Prioritizing inclusive leadership, fostering innovation, and creating supportive environments were among the topics discussed at ASUG Women Connect’s first Community Conversation session of the year.

Held virtually on March 14, the interactive session featured insights from Dr. Staci Baker, Director & SAP Technology Consultant at PwC, who also serves as ASUG Florida Chapter Chair and ASUG Champion for PwC. The event started with a series of formal questions, posed to Baker by ASUG moderators, which led into an interactive discussion with all ASUG Women Connect members in attendance, before opening up to audience questions. 

In discussing her recent doctoral dissertation on inclusive leadership, Baker highlighted the need for truly inclusive leadership to be reciprocal, requiring engagement and investment from employees at all levels of an organization. Baker’s research explored the impact of perceived organizational support and inclusive leadership on turnover intention among tech consultants, specifically illuminating the relevance of gender dynamics.

"Inclusive leadership is a two-way street," said Baker. "Leaders need to understand the needs of the individual and be willing to have frank conversations." In return, employees need to focus on advocating for themselves, building strong relationships with managers grounded in mutual respect, and actively pursuing their career ambitions. Professional advancement requires both personal advocacy and support from managers and mentors.

During the dialogue, Baker also discussed the role of congruity theory, which sheds light on pervasive societal biases that can pigeonhole individuals in certain positions based on traditional gender roles. Baker challenged attendees to remain conscious of the ways that ingrained biases can shape not only their professional journeys but also their self-perception and attitudes toward others.

Toward the end of the interactive session, ASUG Women Connect members discussed mental health and time management strategies for women who need to manage competing priorities in their personal and professional lives. One attendee asked: "How can one gain the courage to say no, and cope with the guilt that follows?"

The audience’s response to this question furthered an engaging community conversation in which the power of empathy came to the fore. ASUG Women Connect members shared candid insights from their own experiences, reflecting on the importance of learning to advocate for themselves.

The ASUG Women Connect Community Conversation series is intended to establish interactive sessions for attendees to contribute to each other’s growth by sharing insights, experiences, and lessons learned from throughout their careers. Through supportive, lively, non-judgmental group discussions, the series creates a space where listening and contributing are equally valued.

ASUG looks forward to continuing these conversations in future ASUG Women Connect sessions, both virtually and in person. Register here for the next ASUG Women Connect Community Conversation, on June 20, and join our ASUG Women Connect Community on LinkedIn.

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