The next step in supporting our Employee Networks: Executive Committee Champions
- Posted on August 15, 2022
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
When I joined Avanade nearly two years ago, there was a small, passionate Inclusion & Diversity team in place, and a few Employee Networks. These individuals and groups knew the importance of inclusivity and were striving every day to make an impact at Avanade, but they needed resources and infrastructure around them to support the important work they were doing.
When I look at the progress we’ve made since then, I’m blown away. Avanade now has a fully staffed I&D team, and 14 Employee Networks are thriving and collaborating in our EN ecosystem. The creation of a formal I&D team included the role of a dedicated global EN program lead to provide EN leaders with structural support, strategic coaching and best practices. We’ve seen that when you give people the tools to grow, there is measurable difference in what they can do.
So we started asking ourselves, “What’s the next step?” How can we continue this incredible growth that we’ve seen? ENs each already have an executive sponsor who provides coaching to the group, aligns their strategy to the business, and champions their mission using their profile. These leaders remove roadblocks, offer insights from their experience, and in general empower ENs to think bigger. We’re ready to deepen that experience.
In this coming year, in addition to their executive sponsor, each global and area-level EN will also be paired with an Executive Committee (EC) champion. Avanade’s EC is comprised of our CEO’s direct reports, or our C-suite roles. Each of these senior leaders have already created personal I&D framework commitments with measurable targets, so they are familiar with how critical I&D is to both our business and employee experience. Bringing them into a specific Employee Network as a dedicated EC champion establishes them as a visible and active ally to their EN's community. They will use their profile to build awareness and engagement.
But what does this look like in reality? What does having a member of the EC champion an EN’s cause really change? We anticipate three tangible benefits:
- Sponsorship: EC champions provide EN leaders with critical sponsorship that shapes their leadership development and career advancement. In performance reviews, EN leaders can share feedback from their EC champion, and the weight tied to their feedback will make a difference in career trajectories. By using their experience and network, EC champions can open doors that our largely junior leaders would not otherwise have access to.
- Visible allyship: Through this role, EC champions are given a dedicated platform to share their personal and career journeys, allowing our employees to both get to know them and see themselves in their stories. This vulnerability builds a sense of community, trust, and connection between leadership and employees.
- Vision: EC champions will help EN leaders to be bolder, set more ambitious targets, and achieve a greater impact. They use their experience and keen understanding of our business to provide strategic coaching and guidance to EN teams, help them create efficiencies and prioritize tasks to achieve their most important goals.
I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many people in your corner. In the past two years, our I&D team has worked hard to infuse inclusion and diversity into everyday life at Avanade, creating access and avenues to involvement for everyone. Employee Networks are crucial to creating that culture, and it is equally important for our most senior leaders to buy in and guide the way. I’m excited to join these two things together and see all its potential unfold.