Yesterday, I attended the Bisnow “Where Do Women Stand” breakfast to hear several accomplished speakers discuss their viewpoints and experiences on women in leadership positions. A few key takeaways resonated with me in particular:
Beth Brooke, Ernst & Young’s global VP and a surprise speaker, said that staff diversification makes for stronger solutions to problem solving. By actively recruiting and hiring a non-homogeneous staff, its collective wisdom will be varied enough to offer new perspectives essential to growth. The challenge against this is that it’s human nature to surround ourselves with people who look, act, and think like us.
I thought about how we at Tellenger have shown commitment to diversification by employing a staff of men and women equally, with older and younger professionals who offer varied cultural backgrounds. (We even have a female web developer, which I find to be somewhat unique!)
Kathleen Matthews, formerly an anchor with Channel 7 and now EVP of global communications and public affairs at Marriott, said her college-aged daughter “is oblivious to the challenges” that Kathleen had fought against during her career, which may be an indication of the changing times. “When we stop counting the women in a room, that’s when women in leadership will have normalized,” she said to about 400 women packed into Georgetown’s Sequoia restaurant on the Potomac, over-looking the Key Bridge Marriott.
As a woman in the technology industry, I often find myself among a room full of men — at the recent Internet Summit in Raleigh and BarcampDC3 events, I occasionally counted how many women were speaking on panels or were around me at various sessions. (Suffice it to say, women comprised a minority.) The sentiment of yesterday’s event was that the wave of women in the pipeline continues toward reaching critical mass soon, but it’s not there quite yet.
Which leads me to a final takeaway noted by Rand Construction Corporation’s CEO, Linda Rabbitt. She said that women need to be willing to praise — not disingenuously, of course — those around them in order to forward the growth of women in leadership positions. She observed that when women in prominent positions have mis-steps, other women can be the first to “pull them down.” Encouraging honest and motivated women of all levels will promote advancement of women in general, she said.
In my role as director of digital strategies, I’m proud to represent yet another female who is contributing to the collective rise of women in leadership positions — particularly in the technology industry. I look forward to “reaching back” and providing similar opportunities to other individuals at Tellenger, and in the DC community and beyond.