A Letter from the CEO: Are Women CEO’s Different?
Well…short answer: yes.
I don’t say this lightly. As a woman CEO who worked hard to get where I am, I think sometimes about the hurdles I had to jump that my male counterparts never encounter: the little humiliations like attending a conference and being asked: “So where is your boss?” to the larger issues such as trying to secure a bank loan while a banking executive is looking at my legs and clearly not taking me seriously. And always in the back of mind: “Was it my imagination? He didn’t even look at my business plan…”
So yes – women CEOs are different: they have to work harder to get where they are and stay where they are. And though our numbers are growing in the C-Suite (women now makeup 25 percent of top executives), the percentage of women chief executives of Fortune 500 companies is only 6 percent!
How else are we different? A new report by Korn Ferry tells us that:
- The traits of successful women CEOs include: courage, risk-taking, resilience, agility, and managing ambiguity.
- Women CEOs tend to be motivated by a sense of purpose and want their company to have a positive impact on the world
- Women CEOs have a more collaborative style and tend to work in teams. They also have a tendency to share the credit with others.
Investors are starting to realize that there is a bottom line value in having women at the top: Research by Credit Suisse found that when women make up the majority of top level positions at a company the result is higher sales and higher returns on investment.
For me, I avoided hitting my head against the glass ceiling by creating and running my own company, but it sure wasn’t easy. I would like to call on women executives to help make it easier for the next generation coming up. Join me in:
- Supporting and spreading the word about initiatives such as Catalyst (an organization that pushes for women’s advancement in business), Paradigm for Parity and the Rockefeller Foundation initiative 100x25 that is pushing for having 100 women chief executives in the Fortune 500 by 2025.
- Recruiting, mentoring and encouraging women who show promise.
- Advocating for more opportunities for girls and women to develop leadership skills: in community service work, internships at your companies, and sports and recreational programs.
I think we are starting to see the increase in women in leadership positions start to snowball: As more corporate boards see positive results from women CEO’s it is only a matter of time… but we need to keep pushing!