By: Dr. Lora Villarreal, executive vice president of HR and chief people officer, ACS, A Xerox Company
I couldn’t be more pleased to see that The Wall Street Journal hosted a Women in the Economy conference this week. It drew attention to an issue very important to me – harnessing the knowledge and skills offered by women in the workforce.
During the conference, findings from a McKinsey & Co. study revealed that a big hurdle keeping women from reaching the top ranks of the corporate ladder is inadequate career development and leadership training, especially for middle managers. This doesn’t surprise me at all.
I’ve worked at ACS, A Xerox Company, for the past 14 years as EVP of HR and the Chief People Officer and I have seen the impact that proper training programs, mentoring and informal coaching can have on female executives. One of Xerox’s most successful programs, The Women’s Alliance, encourages hundreds of female employees to share ideas, offer advice and problem solve. In fact, more than a thousand women from the company meet each year for networking, study and camaraderie at our Annual Women’s Conference.
More than anything – this program is a microcosm of an overall mindset – women at Xerox support each other’s professional growth. We make the extra effort to groom female talent. The most obvious example is the historical female-to-female CEO succession from Anne Mulcahy to Ursula Burns. Lesser known, is our focus on recruiting and developing female engineers – achieving 50 percent women when the national graduation rate is only 20 percent.
In a high-tech company that thrives on creative, business and technical talent to satisfy a diverse global customer base – we need smart and ambitious women as part of our leadership team. Xerox senior female leaders make it their responsibility to coach up-and-coming talent. In my opinion, this is the recipe for success.
Read a recent Real Business at Xerox post about a Xerox mentee as part of the US State Department’s Global Women’s Mentorship Program, and a story on just one activity in which The Women’s Alliance partakes to help women enter the workforce.