FIRST THOUGHT: Representation
We’re finally recognizing women leaders, but doesn’t it seem like it’s the same ones over and over again? Leaders come in many forms; they aren’t just billionaires with corner offices (go, girl!), and they’re in many areas of the world, not just the Big Apple. Take Huda Sha’arawi. Huda was an early 20th-century badass. Following harem rules, she was secluded and covered by face veils.
By 13, she married her 40-something cousin, but they lived apart for seven years. That’s when she pursued education wholeheartedly, later creating the first secular philanthropic organization by Egyptian women, and then the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1923. She’s best remembered, though, for getting off the train from a women’s suffrage conference and removing her face veil. People freaked, but women in the country were empowered to follow suit. That, my friends, is leadership.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 12 Percent
Speaking of global ways of life, let’s talk about business. Most companies have a chief executive officer and a chief financial officer. Those are the senior positions that make sure the ship runs smoothly and gets paid. Pretty important, right? Well, in 2018, Forbes looked at all the CFOs in the world. What it found was that only 12 percent were women. Let’s not forget that women of color are even less represented in positions of power.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Caryn Effron & Beth Haggerty, Co-founders of Declare
Caryn Effron and Beth Haggerty started a leadership platform called Declare after meeting in 2016. At the time, Caryn was a senior managing director. She focused on commercial real estate finance, so she had a knack for numbers and organizing a solid infrastructure. Beth had built and sold media companies as a serial entrepreneur. The duo has been described as “stealth” and a power team for getting women in positions of leadership.
Declare has two sides: diversity recruitment and leadership development. (Not an easy feat considering that 12 percent stat I just shared, right?) Here’s how it works: For recruiting, a search can lead to more than 15,000 diverse candidates. For leadership positions, corporate partners spend $2,500 annually to maintain memberships for their female employees. Declare is a firm for businesses to support women in their company in a real, tangible way.
Caryn and Beth say they buckled down on the idea after a certain powerful finance guy saying he wanted to hire more women, but didn’t want to “lower” his company’s standards. Since Declare’s launch a few years ago, Caryn and Beth say they have placed 30 executives. Not every executive is a woman, because Declare will place a typical white, male candidate in a position if he’s the best fit.
Beth says that back in the early days of her career, employers would solicit psychology tests that would ask her to draw a picture of herself. She’d sketch herself with a briefcase and kiddos. Now that she’s actually accomplished this picture of herself, Beth says it’s time to return the favor.
Caryn says one of the most valuable aspects of her career has been flexibility. Her managers and mentors have given her a long leash to manage her own time, as long as she got the job done. And, like so many women, she did just that. Now, the power partners are helping other ladies find the perfect balance that works for them.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Beth Haggerty said:
"We're really serious about changing [the status quo] so that we don't have to wait another 80 or 200 years to reach gender equality."