Denise Morrison, President and CEO, has long been passionate about seeing more women in leadership roles. As one of very few women CEOs in the Fortune 500, and the first woman CEO in Campbell’s history, Morrison has all too often had the experience of being the only woman in the room—and she is fully committed to changing this.
She has demonstrated her commitment to elevating women in the workplace again and again, including by co-founding the now extensive Women of Campbell network back in 2003 and acting as its executive sponsor today. Denise’s most recent effort—Be RealMentoring Circles—is truly reflective of who she is as a leader. The program leverages her personal experiences, insights, and guiding principles that have shaped her career. Principles like this one, from Denise:
Launched on International Women’s Day in March 2017, the Be Real program was born out of Denise’s acknowledgment that Campbell simply did not have enough women or women of color at the most senior levels. It was developed specifically to solve this problem by cultivating and retaining women leaders by enhancing leadership capabilities, broadening professional networks, promoting learning and development, and building confidence. According to Denise:
For her part, Denise has committed to dedicate one of her most limited resources, her time, by acting as personal mentor to 20 women leaders at Campbell. During their in-depth bi-monthly meetings, she and her mentees work through the fundamentals that have served her so well over the years. They establish personal missions, create critical career pathways, identify where they need to fill experience gaps, and work together to expand their networks and advocacy bases.
As Denise regularly reminds the women she works with, “networking is working.”
In exchange, she has asked her mentees to commit in kind by establishing and facilitating their own mentoring circles—creating a multiplier effect across the organization. These spin-off circles meet every other month, and while facilitators are provided with a guide to help them frame discussions, they are also encouraged to use and share what they have learned from their sessions with Denise. Above all, facilitators and participants are charged with being “real.” That means bringing their authentic selves, issues, aspirations, and concerns—about work and life—to the group.
The women of Campbell are embracing this opportunity. While the program is still in a pilot, at roughly six months in, 132 women have already taken part in 18 Be Real circles. Program leads report that participants’ enthusiasm has been overwhelming. Tara Smith, Deputy Corporate Secretary and Corporate Counsel, who was recognized as one of the Profiles in Diversity Journal’s “Women Worth Watching” in 2016, says this program is perfectly reflective of Denise Morrison and the company as a whole:
To Denise, seeing this personal passion come to fruition is incredibly rewarding.
The legacy of this program will have far-reaching positive impact as these women prepare to follow in Denise’s footsteps to the top of the corporate ladder, while also making time to take the next generation along with them.
Post original appeared in Catalyst.