Transformation: The power of one woman
Friday, August 30, 2013
Posted by: Barbara Francella
By Anne Perschel
upon a time, there was a mid-size firm called The Company, run by men. The
entire executive team and all board directors at The Company were men.
Everything was fine, until one day...
CEO nominated a woman board director. Trouble began. First Woman was on the board
for a year before she suggested to the CEO another woman be placed on the
board. Because he appreciated First Woman’s contributions, the CEO nominated
Second Woman and The Board now had two women directors. Shortly thereafter, the
CEO heard rumblings about the need for more women at senior levels of The
CEO was not prepared for that, but the rumblings got louder. When he could no
longer pretend he didn’t hear the outcry, the CEO put the issue on the board’s
board members explained how companies with more women in
senior leadership roles achieved better financial results than competitors with
fewer women leaders.
The CEO thought this would be a good outcome for The Company. So, the CEO spoke
about this idea to his executive team, which now included one woman. He
explained The Company had benefited from more women on the
board, as expected.
The return on shareholder equity had increased. He explained how additional
financial benefits accrue to companies with more women in senior leadership. Innovation,
he said, was critical to The Company’s future. Diverse perspectives and
thinking would contribute to innovation.
executives started to change things at The Company. They began to look for
leaders with different styles and ways of thinking. They were surprised at how
many talented women leaders they found inside their own company, simply by
looking with different eyes. The executives began to champion talented women
champions made sure each talented woman knew the right people, and more
importantly, that the right people knew her. Each champion asked her about her
successes and her unique leadership edge. She, in turn, learned how to talk about
her success and her talents without fear of bragging or sounding egotistical. Everyone
changes started to trickle down, and up. Women in The Company felt more valued,
so they spoke up more. Their ideas were heard, discussed and implemented. The
Company became more innovative. New products were doing well. Sales people
shifted their approach to focus on customer relationships instead of talking solely
about The Company’s products. Everyone collaborated more.
of these changes and positive outcomes, The Company decided to spread the word
about being a culture that benefited from women’s leadership. They hosted a mentoring and networking event
for women. Word
spread about The Company as a good place for women, and other talented members
of under-represented groups, to work. The Company became an employer of choice.
The culture kept evolving. Women in The Company’s customer base wanted to do
business with The Company.
is what happened because The CEO invited one woman onto the board, and it is not
the end of the story. Women continue to hold board director seats at The
Company, and now there are more women leaders and managers as well. In fact,
there is more overall diversity at The Company and innovation continues to
lesson is this: If you invite one woman to join your board, it might be just
the beginning of a series of changes that continue for a very long time. Are
you ready for that?
Dr. Anne Perschel is a leadership psychologist with Germane Consulting and
co-founder and chief inspiration officer at 3Plus International, a
career lab for high achieving and high potential women.
Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and
do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or
its Officers, Board members and sponsors.
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