The importance of diversity in the boardroom and C-Suite has become a growing topic of interest within many companies and amongst investors and stock exchanges. While most businesses have made pledges to diversify their C-Suite and boardrooms, many struggle with achieving diversity in their leadership ranks.
"The business of creating and fully embracing a diverse leadership culture can be achieved quickly with speed and scale, when companies meaningfully engage with diverse leaders. NxtWork has developed a 7-step process for meaningful engagement, derived from our members' experience building and leading diverse teams in organizations with market cap of over 2 trillion that is listed on our website," says Dominique Shelton Leipzig, Co-Founder of Nxtwork and a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy partner in Mayer Brown's Los Angeles office. She serves as the leader of the firm's Global Data Innovation and Ad Tech Privacy & Data Management teams.
Christine Lawton, Jenny Kim and Dominique Shelton Leipzig, three highly accomplished C-suite leaders and women of color, founded NxtWork in 2020, a female-led organization whose mission is to diversify the C-Suite and Boardrooms of global companies. All three women are executives in the NFT, cybersecurity and finance industries, respectively. Seeing their deep network of powerful women executives as the answer to the call from CEOs for help diversifying their leadership ranks and boardrooms, the three women saw an opportunity to share their "NxtWork." NxtWork is the next level of networking for C-Suites and boards, giving them the ability to create professional relationships with a pre-vetted group of board-ready diverse women leaders with decades' worth of leadership experience in organizations like theirs.
"In today's fiercely competitive business environment, I believe it is important to establish a diverse leadership team, as it is simply smart business and can create a significant competitive advantage. The presence of a diverse team, reflecting and sharing varying perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, enables a company to maximize its decision-making process and also ensures that the leaders represent the make-up of the general population and in turn, a company's customer base." - Rich Battista, Former President & CEO, Time Inc, board member of Major League Baseball and Executive Chairman of Wave + sports.
The focus of NxtWork is straightforward and practical: provide corporate leaders with connections to and meaningful engagement opportunities to form professional relationships with diverse women leaders to fill boardroom and C-Suites positions. To diversify corporate leadership with speed and scale, Christine, Dominique, and Jenny founded NxtWork based on the organization's proprietary system for "meaningful engagement." Guided by seven steps designed to connect more deeply to leadership teams and their business needs, successful diversification can be achieved in months, not years. "We are not DEI experts. We're diverse women who have succeeded in senior leadership roles across industries. We have experienced and know what's necessary to meaningfully and successfully diversify leadership ranks, and that's where we can add value," said co-founder Christine Lawton, NxtWork's president. As Dominique Shelton Leipzig noted: "Our value to industry is two-fold: (1) we're a group of pre-vetted experienced leaders ready to serve on boards and in C-Suites immediately; and (2) we're actively participating in helping leadership teams understand how to successfully diversify leadership ranks at speed and with scale."
"Diversification is such a simple concept to execute, NxtWork makes the execution part easy. I think that it takes courage at the highest levels of any organization to admit that the way that things have been done in the past doesn't work for the world that we're living in now. I think that real leaders embrace that change and are excited about the new possibilities that diversity brings to the table," says Erica Moore-Burton, Founder/President of Round Hill Legal Search, Inc.
Research shows us that diversity in the workplace is improving, specifically in diversity in the ranks of board members, but it is not nearly enough to be considered impactful, according to Leipzig. "At this pace, true diversity in the boardroom, defined as ethnic diversity, will not occur for another 450 years."
NxtWork and others will create a different future. For example, Nasdaq updated its Board Diversity Rule and now requires companies listed on its U.S. exchange to "publicly disclose board-level diversity statistics using a standardized template" and "have or explain why they do not have at least two diverse directors." Others will follow, recognizing the change as simply good business practice. NxtWork will partner with their C-Suites and boards with steps that will:
Establish: Establish the intention and opportunity for diversity by bringing in diverse, experienced leadership to inform corporate strategy and spark innovation with fresh perspectives to their pre-identified business problems.
Engage: Meet and engage to foster understanding across diverse leaders' skills and business objectives. That engagement will include both professional and social opportunities.
Evolve: Finally, evolve beyond a mindset of incremental change. Think big. Think fast. Think now. The highest levels of your organization will bring business expertise and diverse cultural perspectives together, then model that example throughout the organization to become healthier and more profitable. Make this your new normal.
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Original Source: Three Diverse Senior Executives Create NxtWork, a Unique Solution to Address the Diversity Discrepancy in Boards and C-Suites