Posts Tagged ‘Linda Tarr-Whelan’

Women Call for Obama to Act: Linda Tarr-Whelan and Jacki Zehner

August 27, 2010

Yesterday we celebrated the 90th anniversary of women FINALLY getting the right to vote. To that end it is appropriate to look at how far we still have to go before we are equally represented. Ambassador Linda Tarr-Whelan has co-authored a wonderful piece on how women improve the success rate of everything.

By Linda Tarr-Whelan and Jacki Zehner – Aug 25, 2010 9:00 PM ET
Bloomberg Opinion

Today marks Women’s Equality Day, the commemoration of women’s suffrage achieved in 1920. What better time to take stock of what’s left to do?

We need a national conversation led by the White House to explore how women decision-makers can help achieve better economic performance and a more prosperous future for all.

The administration of Barack Obama has already taken the first step by appointing talented women — including Mary Schapiro, who holds the top job at the Securities and Exchange Commission; Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel; and Sheila Bair, who heads the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — to help dig us out of the financial mess.

Having a few females at the top is wonderful, but until we have at least 30 percent of senior women in leadership, we will be ignoring a strong dynamic that is working well elsewhere.

Today, a growing body of research that shows positive outcomes from having balanced leadership has been ignored. Other countries are addressing the fundamental issue of leadership in ways that have yet to gain much traction in the U.S. We can certainly do better.

Tapping the full range of talent that includes the skills, experience and leadership of women as well as men is hardly a radical idea. As the Economist magazine famously wrote in 2006, “Forget China, India and the Internet: Economic growth is driven by women.” An increasing number of reports show that having at least 30 percent of women in corporate and governmental leadership roles improves decision-making, opens up institutions and removes barriers to full participation.

Performance Driver

The U.S. has much to gain from a new leadership model. Economic growth and stock prices can only benefit.

New York-based consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has released a series of reports since 2007 making the case that gender diversity at the top is a corporate performance driver. Yet, they note that three-quarters of 1,500 biggest companies have no women on their management boards. Further, there are only 28 female chief executive officers in 1,000 largest companies.

Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm on Wall Street, recommends investing in countries where the gender gap is closing and where the “laws and social norms that have discriminated against women are shifting.” Its studies show gross-domestic-product growth accelerates when women hold positions of power. Goldman has created the 10,000 Women Initiative, a $100 million, five-year program to provide an advanced business education for women.

Costly Failures

Failing to address challenges that keep women out of leadership is costly. New York-based research group Catalyst Inc. has shown that firms with three or more women on management boards boosted their return on equity by 112 percent, compared with those with fewer women.

Recently, French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined a fast- moving trend in Europe to achieve 30 percent to 40 percent women on corporate boards. The French are following the lead of Norway, Spain and the Netherlands, which have already moved to accomplish these goals. The World Bank and the United Nations’ Global Compact policy initiative have also recognized women’s advancement as essential to economic growth.

Michel Ferrary, a professor of management at the Skema Business School in Sophia Antipolis, France, studied the effects of balanced leadership in France during the financial crisis of 2007-08. “The more women there were in a company’s management, the less the share price fell in 2008,” he said.

Investment Concept

Similar results have been published by Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and in the U.K., India and Australia. Gender equality, as an investment concept, has been taken up by mutual funds such as Pax World Investments, which recently started a Global Women’s Equality Fund betting that companies with more diverse leadership will perform better than others. A recent study by the National Council for Research on Women, based on data from Hedge Fund Research Inc., showed women hedge-fund managers outperformed their male counterparts.

Our country has nothing to lose and much to gain by addressing the lack of women in top leadership. But it won’t just happen. The U.S., a country that aspires to be a world leader, ranks a pathetic 31st out of 134 countries in eliminating the disparities between women and men in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.

On this 90th anniversary of women’s suffrage, President Obama should consider convening a White House Roundtable to find ways to increase the number of women decision-makers in the economy. Then we can celebrate women’s equality in America.

(Linda Tarr-Whelan is a Demos distinguished senior fellow, author of “Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World” and a former ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Jacki Zehner is a consultant, vice chairman of the Women’s Funding Network, and a former partner and managing director of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The opinions expressed are their own.)

To contact the writers of this column: Linda Tarr-Whelan at; Jacki Zehner at

Women in Business Conference – Girl Power Ensued

February 17, 2010

Hundreds of women piled into the Women in Business Conference last Friday to hear inspirational speakers, participate in productive workshops and most importantly – share the opportunity to connect with other women both different and alike. The day kicked off with a convocation speech from Colonel Martha A. Meeker, Commander of the new 628th Air Base Wing that will operate Joint Base Charleston. Her inspiring talk was followed by the speed networking event, in which each woman was able to sit at a table, go around in a circle and introduce themselves. At the ring of a bell, women rushed to the second table and embraced the opportunity to meet others and emphasize the role each played in the rapid world surrounding her. The first event triggered a compelling, contagious “girl power” energy in the air, which grew throughout the conference.

The fire peaked at lunch in large part due to our keynote speaker, Linda Tarr-Whelan who casually stated, “When a door opens, go through it.” In all walks of life, we are faced with opportunities, but we often times take difficulty in breaking the realm, the stereotype. Take a day to yourself, take the promotion, dive full force into whatever it is you think you MAY want to do…trust your instinct. No more second guessing yourself. “What’s the worst that can happen if you do go through the door?” Failure? The risk of being let down? If you fall, take all you can, learn and pick yourself back up. And that’s what Linda Tarr-Whelan’s speech emphasized. If we don’t break the mold and do what we innately know and feel is right now, when will we? A long path has been traveled but it in no way has been conquered.

The vivacious energy throughout the conference sent off the poignant message that we should carry with us – throw your fist in the air and JUST DO IT! You may choose to leap, jump or take baby steps; there is no “right” way. Regardless of how long it takes, you are still taking the chance. Vulnerability is difficult for all of us, but even if you put yourself out there and fall, you will still gain. It is through experience that we become both stronger and smarter; how else do we learn? Go through the door, embrace your opportunities…Really, what do you have to lose?

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