What Women Want

Women in Leadership debate the virtues of being “bolder” at IESE in New York

01/04/2016 New York

IESE's New York campus

(L to R) Jennifer Allyn, PwC; Subha Barry, Working Mother Media; Prof. Mireia Las Heras, IESE; Teri McCaslin, Continental Grain, and Leilani Garrido, Univision, at the Women in Leadership panel in New York / Photo: Juan Ude

“Women often ask permission to take a day off, while men announce when they’ll be taking a vacation,” says Teri McCaslin, EVP, Chief HR and Administrative Officer of Continental Grain.

McCaslin was speaking at the Women in Leadership panel at IESE’s New York City campus. She was joined by Subha Barry, VP, General Manager, Working Mother Media; Leilani Garrido (Media AMP '16), Sr. Director, Human Resources, Univision, and Jennifer Allyn, Diversity Strategy Leader, PwC. IESE Professor Mireia Las Heras moderated.


The Humility Trap

Leilani Garrido opened with the observation that when a position opens up at Univision, women often question whether they are qualified to even apply.

Men, on the other hand, will send in their application, even if they lack the right credentials or experience.

“You don’t have anything to lose by trying,” she said. “Assume you’ll learn on the job, the way men do.”

Caught in what Allyn calls a “humility trap,” women are often loath to tout their own accomplishments.

“Your boss isn’t psychic,” she said. “You have to share the wonderful things you are doing.”

She suggests women invite a male “brag buddy” to review résumés or accomplishments on order to make them “bolder.”

Barry recalled how when she was working at Merrill Lynch, she and three female coworkers would meet for lunch regularly to talk about their accomplishments.

“It was then up to the other three to ‘brag’ on our behalf,” she said. Once the word got out, “we all did really well.”


Tackling Prejudice

Clearly much more needs to be done before gender equality is achieved at work, particularly at the executive level, said Alllyn.

Increasing diversity in senior leadership is a means of ensuring that employees of both genders have role models or mentors, she said.

That said, it’s key to be conscious of prejudices.

Women face a “difficult bind,” said Allyn, in that they need to “project both warmth and toughness.”

“While men can typically be decisive and blunt without sacrificing likeability, it’s a much harder feat for women to pull off.”

Barry added that the best leaders, whether male or female, employ empathy sometimes and toughness at other times.

“The trick,” she said, “is knowing when to use each trait.”


Trailblazers

Each of the panelists has dedicated significant time and effort into promoting equality at the workplace for men and women.

Allyn has partnered with HeForShe, a United Nations campaign seeking to get 1 billion men around the world to declare their support for women and girls.

Barry led an initiative to recruit and support women and minorities at Merrill Lynch and now evaluates the policies and cultures of hundreds of companies for Working Mother’s “Best Companies” list.

With limited funding, Garrido launched a competitive leadership education program for talented women throughout Univision.

In her own “male-dominated field,” McCaslin has long advocated for women and believes in “going beyond policies” to find individual answers to the difficulties of work-family balance.

“Come to your boss with a solution that will work for you, rather than presenting him or her with a problem,” she advises.