Women Meet Together to Close the Gender Gap in Top Leadership

Women Leaders LA exists to encourage women to “go for it” and seek senior leadership positions, such as Presidents and CEOs. Today, in the US, only about 10-15% of CEO and President positions are held by women.

Following our second Career Panel event, we interviewed attendees to get their perspective on the women’s leadership challenge and hear about the value they got from attending. Here’s what they had to say:

“The panelists talked about being bold and creating that environment for yourself. Women in leadership need to take that stand in aiding the kinds of opportunities you want to have.”

“It’s nice to hear these powerful women talk about things that I think that I’m able to do as well. There’s several things that stood out for me. The first thing was the ‘Go for It’ mentality—that’s it’s okay to want something for yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of doing. And the second thing is that it’s nice to hear the panelists talk about what little changes they would make to make themselves more courageous.”

The February 2020 event included young professionals, students from the Drucker School of Management and a few more experienced leaders. About 60% of attendees were women in their 20s to early 30s. Diverse ethnicities and backgrounds were represented, and the group approached the event with a collaborative attitude, i.e., “I can learn, and I can help.”  The program deliberately included active speed networking, along with the panel discussion, so that attendees actively engaged, participated and made new connections.

Leadership Expert’s Driving Passion

How Can Women Become Leaders in LA?

Over the last decade, I’ve produced women’s leadership events in Los Angeles and Chicago for my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. I also co-chair the Trustees’ Council for Penn Women’s Career Mentoring Committee, which holds events in ten cities, including San Francisco, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, London, Washington DC, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago.  In 2020, we held a “Women on Corporate Boards” event in Santa Monica, CA .  The inspiration for forming Women Leaders LA was that my Vistage Business Development Partner, Maria Mello, asked if I could shine a spotlight on women in leadership here in LA and offer events that are open to the public.

My driving passion for running these events is to move the needle on the sobering statistic that only 10-15% of presidents and CEOs are women.  As a Vistage Chair, I also know that without concentrated effort, my group would have a membership of 90% male leaders. One reason is that there aren’t as many women leaders, and another is that many women leaders are more reluctant to invest the time in their leadership that Vistage requires.

To attract women to top leadership and encourage them to “Go For It” in their leadership development, I’m building camaraderie and community around the Women Leaders LA events. Women want to know their voices are being heard. By putting women on a panel, they serve as a role model to the audience. Along with inspiring attendees, the panelists themselves realize more fully the power of their own leadership and get inspiration from each other’s stories .  I strongly believe there are many women leaders who want to share their stories, and it is empowering for them to do so, and inspiring to others.