We realized that building awareness of unconscious bias was a key part of educating our leaders and further building an inclusive environment. It was considered a key way to begin conversations about inclusion and what each person’s role is in building it.
In partnership with Catalyst, Cooper launched two programs focused on inclusive leadership: an executive session and several virtual ‘leading with inclusion’ workshops for global senior leaders. Catalyst is a global non-profit that partners with companies to drive change with research, tools, and solutions to accelerate and advance women into leadership. For our executive leadership team, Catalyst facilitated an offsite session entitled MARC (Men Advocating for Real Change) that focused on trends, research and dialogue that uncovered the complex reality of unconscious bias when leading diverse organizations. This initiative helped inspire our male executives to leverage their position in the workplace to be advocates for inclusion. Cooper also launched a ‘leading with inclusion’ program for director-level or higher leaders across the company to develop their capabilities for building more inclusive workplaces, managing diverse teams, and serving diverse customers and business partners without unconscious bias.
100% of Cooper’s global executive leadership participated in one of these inclusive leadership programs during 2019. A Cooper executive kicked off each virtual blended-learning curriculum. In these interactive workshops, leaders examined their own assumptions and bias, discussed behaviors, and practiced skills through engaging activities and case studies. Our plan in 2020 and beyond is to build upon the success of the program with additional regionally or locally focused trainings with the same caliber of delivery and conversation for our manager, supervisor and individual contributor populations. This is just the start of many more conversations about inclusion and diversity in our organization.
Valuing different perspectives and experiences makes us more competitive while helping employees reach their full potential. Programs designed to increase awareness and understanding of unconscious bias are critical as we continue to build an inclusive culture. Participating in the MARC offsite session with my leadership team was an insightful experience and provided valuable learnings to apply within Cooper.