Past Performance #5: Consumer Goods Company
Challenge: Leaders within the largest sales segment for a powerhouse consumer goods company engaged Selena Rezvani in 2014 as a consultant. Experiencing low numbers of women “raising their hands” for advancement opportunities, (and therefore lower numbers of women in management ranks), the R&D organization engaged Selena to bring a series of self-advocacy activities to the company.
Solution: To assess the culture of the division, Rezvani interviewed 15 leaders nationally. Both men and women were convened in interviews to highlight 1) how the environment could better support up and coming women, and 2) how women themselves could better self-advocate. This data helped inform the design of a series of onsite activities focused on self-advocacy and everyday negotiation. Over the course of a day at the company’s headquarters, Rezvani delivered an interactive workshop to 70 leaders showing the business case for advancing women – as well as the eye-opening results of the interviews. She facilitated a rich dialogue among leaders that culminated in individual commitments to propelling more women upward. Rezvani then focused her attention on 5 consecutive speed negotiating labs where high potential, female participants:
•Completed self-assessments to help participants understand their own natural advocacy style and to learn more about negotiating with others of different styles.
•Learned negotiation best practices from preparing to make a request, negotiating in the moment, closing the deal/request, and following up with ease.
•Experimented with techniques for managing conflict, negotiation and difficult conversations using simulations and test cases
Rezvani concluded the engagement by developing a comprehensive report of findings – including verbatim employee comments – as well as recommendations for action for leadership.
Impact: Rezvani’s consulting work disrupted “business as usual” within the division’s culture – helping spark a critical breakthrough. Not only did the engagement “up” people’s awareness of cultural issues making women hesitate to advocate for themselves – but some of the findings were woven into mentoring activities, both informal and formal. Individual women participants had dozens of new tools to bring a stronger voice to their day to day negotiations and acted on new resilience strategies for occasions when negotiations didn’t go their way. Enhanced relationships among leaders and individual contributors resulted in better team cohesion and collaboration. The client’s positioning in various external employer rankings and brand recognition rose or maintained high marks over the following years.