Study: Female Executives At The Center Of Change And Innovation In Corporate America

Groundbreaking research examines the influence of women's leadership in today's global economy

Feb 25, 2016, 09:00 ET from The Everest Project

NEW YORK, Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Female executives are creating corporate cultures of change and innovation, according to a newly published research study conducted by The Everest Project. Eve of Change: Women Redefining Corporate America examines the influence of women's leadership in today's global economy and provides insight into how the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, and sexual orientation impacts women in the workplace. The full report is available online at www.everestproject.org.

The study's findings are the result of over two years of confidential interviews with 132 of some of the most senior-level female executives in the United States. Participants—who identified as Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Pan Asian or White—represented over eighty Fortune 500 corporations from a range of different industries and regions. An additional 260 executive level interviews with the interview subject's manager and her direct report were conducted for a more comprehensive perspective. In total, The Everest Project's findings are based on 392 interviews.

Key Research Findings

Below are the five key findings presented in Eve of Change: Women Redefining Corporate America:

  1. Women are leading change and transformation in their organizations
    Over half of the change initiatives catalogued in the Everest interviews represented strategic or structural change that women led, with significant organizational impact, from contributing billions of dollars to bottom lines, building new businesses, or rebuilding failing ones, to inspiring social movements beyond their corporate doors. They lead from the known to the unknown, transforming the hearts and minds of their people in the process and creating cultures more open to innovation.
  2. Women embrace smart risk
    Contrary to popular belief, women take risk – often, significant risk on behalf of their organizations. Being unafraid to fail, throwing assumptions out the window, trying new things and voicing a contrarian opinion: these are just a few ways that interview subjects take risks, which they see as a critically important aspect of leading change.
  3. Humility is the new power tool
    Humility, often considered a weakness, is the new power tool in leadership. In this era of flat organizations and a flat world where everyone is called upon to collaborate and work effectively across silos, humility is a critically important skill. When used strategically, humility fosters a vibrant environment where it's "safe to make change and to break some things" – fertile ground for innovation.
  4. Collaboration is not consensus
    In the new reality of hyper connected environments, collaboration is king. If consensus involves equal voice and an emphasis on collective decision making, collaboration is a different animal. Leaders are always at the helm, responsible for taking action that is best for their business.
  5. Difference is more
    Being different means having more to contribute and collaboration is the currency for navigating a flat world. Women who have figured out how to use their gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and cultural background, as part of their leadership toolkit, bring far more to the table for their corporations and teams.

Conclusion: Women today are designing a new corporate culture for a time of rapid change. They possess a leadership vision, approaches, and skill – that have not been previously identified and have too often gone unrecognized, underappreciated, and misrepresented in mainstream research. Women use that portfolio of skills and qualities as part of an integrated process for fostering innovation. For women leading this charge, innovation is not a self-contained endeavor. It's a process that evolves and emerges, fashioned from a culture that interview subjects have imagined and have made real.

"The findings are stunning and speak to the transformative impact women executives are making at their organizations," stated Lily Tang, President and Co-Founder of The Everest Project. "Contrary to the constant messages about what women have to do to succeed, women are consistently succeeding in leading change; from the massive to the incremental."

"Our study offers companies a blueprint on how to create a corporate environment that not only empowers women, but also their business," said Pamela Carlton, Co-Founder and Lead Researcher of The Everest Project. "We hope our findings will help rewrite the script for business success and illuminate how women are shaping corporate cultures and unleashing creativity for sustainable innovation."

Research partners for the study included leading affinity-based professional organizations Ascend, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) and Out Leadership. These groups provided thought leadership and helped identify senior level female executives for the study.

"In today's global economy, having more women in senior leadership positions with unique expertise and diverse perspectives is critical to remain competitive and enhance business performance," stated Ronald C. Parker, President and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council. He added that "These findings underscore the value of diversity as more than just good corporate social responsibility – it's a business imperative."

Time Warner and Walmart are the lead underwriters of The Everest Project. Other organizations providing corporate sponsorship for the study include Bank of America, American Express, Amgen, 3M, Ernst & Young, Comcast, Comerica, Viacom, Godiva and the Colgate-Palmolive Company.

"Women are leading our businesses at Time Warner in record numbers but more importantly, they have been instrumental in driving our growth and sparking innovation," said Lisa Garcia Quiroz, President, Time Warner Foundation and SVP and Chief Diversity Officer, ‎Time Warner Inc. "This report masterfully highlights and explores the many contributions of women and how women are critical to the future of our businesses."

About The Everest Project
The Everest Project is the first theoretical and practical research initiative to take a multicultural and gender specific perspective in examining the role of women executives in corporate America. The findings presented in Everest's first published research study, Eve of Change: Women Redefining Corporate America, breaks new ground for women and for businesses that understand that managing the status quo is not enough. Leading change is the new normal.   

©2016 The Everest Project

CONTACTS:
Joanna Lin, IW Group, Inc
Phone: (646) 979-8308
joanna.lin@iwgroupinc.com

Nina Shi, IW Group, Inc
Phone: (646) 979-1840
nina.shi@iwgroupinc.com

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SOURCE The Everest Project



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