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Diversity in Business

Female Executives Need to Be the Norm, Not the Exception

To truly grow, one must never stop asking themselves questions. “How do we know when we’re being effective leaders?,” asks Annika Erickson-Pearson, StartingBloc’s Director of Search. “Answering that question, while it may feel like opening up Pandora’s box, is crucial.”,

She continues: “Effective leadership is no longer just about individual performance, outcomes, and how to be the best. It’s about understanding how to influence systems and tackling bias and inequity within them.”

We often talk about leadership without acknowledging that it takes trust, confidence and community support to work together in a meaningful way. For women, the competitive nature of the business world 

often encourages women to be distrustful of others, as not many women can make it into leadership positions.

Equity and equality

As a woman in executive leadership at a young age, Kristine Sloan, Director of Operations for StartingBloc, remains fundamentally optimistic about achieving equity for women in business. She recognizes that to accomplish this, people in leadership roles must give some of their power up — not an easy ask.

“Arguing for the essentiality of both genders in business, explaining the persistent small and large injustices of what it is to be a woman in the world and in the workplace, and doing it cohesively and concisely feels both imperative and exhausting,” Sloan says.

She continues: “That’s why I so strongly believe that women need threads of support and community across sectors. It helps to see stories of my peers succeeding, fighting and failing in every industry. It helps to remind me that yes, it is exhausting to have a conversation about my own right to lead based on my gender, but also yes, I want to keep talking. Maybe we’re not succeeding in this arena, but over there, they’re doing something. What can I learn? What will they teach me?”

Empowering messages

We need leadership that uplifts the voices and the experiences of women. We need messages like, “You belong in this conversation, you belong at this table and you are allowed to make mistakes.”

We need more men who are willing to give up power for women, and we need more white women willing to give up power for women of color. It’s not a zero-sum game, but in order for women to thrive in business, we need more women who are responsible for vision, strategy and company culture. If we truly want to build trust and collaboration across leadership, women need other women in power as a norm, not an exception.

“Our work at StartingBloc is all about building community,” Sloan says. “Community provides a foundation for belonging, and if one more woman embodies her own right to belong, I can only imagine the outcomes for her impact, her employees and her performance. I can only imagine how she may uplift and support the impact and performance of another woman’s work if she feels comfortable in her own leadership. I can only imagine what that might do within the world.”

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