Take The Lead’s Power Up Summit to Focus on DEI

With a bold goal to achieve gender parity by 2025, Take the Lead’s Co-Founder and President, Gloria Feldt has been helping women redefine power, understand their power, and embrace their power fully. On April 15th, Take The Lead will present their annual Power Up Summit with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as the theme for 2021.

According to Feldt, “There has never been a more relevant time for organizations to take the next step in their diversity and inclusion journey. Leaders must design programs and develop cultures that insure their organization contributes to a national environment that compels fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people.”

A Summit partner, Hootology specializes in bespoke, tech-forward market research. Founder Stefanie Francis champions the use of cutting-edge technology to get to the heart of consumer decision making. She is a diverse voice bringing much-needed innovation to market research. Francis explains her company’s commitment to diversity as a core value, “This topic has been urgent for my team for a long time and one of our Corporate Diversity Index (CDI) objectives is for all diversity initiatives to not be reactionary, but authentic and intentional. Diversity is the right thing to do, it is necessary and important and it is powerfully strategic and impactful.” Hootology’s panel discussion during the Summit will present the depth of information Francis, VP of Partner success Jose Delgado and their team has collected in the CDI to help HR professionals and specialists “understand the impact of diversity and supplier diversity to help make data-driven strategies to create change.”

According to panelist and Luminary Chief Impact Officer, Surabhi Lal, the work requires a deeper understanding of how race is woven into the very foundation of companies. “Developing a better understanding of how racism is built into the very structures and cultures of our organizations is critical to me addressing the urgency of DEI in my practice. I am very aware of the ways in which language and practices can be inclusionary or exclusionary and I work to use inclusionary language. I also intentionally develop relationships and networks that are expansive and diverse so that I can connect people to opportunities that they might not otherwise see.” Lal is a Take The Lead leadership ambassador, further evidence of her commitment to building powerful and inclusive networks.

The DEI Summit features carefully curated experts including Dr. Pardis Mahdavi, the Dean of Social Sciences at Arizona State University. Dr. Mahdavi created a framework called JEDI: Justice, Equity Diversity and Inclusion. She explains, “By placing Justice first, we ensure an action oriented approach to systemic change for which EVERYONE is responsible. No longer allowing DEI work to be siloed to the realm of Human Resources, JEDI offers an approach that is top to bottom and bottom up and invites actual structural changes to create an ecosystem of success for all members of an organization. We are doing this here at ASU, for example, by making diversity statements a part of all hiring, promotion, and tenure. We are also changing the system to highlight the work people do in this area and reward JEDI work. We have created a JEDI Council, JEDI Hiring Plans, and will be working to change the curriculum next. As such, this is a roadmap for change that can be adapted to any and all organizations.”

True to its aim to offer strategies and solutions, Take The Lead teamed up with researcher and leadership coaching consultant Brielle Valle who will present original primary ethnographic research about the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on women. The pandemic has disproportionately affected women and according to Valle, this “is the first measure taken by [my company] to address how corporations must do better in their policy creation in order to support equality. The long-term repercussions of segregation contribute to denying BIPOC Americans jobs, salaries, and health. By addressing the necessity of crisis preparation and crisis recovery directly to the governors of organizations, the revised structure will act as a driver for inclusion-centered thinking.”

Take The Lead has been at the forefront, asserting and demanding women be at the center of the post-COVID economic recovery. An ally of the company and Summit partner, Luminary founder Cate Luzio insists change cannot occur where barriers exist and by addressing the unique needs of women, the work of ensuring diversity naturally aligned. She expounds, “I started Luminary as a way to bring women together to advance each other’s careers, and it has quickly grown into a movement perfectly timed to push us through the current workplace crisis as well as address systemic racism. Luminary is a community bringing together women and male allies from all walks of life. There is no application process to join, furthering our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We cannot create change if we continue to build barriers for those that don’t look like us. A community doesn’t build barriers, it breaks them down. That’s what we’re doing every day.”

Dr. Joynicole Martinez, CEO of the Alchemist Agency and panelist agrees that there is a pressing need for change that comes through building community. She explains, “There are complex and intersecting identities and needs of team members and employees that leadership must consider daily. Trendy speech and language comes across as performance allyship, it’s moot and offensive. DEI initiatives must deploy strategies and track measurable feedback around which change is created and is meaningful. This internal learning and iteration, combined with the issues and current events in the world around us, means the one thing we can predict with certainty is change. Managing change requires a commitment to learning and to cultural humility. That kind of real commitment requires submitting to training from those who offer a lens wider and more color-full than our own. This is why the Power Up Summit for DEI is a training imperative for professionals who are serious about the work. We are better when we center on the voices, experiences and data of those who stretch, challenge, and change us.”

Ana Flores, founder of We All Grow Latina is one of those voices that Take The Lead seeks to elevate. According to Flores, “I built a company from the ground up which is run by Latina women to elevate the voices and stories of Latinas. Inclusion is at the heart of who we are and what we do. We fight for that inclusivity in marketing, publishing and media day in and day out. The internal work for us as we expand is to make sure that we are inclusive of the intersectionalities that exist within the Latina communities and making sure our team, content and campaigns reflect that.”

Racial healing coach Felicia Davis will host psychologist Dr. Nancy O’Reilly in a candid conversation on racial healing. Davis asserts, “We are tackling DEI from the racial healing perspective and using psychology-based tools so that women and men show up to work with the capacity to have powerful and sometime polarizing conversations that matter. We do this in order to challenge, transform and confront systemic racism in a way that creates more equitable and inclusive cultures.”

It sounds good. And the adage says if it sounds too good to be true it often is. But, Feldt is not offering rose-colored lenses, she recognizes the challenges inherent in culture change. She wrote, “Let’s face it: it’s hard to change a culture while you are living in it. I’m not saying it’s easy. But the primary reason so many women bail out of the corporate world at mid-career has much more to do with discomfort with the culture than with the prevailing assumptions that they leave for childbearing reasons. Similarly, white supremacist culture is often not even recognized as a deterrent, and you can’t change what you don’t see needs changing. This is why our DEI summit is intentionally different — and why valuing differences provides solutions: We promise new research, practical tools you can use right away, and powerful networking.”

Are you ready for different? The Carolinian is proud to serve as media partner for the Take The Lead Power Up Summit for DEI. Join the conversation and register for the summit at TakeTheLeadWomen.com/DEI

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