It Takes All of Us – MAKERS 2019
by Katie Juran
posted on 03-04-2019
Conversations drive change. That truth struck me more powerfully than perhaps it ever has before at the MAKERS Conference, three action-packed days of fascinating, provocative and surprising dialogues in Dana Point, Calif. The theme was “All of Us,” with the message being that it takes every individual – men and women – to drive positive change for women in society.
This was Adobe’s second year as part of the MAKERS organization. Last year, #timesup was very new (and raw) and the US political landscape felt like a roller coaster. A year later, while some of the same issues are still very much at play, the conversations felt different to me. They were more thoughtful and practical, relative to what we can action on today.
Some of the sessions that got me thinking the most were:
- John Legend’s discussion with leaders of the prison reform movement, focused on how to keep women with non-violent crimes together with their children. The business call to action was to “ban the box” of asking about prior convictions on a job application, which makes it difficult for former inmates to ever move forward with employment. (I’m happy to say that Adobe doesn’t have that box on our own applications).
- Jada Pinkett Smith’s interview with Ellen Pao, founder of Project Include, which was a rich discussion about the challenges of speaking out in a male-dominated corporate environment and ways we can make things better.
- Arlan Hamilton’s personal story about trying to raise a new venture capital fund while she was essentially homeless and sleeping on the floor at San Francisco Airport. Her commitment to a vision is truly extraordinary, and I was struck by how many of us align with the reality we face rather than trying to change it.
- Leah Smith’s perspectives as a disability rights activist fighting for more equal access and inclusive treatment. I loved how she described her differences as inherent to who she is, not anything that is wrong with her or needs to be “fixed.” It was an important mindset shift for me, relative to approaching individuals with disabilities.
On the final morning of the conference, Adobe along with other MAKERS board members had the opportunity to make a public pledge for the change we’ll drive in our organizations this year. Last year we pledged global pay parity and it was a powerful stake in the ground. This year, we have pledged to tackle opportunity parity. This journey – which will examine how our employees advance and move within the organization – will be more complex in many ways. But it’s the next chapter in ensuring fairness and growth across all parts of the company.
I would like to give a huge “thank you” to the senior leaders from Adobe who joined me for the MAKERS experience — Kakul, Nan, Julie, Stacy and John. They are leading so many positive changes across the organization. Also thank you to MAKERS for gathering one of the most high-powered and diverse gatherings that I have had the pleasure to be part of.
As we enter Women’s History Month, it’s a moment for all of us to think about what we can do to make a difference for women, especially young women. The awareness we drive now will unleash their possibilities to come.
Topics: Diversity & Inclusion, Community