By Tino Mantella
TLG President & CEO
Women leaders have everything they need to meet or surpass leadership roles in corporate board rooms and in the C-suite. Yet despite some progress, the gender equity gap looms large. According to 2022 research from FactSet data, only 6.1% of companies in the Russell 3,000, a market-capitalization-weighted equity index that tracks 3,000 of the largest U.S.-traded stocks, had a female CEO. In the board room, there has been slow progress. Again, looking at data from the Russell 3,000, in 2019, only 25.2% of boards had two women members, while in 2021, that number jumped to 46.9% – one more rather staggering statistic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 301 available CEO positions among Russell 3000 companies in 2021, 31 (10.3%) were filled by female candidates. This compares to only nine women hired for the 171 open positions (5.26%) in 2017.
There are a multitude of factors contributing to the snail’s-pace grind toward gender equity. My personal observation over my career is that women can be as strong or stronger leaders than men at any level of a company and in the board room. The questions that come to my mind are: do they want it, are they ready, and have they been given an equal shot?
Women in Leadership
Turknett Leadership Group (TLG) has been fighting for gender equity in the workplace since the company was formed in 1987, advancing and lifting thousands of women in their careers through leadership development. TLG is equally owned, primarily by Bob and Lyn Turknett.
IA transformational step was taken by our company in 2003 when Susan Hitchcock launched Women in Leadership (WIL), the longest-running Women’s Leadership Forum of its kind. Susan joined TLG in 1991 after a successful leadership run at BellSouth (now AT&T), where she broke the glass ceiling – reaching levels of executive leadership that few women had at the time. Susan saw a need for a program that would provide women leaders with a place to learn, share, and grow in their careers.”
For nearly 20 years, WIL has thrived – conducting 230 consecutive monthly events. We believe this may be a world record for longevity. More importantly, we continue to support women leaders at every level of their journey. Today, Anne Quiello, Senior Consultant and Director of WIL, has taken the baton from Susan and now leads the program. She is currently planning the 2023 speaker schedule.
New Fronts in Supporting Women
WIL is central to TLG’s contribution to the advancement of women, but It’s not the only piece. As I mentioned, TLG has helped hundreds of women through coaching and other leadership development programs. We have also added learning and development services like our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity in Action (IDEA) Certification program that equips both women & men to advocate and support equity and close the gender gap through a more inclusive and diverse workplace.
In early 2021, TLG launched Barrier Busters: Women of Character. Hosted by Anne Quiello, this podcast aims to inspire listeners by exploring the stories of extraordinary women who have demonstrated leadership character throughout their lives. Her latest episode featured Dr. Nikki Schmitt, a leading surgeon in head & neck oncology and novel therapeutic combination.
Susan Hitchcock also continues to interview remarkable women in her long-running series known as the Age of SHEroes. Currently, she is focusing on her series titled SHEroes: NEXT GEN, interviewing young women who are already making a difference in their communities. Her latest interview was with Elizabeth Rowe, the Climate Change ‘Whisperer’.
Women’s Leadership Academy
TLG’s latest endeavor to support the advancement of women is the development of a comprehensive program – the Women’s Leadership Academy. This program empowers organizations to foster gender equity at the senior levels of their respective businesses. Through leadership development, participants are committing themselves to investing in their women and closing the gender gap in leadership.
Organizations of any shape and size can make this commitment. The program includes but is not limited to free participation in WIL, access to a rich library of content & resources, one-on-one and group coaching sessions, leadership development training, and supporting mentorship and sponsorship within the company (contact us if you would like to learn more about the program and how it can help your organization position women for leadership roles while driving organizational growth).
Positive change often moves much more slowly than any of us would like to see. Most of us know what’s right and just, but we also know that change, whether it’s historic issues like women’s right to vote or current issues like corporate advancement – is always about the steady fight and not taking our eye off the ball. I am proud that TLG is not sitting on the sidelines. We are positioned to be in the game and will continue to do our part!