Updated on: April 14, 2023
At Gen II, we are fostering a diverse and inclusive environment where all of our employees have the opportunity to make an impact, grow in important ways and thrive in a community. In this spirit, we have launched a number of women leadership initiatives during Women’s History Month 2023, including sponsoring and attending the Women in Private Equity summit in San Diego and hosting a new series of conversations with Gen II women leaders.
In our first conversation to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, Gen II hosted an Embrace Equity panel discussion featuring four of New York’s Top 50 Women Leaders of 2022, as named by Women We Admire. Moderated by Anne-Claire Berg, Gen II’s Chief People and Impact officer, the participants included:
These accomplished leaders discussed their career journeys, the social and economic benefits of improving equity in the workforce, and advice for future women leaders. Below are highlights from this insightful discussion.
Some Progress, Yet Much Work Remains to Be Done
The panel reflected on the advancement of women in the workplace, noting that in 2021, the U.S. ranked 31 out of 38 OECD countries for female labor participation. If the female labor participation rate in the U.S. rose to the levels seen in other OECD countries, such as Norway, this would increase U.S. GDP growth by 0.2 percentage points annually. And that would come out to a cumulative $455 billion in output above the baseline forecast.
Female Leadership and Its Impact
Each individual has their own leadership style, and the panelists agree - authenticity is critical. Every new generation has different expectations for their leaders and employers. For younger generations, the values and ethics of an organization matter. Statements must be backed up by equity in action, and leaders play an essential role in following through and driving change.
The panelists discussed the value women’s leadership brings and how it impacts an organization and its bottom line. Studies have found that firms with more women on their boards tend to outperform those without by a significant margin and that organizations with greater gender diversity among senior leaders are more profitable. Upon deeper analysis, one of the key benefits is not only improved financial performance but also de-risking. Typically, companies with more women board members have more accountability, oversight processes and transparency. Organizations with more female leadership typically have reduced the likelihood of lawsuits, reputational scandals, and corporate crimes. So, from a value creation standpoint, whether it's de-risking or improving the bottom line, embracing equity and diverse perspectives in leadership roles makes a lot of sense.
Balancing Life and Career
As leaders at their organizations, the panelists raised the question of balancing a career and life outside the office and whether someone can have it all. Individuals may have different visions of what “having it all” looks like, so understanding and prioritizing what is important and then taking steps to achieve one’s goals can provide a foundation. Regardless of one’s situation, women have typically shouldered a larger portion of family and social tasks outside of work, which makes finding balance even more challenging.
The biggest obstacle for women to fully participate in the labor force in the U.S. is children - mainly because the U.S. is the only country in the OECD that doesn't provide income support during maternity or parental leave by law. While governments and companies offer varying levels of support for maternity leave and childcare, women can help their colleagues by having discussions and planning with those who may be taking time off, providing flexibility when they return and considering how teams and work are divided.
Advice for Future Women Leaders
The panelists shared advice and lessons that will always remain relevant. First, have gratitude, reflect and realize progress and daily successes, and keep the bigger picture in mind. Across any industry, engage and build a rapport with colleagues and management. Find mentors, sponsors, and advocates, and not just necessarily women; seek a diverse group of mentors with different viewpoints. Lastly, be a role model and take it a step further by recognizing and helping other women. Embracing equity and supporting others creates a virtuous cycle where we can all help lift those around us.
Panelists reflected on how long it has taken for women to advance in the workplace and noted that it can be difficult to imagine oneself in a position women might not have held in the past. The hope is that in 10 years, we’ll see more women leading organizations and more women from every background with different perspectives appointed to boards who can create opportunities for all of us.
Published on: April 13, 2023