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A Conversation with Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, Powered by Women@CEB

24 May, 2016

On 16 May, Women@CEB–CEB’s diversity and inclusion group dedicated to professional development, impact, retention, and attraction of women–partnered with the Washington Women’s Leadership Initiative (WWLI) to host Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter for a conversation to kick off its Authentic Leadership speaker series. The event provided an opportunity for CEB’s diversity and inclusion leaders as well as local executives to hear Dr. Slaughter’s perspectives on effective leadership both professionally and personally, underscored by the metaphor of leading as gardening. In other words, invest in the groundwork and then let people grow.

Dr. Slaughter, who currently serves as President and CEO of New America, recently released her book, “Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family” in which she advocates for a new vision of true equality among men and women. The book arrives on the heels of Dr. Slaughter’s widely read 2012 essay in The AtlanticWhy Women Still Can’t Have It All.” Now Dr. Slaughter has added a new perspective, challenging the assumption that work-life balance is exclusively a women’s issue. Instead, she asserts that we need to revolutionize how we think and see caregiving as a gender-neutral responsibility.

“As long as we think and talk about it as a women’s issue, we will never get there,” Dr. Slaughter said.

Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter alongside Women at CEB Chair Jessica Cash, Corporate Champion Melody Jones, and Education Lead Eva Flaherty

Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter alongside Women at CEB Chair Jessica Cash, Corporate Champion Melody Jones and Education Lead Eva Flaherty

Turn Vision Into Action

Dr. Slaughter recommended simple ways to start shifting the work-life balance conversation. For starters, she encouraged the audience to change its language when discussing caregiving. She suggested using terms like “working parent” instead of “working mother” as well as “paternal leave” instead of maternity or paternity leave. These simple shifts in how we speak can give way to a broader understanding of caregiving as a shared duty.

Lead by Mobilization

Another key theme during Dr. Slaughter’s conversation focused on letting go of control in favor of choosing the right people, delegating, and allowing them act. Whether it’s taking a business trip and trusting that dad will get dinner on the table or leading a team at work, the ability to lead through mobilization, communication, and relationships goes far.

“It’s great when we succeed, but it’s equally great when the people we invest in succeed,” she said.

Many thanks to our partners from the Washington Women’s Leadership Initiative for partnering with Women@CEB on such a dynamic event. Dr. Slaughter’s book “Unfinished Business: Women Men Family Work” is now available.

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