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Advancing Women Leaders: A Q&A with Maureen MacInnis
In this multi-part blog series, the 2018 Executive Impact Award recipients will be sharing anecdotes and advice about advancing women leaders, in their own words. If you missed the first installment, find it here to learn why Chris Hause of Kaiser Permanente believes that “Aloha” is a word all leaders should live by.
In today’s post, Maureen MacInnis, SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer and Communications at Dentsply Sirona, discusses why fostering a mindset and environment of inclusion is essential to advancing women leaders—and how linking a series of focused, actionable steps can build this culture.
Maureen will be participating in a panel featuring this year’s award recipients at Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute™ on November 14, in Phoenix, AZ. Institute co-chair and Wall Street Veteran Carla Harris will moderate the panel. This short video captures the impact of this unique immersive leadership experience.
Tell us a little bit about your role at your company.
I have the privilege of leading an amazing team of HR professionals around the world. My responsibilities include global organizational communication, both internal and external. Dentsply Sirona is actually 100 years old, yet we are also an organization known for our innovation and technology. Telling this story and helping it resonate with our audiences is fascinating and complex. One of the best communications activities was working on the effort to develop our common vision and values. In any language, at any time, we have a shared understanding of what it means to work at Dentsply Sirona.
Serving on our executive team allows me to bring the people and culture strategy together with our business strategy as I work with my peers to set our future direction and goals. Exploring new lines of business, determining areas for investment, thinking about the talent and resources needed to implement our plans—it has all been a part of a wonderful journey for me over the past nine years.
Who has had the greatest influence on you, and why?
I would have to say my parents, because their influence is still with me every day. My father was a chemist who held over 60 patents; my mom was a nurse who was beloved by her patients. Both of them were experts in their chosen professions, and they went about them in a way that I would describe as “quiet excellence.” They were role models not only for what they did, but how they did it. In their own ways, they had lasting impacts on people’s lives—through my dad’s inventions and my mom’s providing of health care. In addition to their work, they were loving parents who always placed our family at the center of their lives. The way they lived their lives still shines for me, and their influence made me a better partner, parent and professional.
What are you most proud of in your work advancing women leaders, and why?
As an HR professional, I am always focused on the talent. Who do we need to join our team and how can we create the right environment for them to do their best? I am most proud that I can go out into the lines of business at Dentsply Sirona and see the talented women leaders whom I have supported, championed and celebrated as they have progressed throughout the organization. I think the most lasting legacy to advance women leaders is one that works in waves. It goes beyond a single individual or a group—it involves changing a mindset and opening opportunities for everyone.
Another aspect of women’s leadership that I am extremely proud of is our EPIC program that focuses on our customers. EPIC stands for Educate, Practice, Innovate and Connect. At the beginning of August, I welcomed a group of all-female dental practitioners for a day of clinical sessions, networking, and professional development. We have always had a strong record of external clinical education with our customers, but I have to say this meeting was a first for the company and a first for me. Firsts are fun, and often far-reaching. The knowledge, talent, and caring in this group was a powerful affirmation of the difference we are making, not only to support each other, but to advance health care.
What best practice/piece of advice can you share for someone who is interested in moving this work forward in their organization?
Start anywhere—how are you recruiting talent? Are you reaching women to join you? Think about your women colleagues—are you in a position to create opportunities, question assumptions, work to prevent bias, be an ally, and share your knowledge? Choose one and go for it. Then go on to the next one.
Stay focused on your efforts and be willing to see them through. Involve others and draw on the expertise in your own network, as well as the larger professional community. Decide that success is not only implementing but sustaining. Attend a women’s leadership conference as a participant or an ally. See what resonates with you and what stays with you when you are back on the job.
Pilot a program to be more inclusive, not exclusive, for leadership. Look at ways you can reach out to those who could bring you new perspectives or fresh thinking. Ask your own employees for their thoughts on inclusive leadership and what they see day to day. Have your leaders be authentic and active listeners, having the conversations that build trust, raise issues and support action.
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