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Strategic Planning & Board Relations Ahead of Series A Raise

Case Study

Strategic Planning & Board Relations Ahead of Series A Raise

Overview

The CEO of a FinTech Trust Charter Payments as a Service start-up engaged Conscient Strategies to address root issues hindering their growth. The company had pre-seed funding and was looking to do Series A raise. The start-up needed to improve its strategic planning, product roadmap, and communications with the board. Conscient Strategies was brought in to advise the organization on strategic planning, product road mapping, board management, and provide leadership coaching to the CEO.

Assessment

We began by undertaking a needs assessment of organization focuses especially on the executive team (CEO, Head of Sales, Chief of Compliance, and Head of Operations). We also had conversations with the board to understand the root of the disconnects between the executives and the board. The assessment focused on the strategic plan and organizational structure.

What we discovered

We identified the following root issues and gaps:

  • Lack of a formalized strategic plan and product roadmap
  • No clear process for new customer onboarding
  • Need to identify potential sources for funding
  • Communication gaps between company executives and board
  • Need for leadership coaching for the CEO

What we did

Conscient Strategies engaged the CEO and broader executive team to solve these issues in a holistic and iterative manner. Through our work with the whole executive team, we provided targeted coaching services, advised them in writing a strategic plan and then guided them through a communications approach and process to get that plan adopted by the board. We helped the client hire top talent – including banking experts and experienced hires – to fill gaps in the org structure. Additionally, we guided the leadership team as they developed a product roadmap and new customer onboarding process, along with an objectives and key results (OKR) system to ensure they achieved their strategic plan.

Through their work with the whole executive team, Conscient Strategies provided targeted coaching services, advised them in writing a strategic plan and then guided them through a communications approach and process to get that plan adopted by the board.

Results

With these improvements, in the second year of the engagement, the company saw:

Sales increased 5–15% month on month and some months saw closer to 30% growth.

The board and executive team established effective working relations.

The company received an adequate audit rating—the highest possible rating—on the mandatory annual audit.

Most significantly, the start-up raised $4 Million in a series A funding during our engagement.

Did you know?

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12 + 7 =

Leadership Coaching & Strategic Advisory for Growing Healthcare Start-up

Case Study

Leadership Coaching & Strategic Advisory for Growing Healthcare Start-up

Overview

Conscient Strategies provided coaching and strategic advisory services to the Head of Business Development for a healthcare services platform startup. The start-up had Series B funding and the Head of Business Development was overwhelmed in their role and struggling to manage the relationships both with direct reports and with the CEO and Board. These leadership challenges were hindering new business development efforts and growth.

Assessment

Leveraging a combination of coaching models and assessment tools, we worked with the Head of Business Development to understand what he saw as his greatest needs. We then conducted 360 feedback sessions to understand what his colleagues, managers, peers, and direct reports saw as the areas where he needed to grow.

 

With the assessment and guidance from Conscient Strategies, the Head of Business Development saw an increase in his leadership and management capabilities, which improved his performance and that of his team. He made several organizational changes on his team to ensure peak efficiency and quality.

What We Discovered

The assessment revealed the client’s strengths and also indicated areas for significant growth in the following areas:

Key leadership capabilities

Talent management for direct reports

Communication with and upward management of the CEO and Board

Results

Over the course of the engagement, the Head of Business Development was able to incorporate feedback from previous performance reviews into his day-to-day behaviors. As his leadership and management capabilities increased, so did his performance and that of his team. He made several organizational changes on his team to ensure peak efficiency and quality. With a higher performing team, he secured several large new partnership deals for the company. His subsequent performance management review was a significant improvement from his pre-engagement review.  The client’s success and growth were rewarded with a promotion to Senior Vice President.

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Employee Engagement within the Industrial Maintenance and Overhaul of Naval Ships

Case Study

Employee Engagement within the Industrial Maintenance and Overhaul of Naval Ships

Overview

For nearly five years, Conscient Strategies has been engaged to work with the US Navy and its prime contractor to deliver a culture change initiative to the civilian team operating to repair and overhaul Navy ships.  Through our Performance Coaching program, we help our clients at four Naval Shipyards around the world accomplish their goals – return a submarine or Aircraft Carrier back to the Navy Fleet on time and on budget.  We do this by implementing a coaching based leadership change and increased employee engagement initiative in the Shipyards. We accomplish that mission by providing targeted, high-caliber performance coaching for key Shipyard staff via a time-tested embedded methodology.

 Employee engagement is an on-going challenge at the Navy’s shipyard.  In most cases, the leadership structure includes older employees with a great deal of experience, and young employees with relatively little experience, and a divide in terms of ways in which to accomplish and motivate work.  When we first began work with the shipyards, engagement was assessed to be at an all-time low.  Conscient Strategies has been on the forefront of helping close the gap and boosting employee engagement.

 Employee engagement is defined as the degree to which employees are motivated to come to work and contribute fully to the organization’s goals.  Further, there are three common attributes which promote employee engagement: vigor, absorption, and dedication.  Vigor refers to a high level of energy and persistence.  Dedication results from employees finding significance, inspiration, and meaning at work.  Absorbed workers are concentrating on their tasks in such a way that it feels like they are in flow and time is passing quickly.  

 Promoting employee engagement requires transformational leadership.  Transformational leaders tap into employees’ intrinsic motivation, which is the only sustainable way to drive high levels of commitment and performance.  Tapping into intrinsic motivation requires emotionally intelligent leader behaviors.  When emotionally intelligent leader behaviors are exhibited, employees feel safe and experience an optimal level of excitement (not too much and not too little) for sustainably high performance.  Conscient Strategies has been coaching and training shipyard leaders to adopt productive behaviors to promote the type of employee engagement described above. 

 

Employee engagement is an on-going challenge at the Navy’s shipyard, and divides manifest between working generations and work ethic. Conscient Strategies is on the forefront of helping close the gap and boosting employee engagement.

What We Did

The training and coaching program implemented by Conscient Strategies is focused on shifting leader behaviors to create an environment that promotes high workplace engagement.  Training on emotionally intelligent leadership as well as targeted individual and group coaching are the foundation for cultivating leaders who make employees look forward to coming to work and pouring themselves into their work with their teams. Specific leadership behavioral changes encouraged through our strengths-based coaching result in employees believing that their leaders care for well-being and support their learning and growth. The resulting changes in organizational culture generates higher levels of engagement.  Conscient Strategies coaches help shipyard leaders behave in a way that makes employees feel valued and empowered, and these feelings drive higher engagement and performance. 

Results

As a result of Conscient Strategies leadership coaching and training at the shipyards, there has been a measurable uptick in quality, timeliness, safety outcomes.  Additionally, errors in production have decreased.  These types of results are simply not possible with the low levels of employee engagement that were initially present at the shipyard. The proven results that come from productive shifts in leadership behavior have resulted in an increased demand for leadership coaching and development at the shipyards.  Further, existing shipyard leaders are taking seriously their responsibility to connect with and cultivate a new generation of inspired and engaged young leaders.  All of this has been possible from the mindset shifts achieved through our breakthrough coaching and leader development program at the shipyards.

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14 + 8 =

Compensation and Benefits Analysis

Case Study

Compensation and Benefits Analysis

Overview

As part of Conscient Strategies’ work with a national think tank located in Washington, DC, following an assessment of the culture of the organization, we found that there was a need to confirm questions around salary equity on the team.  The client requested that we undertake a compensation study that analyzed different salary ranges from organizations similar to the think tank in the Washington, D.C. geographic area. The objective of the study was to enable the organization to compare its salary brackets for the major job levels to those at similar organizations.

What We Did

Conscient Strategies evaluated data from a list of comparable institution as agreed in partnership with our client.  All of the institutions we compared were based in the local D.C. area to ensure we had a like-like comparison to the organization for whom we were working.  Not only did we look at specific organization, we also included an assessment of position-level salary estimates published by a variety of sources, including recruiters, job posting sites, and organizational review sites.   We included the following positions for evaluation:

  •  Executive Director/President/CEO
  • Deputy Executive Director/EVP
  • C-Suite Level
  • Senior Director/VP
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Coordinator
  • Program Assistant

And, although we look holistically at the organization as it compares to other organizations in the geography, we also tested for disparity for gender and ethnicity based on the findings of our culture assessment.

The client requested that Conscient Strategies undertake a compensation study that analyzed different salary ranges from organizations similar to the think tank in the Washington, D.C. geographic area. Conscient Strategies evaluated data from a list of comparable institution, not only looking at specific organization, but also included an assessment of position-level salary estimates published by a variety of sources.

What we Discovered & Results

Overall, our assessment indicated that compensation at this organization veered increasingly to the lower end of the market as positions become more senior.

At most senior-level positions, the majority of benchmark organizations pay at a higher salary level than our client. For the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director levels, our client was in the lowest 5% of benchmarked organizations for compensation. These two positions also have the greatest range in salary of any position.

Our client generally pays in the middle of the market range at the Senior Director/VP and Director levels. 

This organization pays at the high end of the range at the Manager level and is similar to the market range for Coordinator and Program Assistant positions.

Because outliers can skew a statistical comparison, we also evaluated the data excluding the highest and lowest salaries at each position level.

Upon delivery of this information, we were able to give leadership data to base compensation and performance evaluation activities.  It also allowed the organization to respond to perceptions that compensation was inequitable across demographic groups on the team.

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DE&I Recruitment Practices & Policy Review

Case Study

DE&I Recruitment Practices & Policy Review

Overview

Conscient Strategies was engaged by a health care policy organization to establish their five year strategy.   From the onset, it was critical to this organization to ensure that they included diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as the lens through which all work would be done.  During the development phase, we leveraged a DEI lens to evaluate strategic opportunities and embed DEI concepts into decision-making. 

With an increased emphasis on DEI, Conscient Strategies adapted the DEI lens concept and worked with our client to apply a catered lens to both their internal operations and external programmatic work. Through those efforts, we drafted an updated equity principle, crafted an organizational equity lens, developed a process and tool to track equity lens usage over time, and integrated DEI goals into the organization’s 2020 objectives and key results (OKR) framework. Specifically, one of the main areas where we applied this lens was to embed DEI into efforts to attract, recruit, hire, and retain talent.

Working hand in hand with the executive team, Conscient Strategies applied the DEI lens to each component of the pipeline creation cycle. Included in each of these areas was the creation of the following framework and deliverables that the client can reference and utilize as they enhance their talent acquisition.

 

What We Did & Results

Working hand in hand with the executive team, we applied the DEI lens to each component of the pipeline creation cycle. Included in each of these areas was the creation of the following framework and deliverables that the client can reference and utilize as they enhance their talent acquisition.

 In each area, it was important to create the baseline of where this organization currently operated and align with their desire for a more diverse and inclusive work environment. 

 The recruitment practices involve four interlinking gears, recognizing that actions at each gear affect all of the others:

Attract Talent

Of key importance in attracting talent is reflecting the commitment of the company to DEI principles and actions. We worked with the team to develop a DEI business case, ensuring that everyone understood the value of a diverse team and was excited to proceed. DEI was already part of the values of the organization, and we worked to improve the language and make the value more visible on the website. We established recruitment goals and job description best practices so that everyone within the organization was executing against the same standards and to ensure that wording and job requirements optimized inclusivity.  In order to attract a more diverse talent pool, we identified target communities that were rooted in DEI principles and could identify and refer potential candidates.

Recruit Talent

The processes the organization had for recruiting were evaluated and an overhaul of their processes was conducted.  We undertook a review of the interview process, sourcing, and outreach.  It was discovered that there was a limited scope for each of these.   We expanded the locations where this organization sourced talent.  Importantly, we worked with the team to establish relationships with organizations who could refer individuals, expand the locations where they typically posted announcements, and expand the audience who would be interested or hear about the opportunities. We also updated all job descriptions to ensure that they met best practices.

Hire

Recommendations and an implementation plan were created to advance the direction for hiring decisions. Specific criteria were established for interviewing candidates, and the team worked to broaden identification of experiences that would be relevant. We also established an Applicant Tracking System to track demographics of applicants.

Retain

Retention is heavily influenced by a sense of inclusion and belonging. A survey highlighted some of the issues that currently existed across different groups of employees. We conducted two all staff, virtual retreats to explore concerns and potential opportunities. Recommendations ranged from specific tactics, such as always sending slides and agenda ahead of meetings to accommodate staff with visual and other access impairments, to broader issues such as staff development efforts, performance management, and ongoing feedback. In order to ensure that DEI principles were integrated into all operations, we developed an Equity Lens. The purpose of the Equity Lens was to provide a framework to evaluate decisions and actions that result in more equitable outcomes. Decisions and activities are being filtered through the Equity Lens for all aspects of the organization – from recruitment and hiring practices, to operations processes, vendor selection, partnership efforts, and programmatic work.

The recruitment effort resulted in two new senior hires, bringing much needed diversity to the leadership team. Equally important to the immediate success, the organization has adopted new processes that will enable them to continue to act on their commitment to DEI. By including retention as a key step in the hiring and recruitment process, the organization is also establishing a virtuous circle.

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Social Innovation at Scale

Case Study

Social Innovation at Scale

 Overview

The CEO of a Washington DC-based social innovation nonprofit engaged Conscient Strategies to help them develop an organizational strategy. The organization had been the cusp of shuttering their doors when they received a series of small grants followed by a $25 million investment that launched the CEO and her team into a period of rapid growth and scale.

The company was growing significantly in terms of revenue and team size but had not scaled its organizational structure or processes to match that growth. At the same time, key leaders were preparing to transition out of the organization, leaving significant leadership and skill gaps in their wake. Conscient Strategies worked with the organization to conduct leadership and organizational assessments. Then, in partnership with the CEO and board, implemented a multi-faceted project focused on leadership transition and development, organizational stabilization, operational support for rapid growth, and strategy development.

Assessment

Conscient Strategies launched the engagement by conducting a multifaceted leadership and organizational assessment. The assessment analyzed past experience, current context, and future opportunities in light of the mission, programmatic approaches, structure, competing organizational cultures, leadership capabilities, team dynamics, and practical realities that shape day-to-day decision making.

What we discovered

The assessment revealed that the organization lacked the systems and infrastructure to support growth, suffered from extreme leadership gaps (both in terms of sufficient staffing and capabilities of existing leaders), and that the strain of rapid scale had pushed the CEO and global team into a place of extreme unhealth and ineffectiveness. Without a clear organizational identity, objectives, or strategy, the global leadership team was spread thin and wasting significant resources on inefficient decision-making and processes. Additionally, we identified a set of root issues with the finance function and operations teams that posed a significant risk to the organization’s success and sustainability.

Conscient Strategies worked with the organization to conduct leadership and organizational assessments. Then, in partnership with the CEO and board, implemented a multi-faceted project focused on leadership transition and development, organizational stabilization, operational support for rapid growth, and strategy development.

What we did

Out of this assessment, we engaged the CEO and her direct reports through leadership development and advisory services to drive necessary organizational restructuring and position the team for strategic growth. We also provided embedded operational support to help the Board and CEO stabilize the organization, with a particular focus on the finance functions and infrastructure. We:

Established priorities and developed a roadmap to stabilize the organization

Guided the CEO and board through significant leadership transition and helped identify, hire, and onboard senior leaders

Integrated improved leadership behaviors and aligned the organizational expectations and behaviors of the global team in service of the mission, values, and strategic objectives

Designed and helped implement a new organizational structure

Developed a new organizational identity including vision, mission, values, goals, and strategy

Results

As a result of the engagement, the CEO significantly increased her leadership capabilities, particularly in the area of communication, vision-casting, decision-making, outcome-driven accountability, and prioritization. The organization has stabilized from a leadership and financial perspective. Today it has a full leadership team in place, is aligned around a new vision and strategy direction, and successfully secured additional funding in line with that strategy. We continue to provide ongoing advisory support for the CEO as she implements the strategy.

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14 + 5 =

Organizational Assessment & Restructure for FinTech Start-up

Case Study

Organizational Assessment & Restructure for FinTech Start-up

Overview

Conscient Strategies was referred by an angel investor to advise and coach the CEO of a FinTech Payments start-up. The start-up was looking to do a Series A raise and struggling with its organizational structure, strategic focus, and clarity of leadership which was all slowing its launch of new products key their growth strategy. The CEO engaged us to perform an organizational assessment and provide strategic advisory and leadership coaching services to help them achieve their growth objectives.

Assessment

We began by conducting a needs assessment to evaluate the organization’s leadership and organizational structure. The assessment focused on operational alignment with strategy, effectiveness of and gaps in the current organizational structure, and areas for leadership growth.

What We Discovered

The assessment revealed three key gaps, each a significant risk to the organization’s success: 

  1. Gap between existing organizational structure and the one needed to reach the strategic goals
  2. Lack of operations capability and capacity to launch new products
  3. Need for leadership coaching and a sounding board for the CEO

What We Did

Following the assessment, we provided advisory services to the operations team to develop new reporting and processes. We also advised the CEO and Head of Product to improve alignment on strategic objectives and accountability in their achievement. We then worked alongside the CEO to identify key gaps in the organizational structure and what skills were needed to fill the open positions. Through leadership coaching the CEO was able to gain clarity of vision, improve strategic decision making, and drive the company forward more quickly.

With improvements provided by Conscient Strategies, sales increased 5-15% month on month over the course of the multi-year engagement.

Results

Through our engagement, our efforts resulted improved organizational alignment, increased operations capability, significant growth in the CEO’s leadership capabilities, and a restructured management team. The new management team:

Hired 2 new key executives to fill gaps in to revised organizational structure

Developed OKRs to ensure accountability and the organizations alignment with strategic priorities

With these improvements, the company sales increased 5-15% month on month over the course of our multi-year engagement. They not only decreased the time it took to take a product to market, they got back on track for their target product development plan, launched two new products in the first year of the engagement, and successfully raised Series A capital. We have continued our engagement into a third year acting as an advisor to the CEO and board as they pursue a Series B raise.

Did you know?

Our team provides post-transaction planning and support that keeps your investment on track.

From 100-Day Plans to integration support and beyond, we’re here throughout the deal cycle to ensure successful mergers and high value exits.

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National Law Firm Culture Assessment

Case Study

National Law Firm Culture Assessment

Overview

Conscient Strategies was engaged by a national law firm with fourteen offices nationwide. Over a three-year period of time, a West Coast office had approximately tripled in size. This growth presented challenges with regards to a deterioration of alignment between the headquarter offices in New York and the office on the West Coast. This included both a vacuum of leadership to address problems as they arose in the West Coast office as well as specific issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. The firm reached out to Conscient Strategies as a step towards proactively addressing these issues.

Assessment

We began by undertaking a rapid assessment of the state of the office.  Simultaneously, we worked with firm leadership to understand the desired culture of the firm.

 Through the engagement, we utilized the Conscient Strategies framework, which is built around three key manifestations of culture:

  • Shared beliefs and values
  • Actions and behaviors
  • Physical and space indicators

Within this framework, the Conscient Strategies team focused on a number of elements of particular relevance to the firm, including employee perceptions by specific demographic considerations. We analyzed the information by various employee segments to identify any key differentiators – for example, by position, by gender, by ethnic group, and by years at the firm among other considerations.

 

Conscient Strategies analyzed the information by various employee segments to identify any key differentiators – for example, by position, by gender, by ethnic group, and by years at the firm among other considerations.

 

What We Discovered

The assessment and our analysis revealed the following themes:

Tensions between employee segments

We identified issues within the team on how both lawyers and staff were treated based on gender.  There was a perception that there were only one or two “offenders” on the team, yet our assessment concluded that none of the women working in the West Coast office had a sense of psychological safety in the work place. 

Promotions and partner track

This was a key consideration for many in the West Coast team. Our analysis found that the policies and procedures for advancement did not line up with the perception of what needed to be done to grow within the firm.  There was also a tremendous amount of confusion around how feedback was given and to what end.  As a result, there was considerable discontent surrounding advancement decisions taken by the firm.

Leadership capacity

Partners in the West Coast office, like many law offices in the United States, promote based on the business brought into the firm. However, few of the partners in the West Coast office had consistent or strong leadership capacity to drive the office in a continued direction of growth. 

The assessment also revealed gaps in the client’s national business strategy, operational systems and processes, and business development.

What We Did and Results

At the conclusion of this project, we provided the firm’s leadership with an analysis of the situation in the West Coast office and a list of recommendations to begin shifting misaligned behaviors. Based on our deep listening, observations, and analyses, we developed a plan to create the desired changes and address some of the toxic behaviors noted in the West Coast office. This included considerations such as business strategy, operating structure, filling leadership gaps, and disciplinary tactics to increasingly bridge the gaps that existed between the East and West Coast teams.  

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5 + 15 =

Acquisition & Merger Integration: Overcoming Fears & Driving Success

Case Study

Acquisition & Merger Integration:
Overcoming Fears & Driving Success

The Challenge

Conscient Strategies was charged with navigating the merger of two international member organizations. Although they shared a common mission, the organizations were distinctly different and neither was properly positioned to deliver on the evolving needs of its members. As such, the end goal was not just a successful merger, but an emergence as a re-positioned, unified entity.

Key Objectives

  To establish a single, new culture that respected the cultures of the original organizations while serving the vision of the merged organization

  To redefine membership services to increase the relevancy within a changing marketplace

  To reverse declining financial situations

  To manage expectations of highly involved boards

Hurdles for Leadership, Board, and Staff

Letting go of “what is” typically encounters resistance and creates stress among staff. In this organization, staff and management were challenged to re-imagine services and positioning. Nothing was exempt from analysis and “We’ve always done it that way” was not a reason to continue what was.

Coming together as one organization required guidance and cooperation at every level. We worked with executives to align their financial management practices and leadership styles. The two Boards needed to reconcile governance and level of involvement with the organization. At the staff level, employees needed to embrace new social and professional relationships while developing and adjusting to new processes. Employees all along the hierarchy needed to feel empowered to experiment, to fail, to innovate, and to succeed.

Managing risk and financial outcomes was crucial to the success of the merger. We helped leaders develop a single view of acceptable risk and rationalize finances to reflect common definitions and time frames.

What We Accomplished

established a unified vision

  • Redefined the positioning of the organization to be a center of innovation in the market
  • Utilized benchmarking and brainstorming to model and establish new ways of tackling issues and getting ideas flowing

defined & integrated a new culture

  • Transitioned culture to focus on innovation, collaboration, and responsibility
  • Infused new culture into behaviors and actions
  • Developed and implemented processes that reflected the new culture

restructured

  • Defined new roles, responsibilities, and positions
  • Led the search for a new CEO who would align with the new vision
  • Established a new Board and governance structure

improved finances

  • Repositioned the organization to drive greater revenues
  • Revised the service portfolio to optimize both the top and bottom lines

Where Are They Now?

“Today, much of the core structure that guides our organization is the result of the foundational work led by Conscient Strategies. We are most grateful for their insights, their consulting support, and their sophisticated understanding of systems.”

“The team at Conscient Strategies was instrumental in helping guide the merger process of our two predecessor associations, while also leading the vision and culture development for our fledgling new entity.

From the mechanics of the merger process to the countless administrative details to the planning process for our new structure, the Conscient Strategies team shared their attention to detail, along with their ability to navigate and support change.”

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12 + 11 =

Retaining Women as Partners

Case Study

Retaining Women as Partners

The Challenge

A professional services firm was concerned about high turnover among women resulting in under-representation of women at the executive level and potential claims of discrimination. Senior Partners believed that they were taking sufficient steps to overcome equity concerns and did not believe there was bias or discrimination in the firm.

What We Did

We began by sitting down with senior management to understand their perspectives and confirm the general hypotheses. We did a complete human resource data review including departures and promotions and projections based on current trajectory. In addition, extensive interviews with both current and former female employees were conducted.

What We Discovered

Based on current trajectory, instead of being on track to have parity within the levels of the organization, the data and interviews indicated that it would take 40 years to achieve equity of women partners. The growth in women partners were much smaller increments than originally expected. The documented and generally accepted reasons for women departing centered around family concerns. In fact, we learned that most of the more senior women who left joined other firms. They did not believe they were well positioned to become part of the executive team. What was most striking was that high performing women were not given the opportunity to work on the higher profile clients.

Based on current trajectory, instead of being on track to have parity within the levels of the organization, the data and interviews indicated that it would take 40 years to achieve equity of women partners.

 

Implementation & Execution

Plans were developed to reevaluate how individuals were assigned to projects.

Mentoring and coaching

Mentoring and coaching was established for both male and female employees.

succession Planning

Succession planning was strengthened and integrated to this project as it
had been a separate initiative before this engagement was completed.

defined indicators

Leading indicators were established to ensure we optimized tracking.

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