October 16, 2018

INSIGHTS 2018: Being bold and finding purpose at the Ceridian Women’s Network Summit

Be bold. Forget fear of failure. Make the business case for change. This year's Ceridian Women's Network Summit was packed with lessons learned and action items for driving cultural change. Here are the highlights.

The Ceridian Women’s Network Summit kicked off its third year with a clear call to action from Ceridian’s Chief Marketing Officer Kristina "KC" Cleary: Be bold.

The CWN Summit was created as a platform for candid discussion about supporting the advancement of women at work, issues related to gender equality and diversity, and how to drive change by taking action.

The drivers for change regarding women in leadership and equality in the workplace are many and well-known (and we’ve covered these issues extensively). If you’re looking to make the case for change at your company with quick and impactful hits, here are some stats KC shared:

  • Right now the estimated time to close the gender pay gap alone is 217 years.
  • In 2017, only 15% of seats globally on corporate boards were filled by women.
  • Just 4% of CEO and board chair positions are held by women.
  • A report by the New York Times cited the number of Fortune 500 CEOs who are women (23) is roughly the same as the number of Fortune 500 CEOs who are named John” (21). What this means is that there are almost as many men named John in American leadership roles as there are women.

KC proposed a mindset shift when it comes to organization change: “We need to talk about the ideal workplace, and how to create an optimal environment so people of all genders can be successful.”

She then shared a three-pillar model to drive organizational change, which includes transforming policies and programs, tools and technology, and culture and values.


Policies and programs: Organizations need to do a better job of transforming their workplaces, including considering non-traditional workplace policies.

Tools and technology: In the “old days” (of rotary phones versus smartphones), flexibility wasn’t possible because we didn’t have the tools to make it so. Today, however, we have the tools to manage employees with transparency, accountability, and their input, and the ability to provide employees with the tools they need to work in the ways are best for them.

Culture and values: The structure of work itself can also be biased – something as simple as the times meetings are scheduled can leave working parents with few options (as in, “Do I take my kids to school, or miss the 8 a.m. meeting consistently?”)

Carey Lohrenz on fearless leadership

Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy then took the stage with a candid, hilarious, and inspiring presentation about how women can level up at work.

Check out our pre-INSIGHTS Q&A with Lohrenz here.

To demonstrate “everything you need to know about the difference between men and women in 30 seconds,” she showed a quick video demonstrating the immense physical and mental pressure a pilot experiences in a cockpit – to the point where you feel like you’re about to pass out. A few times throughout, the (male) pilot could be heard saying “Aw, yeah! Nice!”

Lohrenz clarified: “He’s talking about himself.” She added that in contrast, women might say, “I’m about to pass out – hope I did the laundry!” The lesson to be learned, she said, is that men generally need to feel only 35% ready before they’ll raise their hands to go for a promotion, whereas for women, they need to feel 125% ready.

“Here’s what I want you to consider and own at the core of your being when we are done today. Anytime you feel you’re going to hesitate, or you’re not ready yet, think back to this video. Raise your hand before you are ready. If you don’t feel you’re ready, grab the gal beside you and raise hers,” she said.

“In my world, she said, speed is life. In your world, the same applies. You’re not going to get that invitation to make a difference.”

Lohrenz also said that success comes from being laser-focused on what matters, and getting over the fear of failure. “Fear of failure is one of the most universally paralyzing things that we all suffer from. The overwhelming majority of us underestimate the ability to recover from failure. We hear things like ‘Be creative! Be innovative! Get comfortable being uncomfortable!’ and this feels [gross], so we play it safe. Don’t be afraid to fail – it’s what you do with it after that makes a difference.”

Lisa Sterling on what makes companies work

Ceridian’s Chief People and Culture Officer Lisa Sterling put the spotlight on the changing world of work, specifically reinforcing how important it is for organizations to put their people first.

Employee expectations are significantly changing, she said, and organizations have to deliver on the demands of employee population. Work is what you do, not where you go, so employers need to empower their people with innovative tools that enable work-life flexibility.

“People make companies work,” said Stering. “People are why companies are successful, and why companies fail.” The proof points? Organizations that are people-first experience 59% lower turnover, 17% higher productivity, and 21% higher profitability, according to Gallup.

David Mead on finding your “why”

David Mead closed the CWN Summit with a conversation about getting over the “meh” some people end up feeling about their jobs. “A lot of people are stuck in this hamster wheel," he said. "After a while, we begin to get used to it. We look forward to Friday more than we look forward to Mondays, and begin to perpetuate these ideas for the new crop coming in.”

“The good news is, there’s a way to get out of this hamster wheel,” Mead said, which is by taking a step back and recognizing what gets us to fall into it in the first place. And the root cause is our perceptions – the assumptions we make, the window through which we see the world, which shapes the actions we take and the outcomes we get.

Mead said that every organization operations on three levels – what, how, and why. The first two – the what and the how – are easy and straightforward. Very few individuals understand or can clearly articulate the why – why they do what they do – and that’s where people end up getting stuck.

In short, dig deep to find your purpose - not the functional "why," but the emotional "why" you do what you do, Refocusing your actions and outcomes on this purpose will recharge and inspire you.

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

View Collection

Thank you!

You’ll receive our next newsletter when it becomes available.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get the latest thought leadership from Ceridian
See the Ceridian Privacy Policy for more details.