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A Day of Understanding for International Women’s Day

How understanding gender bias can help build inclusive cultures

On March 9, Securian Financial held its third Day of Understanding as part of the company’s commitment to encouraging conversations around diversity and inclusion.

To coincide with International Women’s Day, the Day of Understanding topic focused on gender bias and common biases women experience in the workplace that impede their ability to move forward and feel that they belong.

The 90-minute workshop provided tools for attendees to have more open, honest and empathetic conversations and help us build more inclusive cultures inside and outside of our workplace.

“Research shows bias does hold women back,1” says Sheri Stover, learning and development consultant at Securian Financial. “If it goes unchecked, unconscious bias negatively impacts hiring, promoting and other talent management practices. It can also affect the degree to which employees feel included in the workplace.”

She continues, “Since bias, including gender bias, can have these serious implications, we have to know how to mitigate them.”

And that’s where trainings like this can help. Participants learned how to:

  • Understand how bias impacts everyone and isn’t limited to gender
  • Identify common biases that women experience
  • Use a process to frame conversations and broaden perspectives
  • Commit to action to foster inclusivity across interactions at work and at home

Engaging employees in the conversation

Alison Lehman, attorney senior consultant at Securian Financial and a Day of Understanding facilitator, underscores the importance of the course.

“By offering this training at Securian, it really shows our organization’s commitment to gender equity and provides us a forum to talk about these important issues,” she says.

The benefits are far-reaching, from building an inclusive culture, to attracting and retaining talent, to paving a better path for generations to come.

“There’s a huge opportunity for Securian Financial to really lean in and provide a workplace that embraces and supports women and provides them opportunities for growth,” says Matt Bauler, second vice president, business services at Securian Financial. “I feel like changes we can make now in the workplace and in our communities will set the stage for continued gender parity and more equity.”

Sarah Milner, Securian Financial engineering consultant, concludes, “We need to have this understanding that everyone has a different perspective and all perspectives can bring great value to what we’re doing, thus making us better individuals and making us a better company.”

What is the Day of Understanding?

CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ (CEO Action) created the Day of Understanding to encourage a daylong discussion within companies about understanding and embracing differences, educating people and building more inclusive cultures.

CEO Action is a collaboration among more than 900 organizations2 that have pledged to cultivate workplaces that support open dialogue on complex conversations around diversity and inclusion. These companies commit to implementing and expanding unconscious bias education and sharing best practices with other organizations.

Securian Financial has been involved in CEO Action since 2017, when Chris Hilger, Securian’s chairman, president and CEO, committed to the initiative. 

Resource groups support women

Securian Financial has several employee resource groups that support women, transgender and nonbinary employees in the workplace.

  • Inspiring Women in Technology (IWiT) promotes, educates and empowers women in technology at Securian Financial and in the broader community. 
  • Women RISE (Reach, Inspire, Support, Empower) supports and empowers the women of Securian Financial by championing a culture where women are valued, promoted and encouraged to build successful careers and achieve their goals. 
  • Pride at Securian supports LGBTQ+ employees, educates on relevant issues and promotes our culture of diversity and inclusion.

IWiT and Women RISE hosted an open house on March 10 open to all employees to continue the discussion around the International Women’s Day 2020 theme, Each for Equal.

Read more about our culture

Securian Financial employees have a financial connection to Securian Financial. The statements were given freely.

1. “Women in the Workplace 2019,” and McKinsey & Company, 2019.

2. A Challenge We Need to Act On, CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™, 2019.

DOFU 3-2020