The term “glass ceiling” was coined in the 1970s. The belief was that women had to outperform a man in order to get ahead. We have made remarkable strides in the last 40 years.
There are now 20 female CEO’s at the helm of America’s largest companies. It is only four percent, but it is still a noteworthy record. IBM led the charge with Ginni Rometty. Wal-Mart followed with Rosalind Brewer, not only the first female but the first African-American as well.
Each woman charted her own path to the top; they traveled through a variety of industries: energy, life insurance, technology, retail, and food service. Regardless of their industry or path, there are 2 questions of importance.
How did they do it?
How can you achieve your goals to reach the top?
Rachel Ray, Food Network chef, “You have to be open-minded when those early opportunities present themselves whether they are going to make you a lot of money or not.”
Estee Lauder, “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in it, I sell it and I sell it hard.”
Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay and current CEO of Hewlett-Packard, said managing is the same in any economy, “It’s the discipline of the bottom line, understanding your customers, segmenting your customers by their needs and building a world-class management team.”
Mary Kay Ash, “People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”
Can’t resist my favorite female quote by Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Great Britain in her People magazine interview, “If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
Gender bashing aside, the theme is the same. Success boils down to being open-minded but so focused and determined that nothing derails you from the achievement of your goals.
Life and business are constantly focused on selling; we are selling our expertise and our products.
We know, celebrate and constantly recognize the value of our people. Achievement is and always will be a team effort.
What is Next?
Of course women will continue to achieve and increase the percentage of female top executives.
The average compensation for 481 male CEO’s was $12.9 million with the 19 female CEO’s averaging $11.7 million dollars. The top male CEO, Tim Cook of Apple, is reported to earn $378 million and Larry Page, co-founder of Google took $1. Note the 481 male to 19 female ratio. Even though the money is getting closer, the percentage of females at the top is still low.
There are still strides to be made in recognizing the abilities of women and compensating them accordingly. The great news is that if a few have already broken through the glass ceiling, more will follow.
What is next, a woman president of the United States? Why not?