HCMx Radio 48: How Organizations Can Build Up All Leaders Equally

Guests: Amy Bladen Shatto, Global Head of Leadership Development, Avanade, and Jessica Brookes, Director of Diversity and Inclusion in Europe, Avanade

Host: Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Hall Group


In this episode, Amy Bladen Shatto, Global Head of Leadership Development at Avanade, and Jessica Brookes, Global Lead for Inclusion and Diversity and Corporate Citizenship at Avanade, offer great examples of the initiatives they have implemented to drive cultural change and equality in their shutterstock_226347433organization.   Avanade is the leading provider of innovative digital and cloud services, business solutions and design-led experiences delivered through the power of people and the Microsoft ecosystem. Their professionals combine technology, business and industry expertise to build and deploy solutions to realize results for their clients and their customers. Avanade has 29,000 digitally connected people across 23 countries, bringing clients the best thinking through a collaborative culture that honors diversity and reflects the communities in which we operate.  Majority owned by Accenture, Avanade was founded in 2000 by Accenture LLP and Microsoft Corporation.

It is great to see women who are implementing global women leadership programs that are having such a positive impact in spite of what still looks dismal for a majority of some organizations.  In Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Women in Leadership Study, only 12% of firms said they see gender equality when it comes to executive roles. The rest exist in various stages ranging from no female representation in the C-suite to those trying to improve their existing position and ratio of female executives. As we continue to research this area, it has become evident that companies like Avanade that are focusing on bringing awareness and gender balance in the workforce are performing at a higher level and will have a greater competitive advantage in the future. Research has shown that diverse teams provide organizations with increased opportunities for innovation, profitability, and engaged workforces.

I have had a lot of fascinating conversations with women leaders from all over the world, and I learned quite a bit along the way about some of the challenges that are still occurring. But at the same time, there were pockets of remarkable people and companies working to improve gender equality. I also heard a lot of mixed emotions about whether companies should offer development programs exclusively targeted for women, and if so, what the best approaches would be. Organizations are also weighing how to improve communication and collaboration between genders while providing equal opportunity based on capabilities. Our discussion in the podcast covers these issues and techniques to help improve gender equity in organizations.

To listen to our interview, you can download the podcast anytime at the HCMx Radio site.

                           –Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Hall Group


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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.