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Warren Buffett on advancing women leaders

May 15, 2013

By Susan MacKenty Brady

When I attended Linkage’s Institute for Leading Diversity & Inclusion last week, several (not just one, several) speakers spoke of the new minority being the White Male.

I had to smile.

Not because this isn’t an eventuality. All of the population statistics for the United States are pointing at this future reality. However, I don’t think we will see a preponderance of Employee Resource Groups or focused inclusion efforts targeting the white male any time soon. In fact, today and for the near future, I believe we are very much in need of our white male leaders to step up, speak out, and make it a priority to advance diversity in leadership like we’ve seen Warren Buffet do recently.

“Fellow males, get onboard,” writes Warren Buffett on www.money.cnn.com. “The closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its citizens, the greater its output of goods and services will be. We’ve seen what can be accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you visualize what 100% can do, you’ll join me as an unbridled optimist about America’s future.”

And I applaud Warren Buffett’s public sentiments about women. Click here to read the full story.

But with 96.5% of Fortune 500 companies still run by men, and less than 10% of corporate boards enjoying female membership, we have collectively NOT moved the dial in the last decade to accelerate diversity―and women in particular―into positions of leadership.

Sheryl Sandberg has contributed mightily to the dialogue with her book Lean In. Now is the time for companies to connect their talent and succession strategies with their commitment to the advancement of women. And, with all the focus and research and statistics fluttering around about what should and needs to be done, I maintain that those in positions of senior leadership―mostly white men―must speak up and take action. Our collective future depends on it.

We know that businesses create more value when more women are leading. Consider Pepperdine University’s study as just one that gives us pause. It found that the 25 Fortune 500 firms with the best record of promoting women to high positions were between 18% and 69% more profitable than the median Fortune 500 firms in their industries.

This is not just about equality, it is about driving bottom-line value. Simply put, it’s smart business.

As a leader who is also a married-mother-of-two, I have come to believe that we need more leaders to stand up and serve as agents of change for the advancement of women. I am delighted that my work provides a stage (literally) to give voice to male leaders who are moving the dial on advancing women in their companies. At Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute (November 11-13 in San Francisco), we are honoring George Borst, President and CEO of Toyota Financial Services, with our first Outstanding CEO Award for his commitment to inclusion and the advancement of a diverse talent pool.

We need more George Borsts and Warren Buffetts to be leading the way and speaking out.

What are you doing to advance women in leadership in your organization?

More about Susan

Susan MacKenty Brady is married to Jamie Brady, the mother of Caroline and Abigail Brady, a daughter, sister, aunt, and friend to many. She is also the Senior Vice President of Global Programming & Market Strategy for Linkage, an Executive Coach, and a champion for women leaders. Reach out to Susan at sbrady@linkageinc.com or on Twitter @Susanmbrady1.

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Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 1–4, 2022 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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