In the wake of what could be the United States of America’s first woman presidency with Hillary Rodham Clinton, we’ve decided to sit down with women’s activist, CEO and founder of Take The Lead Women, commentator and NYTs best-selling author of No Excuses, Gloria Feldt, to discuss the upcoming release of her new book, her views on women and their relationship with power, what steps companies need to take to become more innovative and competitive in business today, and her thoughts on the world’s readiness for a Hillary Clinton presidency.
DCG Speakers: Gloria Feldt, please share with us what your views are regarding women and their relationship with power?
Gloria Feldt: People often ask me why I talk about women, their relationship with power and how it relates to leadership. When I first started my journey exploring women’s relationship with power I was dismayed to see that women weren’t walking through the opened doors. What I found is that women are no longer the question, they are the answer to many of the problems a company may experience and they are the answer to reach the goals of which a company has. There is research that shows and verifies companies with more women in senior management and boards make more money.
You know, for the first time in my life I paid attention to my investments. I asked my financial adviser to create a fund with companies owned and ran by women, or with women, and found that the return on equity is higher.
There is a business case and that’s a huge power in hand. Women buy 85 percent of all consumer purchases. The companies that do have more women representation are going to be in greater alignment in the marketplace.
The bottom line is that gender diversity results in better behavior and more perspective. When you add women to the decision-maker body, the group intelligence goes up. I don’t know why, but it just does. Women are more in-tuned to emotional intelligence.
Also in an economy driven by brains and not brawn, women are 33 percent more likely to earn college degrees compared to men. Their intelligence skill set is prepared to fill the power pipeline.
DCG Speakers: What challenges do you believe women have to overcome to climb the leadership ladder? Is there still a such thing as “breaking the glass ceiling”?
Gloria Feldt: I believe now society, men and women are challenged with the inner glass ceiling and our cultural learned position towards power. Women do not even think about running for top leadership or political office in fact. We have culturally learned resistance from influence and bias. I often hear from women about their experiences’ in the workplace. They are often disregarded and dismissed when they offer an idea and are overlooked. A man will present that same idea and will get the credit. Women need to learn how to prepare for those meetings, and learn how to speak the language of power so that doesn’t happen.
My point of view is that there is not some evil plot to keep women down. There’s no reason for people with power to step aside. People, men don’t know what is happening. They think they are good guys, they just don’t know. You have to bring it to their attention. You have to assume good will.
DCG Speakers: What steps does companies need to take to ensure equal representation and advancement for women within their organizations?
Gloria Feldt: Companies should build out strategies that are more welcoming to women. Benefits like offering flex time pay for performance, telecommuting, more quality of life and a work life balance. The truth is those are things male and females should have. Women should be evaluated on quality of work rather than hours. Yes women want all of those things. They also want to know they have a fair shot in advancing. The evidence is clear: There is a study on performance reviews which notes that women were constantly being told “you are too abrasive and aggressive, whereas men sharing the same behavior are never told that. Those “leadership” behaviors that are applauded in men are judged negatively in women. Another example is the successful men with children vs women with children scenario. Men often are rewarded with the daddy benefit while women are reprimanded with the mommy penalty. Actually, I believe that women are way beyond work life balance. What women really want is to know that we are being fairly evaluated and have the opportunities to advance.
DCG Speakers: What do you believe society’s views of leadership are when it comes to women?
Gloria Feldt: What’s unfortunate today is that if a woman is seen as appearing softer or feminine, she doesn’t have leadership qualities. However, if she appears more aggressive, she appears “manly” or bossy. We need to change how we think about power; from power over oppression and management to functional power and leadership. This is a very different concept. This concept in focused on innovation and creativity.
DCG Speakers: Earlier you spoke about women neglecting to run for political office. Do you believe that nationally and globally, we are ready for Hillary Clinton to lead as the first female president of the United States of America?
Gloria Feldt: Hell yes. We can’t wait until everyone is ready. We know race does matter, it impacts votes and creates implicit bias. (Reference to president Obama’s election) With President Obama leading taking office, we’ve experienced heightened racism, push back and a fear-based reaction of losing power and privilege. However, if Hillary wins the presidency, I believe she would have a different approach and response to the pushback. Hillary has a more proactive style. It will be the same misogyny as before. People will make sexual related remarks; talk about her looks and ankle like before. But that criticism prepared her for now. I think at this point Hillary will be more comfortable in running as a woman. She will be a better candidate.
DCG Speakers: Globally?
Gloria Feldt: When Obama ran, everyone saw him as being a fresh new hope. I think Hillary has an amazing global presence. She was so fabulous as secretary of state. I think the world turns on human connection, and she’s established that. I think its a positive on the global front.
In the debut of Gloria’s Feldt’s 2012 book entitled “No Excuses, Nine Ways Women can Change how We Think about Power,” Feldt reveals how women limit themselves by adhering to outdated social structures and by succumbing to pressure to conform to society’s standards. Feldt argues that women must shift the way they think about power and leadership for any large-scale social change to happen. To achieve this shift, Feldt gives women dynamic tools to overcome the barriers keeping them from power and leadership.
In this discussion, Gloria dives deep into her book’s teachings of the power tools and skills needed to crack the code and advance through the leadership pipeline. Gloria delivers leadership skills lessons which are not taught in any other leadership programs. Gloria Feldt is preparing to release additional power tools with her new book scheduled to launch October 2015.
Now Available! Contact us to arrange for Gloria to speak at your next event.