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3 Big Ideas From Fortune’s Next Generation of Powerful Women

December 13, 2019, 8:41 PM UTC

Attendees at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit had big ideas for how to fix problems throughout corporate America.

Senior editor Ellen McGirt led the group in a conversation about building intersectional networks to solve those problems. Here are the solutions they found:

Be courageous enough to be vulnerable

As a trained therapist, Vivianne Castillo, a senior design researcher at Salesforce, suggests giving voice to the feelings—like fear, shame, and unwritten rules of leadership—that get in the way of innovation.

Castillo said during the town hall that the “hyper-awareness of lack in a culture of scarcity at times can make that question of ‘enough’ feel not only constant, but crippling. How much is enough influence?”

Instead of prioritizing work and material success over emotional, physical, and mental health, Castillo says, we should be vulnerable. “Being vulnerable and transparent is probably one of the most courageous and inspiring things we can do,” she said.

Proactively push for diversity

Seventeen years ago, there were zero women on the field as scouts, officials, or decision-makers in American football. That didn’t sit well with Samantha Rapoport, senior director of football development for the National Football League. “We boast that 45% of our fan base is female—this needed to be fixed,” she said.

Rapoport helped create the NFL Careers and Football forum, an annual gathering that puts 50 women interested in NFL jobs in front of head coaches, general managers, and owners. To make that happen, Rapoport recalled, she and her colleagues asked top coaches and managers directly why there weren’t women coaching in the league. Putting coaches on the spot inspired action and ultimately resulted in several female on-field hires.

In another example of action over talk, at least 50% of the women included in the program must be women of color; if not, the program isn’t hosted.

“We’re not looking for firsts, we’re not looking for trailblazers—we’re looking to create the norm,” Rapoport said.

Open up opportunities for all

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah is president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service—and a former Democratic primary candidate for governor in Maryland. Her organization’s mission to provide aid to refugees and immigrants became more critical last summer, she said, as the crisis over separation of migrant parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border reached a fever pitch.

“I’ve learned to love and to leverage my identity and my experience as a woman, as a woman of color, as an immigrant, and as a mom,” she said. “Together, we will change the world because we must.”

More must-read stories from Fortune’s MPW Next Gen Summit:

Chanel Miller is more than “Emily Doe”
—The “blameless post mortem” and other techniques that spur innovation
Career pivots are daunting. Here’s how three powerful women made them work
—Goldman Sachs removed one word from recruiting materials and female hires soared
—Exclusive: Enterprise scion Chrissy Taylor to become car rental giant’s CEO
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