As seen in Forbes…
Thousands of articles, research papers, leaders, and experts have attempted to tackle the issue of corporate America’s serious lack of equal or near-equal representation of women at senior leadership levels. Yet effective solutions remain untapped for many thousands of organizations here in the U.S.
I remember sitting on the phone earlier this year with three HR heads (each in a different country) of a large, multinational information services organization, as they were exploring hiring me to offer leadership training to their female workforce. Before we went any further, I asked, “Where in the pipeline are your emerging female leaders falling out, and why is it happening?” and there was dead silence on the phone.
No one, even at these top levels, knew the answer, and the organization had no plans to find out. Discouraging to say the least. Leadership coaches and trainers like myself know that throwing a leadership training program “over the fence” to women isn’t going to move any needle if the organization isn’t seriously and continuously engaged in and committed to business and HR strategies that support more women to leadership.
There are certainly no simple answers or quick fixes for this challenge. It is complex and multi-faceted, touching on cultural, neurobiological, societal and gender role factors. Easy or not, we need to continue our search for manageable, measurable and executable approaches that will open the pathway for equal representation of women at the top of both political and business affairs in our country (and world).
To explore this issue from a fresh perspective, I was excited to catch up with Ms. Barri Rafferty, North American CEO of Ketchum Inc. – one of the largest and most geographically diverse PR agencies in the world. A member of the sustainability taskforce of the World Economic Forum, Barri is the first female North American CEO in Ketchum’s 90-year history, and one of the highest ranking female executives within the holding company Omnicom (NYSC: OMC), which netted revenues upwards of $14.6 billion in 2013. In her current role, Barri leads Ketchum’s nine offices in North America as well as Ketchum Digital and Ketchum Sports and Entertainment.