Reflection Point partnered with a global financial services company (three concurrent breakout groups) to honor Women’s History Month and explore issues related to women in the workplace. In a diverse group - men and women in different roles, - the group discussed women’s progress in the business world and the challenges that still hold them back.
Aimee Bender’s “The Color Master,” combines the setting of a fairytale with a modern workplace. Growing in role, an apprentice to an ailing color master meets increasingly difficult orders from an important customer. As leadership changes hands, the colleagues use creative approaches to rise to the occasion in pursuit of their craft. The story examines mentorship, succession and divergent styles of leadership. The story also tees up discussions of gender, recognition and the challenges of achieving excellence in the face of emotions and ethical challenges.
Insights and Reactions shared by the Participants
Starting in a story was a new muscle for the group! But they quickly found the story to be an easy entree into really powerful discussions, each group starting in a different place.
One group explored the role of emotions in the workplace and in the financial industry overall. They explored how male-socialized behaviors like dispassion are more valued than female-socialized behaviors like compassion.
Another group focused on leadership skills and qualities and the role of gender in how we define these attributes.
The third group spent time on the question of succession, and how a good leader is only as good as the succession plan they create. Who and how we oversee changes in leadership meaningfully affects organizational culture.
All three groups explored the challenge of difficult or demanding clients and how to retain integrity in the face of challenging requests.
Specifically, they commented:
“It was amazing. The quality of the discussion, the myriad viewpoints, the opportunity to engage with a wide array of colleagues in such a distinct and different manner than that which we are accustomed to was wonderful. Also, the insights, perspectives and diverse engagement with the material was a total learning experience.”
“It was very interesting to see what perspectives people had and to also rethink my own assumptions based on what others added.”
“I was in awe of the brilliance of my colleagues and incredibly humbled by the experience. The ability to connect the literature to the workplace was surprising and resonated deeply.”
“Great opportunity to step away from the day to day and connect with colleagues on something seemingly exogenous to the Firm and our daily tasks, but actually strangely relevant as it turned out!”
“Participating in this session - which required consideration of others, courage to speak up, tolerance of differing perspectives and yet no one person was the ‘subject matter expert’ - allowed for greater connectivity, sharing, bravery, confession and transparency than nearly any other event in which I’ve engaged.”
“This exercise clearly demonstrated the benefits of fostering an open dialogue and soliciting different perspectives.”