March 12: Eight Great Workplace Sessions

The brand-new Fairmont Hotel hosts the Brands & Marketing Track as well as Intelligent Future. The third SXSW 2018 track that you will find at this just-opened venue (located just across the street from the SE corner of the Austin Convention Center) is Workplace, which covers topics ranging from career development, work-life balance, co-working, future of work, diversity, inclusion, HR issues, and employee rights in an ever-changing working environment. Listed in chronological order, eight more standout sessions in this Workplace track for Monday, March 12 include:

The Art of Inclusivity in a Politically Divided US. In this divided America, business leaders struggle to balance managing politically-charged emotions with creating a truly inclusive work environment. We empower our employees to bring their whole selves to work, but how do we ensure that we don’t cherry pick who that applies to or which ideas are welcome? This session will delve into not only the importance of D&I initiatives in our current climate, but also actionable tactics to help you foster a welcoming space for all of your employees. Scheduled at 9:30 am in Manchester B at the Fairmont.

A Robot Won’t Take Your Job: A Human Will. While bots are already resetting the dynamic between people, technology, and practices, it’s human creativity, compassion and intuition that cannot be replaced. 90% of companies say they are working on problems so complex that they can only be solved by teams. (Ernst & Young) So why aren’t we investing in making today’s leadership, technical, cross-functional, geographically dispersed, culturally diverse teams all they can be? Scheduled at 11:00 am in Manchester B at the Fairmont.

Beyond Transparency: Leveraging Diversity Data. In a first step toward increasing diversity, tech giants in Silicon Valley began publishing diversity reports in 2014. Although important, subsequent reports indicate that there has been little change, nor have a critical mass of organizations provided similar data. Yet there is diversity in tech beyond and within firms in Silicon Valley. This panel addresses how and why we must leverage the data collected by these types of reports to identify real, data-driven best practices rather than excuses. Scheduled at 11:00 am in Manchester A at the Fairmont.

Women + The Power of Community. This sessions features Audrey Gelman (pictured above), CEO and Co-Founder of The Wing, a NYC-based co-working and community space for women dedicated to providing members with a place to advance their pursuits and build community. Audrey will sit with interviewer Alyssa Mastromonaco, former Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations under President Obama and NYT best selling author of “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?” to speak about the importance of women building community in a time of political struggle. Audrey will highlight the role that community spaces play in personal and professional growth, and in upending larger societal trends of alienation and loneliness. Scheduled at 11:00 am in Ballroom EFG at the Austin Convention Center.

The Post 50/50 Workforce. As of late 2017, women make up nearly 50% of the workforce, own 10 million businesses and account for $1.4 trillion in receipts. Women will likely be the majority of working professionals in the U.S. within our lifetime. In a conversation with business, media and tech executives, we’ll invert the traditional dialogue about women at work, and instead focus on the post-parity age, and what we need to do, individually & collectively, in our own offices to prepare for equality in size, but not power. Speakers include Obama Foundation Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Scheduled at 12:30 pm in Manchester A at the Fairmont.

How 5 Months on the PCT Made Me Better at My Job. In 2016, Square Root COO, Elizabeth Schwartz, put one of the company’s award-earning programs (unlimited paid time off) to the test with a 5-month sabbatical to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The lessons she learned along the way helped transform the company’s culture and business long-term. In this session, we’ll discuss how other companies can find success with programs like sabbaticals, offering ways they can make it work for not just the employee — but for the company as a whole. Scheduled at 12:30 pm in Manchester B at the Fairmont.

How to Be a Boss (Even if You’re Not Bossy). Jennifer Romolini drops managerial knowledge-bombs based on the lessons from her book, “Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, F*ckups, and Failures”. Using cringeworthy anecdotes and relatable real-world scenarios, Romolini helps her audience recognize (and take advantage of) their own innate leadership abilities while avoiding the pitfalls that have swallowed many newbie bosses. This Book Reading is scheduled at 3:30 pm in Room 9C at the Austin Convention Center.

Frozen: Why College Gender Gap Spurs Egg Freezing. When Facebook and Apple announced they’d offer egg freezing as a perk, the response was surprisingly negative. Critics accused companies of sending women the wrong message — i.e. that career and long hours take precedence over family. Others accused egg freezers of fooling themselves into believing they could micromanage plans for career and family. Critics got it wrong. Our research shows women are freezing their eggs NOT to prioritize their careers but due to a shortage of college-educate men. Scheduled at 5:00 pm in Manchester A at the Fairmont.

SXSW 2018 run through Sunday, March 18. Buy your badge online and be part of all the creativity, innovation and networking that makes March Magic such an incredible experience.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.



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Hugh Forrest

Hugh Forrest


Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.