Now in its 15th year, PINK or Little PINK Book, is one of America’s top digital platforms for professional women based in Atlanta. Its Spring Empowerment Luncheon was held May 10 in keeping with its biannual world-class events that develop, inspire and celebrate the nation’s 75 million working women.
CEO Cynthia Good, recognizable from her stint as a local news anchor, has been a multi-year winner of national design and editorial awards, including the gold Stevie Award for best website and Female Entrepreneur of the Year. PINK strives to shift workplace culture on behalf of women and has a track record of advancing women at work.
At SunTrust Park’s third base event space, Good compiled a powerhouse and varied panel composed of Juliette Pryor, senior vice president and general counsel for Cox Enterprises; Beatriz Rodriguez, chief diversity officer of Home Depot; Linda Klein, senior managing shareholder of Baker Donelson; and sole male, Rohit Verma, global COO of Crawford & Company.
Good began with two statistics. “With only 38 percent of companies setting targets for gender representation and 20 percent of employees saying their ‘company’s commitment to gender diversity feels like lip service,’ from a recent McKinsey report, the perspective of these leaders matters. This sort of dialogue is essential.”
Upbeat and glamorous, star moderator Nadia Bilchik, editorial producer at CNN and subject of a recent AJT feature showcasing her South African art collection, kept the conversation laser-focused and peppered with practical advice on Good’s “Playbook for Success” agenda.
The panel shared tools, tactics and well-thought-through strategies they used to achieve objectives along with personal career success secrets.
Klein, a past president of the American Bar Association and the first female president of the State Bar of Georgia, described her “indefatigable grit to stay focused and get things done.”
Coming from New York to Atlanta where she knew no one, she got involved in bar and community activities to make friends. As a candidate for bar office, she set out to canvass the state in her Oldsmobile as an underdog.
“Worse than being a woman, I was a Yankee,” she joked. Klein said she feels that the legal profession lacks much in the way of diversity. “It used to be that dentists were the ‘white-ist’ profession. Now they are more diverse, and the legal profession takes a top spot.”
Pryor was among the boldest, saying, “I took risks. I stuck with a bankrupt company until the end. I moved my family three times for my career advancement.” In contrast, Verma lamented that, so as not to uproot his family, they remain in Chicago, where he flies on weekends. “Everyone has to calculate what’s best for them.”
Pryor said she was “demoted” from a position, which could have caused a public shaming, and at that moment, she had to choose her reaction: Anger? Upset? Instead she took the high road and decided “If this is what you need me to do, I will do it.” Perhaps that was a test because a short time later she was offered the very top job.
Rodriguez stated that she was so weary of being told what to do by Ph.D.s, she proceeded to get her own Ph.D.
Bilchik is an author and international TV personality who has interviewed high-profile figures from Nelson Mandela to Meryl Streep. She interspersed her own relatable tips: “There are shades of gray. No one views you in the microscopic lens that you view yourself, as they are too busy making their own movie.”
She also offered: “Don’t fake it until you make it; fake it until you believe it.”
To get the crowd motivated, she said, “The number one question I am asked is not ‘How sexy is George Clooney?’ … but ‘How do you deal with speaking nerves?’” Thus, she had the group stand and perform her breathing and “UGGGH” reciting exercise.
Event planner Martha Jo Katz decorated the tables for 220 with hot pink linens, strawberry sprinkled cupcakes, jammed pack swag bags, and pink-accented floral arrangements. The triplicate salad bar kept everyone moving with farm fresh trimmings from hearts of palm to heirloom cherry tomatoes, succulent artichokes, and goat cheese.
PINK’s nonprofit drawing contributed all raffle proceeds to Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities. PINK has raised more than $100,000 for nonprofits that benefit women and/or girls. The hottest raffle prize was Botox injections!