3 Powerful Lessons on How to Empower Women in Leadership Roles

Female leaders across all industries were celebrated last night in New York in honor of International Women’s Day. Coordinated by Business for Social Responsibility’s (BSR) HERproject — a collaboration that empowers low-income women across global supply chains through workplace-based programs on health, financial inclusion and gender equality — industry power players discussed the importance of female empowerment.

Ugg, The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., Nordstrom and Williams and Sonoma have been key partners in driving change for women workers through HERProject. On Thursday, Deckers Brands president of fashion lifestyle Andrea O’Donnell, Pottery Barn VP of sourcing Mandy Seidel and Estée Lauder SVP of global corporate citizenship and sustainability Nancy Mahon spoke on how more female leaders can be supported and promoted around the world.

Herproject panel
(L-R): HERProject director Christine Svarer, India women’s empowerment expert Latha Ramakrishnan, Pottery Barn VP of sourcing Mandy Seidel, Deckers Brands president of fashion lifestyle Andrea O’Donnell and Estée Lauder SVP of global corporate citizenship and sustainability Nancy Mahon.
CREDIT: Robert Carlo

Be a Mentor

Said O’Donnell, “Role models [are] really important regardless of where you live. The more women you see successful, and happy in being successful, it helps bring everyone along with them. Talking about women who lack aspiration or confidence, in my experience, that’s not true. [Women may] have a different way of expressing aspirations than a man. If you’re talking about influencing in a male-dominated environment, it’s really difficult to find your voice. Our responsibility [as leaders] is to allow women to find their voice and confidence, and be active mentors and cheerleaders.”

Use Your Wallet

“You as a consumer can be activists. Write to those brand presidents and say, ‘I saw a presentation from the BSR’s HERProject, and I’m glad you support it,” Mahon said. “All of us in retail listen. Women consumers and women investors invest in those stocks [of these companies] because you believe in what they are doing. Get busy.”

Create Formal Initiatives

“We have pieces such as an inclusion and diversity program. We just granted 20 weeks of parental leave for men and women. We have to keep each other honest. We have employee resource groups around issues including gender,” Mahon said. “Make sure the program is not a check-the-box program but it really makes a difference.”

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