Cheryl offers: Dressed in traditional Muslim attire, the beautiful face of Mukhtar Mai stares at me from a magazine page with a hint of serenity, courage, and steely determination in her eyes. The story below her picture reads “After her brother held hands with a girl of a higher caste, as punishment Mukhtar Mai was gang raped and led naked down dusty streets in Pakistan. Beside the field where she suffered the darkest violence, Mukhtar built an abused women’s shelter, legal aid clinic, and two schools. Out of tragedy, she formed a lasting hope.” We cannot always control the events of our lives, yet we certainly do control how we respond to them. Years ago Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus famously wrote “A business short on capital can borrow money, and one with a poor location can move. But a business short on leadership has little chance of survival,” I found this in a great leadership book which is no longer available called The Essence of Leadership by Edwin A. Locke. Mukhtar’s organizations have not only survived, they have expanded and thrived. The fact Mukhtar has started and runs not one, but four different businesses would seem to be affirmation enough that they are blessed with her leadership talents and skills, courage, understanding, and appreciation for the importance of education and more importantly, generosity of spirit. Like a steel magnolia, she has a lovely exterior, and anyone can tell there is also a steely resolve to make a difference underneath. She is making a difference and the world is a better place because of it.
Cheryl offers: Surprisingly, there was an interesting item in my mail yesterday. It was the Dallas edition of a Medical Directory with an article called “Mind Matters”. I’m intrigued by the brain, so I started reading it. Low and behold, on the second page I found this. “Frontal lobe function, also called “executive function,” is not what you know but how you use what you know. This begins to decrease in many people in their 30s because they simply stop using it. (NOW comes the good part!) Reading a book is fine for your brain; analyzing it, and talking about it with a friend or book club is good for executive function.” Woohoo! Experiencing a book synopsis of a relevant business book focused on women’s business topics, then discussing the contents of the book’s synopsis led by facilitators who ask thought provoking questions is exactly the format for our event, Take Your Brain to Lunch! So now, we can rightfully claim, not only is this a fun event, it’s good for you too. How many other things does anyone get to do that are both fun and good for you? Not enough say I. Join us July 14 for your brain’s “executive function” workout. We’re doing How She Does It by Margaret Heffernan and Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Raz Aahl. No leotards required!
Cheryl offers: Not only is Angela Hunt the youngest person, elected at age 33, to serve on the Dallas City Council, she’s also the first to have a baby while in office. What’s even more interesting is what she plans to do next. In today’s DMN, she says “I’ll be bringing her (she had a girl) to City Hall.” Whoa! And it’s better still later in the article when she says she plans to work from home a couple days a week. Who did she ask if this was OK? No one as best I can tell and I applaud her for taking charge, being a trailblazer for women who serve later, and for being the kind of leader and role model we need today. I don’t know if she’s read Womenomics: write your own rules for success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, but she certainly gets the concepts from the book. As they convey in their book, “Instead of feeling guilty, as we imagine our female predecessors might think about our choices to scale back the work hours, or what our ethnic community or even family might think, we need to understand that most of those people would be awed by what we’ve already accomplished, which is that we’ve earned the ability to decide. And in fact, exercising this ability will help build a world our successors will be thankful for. “No kidding! Angela Hunt has been and is continuing to create new precedents. I suspect the women who follow in that path will be forever grateful for offering them choices they might never have imagined.
The post with the most views on our blog in the last couple of days has been Bob’s excerpt from the NY Times with Linda Hudson, part of the leadership team at BAE.
Here are a couple of observations from Womenomics by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay:
A study in France found that companies with more women in management positions did better during 2008 – had higher profits – that those with fewer women. “Feminization of management seems to protect against financial crisis… In conditions of high uncertainty, financial markets value companies that take fewer risks and are more stable.” (Michel Ferrary, Professor of management at the CERAM Business School in France).
Women deliver profits, often in big numbers, and we are worth hanging on to… By every measure of profitability – equity, revenue, and assets – Pepperdine’s study found that companies with the best records for promoting women outperform the competition.
In other words, women in business, at the top of the leadership team in business, may be… good business. And now comes this announcment, from the Huffington Post this morning: Naissance Capital: New Fund Invests In Companies With Female Managers, Anticipates High Returns. (Note: all of the links within these paragraphs are worth a look). Here’s an excerpt:
More than a year after overleveraging and mismanaged risk provoked a financial crisis that sent the global economy on a perilous downward spiral, analysts are still wrangling over its causes and implications.
But one recurring point of debate is whether a higher proportion of women in senior management positions could have forestalled the crisis. In other words, if women had run the banks, would they have taken on as much risk? Or, if women were better represented in jobs associated with risk taking, would the economy be healthier?
One investment firm is betting on it.
Naissance Capital, a niche money management firm based in Switzerland, is set to launch its Women’s Leadership Fund early next year. The Fund will only invest in companies where women are represented on boards and in management, and will take an “activist stance” against companies in which women are underrepresented.
Their claim hinges on recent research, including reports issued by the consulting firm McKinsey and the research group Catalyst, demonstrating a correlation between female management and enhanced company performance. The McKinsey study held that “companies with a higher proportion of women in their top management have better financial performance” (although it didn’t arrive at a causal conclusion). Also, two researchers at UC Davis found that men tend to trade more “excessively.” In their study, men traded stocks 45 percent more than women, reducing “men’s net returns by 2.65 percentage points a year as opposed to 1.72 percentage points for women.”
I think having women at the top in business may turn out to be good business practice.