Shannon Cohen works through her consulting firm, Shannon Cohen Inc., to help companies across a range of industries improve leadership practices around equity and wellness. But Cohen wears many hats as an author, podcaster and owner of a product line called Tough Skin, Soft Heart, as well as the leader of the Rockstar Woman Brunch Experience. Cohen shared her insights on the labor challenges many industries face right now, and some of the ways companies have found success in leadership practices during the pandemic.
What are ways you see companies leading successfully right now?
The pandemic has made people start to prioritize what they give energy and labor to, and in that prioritization they are looking at what gives energy, labor and investment back to them.
Not every organization is going through a ‘Great Resignation.’ Companies that have already incorporated the value of investing in people and the holistic well-being of their stakeholders — every person connected to the mission of their organization — those are the companies that are going to remain visible, valuable and focal into the future. The best companies have been students and said, ‘What do you need?’ to stakeholders.
Do you agree with the framing of labor challenges as not enough people wanting to be in the workforce?
Focusing on the Great Resignation is like focusing on the symptom. This issue has been years in the making and people said, ‘If I give so much of my life to work, I don’t want to be unhappy.’ Companies need to be looking at how they are investing in the wellness of their people, and when they invest in that holistically it will show up in dividends in terms of profit and retention.
What ways have you seen companies put discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion into meaningful action?
The companies I see that are killing the game are looking at their employees as entrepreneurs and are exploring tapping into that in a way that still benefits the employee and invests in them as a company.
This requires gatekeepers and senior-level talent not just looking to who they have the closest relationships with, but looking at the overlooked. I see CEOs recognizing there are goldmines on their teams and talent they didn’t know they had because they did not have relationships with everyone. Now CEOs are seeing who is missing at the table and which voices they haven’t heard.
How have you navigated leading your own firm and employees during the pandemic?
I have a team of four and my team are all women and 75 percent are mothers. My team members have given birth and lost parents over the last two years, and for me I’ve had to navigate homeschooling and school cancellations.
It’s really been about adaptive leadership and creating a space where I’m letting them know I choose them and the work will get done, but I see them and their humanity and what they bring to Shannon Cohen Inc. I’m trusting they will get the work done, but I’m caring about the people who work with me. We’ve grown closer as a team and in our work.