Finding the Magic in Community: From C-Ahead® to C200 Member

Finding the Magic in Community: From C-Ahead® to C200 Member

By Kimber Maderazzo, Chair, C200

 

For women in business, it’s tough to find a group of female leaders willing to help you advance your career. But finding a network of knowledgeable women with similar experiences and career paths is incredibly valuable. These are people you can lean on when times are rough and share your highs and lows with. Ultimately, they help you become the best leader you can be.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.” This type of thinking is not happening enough, and our members at C200 are working to make a change by focusing on helping women achieve their leadership potential, push boundaries and make a name for themselves in a business world still dominated by men.

Chloe Barzey’s story is a great example of how having the support of other female leaders can help you rise to the top.

 

Joining the C-Ahead® Program

Chloe is the senior managing director at Accenture, based in Atlanta. She says she heard about C200 from a former executive in the organization and decided to get involved through the C-Ahead program. There, she found a group of senior-level women who are authentic and always willing to help each other. It changed her career.

“The first question many of the women asked me was, ‘How can I help you?’ And, they genuinely meant it! It was magical to be in a room with so many influential women.” Chloe had never been in this type of environment before and didn’t have many senior-level female role models.

The program is dedicated to giving businesswomen opportunities to learn and network alongside seasoned business leaders while creating actionable plans to help them move into the C-suite. The six-month program includes virtual events and an in-person retreat focused on the skills and experience necessary to succeed in significant executive positions at top corporations. Over time, Chloe and her fellow participants in the C-Ahead cohort grew a network of successful leaders, made up of their peers and C200 members, with diverse perspectives across various industries. They also developed an action plan for the next steps in their leadership journey.

 

From C-Ahead to C200 Member

Chloe was inspired, “Once you are exposed to this group of women, you instantly want to be a part of it. There is certain magic you experience in the room. This group is so rare in the business world. These women support and help each other genuinely and take the time to get to know each other.”

After her experience with C-Ahead, Chloe joined C200 as a member. She now has a network of C200 women she can lean on to help her reach new heights. She is using her experience to be there for other women just like her who crave that magic she felt during the program.

“C200 is a global organization and has opened up a family of women who continue to find new aspirations and goals to reach. This strong network of phenomenal women still challenges me to find innovative ways to grow in my own career and lead with excellence.”

 

Continuing to Grow

Chloe’s experience as a C200 member continues to have an impact on her. Through C-Ahead and C200, Chloe says she’s found a sense of belonging with female leaders who know exactly what she’s going through and what it takes to reach the C-suite.

“I have been given opportunities to get to know the women in this group on a deep level, and we’ve all taught each other and cheered each other on.”

Chloe says there is no doubt her involvement in C-Ahead and C200 helped her reach her full potential and create a network of knowledgeable female leaders.

“For any businesswoman or female entrepreneurs who want to get to the next level in their careers and gain an amazing group of women to be in their corner, this is for you. I haven’t found anything like C200 before.”

To catapult your own growth, apply to be part of our next cohort. Applications are open until September 14, and the program kicks off on October 19.

Avoiding Female Burnout: How to Support Working Moms

Avoiding Female Burnout: How to Support Working Moms

By Carolyn Dolezal, CEO, C200.

Working parents juggling the demands of their jobs and families is nothing new, but the pandemic presented a unique challenge of trying to find a balance between personal and professional responsibilities within the home. With the holiday season and the rise of the Delta variant, the possibility of remote learning and hybrid classrooms are on everyone’s minds again. For some working parents, these unknown situations are difficult to prepare for, and it’s especially taking a toll on working moms.

Together with the Angus Reid Group, C200 and Eileen Campbell, a member of C200’s Board of Directors, commissioned a survey of 1,000 American adults. The survey found women are twice as likely as their significant others to take time off or even drop out of the workforce completely to deal with the working parent problems we’re seeing today. The sudden increase in women leaving their jobs to take on family responsibilities could have a detrimental impact on equality in the workforce for decades. To avoid this, we can take a two-sided approach to support working moms from both the leadership and employee perspective. When both leaders and their employees approach this year with that compassion in mind, we can come together to find ways to effectively support working moms and avoid burnout.

Be compassionate with yourself and with your team.

Working Moms Whether you have school-age children or not, we know how hard it is to balance work and family. C200 member and President of VSP Vision Care, Kate Renwick-Espinosa, said, “Personally, I remember how tough it was for me, years ago, to be working while my kids were young. And I didn’t even have to manage virtual learning as so many working moms have during the pandemic.”

Every employee is going to be different. No matter what your situation is, it’s okay to be compassionate with yourself as you figure out what works best for you.

Take time to think about what that support looks like and what you need. Our survey showed that women want more choices for support than they’ve had in the past, whether it’s additional paid sick leave, flexible start times or financial support for family care. Realizing and expressing your needs can help your leaders make better decisions for you as an employee.

Leaders Whether you’re the executive making the decisions or a manager in charge of a small team, leading with compassion will make a difference for working moms. Everyone’s situation will be different this year, so leaders must make sure they listen with empathy when a team member shares their needs or advocates for the needs of others. Kate said, in her role at VSP Vision Care, she’s taken the approach of trying to welcome kids in the background and the noises of pets or people at home as part of the new work-from-home life.

We’ve seen that leading with compassion not only helps your employee’s overall wellbeing but can also help with employee retention and productivity. According to this Forbes article, a recent study showed that 54% of women who had highly empathic leaders experienced less COVID-related burnout. If we can all approach this year with a little more compassion, leaders can ensure we’re not leaving women behind in the workforce.

Take actionable steps to effectively support working moms.

Working Moms Once you are given the space to determine if you need extra help, you need to feel empowered to ask for that support. “If you don’t communicate what you need, you won’t get the support you need and deserve,” Kate said. If your employer offers a flexible work schedule, determine what that looks like for you and ask for what you need to make it possible. Finding a work-life balance shouldn’t mean you say goodbye to work-free evenings and weekends, but rather that you have the support you need to do your best work no matter where or how you’re doing it. Take the initiative to ask for resources, whether it’s to work from home or childcare support, so leaders can take actionable steps to provide it.

Leaders Determining what the support for working moms looks like and how it will function within your company or team comes from the leaders. Develop mechanisms to gather direct feedback from employees about opportunities for improvement, specifically around family support needs and then act based on that feedback. Recently, VSP Vision Care began offering new employee benefits to help manage family care. “One program we added, for example, helps working parents find local caregivers, tutors and more,” Kate said.

We can all benefit by transitioning from measuring an employee’s worth by the time they spend in the office and instead, measure it by the results they produce. That way, we can meet working moms where they are, without leaving them out of important meetings or off important projects. Taking these actionable steps ensures that working moms are not only being heard but what they need is being valued.

How do we adjust?

Our survey of 1,000 American adults showed the future of work is not just about being flexible, it’s about looking at benefits differently, leading with compassion and offering the resources women need. This includes adjusting regularly. We can’t get comfortable with making a change to benefits or offering support only once a year because the world is changing faster than that − as we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. Instead, we need to frequently give and receive constructive feedback to create a place where working moms feel valued. These steps not only help working moms, but all employees with or without children.

We are at a key inflection point in making sure women don’t get left behind in the workforce. Not only can employees stand up for what they need, but leaders can offer support to ensure working moms stay in the workforce. We can make sure they are given the same opportunities as men to climb the corporate ladder despite the uncertainty of this year.

Have You Found Your People?

Have You Found Your People?

By Beth Bronfman, Managing Partner at View; C200 Member since 2003.

One of the things I value most in life is my network. Over the years, I have managed to surround myself with a group of individuals I wouldn’t trade for the world.  They are intelligent, thoughtful, and kind. They have impeccable business acumen, and many are among the very best in the world at what they do. In ways that are both minor and monumental, this cohort has made me a better person than I ever could have been alone.

I’ve found my people. The best advice I could ever give you is to find yours—and to hold onto them!

Life is a wonderful journey. It’s exciting, complicated, and everything in between. Just when you think you have everything figured out and under control, a global pandemic comes out of nowhere and teaches you otherwise. (But if it wasn’t a pandemic, it would be something else: a health scare, a sudden disruption in your industry, or any number of other derailers that would make you reevaluate everything you’ve worked for and prioritized throughout the years.)  Going through that kind of thing (or anything) alone is hard.

As human beings, we are social creatures. We have an intrinsic need for belonging, and a core aspect of living our best life is forming meaningful connections with others. Most of us realize this on a personal level, but it’s also true professionally.

As a leader, you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. If you want to keep growing, it’s essential to continue forming new connections with people who will challenge you, give you fresh ideas, and expose you to new perspectives. This kind of guidance and support is priceless.

This is why I joined C200 almost 20 years ago. I was grateful for C200’s onboarding program that provided opportunities to connect with fellow members; I felt a comfort level from the first event I attended. The women I met at that new member luncheon are still an important part of my network today.

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I was able to improve something or make the best decision for my business because I learned a great tip or strategy from one of my connections. In fact, without these wonderful people in my life, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t still be running a successful advertising agency.

I received some invaluable insight from my cohort about 10 years ago when my business partner decided to retire. Our company was going through some major changes and a big conglomerate wanted to buy us. I was both thrilled and flattered, but I wasn’t sure if it was the right move. My husband, accountant, and lawyer were immensely helpful, but the advice I needed extended beyond facts and figures. I needed to talk it through with people I trusted, brainstorm different scenarios for how it might play out, and think about how my happiness could be impacted.

In the end, I chose not to sell. It was the right decision, and I’m honestly not sure if I would have made it on my own. The people I confided in had known me for years and they understood what made me tick. They were able to break down potential scenarios and give me personalized advice that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Their support was life-changing, and I’m beyond grateful that I still own my firm today.

This is just one example of how a solid network can serve as your life preserver in challenging times. Being a member of C200 throughout the pandemic reinforced the value in finding my people. The camaraderie and valuable discussions on our regular C200 Council calls helped me maintain connections and make important decisions in my business.

And although it’s helpful to have a network to lean on in difficult times, sharing your wins with your people is one of the most joyful experiences I’ve had. My C200 community has always been there to celebrate, inspire, and support my success.

Here are a few tips for finding your people and holding onto them:

Practice generosity of spirit

So many people network because they want to help themselves land a new job or bring in more business for their firm. This is the wrong mentality! When you network—intentionally or otherwise—your focus should be on adding value. Be a good listener, a mentor, and go out of your way to make introductions and give referrals. Having a service mentality will help you build meaningful relationships that stand the test of time.

Be a joiner

Most well-connected people belong to a lot of groups and associations. These kinds of organizations are the perfect platform for making new connections because they are filled with people who value relationships and put the time into cultivating new ones. Personally, I belong to and have served on the boards of C200, The Women Presidents’ Organization, and The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce—just to name a few. I’ve held leadership roles and board positions at other organizations over the years as well. Sometimes my friends are amazed at how many people I know, but after all of the organizations I’ve been involved in, I should know a lot of people!

If you’re looking to widen your own circle this year, join a couple new groups even if they only have virtual meetings. Keep in mind that it’s nice to connect with people who have a lot in common with you, but you often learn more from heterogeneous groups.

Take care of your team

Some of the most important individuals in my network are my employees. Many of them have truly become like family, and without their dedication and hard work, we couldn’t serve our clients. That’s why I felt it was my duty to take care of my team when it seemed like the world was crumbling around us. These past two years, I’ve focused on leading with compassion and understanding. When employees couldn’t make meetings or reply immediately to emails because they were home with young children, I not only gave them the benefit of the doubt, but I asked our clients to do so as well. At our agency, View, we’ve always gone above and beyond to provide the best possible experience for clients, and we will continue to do so by giving one another more grace.

Finding your people and keeping in touch with them is more important than ever before. Now is the time to call an old friend, reach out to a past colleague on LinkedIn, or join that association you’ve been eyeing for years. If you make a real effort to get to know others, you will be amazed at how much it impacts your life. Never stop connecting!