The Network and Affinity Leadership Congress is the premier U.S. Conference that brings network and affinity groups from all industry sectors to a conference to share effective practices to help each other grow. This year it was held in Chicago at the Hyatt Magnificent Mile Hotel in Chicago and the theme this year was Design, Develop, Delivery, ERG Means Business. This year I was given the pleasure to attend and the day consisted of a networking brunch, a keynote speaker and two rounds of breakout sessions. On Thursday, the keynote speaker of the day was Steve Pemberton, Walgreens’ Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion and Global Chief Diversity Officer. Steve talked about his childhood and the obstacles he changed and currently in this world ERGs have helped the discussion on furthering diversity in the workplace and have helped employees make change in their industries. Once the keynote speaker session was over, I attended four breakout sessions for the rest of the day.
My favorite breakout sessions was Managing Difficult Conversations in Difficult Times & Fueling High-Performing ERGs with Executive Sponsors. The difficult conversations session was facilitated by Tanya Odom, Global Diversity and Inclusion and Education Consultant & Executive Coach. This workshop allowed for us as leaders in our respective companies to talk about the issues happening in the world that affect us personally and how it can affect us in the workplace. We also discussed some of the issues we wish we would have seen our company address or issues we wanted to have discussions around but didn’t know how. This workshop also allowed for us to hear from some of the leaders who did start some difficult conversations at their companies and how to continue that conversation and what actions come next.
In the Fuel High-Performing ERGs with Executive Sponsors session, we had panelists that were executive sponsors but also leaders of their respective ERGs. This session focused on how to gain an executive sponsor, knowing what you exactly need your executive sponsor for and how to keep them engaged in the ERG. I learned there are five key roles an executive sponsor is: strategist, evangelist, innovator, broker or mentor. Out of these five key roles, it is important that the ERG lead should know exactly what role they need their executive sponsor to play. They also talked about making sure you have a strategy for the ERG, involving your executive sponsor, and making sure your executive sponsor doesn’t necessarily identify with your ERG. It was interesting to hear what certain executive sponsors look for and the struggle the ERG leads were having to find an executive sponsor. I know I currently struggle trying to find one for the ERG I am a co-lead for, but this session gave me a better understanding of what steps need to come first.
Throughout the day, the NALC Conference taught me a lot and I got to network with a lot of people who were just as passionate as I was about ERGs. It was a delight to see Capgemini represented on stage by Erica Lewis, co-lead of A3. I think this is a great conference to have and would love to see what other conferences Diversity Best Practices has in years to come.
My name is Courtney Dansby and I am a Sales Operations Analyst for Cloud Infrastructure Services. I currently am the co-lead for Women LEAD Chicago and the National Communications Lead for A3.