Creating More Women Leaders
I believe that creating, nurturing, and celebrating strong female leaders will help lay the foundation for a more diverse and powerful set of business and world leaders.
Today, there aren’t enough women at the top of our organizations to offer insight into business issues and how they impact consumers representing half the planet’s population. Fewer than seven percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and the number of C-suite woman executives in the tech and industrial sectors is disappointingly low. Even when individual female leaders receive just as much exposure as male counterparts, collectively they are less visible.
Our challenge is to bridge this gap by helping others see that strong women are leaders who make high-impact changes. We should fight stereotyping that prompts many women to believe they must defer to male peers or apologize for tough or unpopular decision-making—even when they are right—by showcasing their authentic leadership styles and positioning them as decisive and direct.
Celebrating female leaders is important because women often don’t do it themselves. When I watched the movie RBG, I was struck by how Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—an amazing, smart, fierce, powerful woman—relied on a strong male champion, her husband, to call out her accomplishments and eventually fight for her spot on the court.
Some of the most successful and capable women are humble and understated about their victories. They win gently, by making others see the light as they steer organizations to success.
As women continue to face internally and externally driven challenges, I think about those who influenced me. Instead of one perfect role model, my patchwork leadership vision is built from leaders in different walks of life. I was influenced by an empathetic nurse, a tough gymnastics coach, a resilient and intellectual mother, a fearless sister, and other women who showed me at least one value or nuanced skill set that helped me become the leader I am today. Equally important are excellent male leaders with pure mastery of strategic fundamentals, an unwavering commitment to objective analytics, and the ability to communicate a palpable vision in a way that makes others want to follow.
Women and men alike can and should find opportunities to sponsor and mentor women rising to leadership. We can all learn from each other and build stronger organizations that are more representative of global markets and the world at large.