Now in its 15th year, PINK, Little PINK Book, one of America’s top digital platforms, held its bi-annual event Oct. 31 at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia. This year’s empowerment theme was “Crush Your Fears.”
Cynthia Good, PINK CEO, strives to shift workplace culture on behalf of women through events meant to develop, inspire and celebrate the nation’s 75 million working women.
Pre-program, Good said, “It’s rare to have so many of the most senior level women from the biggest companies on the planet, on one stage. What differentiates PINK events is that the panel’s business leaders are willing to be genuine and vulnerable as they share their experiences, and we’re all better for it.
“I’ve found that over the last 15 years, many of the questions remain the same, but the answers are different. We’re always evolving. Plus, a recent partnership event revealed that men in the organization were unaware of many of the challenges women at the company face and indicated they want to know what specifically they can do to help. Major progress!”
Ninety minutes prior to the program, women-owned companies had displays in the hotel exhibition area. Wendy Babchin, an Atlanta Mart company owner, in addition to her colorful display of scarves and accessories, advocated for clothing donations to Dress for Success, which was also the recipient of the raffle money intake.
Good welcomed the more than 350 in the audience with new statistics, “78% feel that gender diversity at work is important, … and let’s not wait another 30 years for gender parity on corporate boards.”
Good related conquering her own fears post-divorce such as losing her home. “With the support of friends, I got through it.”
Pat Mitchell accepted PINK’s Legendary Woman of the Year Award. Mitchell, the first female president of PBS, co-creator of TEDWomen and winner of 37 Emmy awards, talked about her new book “Becoming a Dangerous Woman.” She boasted, “At 76, I have nothing left to prove, … and the freedom to be in the struggle, not on the sidelines.” She quoted Jewish Congresswoman Bella Abzug, saying, “Change the nature of power, rather than the power changing our nature.” Mitchell also spoke at the Book Festival of the MJCCA Nov. 6.
The Oct. 31 panel was Janet Foutty, chair of the board, Deloitte; Joanne Smith, executive vice president and chief human resources officer, Delta Air Lines; Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president and general counsel, Aflac; Nancy Quan, chief technical officer, The Coca-Cola Co.; and Allison Dukes, CFO, SunTrust. The moderator was Lisa Rayam, WABE “Morning Edition” host.
Some of the panel’s wisdom:
Tillman: Women have better regard for being a whole person. At work, men are not worried if the house is clean. Also keep things in their proper perspective. “This too shall pass.” At 25, I couldn’t do that.
Dukes: Don’t stay in your own lane. Dive into solving new problems to stand out and show leadership. Learn to fail forward to build on the next level.
Quan: Sometimes it’s good to be naïve and not listen to the voice inside that may be your own worst enemy. At Coke, there are few females in the top technical spaces, but the young talent coming up is doing just that.
Foutty: Get more men involved, not just those who say, “now that I have a daughter …”
Smith: Take risks when you don’t have all the answers.
Tillman got the biggest laugh revealing that her greatest fears were big snakes and serial killers. She said that she could be really “spicy” since she was raised in southwest Atlanta. Above all, she ended, “Build a work sisterhood where you can give real feedback like the difficult words, ‘you need to fix this’ to be able to grow.”
Event consultant Martha Jo Katz concluded, “PINK’s event had an energetic, intelligent and professional panel. It has been my pleasure to attend PINK events since the very beginning, to watch Good keep up with changing times and assist career women by giving the opportunity to hear high-ranking females share their success secrets. Women have to have confidence and pursue their dreams!”