Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Women in Leadership - Call to Action

Gender equality and pay equity are front and center as human rights issues (as well they
should be!) thanks to The Clintons and many other powerful voices like Bill and Melinda Gates.  In recent weeks, prominent global leaders and concerned citizens all around the world have spoken out about the inequalities that plague women after centuries of challenges.  As a woman in technology, woman in leadership, woman veteran, woman of color, and any other type of "woman" label that can be attached to me, I'm greatly concerned. 

I'm concerned for my daughter.  The outlook for her reaching the top leadership ranks in traditional work settings is grim though not impossible.  My daughter has tremendous advantages that many others don't (for one she has me).  However, one or two or 50 making it thru the "eye of the corporate needle" on any level is just not good enough.  I've learned over my lifetime that challenges for others who are like me equal challenges for me.  With that in mind I've recently re-awakened to add my time, my talents, and my treasures to the cause.  The bottom line is that we have families to raise - and a world to run.  The question now is "what's our next move?"

Women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, and produce 50 percent of the food, yet earn only 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property. Whether the issue is improving education in the developing world, or fighting global climate change, or addressing nearly any other challenge we face, empowering women is a critical part of the equation.
Former President Bill Clinton addressing the annual meeting of the Clinton

Global Initiative (September 2009)
Of course there's something seriously wrong with this picture.  I pray that the data was and is wrong.  Not much has changed in the areas cited since 2009 - in very small part because of the global economic crisis.  If the data is right, then we're way beyond simple questions and answers.  The United Nations Millennium Development Goals provide concrete steps for navigating our way out of the craze.  I'm looking forward to a new data set from The Clinton's New Women's Global Initiative in partnership with Google and the World Bank.

In the meantime my focus is on Big Data, the integration of technology and humanity, and people at work.  Big Data is getting bigger - leading to deeper insights and faster decision-making, technology innovations are speeding up - converting expensive challenges into cheaper-better-more accessible solutions, and the world of work may become computerized at alarming rates.  Why is this a concern for women?  Because many of the roles that are currently performed by women are in the crosshairs for computerization.

For those of us who have our heads down taking care of our families, there is a "work" tsunami approaching that may knock us off balance, leaving us wondering what our next move should be.  The alarms are sounding so please pause to hear the follow-up announcement and then decide if it's OK to keep doing what you're doing - or if it's worth your time to acquire additional strategic skills to help you get ahead in the new economy.

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