- Prior to the opening session of the forum, what steps have Brody and her HR colleagues taken to promote diversity efforts throughout the company?
Brody was well aware that diversity is not a new concern for the organization. To this extent she had revisited existing diversity and development programs in Bestfoods and had drawn lessons from them. This way Brody can focus on renewing old programs and also creating new initiatives where there is policy lacuna. The generous list of invitees to the forum – from all corners of the company’s operations is in itself a diversity measure. Then the numerous surveys conducted in the lead up to and during the forum helped ascertain qualitative and quantitative issues pertaining to diversity within the company.
- What actions or factors contributed to making this a successful change effort?
Foremost, the visionary and proactive thoughts and actions of Laura Brody is the basic contributor to success. Brody had several issues to contend with. She had inherited a diversity and development department that had grown stagnant over the years. Not only did she reignite a spark in this ailing department but she was also able to think out-of-the-box for solutions. She also displayed courage and conviction in being able to articulate her views on the subject of women’s representation within Bestfoods. It was Brody’s and the broader organization’s good fortune that the two significant male leaders Shoemate and Bergmann were not chauvinistic men. To the contrary, they shared Laura’s sincerity and passion for the cause. All these are key factors in making the change effort a success.
- What else should Brody and Bestfoods do to institutionalize the changes begun at the Women’s Global Leadership Forum?
The first and most significant step for creating enduring institutional changes was already taken at the Women’s Global Leadership Forum. An effective follow up to the forum would be publicizing the resolutions and agreements made during the forum. The publicity should be both intra organizational and to the general public. The former will reinforce the commitment pledged by top leaders and the latter will create transparency and public goodwill. Further, making the women’s global leadership forum an annual or bi-annual convention within the organization will consolidate its success. By doing so, the culture of equality, diversity and representation will become internalized at the individual, departmental and regional levels.