16 Female Executives Share Insights for International Women’s Day 2019
From grassroots activism to worldwide action, women across the globe are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance. The absence of women is noticed, and the presence of women is celebrated.
In YPO, women business leaders are working to create balance for a better world and for better business.
“When I started out in my career there was hardly a day that a comment toward my gender was not made. I have seen improvement over the years, but as many women can attest, there are still substantial ongoing issues with equality in the workplace,” says YPO member Desiree Bombenon, CEO and President of Canada’s SureCall.
“You also need not just a holistic approach but an actual resource plan around gender parity. First and foremost, there must be CEO and leadership commitment: The top leaders in the business need to advocate the business case for diversity with clear supporting actions,” says Bombenon. “A diversity-enabling infrastructure helps support all employees to work toward gender parity, so make it part of the company culture.”
What is the strongest trait a woman can bring to the table in her leadership role? Ignite reached out to female YPO members and here’s what they shared:
“One of the strongest traits that women must have is to be secure with themselves and arrive at the table feeling prepared. Women have to quit: (1) the ‘we need to be perfect’ standard, (2) the ‘we have to like everyone’ feeling and (3) the ‘making myself small to give space for men at the table’ complex.” Marisa Lazo, Founder and CEO of Pastelerías Marisa
“For me the most important thing has always been to be authentic. Especially for women, in a world mostly driven by men. I never tried to be one of them and tried to be myself. Also, defend your points of view, no matter if they are popular or not. With this, combined with a true trust in yourself, everybody can achieve great things!” Susanne Schroff, Founder and President SANNI Foundation
“To me, a genuine and confident femininity is the strongest trait a woman can bring to the table as a leader. Women are, in general, prudent, aware and willing to take emotions and connection into the leadership equation. At the end of the day, we are all human and a more emotional approach, on top of the focus on strategy and analysis, will undoubtedly create a superior sense of belonging across organizations.” Laura J.B. Vera, Managing Director Chief Perfumer Chemarome PTE Singapore
“Bring energy and enthusiasm to drive women leadership development via mentoring, education and experience sharing to help grow our young female associates in our businesses. Take a leadership role in setting up groups for women and actively network with other organization’s women’s clubs to exchange ideas. Focus on helping as many women as possible to gain a better education: this will impact not only the quality of their lives but improve the lives of their family members as well.” Svetlana Obruchkova, General Manager Royal Canin, Mars Inc Russia and Belarus
“Being passionate about the business and the team is an invaluable trait that women bring to the leadership role. As women leaders, we have a compelling desire to succeed, we are enthusiastic and optimistic about the future and have genuine and strong interest in our teams’ success. Passion allows us to turn challenges into opportunities, navigate the most difficult relationships, adapt and achieve business success.” Natalia Shuman-Fabbri, CEO, North America, Bureau Veritas
“I think emotional intelligence is one of the biggest contributions a woman leader can give: self-awareness, communication skills, motivation and, most of all, empathy. Are not these assets inherent in most women in leadership? Our loyalty to our company and people, the ability to sympathize and “stand in somebody else’s shoes”, listening to others, the talent to inspire people and produce a positive impact, are the greatest assets.” Xenia Bogorad, President at MeatStar nv
“I think it is essential for women to reflect on the many skills that they bring to the table. In the future, entire industries are going to disappear, but many skill sets will still be relevant in the emerging economy. I have been an executive across a variety of industries from zoos to health care and continue to find that my ability to problem solve, collaborate and forge strong partnerships among disparate stakeholders to achieve a shared interest has been most valuable. It takes empathy, tenacity and flexibility.” Shannon Block, Executive Director and COO Skillful