Women bring a lot to the table, skills and perspectives that extend the conversation men bring to the table, or begin a conversation that hasn’t happened yet, and needs to. Davinci is all about encouraging new conversations and creating coworking spaces where people can share the energy generated in a creative environment. With a ninety percent female workforce, Davinci seeks to encourage and empower women as business leaders, which is why we are proud to join the ElevateHER Challenge.
Gender equality has seen a great deal of coverage in recent years, a great deal of conversation around the idea that women aren’t always receiving equal treatment in the professional world. The discrepancy is most readily apparent in the number of women business leaders.
The gender leadership gap is a concern that some organizations are working hard to solve. The Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) is one such organization, and their ElevateHER challenge invites every business to evaluate what female leaders can offer them, and then to put women in positions where they can make it a reality.
What Women in Business Are Capable of
Most western cultures don’t do an effective job of successfully highlighting the accomplishments of women, leading to some gender bias. To help combat this, let’s look at a few examples of prominent and successful businesswomen.
• Madame C. J. Walker—Born to newly freed slaves just after the Civil War, she built a hair care products empire, and was a philanthropist and social activist as well.
• Katharine Meyer Graham—Pulitzer Prize winner and Publisher of The Washington Post during their unearthing of the Watergate Scandal. Her father owned the Post previously, and instead of bequeathing it to her on his death, he willed it to her husband. She claimed leadership only after the death of her husband.
• Ruth Handler—co-founder of Mattel with her husband, and creator of the Barbie doll.
• Debbi Fields—Debbi (a.k.a. Mrs. Fields) started out with nothing but her cooking skills, starting her Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chippery while still a young mother in California. Since then, she’s been on multiple executive boards (such as Outback Steakhouse Inc.), written several cookbooks, and more.
• Sheryl Sandberg—current COO of Facebook, and first woman to join the company’s board of directors. She’s also served as an economist for The World Bank, VP of global online sales and operations at Google, chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury Secretary, and more.
So while women are, and have been, underrepresented in leadership positions, that hasn’t stopped them from succeeding. Women in leadership roles have excelled time and again, and it’s important to celebrate their accomplishments and provide mentoring to women and girls.
What Women in Business Need
Businesswomen are a valuable, powerful resource that many companies are underutilizing. It’s a mistake that’s causing these organizations to perform below their potential, a problem seen throughout the world.
Forbes recently asked fifteen women on their Forbes Coaches Council about “the biggest challenges their female clients are currently facing,” and what advice they would give women leaders. Many of the responses resonate with Niya Allen-Vatel’s words, “I advise clients to gain the confidence to know that if they're in the room, that means they deserve to be there.”
Other responses include admonitions to speak out, and not to undervalue your services, either emotionally or monetarily. And another thread encouraged women to network with each other, form alliances, and encourage and mentor each other. As an Education professor said long ago to teachers in training, “Remember you are highly trained professionals.”
Highly trained and highly skilled. Clearly we will continue to see successful women in business with or without backing from their male peers—we will also continue to see valuable talent walk away from companies and industries if we don’t show them the support they deserve.
What Davinci Is Doing to Promote Women in Business
The gender leadership gap can be easily remedied by acknowledging the capabilities of our female peers and their capacity for leadership, helping them develop their skills to capitalize on that potential, and then giving them an opportunity to put those skills to use.
The ElevateHER Challenge seeks to help businesses achieve this. Developed by the Women’s Leadership Institute, the ElevateHER Challenge is designed to guide organizations as they “elevate the stature of women’s leadership.” It consists of seven steps, each intended to resolve a different issue caused by gender bias that contributes to the low number of women in leadership roles.
It’s a challenge that many businesses, including Davinci, Tesoro, Sysco, and Wells Fargo, have accepted to promote and empower women in leadership. We invite your business to do the same. Together, we can help bring equality to the workplace, and help business women step out from the shadows and into their own power.
Let us know who has been the greatest female mentor in your life and how they’ve empowered you to reach your full potential. How has Davinci empowered you to reach your full potential? Share comments with us below.