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In January 2014, the CWB co-hosted with McGladrey LLP, a peer exchange among leaders of Boston area based public accounting and law firms. The participants in this lively discussion identified a number of challenges that professional services firms confront in retaining and advancing talented women and, increasingly, younger men as well. They also shared with one another ways in which they are addressing these challenges and identified key areas in which all of them need to devote more attention. The CWB’s upcoming May 2014 Best Practices Forum will incorporate many of the observations raised during this exchange.
In December 2011, the CWB hosted a group of chief human resources and diversity officers and heads of women’s initiatives for a day-long workshop on the broad topic of the retention and advancement of women. In facilitated small group sessions and an open forum – all off the record and without attribution of comments to any individual or company – these women and men shared their views about what is and is not “working” and what is needed in order to more effectively keep women from dropping out of the workplace and move them ahead towards leadership positions. The CWB has used information generated by this exchange in its other corporate programming and research. Participants in this session benefited from the networking and sharing experience.
A quite different form of peer exchange was a CEO Roundtable that the CWB co-hosted with its founding corporate partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, in Philadelphia in May 2013. A dozen CEOs, Presidents and corporate directors engaged in a confidential discussion of the ways in which gender diversity is being addressed in their companies, the roles that they and other senior executives play in developing the pipeline of women leaders and the challenges they face in driving change. The CWB’s October 2013 Best Practices Forum on the topic of engaging men as collaborators in diversity and inclusion programs was largely a result of what we learned at this first CEO Roundtable.
Based on the success of these programs, the CWB is planning to hold additional CEO Roundtables in different cities, as well as workshops for other groups of peers whose work in different ways involves the issues of retaining and advancing women. Many of these workshops will be directly responsive to challenges identified by our corporate partners.