• January 23, 2018
HCMx Radio 76: How to Run Successful Women’s Initiatives

Guests: Kelsey Pytlik, Co-founder and CEO of Gild Collective

Caitlin Graham Felvus, Corporate Attorney at Taft Stettinius & Hollister

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

In this edition of HCMx Radio, we interview Kelsey Pytlik, co-founder and CEO of Gild Collective, and Caitlin Graham Felvus, a corporate attorney at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.

Kelsey’s background is within creative agencies and ecommerce retailers—conducting user research and designing usable interfaces, which has led her to expertise in understanding user needs that translate directly to developing a powerful curriculum that addresses the needs of each organization through Gild Collective workshops.

Caitlin is the chair of Taft Women 360, an initiative focused on recruiting, retaining and promoting female attorneys to leadership positions at Taft. Kelsey and Caitlin have remarkable backgrounds that are grounded in making the world a better place.

More companies and individuals are starting to focus on putting together programs that specifically bring women together to help develop them as well as creating unique networks and communities of support. Often women leaders run into similar challenges when running women’s initiatives, such as a negative perception, lack of engagement with events, and a need to gain buy-in from leaders and managers within the organization. Kelsey and Caitlin offer guidance and insights to help with creating successful women’s programs.


  1. Gain buy-in from senior leadership. This can be a real challenge depending on whether the leaders think they have all the answers, or are open to receiving input from others, including the millennial generation that you are trying to help. Know your audience is key and you will need to approach both types of senior leaders differently to get their buy-in.
  1. Perception. How does the women’s initiative fit in with the overall company mission? Make sure to define a clear mission of the group and build the creditability that matters to your audience.
  1. Increase Engagement. You want to create a positive experience and be flexible to drive engagement. You want to eventually attract men to join in the sessions so that both men and women understand what the challenges are and can work together to solve problems and make the environment a better workplace for everyone.


To listen to the interview, you can download or stream 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.

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