Women's Leadership: NJBIA President Michele Siekerka
As part of our "Women's Leadership" series, Michele Siekerka, President & CEO, New Jersey Business and Industry Association, shares successes and challenges for women leaders in and out of the C-Suite and state of women business leaders today.
"Welcome to a very special edition of One on One. I'm Steve Adubato. We're gonna be talking to four significant, powerful, influential female leaders in this program, the first up is Michele Siekerka, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. Good to see you Michele. Great to see you Steve. Let's go back. We did a... your team did a forum, and I was honored to be a part of a discussion that I moderated on women in leadership positions. Why the forum? And why were there 400 women there? All of whom are leaders and wanting to learn more? Yeah, it was a spectacular event, and there's still a calling for it. As far as women have advanced to the C-suite, it's still a slow climb. So let me share with you, you know, a recent survey of Fortune 500 companies. 50% more women are in the C-suite this year than last year. However, that's still only 6.4% of the Fortune 500 companies. So this year we're at 32 companies of 500, last year we were at 21. 50% increase? Yay! That's awesome! Yes. Okay, in one year, that's awesome. But 6.4%, that means 94% of Fortune 500 companies are run by men. We have to continue. That ceiling is pretty clear there, isn't it? Yeah. The glass ceiling's pretty clear in the C-suite, isn't it? So... but, you know what? We're cracking it. We are. How about women in the boardroom? You know, we're making advances to women in the boardroom as well. So the initiative... By the way, excuse me for interrupting, we're assuming that C-suite... everyone knows what that means. It means? Yeah, well the executive suite, the CEO, the COO, the chiefs, the policy makers, the decision makers of any organization, they're in the C-suite and they're in the boardroom, and you need diversity of opinion in the C-suite and in the boardroom. What happens when you don't get it? You don't get the same returns. You know, Catalyst did a study where they learned that return on investment... companies that are more diverse, 53% better return on investment than those that are less diverse. Why is that? Diversity of opinion. The idea of having different people influencing a decision is significantly important. Think about where we are today in our society, especially in New Jersey, the most diverse state in the nation. Who are the consumers? Consumers, oftentimes, are women, regardless of the product or service, right? You know, who's buying your product? Who's watching your TV shows? Your commercials? Who's making those decisions? And when you have diversity of opinion around a room, you get a better outcome. A fair process yields a fair outcome. And that's what you..."