How Do Women Become Great Leaders?
Last month I had the pleasure of attending an event that was part of POLITICO’s ‘Women Rule’ initative. The events are in partnership with the Tory Burch Foundation and Google and are meant to produce extended programming dedicated to exploring how women are leading change in politics, policy and their communities. The program, “Women Rule,” features prominent women in power and be brought to life through events, video, print and digital media, polling, social media and products.
This particular event was called ‘Women Rule: Empowering Entrepreneurs’ – which of course was right up my alley. What I was most excited about, of course, was the opportunity to hear from Tory Burch herself – someone I’d been admiring for years as a businesswoman, brand builder, mother and all-around classy lady. What I didn’t realize until that day was her fierce commitment to growing female entrepreneurs. I was bowled over to learn of the work that her Foundation has done in a short time. Her talk didn’t disappoint. She shared a whole heap of strategic advice for how she built her empire, all with keeping the power of women at the forefront. Here are some strategies we can all implement, courtesy of Tory Burch and her fellow panelists, no matter how small or big our endeavors:
3 Business Lessons from Women Who Rule
Build Work/Life Balance Into Your Business Plan
As CEO of your own business, you set the tone for the company culture and values. Historically, work-life balance (if there is such a thing) hasn’t been woven into the fabric of business because men were (are ) at the helm and that wasn’t generally a concern for them. With thousands of women becoming their own bosses each day, we have the power to change the corporate landscape! If you are in a position of leadership, think about what you can do to even out the work-life balance equation for your team. Is it flex hours? The ability to bring kids to the office? A rule about not checking email on the weekends? A little goes a long way.
Did you know that out of 2,400 employees at Tory Burch, 80% of them are women? That fact is entirely intentional and the spirit of hiring women comes from the top, down. Of course you’ll want to hire the best person for the job but being mindful of placing women in empowering positions goes a long way. A top female exec at Marriott shared how the JW Marriott brand – and the entire company generally – embeds women into the fabric and the supply chain of their business. She talked about how when the hotel chain makes plans to open up a new property in a foreign country, they seek out local women entrepreneurs; they invite them to learn about the company and they find ways in which to hire them. It’s part of what makes Marriott such a trailblazer in workplace diversity.
Natalia Oberti Nogeuera, Founder & CEO of the Pipeline Fellowship – an angel investing bootcamp for women – shared with us that, over and over she heard in meetings to never use ‘social responsibility’ and ‘business’ in the same sentence. Men somehow considered the the integration of social responsibility into a business plan a death sentence for a startup. With the monster success of brands like TOMS and FEED, we clearly see how that isn’t the case. As it turns out, as women, we naturally have an inclination to incorporate socially responsible practices into everything we do – go with it! We can build our brands AND make the world a better place.
Mentorship Is Magic
Each of the women who spoke, including Dina Habib Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation and Global Head of Corporate Engagement, as well as Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, all emphasized the critical importance of mentorship. Both seeking out mentors and becoming one yourself can make all of the difference between a successful business enterprise and a failed attempt. Also important is ‘peer-to-peer‘ mentorship – meaning a relationship where the parties are close in age, experience and educational level but can draw on the experience of the other.
And finally, Tory Burch shared that each of us need to be examples. She shared that she is setting an example for her boys and for the world – that there are different ways of thinking. I think that makes her a great leader.
Learn more about Women Rule HERE.
Thank you to BlogHer for giving me the opportunity to attend!
Image Credit: The Tory Burch Foundation