Recent research indicates there are two good reasons for home furnishings companies to seek out qualified women for top leadership positions, and both reasons point to a stronger bottom line.
A Harvard Business Review article on “The Female Economy” in 2009 examined the significant buying power of women worldwide. The authors concluded that, without women in senior-level positions to help direct product development and marketing, many companies are missing out.
“This article captured the attention of CEOs like Muhtar Kent at Coca Cola, who recognized that female heads of households were the main purchasers of his products,” states Sara N. King, author and principal at Optimum Insights Inc., an executive training and coaching firm. Kent recognized that he had an imperative to both select and develop women for key positions in his organization.
“Others are following suit,” King points out. “Beyond the financial considerations, McKinsey research (October 2012) is showing that many CEOs believe that having both women and men involved on boards and executive teams results in better decisions than a group dominated by men.”
King will facilitate WithIt’s first Leadership Development Institute February 28, 2013, at the Greensboro-High Point Airport Marriott. WithIt was formed in 1997 to encourage and develop leadership, education, mentoring and networking opportunities for women in the home and furnishings industries.
Since the 2009 Harvard Business ReKinview article, more research has been published, more organizations have been created to focus on women’s advancement, more internal women’s initiatives have been launched and the issue has received attention at the Economic World Forum.
In addition, a report published by Credit Suisse last summer showed that, of the nearly 2,400 companies in the MSCI AC World index from 2005 onward, the companies that had a gender diverse board outperformed the male-only ones by 26 percent over a six-year period – which, for public companies, is a second reason to address the gender imbalance in corporate leadership.
Still, says King, progress is slow.
“This has become a complex global issue with few simple solutions.” Nevertheless, King says she is hopeful for the future, given recent trends.
“There have been increased requests for leadership development programs and mentoring and network opportunities for women. There have also been more internal organizational goals set to increase the numbers, and more data about what it will take to create a pipeline of women poised for the C-suite,” says King.
“I believe we are on the cusp of change where the numbers of women in top leadership positions will begin to accelerate.”
King spent 23 years at the Center for Creative Leadership, a top-ranked, global provider of leadership education and research, before launching her own consulting business. As a thought-leader on executive development and leadership training, she has authored several books, including “Discovering the Leader in You.”
At the February 28 Leadership Development Institute, King will focus on the critical success factors for women leaders. The all-day program is available to WithIt members for $295; the cost for non-members and other Piedmont Triad-based professionals is $325.
To reserve a seat for this important leadership development opportunity, visit www.WithIt.org for registration details, or contact Sara Lyke at director@WithIt.org
Lodging at the Airport Marriott is available at a discounted rate of $129 on Feb. 27-28.
WithIt was formed in 1997 for women in the home and furnishings industries in order to support their multi-dimensional career paths. It’s a not-for-profit network based in North Carolina that’s supported by companies such as Leggett & Platt, Furniture Brands International and International Market Centers. WithIt’s main purpose is to encourage and develop leadership, mentoring, education and networking opportunities for professional women in the home and furnishings industries. WithIt’s WOW Awards, which honor the achievements of home and furnishings professionals and businesses, will be held Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, at World Market Center – Las Vegas. www.WithIt.org
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