Book Launch Celebration
at the Waldorf Astoria

You’re Invited!

We’re excited to celebrate the launch of Women in High Gear at the Waldorf Astoria, an American icon and symbol of high gear sophistication.

Join us in New York City, on May 21, from 4 – 6 p.m., in the Peacock Alley Bar. We’ll have lots of copies of Women in High Gear on hand, and we look forward to meeting our Twitter friends, media friends, and superconnectors from all over the country.

A very special and sincere thank you to Megan Hennessey, Social Media Manager, and the entire @WaldorfNYC team for their social media engagement and enthusiasm in helping us celebrate!

Reservations are required; please email [email protected]. See you in New York City!

Book Launch Invite 2

Finding Our Voice in the Opinion Space

Finding Our Voice in the Opinion SpaceBy Anne Deeter Gallaher, Owner/CEO, Deeter Gallaher Group LLC and a member of The Wall Street Journal’s Women in the Economy Task Force

What’s holding women back in business? Is it a male-dominant C-suite? Is it resistant company culture? Is it, as former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz declared, that women do not support other women?

It was clear at The Wall Street Journal’s Women in the Economy Task Force, held this spring, that there is no universal answer to these questions. Charged with creating a Tool Kit for businesses to unlock the economic potential of women at work, the goal was also to harness the knowledge and capabilities of women to make the U.S. more competitive.  With 53.6 percent of the U.S. labor force female, it’s an appropriate goal.

I joined 110 other executive women, many representing leading firms like Pfizer, UPS, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, McKinsey, and Walmart to participate in two high-octane days discovering how to move women in business forward. Our response to the festering question “What’s holding women back?” was captured in The Journal Report outlining key action items in each of 12 defined areas.

Although a few men participated, the discussions flowed largely from women in leadership—C-levels, entrepreneurs, policy makers, academics, and executives. Armed with new McKinsey statistics on stubborn barriers to gender diversity at the top, why more women opt for support roles versus line roles, and why more women aren’t pursuing STEM careers, the working groups carved out Must-Dos applicable to individuals and organizations.

In the Entrepreneur track, there was a clarion call to tell our stories and use the opinion editorial space to do it. In a world where Google reigns supreme as first-knowledge for information, people, and places, the op-ed challenge seems a proactive step toward gender parity at both executive and board levels.

One response to “Where are the women?” is for more women to start checking in on the opinion pages of the local and national media. We have no shortage of ideas, opinions, and experiences, but we have scant representation in the opinion space.

The benefits of this level of editorial exposure are clear: leaders define themselves, thinkers spark new ideas, and talent reveals itself. Women have stories of performance, experience in moving our own economies forward, and significant small business success. We have ideas about technology and medicine that will make us more competitive in global business.

The Women in the Economy Task Force agreed that we need to better “articulate the business case” to upper management and the C-suite on how we wield bottom-line influence. In the small business arena alone, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research, “If U.S.-based women-owned businesses were their own country, they would have the fifth largest GDP in the world, trailing closely behind Germany, and ahead of countries including France, United Kingdom, and Italy.”

Today’s 8 million U.S. businesses that are majority women-owned have an economic impact of “$3 trillion annually that translates into the creation and/or maintenance of more than 23 million jobs—16 percent of all U.S. jobs.”

Developing strategic media connections with reporters and editors will put ink on our insights; great ideas bring little value or influence when they are silent. We cannot shy away from “merchandising our accomplishments,” one participant said. It’s time we told our stories.

The challenge of finding more women to take power seats  in the boardroom is made easier when we identify ourselves and highlight successes and performance. In 2011, women comprised 16.1% of Fortune 500 board seats. We’ve just experienced a slight uptick with Sheryl Sandberg joining Facebook’s board of directors.

Jane Shaw, chairman of the board at Intel, noted that the average tenure of a board member is 14 years. She calculated that roughly 350 board seats open each year. To add significant numbers of women to the table will take a very long time at that rate. The circles of influence need to broaden and women with profit and loss and business ownership experience need to make themselves known.

Although Task Force conversations centered on the corporate concerns of how to keep and move women through the succession pipeline, there is potential for swifter economic impact at the small business level. According to the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, 99.7% of all employer firms are small businesses—this is where women are demonstrating significant leadership with performance and profitability results. And these women, whom we hope to read more about, can comprise a larger pool of qualified female candidates for executive committees and boards.

The Op-Ed project tracks bylines in major media weekly, by gender; and the needle hasn’t moved appreciably for years. In the major media channels of The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post, opinion writing by women rarely breaks the 25 percent mark and often remains at 15-20 percent. To be recognized as a thought leader and influencer beyond pink topics and add fresh voice to public commentary, we need to expound on economics, venture capital, entrepreneurship, leadership, technology, profit and loss, and healthcare (half of all medical school graduates are women).

Increasing our share of voice on the opinion pages is one step toward answering both persistent questions: “Where are the women?” and “What’s holding women back?”