In a country where divisions between race and gender are exacerbated by hyperbolic media and politics, the necessity of forging ahead to cultivate diversity and inclusion becomes paramount.

Michael Welp, Co-Founder

Michael Welp, Co-Founder

If anything is to be learned in the corporate arena, it is that leaders must step up their efforts and set a positive and tangible example despite – and because of – the turbulent atmosphere. The percentage of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 hovers around four percent, while it’s one percent for black CEOs.

More work is needed, a lot more, but that work must be intelligent, researched and focused to be highly effective. When we co-founded our firm, White Men As Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP), Bill Proudman and I set out to develop methodology for bringing about cultural change by including white male leadership in the experiential learning process. Twenty years later I chronicled highlights of that journey in my book, Four Days to Change. What constitutes the clear majority of corporate leadership in America? White, male and straight.

No surprise, but what may surprise you is how much change is possible on a personal and professional level when we get people in a room for four days and proactively and systematically run them through the proverbial wringer (with utmost care) on such topics as Unconscious Bias, Getting the World That Women Live In, Exploring Male Privilege, Objectifying Women, The 12 Radical Habits (New Mindsets), and The Eight Critical Leadership Skills. (Chapter titles from Four Days To Change)

And I cannot overstate the importance of that last one. Why? Because nothing speaks louder in the corporate world than skill and competence. More specifically, “corporate” is looking at the bottom line, productivity, and who makes things happen. In our learning labs, I have learned unequivocally that women want to be recognized for what they can do, for their drive, for their compassion and dedication to growth and accomplishment. I have also found that women are prone to recognize the intimate correlation between compassion and productivity. These are the Eight Critical Leadership Skills as borne out of our innumerable experiences with Fortune 500 leadership:

  1. Courage

  2. Integrating Head and Heart

  3. Listening

  4. Balancing Key Paradoxes

  5. Leveraging Ambiguity and Turbulence

  6. Managing Difficult Conversations

  7. Seeing and Thinking Systematically

  8. Being an Agent of Change

When we engage leaders, we take up all these points in detail. They are given a safe space in which to honestly rate themselves against these invaluable skills – and more importantly, they step forward as partners to effectuate multi-faceted change. The work is never done, but I believe that high-caliber women from all walks of life will continue to rise to the occasion and bring about tangible shifts in mindsets and corporate culture – with the inevitable ripple effect into society at large, a paradigm shift if you will.

That is why I keep going.

Read more on the Eight Critical Leadership Skills