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Kim Shepherd Encourages Women Leaders to ‘Release the Struggle & Embrace Success’ with AMA Quarterly

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Kim Shepherd, Chairwoman of Decision Toolbox, an Engage2Excel Company, contributed a feature article to AMA Quarterly, sharing her thoughts on why women leaders should stop focusing on their struggles and keep an eye towards their successes.

Excerpt from the article:

How great is it to be a CEO? Not only do I get to nurture the culture of a great company, but I also get to speak to different groups about creating success with culture through a performance-driven model and other best practices. Often it is organizations for women in business that invite me to speak, and they usually expect to hear about women’s struggles, suggestions for breaking the glass ceiling and words of motivation for women fighting the good fight.

Here’s the catch: I don’t think focusing on the struggle is such a good thing. I’m deeply grateful to all those who have struggled through the years to help women be where we are today. Without the efforts of the suffragettes or people like Betty Friedan I might not be a CEO today. After all, it’s been only 96 years since women won the right to vote in the U.S. Do you know anyone over 96? I do. The 19th Amendment is not ancient history — it’s only a human lifetime ago.

Time to Shake the Etch-a-Sketch®

But women today should take a new approach. Every time we say, “We’re not equal,” we’re helping to create that reality in the world and in our own minds. A great example: I have a friend who is a senior executive in a global pharma company, and she once told me that every time the (male) CEO asks her into his office, she rushes to take off her red nail polish. I asked if the CEO had ever even mentioned nail polish to her. “No.” She has chosen to believe this, in spite of the fact that the company has employed her for longer than 20 years.

Besides, there are many factors behind the low numbers of women in management roles and the gender pay gap — and discrimination is just one of them. For example, women continue to pursue degrees and careers in areas in which management paths are fewer and pay is lower, such as education, healthcare and social work. Behind that fact, however, is the observation that societal dynamics compel women to choose such paths; Jessica Sheider and Elise Gould provide much more detail in a report from the Economic Policy Institute.

I think we’re seeing that change now, and the reason, plain and simple, is that younger generations of women either aren’t being taught that education and healthcare are “women’s work,” or they’re rejecting it. In fact, many women are starting to recognize how much economic clout they actually have.

Women Leaders Should Focus on the Positive

It’s one of the most important things women leaders can do: help other women focus on the power they already have, and not on the obstacles. Women may not be aware of it, but marketing professionals have known for years that women make the spending decisions, and almost all marketing is targeted toward women. “Women now drive the world economy,” the Harvard Business Review announced in 2007. Globally women control $20 trillion in consumer spending, and pundits expect that number to increase.

Check out the full article here.


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