2020 marks the beginning of the third year in which M2woman hosts its Journey to Excellence Forum, discussing the key values of Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion. On Friday the 14th of February, we commenced our eighth event after hosting over 2,000 women in the past two years. The Great Room at the Cordis Hotel played host to the buzzing panel conversation, engaging keynotes, and occasionally waves of laughter from the 350 attendees.
The event got underway with after a warm welcome from our effervescent mediator, Mel Homer. Dr. Kaisa Wilson, Diversity and Inclusion practitioner and the Director of The Gender Tick, presented our first keynote of the day. She provided us with three implementable steps to get rid of gender equality in the workplace, involving the analogy: diagnose, treat and immunise. Her pragmatic approach, that anticipated the backlash and friction, was a clear indication of her expertise and was appreciated immensely by all in attendance.
Kristin Harper, our second keynote of the day and Director of Harper Consultancy, talked us through three key points to take into a negotiation. With his background in sales, he merged entertaining anecdotes with experienced knowhow to give us his three most significant attributes to bring to a negotiation: energy, transparency and authenticity. Harper encouraged us to self- and peer-evaluate on these three areas and seek to improve them over time.
After the keynotes, the forum moved into the panel discussion featuring Air New Zealand’s Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, Sarah Archer; Lewis Road Creamery’s General Manager, Nicola O’Rourke; and RUSH Digital’s Founder and CTO, Danu Abeysuriya. Mel Homer mediated the panel discussion that touched on powerful points about diversity best practices, eliminating unconscious bias, the importance of inclusion and takeaways for the workplace.
Sarah Archer spoke of the importance of culture and autonomy when dealing with a workforce of 12,000 and how sometimes companies have to stack the deck in the favour of diversity & inclusion. On the other end of the company size spectrum, Nicola O’Rourke spoke about the importance of having different perspectives, even with a workforce of 25.
When asked about new generations coming through, Danu Abeysuriya highlighted how a company like Disney reacted to the MeToo movement by evolving their content. His point was that even legacy companies have the potential to change and in the future many companies will be judged by what they do now in terms of diversity & inclusion.
After a Q&A session with the audience and individual table discussions about key points to take home, the audience, panelists and keynote speakers flowed out into the foyer for networking over drinks from Woodford Reserve and Piper Heidsieck.