Women Advancing In The Workplace

By Jennifer Gish Times Union, Albany, N.Y.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Joann S. Lublin's book, "Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World" focuses on 52 corporate female leaders Lublin interviewed. The leaders speak about the adversity they faced to get to those leadership positions, from jaw-dropping sexual harassment tales to blatant discrimination and exclusion. They also provide advice at the end of each chapter.

Times Union, Albany, N.Y.

Reading Joann S. Lublin's book, "Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World" can leave a working woman feeling like business is packed with successful female leaders.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and management news editor for the Wall Street Journal interviewed women who are CEOs and former CEOs of major companies, from Hewlett-Packard to General Motors.

Their wouldn't-take-no-for-an-answer success stories, some who rose from secretaries to the C-suite, compel a woman to dream of more.

Of course the data Lublin also shares -- that women ran 4.2 percent of companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index as of December 2015 -- remind the same woman that her ceiling is still pretty solidly glass.

But in a refreshingly candid telling of women's work experiences, the 52 corporate female leaders Lublin interviewed speak about the adversity they faced to get to those leadership positions, from jaw-dropping sexual harassment tales to blatant discrimination and exclusion. They also provide advice at the end of each chapter.

So Lublin's giving it to us, both the triumphs and the trials, straight, including some of her experiences. Her own introduction to the work world was as the first female summer intern for the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Wall Street Journal in 1969, where her internship concluded with a kiss on the lips from her boss.

Lublin, who wanted to write the book to reach the next generation of working women, finished it feeling hopeful about the future for women, who have consistently proven themselves powerful and creative business leaders.

"A lot of the speaking engagements I've been doing the last two or three weeks ... have been to millennial women. The questions come up: 'Are these women's experiences relevant to me today?' And I think they're totally relevant.

Read the headlines. When it comes to gender pay and equity and harassment, when it comes to getting ahead in your career, there's been a lot of progress, but there's been a lot of setbacks. We cannot tolerate disrespect," says Lublin, who will speak as part of the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany on Dec. 6. "We're perpetuating a system, and I think that is the message to the younger generation of women: You have to earn your respect, but then you have to defend your right to that respect. Just like you have to earn the money that you are owed, just like you have to earn credibility by what you do."

Lublin includes Mary Dillon, who now runs the beauty retailer Ulta, talking about how when she first transitioned from global chief marketing officer of McDonald's to chief executive of U.S. Cellular in 2010, her collaborative approach was initially viewed as indecisive by a group of male subordinates, which caused her to readjust and make sure her message, and ability to make the tough decisions, was clear.

The book also has stories from Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Sara Lee, who fought efforts to lower her compensation package because her business strategy was to shrink the size of the company. She argued with the directors, and her salary rose, as did the value of Sara Lee shares.

"During her five-year tenure," Lublin writes. "Sara Lee shed more than 40 percent of its business. 'We all made money,' Barnes noted. 'I ended up a very wealthy woman.'"

Women holding top jobs at major companies results in a "diversity dividend" as Lublin calls it, writing, "Businesses with the most gender-diverse leadership were also 15 percent more likely to generate earnings before interest and tax that outpaced their industry, according to a 2014 study of 366 public companies in six countries by McKinsey & Co. ... A study released in 2016 covering 21,980 public companies in 91 countries found the same strong connection between the presences of female corporate leaders and firms' increased profitability."

Change will come, Lublin says, with greater awareness, as male leaders have daughters entering the workforce and are awakened to the idea that the opportunities are not endless for their girls. It will also come as women gain more top jobs, seek to open doors for other women and demand what they deserve.

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