The Wall Street Journal had a series of stories a few weeks ago looking at a broad array of issues about women in the workplace. This one was more of a qualitative analysis about the impact women at the top have on other women in the organization.
A quote really stood out for me: “The more women who are in positions of power visibly, the better it is for women lower in the organization.” This is a quote from a professor at the Harvard Business School.
I absolutely believe that. You can’t model what you can’t see, and when you see women at the top, you see someone to model, someone to emulate, and you see an actual path upward. And that helps spur you forward and fires up your urge to excel.
Just last weekend I was at a great conference in Salt Lake City put on by Women’s Leadership Live. There was a panel with women from various companies across the country, with a very important commonality. Each one felt it was important to pay attention to how the employees were treated. They understood how that principle has a direct, important and positive effect on the business success of the company.
I heard this from Valerie Richardson at the Container Store. She called it a ‘virtuous circle.” She told the audience that in order to grow their business selling plastic boxes, they had to stand out from a crowded field. They achieved success because their employees were so valued, and gave more energy and enthusiasm to their jobs.
Dee Lincoln who was a co-founder of the Del Frisco chain of steakhouses referred to her employees as “internal clients’ – meaning she viewed them as clients she needed to respect and please in restaurants. She treated them as important customers in the restaurant. She recounted a story when she and her daughter went back to a restaurant where she had been enormously successful and she said she was hugged by her former employees and some even had tears in their eyes. That meant a great deal to her. It also was very moving for us in the audience. Modeling good behavior is good for business read review. That reaction was genuine, heartfelt, and powerful.
I suspect that when we as individuals analyze what makes us want to stay in a company or a work environment, a lot of value is placed on how we are treated…and if someone actually wants us to move ahead and succeed.
But the bottom line in both the article and what I heard was that women leading organizations produce real positive results to the bottom line…and to the lives of their coworkers. That is something we all need to think about. And do more to achieve. Let me know if you have any ideas on this topic.