Susan McGalla Proves Women Can Call the Shots at Any Company
The glass ceiling, which has kept women to a lower percentage than men in C-level positions at S&P 500 companies, does not just hurt the women executives. Entire companies have been shown to perform at a higher level than those with lower levels of gender diversity, and some statistics show that the percentages may be as high as 15 percent, due to the fact that these companies have a broader range of ideas and perspectives going forward in the boardroom.
Stories like Susan McGalla of American Eagle Outfitters demonstrate how great an impact women and leadership can have. When she first joined the company, there was not a single woman executive. But with her confidence, creative thinking, and business mentality, she quickly proved her place at the top. Now she often speaks publicly at events to encourage other young women to follow in her footsteps.
McGalla was behind the “wear what we wear” campaign, which connected Pittsburg Steelers players with the fans who wanted to have the same clothes their football idols liked to wear. She credits growing up in a football-loving home with two brothers for giving her the courage to speak up no matter what type of audience she faced. That’s a challenge many women in business have, as society as a whole rarely encourages young women to speak their minds.
One solution has been to encourage networking between women in leadership and women going for leadership. However, since there is a shortage of women in top positions within the company, that strategy has not paid off as completely as it could have. Sponsorship is another method that has shown promise. The sponsor can be a man or a women, but they are a high level executive in the company, one who gives chances for the women at lower levels of leadership to take a chance and prove themselves at higher and higher levels until they reach the top.
Susan McGalla has proven women and their companies thrive together. That is the biggest incentive many companies would have to create executive sponsorship and other opportunities for women to grow professionally.