Female execs urge women to support each other
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Posted by: Barbara Francella
will advance in the consumer products and retail industry when they support
each other, according to a panel of senior executives at the NEW Summit, Oct.
22, 2013 in Los Angeles.
Debra Langford, CEO of The Langford Company, was joined by Lyné Brown, vice
president of sales, customer capability development for The Clorox Company; Kim
Newton, vice president strategy and planning, North America for Hallmark
Cards Inc.; and Annette Dennig, vice president of strategic accounts, Walgreen
Company, to discuss the importance of women supporting
other women and the unique experiences of women of color.
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Asked who her male or female influences have been, Newton cited Carol
Hallquist, president of Hallmark Corporate Foundation, who asks about Newton
even when she’s not in the room, and her male mentor and advisor, who provides
consistent support. "He doesn’t let me go in the room without context,” Newton
said. These two supporters "don’t just deliver the good news, they deliver the
hard news,” she said. "They’re truth tellers.”
Constructive candor is important, Brown agreed. "I didn’t always want to listen
to my mentors, because I didn’t always agree, but sometimes they were right.”
are not supporting each other enough in the workplace, the executives agreed, but
emerging leaders and senior leaders can remedy that.
leaders, for instance, should take a self-inventory and ask themselves if they could
be and should be publicly supported. Then, they should ask for support.
challenge: finding widespread support among different groups of women: those
who are married, single, mothers and women without children.
There were times when Brown had to prove she could be effective,
no matter the circumstances outside the office. "[The key was] producing great results and asking people
what I needed, [saying] I will be delivering with excellence, but I will be
doing it from home.”
Being supportive of other women does not necessarily mean directly mentoring or
working with them. When a team member’s personality and work style caused conflict,
Dennig found another role for her, where she could thrive. "I got her out of my
department and moved her on to something else,” Dennig said. "Life is too short
to work with people that you cannot work with well. In my experience, [her
participation] did not support my team. Now she is in a much better place.”
panel also shared their insights on support for and among women of color.
you think about the challenges that women have, I do believe it’s elevated [for
women of color],” said Newton. "There are a lot of culture changes that need to
happen. It’s not about conforming. It’s about doing it your way.”
cited a study that examined different workplace approaches among different
groups of women. "Asian-American women use a strategy of ‘blending in,’” she said.
"Latinas blend in and stick together. African-American women use a
‘stick-together’ strategy” with the majority of their network being other
Newton said she understands the "sticking together” approach. "As African-American women, we are
only two generations away from being considered institutionally different.”
of my mentors were an African-American female and an Indian female,” said
Dennig, "but it didn’t really hit me that one was black and one was Indian
until we were just now discussing it. I always thought of them as my ‘women’
support is a shared responsibility. "You have to relate to other people, but
they also have to relate to you,” Newton said.
(From left) Moderator Debra Langford of The Langford Company was joined
by Annette Dennig of Walgreen Company, Kim Newton of Hallmark Cards Inc.
and Lyné Brown of The Clorox Company for the "Women Supporting Women"