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2020 Topics

Theme: Creating a League of Your Own

August 18, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees and protects women’s rights to vote. As we celebrate this democratic milestone, we remember the strong, fearless women who marched arm in arm for change. Over the last 100 years, generations of women have continued the fight for equality with much success: (1963) Equal Pay Act, (1964) Civil Rights Act, (1973) Roe v Wade, and (1994) Violence Against Women Act, to name a few.

The 2017 Women’s March reawakened the movement with a worldwide protest for women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, environmental sustainability, LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights and tolerance. In our society today, the tide for change is rising once more. Women and men are seeking a renewed urgency for equality in the workplace with issues centering around gender discrimination, sexual harrassment and pay equity at the top of the agenda. How has the women’s movement of today used tools of sisterhood and allyship to empower a new generation of women in the workplace? How has having women in leadership positions impacted change? What would Susan B. Anthony or Sojourner Trugh say about the state of women today? How does intersectionality impact this fight for equity?

California recently because the first state to ban racial discrimination based on natural hairstyles through a measure known as the CROWN Act. While this law protects more than just women, this issue has long been a fundamental struggle for women of color. Many employers and schools have used the guise of “professionalism” to enforce inherently discriminatory groomming policies that favor hairstyles they deem as “acceptable” in the workplace Many women of color have not only been discriminated by their hair but by their physical appearance as well. The systemic issues that women of color face based on their appearance highlight numerous generations of overarching discrimination and colorism that continue to promote inequality to this day. What is a time when you felt discriminated against based on your appearance and how did you overcome these struggles?

Our financial decisions can oftentimes be linked to our emotional health. Anxiety, jealousy, joy and anger are a few of the emotions that can serve as catalysts to steer our financial decisions. Instead of allowing our feelings to negatively impact our financial security and stability, we should reframe our mindset to use our emotions to our advantage. In this segment, we will explore ways to rewire the connection between emotions and finances through new frameworks and support systems.

There is a growing stigma around the millennial and Gen Z generations: they are entitled and lazy, lack commitment and loyalty to their employers, lack interpersonal skills, and more. These preconceived judegments leave the new generation with limited opportunities for career growth and compensation. These hurdles, coupled with inheriting the largest pool of debt in history, have left millennial and Gen Z leaders on uneven ground. According to the Harvard Business Review, team members do not always trust younger leaders’ ideas or opinions, nor do they think that they represent the organization well. However, millennials are now the largest generation comprising the workforce, with Gen Z swiftly following. How can millennial and Gen Z team members overcome this stigma, and how can their Gen X, Gen Y, and Baby Boomer counterparts leverage these new skill sets to promote innovation and productivity in our dynamic workplace? How does ageism and multi-generational D&I affect our contemporary workforce?

Queen bees need others to survive and succeed – do you? Landing a leadership position at a top company can sometimes require having connections with the right people. We are often told to build a large network of influential contacts so that job transitions and opportunities are easier in the future. However, studies show that women benefit from not only having a large networking group, but also a smaller inner circle of female friends who offer gender specific job advice. Have you found that having a smaller, tight knit network of women has helped you climb the corporate ladder? What networking tactics do you leverage for your professional growth?

On March 31st of 2020, Equal Pay Day marks the additional number of days that women must work to earn the same amount a White man earned the previous year. For women of color, this day will not be achieved until several more months into the year. All of us have heard the statistics but how can we address pay inequity internally at our organizations and work towards closing the pay gap? Change must come from business leaders who commit to challenging the status quo at all levels – addressing unconscious biases in recruiting: hiring women of color in influential leadership positions; acknowledging that workplace culture has the power to exclude potential top talent through forced assimilation; and more. What are some ways for organizational leaders to promote pay equity within their workplace?

Lookism and Fatphobia are pervasive within our culture and workplace. Women who do not meet arbitrary beauty standards are less likely to receive job offers, title promotions, and compensation raises. Society’s bias against people of size has turned into movements that promote harmful dieting systems, body dysmorphic mental illnesses, and associated eating disorders. Women are especially susceptible to fat shaming and lookism, and oftentimes fail to be seen for their accomplishments in the workplace. In this segment, we will discuss the improtance of breaking down fatphobia, body positivity, and inclusion at any size so that everyone can feel beYOUtiful as they are.

Gender identity manifests in ways as diverse as humanity, and gender performance is becoming just as varied. Trans-women and female aligned, non-binary folx are historically excluded from conversations around women in leadership. In addition, these populations often face a sense of imposter syndrome when showing up in spaces like these. How can we intentionally include our trans sisters in the professional women’s movement and create space for varied gender expression in these conversations? How does intersectionality and unique lived experiences create avenues for change?

The term “hepeated” was coined in 2017 when an astronomer, Nicole Gugliucci, tweeted the word. “Hepeated” is used to describe the action of a woman saying something during a meeting; her comment being ignored or overlooked by meeting participants; and then a man repeating the exact same thing, but receiving praise and recognition for the comment. How can we make sure that women’s voices are not only heard, but that they receive the praise and recognition that they deserve? If we witness “hepeating” take place during a meeting, what can we do to educate others about this detrimental behavior?

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, both male and female bullies are more likely to target women. Bullying can oftentimes develop discretely, thereby making it increasingly difficult for leaders and team members to pinpoint the issue. Understanding the various challenges that women face in the workplace can not only help us recognize patterns of bullying, but also assistant us in trying to end this behavior. In this segment, we will explore ways to identify workplace bullying, promote inclusivity, and encourage women to support one another instead of bringing each other down.

Social media has increased in popularity over the last several years. Businesses have skyrocketed, sales have increased, and personal brands have grown. But social media can have a “dark side”. From mistweets to trolling, social platforms can take a toll on one’s personal and professional life. How can organizations encourage employees to utilize social media for a greater good? What are the pros and cons of being “connected” 24/7? Are there strategic ways we should separate – or potentially combine – our personal and professional life on the gram?

Not knowing how to say “no” is a problem that many people face. Saying no within the workplace is particularly daunting, with the though that declining any task could negatively impact our performance or hinder potential advancement. While it is important to step in and assist team memers whenever possible, it is equally as important to understand our limits and say no when needed. The ability to analyze one’s workload and set realistic boundaries not only promotes efficiency, effectiveness, and quality control, but also enhances mental health and engagement in the workplace. How can women learn to assert themselves and prioritize their own work, needs, and well-being while maintaining a harmonious workplace and collaborative work culture?

A recent study by Upwork found that 63% of companies now have remote workers. Research also reveals that 70% of people around the world work away from the office at least once a week. Considering that one third of our life is spent at work, many organizational leaders are beginning to explore how our workplaces can have a profound impact on our mental health and well-being. Research shows that almost 50% of women believe that work contributed to their mental health and wellness. In the ongoing battle for work-life- balance, flexible hours and location can promote employee engagement, satisfaction, and overall productivity. Having a flexible work environment can also create more opportunities for companies to employ people with disabilities, military spouses, caretakers and those who live in remote rural areas. How can flexible work environments encourage engagement and retention, especially for women in the workplace?

When renting or purchasing a home, we all ask ourselves one important question: do I belong here? This is the same sentiment we carry into our workplaces. Many organizations struggle to hire and retain female talent, failing to see that their workplace culture excludes women – from gendered language during the hiring process; male dominated board rooms; the lack of breastfeeding facilities; and male-centric team building activities, to reference a few. In this segment, we will explore how organizations can proactively place women’s sense of belonging and value at the forefront. What can organizations do to foster a sense of belonging and value for women? How can physical work spaces promote gender equality rather than reinforce exclusion? What are some things that make you feel at home in your current company?


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2019 Topics

Theme: Center Stage: Standing Out & Speaking Up.

A term originally coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, intersectionality reminds us that our identities are not defined by a singular part of our background. While we are all connected as women, it is important to note that all aspects of our identity intersect. Race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class, education, experience, all help to mold our unique perspectives. It is imperative that we account for our varying identities and utlize them strategically to achieve equity for all women. How can we ensure we are fighting for every woman and how can we use our intersecting identities to support one another in various ways?

According to Pew Research, 42% of women have experienced gender discrimination and harassment in the workplace. We can assume this number to be even larger due to the prevalence of under reporting. Gender-based harassment can come in multiple forms ranging from being made to feel incompetent to sexual harassment. How can we identify and put an end to these types of harassment? How does it affect women personally and professionally? As a co-worker or superior, how can we ensure to stand up for the women around us?

Instead of pinning women against one another in the workplace, it is time to lift each other up. This becomes especially important as you enter more senior roles. Women leaders often see the success of another woman as their own failure. Why do we feel like there is only room for one woman at the table? What do you do when you have a female bully in the workplace? How can women continually support and raise each other up as both a co-worker and as a superior?

Coined in 2005 by Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam, the “Glass Cliff” refers to the phenomenon women often face after breaking through the “Glass Ceiling.” Their research showed women are more likely to be promoted to senior leadership roles during times of emergency or crisis, when the probability of failure is at its highest. In this topic we explore instances of the ‘Glass Cliff’ phenomenon, both on a large organizational scale and smaller departmental scale. How can we recognize and navigate these hurdles?

Newer research has found that there is one proven exception to the Glass Cliff phenomenon: organizations with a consistent history of female leaders. How does the visibility of women in leadership affect company culture and the bottom line?

We want to break barriers and become successful as they can both personally and professionally. But, does success look the same to everyone? While many assume all women are striving for the title of CEO, does that have to be your main aspiration? How can we support women who want to take a break on their trek up the corporate ladder? How do we support those that prefer to stop altogether on a mid-level rung? How does work/life balance play into your notion of success?

Most of the time we cannot reach our goals without some help. Unfortunately, many women, especially women of color, have found it difficult to gain assistance in the form of a mentor to continue to climb the corporate ladder to their desired position. Furthermore, once we as women have gained powerful positions it is our responsibility to be accessible as mentors to women and men to showcase women as leaders and continue to bring more women into that realm. How can women find the right mentors and continue to act as mentors as we enter more senior roles?

Women still on average earn $.80 cents for every $1.00 a man earns. The numbers for African American and Latina women are even worse at 62.5 percent and 54.4 percent respectively. A large part of this comes from the fact that men are more likely to ask for higher raises, more frequently than women. Unfortunately, women are often taught tostay quiet and be thankful for what is offered to them. How and when should women ask for a raise? What are some tactics we can use to remain comfortable and not appear ungrateful or “too assertive”?

One of the most common struggles that all individuals face is the concept of “work-life” balance. However, is there really a hard line between the time spent at home versus time spent at work? What are some ways we can use technology to ensure that we are doing a great job as a parent while being a leader and innovator in our organization and industry? How can we support those that choose to integrate both worlds? What are the pros and cons of being always connected? Is there a difference in your approach based on where your career is?

Despite outstanding accomplishments, huge promotions, and academic prowess, high achieving women often find themselves struggling with a nagging feeling that they will be ‘found out’ or unmasked as a fraud. Imposter syndrome is the internal suspicion that one’s success is merely a matter of luck, timing, charm, or accident. Those that suffer from this nagging voice often feel as though they have somehow managed to slip through the cracks undetected and that it is just a matter of time before their colleagues discover they don’t belong. Imposter syndrome affects us all at one point or another. It has historically held women back from growth in the work place. How do we identify the voice of imposters syndrome and how do you go about silencing it?

Building a network of allies who can help, advocate and promote you within an organization is critical to your advancement and overall career satisfaction. Your network should consist of both men and women. By engaging men as allies, we are creating better leaders, stronger businesses and more fulfilling careers. This topic will identify ways in which women can transform the men they work with from colleagues to allies.


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2018 Topics

Theme: Women Blazing Trails

When everyone is pulling at your strings, how do you keep from unraveling? Self-empowering techniques can help you “keep it all together” and navigate daily stressors and life challenges with greater ease and balance. Learn about using food as medicine, keeping the body in motion, quieting negative self-chatter, and setting personal goals to create a style of living for personal well-being.

Your money shouldn’t be sitting around doing nothing, and neither should you! Evaluate your financial health, and figure out where you want to be and how to get there. Set financial goals, discover how to make your money work for you, and learn how to put it all together to create a financial plan.

Successful leaders today take an intentional approach to drawing connections between cultural dexterity and conscious leadership. Explore and learn the critical role diversity and inclusion plays in how you lead and build relationships and trust with peers, colleagues, and those you manage.

Don’t let difficult conversations keep you awake at night. Learn a scripting technique to clearly communicate an issue and its impact, propose a solution, and inspire positive outcomes for a joint resolution. Explore techniques to diffuse anger in others and create safety in these conversations. You’ll improve teamwork and productivity by dealing appropriately with important issues and conflicts.

Certain fields (aerospace, professional sports, high-tech, the financial sector) remain dominated by men at the top—and often in the trenches too. Because senior leadership tends to be largely male, and these men perpetuate a stereotype of the masculine-identified qualities required to become leaders (not to mention promoting people who most closely resemble themselves), cracking the door open in these fields has continued to be tough. Learn the challenges women face in a male-dominated workplace and gain some of the strategies women find helpful as they try to stay afloat—and keep swimming.

Do you fear that you’re a Imposter? Do you question if you are worthy? Are you scared that you couldn’t possibly be qualified to fill the shoes required in your position? Sadly it’s a fear that strikes many of us – especially women. Self-doubt is crippling and presents one of the greatest barriers to becoming an authentic leader. Using real-life experiences as they climbed the ladder, this topic will help you reach beyond your comfort zone and explore strategies to eliminate feelings of inadequacy and achieve authenticity.

  • Why executive presence matters;
  • How to deal with and overcome fear, self-doubt and imposter syndrome;
  • The importance of building trust and credibility to accomplish more; and
  • How to find and use your most powerful and genuine voice.

How do you not just talk the talk of “emotional correctness” but try to walk it every day — treating others with the compassion you want them to have for you and others? This topic will shed insight on the internal and external strategies for combating the meanness everyone experiences on some scale every day. Useful for everyone from young folks struggling with the emotional gauntlet of social media to adults struggling with the emotional gauntlet that is their kids, this panelist will share spiritual and practical tools we can all use including:

  • How to distinguish hate from constructive criticism and how to respond to both;
  • Three social media jujitsu strategies for dealing with haters without being hateful yourself;
  • Ways to renew yourself and your faith in humanity, even on social media and
  • How to define- and stick to – your own public, moral code of conduct.

By engaging men in creating more equal workplaces, we’re creating better leaders, stronger businesses, more fulfilling lives for both women and men and showing that this is a business imperative required at all levels from all managers. This topic will identify ways in which women can form closer ties and partner with male counterparts to work together more effectively

Building a network of people who can help you, advocate for you, and promote you within the workplace is critical to your advancement and is as important as building your external networks. How do you care for this network in a strategic and thoughtful manner? Wherever you are coming from, whether it is a small organization or a large one, this topic will answer these questions and offer strategies to help you form and leverage relationships allowing you thrive in challenging situations like reorganizations, mergers or acquisitions.

Today’s fast-paced, team-based and global work environments call for strong and effective business relationships. Emotional Intelligence (EI) competencies are at the heart of effective workplace relationships and productivity. They provide an integrated set of skills that support highly effective, fast-reacting and innovative organizations. Learn from this panelist as they share how you too can achieve greater personal awareness, connect with others, manage stress, engage in healthy conflict and collaboration, and be more optimistic and resilient by using your Emotional Intelligence.

As Millennials increasingly populate the job market, global workplaces are changing dramatically. It’s not just about how Millennials spend their time—attached to their cellphones, checking friends’ Instagram photos, and chatting about what they’ve seen on YouTube. It’s also about their mindset. Millennials tend to have specific expectations, attitudes, and behavioral styles that are different from those of Baby Boomers and Generation X. And these characteristics can pose challenges and opportunities for some of their direct reports. Workplace leaders need to understand what makes Millennials different and implement strategies to help them succeed.

Change starts at the top and the visibility of LGBTQ+ leaders matters. There is still a lack of openly LGBTQ+ people at the most senior levels in organizations due to persistent professional barriers. Creating and promoting targeted initiatives to support the career development of LGBTQ+ employees is essential in retaining the best talent, generating an inclusive workplace, and breaking stereotypes that keep the LGBTQ+ leaders from living their lives openly.

  • LGBTQ+ leaders often have difficulty gaining access to leadership positions. How do these challenges affect our notions of inclusion?
  • What can an organization do to ensure future generations have more power and representation?


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2017 Topics

Theme: Be Fearless, Influence, Innovate, and Inspire

The new rules of engagement demand that we leverage our influence across multiple spheres, including shareholders and employees, to build community around a shared vision. More so than ever, we need to create unconventional relationships and meaningful connections within and beyond our organizations to turn ideas into action. Why are women choosing to adapt the new rules of engagement? Who are the powerful women forging unconventional partnerships and driving change? How are these successful leaders scaling opportunities to ignite lasting change?

When women are empowered to lead, they make choices that change history! Why is it then that American women make on average 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns for equal work? As an attendee, you will hear concrete steps to address the pay equity issue, which includes learning to become a powerful and confident salary negotiator. By sharing today’s most successful negotiation strategies, you will learn how to monetize your strength and leverage your potential to create your own value – not only in your paychecks, but also in the position you hold.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Wikis, podcasts, blogs, RSS feeds… Social media has undeniably become ingrained in our personal and professional lives. But what exactly is “social media,” and how can we use it more successfully at work and at home? Learn how to creatively leverage social media to effect change across various industries, in your organization, and in your professional development.

Do the accepted management styles within your organization tend to favor certain men or women, or are they not broad enough to accommodate a variety of styles? Women who aspire to leadership positions often are unsure if they should adopt certain management styles or embrace their own. While embracing others’ leadership style leads to discomfort and feels limiting to an individual, not embracing an organization’s accepted style may lead to exclusion and isolation. How do successful leaders strike a balance between their personal leadership style and the leadership style of their organization? How important is authenticity to a having an efficient and successful leadership style? How does an authentic leadership style impact the pipeline and diversity within the organization?

College students change their majors an average of three times before they graduate. With the growing number of majors, from agroecology to homeland security, undergraduates have a difficult time limiting themselves to one field. They may ask themselves: which major reflects my true interests? Which major will help me land that dream job? While a lot of planning may be spent on finding the perfect match, many successful professionals end up in fields they had never anticipated in college. Hear from leading women who made the bold move of switching careers at different stages of their professional development. Why do women make the transition from their degree to the workforce? How do successful women adapt to the workforce and new career opportunities?

With one foot in the discussion on race and the other fighting for gender equality, how do minority women cope with the tension of living and working at the intersection of these two identities? Women hold less than 20 percent of leadership positions in the American workforce, and even less are held by women of color. This topic will discuss issues of identity with regard to gender and race, and will address the discourse of equality in the workplace. How can leadership emerge from such a unique women of color perspective? What kinds of challenges do women of color face in the workplace and in their professional development? How does an organization benefit from the inclusion of such leaders in decision-making roles and positions of power?

As you climb the corporate ladder it’s incredibly important to remember to throw down a rope. This is especially true for women leaders. Increasingly women recognize that the days of women fighting for the one available executive role are behind us. Rather, women helping women, is a responsibility not a choice. Why must women help other women succeed? What responsibility do we each have in making a difference for those who follow us? How can women leaders provide organizational and personal support?

The discussion of why women bully other women in the workplace has led to an understanding of two types of threats: competitive and collective. A competitive threat is the fear that a highly qualified female candidate might be more competent or accepted in the workplace, potentially displacing a former female. On the other hand, a collective threat is the fear that by accepting a woman with lower qualifications, this person could reinforce negative stereotypes of women in general. How do these types of fears manifest in the workplace? What lessons can we learn from others who have navigated the issue of bullying at work? How can women be more supportive to each other?

Whether you have stepped off the path you hoped to be on or are returning after a career or work hiatus, this session will look at what you can do to avoid or overcome a plateau, revive your trajectory, and find ways to follow your passion. What are some best practices for transitioning back into work? How can you maintain a record of professional development, despite being on “break?” How can you “catch up” to be competitive in your career of choice?

Power today is all about leveraging influence to engender change. As activists and change-agents, leaders are choosing to align their influence with key global issues, including humanitarian efforts. Learn how to say “no” to conventional practices and follow your own path to make an impact in organizations and the world. How are today’s game-changers tackling problems in unconventional ways in order to amplify the voices of millions around the world? What are these leaders saying “no” to? What kind of support is needed to be a trail-blazing leader?


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2016 Topics

You cannot afford to be apolitical at work if you aspire to advance in the professional sphere. In many jobs, when you reach a certain level of technical competence, politics makes a key difference in achieving success. In the workplace, politics is about positioning your ideas in a favorable light, knowing what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

Leadership does not happen without courage. To be an effective leader, you need to know your strengths, yet that is only part of the process. You also need a broad perspective on the behaviors needed to be an effective leader in order to avoid one-dimensional leadership styles. The inner dimensions of leadership include pioneering, energizing, affirming, resolving, and commanding.

Being in charge is different from being a contributor. New skills are needed to achieve results through others. Interpersonal issues and disagreements can jeopardize teams, departments, and projects. It is important to know how to lead a team, get the work done, deal with conflict, and solve problems.

According to Benjamin Franklin, “Opportunity often comes disguised in overalls covered in mud.” In today’s environment, successful careers are often developed by taking the road less travelled or by accepting projects or assignments that may not seem appealing. However, these assignments may provide unique opportunities to stand out amongst your peers and other leaders. Learn when and how to take risks to ensure you are positioned for the next big opportunity.

What does it mean for women to have a “voice” in meetings or within their organization? Many women consistently feel less effective in meetings than in other business situations. Some say their voices are ignored or overlooked while others point to an inability to find their way into conversations. How can women navigate perceptions around assertiveness in the workplace while owning their voice?

Everyone must be a proactive networker in today’s environment. It is important to note that the ability to hold conversations with others and collect business cards is not enough. Networking is not connecting. It takes a unique person to successfully connect with the right individuals at a particular meeting or event. Make the transition from a networker to a connector in order to create opportunities for yourself.

Highly successful women do not leave things to chance. They build networks, leverage their connections, and go after what they want. This frame of mind highlights the importance of self-branding, which is essential to climb the corporate ladder. Take charge of your personal brand and start thinking more creatively and strategically about yourself and your abilities.

Women who break through into senior-level leadership roles get there by delivering results. In “Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others,” John Maxwell lists a number of traits a person of influence should possess such as integrity, nurturing, faith, and understanding among others. Once you learn these simple, insightful ways to interact more positively with others, your personal and organizational success will go off the charts. Whether your desire is to build a business, climb the corporate ladder, or secure your place at the topicle, you can achieve it by raising your level of influence in the lives of others.

In “Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career,” Sylvia Ann Hewlett says that mentors may offer an open door and helpful guidance but, to win, you need a sponsor. In the corporate world, if women want to get ahead, they need to identify strategic sponsors. These are individuals with credibility willing to vouch for your talents, skills, and abilities while advocating for your advancement in the organization. Learn important tactics to identify and impress a potential sponsor who can be your advocate in the road to career success.


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