Susan McGalla Trailblazes For Women In Leadership

The positive effect that diversity has on business operations has been well-chronicled. Statistics show that businesses with adequate gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform companies without such diversity. And regards to companies with sufficient ethnic diversity, these companies are 35% more likely to outperform companies without ethnic diversity. These effects are believe to stem from the fact that diverse companies are better able to incorporate new ideas. Despite the obvious advantages of diversity many companies do not create diverse workplace environments. In fact, only a small percentage of top positions of large companies are held by women.

The Susan McGalla Example

While many women still struggle to reach high positions within the business world, this is not the case with Susan McGalla. McGalla’s rise in the male dominated world of business began when she accepted a position with American Eagle Outfitters. When McGalla began with the company all executives with AEO were men. By the end of McGalla’s time with the company she was AEO’s president. Susan McGalla is now the vice president of business strategy and creative development for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Susan McGalla credits her confidence with working in male dominated environments with her upbringing. McGalla recalls that while growing up with two brothers and a football coach for a dad there were never any breaks given to her because she was a girl.

Women Leadership Initiatives Will Not Solve Problem

Not all women has shared in Susan McGalla’s success at breaking through the glass ceiling. There are many networks and initiatives that work with women to provide support for women leaders and a platform for these women to share ideas. Unfortunately these initiatives have not been effective at addressing the underlying issues that hamper the advancement of women in the business world. This is because despite the importance of women supporting women in business men still hold the majority of the power in the business world.

The Power Of Executive Sponsorship

One potential solution to breaking the cycle of gender discrimination in business is to provide sponsorship opportunities. Women with aspirations of moving up the corporate ladder should find a company executive to provide a sponsorship. These sponsors can work to provide opportunities to women that would often times bypass them. It would be necessary to provide incentive for these executives to invest in women leaders but could provide the much needed spark for the business world to become more gender-diverse in leadership choices.

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