Fortune 500 companies often refer to their senior offices as "C" suites: CEO, CFO, CTO, COO, etc. And it's no secret that women are not occupying nearly as many "C" suites as they should be. Every once in a while I run across a story that gives me hope. As recently stated in Ad Age (with the help of The White House Project), I realized that my two loves have come together at Gatorade: women and athletics. Gatorade has done a fantastic job melding together women's leadership and women's athletics by filling their "C" suites with women! While Catalyst reports that only 3.8 percent of Fortune 500 companies have female CEO's, Ad Age reports that Gatorade is actually propelling women into leadership positions. Ten of the top leadership positions at Gatorade are held by women.
The White House Project knows that in order to increase the number of women in "C" suites, we must work to fill the pipeline of leadership with women. More and more, we hear of women taking on more leadership positions at companies across America (don't forget about the new CEO of Yahoo!) , but what we really need is not just a few appointments, but rather companies to follow Gatorade's lead and actively promote women to fill leadership positions. Only conscious efforts to promote women will help continue the trend of increasing women's representation in "C" suites. That includes promoting women from within in their own company, increasing the amount of women in middle management positions and diversifying board rooms.
Geena Davis started a foundation to change the portrayal of women in the media. She says, "If she can see it, she can be it." Maybe Gatorade figured it out; the more they increase women in their top leadership positions, the more they foster a positive working environment for women to excel. Harvard Business Review says "In fact at every level, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts -- and the higher the level, the wider that gap grows"
Studies show that when you bring women into leadership positions, women make companies better. That's not just good for the bottom line, that's good for all of us. More companies should follow Gatorade's lead and start adding women to their leadership teams and "C" suites.