Foot Locker’s Kirta Carroll on the Powerful Leadership Moment That Changed her Career

Every day in June, FN is showcasing female leaders across the industry for our Women in Power series.

Kirta Carroll, the VP of Consumer Concepts, Women & Kids, North America, talked to FN about big moments in her career, challenges for the next generation of female leadership and advice for women negotiating a salary increase or promotion.

On the most significant barrier to female leadership in the fashion and footwear:

“In speaking with my three sisters and many friends who work across a wide variety of industries, I’m not sure the barriers to female leadership are specific to any one industry – or can even be isolated to a single thing. I think everyone’s leadership journey is personal, from opportunities that are presented to you, to the type of schedule/life flexibility you need, to the type of person you are, and how you navigate the good and bad. Hopefully, the future of women’s leadership reflects the diversity of needs across the women’s population. All that said, I think each company making a commitment and taking action to put strong, impressive, powerful, and worthy women in key roles, will help us continue to move forward.

On the biggest challenge for the next generation of female leaders: 

“The next generation of women will probably continue to face a lot of the same challenges we are facing today. There is obviously a culture that wants to uplift and drive women forward, but it will take some time for women to feel like they can get everywhere they want to be and do everything they want to do. I also think that the next generation will have to navigate their digital, personal and professional “selves” and explore how to be confident and comfortable with who they are across multiple channels of interaction. As far as supporting them, anything I can do to help build the confidence of young women on my team and make them understand that they have a voice and can feel comfortable expressing it is a focus for me. Working in an extremely vocal and opinionated environment can be intimidating. It’s important to take a second to remind them that they are contributing in a meaningful way and I want to hear what they have to say.”

On a powerful leadership moment: 

“There’s a moment that stands out in my mind in my early career at Foot Locker where someone in leadership stepped up in a powerful way for me. My boss had taken maternity leave and, in her absence, I was provided some tremendous opportunities and exposure I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. When she returned, it was hard for me to figure out how to participate at the same level without stepping on her toes. A VP, DMM called me one day and said, “You’re not being the person you were when your boss was out – and you have to remember you’ve earned the right to lead, so don’t slide back.”  It was extremely touching and shook me up in the right way – and it’s something I have paid forward ever since because I remember the impact it had on me.”

Advice for women negotiating a salary increase or promotion: 

“To quote a wise friend of mine, ‘You don’t ask, you don’t get.’ I will be honest, this is sometimes difficult for me to execute. but the message is that you have to tell people what you’re looking for and why. The key is being prepared and comfortable. I would stress not underestimating the power of being prepared – with facts or even practicing how and what you want to say.”

On the impact of Me Too:

“Fortunately, Foot Locker has always had a very conscientious culture. That said, Me Too influenced people to think differently, not just about what they say and do but how it could be interpreted. The leadership at our organization has done an amazing job making sure we don’t have to worry about the “gray area” by reinforcing a safe and thoughtful environment where self-expression is valued and encouraged.”

On the best decision she’s ever made:

“Bizarrely, the best decision I ever made professionally was moving for my husband’s career. Early on in his career, we moved around a lot which allowed me to accumulate a strong point of view across industries — how to work with different kinds of people and how to apply what I learned along the way.”

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