When I joined ABI as the VP of Programs, the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC - the organization's largest social enterprise, responsible for $1m in yearly net income) was a fairly small, profitable event. During the time I oversaw it, GHC grew from 2700 attendees to 8,000 (11,000 forecasted in 2015), increased in program quality and tripled in net income. In addition, the conference leadership significantly diversified, allowing a broader set of leadership role models to be highlighted. This signature program is one key component in the strategy used at Harvey Mudd College to increase the % of CS majors who are female from 15% to 40%.
In addition, there were significant organizational issues present. The culture of the organization was quite toxic, leaders had no boundaries and exhibited mean personal behavior. There was no room for diverse personalities to be successful. The Director of GHC, who reported to me (a woman of color), was not succeeding, and was under attack from her peers. Because the majority of the headcount in the organization reported to me at that time I had lots of leverage and set out to change the culture, to name unacceptable behavior, and to set a new humane norm, through my personal example. I coached the Director, setting concrete goals and priorities, and supporting her in establishing her credibility. In six months, the culture had changed significantly, and the Director went on to become a star!
My team developed a reputation as a high performing team with kind and competent behavior. We earned the respect of a global community of technical women.