I have a unique perspective as the only man on the leadership team of the Darden Women’s Network (DWN). I’m proud to be an executive sponsor because I strongly believe that our mission — “to recognize, encourage, strengthen and celebrate the unique perspective, intelligence and leadership skills that women bring to Darden” — makes our company stronger. I try to bring my experience and perspective to the network’s members in a way that helps members achieve their professional and personal goals.
Developing more women leaders is critical to Darden as we seek to grow as an organization. Admittedly, I have not experienced the same challenges that women face in the workplace. I have become more aware of and understanding about how it feels to be in the minority during my time as the only man on the DWN leadership team.
Several times during meetings I have hesitated to add my perspective because I wasn’t sure how it would be received. Then I realized that if others feel this way in meetings, we are not harnessing the power of diversity in a way that improves decision-making and makes us better collectively. This awareness has inspired me to ensure that we create an open, safe environment where everyone feels free to contribute their unique ideas and perspectives.
“Getting Better Every Day” requires us all to find ways to improve, and what I appreciate about DWN is that it does this through engagement opportunities such as DWN leadership panel, book club, and volunteer and community outreach opportunities. Being an executive sponsor provides me an opportunity to coach and mentor our DWN leadership team. Leaders at all levels benefit from coaching and mentoring. This is a two-way street as I’ve found I often learn more from coaching others than perhaps I am able to impart. Being part of DWN provides an opportunity for me and all our members to “Develop Relationships” — another important part of our culture.
Equally important, I’m pleased to be a member of the DWN because it’s fun! I’ve learned so much from the DWN leadership team and our members, and I know that together, we will continue to “Get Better Every Day.”