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


Rachel Cooke

Chief Operating Officer Rachel Cooke Rachel is responsible for business operations including overseeing client services, research events and project management. Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Rachel was the Chief Operating Officer Co-founder of AC Growth. Rachel has over 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, business development, and sales performance management. Prior to AC Growth, she held several senior management roles and was on the leadership team at Bersin & Associates, a pioneer analyst firm in e-learning and now industry leading HR and talent Research Company. In her Senior Director role, Rachel developed the strategy and led the commercial execution of the solution provider vertical, and grew the vertical into the company’s largest market segment. In her role as Director of Sales, Rachel developed and led a team of senior account executives focused on acquiring global strategic accounts. Rachel was solely responsible for developing key business relationships with over ninety companies including industry icons, such as: Adidas, Hewlett-Packard, Toyota, Oracle, Starbucks, Avnet, Boeing, Kaiser Permanente, Safeway Inc., Wells Fargo, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Clorox and Affiliated Computer Services. Rachel began her career in the banking, media and hospitality industries. In these industries, Rachel held several key senior management and executive sales positions. Rachel received a BA in social science and interdisciplinary studies with honors from Florida Atlantic University. Rachel continued her postgraduate education by completing a series of executive management education courses from American Management Association.