributors:

SignatureFDIHG Hotels & ResortsJewels With a PurposeIntertwined CandlesBlo Blow Dry Bar, Maune Contemporary Gallery, Christie Cookie Company & Healthy Hippo. 

Special thanks to Garnish & Gather for delivering lunch to our VIPs, and to Walmart, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, and Presentations for broadcasting the event live. It takes a village!

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