5 Ways Men Can Help Women Advance

With so few women in the C-suite and upper management, many women say their best mentors and allies have been men. New research shows that their mentorship can help, and the prospects for female CEOs are greatly improved by an assist from the outgoing CEO. The authors of the research studied every large company CEO succession between 1989 and 2009 in which a woman was named to the top spot and found that women CEOs do well when they are promoted from within, following a long period of grooming by their predecessors, who are mostly male.

Leigh Buchanan writes in Inc. Magazine that the actions of the predecessor CEO have an impact on women leaders for two reasons, “First, the predecessor has an unmatched opportunity to mentor and sponsor female high-potentials. Second, the predecessor sets the context for a woman’s elevation.” This grooming and support is the ultimate vote of confidence and not only serves to downplay concerns, but also demonstrates the company’s willingness to embrace an inclusive culture.

Actions like that aren’t limited to the top levels. In fact, a recent Catalyst report, Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know, states, “Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. From potential business success to growth for both women and men, everyone benefits when men are brought in as partners in creating a gender-inclusive workplace.”

Why should men want to step up and help us succeed? Well, today men have a bigger stake in women’s equality than in the past. They count on the financial contribution their wives make to the family economy, and they were likely raised by women who worked. They also want their daughters to succeed and will express outrage when the women in their lives encounter discrimination or barriers at work.

The actions that men can take to help women advance at every level start with looking at how women are treated, and help them better be seen, heard and recognized. Men can help women:

Be Heard – if a woman is interrupted, interject, ask them to finish, and further contribute to the conversation.
Lead – give them chances to lead projects or manage others.
Take Credit – make sure credit is given where credit is due, and don’t let women push their accomplishments to the side, or let someone else claim it.
Combat Bias – whether it’s blatant sexism or unintentional bias, when you notice an injustice, call it out.
Advance – recognize the competence, legitimacy, and status of female colleagues, look for ways to mentor or sponsor them, and help them advance.

Women have a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that in our work towards equality and advancement at all levels, especially when we have the help of our male counterparts. And men do not have to give something up for women to gain visibility at work. In fact, many of them will benefit. We all know that the data is showing that today’s businesses gain when women join the top levels of the organization. It’s in all our best interests to make our companies as productive and profitable as we can. That’s why we all need to work together to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to a more balanced diverse management and workforce.

Making Leadership Appealing

While women make up about half of the workforce, there is a huge gender gap in leadership positions nationwide. Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School professor, points out that women only represent 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 15 percent of executive officers at those companies, less than 20 percent of full professors in the natural sciences, and 6 percent of partners in venture capital firms.
As recently reported in Scientific American, scholars of the leadership gap suggest that some of the explanation for the gap directly correlates to how people perceive and react to women, and the fact that compared to men, women are perceived as less competent and lacking leadership potential. Women also receive fewer job offers and lower starting salaries, and are more likely to encounter challenges to, and skepticism of, their ideas and abilities.
New research also points out that women simply may not want to take on the task of leadership. While we may be on the right track working to get more women into leadership roles, we need to look at how appealing those positions actually are. Summing up a paper by Hilke Brockmann and her colleagues, Gino writes that overall, women seem to be significantly less enthused about the prospect of being a manager, and more likely to take a significant hit to their happiness should they be elevated to such a position, than men.
Brockmann’s research demonstrates that for women in positions of leadership, the level of happiness and life satisfaction is lower than that of their male counterparts, and when it comes to advancement, women may, “Find the position to be as attainable as men do, but less desirable. The reason is that they see the position generating not only positive outcomes (such as money and prestige) as much as men do, but also negative ones (such as tradeoffs they’ll need to make and time constraints). That’s where men and women differ: in how much they predict these negative outcomes will affect their lives.”
Whether it’s a concern about the loss of flexibility, goals outside of the workplace, family constraints, gender based discrimination, or sexism, there are things that companies can do to address the issue directly. Gino writes that organizations can influence a woman’s decision by structuring and compensating managerial work differently, building in more breathing space for leadership positions, and allowing for flexible career paths.
When women don’t try for promotions, they move us further away from parity and reinforce the idea that women don’t belong in leadership roles. Women must rise into top positions in order to advance gender equality. Here are three things that we can work towards immediately to make leadership positions in the workplace more appealing to women, and move us closer to parity.
Flexibility Flexibility needs to work. People with adaptable work environments – both men and women – tend to have healthier habits with time for both self-improvement and family and friends, which makes them more productive and efficient when they work. Flexibility doesn’t just benefit women’s work performance. Research has looked at more subjective areas affected by schedule flexibility, including people’s happiness and satisfaction. Studies show that when people can choose to do things, like take their kids to school, sleep in or help their spouse that they’ll enjoy better relationships, a better quality of life, and be happier with their employment.
Establish a Mentor Program – A good mentor provides career advice, counsel during stressful times, and unwavering support. And you don’t have to be a member of the C-suite already to provide guidance to another woman. We can all build strong support systems, encourage and mentor one another every day. The benefits of mentoring flow both ways and both mentor and mentoree learn from each other. Successful women are guiding others through the ranks and sharing their experiences. Mentoring relationships can provide the boost to propel mid-career women into top management positions.
Provide Routine Feedback – One area that is frustrating for women is a lack of feedback. Feedback is critical for improving performance, but despite asking for informal feedback as often as men do, a 2015 study found women receive it less frequently. Direct feedback helps employees take the steps they need to improve their performance and advance. And we all know that without clear, actionable advice and performance feedback, women aren’t able to see a clear possibility for change or a way to reach the next level in the workplace, which can be very frustrating. Following established criteria and clearly identifying key issues and potential for growth will lead women to invest more fully in the workplace, not to mention the fact that providing specific feedback can help us close the gap and create a path forward for all women.
We need women to see the path to leadership clearly and without hesitation. While this latest study shows that some of the reasons women aren’t rising to the leadership challenge go beyond potential discrimination and access to resources, if we build firm foundations in the workplace, well qualified women may decide to go for it, and to take the leadership positions. We need to level the playing field and create a workplace that encourages women to seek top positions and advance gender equality.

Five Ways to Create an Environment Where Women Can Lead

new report takes a look at why women hesitate when it comes to competing for top jobs. The researchers found that a woman’s desire to reach the top ranks has less to do with family responsibilities and more to do with her working environment.
The data shows that existing gender diversity had a big impact on how workers felt about pursuing more senior roles. In environments where men and women believed that progress was being made towards gender diversity, women were more likely to aspire to a leadership position. At such companies, 85 percent of women were seeking top spots. At companies that weren’t seen as making progress in gender diversity, just 66 percent of women reported such ambitions.
The stereotypical explanation says that while many women begin their careers eager to climb the corporate ladder, this ambition diminishes due to family obligations or feeling that they’re unfairly held to higher standards. A more nuanced view notes those issues can definitely be a factor, but the researchers argue ambitious women are also rational and respond to the realities of their work environments. This environmental effect can stall women in our communities too.
Why is it so important to get closer to a 50-50 blend of women and men in leadership? Research has proven repeatedly that having more women leaders actually creates better results. In one of the most recent and comprehensive of these studies, companies in the top 20 percent of financial performance have nearly 30 percent female leaders, while the poorest financial performers have under 20 percent women in leadership roles.
We need more women in leadership for so many reasons. The question is, how do we create an environment in which they want to pursue those positions. Here are five ways that we can create a culture that fosters equality and make leadership more appealing to women in the workplace and community.
Make me a mentor. A good mentor provides career advice, counsel during stressful times, and unwavering support. And you don’t have to be a member of the C-suite already to provide guidance to another woman. We can all build strong support systems, encourage and mentor one another every day. The benefits of mentoring flow both ways and both mentor and mentoree learn from each other. Successful women are guiding others through the ranks and sharing their experiences. Mentoring relationships can provide the boost to propel mid-career into top management positions.
Actively sponsor other women. Women with senior positions should keep an eye out for promising younger female talent and actively seek to cultivate them as protégés. It can be hard for younger female employees to break into a company, so senior women should make the workplace friendlier for advancement and help mentorees find a place. Younger females may hope to get noticed for doing good work, but they also need to find opportunities to network with women at the top, asking them to lunch or for a meeting to seek career advice.
Flourish with feedback.  Feedback is critical for improving performance, but despite asking for informal feedback as often as men do, a 2015 study found women receive it less frequently. In fact, women are 20% less likely than men to receive critical feedback that improves their performance. Following established criteria and clearly identifying key issues and potential for growth will lead women to invest more fully in the workplace and move forward.
Opt for diversity and inclusion. Recruiting and retaining a diverse, inclusive group of employees makes an organization reflect the outer world. It also enables a team to develop fresh ideas and solutions to meet customer and  community needs. True gender and cultural diversity requires promoting as many diverse, smart, talented, passionate women as possible.
Cultivate powerful confidence.  When something goes wrong professionally, women blame themselves. When things go right, they credit others. Women are also more likely to be perfectionists who wait until they’re 100% sure of their desired outcome. This limiting self-programming, along with a lack of confidence, makes it unlikely women will apply or re-apply for an executive job or other leadership position. Being passed over doesn’t have to be a defining negative event in your life. See it for what it is – a moment in time. Rejection and success go hand in hand, and all successful women have received their share of rejections.  How they handle that rejection is what defines them.
If you’re in a workplace or community situation that doesn’t feel female friendly, it’s not your fault. Just recognize it for what it is and keep moving forward. We achieve parity one woman at a time, so whether you have to work on your confidence or find a woman to mentor, remember that working together is the only way we will accomplish gender equality in leadership.
When women don’t try for promotions, they move us further away from parity and reinforce the idea that women don’t belong in leadership roles. Women must rise into top positions in order to achieve career goals and advance gender equality. It’s the only way to create leadership environments that support both women and men.

Five Ways to Make 2017 A Year for Women!

It doesn’t matter how you ended 2016, I think we can all agree that it was a rough year. At the end of a particularly brutal – and for some heartbreaking – political cycle, many women felt a range of emotions from fear to desperation and hopelessness. As a result, the prospect of a new year didn’t feel promising, to say the least.
But others have rolled up their sleeves and dug in to re-energize their efforts to help empower other women. Our WomenConnect4Good team is ready to put our time and talent to work and make this the year for women.
The dynamics that come into play when women come together is profound. Doubt it? Look what a very committed group of women were able to accomplish in just 24 hours for Take the Lead Women! December 20-21, 2016, men and women joined in a crowdfunding event to help Take the Lead in their mission to propel women to parity in all sectors by 2025. They didn’t just meet the goal they beat the goal and raised $312,160. Helping other women along, and strengthening the communities we live in drives all women. It’s our nature to want to help others and doing so fulfills our sense of purpose in a real and authentic way.
Here are five great ways we can come together and change the status quo this year.
Volunteer with an organization that helps women. There is no shortage of organizations and causes that need our time, talent, or treasure. In fact, there are many, many organizations who could use your help today. From the work we do with Women Connect4Good, to Take the Lead Women, to Convoy of Hope, find and plug into an organization that fights to protect and advance women’s rights or ensure women are able to get the help and support they deserve.
Be a mentor. Mentors matter, and many women can attribute part of their success to lessons learned through a mentoring relationship. On one level, a mentor helps women become empowered, with more self-confidence and resolve. On another, mentors serve as a guide, role model and advisor. The benefits of mentoring go both ways. Both the mentor and the woman being mentored learn from each other during the mentoring process. Successful women are guiding others through the ranks and helping them with their own experience, and through mentoring relationships, we can help women to top management and beyond.
Support female politicians or run for office yourself. I recently read at Care2 Causes that one important way to make sure women’s rights are protected is by making sure women are equally represented in government, which currently, they’re not. As Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider recently told me, having only 19% women in the US Congress creates lopsidedness in legislation and a lack of diversity that hinders good governing. No one is leader by herself. Elected officials need a group and coalition to lead. It’s a two-way process of leadership and support with everyone working for the greater good.
Look at the global picture. Yes. Things are a mess at home, and your community and your country need your help, but things are also pretty scary for women and girls all over the world. There are so many worthy programs that can make a difference. For example, my Leading Women co-author, Rebecca Tinsley’s Network for Africa is doing amazing work. Convoy of Hope’s Women’s Empowerment Program is also having an impact through micro-loans, job training, and education – helping women and girls gain self-esteem and build self-confidence. In Ethiopia 1,000 women have attended the program since 2010. As a result, these women have experienced a 240% increase in income since joining the program. The Women’s Empowerment Program is proof that when women are given the opportunity to generate income, it not only impacts their families, it impacts their country’s economic standing.
Support other women. Find out what the women in your life need, and look for ways to help them. My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt works to inspire and propel women to reach parity in leadership across all sectors by 2025. Gloria has always supported other women, starting with providing birth control for teenage girls in a west Texas Planned Parenthood and rising to become President and CEO of Planned Parenthood’s national organization.  Gloria debunks the idea of a finite “you-win-I-lose” pie. The pie is actually infinite, she says.  “The more there is the more there is.” Her approach can be duplicated. We can reach out to women in the workplace and in the community to give them the tools they need to advance. That’s what the women-helping-women movement is all about, and when one woman wins, we all win.
Keep in mind as we go into the new year that mentoring, advocating, and volunteering provides you with opportunities to stretch yourself and step outside of your routine. It provides the opportunity to make a positive impact on the greater community.
Is there an organization in your community that resonates with you? A place where you can donate your time, treasure, or talent? You don’t have to donate a million dollars to make a difference. Instead, focus on what you can to do to improve the status of women and girls in today’s society. We are all sisters, and women need help all over the world. It’s our job to help them. When we do, we have an impact, not only on their lives, but on the lives of their children and future generations, entire countries, and indeed the world.

This Season is the Perfect Time to Invest in Women

10498411_621812561264504_955884005606031384_oAt the recent Fortune-TIME Global Forum in Rome, Cherie Blair and Bineta Diop joined New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to discuss the ways that the private sector has both a moral and commercial interest in harnessing the power of women and girls to grow their business. All three speakers agreed that focusing on girls’ education and female economic empowerment is not just a matter of social responsibility but is instrumental in driving growth.
“It’s not just about doing good,” said Diop, Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security for the African Union. “It’s also doing the smart things because women have the capacity and knowledge and competence to bring another dimension into the workplace.”
There has been extensive research suggesting that investing money in women, whether in education or supporting women as entrepreneurs, is highly cost effective. USAid, a U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty, reports that aid programs that provide women opportunities to better their health, education, and well-being have effects far beyond a single individual. In fact, a woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her future by extending benefits to the world around her, creating a better life for her family and building a strong community.
Melinda Gates has found that helping women and girls is not only the right thing to do, it is essential to global development. She recently was quoted in Fortune Magazine as saying, “If you want to make life better for a community, you should start by investing in its women and girls.”
“When I talk to women, a universal desire is to bring every good thing to our kids. Women tend to spend their resources on their families—prioritizing things like healthcare, nutritious food, education, and all the building blocks of a thriving society,” Gates said. “The way I think about it is that when we invest in women, we invest in the people who invest in everyone else. So, when we match their commitment with our own, great things are possible.”
On the global front, Convoy of Hope and their Women’s Empowerment program has a tremendous impact helping women around the world to realize their value and reach their potential through job training and education. As a result of the program – which features a Women’s Micro-Enterprise Program, Mother’s Club, and Empowered Girls components – many women throughout El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Tanzania now own businesses that enable them to feed and care for their own children. This matters because of the 1.3 billion people living in abject poverty, 70 percent are women. As Kara Edson, director of the program says, “That’s unacceptable. We’re helping women break the cycle of poverty.”
On a business front, it boils down to encouraging female participation in the workforce and clearing the way for women to reach leadership positions. Morgan Stanley research teams recently reported that calls for more female participation in the economy have grown louder, often based on political or cultural arguments founded on fairness. Yet, a persuasive argument for diversity and equality is also anchored to the bottom line. Quantitative analysis showed that ensuring that more women are working and leading in the workplace is simply good business, especially for investors who not only care about the ethics, but also want returns.
One way you can invest in women is by advocating for women in the workplace and by being a mentor. Mentors matter, and many women in business today attribute part of their success to lessons learned through a mentoring relationship. On one level, a mentor helps women become empowered, with more self-confidence and resolve. On another, mentors serve as a guide, role model and advisor.
When women win, we all win, which is why now is the perfect time to reach out and look for ways to help. It is up to all of us to build strong support systems, and help one another while connecting in the workplace, the community, and the world at large. And bottom line, the best investment you can make is a personal commitment to help a woman step into her own power and create the life she deserves!

Calling All Women Ambassadors and Expert Trainers

AmbassadorsPostcardEverywhere you look, women are changing the face of leadership. Why? Because they are tired of waiting. They want to see gender parity in leadership in their lifetimes. At the current pace, this will not happen until 2095. Some powerful leaders of today’s women’s movement are gathering in Santa Barbara April 19-21 to help bring about that change. It’s all about collaboration and women helping other women.
Like Elisa Parker, Grass Valley, CA, who started her SeeJaneDo radio program six years ago with a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “My girls were then four and seven,” Elisa recalls, “and they were questioning why their world seemed so broken. I felt I had to try to create a world that served them, to create a platform for women’s voices to bring about change.” Part of her strategy is to participate in the April Santa Barbara training to become a Leadership Ambassador.
Women made great progress in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, yet their share of leadership has remained stuck at less than 20 percent for decades. It’s even worse for women of color. Doors have been opened, yet most women still do not step through to join the ranks of leadership.
Activist leaders have noticed their reluctance and begun to organize in earnest. Contrary to the stereotype of bitchy women, these women love to collaborate and partner with others. Elisa’s effort is one of thousands, led by ordinary women and stars alike, all determined to change the power equation: Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Kimberly Bryant’s Black Girls Code organization, Rinku Sen’s Race Forward organization, Jennifer Seibel Newsom’s #AskHerMore campaign, Geena Davis’s Institute on Gender in Media, just to name a few. This movement is characterized by mutual support, encouragement and collaboration.
Longtime women’s rights advocate Gloria Feldt, a former national president of Planned Parenthood and co-founder of Take The Lead, says these powerful leaders are ready to take it to the next level. She says women can achieve parity in leadership across all sectors by 2025, that she can teach them how, and that it’s time to share her knowledge so others can do it, too. Exemplifying the collaborative trend, Take The Lead currently partners with more than 40 universities, leadership organizations and businesses.
Dr. Nancy agrees. That’s why Women Connect4Good, Inc., is underwriting Gloria’s next Train-the-Trainer in Santa Barbara, April 20-21. An application form to participate is available online. After interviewing Gloria years ago for a podcast about women’s relationships with power, they collaborated on Leading Women.
Gloria began sharing her signature 9 Power Tools curriculum with other expert trainers last year in order to accelerate women’s progress. She trained 16 diverse Leadership Ambassadors in New York City and Phoenix in 2015, all of whom were already experts working in the field, and now are qualified to deliver the training to companies and organizations.
The Santa Barbara training is the third Train-the-Trainer offered by Gloria and Take The Lead Head of Strategy, Lex Schroeder. Gloria said, “We are so excited to connect with courageous women leaders on the West Coast, by bringing Take The Lead’s training to California.”
Fast Facts

  • Women make up more than 50% of the population, are 59% of the college-educated, entry-level workforce, and control 85% of consumer spending.
  • The rapid advances women made into leadership in the 1970s and 1980s have largely stalled.
  • Whether counting women on corporate boards, in the C-suite, in politics, behind the camera or at the editor’s desk – none of the percentages rise above 20%, and most are much lower.

About the Training

  • Certified trainers can incorporate the material into their own brands or teach as a certified Leadership Ambassador with Take The Lead.
  • This training focuses on:
    • Achieving gender parity in leadership, which means advancing women to occupy half of all top leadership and decision-making roles across all sectors by 2025. This goes beyond just teaching them leadership skills.
    • Cracking the code of implicit bias that has held women back to less than 20% of leadership for decades.
    • Changing the definition of power itself. Rejecting the oppressive “power over” and claiming the “power to” accomplish something by joining with others. These concepts change women’s feeling about power from “love-hate” into “I can’t wait to use this!”
    • Fostering “Collaboration as strategy” to achieve collective leadership and systemic change through strategic partnerships.
    • Creating an intergenerational movement of women leaders,
  •  Women who become trainers join a diverse, supportive community of powerful, motivated women of all ages and backgrounds. Some are building their training businesses; all are motivated primarily to uplift and advance other women.
  • The certification process includes marketing assistance and membership in the supportive community of Leadership Ambassadors.
  • There is a fee, however organizers will seek to match participants with scholarships where possible.
  • To apply to take part in the training or for more information

About Take The Lead

  • Take The Lead’s 2014 launch, co-sponsored by Arizona State University and dozens of other local and national groups, filled a 3,000-seat auditorium and reached 500,000 globally via livestream.
  • Take The Lead prepares, develops, inspires, and propels women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. It’s today’s women’s movement, the needed game changer, a unique way for women to embrace power and leadership parity.
  • In addition to offline leadership events, Take The Lead regularly hosts online learning programs, including free monthly Virtual Happy Hours and on demand learning programs, including the online certificate course version of the “9 Leadership Power Tools To Advance Your Career” workshop.
  • See more than 40 partners in Take The Lead mission
  • Read bios of diverse Leadership Ambassadors

What are you waiting for? If you are an expert trainer and want to join other women leaders, redefine power and help uplift and advance other other women, this Leadership Ambassador Train The Trainer is for you. As a Leadership Ambassador, you will bring this transformative work to new audiences so that together, we can bring women to leadership parity by 2025. Remember, it’s all about collaboration and women helping other women, and together we can do more then we can ever do on our own. Find out more about Train The Trainer HERE.
Companies Postcard

Leading Women and Diversity in the Workplace

diverse ladiesI recently had the opportunity to serve on a panel for the 2015 National Diversity Women’s Business Leadership conference in Orlando. While there I had the opportunity to listen to several wonderful presentations, and was invigorated and inspired by so many smart, amazing, and motivated women gathering in one place. My panel, entitled “So You Think You’re Ready for a Board Seat,” focused on how to use board service to advance your career.
But diversity truly was the overriding theme of everything at the conference. This was refreshing given that the New York Times recently wrote that the word “diversity” has become both euphemism and cliché. Too often it’s a convenient shorthand that gestures at inclusivity and representation without actually taking them seriously. Business literature is full of the importance of authenticity and transparency as key requirements for leadership. Yet for many people of color and for women especially, being authentic and transparent can be challenging, even threatening. The women involved in the conference definitely took inclusion seriously, and had some great words of wisdom for everyone.

Seeking Leadership Positions

There are some startling distinctions between black women and white women in their appetite—and readiness—for executive roles. Ripa Rashid, Senior Vice President with Hewlett Consulting and Partner & Senior Vice President for the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) reports that data shows only 26% of all women in the U.S. report that they would accept an executive leadership position if offered tomorrow. Research consistently illustrates that women view the burdens of a powerful position outweighing the benefits. Yet, two of CTI’s latest reports, “Women Want Five Things” and “Black Women Ready to Lead,” find that with power, women are more likely to get the things they say they want out of their careers: –to be able to flourish, reach for meaning and purpose, excel, empower others and be empowered. Studies show that black women are more likely than their white female counterparts to pursue a powerful position and to have greater clarity about how the benefits of leadership outweigh the burdens. That’s something every woman can all rally around and definitely learn from.

Cultural Competence is Key

Cultural competence has become the most significant emerging competency for leaders in the culturally diverse workplace and marketplace. One way we can support diversity for all women is to create a space for them to be their authentic selves in the workplace. Christie Smith, Managing Director of Deloitte Consulting, pointed out how most Fortune 500 companies have a diversity and inclusion officer who superintends an impressive array of programs focused on the needs of a diverse workforce, yet reports suggest that full inclusion remains elusive.
The ideal of inclusion has long been to allow individuals to bring their authentic selves to work. However, most inclusion efforts don’t address the pressure to conform that prevents individuals from realizing that ideal. Smith hypothesizes that a model of inclusion analyzing that pressure might benefit historically underrepresented groups. Given that everyone has an authentic self, a culture of greater authenticity might benefit all individuals, including the straight white men who have traditionally been left out of the inclusion paradigm.

The Power of Connectional Intelligence

Erica Dhawan, Founder & CEO of Cotential, addressed diversity and spoke on the power of connectional intelligence. As game-changing a concept as emotional intelligence was in the 90s, connectional intelligence is the human ability to combine knowledge, ambition, and people that is amplified hugely by new technologies. In our hyper connected world, it is changing the future of diversity and inclusion efforts in corporate America by quickly, efficiently and creatively helping people enlist supporters, drive innovation, develop strategies and implement diverse solutions to big problems.

Stay Open To Diversity

George A. Kalogridis, President of Walt Disney World Resort Lake Buena Vista is a vocal champion of diversity and says, “The Walt Disney Company thrives on creativity, great storytelling and exceptional imagination. When you’re looking for people who possess those strengths, you absolutely have to keep open every door and every window. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing out on the individual who can take us to the next level.”

Leading Women Making a Difference

What an inspiring group of powerful women! I left the National Diversity Women’s Business Leadership conference armed with a new perspective and more determined than ever to help women rise into the leadership positions they deserve. The world needs us! And in order to get out there and truly make a difference, we must cherish our differences and support all Leading Women, as we work together and change the world for the better!

Donation To Provide Take The Lead Training for Experienced Presenters

ttl-logo-websiteI don’t know about you, but I’m tired of waiting for women to step into their fair and equal share of power. It’s taking far too long for women to rise. Even though we’re more than half the population, we’re still stuck at around 18% of top leadership positions in business and politics. That’s not nearly enough. Think of all the talented amazing women who are left out of the leadership of the world. It’s time to give them the opportunities they deserve to make a difference.
That’s why I recently donated $50,000 to Take The Lead Women, whose mission is to prepare, develop, inspire, and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership across all sectors by 2025. I’m sponsoring a Train the Trainer workshop in Santa Barbara in January 2016 for my co-authors of Leading Women and other successful, experienced leader-trainers. Workshop graduates will become certified to teach Gloria Feldt’s core “9 Leadership Power Tools” curriculum in addition to their own material.GloriaFeldt.jpeg
Women Ready to Change Relationship with Power
When women truly understand and embrace Gloria’s Power Tools, they change their relationship with power. They lose their fear of claiming and using their power to make positive change in the world. That’s what I want for all women everywhere. As more professional trainers become certified to teach these transformative principles, the movement will expand to include exponentially greater numbers of women and men. That’s 70 years earlier than the World Economic Forum predicts! Please join me in the women’s movement for today to make this happen!
We announced my gift at a Take The Lead Presents event in New York City in July. Actress Kathleen Turner (now THERE’S an empowered woman!) spoke on “The Power of a Woman’s Voice” and I was delighted to be in the presence of so many smart amazing women. Together, we can quickly bring women to parity.
The missions of Take The Lead Women and Women Connect 4 Good are completely aligned. My foundation has always worked to educate women to advance in their careers, improve relationships, mentor other women, and conduct research and publish results. Going forward, we plan to do all of those things together. We are working out the details of how our two organizations will collaborate to advance women to leadership parity by 2025. Watch for more announcements of this collaboration as we move forward.
~Dr. Nancy

Four Great Ways To Give This Season

DNOTreeWebHappiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give ― Ben Carson
For many of us, this time of year revolves around parties, shopping, gifts, and spending time with friends and family. In the quest to find the perfect gift or attend the next party many of us can lose sight of what’s truly important. While we focus on, “Holly, jolly, and bright,” many women see today as just another struggle.
As women, it’s imperative that we work together to create a better world, and in just looking around it’s apparent that there is no shortage of targets that need improvement.**
All the power in the world means nothing unless we use it to help others. I firmly believe that the best focus for helping the world this holiday season is to lift up women and girls. While we are focused on giving, sharing, and caring this season, we need to take the hand of one of our sisters and do what we can to help them along. A huge act or donation of time, treasure, or talent isn’t required to make a difference. Little things add up to a lot.
‘Tis the season to ring that bell, serve that food or deliver those meals, so reach out to help someone else.

  • Shop Smarter – whether it’s buying gifts from a female owned business or looking for ways to support female empowerment through your purchases, you can make your dollars count this season. Look for opportunities to support women in your area. Huffington Post recently rounded up some presents you can give loved ones this season that benefit women around the world.
  • Support A Charity – is there a charity you would like to support? Now is the perfect time to make a donation. A donation to a worthy cause that will directly benefit women and girls is always welcome. Also, in many areas you can “adopt” a family for the holidays and help with the purchase of a holiday meal, necessities, and even wish-list gifts. If you don’t have the means to adopt a family, call the charity and volunteer your time sorting donations, serving meals, or delivering baskets. You can also volunteer your talent by helping them in other ways. Charities value all of the ways we can help them, and all of our donations help them expand the ways they can help others.
  • Mentor – is there a woman in your life that could benefit from a mentor relationship? Could you help her grow in the workplace or community? Successful women are guiding others through the ranks and helping them with their own experience, and through mentoring relationships, helping women step into their own power. The best part is, the benefits of mentoring go both ways. The holidays are the perfect time to reach out and develop a relationship.
  • Reach Out – is there a woman in your life that is suffering this season? Has she recently gone through a loss or divorce? Or maybe she has a schedule that doesn’t permit travel? If there’s a woman in your life that is hurting or lonely, reach out and invite her to lunch, or to celebrate the season with you in some other way. Helping her will not only make you feel better, it will make you grateful for your challenges and opportunities.

It is important, especially during the holidays, to reach out to other women. Each of us needs to support other women everywhere – in our homes, workplace, community, nation, and the world. None of us are as creative, skilled, and powerful as we are together. There is a deep satisfaction and meaning that comes from helping others, so this season, wherever your passion lies, reach out and help make a difference in our world.
** Targets that need improvement: I don’t mean to depress you because of course you already know all this, but just for the record – the majority of women in the world are denied education, freedom from violence, economic security, and a voice in their communities. In fact, equality for many of the world’s women is still firmly set in the Dark Ages. Here in the U.S. poverty continues to be a women’s issue. Nearly six in ten poor adults are women, and nearly six in ten poor children live in families headed by women. Poverty rates are especially high for single mothers, women of color, and elderly women living alone. Women also still earn less than men and are bringing in only 78 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, fill few government leadership roles, occupy less than 20 percent of corporate C-level jobs, and in their “personal time” assume the bulk of the responsibility for household and family chores. In all walks of life, many women struggle for equality, parity, education, and support on a daily basis.

For Mid-Career Women, A Mentor Is Key

DNOmentorMentors matter, and many women in business today can attribute part of their success to lessons learned through a mentoring relationship. On one level, a mentor helps women become empowered, with more self-confidence and resolve. On another, mentors serve as a guide, role model and advisor.

Women Are Losing Their Momentum Just As They’re Ready for Top Jobs

Something happens to many women when they hit their mid-career stride. Mike Larrain, an executive at L’Oreal, noticed that there are specific moments when women are particularly vulnerable to falling behind. He has repeatedly seen women – after working their way through entry-level and early mid-level positions – lose their momentum just as they were primed to enter top jobs.

As he told Fast Company, “Women are still vastly underrepresented at the top of companies, making up only 24 percent of senior leadership positions globally. It is incumbent on male leaders to give women the support and strategic advice that they need to move up the ladder.”

A new study recently released by Bain & Company finds that nearly half of all new women employees aspire to top management but only 16 percent continue to hold that ambition throughout their first five years. Comparatively 34 percent of men, who begin their careers confident they will reach the top, remain so after two or more years of experience.

Women Need Meaningful Recognition and Support During Mid-Career

This study refutes the belief that marriage or starting a family is responsible for sidetracking women when it comes to career advancement. It suggests, “Women lack meaningful recognition and support from managers during the mid-level career period, when women crystalize their aspirations and build – or erode – their confidence.”

The study validates what Larrain has seen too, and reinforces his decision to devote time and resources to mentoring women on his team. He finds those efforts especially crucial during times when women might lose faith in themselves.

It’s important to remember though that mentoring women doesn’t just fall to bosses and company leadership. It’s everyone’s responsibility to mentor others. A report from LinkedIn found that one woman in five lacks a mentor, and the deck is stacked against women over 44. Nearly two-thirds of boomer women between 45-66 years old responded that they have never had a woman mentor.

A Mentor Can Help A Woman Thrive In Corporate Culture

If Larrain’s observations and the Bain & Company study are accurate, it is the women over 44 who are hitting their mid-career stride that really need a mentor. We need to look at why the deck is stacked against them, and reach out to help them along. After all, a mentor can help a woman not only survive, but thrive in the corporate culture, and this is the demographic that is proving to need a mentor most.

It is up to all of us to build strong support systems, and mentor one another while connecting in the workplace and the community. The benefits of mentoring go both ways. Both the mentor and the woman being mentored learn from each other during the mentoring process. Successful women are guiding others through the ranks and helping them with their own experience, and through mentoring relationships, we can help women through their mid-career to top management and beyond!~Dr. Nancy

Read more about Larrain’s experiences at Fast Company.

The full Bain & Company study can be found here.


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