When we all Press for Progress, we all win

  • Posted on March 29, 2018
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Press for Progress

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Elizabeth Derby.

Each year we commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women’s History Month.  There is much fanfare throughout the month of March with some carryover into springtime – and then it subsides.  We can’t focus on gender diversity just one day or one month and expect meaningful outcomes. This year, I’m optimistic about turning words into concrete actions to achieve sustainable change. That’s why I am excited to have recently joined Avanade to lead Inclusion & Diversity globally.  

When we all press for progress, we all win – our employees, our clients and their customers, and our communities!  Several guiding principles will set the stage for advancing gender parity and our broader focus on leveraging diversity and inclusion to spur innovation, growth and engagement. 

1. Be Bold: It starts with challenging the status quo - having open conversations about the current state of gender equality, followed by a compelling vision of what’s possible for the future.  Accenture’s 2018 Getting to Equal global study on women’s advancement demonstrated that “organizations in which leadership teams are held accountable for improving gender diversity are 60 percent more likely to have increased women’s participation in executive leadership.”  

2. Be Intentional: When launching a new business line or setting a personal goal, we must be clear about the mission, have a game plan, invest time and resources and take intentional steps toward achieving results. Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) requires the same strategic rigor, investment and long-term approach. I like to say “Run it like a business.”  

We’re refreshing our I&D strategy with intentionality as a cornerstone.  As a start we’ve enhanced our IWD approach to proactively crowd source “big ideas”, engage men and women with a focus on solutions and redouble our commitment to tangible progress the other 364 days of the year.  

3. Build an Inclusive Culture: Diverse perspectives, coupled with a “speak up” culture, inspire creativity and breakthrough ideas that enable us to deliver innovative solutions for clients which help their businesses grow.  The Center for Talent Innovation’s research demonstrates diversity’s link to innovation and stronger financial performance.  Our I&D vision is to inspire innovation, growth and engagement.  This aligns with Avanade’s vision of being the leading digital innovator.

4. Be Open-Minded and Invite the Dissenting Voice: By inviting the dissenting voice and being open-minded to new ideas – especially from “unlikely sources”, you can achieve breakthrough ideas and mitigate dangerous groupthink. A key condition for this is having a culture which truly values diverse perspectives (tenet #3) and invites those voices to the table. Avanade is interested in flexing this muscle more.  Simply put, Avanade wants to utilize the power of difference inside to help our clients and their customers win outside in their marketplace.  

5. Practice Inclusion: We must model inclusion and communicate the critical role that everyone plays – no matter your level, function, geography or background. Inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. We know that having an environment where people feel a sense of belonging allows people to do their best work.  That’s why Avanade launched its innovative Allies @ Avanade program and our three employee resource groups which are inclusive.  Finally, the Accenture 2018 Getting to Equal research shows that when women rise, men rise too.   

6. Interrupt Bias: While we can increase awareness at the individual level as a starting point, we need to intentionally interrupt bias at the organizational level with tailored interventions.  For IWD this year we leveraged design thinking to source additional ways to interrupt bias.  Stay tuned for more insights and action here.

7. Be a Role Model: Finally, I would dispel the myth that only “leaders” can be role models. Everyone is a role model.  This links back nicely to our tenet that “Inclusion is everyone’s responsibility.” Progress is a mindset – and best achieved when you start at the individual level. 

If you want to effectuate change, speak up and “be the change you want to see.”  Let’s use this to our competitive advantage - cultivate a winning culture where people can do their best work and dynamics which enable us to innovate for our clients and their customers.  

The time to act is now
Our grass roots approach is very powerful at Avanade. This is evident with our IWD global marquee event and 50+ local events where we had over 350 employees leading the charge to advocate for gender parity and influence ongoing progress.  

Join us as we press for progress 365 days of the year.  What is your “big idea” to advance gender parity and inclusion?  Send me your thoughts: elizabeth.k.derby@avanade.com.  

Apoorva Sekhar

Great read! :) Absolutely abide by appreciating diverse perspectives. Wonderful point.

February 19, 2019

Laura Anderson

Fantastic read, Elizabeth. I have to admit, I have goose bumps. 

April 13, 2018

Keith Romero

Good read and salient points. Great job Elizabeth!

April 13, 2018

Steve Yoo

Excellent article, Elizabeth!  The inclusion part really resonated with me.

April 4, 2018

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