As part of a journey to strengthen our culture of inclusion, we began writing quarterly editorials last year designed to stimulate conversation about relevant and sometimes challenging topics. The idea is that healthy and open dialogue is an essential prerequisite to breaking down the barriers to inclusion. We are energized by the feedback to date, and are excited to continue this conversation into a second year.
To kick off this year’s series, I commented on an article I recently read on the website of one of our partners, the Ellevate Network: “Sheryl Sandberg Just Nailed a Subtle Way Men Hold Women’s Careers Back.”
The article reflects on how men can feel uncomfortable spending one-on-one time with the women with whom they work. As a result, they avoid dinners and other out-of-work events with women, thus limiting important networking (and presumably many other learning) opportunities for women at work. That struck a chord with me.
In consulting, and especially here at West Monroe, doing great work is not enough. Our success depends on teams, not individuals. Relationships matter and are vitally important to one’s career success.
However, as much as I believe in the importance of mentoring and networking, I also understand it doesn’t always feel comfortable – and typically that’s related to the activity itself more than the people participating in the activity. Dinners between male and female colleagues are an oft-cited example, but gatherings at bars can be uncomfortable for those who don’t drink, or large group outings can be difficult for introverts.
In this piece, I discuss recommendations to ensure we create an environment where all colleagues feel they have an equal chance to develop professional relationships. I also invited Kelsey Braak, a manager in our Operations Excellence practice and a member of our Inclusion and Diversity advisory committee, to contribute her personal perspective.
This issue is largely a silent challenge, and we know we won’t be able to fix it without an open dialog. With that in mind, I welcome your questions and input in the comments below or via email.