The combined forces of the Executive Women in Work Comp and Women in Work Comp were in full swing at this year’s National Workers Compensation & Disability Conference. The two organizations recently joined together to form “The Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation” to talk about women and leadership.
The Alliance is a unique organization bringing together professional women (and men too) in the work comp industry to work together for the common good. The Alliance’s goal of inclusivity manifests in not only encouraging women and men alike to work together for the advancement of women but with the benefit of industry improvement all around.
For the past three years, the Alliance has hosted the pre-conference event on the Tuesday before NWCDC. The focus for this year’s event included what women are not told about leadership, what moves women from middle management to the top and developing business, strategic and financial acumen. Quite an agenda! And with a packed room of over 400 women, there was certainly a lot of excitement, exchanging and engaging going on!
Nina Smith, General Manager with Mitchell International and an Alliance Board Member, kicked off the event by getting us excited, up and out of our seats, clapping/dancing to some foot-stomping tunes. It was enlightening to see a respected industry executive like Nina relaxed, having fun.. and still leading!
Next up was the keynote speaker Susan Colantuono, a recognized leadership expert, author, TED Talk extraordinaire and CEO of Leading Women. If you were unable to attend the Alliance event, at least check out Susan’s TED Talk (click here) which will provide you with some good takeaways.
Susan’s discussion was enlightening:
- Women are not told the essential skills for moving up, executives look for business, strategic and financial acumen.
- Women don’t always know how best to speak the language of POWER
EQUALS= what Susan called the “missing 33%” of a woman’s professional background that keeps her from reaching the top.
So what do we do about it? Well that led to the workshop portion of the Alliance program, where each table began exchanging dialog on their jobs and practicing speaking the language of power. Instead of “I feel confident I’m the right person to lead the organization” we practiced using power words such as “I understand the business, I have the cash numbers to talk about what new markets can help fuel our growth, I know our bottom line in terms of what’s needed in ROI and I know our customer…” It’s a shift from being taught throughout our lives to be strong, confident, assertive, knowledgeable to then speaking the language of a CEO from the business acumen perspective. It’s an important nuance.
It is no longer enough to understand the business, but women must speak to where the business is headed and her role in getting it there. As to engaging, here’s where I believe women have a competitive edge that we don’t leverage enough. We are THE BEST AT ENGAGING! It’s what we do! We engage every day from a personal level with family, our community, our faith which is then parlayed into how we interact at work. Women not only lead, but do so with an engagement experience that sets us apart from men. Women are great networkers and mentors, it’s in our DNA. When you combine our natural talents with business acumen, glass ceilings should be blown away.
Leadership is using our own greatness, achieving and sustaining extraordinary outcomes and engaging the greatness in others. Achieving and sustaining outcomes is the key to advancement, this is the business, strategic, financial acumen necessary to open the door to the top. We can do this, it’s not only building our confidence but more importantly learning the business for advancement opportunities.
I believe there are already great women leaders in work comp today, I looked around the room and saw many of them there. Many of them not only exhibit business acumen, but bring their compassion for helping the injured worker, building teams that provide world class service and are constantly trying to improve themselves and their businesses. I met CEOs, nurse case managers, risk managers, general managers, senior vice presidents…so many in the room, so many that were excited, exchanging and engaging for the betterment of the industry and their businesses.
The Alliance proves that good things can and do happen in our industry. It was energizing participating in this year’s event, knowing you are a part of a larger network and helping one another work towards professional greatness. It’s inspiring to know women are not only committed to a career, but dedicated to the work comp profession. We may not have solved the gender gap in a day, but I can tell you we all left the room with a better understanding of leadership and career success.
The Alliance continues to grow as an organization with local chapter events, pre-networking events at work comp conferences and an Ambassador Program. For more information, please visit their website at www.allianceofwomen.org.