Here I am at the 2015 IBM ConnectEd (@IBMConnect) Conference in sunny Orlando, Florida. As always, it’s a whirlwind of activity, as some of the best minds in social business gather to share their thoughts on where we’ve been and where we’re headed. While there are far too many interesting things going on for me to comment on each of them individually, I thought I’d share my thoughts on some of the events I found especially compelling.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the Women’s Executive Lunch, hosted by Katrina Troughton (@KatyTroughton), Vice President, Smarter Workforce Solutions at IBM (@IBM). The past several years, the conversation surrounding women in business and leadership roles has taken on a much more urgent, proactive tone. Whether the discussion has focused on equal pay for equal work or creating leadership opportunities in the workplace, there are plenty of encouraging signs for the future of women in business.
That said, the road ahead will certainly bring its twists and turns, but after attending this vivid, engaging luncheon, I couldn’t help but walk away feeling a great sense of optimism for the future—both in general and at IBM specifically. We simply cannot consider the future of business without considering how women leaders will help shape it and give it their own twist, and being in a room full of women all keenly aware of this fact was empowering indeed.
The tables, full of many prominent movers and shakers in social business, were simply humming with conversation. While naturally I wasn’t able to drop in on every discussion at every table, I was very impressed by what I heard. Topics ranged from the professional to the personal, including the always-slippery concept of work/life balance. Naturally, much was said about the role and benefits of social business practices, and the myriad ways the rapidly ascending millennial generation will come to define what that will mean.
Questions were raised about how these elements would affect not only the workforce in general, but us women in particular. While it was clear to all in attendance that we women have made great strides in the past couple decades, there is still a great deal to be done in terms of claiming an equal share of the leadership pie. Naturally, stress and frustration will be inevitable—but how we handle those challenges is up to us. In those moments, it’s important to remember that progress is being made.
The key in many ways is self-monitoring, knowing what it is we seek both as individuals and as a collective, and especially knowing the warning signs for when we might be getting a little off-track with our goals. There not be an “instant remedy” to the multifaceted conversation of women in leadership, but there is certainly a growing set of solutions and resources designed to help us bring our unique style to the table and help usher in a new era of business.