Having spent 17 years as a leader within traditionally male-dominated global finance institutions, Cate has become an influential voice in the conversation about gender in the workforce. But she’s not only helping catalyze open dialogue and discourse on this topic, Cate is taking action and creating new systems and models that aim to empower the future generations of female leaders.
A connector at heart, Cate realized she can make a broader impact by stepping beyond the walls of the bank and bringing her resources, network, and vision to the rapidly evolving flexible workspace industry. And so, the idea for Luminary was born – a community of empowered women, with space for them to work, develop, and connect across sectors. Without further ado, here’s Cate’s future of work in her own words.
Breaking the cycle
When I started my journey into banking, I saw very few women sitting across the table. This was the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy that had formed: in the baby boomer generation, there were a lot of women who stayed home to raise their children. It was an amazing thing to do, but it meant that women were not the breadwinners.
Then, as the women that were in the workplace decided to take time off, even just for maternity leave, the issue became figuring out how to return to work. Where is their space? Where do they go to rebuild that network they may have lost? It’s also hard as a mother to work the 40- to 60-hour weeks they were required to do before. Women fell behind the eight ball, if you can think of it that way.
Now, what we need to see are significant jumps in the corporate space, as well as more flexible work arrangements. This needs to be across industries, whether you work in fashion, retail, financial services, hospitality, or engineering.
Bringing the community into the conversation
Another part of what we focus on within Luminary is men’s role in the empowerment of women. I have had so many supportive men in my life and career, including most of my mentors in finance. Rather than alienating men, we need to bring them into the conversation – everyone needs to be at the table.
Let’s ask their opinions, better understand what they think about the current situation, how they would help women in the workplace, so they can rise up and help raise women up too. At the end of the day, it’s about the human connection.
Less walls, more connections
Coworking isn’t just about private offices and enterprise. There are a great number of people out there looking for that true original concept of coworking – where ideas come from within, from people sitting across the table talking about their business. We are so used to putting on our headphones or sitting in an office or looking at our phones or computers or iPads that this face-to-face experience is disappearing.
What Luminary is trying to create is a combination of innovative and accessible space with very tailored learning experiences. What does that mean? It means building an extensive and sustainable network across all professions and industries while providing events, workshops, and seminars facilitated by both women and men. This will cut down the silos we’ve all grown so accustomed to, allowing collaboration and idea generation to come to life. That way, we can build new businesses and opportunities for women, whether they’re just entering the workforce, trying to figure out their next career move, or re-entering the workplace after taking time off.
Different is a good thing
There is real value in more spaces opening up that are tailored to a niche and fill a gap, whether that’s wellness, mind and body, the creative and artistic, or the female-focused. I see The Coven as a great example of a group of leaders who did a brilliant job of assessing a market and saying, “we need this for our women.”
We’re all evolving in different ways, even the original workplace. If you consider the finance industry, five years ago you would never walk into a major investment bank and see someone without a suit and tie. Now, you walk in and you rarely see any suits and ties. The world of work is evolving and this is incredibly exciting to witness.
When it comes to the future of work, our people need to be at the center. As a civilization, we’re making some incredible technological advancements but, ultimately, humans aren’t going anywhere. We need them, and we need to continue to find ways to better collaborate and bring each other up.
Cate Luzio, Founder and CEO of Luminary, as told to the Optix Team exclusively for the Optix blog.
The ‘Future of Work’ series shares insights from thought leaders who are on a mission to drive the future of work forward. We speak with members of our diverse network of entrepreneurs, journalists, flexible workplace operators and others, then distill their insights into a 5-15 minute read you can enjoy while sipping your cup of coffee and preparing to start your day.