Friday, February 20, 2009


Last week I posted about Women Leaders and Networks. We have received many calls about the post and thank Erin for her posted comments.

Catalyst Awards

Since then I read an amazing report from the Catalyst group. A census of the Fortune 500 Reveals Women Gained Little Ground Advancing to Business Leadership Positions. Bottom line the news is not good for women and even worse for women of color. The report covers boards of directors and executive positions.

There is also an article in Consultant News regarding an E&Y white paper issued during the World Economic Forum. E&Y: Women Bring Strength to Rebuilding the World Economy. At a time when fresh perspectives are needed and we need all the leadership strength we can muster, it is time to place renewed emphasis on the advancement of women.

So put these two articles together and here is the result- we need renewed emphasis on the advancement of women leaders just when the advancement has stagnated. Great!

To top it all off, I have had occasion over the last six months to speak to several groups of high performing business people in their early 30's. In EVERY case, after the speech several women came up to me to discuss the need for initiatives to help young women succeed in business.

At first, I was shocked and then dismayed. I responded that those were the issues of my generation and the ones before me. Certainly, they were working in a more receptive environment. Their response was a loud- no. The issues they raised were eerily familiar to me. Especially, that the old boys network was alive and well but that my generation had not created an "old girls club".

The "Old Girls Club". Ughhh, I hate the name! Ooops, I digress. Specifically, here are a few actions we (let's make this an equal opportunity initiative and include the men) can all take today.

1) Women on Boards of Directors
The Catalyst organization already has some programs focused on getting more women on boards. What can you do to support this effort? Recommend women for boards. Ask members of boards you know how many women they have on boards and in particular ask about women of color. Let's all push together!

2) Networking Our Networks
Erin made a great comment post to my original post- let's all agree to introduce one of our networks to someone else's network. We can expand our networks very quickly.

3) Ask Something Specific of Your Networks
This gets back to the original discussion that women don't like to "use" their networks. But that is why they exist. Ask for referrals, ask for business, ask for something. We all love to help but we don't like to ask. So think of it as enabling someone else to help.

4) Become the "Old Girls Network" for a High Potential Woman
This is mentoring on steroids. At the end of this year be able to say you provided the network for a deserving young woman.

Okay, so that is as far as I am on a plan. It needs more but it is a start.

Thoughts? Ideas? I need your help.

Until next time,


  1. Gail, During the 80's I worked at Goldman with Janet Tiebout Hansen who has formed a women's networking and mentoring group called 85 Broads. You might want to check it out. I'm a friend of Mike. Ron Brienza

  2. Gail, this is awesome! Women in leadership is my passion. I'm currently doing research on whether a specific leadership style can be beneficial to women accessing informal networks in the IT profession (yes, my propeller hat always finds its way into my activities). Catalyst published a study in 2008 stating the barriers to career advancement for women in IT and one of the reasons was lack of access to networks and key decision makers. ...A bit more long term perspective is having women leaders get more involved with girls so that they can feel empowered to take on the boys especially in the sciences (I had to put the hat on again - smile). For example, there were more women in computer science and technology in the mid-late 80s than there are now!! Shocking I know. Young women are shying away from these professions but these are industries of the present and future. When I lived in NYC the Junior League had a girl's leadership institute. I think it's important to take that concept and develop it on a larger scale - food for thought! ...I'm excited that Gail is blogging. Sabina.

  3. Sabina,
    Great ideas. I did not know that there are less women in computer science today then before. That is movement in the wrong direction! I have four nieces- 28, 5, 2, and 23 months, so you have my attention about focusing on young women.

    What if we did something that started an old girls network but the price of admission is that you have to agree to mentor a very young girl?

  4. Ron Brienza,
    I asked around and did find out more about the 85 Broads (love that name!) and it seems like a great group. Mike, you have lots of Goldman contacts. Can you get me connected?
    There is poetic justice to be networked into an old girls network through the old boys network.