Happy International Women’s Day! What a wonderful day to celebrate, not only because I get to celebrate my side of the gender spectrum, but also because it’s a perfect time to take a look at how women are doing in the business world.
When I think of strong leaders, there’s a rolling list of kickbutt powerhouses that comes to mind: Sandberg, Mayer, Whitman, Clinton. And you should know, if you think I’m talking about Andy, John, Walt and Bill… you’re wrong. Come on now, Andy Sandberg? Isn’t he an actor or something?
We’re seeing more and more women not only taking charge of their companies, but actually being recognized for their accomplishments. This is something that I think we can all agree is long overdue. Don’t get me wrong, men are
absolutely wonderful and often times excellent in business leadership… However, so are women.
Without getting into the controversial semi-chaos of gender inequality, let’s look at some quick facts about women in business:
- In a 2007 study by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, they found that European firms with the highest proportion of women in power saw their stock value climb by 64 percent over two years, compared with an average of 47 percent.
- Another study, measuring profits at a Fortune 500 firms, indicated that those who most aggressively promoted women were 34 percent higher than industry medians.
- In a French study a business professor found that the share prices of companies with more female managers declined less than average on the French stock market.
Aren’t facts fun? I think so. It’s fascinating that a few numbers can paint such a big picture.
Because I’m such a sucker for the bulleted list, I’d like to highlight a few of my own favorite females (don’t worry, I won’t talk about my mom… but she still tops the list):
- Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, Philanthropist and Princess of Wales: Perhaps one of the most philanthropic women in the world, Diana used her position in the royal family to raise AIDS awareness and help victims of the disease. Not only was she a caring leader, but a dedicated and loving mother. Her sons have carried on her legacy by continuing humanitarian work in Africa, so she must have done something very right.
- Mika Brzezinski, Co-host, Morning Joe: Okay, mini-disclaimer: I love her column in Cosmopolitan magazine. I think it’s refreshing that she can bring real career advice to a magazine that garnered an unfortunate reputation as superficial. Aside from that, Brzezinski’s book, “All Things At Once,” highlights the work/life balance that many women struggle with as wives, mothers and successful business leaders.
- Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook: No, I didn’t choose her because she works directly with Zuckerburg (who, frankly, I’m not a huge fan of). I choose Sandburg because of her dedication to advocating for young women at work and inspiring message to “lean into risk.” It’s something we hear all the time, to “embrace the pressure,” and such, but it really means something when we can see successful women practicing what they preach.
Another very cool bit of media that I ran across is called “Makers: Women Who Make America.” This is an incredible PBS special that tells the story of the social revolution of America, highlighting interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Ellen DeGeneres.
Watch Part One: Awakening on PBS. See more from Makers: Women Who Make America.
I suggest you gather your lady friends, some party hats and a bottle of champagne and celebrate International Women’s Day by watching this video. And yes, I’m talking to you too gentlemen. We can celebrate you on International Men’s Day (which is November 19, for those of you about to Google).