In your forward thinking organization, there might be times when you’re not able to quantify the ROI of your womens’ leadership initiatives. Or perhaps you don’t have enough next generation women leaders coming up through the ranks. You recognize the amazing talent of women in the workplace, but you’re not really sure how to leverage those talents and strengths. Consider taking the time to create a plan to track, retain and engage the women in your organization.
According to Robbin Jorgensen, founder and CEO of Women Igniting Change™ “women entrepreneurs are having a huge positive impact in organizations. According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, (commissioned by American Express OPEN) in the last ten years, there not only has been an increase of 3.5 million women owned firms, but the state of Georgia is number 2 in the country for the fastest growing for women entrepreneurs.” Yet, many working women still encounter road blocks in the work place. From unconscious gender bias, culturally based road blocks, to the ones that we (women) put on ourselves, it inhibits advancement.
Robbin recounts her experience in ascending the corporate ladder to become an executive. She states “…the higher I climbed that ladder, the more of me I lost. I felt like I had to lead a certain way, I had to act a certain way and there was this norm that I was supposed to conform to. I also felt like I had to put on a mask every day and then took it off when I went home. That, eventually took a toll on my health and my mindset.” Shortly thereafter, Robbin hired an executive coach and she tells us that her experience working with the coach was transformational. “The coach helped me remember who I was, before the world told me who I was supposed to be.”
This week in InProcess Podcast, we speak with Robbin Jorgensen, founder and CEO of Women Igniting Change™ – a global, purpose driven organization geared toward unleashing the contribution of women around the world. A highly successful businesswoman, she is a sought after speaker and women’s leadership strategist, Robbin is a staunch advocate for the advancement of women and girls throughout the globe. Her company reaches women in 45 countries.
During the course of the podcast: Are we Getting Closer to Shattering the Glass Ceiling? business leaders and owners will learn about:
- Women Igniting Change ™ the movement
- The positive impact women entrepreneurs are having
- Overcoming common road blocks in the corporate world for women
- Key leadership principles of Women Igniting Change
- The profile of an ideal client for Women Igniting Change
Stream the conversation with Robbin in the player below to learn about Women Igniting Change.™ Learn how to identify common road blocks that exist in the corporate world for women, key leadership principles needed to help women rise the ranks in the corporate world and receive professional advice from Robbin for both women and men to ignite change in your organization. You can also subscribe to InProcess Podcast on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future updates from the show to your smartphone.
Are We Getting Closer to Shattering the Glass Ceiling?
Robbin Jorgensen, Founder and CEO of Women Igniting Change
Evelyn: Hello and welcome to In Process, conversations about business in the 21st century. Presented by Trusted Counsel, a corporate and intellectual property law firm. I’m Evelyn Ashley.
John: And I’m John Monahon.
Evelyn: And your partners and trusted counsel. So John today we have one of your favorite subjects, ’cause you are the one in the past, who has brought all of these topics on women in the workplace to us and we have done prior podcasts on them but fabulously enough, we now have a client in the firm whose doing some wonderful work with both corporate women and entrepreneurial women and I think this is gonna be a great topic for us today.
John: You’re right. This has been a subject which I’ve been pretty interested in. I think it’s really important, it’s getting a lot more publicity recently in the news.
Evelyn: Particularly as yeah.. on a very large level there’s some big guys that are losing their jobs which is a great thing.
John: And of course as I have my own daughters now I think about this a lot more often.
Evelyn: Yes, absolutely.
John: It is a very important issue and I’m glad that we have Robin here today to help us talk about how people are igniting change in the industry.
Evelyn: It is. So Robbin Jorgensen is the founder and CEO of women igniting change. A global, purpose driven organization geared toward unleashing the contribution of women around the world. She’s a highly successful business woman with 20+ years experience in sales, marketing, training and business development. A sought after speaker and women’s leadership strategist, Robbin is a staunch advocate for the advancement of women and girls throughout the globe. Her company reaches women in 45 countries around the world. We’re going to have a great time talking today Robbin, welcome to the show.
Robbin: Thank you so much and John I had no idea that this is a favorite topic of yours. So now I’m really excited.
John: I think I’ve gone back to it maybe two to three times. I keep touching.
Robbin: I love it.
Evelyn: He does. It’s actually quite funny because the first time, well the first one that we did was actually a client that John works with, a gentleman who wrote a book on women and diversity in the workplace. And so we actually had.. we did get a woman HR manager to come in and also speak with us but it was very good and I even said, “John what’s up?” He’s like “this is a big topic to me Evelyn. I have daughters and I want to know that they’re gonna be treated equally in the workplace”.
Robbin: That’s fantastic.
Evelyn: So Robbin, what is women igniting change? Talk to us about this.
Robbin: Women igniting change is a global movement of courageous women who are ready to ignite change in their organizations, their governments, our economies and ultimately our society. They are fire starters, rule breakers, what I like to call status quo interrupters and they’re revolutionaries. We really believe that everything shifts the moment a woman realizes that she has inside of her, that ability to spark tremendous change in the world and when that happens, she can no longer stay silent and she becomes a catalyst for action.
Evelyn: So how did this come about? What brought you to create this movement? I know you have a foundation that goes along with this but you’re both a for profit undertaking and.. talk to us a little bit about how Robbin decided to ignite change.
Robbin: That’s a big question. Thank you for that. There’s so many things that led me to create this movement. I would say first and foremost was my corporate career. I had an amazing career and an opportunity to lead extraordinary teams and at the same time I felt like I experienced what many women leaders do and that is, the higher I climbed that ladder the more of me I lost. And it felt like I had to lead a certain way, I had to act a certain way and there was this norm that I was supposed to conform to. And I felt like I walked into my office and put on a mask every day and then took it off when I got back home. And that eventually took a toll of my health, my mindset. My family noticed it, my friends noticed it and then one day one of my colleagues said to me “why don’t you an hire an executive coach?” I didn’t know what coaching was at the time so I was intrigued, did my research, hired my first coach and that experience was transformational. And she really helped me remember who I was before the world told me who I should be. And I would say that the second catalyst that led me to create the movement was participating in a ten month long experiential leadership program through the coaches training institute. And this program helped me not only build on my natural strengths as a leader but also determine, how do I want to show up in the world? And what do I want my impact to be? And outside of my children, and I say this to everybody, that program was the biggest gift I’ve ever given myself outside of mu kids.
Evelyn: That’s excellent.
John: So what was it that made you think that you wanted to make it something a lot bigger than just you and realizing this personally or maybe on someone to one mentoring on a much larger scale? ’cause of course you could’ve kept it well I’ll help a couple people within the industry, give some advice but you took this to a whole ‘nother level.
Robbin: Yes we did. I would say going through those two experiences, the executive coaching, going through the CTI leadership program, it helped me claim myself back. So I then felt that inner power that I had reclaimed that I’m like okay, now I can go back and do something about this and then it just kinda took off from there.
John: Were you aware of the issues.. I mean were you cognizant of it every day? Or is this something that, as you started looking more inward and having the coaching and having the other experiences you thought about more deeply and then how you could assist?
Robbin: I would say a little bit of both. I mean I was certainly aware of the issues that senior women face in corporate America because I was one of them. And on a grander scale, I would say I wasn’t as aware certainly as I am now. So it kind of evolved into that.
Evelyn: And so when you’re going through these experiences your challenges at your company, then working with a coach, going through the program were you aware that other women were kind of experiencing the same things that you were? Or did this actually kind of open things up to you?
Robbin: No I was completely aware of it, other women were experiencing it. I was one of two senior women on the executive team and there was a very, we’ll get into unconscious bias a little bit later but there was a very different expectation I think. And I also noticed it in my team and the women on my team, and again we’ll get into this as well, the confidence wasn’t there, they would question all of the moves that they were making and they were making the right moves but they would pull back a little bit and not totally own their space. So I was definitely aware of it and I think as the movement grew, I think I gained a greater perspective of the global challenges that women face at a much bigger level.
Evelyn: So what are your focus areas?
Robbin: So we have several focus areas. First would be our work in the corporate space and we look to work with forward thinking organizations who are committed to leveraging those strategic talents of the women leaders. And we help them create and execute comprehensive solutions without ever losing sight of the business case or the imperative around doing it. And I think that’s one thing that makes us very unique, is we always tie it back to what is the reason why we’re doing this? And make sure that the organization gets a really solid ROI from what we do. And I would say second would be our speaking platform. We love engaging with associations and women’s groups, not only to discuss the benefits of gender equality and the positive impact that could have on organizations, but also how women themselves can become catalysts for change, whether inside their organization or out. And we also hold experiential and interactive conferences that are unlike anything out there and that’s very intentional, we love being different. We want women to come to our events and be in the content with us. So we are all about transformation, not just education.
Evelyn: So you found support from the companies? Do companies generally embrace what you’re trying to do?
Robbin: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Evelyn: And that is that usually through an HR program? A person? Is that where you’re going in? Or is that.
Robbin: We go in in many different ways. HR is certainly one of those and I would say we get a lot of referrals from other organizations that we’ve already worked with. So the higher that we can go in the better. So we’ve worked with everyone from the CEO, to Senior Vice Presidents, to Directors, to Human Resources and everything in between. So I have to plug a little bit back on the events. So for 2018 and I can’t give too much away, but I’m so excited about this. So we are in the process of solidifying a partnership that will offer an unparalleled women’s leadership experience and it’ll be around international women’s day in March of 2018. And that’s kind of all I can say but we’re so excited about it.
John: I think that’s our first exclusive.
Robbin: I promise to come back and give you all of the yummy details but it’s gonna be extraordinary.
Evelyn: Excellent because Lorena in our office is gonna want to be doing a press release on that for you.
Robbin: Excellent. And then I would say the final focus area is our foundation. And our mission there is to create initiatives that advance the rights of women and girls around the world. And there are some many challenges that need to be addressed but when we look at the scope and the scale of all of them, you can’t tackle everything.
Robbin: So we narrowed our focus down to nine and those are: advocacy, education, empowerment, entrepreneurship, gender equality, human trafficking, leadership, reproductive rights and violence against women.
Evelyn: And I know that human trafficking is a very important and special topic for you.
Robbin: It absolutely is. You know, living here in Atlanta where we’ve got Hartsfield, the largest airport in the world. And they’re really starting to do amazing things to combat this. I was so excited and I said this to my team as soon as I saw the first sign. So I travel a lot and going to the airport there are signs everywhere on stopping human trafficking, so they’re taking that initiative. And Atlanta was the first airport to actually partner with the police and FBI to fight human trafficking.
Evelyn: And I know that there’s a lot of different groups in Atlanta that have actually been working to make that happen.
Evelyn: It’s been a tremendous problem. We’re gonna take a break and we’ll be right back.
Evelyn: Welcome back it’s In Process, we are talking with Robbin Jorgensen and women are igniting change. Robbin, tell us a little bit about how that’s happening.
Robbin: When you and I spoke before this you said “give us an example” I’m like “oh my god, do you know how many women I could give you for an example?” There’s so many extraordinary examples so I’m gonna give you one that’s here in Atlanta, you may know of her you may not, but I want to give her a shout because she’s amazing. Her name is Hayley Kilpatrick and her company is Girl Talk. And she created this company when she was just 15 years old and it was born out of a desire to have high school girls mentor middle schools to help them deal with those issues that they face in those formative teenage years. And it is now an international organization that offers workshops and camps on building self-esteem, leadership skills, valuing community service and since 2002 they have served over 60,000 girls in 48 states and seven countries.
Robbin: She’s amazing. She is absolutely amazing.
Evelyn: Is it a non-profit or?
Robbin: It is a non-profit.
Evelyn: Wow. Amazing.
Evelyn: It’s inspirational actually.
Robbin: It it is inspirational and it goes to show you, you know there’s so many examples out there you know, Kentucky Fried Chicken, a crock of people waiting until their 50’s, 60’s to actually get out there and make the impact they know they’re meant to have. And you can start it at 15, you can start at seven so it doesn’t matter.
Evelyn: Whatever your age is. So talk to us a little bit about the positive impact you think women entrepreneurs are having.
Robbin: I was so excited when I saw this study. I’m originally from upstate New York, so Albany is home and I live here in Atlanta so Atlanta’s second home and according to the American Express state of women owned business report, in the last ten years, there was not only an increase of 3.5 million women owned firms but Georgia is number 2 in the country for the fastest growing women entrepreneurs. I was so excited to see that. Up 67%, 67%! And there’s more, so the top 20 firms in Atlanta gross more than 1.5 billion in company wide revenue. I mean that’s just extraordinary.
Evelyn: It’s fantastic.
John: What do you think is unique about Atlanta or Georgia, is there anything that you think might have promoted that in some way?
Robbin: Other than Atlanta’s awesome?
John: Yeah. That’s number one.
Robbin: I think being a major metro certainly helps. And having a hub for a lot of the fortune 500 and fortune 100 as a base here, certainly draws people to this market. So I would say that’s certainly a factor. And Atlanta rocks.
Evelyn: And I also think well you know, people don’t really think of Atlanta as being a technology center but it actually is. And I think it brings lots of very impressive executive women to Atlanta that will often step out and start businesses. We have so many things, first of all we’ve got this great airport that gets us anywhere we want to go very quickly.
Evelyn: We also have quite a lot of support organizations for women, you know certifying women owned businesses, helping them to get diversity, coverage in that manner and do business with corporate companies that are also supportive of that.
Evelyn: It’s a pretty amazing city and I don’t think that we actually get.. well I think because of the state that we’re located in, often we don’t get the most positive press.
Robbin: You know it’s funny, I was literally on a Skype call this morning with Kate from Choose ATL and Choose ATL is all about bringing in the millennial talent into our amazing city. And the stuff that they are doing to put Atlanta on the map for millennials is just amazing.
Evelyn: Very inspirational again. So, what do you think the road blocks are in the corporate world?
Robbin: There’s so many road blocks. Again, where do you want me to start? I would say those road blocks that are culturally based and then there’s the road blocks that we put on ourselves as women. For those that are culturally based, unconscious bias is a huge one and it’s something that.. it’s not just the men, we have it as well. And there’s an incredible study put out by Harvard called the implicit association test, and we use that in our own unconscious bias training. And it helps measure attitude and beliefs on various topics and it’s just such a great foundation to then have a conversation about what that could look like you know, in some of the ways that that plays out in the corporate space when men speak up, they receive a 10% higher competence rating. When female executives do the same thing, their ratings from their peers are 14% lower. And similarly when males offer an idea and John and I were just talking about this earlier, they receive higher performance evaluations, when women offer the same idea their perception doesn’t change. So there’s a lot of unconscious bias there, and I’m gonna invite the readers, and we use some video tools in our readers, listeners. We use some YouTube videos.
Evelyn: We can get it done in a transcript too.
Robbin: There you go. In our trainings and believe or not Pantene, the hair product has phenomenal videos out there around unconscious bias and one is called “Bossy” and it shows a woman walking down the street and she’s perceived as bossy. Then it shifts to the man and he’s just the boss. And then it shows a woman behind a podium and she’s seen as pushy and then you see the man behind the same podium and he’s considered persuasive. So it’s such a good example in three minutes around how unconscious bias, you know we were raised in whatever culture, society, friends, family, that all has an impact.
John: When we were talking earlier I mean I was saying that I’m sometimes in a group where a woman will give a really good suggestion or insight and I agree with it, so I’ll say something to the effect of “oh yeah, that’s a good idea” and I’ll repeat it, sort of riff on it if you will. And then it’ll go to the third person which is a guy and he’ll say “oh yeah, like John was saying” and he’ll give me the credit for the idea when I didn’t actually come up with the idea. I think that’s a great example.
Robbin: Right and we talked about this and she won’t speak up and say “hey, wait a second, that was mine”.
John: Right, right.
Robbin: And the reason why she doesn’t is because she doesn’t want to be perceived as the B word which I won’t say live on the radio. However, but it’s true, she’s holding back because she doesn’t know what other men in the room are going to think of her owning her idea.
John: Right. Yeah. And that’s interesting ’cause I never picked up why she didn’t say anything. I of course, say well that wasn’t my idea
Robbin: Love it. Great.
John: And I give credit where it’s due. But I always did find it quite odd. Especially since I don’t come up with that many good ideas so.
Robbin: Oh come on. And that really ties into the roadblocks that I mentioned that are inside of ourselves, inside women specifically. And that is the confidence and our abilities because we sometimes allow that self-talk that we have to take over and it sabotages our success. And another one that we see inside organizations that we work with, is that women are extremely competent at what they do, they’re subject matter experts in their line of space but they don’t have that organizational view, they don’t have that business acumen to ascend to that next level. And because of that, they’re not viewed as a strategic business partner to the company, they don’t advance.
Evelyn: Amazing. Well and I think that.. I mean I can relate to all of that too. We’ve got a woman, a CFO actually that I have worked with for many many years who to me, holds herself back in the sense that she refuses to speak at the same level and push herself forward in board meetings, in management meetings which I’ve even said to her, come to the table and own your seat please. Because I think sometimes women need to hear that almost from other women.
Robbin: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’ve been in, this is back in my corporate days, where I was in meetings and one of my team, so she wasn’t my level but she would be invited to a meeting and she would literally sit in a chair that’s against the wall. I’m like “no, no, no, get up here, you’re sitting at the table with us” but here immediate reaction was “I don’t belong here so I’m gonna hang back”.
Evelyn: Right, yeah. It’s a hard thing. Sometimes it actually takes just someone to be conscious of it and release yourself from it maybe.
Robbin: Yeah and someone to remind you how amazing you are.
Robbin: ’cause we forget that.
Evelyn: Well and I think it’s, you know. My experience is that women have to over prepare. You have to be so much more ready to actually talk about your ideas and what you know and cover a topic at a level of depth that you know, maybe a man will just show up and hasn’t even thought about it.
Robbin: That is true and that can also get us into a heap of trouble and I’m totally guilty of this. So the perfectionism syndrome.
Robbin: Recovering one, right here. Because you can practice and you can prepare [inaudible 00:21:42] and you know your stuff, you know you know your stuff, so you’ve gotta let that perfectionism go and just take imperfect action, but that the action.
Evelyn: So Robbin.
Evelyn: What else? What else can be done to help women kind of overcome these road blocks? Is it more coaching? Is it, what have you seen as progress?
Robbin: Well a couple of things. Inside their organizations, if they have a women’s group of some kind, an employee resource group, a business resource group. That community of like minded women to share experiences and realize that they’re not alone is a huge factor in helping them move forward. So I would say, any type of community they can get involved in, where other women are sharing their stories is huge.
John: Welcome back to In Process. We’re here with Robbin Jorgensen, CEO of Women Igniting Change. Robbin, in the news there’s been a lot of discussion about these lawsuits, especially with technology companies, and the big disparity in the wages that men and women get paid. Again, some very prominent companies in the fortune 500. What can companies do about that? And what companies are doing very well in addressing this issue?
Robbin: Yeah so there’s a lot of companies that have joined a couple of really extraordinary initiatives and taking action through those initiatives. One of those is the HeForShe Impact Champion Parody Report and that was created by UN women and this initiative, it invites business leaders to drive toward gender equal corporate landscape, by implementing really bold commitments that advance women. So when they decide to take this on, they’re transparent in their overall organizational structure, their senior leadership, their board of director numbers as well as new hires. So you know, we all know that gender equality should be a strategic imperative for business leaders around the globe because research supports that. And several champions that we’re familiar with Barclays, McKenzie, PWC, Schneider Electric, Unilever, all of these organizations and many more, have signed onto this champion parody report and they’re very transparent about the actions that they’re taking. And I think it’s really an incentive for other organizations to see that and also for women to see that. Because you want to work for a place that totally supports you and champions you. So for example, some of the actions that they’re taking for Barclays, they’re committing to increasing the representation of women in their senior leadership by one percentage point per year. Which is not as easy as that sounds. You know McKenzie, they’re all about leading cutting edge research. PWC, I love this one, they developed and launched an innovative male focused gender curriculum. Don’t you love that? I just love that. To educate and empower the men as gender equality advocates so I just love that. It’s similar to a program we do around unconscious bias, where we have men and women in the room but to have something launched solely for them to become advocates I think is extraordinary. And probably the biggest one is Schneider Electric and they made a commitment, they started small with around 11,000 employees and their goal is to achieve pay equity this year with 85% if their workforce.
Evelyn: That’s amazing.
Robbin: It’s pretty amazing.
Evelyn: Actually, ’cause on the break we were actually talking about how companies in the past have actually released their salary data which has been pretty devastating for them because people then start seeing exactly what people are earning and you know, executive compensation has been in the news and criticized for many years at this stage. So it might actually lead to many positive reactions perhaps those sea level executives that are getting outrageous salaries, might find their salaries getting kind of modified over time.
Robbin: Well I think it needs to be handled in the appropriate way. So you know one of the biggest that we see in the organizations that we work with is poor communication. So if this is communicated the right way, what is the vision for what we’re doing? What does this look like when it’s done and done well? And in communicating that out to the organization I think is huge.
Evelyn: That’ll have a positive reaction.
Robbin: Yeah, absolutely.
Evelyn: I had to bring up, because I was in Manhattan last weekend and I think everyone whose seen the bull on Wall Street with the.
Robbin: That is actually my Facebook cover photo.
Evelyn: Is it?
Robbin: Yes, it is. [crosstalk 00:27:04] hear this girl is my Facebook cover photo.
Evelyn: Well it’s amazing how many people.. so you know, in the past I’ve been down in the Wall Street area and of course we’ve got the new World Trade Center down there and so it’s really drawn quite a lot of crowds but you could not get close to the bull and the little girl.
Robbin: I love it. Love it!
Evelyn: But overhearing conversations, everyone knows that state street put that little girl out there and then of course, they were immediately criticized because they actually aren’t very supportive of raising women up through their ranks. Which I think ultimately, is gonna have a really good affect because she’s gonna stay out there for a little while and I think state street and their unconscious bias is probably going to also be modified in the process.
Robbin: I think that statue’s certainly did what it was supposed to do. It ignited a conversation, ignite is my favorite word.
Robbin: It really did, it ignited a conversation around gender equality in the corporate space and the banking space, especially Wall Street which is so heavily male dominated. And to have a petition to keep her there, says that that conversation needs to keep going.
Evelyn: Yeah. Of course the copy wright lawsuit that’s gonna come out of it is.
Robbin: Well you know, there is that.
Evelyn: This is what we do, we’re interested in those.
Robbin: So you know, there’s another amazing thing that organizations are signing on for and that is something called the Women’s Empowerment Principles. And these seven principles launched in 2010 again by UN Women, and over a thousand CEO’S from around the globe have literally signed a CEO statement of support, signaling they’re a company who support behind gender equality.
Evelyn: Giving me chills.
Robbin: Yeah, its amazing, it really is. And these are companies like GAP, General Mills, Merc, Microsoft, PepsiCo so all of the big names are really starting to take notice and they all know, that the business imperative for doing this is just, not only the right thing to do for women, but it’s the right thing to do for the business.
Evelyn: For the business.
John: Who do you believe in the organization, should be in charge of holding them accountable?
Robbin: The CEO hands down. It has to come from the top down. You can go in at a middle level or a mid senior level and they can have so much passion around this and unless it is driven from the very top down, again would that sold communication plan and accountability bench marks along the way as to how we’re doing. It has to be the top down, yeah.
John: We’re in part of some groups and I can tell the big companies who are in these initiatives for minority development or women development and those that are truly committed to it. When I go out and meeting their workforce, I can tell who is truly dedicated to following through on all the and being accountable to what they’ve signed up for.
Robbin: Yeah I mean you could feel it in the culture when you walk in. It’s either a plaque on the wall with some really nice words or it’s actually infused throughout the entire organization and they live it.
Evelyn: Yeah, yeah. We were at an event last night which I’ve always been fascinated by technology events because there are actually quite a lot of women.
Robbin: So you went to the [inaudible 00:30:33] event last night. I know where you were.
Evelyn: No I wasn’t. This was an investing group. How many women did you see in the audience there?
John: Not including the ones that came with us? One I think.
John: Was that Mike’s wife?
John: No. Actually.
Robbin: You’re right, the executive director is female.
John: It was light.
Evelyn: I don’t really understand it still and this is, I meant they’re women that are running businesses and I don’t know if it is that they just don’t turn out for these events but it’s been like that since I’ve entered into the technology area, the industry for years, over 25 years. It’s typically men, but the other interesting side to that is there are women’s groups that off shoot off of that and those women are extremely powerful but they again, they kind of hold themselves separate.
Robbin: Right, interesting. And you said it was an investing?
Evelyn: Yeah, this was on investing. Looking for investment.
Robbin: Okay, when you start talking about money, especially women, they’re some type of stigma, they don’t want to talk about it, even women who are very successful in the organizations that they run, it’s just a subject that is kind of taboo. And Sallie Krawcheck who, we were just talking about Wall Street, used to be on Wall Street. She started an organization called 85 Broads which then blended into Ellevate and now it’s Ellevest. So now she’s launched a whole initiative around helping women understand their numbers, not be afraid of it, lean toward investing and not rely on other people.
John: We need to take a quick break but we will be back.
John: Welcome back to In Process. We are here with Robbin Jorgensen founder and CEO of Women Igniting Change. Robbin so, tell us what areas do you think that women need the most help in in the work place?
Robbin: Can I change that to organizations?
John: Yes, absolutely.
Robbin: So a broader scope. Awesome. So I would say there’s certain key times when organizations tend to bring us in. And they’re things like when they’re not able to quantify the ROI of what they’re doing in their women’s leadership initiatives. When they don’t have enough next generation women leaders coming up through the pipeline. When they realize that their women are amazingly talented but they’re not really sure how to leverage those talents and strengths. And when they want to offer something that is innovative, outside of the box ’cause that is what we do. So we don’t go in and do [inaudible 00:33:52], we don’t so death by power point so it’s very experiential and interactive because we want it to sustain and we want it to go beyond the actual work that we do. So those are some key times when organizations bring us in.
Evelyn: So what are they key leadership principles that you focus on?
Robbin: I would say the women having a string ability to maximize their talents and those of their team. And ability to identify their weaknesses that may be impeding performance, the importance of being a strategic business partner to the organization and we talked about that a little bit earlier as well. And an understanding of how to recalibrate key stakeholder relationships to really maximize bottom line results.
Evelyn: When you’ve put together the program for inside of an enterprise and they have brought you there because they’re trying to get more of a return on investment. Is it only women in the room when you’re working with them?
Robbin: It depends on what program we’re doing. Like I mentioned earlier, the unconscious bias training that we do, that is men and women.
Robbin: And some of the senior leader training that we do, because men are predominantly the senior leaders, we have both in the room but I would say the majority is the women.
Evelyn: ’cause I would think that the men would have to be part of this if they’re also kind of part of the issue, it seems they had to be part of the solution.
Robbin: They absolutely have to be a part of the solution and I will also say in many incidences they is something about, we talked earlier about that community. When you have that safe space for women leaders to have discussions and they can be open about what the challenges and obstacles actually are, there’s a lot of benefit to that as well. And what we tend to do when there’s only women in the room is we have communication kits that we prepare for either their managers and/or their teams. So they know why you’re coming to this, what the benefit it and here’s how you can help them pull the learning through after this is over.
John: So what’s been the general feedback from most men to the program?
Robbin: It’s actually been pretty positive. I love that question and we get asked that a lot and here’s why it’s been positive because, first and foremost they’re able to relate to it on a personal level. They have wives, sisters, mothers, daughters, nieces in their life that they want the best for and they want them to be treated fairly, they want them to have every opportunity for career advancement and they want to be paid equally for their expertise.
Evelyn: It’s pretty simple. Sounds simple, as long as they continue to execute going forward too right. So talk to us a little bit about the profile of an ideal client.
Robbin: Yeah so the clients that we work with, I think I mentioned this earlier, we love working with forward thinking organizations and those are companies that, they see the value in developing their women leaders and they see it as a competitive advantage. Because our business landscape is every changing and you’ve gotta make sure you have the top talent at the top and there’s also organizations that are now only working with vendors who have a comprehensive women’s leadership approach and making sure that they’re elevating their women. So actually one of our organizations, they’re a little nervous because the vendors that they work with have those guide marks and they’re not ready. So we’re working with them to get them ready but if they were audited it wouldn’t be pretty.
Evelyn: Oh well. Interesting. So I’m gonna throw you for a loop here for a moment.
Robbin: Great. I’m ready for you.
Evelyn: If I bring me to work, which I think is.
Robbin: The real you?
Robbin: Excellent, good start.
Evelyn: Does that always workout to be a positive outcome? From both the personal and the corporate I guess, perspective.
Robbin: That is such a loaded question, no it’s such a great question. Both. So the shorter answer is, if you are so solid in who you are as a woman in the world, as a woman in corporate America and no one can shake that and you show up as your authentic self. They can throw anything they want at you and it’s gonna bounce right off. So that’s the ideal, where you’re showing up as yourself, you’re leading authentically and whatever anyone says, it’s really on them, it’s not your stuff it’s there’s. So that’s ideal. And you’ve got to get to that point where you’re solid enough to feel that.
Evelyn: You have to build that invisible wall.
Robbin: Totally and we all have mindsets and stuff that we’ve got to work right. Myself included, that’s why I have a coach, I’ll never be without a coach again. My team has coaches. So you’re always working on your own stuff.
Evelyn: Sometimes it’s hard to be a piece of work.
John: So overall what can organizations do to create a plan to track and retain and engage women in their organizations?
Robbin: Well there’s a lot they can do. When we go in and work with organizations, we love to, as I mentioned earlier, really help them create a comprehensive strategic plan. We don’t like going in and doing one and done so we have a proprietary model that we walk them through and that first step is identify. And that is really setting the foundation so, an assessment of what’s working, what’s not. This is where we will go in and do focus groups, key stakeholder interviews to really understand where you’re starting from. And from there step 2 is ignite. So taking that conceptual knowledge, now you’ve got to turn that into an operational strategic plan. And then step 3 in inspire, and this is where you’ve got the foundation, you’ve come up with the vision and the plan, now you gotta send that out into the community of the organization. So how do you get the buy in, the engagement of the senior team, management, employees? Step four is implement, this is the longest step in the process. This is where you’re now taking all of that stuff and you’re actually putting it into action. So these are the workshops, the initiative. So this tends to be multiple months, this one step and step five is impact. So this is measuring the program effectiveness and a huge pet [inaudible 00:40:22] of ours is creating sustainability benchmarks. Because we want to make sure when we go into organizations, that it sticks so they not only achieve the ROI but they’re learning is so embedded in the participants, that they’re able to bring it back to their day to day role and it lasts, it doesn’t just go away. Because we’ve all been in those workshops where you go, you’re on a high, it’s fantastic. Two weeks later you’re back at your desk and you’re like what the heck did you I learn? I don’t even remember. That’s not what we’re about.
Evelyn: Do you actually continue to stay involved with the organization over time then? Talk to us a little bit about, you said a few months to go though the execution part of this, but it seems to me that, is it a rolling program?
Robbin: It can be for sure. it depends why they’re bringing us in to begin with. But the sustainability benchmarks that we embed in, can last up to a year. To make sure that that learning is continuously pulled through and it’s talked about in the one on one’s with their managers, we give them talking points to make sure that the conversation is ongoing and how is working in your day to day role. This didn’t work quite right, what should I do here? So we have all of that built in.
Evelyn: So then are in direct contact with the participants in the program throughout the program? Or is that often implemented by someone inside that you’re basically guiding.
Robbin: A little bit of both.
Robbin: Yeah, a little bit of both.
Evelyn: So Robbin, you’ve worked with a lot of women, you’ve had individual experience, actual experience yourself through your different work experiences. What do you think are some elements that help people get to the peak of their performance inside the enterprise?
Robbin: Yeah and this is gonna sound very counter intuitive so just stay tuned. One of them is the power of presence, because the franticness of the corporate space right now, it was like that when I was there too but I think it’s gotten worse. And when you’re on a webinar, you are looking out at your team, talking about myself now. I was looking out at my team, I was checking my e-mail, 20% was actually paying attention to the webinar at the time. Someone knocks on your door, “sure come on in but you gotta be quiet ’cause I’m on a webinar”. You’re doing four things at once, you’re not doing anything.
So really that power of presence and be in the moment with what you’re doing completely, it takes 20 minutes for your mind and this is researched, to get back to the level of clarity that you were at before you got bounced out by doing five things. So that’s one, is the power of presence. And I won’t give the company, but I had to tell on one extraordinary woman on an organization that we did a workshop with, we were doing a Q&A call and she said on the call, she’s like “I just have to share something with you guys”. “I literally have to close my eyes to stay present on this call” so I can pay attention because there was so much going on around her, that’s how she tuned it out. It was so nice to hear but it’s so true. So the power of presence.
Evelyn: I can relate to that. I’ll be on the phone talking to a client and I often have my eyes closed. People do not understand what it is that I’m doing.
Robbin: Yeah and if you’re one on one, especially with your team or a colleague, give them the gift of your undivided attention.
Robbin: It is the biggest gift we can give each other and we don’t do it often enough. So that’s one. And this kind of on the same vein, is to stop multi-tasking.
Evelyn: Very hard.
Robbin: It is and it can be done and it takes communication for sure. So you know time chunk your calendar. So I check e-mails three times a day and it’s literally in my calendar when I’m checking those. When I’m doing business development it has blocks in my calender. So I’m not trying to go from this, to this, to this, to this it’s all segmented. So this will be two.
Evelyn: I think that’s really good advice.
Robbin: And I think the third one is a piece of advice I got from my Vice President when I first went into management and that is inspect what you expect, because so often you give your team a project or a goal and then you are so busy with so many other things you never follow back up with them to see how they’re doing.
Evelyn: Educate responsibility.
Robbin: Totally. Yeah and then you wonder why it wasn’t done. Well you didn’t inspect it. So inspect what you expect.
John: Well this has been a wonderful talk.
Evelyn: This has been fun.
John: I’ve learnt a lot. And it’s been fun. [crosstalk 00:44:59] it’s even better.
Evelyn: Double benefit.
John: Well we’d like to say thank you to our terrific and very inspirational guest, Robbin Jorgensen.
Robbin: Thank you so much.