Like a Boss

Women as CEOsThere is nothing better than diving into a great article about gender equality and seeing two amazing friends—and members of the Generation W community—quoted (shout-out to Gerri Elliott, prominent business woman, board member, and founder of Broadrooms, and Shelley Diamond, Chief Client Officer at Young & Rubicam!). The New York Times article made the social media rounds a few weeks ago because it addressed a topic that continues to get deserved attention: Women as CEOs. More specifically, what is stopping more women from taking the helm?

Gender bias comes in many different shapes and sizes, some more obvious than others. We hear stories of how women are less comfortable with self-promotion yet can be criticized for being too ambitious. The conversations around how women are not genetically suited to be engineers (“Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”), reminding us that “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in the workplace” still very much exists. The misinformation that prevails can be very counter productive, and often is, as the global race for talent demands that we value what everyone can bring to the table. We can be our own worst enemies, but we can also be our own best champions.

Back in 2015, Generation W embarked on a study of women in leadership, specifically here in Jacksonville, to create a LEADERSHIP SCORECARD. The desire is to benchmark the composition of leadership teams which most influence our daily lives so we better understand how we can be the best that a city can offer. This included our political and service organizations, the business sector, and law enforcement, just to name a few.

The work is vital and continues and will once again be discussed during next month’s ElevateUs Summit, chaired by Gabriela Perez and Allishia Bauman, to be held on September 14 at Florida State College in Jacksonville (click here to register). The Summit will focus on mentorship, advancement, and the building of an inclusive collective of powerful leaders right here in Jacksonville. Elevating the state of women’s leadership—in Jacksonville and beyond—is the best way for us to truly achieve gender equity across all industries, organizations, and communities.

I am proud to be surrounded by women who are doing just that—including my two friends mentioned above, Gerri Elliott and Shelley Diamond who have shared their advice for how women can achieve their potential by elevating their own voices:

“Ask for it. If you don’t ask you won’t be considered. If the answer is “not now” your response should be “why not”. Insist on candid feedback and create a concrete plan. There is nothing more powerful than a woman with a mission.”—Shelley Diamond

“My advice is to be clear with your management about your goals and aspirations. Don’t let them guess whether you want the job or not. And if you do, then go for it! Don’t let the inner demons talk yourself out of it,”—Gerri Elliott

It is important that we keep these conversations going in order to create real, and positive change that builds increased opportunities for success. Creating local leadership scorecards in your community is a way to positively keep the conversation current and relevant. Go for it!