Over last year’s holiday season, I visited Mary Ellen Brewington, a friend of mine, who along with her brother, runs a large beverage distribution company called Cherokee Distributing. As I was leaving, she walked me out, and I noticed some pretty gifts wrapped under the Christmas tree in their lobby. Asking her about it, she said, “Oh, I bought something for each of the women who work here.”
Mary Ellen’s care for the women in her organization got me wondering what other women leaders might do to help others of us in 2017, so I polled 100 of you, and here’s what you told me.
1. It all starts with you.
Diana Reid, EVP at PNC, says she’ll push to be seen for the value she adds, not as some diversity statistic. And, in turn, she’ll be working hard to treat “every employee of mine as individuals, not stereotypes.” I know firsthand the work Diana does to support and uplift women; it sounds like in 2017, she’ll be doubling down on her efforts. Anisa Telwar, founder of cosmetic accessories company Anisa International, and Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer co-founder, are both looking to dig deeper for meaning and insights that can come from regular practices, like morning meditation, or doing a self -review of where their innate skills meet their passions. Anisa’s hope is to “blend real strength with genuine softness” so she can better support her teams in meaningful, teachable ways.
2. Use Your Influence
Beth Bronfman, CEO of NYC’s View Agency, says 2017 is the year she will help women stand up for themselves by “taking charge of their personal brand,” focusing on their messages and spreading their thought leadership. Angie Chang, co-founder of Women 2.0 and VP of Hackbright Academy, agrees that this is the year we should expand our influence by writing for publishers like Forbes and Huffington Post.
Julie Fasone Holder, board director of Eastman Chemical, observes that the Women’s March on Washington will empower all of us and that we should join organizations like C200 and Paradigm for Parity, whose missions are to support women every day. She asks each of us to have strong voices and not fall victim to “manterrupting.”(Great word). Media executive Angie Epps agrees, urging women in 2017 to express ideas as openly and proudly as possible. “Be declarative,” she counsels us.
3. Choose Hope, Not Despair
Great leaders embrace hope, so it’s no surprise that your feedback reflected that, even in the face of the election overhang. CEO Tena Clark, DMI Music, will be taking more risk –not less – in 2017 to push us all forward. Sandy Carter, CEO/founder of Silicon Blitz and Chair of Girls In Tech, says women’s solidarity in 2017 will “leapfrog a drive for both intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs, accelerating products for women, funded by women. Diana Reid feels strategic opportunities are sure to surface in this time of uncertainty and disruption. We just need to keep our eyes open for them. Silicon Valley CEO of Metric Stream, Shellye Archambeau, says what we all hope will be true: In 2017, we “will be seeing more women getting a seat at the table.”
All of your feedback tells us to act. To take charge of our personal brand. To march. To join. To write. Go for it ladies! You inspire me every day.