Female executives are creating corporate cultures of change and innovation, according to a newly published research study conducted by The Everest Project. Eve of Change: Women Redefining Corporate America examines the influence of women’s leadership in today’s global economy and provides insight into how the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, and sexual orientation impacts women in the workplace. The full report is available online at www.everestproject.org.
The study’s findings are the result of over two years of confidential interviews with 132 of some of the most senior-level female executives in the United States. Participants—who identified as Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Pan Asian or White—represented over eighty Fortune 500 corporations from a range of different industries and regions. An additional 260 executive level interviews with the interview subject’s manager and her direct report were conducted for a more comprehensive perspective. In total, The Everest Project’s findings are based on 392 interviews.
Key Research Findings
Below are the five key findings presented in Eve of Change: Women Redefining Corporate America:
- Women are leading change and transformation in their organizations
Over half of the change initiatives catalogued in the Everest interviews represented strategic or structural change that women led, with significant organizational impact, from contributing billions of dollars to bottom lines, building new businesses, or rebuilding failing ones, to inspiring social movements beyond their corporate doors. They lead from the known to the unknown, transforming the hearts and minds of their people in the process and creating cultures more open to innovation.
- Women embrace smart risk
Contrary to popular belief, women take risk – often, significant risk on behalf of their organizations. Being unafraid to fail, throwing assumptions out the window, trying new things and voicing a contrarian opinion: these are just a few ways that interview subjects take risks, which they see as a critically important aspect of leading change.
- Humility is the new power tool
Humility, often considered a weakness, is the new power tool in leadership. In this era of flat organizations and a flat world where everyone is called upon to collaborate and work effectively across silos, humility is a critically important skill. When used strategically, humility fosters a vibrant environment where it’s “safe to make change and to break some things” – fertile ground for innovation.
- Collaboration is not consensus
In the new reality of hyper connected environments, collaboration is king. If consensus involves equal voice and an emphasis on collective decision making, collaboration is a different animal. Leaders are always at the helm, responsible for taking action that is best for their business.
- Difference is more
Being different means having more to contribute and collaboration is the currency for navigating a flat world. Women who have figured out how to use their gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and cultural background, as part of their leadership toolkit, bring far more to the table for their corporations and teams.
“The findings are stunning and speak to the transformative impact women executives are making at their organizations,” stated Lily Tang, President and Co-Founder of The Everest Project. “Contrary to the constant messages about what women have to do to succeed, women are consistently succeeding in leading change; from the massive to the incremental.”
Joy Bunson, Out Leadership’s Managing Director for Leadership and Organizational Development, conducted interviews to support the study.
Out Leadership’s Stephanie Sandberg spoke at last night’s launch event, noting: “Our most recent initiative, OutWOMEN, celebrates and empowers high-achieving LGBT women in business – a project closely aligned with The Everest Project’s focus on how powerfully women executives can guide innovation and create positive business impacts. Out Leadership was thrilled to partner with The Everest Project on this groundbreaking work.”