Are You Change-Ready?

Are You Change-Ready?

By Jill Vitiello

We’ve noticed lately that the conversation has shifted from change management to change readiness. There’s a new awareness that change is happening so rapidly that the notion of controlling it is outdated. Change is the new normal. Company leaders are not only training teams to embrace change, but also charging them to be the catalyst for change by disrupting systems that no longer provide a competitive advantage. The quest for innovation and relevance has put a strain on organizations that are bureaucratic and staid.

Inside the enterprise, the switch to a change-readiness mindset has become increasingly evident. Seeking ways to shorten cycles and decrease resources needed to bring new products to market, product managers are applying the agile method of project management, adapted from the world of software development. Agile focuses on small scrums working in sprints to reach project milestones faster and better. Learning and Development experts are delivering training on the job as bite-sized, digital experiences that mimic a quick Google search for fast information at workers’ fingertips rather than days-long, instructor-led training, or even one-hour self-serve modules.

Change readiness is most apparent in the Diversity & Inclusion space. There’s a palpable impatience with the politeness of Employee Resource Groups, and a growing restlessness to take action that enacts genuine, lasting change in the workplace. Influencers in this community recognize that to eliminate the disparity they have pointed out, they need to prepare people to take on bigger, more demanding roles in their corporations.

Two groups, both based in New Jersey, are leading the charge of change-readiness among business women. They are empowering a cadre of women through research, training, mentoring and professional development.

Women of Color in Pharma (WOCIP) is a brand-new professional society focused on preparing Black and Latina women in the pharmaceutical industry for positions of increasing responsibility. Co-founders Charlotte Jones-Burton, M.D., M.S., and Patricia Cornet, M.A., have successful careers in pharma. They realized, however, that barriers to entry and promotion exist for women of color even in an industry that publicly commits itself to gender and racial parity.

In fact, research reveals that, while all women struggle against the proverbial glass ceiling at large corporations, Black and Latina women are significantly under-represented in managerial and executive ranks. Yet research also shows that companies with a more diverse employee population, and particularly greater diversity at the C-Suite and board levels, outperform companies that are less diverse.

With a small, volunteer board of directors and several generous sponsors, Jones-Burton and Cornet will launch WOCIP officially at the organization’s first annual conference, Sunday, Nov. 5, through Monday, Nov. 6. They will be joined by powerful advocates of change, including keynote speaker Wanda Bryant Hope, Chief Diversity Officer, Johnson & Johnson, and other speakers such as Michelle Amador of Covance, Marisa Co of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cristina Santos of Sanofi, and Celeste Warren of Merck.

“WOCIP’s vision is to enable the transformation of the pharmaceutical professional landscape with women of color,” said Jones-Burton. “Our mission is to empower women of color in pharma to excel in their personal and professional development and to transform their pathway within the pharmaceutical industry.”

On Oct. 30, Executive Women of New Jersey (EWNJ) released its third biennial report, A Seat at the Table: Celebrating Women & Board Leadership. At the EWNJ’s breakfast meeting that day, the organization presented awards to 21 New Jersey-based corporations with women in the C-suites and on the boards of directors.

Keynote speaker Annette Catino, former CEO, Qualcare, Inc., and Director, Northfield Bank, focused her remarks on what women need to do to prepare for that coveted seat at the table. She advised women to network strategically with people who currently serve on corporate boards. She encouraged women to expand their business acumen and experience beyond the female-friendly functional areas of human resources and marketing. And, she cautioned that anyone who wants to lead must be prepared for business dinners five nights a week and entertaining on the weekend.

EWNJ President Michellene Davis, Esq., Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, RWJBarnabas Health, built on Catino’s message by exhorting the hundreds of attendees at the awards breakfast to “lean in, step up and bring along” the next generation of women leaders to increase their numbers and their impact.

Change readiness is proactive, strategic and long-range. It means taking the lead in educating and equipping ourselves and our organizations to effect change as a force for good. That’s a much different point of view than managing change, where we either brace ourselves to endure it or steel ourselves to drive it. WOCIP and EWNJ are two groups that are taking change to a new level.

What are you doing to become change-ready?

*VTLO is proud to support WOCIP as its business communications partner.

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