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Dolly Parton Wisdom Meets Tech: Guiding Strategic Success with Diversity at the Women in Tech Summit

“A successful strategy doesn’t just state the destination; it charts the journey. A leader doesn’t purely follow the path, but actively aligns decisions and investments.” - NBG Strategy Consulting

As a corporate strategy leader of growth-focused companies in the tech sector, I consistently see the challenges in accomplishing all aspects of this statement simultaneously. It’s one thing to lay out the destination and even a map; it’s another thing to get people’s behavior to comport. ‘Measuring what matters’ is essential to drive decision-making changes. My participation in the Global Women in Tech Summit in Paris, France last week underscores the importance of ensuring tech leaders measure not just their returns and innovation, but what matters for their workforces.

I had the honor to lead a panel with the Chief People Officer of Allianz Technology, Head of Amazon International Stores DE&I, and the Founder of 50inTech on navigating #diversity and inclusion in a global workforce. Amidst tech debates on the future of AI, venture funding, and the metaverse, we discussed the importance and challenges in corporate #inclusivity when facing significant growth goals. There were many takeaways from these amazing leaders, but three points continue to resonate in my mind as I think about the intersection of strategy, tech leadership, and corporate culture.

  • Think globally; act locally. Liz Gebhard from Amazon explained why global organizations need to put forth an inclusive global agenda and goals, but execute locally to ensure alignment to culture, customs, and a baseline of the environment. This advice applies to successful strategy development and execution for organizations spanning geographies, integrating post M&A, and managing diverse product or service lines. Understanding the baseline #culture of teams and environments is important to ensure that the objectives, measures, and incentives for changing decision-making behavior are appropriate and achievable.

  • Be flexible and willing to course correct. Arne Benzin from AllianzTechnology discussed how the measures and metrics put forth to increase parity in the company’s gender pay gap were so successful in one country, that they have to address parity for men now earning less than women. While some may cheer at the notion of women being paid more (hooray!) the goal is equity. It serves to remind executives that strategy execution is as important as development. The ability to celebrate success but not over rotate requires constant assessment of the environment, metrics, and associated risks.

  • Hold yourself to higher standards than others. Caroline Ramade's #50inTech benchmarks diversity in tech companies. But as a founder herself, she needs to ensure she meets if not exceeds diversity within her company. Doing so requires intentional actions that raise the bar for others. When #techcompanies do this in the face of rapidly evolving capabilities, they elevate their market and mitigate risks. Leaders and leadership teams who model behavior especially in downturns bring corporate values to life.

Strategy isn’t just about the numbers, but about the legacy that supports an organization’s continued trajectory. The WOMEN IN TECH - Global MovementTech Summit highlighted that technology companies from startup to global leaders all have responsibility to think globally and act locally, hold themselves to higher standards, and course correct when necessary. In so doing, when infused with greater awareness and attention to diversity goals, their strategic success and ours as society - especially women - elevates.

In the words of the legendary Dolly Parton, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” Good strategies and their executive leaders do just this, just as this Summit and its founder, Ayumi Moore Aoki, did for all its participants.

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