It Takes a Corporate Village

Together, managers and CLOs can be leaders in creating a corporate village where both the corporation itself and all the individuals in it are thriving and growing.

by Dr. Rosina L. Racioppi

July 25, 2023

Image for CLO article repost on WUI site

While the phrase “It takes a village” hasn’t been widely used in corporate circles, it is equally appropriate and applicable to that landscape. It can serve as a paradigm for organizations that want to create a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for all employees, at all levels.

Managers must not only be part of that “village,” they must be a driving force in it if organizations are to successfully find and grow much-needed female talent. For diversity initiatives to take hold and for organizations to feed their depleting talent pipeline, managers at all levels must fully activate their role in hiring talented women and in supporting, guiding and promoting them once they are on their teams.

Developing and retaining female talent: 3 key strategies for managers

  1. Learn what you don’t know about the women on your team

There are clear experiential differences both culturally and corporately between men and women in organizations. For DEIB to be sustainable, managers must both understand and address these differences. Upon becoming more tuned into how women perceive, and are perceived, by their organizations, one manager surveyed in a WOMEN Unlimited poll, summed it up this way: “I have a better understanding of the specific challenges women colleagues face and how a manager can aggravate or alleviate them.”

  1. Understand there Is no one-size-fits-all

There is a tendency to lump women together as one homogenous group. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The experiences, the backgrounds, the goals and the areas in need of development vary not just from woman to woman, but also across races and ethnicities. If DEIB is to become a sustainable strategy, managers must understand these realities and customize the development approaches for the women on their teams accordingly.

  1. Consider how you give feedback

Many reports and studies have pointed to the fact that the feedback women receive, unlike that of their male colleagues, lacks the insights and observations that will help women advance their careers. Managers need to be more willing, and not just during annual or semi-annual reviews, to create a dialog that both allows women to share their goals and managers to point to the strategies and changes that will help women achieve those goals.

The critical role of the CLO

Chief learning officers are the shamans, if you will, of the corporate village. They have the power and the ability to look at the big picture and assess if current programs and strategies are geared to attracting, maintaining and promoting the broadest possible range of women across organizational levels, race and ethnicities.

Additionally, CLOs have the tools and understanding to assess whether managers are ready to take on their roles to support diversity and inclusion for each member of their team. If not, CLOs are equipped to provide the support it will take to get them ready.

What About the Village Itself?

To carry the village paradigm one crucial step further: We must ask questions of the organization as a whole. Is it a nurturing community where all its members believe they can advance? Are corporate leaders strong advocates of DEIB, requiring it at all organizational levels? Is there an openness to hearing different points of view, learning from them and adapting accordingly? How is “the village” planning for a future where diversity will be even more important to growth and profitability?

Together, managers and CLOs can be leaders in creating a corporate village where both the corporation itself and all the individuals in it are thriving and growing.


The original article was published by Chief Learning Officer, read here.