Transforming our 8th Annual Board Assembly to a virtual event was one thing, ensuring it was transformative, well, that’s now our secret sauce! The combination of our new CEO Leslie Doty’s deep expertise in digital transformation and founder Sheila Ronning’s hallmark success as a Board strategist, with a heart for networking, makes Women in the Boardroom premiere at tapping technology to create true connections.
One attendee felt the virtual format was even more beneficial than the traditional in-person event, “I think it was even better than in person because we all had each other’s full attention and the interaction allowed everyone to contribute and benefit!”
The two women, a powerhouse team in leading the charge for diversity and gender parity in the corporate boardroom, designed this exclusive and energizing event for experienced and board-ready women to network at a level possible only in a virtual environment. The effectiveness of this holistic experience stands as a model for cultivating progressive thought-leadership in the corporate boardroom space.
The Annual Board Assembly kicked-off with 140 attendees comprised of connectors, influencers, and Women in the Boardroom members including a record number of women of color, a result of WIB’s diversity initiative of increasing and extending membership to minorities through reinvigorated recruitment practices. Amplified by the intimacy of participants sharing their insights on the mics, smiling on camera, commenting in the chat, and meeting in breakouts, these features drove the success of the “high-tech, high-touch” event and illustrated Ronning’s unmatched skills in orchestrating connectivity between old and new members.
In three rounds of small group breakouts, attendees met with others in the corporate board sphere. Hosted by Doty, Ronning, and other experienced moderators, participants practiced, strengthened, and showcased their elevator pitches. Once introduced, they dove into discussing thought-provoking questions on diversity, leading in turbulent times, and board expectations. These prompts sparked conversations surrounding inclusion, equity and antiracism, the evolution of leadership style during crisis, unique-to-you skills and how they should be showcased for board service, empathy and what it means to a team during the pandemic, the qualities key to successful board service, and much more. One ABA attendee contributed, “Sometimes women think that they have to speak louder or more often to be ‘heard’. Bring your emotional intelligence and have confidence in the fact that you have that seat at the table and can add value,” while another shared, “Remain forward looking even in the face of immediate problems to be addressed. Support your people during times of crisis.”
A key ingredient to the ABA’s richness was the large group discussions designed to socialize and cross pollinate insights that surfaced during the small group breakout sessions. It was incredible to watch participants quote each other. The chat lit up with encouragement and nuggets of wisdom such as:
- “Everyone is nervous when they go into a new board – don’t assume you are not needed. You got there because of your strengths”
- “Sometimes there are great advantages to being the “Only” because you have a unique perspective”
- “As leaders, we need to be authentic (sharing openly what we know, and don’t know), compassionate (giving team members flexibility to finish their work) and to provide a realistic sense of hope”
- “The forced reliance on virtual technology for connection has renewed our appreciation for human connection and our shared humanity.”
The riveting three-hour event, sponsored by Troutman Pepper, a firm dedicated to diversity and inclusion, achieving Mansfield Rule 3.0 Plus Certification, focused on the WIB mission of looking to effect long-lasting change within the corporate boardroom through diversity and gender parity initiatives.
The Annual Board Assembly is heavily focused on engagement and networking, but this year’s virtual setting offered even more opportunity for rich dialogue with attendees and special guests. One attendee stated, “This was my first ABA and I’m blown away by the talent in this group.” Another exclaimed at the conclusion of the event, “Who knew 2.5 hours could go by so quickly!”
A post event survey revealed that attendees found the event informative, valuable, motivating, and engaging. This innovative event is the first of many virtual events to come from Women in the Boardroom. The organization plans to host a virtual diversity summit this upcoming January, following a similar format and featuring special guests, diversity experts, and speakers. For more information about Women in the Boardroom, or to be notified of future events, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org