LIBS presents: The diversity journey - creating impact and achieving results
Beware the danger of benevolent bias. That was the warning from Vodafone Ireland CEO Anne O’Leary, describing how the doubts of her husband and friends posed the biggest threat to her applying for the top job that ultimately allowed her to make a real difference to the lives’ of working women in a company that, at executive level, is now 63% female.
What is benevolent bias? O’Leary describes it as, “where people who care about you, are trying to protect you, but they actually hold you back.”
“Are you mad? Are you sure? Aren’t you senior enough already?” – Just some of the concerns from loved ones that spurred on the defiant Cork native.
Speaking to members of the London Irish Business Society (LIBS) at Facebook HQ in Kings Cross – O’Leary was joined by PWC Ireland’s Marie O’Connor and Facebook London’s Streisan Bevan.
O’Connor, who was the first woman to be accepted onto the business course at Rathmines College of Commerce before finishing top of her class and becoming the first female partner at PWC Ireland, now also leads the 30% Club campaigning for women to hold 30% of seats on company boards.
Reflecting on lessons learnt on the road to greater diversity, she stressed that policies shouldn’t be driven just by what other companies are doing but by understanding the unique factors dictating diversity in each individual workforce.
Not an easy task if a workforce is rapidly changing, something Facebook’s Striesan Bevan knows all too well. The Co-CEO of the tech giant’s London Women’s Group told the audience how the once sales driven office of 20 quickly grew to thousands with a large focus on tech development.
The Toronto born mother of two spoke of new challenges competing for a voice in meetings led mostly by men with a different skill set to her own and how she adopted Facebook’s ‘ally-system’ to ensure her opinion was backed up by at least one fellow colleague, helping to get her message across.
Guided by the steady hand of Irish Times Deputy Editor Deirdre Veldon, the evening was a huge success booking out in just a couple of minutes.
LIBS would like to thank our panelists and moderator, as well as all of our sponsors and Facebook for generously hosting the event.
Full video from the event
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Thank you to all who attended
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