WOMEN Unlimited recently interviewed Bobby Rodriguez for his perspective as a Chief Diversity Officer on inclusiveness and developing female talent.
Visael “Bobby” Rodriguez
Vice President, Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
It’s much harder to scale a lattice than to climb a ladder.
In many organizations today, the only path for career advancement is a matrix that has no discernible line of direction. Unlike the easy-to-follow career ladder, the lattice doesn’t offer bright signposts detailing the next stop, nor does it clearly point to people who can advise and describe at each level.
The lattice is marked even less clearly for early-career women. Companies’ hearts may be in the right place, but the constant demand for short-term progress diverts attention elsewhere. So women and their employers are left to figure it out on their own.
Women need adaptability, agility, confidence and originality – and even more – as they step onto the career lattice and start their ascent. While self-reliance is vital to professional success, so, too, is the ability to network and learn from those who have successfully traversed the ladder and the lattice.
Helping Improve Corporate Productivity for Two Decades
For 22 years, WOMEN Unlimited has provided such a platform for female professionals. We’ve helped unearth the talents of women and introduced them to male and female senior leaders who continue to serve as long-term mentors. In turn, alumnae of our programs often become mentors later in their careers.
But that’s only half the story. WOMEN Unlimited supports leading corporations’ integrated talent management strategies that not only makes the lattice a well-defined path but also improves corporate-wide productivity and the bottom line. Women and their employers simultaneously achieve their goals.
We’ve successfully partnered with top global organizations – including Adobe Systems, Bayer AG, Bridgestone Americas, Colgate-Palmolive, John Deere, Raytheon and Prudential – in three WOMEN Unlimited development programs that have empowered nearly 12,000 women and produced numerous benefits organization-wide as well.
IMpowering Awareness and Change
In this blog – the first in a series of three that will review these programs – I’d like to offer a snapshot of IMpower: Grow the Talent That Will Grow Your Company, the cornerstone program for early-career, emerging female talent.
IMpower puts into play the research conducted by WOMEN Unlimited’s corporate partners and other leading corporations. Knowing exactly what corporations require to develop and retain female professionals, IMpower fully prepares participants to contribute to corporate goals and objectives.
Over six months, participants attend six sessions – which are held in 7 U.S. cities and in Asia Pacific – with a focus to advance their careers and meet corporate goals and objectives:
- Owning a career through focus, awareness and agility
- Relationship building: Expanding influence and increasing impact
- Developing as a confident, visual and vocal contributor
- Bolstering business impact, personally and virtually
- Broadening business acumen beyond one department
- Becoming a catalyst of change
Additionally, each woman has the unprecedented opportunity to work closely with male and female leaders, learning from their successes and mistakes and asking direct, personal questions that will help advance her career. Mentoring along with Networking and Education – are the three pillars of all WOMEN Unlimited programs.
Managers and Colleagues Also Benefit
IMpower – and its previous iteration, TEAM – has supported 4,830 women taking charge of their careers through interactive sessions and unparalleled mentoring. Additionally, more than 70% of alumnae enjoyed an expansion of their roles within one year of their participation in a WOMEN Unlimited program.
But it’s not just women who benefit from IMpower: When a woman participates in IMpower, so does her direct manager and her colleagues. This wide level of commitment means organizations clearly see the challenges facing early-career talent and better understand how to retain this vital resource.
With everyone involved in such impactful change, an organization not only has shaped one developing leader; it also has turned the lattice into a clear pathway for many others.
Dr, Rosina L. Racioppi
President & CEO
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.