From General Motors and Siemen’s Corporation to Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Anthem and Booking.com, women are at the head of some of the largest corporations throughout the world. Each year, Forbes ranks and publishes the World’s Most Powerful Women in Business and how they’re changing the business world.
In every industry and on every continent, women are leading initiatives that are changing the world and pushing the boundaries of what is considered possible. Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. While the number of educated women has continued to rise in educational institutions across the world, women continue to struggle with gaining leadership roles in the business world—despite their proven track record in these positions.
Julie Smolyansky, for instance, didn’t exactly have shareholders’ complete confidence when she took over the family’s kefir business, Lifeway, following the IE of her father’s sudden death. At twenty-seven years old, she remembered her father’s best friend telling other shareholders to sell their stock because “there’s no way this girl can run a company.” Some left, but those who stuck with her and the company were rewarded. In 2013, under Smolyansky’s leadership, the company topped $98 million in sales, and the company’s stock is up 785 percent since she took over.
Family businesses seem to be supporting the shift to more female executives (just look at 1,300-year-old family business Hoshi Ryokan welcoming its first female owner), with a 2014 survey of family businesses worldwide finding that 70 percent are considering a woman for their next CEO. The reasons for this trend, according to the report, is due to a number of factors, including an increased interest by women in joining the family business, as well as the direct benefit of the tendency for companies “with the greatest number of women in the c-suite outperform[ing] on return on equity and other financial performance metrics.”
The proof is there—just look at the companies represented on Forbes’ list and what those companies are achieving. The presence of women in business is powerful and needed. Learn more about how women are changing the business landscape for the better by reading my book, Interrupted Entrepreneurship available here.