After over eight+ years of being involved with our local Women's Employee Resource Group in the Boston area, I was struck with a significant 'ah-ha' moment last week.
It happened during a panel discussion with some of our local Women executives last Tuesday afternoon.
What was surprising to me - initially - was more of what they didn't have to say!
When these women execs were asked about barriers that they feel must still be overcome to get ahead in one's career at Sun, not one of the panelists could give a specific example of barriers blocking the success of the women who work at Sun. I found this hard to believe - - - at first.
Then after more thought, it struck me! We have made some significant progress with our local (as well as global) womens' networks across the company.
I'll admit, things still aren't perfect - afterall, we'd love to see more faces of women on the exec bio page on sun.com, but upon some thoughtful reflection, I see that things have definitely changed over the past eight years.
The most significant change is that we were able have a women exec panel take place in the Boston area without arranging travel schedules. Eight years ago, when we first recognized Women's History Month, the closest women exec was in the Washington, DC area.
This year, we were able to invite women VPs who actually work at Sun in the Boston area (we actually have more women VPs now in this region, than we could fit on our panel!)
Also, eight years ago, the purpose of our local women's network focused specifically on building a network internally and externally, focusing on career development and creating opportunities for informal mentoring. We'd have over 100 Sun women flock to our gatherings to get some insight on how to address these needs.
This year, participation was lower than normal, even with a great line up of activities. When I asked people why the lower interest, many responded that they are able to address these concerns and needs directly with their managers now vs. needing a separate network.
The interest to work on building our networks, developing skills to advance in our careers and connecting with mentors is definitely still there - but the way we go about doing this at Sun is evolving.
Maybe the idea that someday we won't need special employee resource groups is actually closer than we ever realized?!