Equality vs equity: How Lily Zheng changed the way I think about definitions
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is#EmbraceEquity, and its aim is to get us talking about why equal opportunities are no longer enough. Understanding the difference between equity and equality can help us do that.This reminded me of a book I read, “DEI Deconstructed” by Lily Zheng (they/their), whom we had the pleasure of inviting recently as a guest speaker at Avanade. In their book, Lily not only articulated some thought-provoking truths, but they also provided useful and practical ways for organizations to achieve better Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) outcomes.Lily described equity as this: “It has two parts: one, the presence of wellbeing and success across all groups; and two, the absence of discrimination and mistreatment for all groups.”Lily pointed out that – rather than asking, “Is our company trying to achieve equity?” – we should be asking, “Have we achieved pay equity, wellness, balance and flexibility for all groups?” because these are things that we can measure, achieve and celebrate.This view reminded me the importance of how we demonstrate equity in Avanade through measurable outcomes. Some key initiatives which we have already implemented that come to mind include:Equal pay for equal work – and we achieved 100% gender pay equity globally in December 2022.We offer flexibility and choice in our ways of working.In some regions, we already provide gender-neutral paid parental leave; and we're looking to expand it to all regions in Growth Markets.And what about Lily’s view on diversity and inclusion? Their approach is this:Diversity– the demographic composition of a given company that its stakeholders trust and feel represented by.Inclusion– the way you measure if a workplace is a place where everyone feels respected – from every group and every region – and feels able to bring whatever part of themselves they choose into the workplace.I see two important aspects to these definitions:First, they will resonate with a broad range of stakeholders because they aren’t prescriptive. The definition of diversity doesn’t specify the exact proportion of people that should be people of color, Asian, women or LGBTQ+. All it demands is that anyone of any identity can look at a company and say, “Yes, that company represents and includes people like me.” Otherwise, diversity just becomes about counting people who fit into certain boxes. Second, all these definitions give us a way to succeed in DEI because they are immediately actionable.At Avanade, we’re on a journey toward equality by first focusing on equity. Equitable policies ensure that everyone in our diverse workforce gets their different needs met. We are going to use this approach to look at our initiatives in terms of systems – not individuals.This is how we will invite everyone into the DEI conversation. Because if we’re going to build a better workplace for everyone, we need everyone to be involved.This blog was originally published on: Women at Avanade here.
Roundtable Recap: Key Challenges and Opportunities for Gender Diversity in the Post-pandemic Era
On November 24, Half the Sky gathered 9 leading corporates which included: Microsoft, Accenture, Equinix, Dupont, AkzoNobel, Avanade, Yara International, Johnson Controls, and Ciscofor our inaugural roundtable series: “DE&I Challenges & Opportunities for Corporates in a Post-Pandemic World.” This event was moderated by the HTS Founder & CEO Sabrina Hoand HTS advisor Duncan Hewett.The small group size and selective attendance maximized the opportunity for candid sharing, networking and learning value. We certainly got a lot of insightful pointers to share with you read on for a recap of the days event:It was noted throughout the roundtable that Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have the power to transform business by creating a truly inclusive workplace culture — which, in turn, drives employee satisfaction and retention. In fact, significant polls show that today’s jobseekers prioritize inclusion and want to feel like they belong over financial incentives.Although many companies believe in a DEI strategy many find they run into certain challenges that can complicate the process or keep it at a standstill.Here are the five key challenges identified during the roundtable: 1. Availability of diverse talent Ms. Irnizah Khusaini, of Johnson Controls, shared that one of the key reasons for such a scarce availability of diverse talent is because the industry is mostly pipelined by men. In the 2022 statistics, men are still dominant in the tech industry posing 73.30% over women that has only 26.70%. In addition, women who manage to work into a male-dominated tech companies are often met with lower pay for the same grade of work.Ms Khusaini also added that hiring managers should be encouraged to build more diverse teams and have more women in senior positions. Encouraging managers to view talent through a diverse lens, including the perspective of female talent, can bring valuable dynamics to teams in male-dominated industries, ultimately adding value to the business.2. Lack of initiatives for system changes For Ms. Lynn Dang of Microsoft, she mentioned that it is imperative that a system change should be implemented within the organization to create better roles and opportunities for female talents. “So, for industries like technology, we need systemic changes to enable a more inclusive workplace environment and it really starts from an early age so that young girls are encouraged to pursue careers in STEM” Ms. Dang said. Ms. Lynn also noted that one of the key challenges in implementing DE&I in today's corporate environment is the difficulty in maintaining the flow of female talents joining the tech industry. 3. Cultural challenges Ayaka Yamada, Senior Manager of Culture & Change at Yara mentioned that Japan is also facing cultural challenges when it comes to its female workforce. She shared that, “In Japan, it is unfortunate that women are not given the same level of appreciation for their work in the workplace.” Ms. Yamada also explained that in some cultures in Japan, women tend to stop working after they get married. “They think that they need to contribute a lot to the family and they need to dedicate their lives to housework and caring for their children and husband.” It was noted that Japan is ranked 120 out of 156 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index (GGI) in 2021 the worst ranking for an industrialized nation. 4. Nature of industry For Ms. Tiffany Chan of Accenture, one of the antagonists in improving gender diversity in the workplace is the nature of the of the industry. “I think all leaders are really supportive of having diversity and inclusion in our recruitment but I think the challenge is that the nature of our business makes it really hard to do so.” Ms. Tiffany explained. Further, for industries that focus on manufacturing and industrial work like Dupont, Ms. Angielina Tay noted that the real struggle for their industry is to find female professionals that fit in an operational manufacturing environment. “In our industry, it’s a real challenge to find field scientists, there are only a few female talents who are willing to be part of that kind of environment.” Ms. Angielina shared. 5. Hiring to fill not hiring to fitHiring quickly pose risks and possible detrimental outcome-- it may cause high turnover, lost time and wasted training resources. But most importantly, you might miss on diverse talent that’s critical to a company’s success.For Ms. Jalene Liu of Equinix, she shared the data that shows that female candidates should be nudged 7-9 times before they decide to join a company. Further, she said that hiring managers shouldn’t be in a rush to hire talent. “If the hiring manager is always in a rush, there's very little chance of onboarding diverse talents. So, they have to slow down and be focused on driving diversity, and you know, considering the diversity of candidates before deciding to hire.” Finding the right balance between speed and effectiveness should always be in the process of hiring managers. A lot of challenges on diversity and inclusion has been discussed but there are also key opportunities that were tackled in the roundtable. Here are 5 key opportunities that were discussed during the roundtable: 1. Remote work setup For Ms. Carole Hung of Akzo Nobel, she claimed that remote setups are especially conducive to working moms who are trying to get back in the workforce. “Remote work setups really help, it’s an encouragement to working moms to come back to society.” Ms. Hung said. Aside from working moms, Ms. Tiffany of Accenture also shared her learning experience on people with disabilities. She said that the option of being able to work from home opens a lot more opportunities for persons with disabilities. “They can have the flexibility to work from home now and I think this is an area that we can look into with more effort,” Tiffany said. According to Forbes, remote opportunities will continue to increase through 2023 and it’s been projected that more companies would move to remote setup.2. Culture of empathy in the workplaceForging a culture of empathy takes many shapes and forms in the workplace, even in a remote setup, this type of culture is supported by Ms. Jalene Liu, of Equinix. She said that having an environment with empathy makes a difference when it comes to mutual respect among employers, managers, and employees. She said “Being a good company also has something to do with the company culture, it should build a healthy environment for the employee, there should be.” 3. Right to disconnect Studies have shown that burnout and stress are the effects of an ‘always on’ culture on employees that are checking messages after work. Expert says that knowing how to disconnect after work is one way to resolve it.For Ms. Lynn of Microsoft, she shared her experience of learning the need to delay when it comes to reaching out to employees via email.“I realized I need to delay sending emails after working hours, it’s a way to respect and have empathy and not to disrupt other people's time.” Ms. Lynn explained. 4. Support for Diversity and Inclusion For Mr. Duncan Hewitt HTS advisor mentioned that men who supports women in the workplace are also the kind of allies the industry need to build diversity. On the same discussion, Denise Naidoo of Avanade Asia, added that leaders have the responsibility to ensure that the company represents the communities they live in. “It's about just rebalancing, everyone that comes there [should] feel like they can be their authentic selves and have a sense of belonging,” Denise said. In 2022, there has been a lot of progress when it comes to inclusivity at work. Progressive industries are now creating diversity campaigns to attract and welcome diverse talents around Asia and even the whole world.5. Better recruitment practices For Cisco’s, Mr. Gary Chua, in order to achieve a diversified pool of talent, one effective strategy is to encourage the participation of female talent from early career stages."We've just deployed techniques to start doing internships with female talent and we also started looking at cross-company mentoring of junior talent,” Chua said.In an article from the Guardian, it stated that gender-neutral job descriptions would reduce impostor syndrome among women looking to enter a male-dominated internship. When screening potential interns, companies should have diverse hiring panels and gender-neutral interview questions.The roundtable ended with a fruitful discourse of the challenges and opportunities each of their respective industries face. This discussion will surely reshape the culture of the corporate world to a better, more diverse environment. Join us on our mission to level the playing field for women at work and prepare for the future of work and become a company that cares.
Six ways to create award-winning employee experiences
Research is proving what we at Avanade have known all along. Delivering an exceptional employee experience (EX) is a sound business strategy - after all, your people drive innovation, customer experience, and business growth. Moreover, the intensifying global war for talent has made it even more important to focus on EX to attract and retain top talent.So, what does it take to increase talent stickiness?According to a report, 65% of employees in Singapore are willing to accept lower salaries or forgo promotions for better work-life balance, overall well-being, and happiness. This mindset is reflected in LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report 2022, where people say they want flexibility, remote options, and jobs that care for their mental and emotional well-being.How do you deliver on these new expectations? I believe there are six key pillars to designing for transformative EX.1. Align to a common purpose– A McKinsey research found that people who are “living their purpose” at work had 4x higher engagement and 5x higher well-being. People want to make meaningful contributions, and companies that communicate and live a higher purpose resonate more with their employees. For instance, at Avanade, our purpose is “to create a genuine human impact,” and everything we do for our clients, with non-profits, and for our communities aligns with this greater goal.2. Offer abundant and empowering choices– In the post-pandemic era, companies need a fluid approach that gives everyone real and abundant choices about where, when, and how they get their work done. At Avanade, work and success look different for everyone based on their unique needs. For instance, our hugely successful Alternative Work Week enables people to choose a flexible schedule for their working hours to fit their life outside of work.3. Give people the freedom to be themselves– Your people should feel like they belong in the workplace. And for that, you must make consistent and deliberate efforts to promote an inclusive and bias-free workplace. Often that means breaking down walls, bringing people together, and giving them platforms to connect and collaborate. At Avanade, we have various programs - such as the Avanade Women’s Circle and a partnership with Autism Resource Centre Singapore- that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion .4. Create opportunities for constant learning– For 92% of people, professional development opportunities are important. Companies must show people they are invested in their growth by offering clear career paths, regular upskilling, and creative freedom. At Avanade, we help our people learn on the job by mixing up assignments, encouraging curiosity, and sponsoring hackathons and company-wide innovation contests such as our annual global!nnovateFest.5. Bring in holistic Workplace Experience (WX) thinking- Today’s employees expect intuitive, consumer-like experiences as they go about their workday communicating, collaborating, learning skills, or executing tasks. Companies need a WX strategy that aligns employee experience with productivity goals, business outcomes, and tech capabilities. At Avanade, we bring together IT, HR, and business stakeholders to design programs that amplify workplace experiences.6. Make employees your partners in success– A crucial aspect of EX success is never to assume what would work and instead ask your people. At Avanade, regular pulse surveys help us check in with employees to listen and act on their concerns. We also take this partnership a step ahead with an employee share purchase plan so that everyone can reap the benefits of the company’s success.The secret to winning hearts and mindsAt Avanade, this sentiment has been our guiding light in ensuring that our employees feel inspired, confident, and cared for. We have consistently enabled distinctive experiences, limitless learning, and ambitious growth for our people.I am proud to say that this approach has led to Avanade’s recognition as HR Asia’s Best Companies to Work for In Asia Award 2022 and won us the HR Asia Digital Transformation Award 2022.The original article was published here.
The future of work at Avanade is all about flexibility and choice – Working in ways that work for you
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been stress and speculation over when employees would return to offices. In recent months, we’ve seen headlines like: “50% of companies want workers back in office 5 days a week” or “The Return to Office Revolt” or “CEO tells employees to return to the office 40 hours a week—or quit.” I know some of our people have felt anxiety about the possibility of such an edict—that after embracing new ways of working, they could suddenly be forced to turn back.In March 2020, Avanade was able to pivot quickly to 100% remote work because, as an organization focused on our clients’ evolving needs, we already had the technological capability and had been operating as a hybrid workplace. But we’re no longer responding to the early seismic shift of an unprecedented pandemic; we've built a resiliency that enables us to thrive through constant change. So, before us is an opportunity to decide - as a company - what approach would best serve our people and clients.What does the future of work at Avanade look like?The truth is that it will look different for everyone, and that’s by design. Our goal is to attract and retain the best talent by offering real and abundant choice about where, when, and how they get their work done. Maybe that’s at home, in an office, at a client site, a coffee shop, a city bus – most likely, a combination of all of the above. We understand that not everyone works in the same way or has the same needs, and there is no one way to work and be successful at Avanade. While sometimes we do have to be at a certain place at a certain time for a commitment, flexibility is also key. That is why we aren’t asking anyone to box themselves into a choice like “three days at home, two days in office.” The choice is fluid and not fixed.We want to be a leader in this space. We know that of the more than 2,000 business leaders who responded to our Workplace Experience (WX) research survey, 60% still haven’t enabled flexible working practices within their organizations to give all employees freedom of choice around how, when or where they work. Our clients look to us to help them create and navigate modern workplace experiences, and it’s important that our own WX is the best of the best, reflecting what we recommend to them. Our approach is working, and clients are noticing. Avanade's Alternative Work Week program, for example, has been such a success that we’ve had clients begin to implement it in their own organizations. We’ve also used our own WX as a case study during sales pitches and had clients share that this credential factored into why we won the project. Avanade’s physical offices still have a major role to play in our vision of the future.Avanade offices provide an opportunity for human connection, a place for us to come together and collaborate. As we move forward, we want to create the future of the Avanade office with our people. Even if they don't live near an office or access it often, if and when they do, we want it to serve them. What about coming into an office makes it a worthwhile experience? What kind of spaces and amenities are inspiring? We will ask for and use this feedback to create offices that offer even more appealing choices.We’re not concerned with limiting our options and worrying about where people work, because we’re good at what we do, and we know culture doesn’t require a building. We’re ready to invest in our people, to focus on the behaviors that drive us forward and the systems that support our growth as we continue to evolve the story of who we are. The original article was published here
The Importance of Inclusion & Diversity in Cybersecurity
When I interviewed here at Avanade, it was the first time (in my more than 20 years), that part of that interview process included an Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) session.I met with someone with the express purpose of discussing I&D. I was asked what ideas I had on getting more I&D into cybersecurity and more broadly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in general. My response, as someone who grew up a white, middle-class male was, “I’m not really sure.”Despite growing up in what I would call one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. (Houston, Texas), having been exposed to all ends of the spectrum when it came to race, income, demographics, geography and more, I had not considered a world where someone didn’t consider a STEM career because of their status, race, sexuality, etc. I attended college with Hispanic women studying medicine and computer science, and Muslim women studying biology, etc. There were multiple historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with good programs. So, my world view and experience was not “worldly,” I suppose.I have considered this question and specifically how do we (as businesses) get more inclusive and diverse around cybersecurity. And I mean across the board; while gender and race are often top-of-mind, there are other status such as veterans, differently-abled, age groups, religion, nationality, etc.A double win: I&D and skills shortagesMy first recommendation is a double win: Along with diversity gaps in security, we also have a gap in available staff and skills in the market.In my view, we need to hire more entry level or transition people from other industries. Entry level roles require a basic understanding of security and then as a business we can train them to fill the roles we need in the future. The issue today is most “entry level” jobs are looking for 5 or 7+ years of experience in certain skills, when what they should be looking for is passion and ability to learn these skills. When we open the barriers on the roles we need, it makes it easier to bring on individuals from any background.Now I’m not suggesting a Director of Incident Response role should be filled by a recent college grad, but businesses need to have more roles for entry level positions. We need to grow our own because if we don’t, no one else will.“Breaking into cybersecurity” is a real discussion topic among entry-level candidates. We are telling constantly telling younger people that this market is booming and it’s where you want to be, but not hiring enough of them. It should be easy to see how this kind of shift in our industry will make the entry point for I&D easier.Remote work and flexibility make a difference.I spent more than half my career in consulting. It’s nonsensical to me that any business would not embrace remote work. Throughout my career, as I interviewed for a role, if it was one where I had to “punch a clock at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.” and be in the office just to be there, I passed on the opportunity. In my view this is an inefficient way to work and it limits your talent pool. By allowing your employees to work remotely, you extend access to regions and areas where you can accelerate I&D hiring.You can establish relationships with schools, non-profits, or other organizations to promote cybersecurity or STEM in areas that may not be doing so. It’s time we stop looking at our businesses with respect to a particular city or headquarters location and start working nationally and globally. You can influence youth this way and you can get the best talent to fill those hard-to-find roles.Transition programsThese are another great opportunity to expand the diversity of your workforce. Whether it’s a specific program like the U.S. Department of Defense’s skillsbridge, or organizational specific program, finding passionate individuals who want to work in the industry and working with them opens many doors. These programs take people who have worked in other industries and “reskills” them. You not only get to add diverse hires to your staff while growing the industry, but you also get people who are skilled in other areas. They may have great soft skills for client-facing work, be excellent managers or can use their experience in the medical field to now help secure healthcare organizations. If one of our issues as a society is our youth are not being exposed to STEM or not having the opportunity to do it, we can then investigate the industries where they are going into and build these kind of transition programs.I believe as an industry, we can do things to increase the diversity of our workforce. We simply need to make diversity a priority and explore the benefits it brings to the success of our businesses and our industry. If you want to read more about how Avanade empower employees to be themselves and build their career visit our Life at Avanade page. William Klusovsky is the Global Industry Cybersecurity Lead at Avanade.The original article was published here.
Making a genuine human impact through mentally healthy workplaces
As the global pandemic rages on and many Australians experience extended lockdowns, we’re seeing a heightened awareness around the state of our mental health and well-being.The sad truth is we’re not alone when it comes to feeling overwhelmed, tired, insecure, worried, lonely and isolated as a result of everything we’ve experienced in the last 18 months or so. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics – one in five Australians are reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress linked to the pandemic, with young people, women and those living with a disability the most affected by poor mental health.As we celebrated World Mental Health Day earlier this month on Oct. 10, there was, thankfully, some cause for optimism. According to the World Health Organization, governments around the world have recognized the importance and need to scale quality mental health services. Similarly, a recent report by the Black Dog Institute found that organizations in Australia are taking concrete steps to create more mentally healthy workplaces. The same report, however, also indicated that some of these policies don’t necessarily cater to the changing needs of Australian workers as well as to how work and the workplace have dramatically evolved in the last two decades.That said, there is a silver lining in every cloud. The last 18 months have taught us to embrace changes, learn and adapt – and in this instance, create new mental health policies that are flexible and practical for all employees.For example, at Avanade, we introduced the Alternative Work Week program to empower employees to space out their time in a way that works best for them. Employees who choose to participate in the program may opt to work their designated hours over four or four-and-half days in a condensed and focused fashion, providing them time to balance their work and life commitments. Other initiatives and benefits we’ve introduced to support our employees’ mental health and well-being include personal days off to disconnect and recharge, No Meeting Fridays, and professional counselling services. Additionally, to recognize Mental Health Month in Australia, we provided our employees an additional paid day off in October to focus on their mental health and well-being.As part of our commitment to better support our people, we’ve also become a member of the Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia (CMHAA) to raise awareness about the importance of mentally healthy workplaces, as well as provide more tools and resources to support our employees.This October is Mental Health Month. As individuals, let’s take this time to show that we care for one another. For organizations in the public and private sectors – this is an opportunity for us to really examine the issues around mental health, take action, and make resources more accessible so together we can make a genuine human impact on the quality of life and well-being of Australians.The original article was published here.
#ChooseToChallenge: How speaking up and challenging the traditional path has propelled my career forward
My colleagues and peers know I have never been silent; I have never been shy or soft-spoken. I am a challenger, someone who advocates and stands up for others; I am very concerned with justice, combating oppression, and protecting the underrepresented. The events of the last year have driven me to channel my voice and passions into larger and louder impact. A single volunteer event, protest, or fundraiser is no longer enough. I began looking toward how to impact social change within my organization. This was the time I began to feel like I needed to pursue a career that was more aligned with these goals.One year later, I have just begun my new role within Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) at Avanade. Aside from the commitment to making a drastic career shift, there were several key development programs, opportunities to gain visibility and sponsors who helped me get here. First, I took an active role in corporate citizenship in my region. Almost one and a half years ago, the global corporate citizenship team rolled out a local leads program to help them execute their goals and drive employee engagement at a local level. As someone who jumps at any volunteer and community leadership role, I knew that I wanted to be involved from the start. Through this plus-one role, I began to develop my network at Avanade outside of my role and Talent Community and demonstrate program management skills. Since I began this role, I have drastically grown the program in the Midwest, increased employee engagement and participation, and led pro bono projects that helped take nonprofits digital in the COVID environment. I continue to push us to get creative, give more, and do more in the corporate citizenship space.After success in this role, I was selected by Avanade to attend an accelerator program at the University of Washington, focused on accelerating social change and impact in the Evans School of Public Policy. The strategies and leadership skills I gained gave me the confidence as a change maker to start implementing more or my ideas at work.The second and most crucial component in my career advancement was founding and leading an Employee Network. After a few months of chronic racism and bigotry in every headline last summer, I knew that I needed more support at Avanade, even if that meant leading the charge. I began planning the launch of Adelante – Avanade’s Latinx Employee Network – and assembling a small founding team to help get it off the ground. At the time, we had a three-person I&D team, and there weren’t enough resources to give Adelante a ton of support. I did not let organizational boundaries impede our progress and began a journey of proving the worth behind intentional and carefully curated programming aimed at making Avanade’s Latinx community and supporters feel included and valued.After our first event, it was clear that we were going to make an incredible and positive impact both now and for years to come. Not only was Adelante creating change surrounding its three pillars – people, community service, and market – but I began to get pulled into larger conversations about race and equity at Avanade. Over the course of a single quarter, I had the opportunity, in a one-on-one setting, to share the Latinx experience and feedback with executives from across the organization, including CEO Pam Maynard herself. I also participated and took a very vocal role in our Global Race Taskforce this winter, where I was focused on accelerating development for employees of color and creating a truly inclusive culture. As a young woman still forging her career, that level exposure and visibility has been priceless.Being able to lead and create impact at this scale is rare, and it’s what will keep me at Avanade for years to come. I always have my voice, and it gets listened to here; it gets amplified and it is valued. I have experience at top consulting, financial services, and tech institutions, and I have never experienced the level of freedom and control of my career like I have at Avanade.This International Women’s Month I feel proud of my progress and grateful for the opportunity to challenge myself, my peers, and Avanade to make a bigger, bolder and louder impact.Mina Rabideaux is the Global ERG Program Manager at Avanade.The original article was published here.
Avanade Leadership Program for Women goes virtual in 2021 to great effect
Launched in 2016, the Avanade Leadership Program for Women (ALPW) is not new to our organization, but it is seeing some significant changes this year. This is the first year the program has been run virtually, so it was redesigned to take place over six months, from May to November.With 58 women from across Avanade participating, it’s the program’s largest cohort ever. The women will join a three-hour session once per week for six weeks before moving to one-on-one coaching along with webinars or coaching circles every few weeks until November.Also new this year is the freshly launched ALPW Alumni Program, which allows former participants to keep touchpoints, learn from experts and leaders, and grow their network. Anyone who has attended ALPW in the last six years is welcome to join.To gain more insight into these new experiences, we chatted with 2021 ALPW participant Jen Glover, digital product manager, ALPW alumna Patricia Valloni, Growth Markets corporate citizenship lead.2021 ALPW Participant Jen GloverHow did you feel when you first heard you've been selected for this year's cohort?I’d heard the mythology of ALPW since probably in my first six months at Avanade, and I've been wanting to get in that program ever since joining. So, it's been about two years in the making, kind of lobbying for myself, and eventually, yeah, I got it and I was really ecstatic and felt really seen and validated.Apart from those immediate, ecstatic reactions, did you have any concerns about participating in the program?I did, mainly linked to the new virtual format that includes a three-hour learning session every Monday for five weeks. I was mainly concerned because I recently took on a team lead role and I was a little concerned that this would tear into my schedule, and I wanted to be there for my team and delegate effectively. But really, I just let my team know that during Mondays at this time I wouldn’t be available because I had to focus on this, and we made it work. Also, thinking in terms of return on investment on my time, although I’m spending it away from the team, ultimately it's going to benefit them and I’ll be better at supporting them as a leader.You’re really role modelling a positive behavior by showing your team that you are prioritizing your own development as well. So hopefully if they are in a similar position one day, they'll feel comfortable to do that too.It's really great that you said that, because I know personally, it's so hard. And as a female, it’s harder to put myself first, and feel I can concentrate on this FOR ME. It’s just such a hesitancy we have to overcome. And if you don’t make that time for yourself, you’ll get resentful. So it’s important to have that balance and be intentional about it. I recently sent an email to the team saying, you know, if you have downtime, don't hesitate take advantage of learning opportunities. Watch a video, read a book, or do something that that'll upskill you, and that you're interested in.Now that you’ve completed the first part of ALPW 2021, was it what you expected?In terms of the curriculum, it wasn’t what I expected actually, but it provided something we all needed. We all get a lot of career advice in general, but there are all these variables that prevent you sometimes from taking that advice, whether it's not the right scenario that you're in at work; or if it's not the right dynamic you have someone; or if your own personality doesn't support that type of behavior. I hear certain advice and I just think no, I would never do that, so it's not for me. The curriculum really encourages introspection of yourself as a leader. I didn't realize it, but that’s the first step. One of the first learnings I took from the program is that it's simply not enough to give someone at leadership title, they have to make a mental shift to see themselves as a leader. I feel like I was missing some of the language to describe that before ALPW. When you go from being an individual contributor to a people manager, you can have something like an existential crisis: Am I adding as much value now that I’m not doing the actual work?Were there any particular highlights or standout moments?Well, I shared a lot in the sessions, and was pretty transparent and vulnerable – because I felt I could be. Maybe the virtual format allowed the introverts like me to be a little more vocal and transparent! I expressed some of those growing pains of getting promoted into a new role and not being as comfortable as I was in my last role, and things that were affecting me when Chief People Officer Caroline Fanning was speaking with us. She reached out and offered to have a virtual coffee with me. We spent 30 minutes together where she asked me more about my experiences and listened, empathized with me and gave me some great advice. And that meant a lot.What advice would you give to future participants in ALPW?Have some sort of vision of what kind of leader you want to be. For me, it’s always to be the kind of manager I wish I’d had earlier in my career. Start to think like a leader and know what an impact you can make on people and their development. Even if someone is on your team for a year or less, you can still have an impact on their trajectory, whether it's by lifting them up, supporting them, and sponsoring them.ALPW Alumna Patricia ValloniWhen did you attend ALPW?December 2018 in Italy. I was four months pregnant at the time. Pregnancy is a period of great uncertainty in a woman's life, especially around career. The investment Avanade made in developing me as a person and as a leader, in addition to the powerful connections I made with the other women at the event, made me more confident and aware of my capabilities.What was the most impactful thing you learned and were able to use, or apply, in your professional life after ALPW?We did self-knowledge exercises, which help me a lot to work more assertively, taking into account my feelings, strengths and points of improvement, respecting my limits as a human beingWhat made you decide to participate in the new ALPW alumni program?Keeping the connection with these amazing women who listen, share, teach and learn.How have you found the ALPW alumni program so far?I think it's worthwhile to keep in touch on this journey, as well as having new content so we can continue our learning and development journey.Is there any advice you’d like to give to the women in the ALPW 2021 cohort as they continue their development journey?To be honest with yourself. Don't change yourself too much and believe in your skills. And I look forward to a time when we can all gather together again.The original article was published here.
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