Without question the time has come for women to lead. Women have so much to offer and are ready to change the world for the better. The world desperately needs women to step up to the leadership plate. This requires cooperation and collaboration. Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt points out in her book, No Excuses, that it is time to take action.
Women are still underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline, are lagging behind in public office, and in some instances really questioning how to have it all. To say the problem is multifaceted would be an understatement. There are hundreds, even thousands of opinions and studies as to “why” women haven’t reached parity yet. Although strides have been made in female empowerment there is still work to do.
Gloria argues that from the boardroom to the bedroom, public office to personal relationships, the major factor keeping women from parity is—themselves! In addition to barriers – both real and self imposed – many women are opting out of the very career paths that could shift those highest clout positions to gender parity within a decade or two. But women need to be willing to take those jobs and keep climbing the workforce ladder.
Gloria’s 2012 findings have been further explored in Women in the Workplace, a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America that grew from a long-term partnership between LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company. The report finds, “Women are almost four times more likely than men to think they have fewer opportunities to advance because of their gender—and are twice as likely to think their gender will make it harder for them to advance in the future. Women are more likely than men to say they have personally missed out on an assignment, promotion, or raise because of their gender. Compared with men, women also report that they are consulted less often on important decisions. These dynamics help explain why women appear to advance at lower rates than their male peers.”
It’s important to note that Women in the Workplace reports that both genders see room for improvement. Two-thirds of both women and men do not think their companies are meritocratic, suggesting a broad appetite for cultural change.
Through her research, Lean In Founder and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg writes in The Wall Street Journal that, “The unfortunate reality is that women at every stage in their careers are less interested than men in becoming a top executive. When women get stuck, corporate America gets stuck. There is a wealth of evidence that diversity helps teams and organizations perform better in terms of innovation, creativity, revenue and profits. Using the talents of our full population is critical to our economic growth, corporate productivity and individual happiness.”
Through her desire to see women take the lead, and reach full parity, Gloria launched Take The Lead Women to prepare, develop, inspire, and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. Take The Lead teaches women how to change systems in order to create workplace cultures that are healthier for both men and women. The organization also teaches women how to use movement-building principles to overcome implicit biases, and create sustainable change.
Realizing that we are bigger and stronger than the sum of our parts, the Women Connect4Good Foundation – which has always worked to educate women to advance in their careers, improve relationships, and mentor other women – joined forces with Take The Lead Women. As a result, the Foundation is sponsoring a Train the Trainer workshop in Santa Barbara in January 2016 for motivated, successful, experienced leader-trainers who share the mission.
As Gloria sums it up, “The doors to equal opportunity have been cracked wide open, but too few women are willing to push on through them. We have to stop putting boundaries around our own vision for what we can do. We must act now, with intention, to assume our share of leadership roles.”
Exactly. Women need to be empowered to become change agents — both to change their opportunities and to change today’s organizational culture. It is time to lead, and together we can push the doors to equal opportunity wide open, making room for our sisters at the table.