Paving the Way for Women Leaders
Five percent sounds pretty small, right? Well, five percent is actually the new record for women CEOs. The Fortune 500 now includes a total of 24 females at the helm.
As today’s female leaders pave the path for the next generation of young women to take the stage, we wondered what’s the secret to their success? Grit, guts and goodwill were among the common denominators we see. Here’s our brief list of women to watch:
Mary Barra | @mtbarra
Tenacity and tenure does pay off! A General Motors “lifer,” Mary Barra’s career has spanned more than three decades and five departments. It culminated in January with her appointment as the first-ever female CEO of a major global automaker. She didn’t lick the silver spoon, marry into money, or have an Ivy League education. What she did have is the determination and stamina to pursue great things. It comes as no surprise that a woman of her caliber, commitment and experience is listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
Sheryl Sandberg | @sherylsandberg
When you have time to pour over the life and power of Sheryl Sandberg, you’ll clearly see why she is a force of nature. And why she is a leader who deserves our attention. Under her leadership as Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sandberg showcased her gutsy business perspective — taking the company focus from a cool social media platform to a profitable and strategic technology leader. Sandberg encourages other women to join the C-Suite through her bestselling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which has inspired thousands of Lean In Circles across the globe.
Despite ominous forecasts for the soft drink industry, CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi led the beverage giant to a 3.1% increase in shares at a time when the S&P 500 added less than 1%. How’d she do it? Thinking outside the can. Nooyi’s unique management techniques show that she truly cares about each individual and make her relatable to everyone from the boardroom to the front line. A few of her favorite goodwill practices include hand written letters to employees’ parents, singing karaoke at corporate events, and designing Performance with Purpose, PepsiCo’s promise to do what’s right for the business by doing what’s right for people and the planet.
The path from chemist to CEO isn’t easy, but Rosalind Brewer knows a thing or two about hard work. Among the first generation in her family to go to college, Brewer embodies a persona of grit and fortitude that is simply unmatched. When she was named Sam’s Club CEO in 2012, she became the first woman and first African-American to lead a Walmart division. Always looking to the future, Brewer currently leads the organization’s charge toward the digital market in order to attract younger customers. Additionally, Working Mother named her as one of the Most Powerful Working Moms of 2013 (yet, another role that requires hard work!)
Meg Whitman | @MegWhitman
Meg Whitman for President? According to a 2008 New York Times article, she was listed among the women most likely to become the first female President of the United States. While Whitman may not be on the ballot in 2016, she has certainly amassed a career worth touting. Head of the world’s second largest tech company, Whitman has been tirelessly working to reinvent Hewlett-Packard since taking over in 2011. Her passions within HP revolve around experiments with energy-efficient servers and sustainable technologies. Is she the right woman for the job? Harvard Business Review named her the eighth-best-performing CEO in the world, so she has our vote!
Lauren Herring | @laurenherring
We’d like to add a personal favorite. IMPACT Group’s own CEO, Lauren Herring. Herring took over the company at the young age of 30. She transformed it into a global leader in employee career development. Under Lauren’s leadership, IMPACT Group now operates in more than 30 international locations in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
But the path doesn’t stop here. This month, 14 more potential leaders will graduate from a unique Women in Leadership program designed to leverage diversity within organizations and promote increased engagement, productivity and retention among female leaders. Michael Loeffel, VP of Human Resources at Veolia, a worldwide leader in environmental services, shares how his organization is promoting diversity and gaining a higher level of contribution from all leadership roles through this new program.
Find out how to add to the number of women ready to step into leadership roles at your organization now.