The morning started out all wrong. The suit I was wearing just wasn't going to work for me. Was it the pinstripes or the raspberry-ish shirt I let the lady in the store convince me was a good color for me when maybe it really wasn't after all? Huffing, puffing, buyer's remorse and one quick change later, I was off to breakfast and conference registration.
The morning started to pick up. Even before I came across the first-class registration center, I noticed something. The energy of over 120 women meeting, greeting and settling in for what would prove to be amazing day was so apparent, I could feel it. This room full of powerful leaders was local, national and international, crossed many sectors and represented multiple organizational levels.
The morning got much better. Sue Negry, Program Director at The Conference Board, welcomed us to the program and introduced our first speaker, Laura Liswood, Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders and a Senior Advisor at Goldman Sachs. Laura, the author of The Loudest Duck, "presents new thinking that goes beyond the usual approaches to diversity." Through her stories, she not only provided examples of the subtle advantage of men and subtle disadvantage of women in organizations today but most importantly, discussed what is being done and what can be done to create effective workplaces for all.
Nothing speaks louder in business than the mighty dollar so it was great to hear that companies like Ernst & Young were not cutting back on their diversity and inclusion programs, women's networks were going strong at companies like Microsoft, Best Buy and Katten Muchin Rosenmann LLP and mentoring programs have leadership support and proven successes at AstraZeneca and Qualcomm.
While it was very surprising to me that 40% of the women in attendance never use social networking tools like LinkedIn, it was just as great to hear about the active social communities at State Farm Insurance and ConAgra Foods and to listen to the social media knowledge, experience and voice of reason offered by Amy Vickers, VP, Enterprise Solutions for Razorfish.
"The past two years have tested even the best of leaders," said Leslie Abi-Karam, Executive Vice President of Mailing Solutions Management, Pitney Bowes, Inc as she wrapped up the day with her six powerful pearls of leadership wisdom: listen, embrace coaching, continue to learn, drive for results, encourage the success of others, and love what you do.
And that was just the first day. I can't wait to see what tomorrow holds!
Note: I am attending the Women's Leadership Conference as a guest of The Conference Board. They covered my travel accommodations to New York so that I could bring you my honest insights of some of challenges and opportunties facing women leaders today.