Increasing the Impact of Women's Leadership

Posted by: Chamber Investor on Wednesday, September 17, 2014

“What is honored in a country will be cultivated there.” Plato

The Greenville Chamber of Commerce honors individuals who assist women in reaching their full leadership potential with the ATHENA® Award at its annual meeting. To extend the mission of the ATHENA Award, ATHENA recipients will present the ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award during the third ATHENA Leadership Symposium on November 4th from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. at the TD Convention Center. The ATHENA Organizational Award will recognize Greenville Chamber member organizations that create an organizational culture that encourages women employees to achieve their full leadership potential and/or organizations that give back to the larger community of women and/or girls by supporting leadership development opportunities and initiatives. By recognizing, showcasing, and celebrating an organization with successful initiatives that support and advance women and girls, the intent is to inspire and motivate other organizations to use similar strategies to replicate their success. Nationally, women currently hold only 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.2 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. To survive and thrive, organizations, including small and large companies and businesses, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, healthcare, and government agencies must use all the talent available to them. More than half of the population of South Carolina is female; however, women continue to be underrepresented at senior levels of leadership, on corporate boards, and as entrepreneurs. Nearly half of the publicly traded companies headquartered in South Carolina do not have any women on their boards of directors.  A recent College of Charleston study revealed that 20 of the 43 public companies based in South Carolina have no female board members. The study reports that 14 companies have one woman on their boards. At three companies, women constitute between 11% and 19% of board members. Only six companies in the state have 20% of women on their board. Overall, the percentage of women on corporate boards has not fluctuated much for eight consecutive years, according to 2012 data from Catalyst, Inc. a group that researches and advocates for women in business. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a report in September 2014 giving South Carolina a grade of D+ on the status of women. Indicators used to arrive at this grade include women’s earnings for full-time year-round employment, female to male wage ratio, women’s labor force participation, and percentage of women in managerial and professional occupations. Clearly, there is much work to be done in South Carolina and the Upstate to provide an environment in which women can move forward as leaders. Greenville Chamber member organizations with initiatives that increase representation of women in senior level positions or boards, that break down barriers women often face in the workplace, such as a flexible work schedule, or that have mentoring programs for women to assure they are in the leadership pipeline should consider applying for this award. Organizations that are working to help girls and young women develop leadership skills are eligible for the award as well. The ultimate goal of the ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award is to increase the positive impact of women’s leadership in our community. To learn more about the 2014 ATHENA Leadership Symposium and to nominate or to apply for the ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award, please go to http://www.greenvillechamber.org/athena-symposium.php. The deadline for submitting nominations is October 1, 2014. Guest contributor Dr. Judith Prince is the Director of Academic Engagement for the USC Upstate Greenville campus and serves as the President of the Greenville Rotary Club. She has also served on the Advisory Board for The Urban League, twice served as President of S.C. Women in Education, and as National Chair for The Network of Women in Education.

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