How The Estée Lauder Companies Empowers Women and How We Can Learn from this

integrated talent ecosystem

“You Don't Have to Become a Manager… It's All About the Impact and the Subject Matter Expertise that You Bring to the Table”

The Resonance Test 86: Michael Smith, CIO of The Estée Lauder Companies

June 12, 2023
michael smith

When it comes to empowering women—truly empowering them—The Estée Lauder Companies is doing something different. We know this because Michael Smith, CIO of ELC, recently dropped by The Resonance Test to talk about the extensive success they’ve had in this area.

In a conversation with Regina Viadro, EPAM’s VP and Co-Head of North American Business, and Resonance Test Producer Ken Gordon, Smith details how his organization promotes women’s leadership and diversity within the company and in the broader community.

When your company serves people, whether colleagues or consumers, Smith says: “Your organization should reflect that and be representative of the people you serve.”

One way they do this is through their Open Doors program which is, in Smith’s words, “a learning community. It's a movement that develops talent and it's focused on building culture.”

The program features a weeklong leadership intensive, a year of coaching support, and access to an online interactive learning community. It's an impressive approach to creating a talent ecosystem, and the effects of the Open Doors initiatives are undeniable.

• Nearly 90% of the intensive participants are still with the company.
• 52% have been promoted.
• 100% of the Open Doors participants self-report, Smith says, “an increase in their growth mindset.”

When it comes to women in tech, ELC is doing well. “The tech industry is at 28% women. We're sitting today at 34%,” Smith says. “I'm not satisfied with that number. We know that we can do better.”

Smith notes that his organization is interested in professional development at every layer. “We've doubled and tripled our internship program over the last few years, and we have a strong focus on recruiting women,” he says, adding: “We're seeing great success in people continuing to be promoted, continuing to grow into new roles.”

Speaking of growth: ELC has a wonderful dual career path initiative in place. “In a traditional organization, people hit that manager level and the only way they can continue to grow is to get bigger jobs,” he notes that his organization has another, attractive option: “They don't want to lead large teams, they want to be experts and make an impact with their subject matter expertise.” (We know all about such a path!)

Finally, Smith talks about The Tech Day of Pink, an initiative with a great mission: aiming to end breast cancer within our lifetime.

All in all, it’s a fine, instructional conversation. Open your mind by listening to the stories of all the doors ELC has opened.

Host: Alison Kotin
Engineer: Kyp Pilalas
Producer: Ken Gordon

The Resonance Test 86: Michael Smith, CIO of The Estée Lauder Companies
filed in: integrated talent ecosystem, employee experience, complex systems