Women shatter glass ceilingBy Yasmine Regester
Published: January 30, 2013
The HR Group, a local human resources firm, sponsored its quarterly diversity breakfast on Friday, January 25 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The breakfast included a panel discussion with four influential women from Greensboro who talked about the path they took in their careers, exploring strategies and best practices for women going forward and breaking through the infamous glass ceiling.
The panel included Linda Brady, chancellor of UNCG; Michelle Gethers-Clark, president of The Center for Service and Leadership, LLC; Donna Newton, director of the Guilford Nonprofit Consortium; and Denise Turner Roth, Greensboro City Manager.
“Its 2013 and we’re still making firsts. Hopefully in the future, women will continue to make leaps and bounds,” said facilitator of the panel, Lenora Billings-Harris, diversity strategist for The HR Group.
According to statistics Harris presented, there are six million more women in the world than men. “What we’re talking about today isn’t women’s issues. We’re talking about economic and social issues,” said Harris. “It’s about women and our power or lack of power in various places around the world, and when impacted in a positive way, it makes the message all the more powerful.”
The panelists addressed how they keep balance in their lives and their advice for other professional women.
Roth, who became Greensboro City Manager in June 2012 told attendees to live in the moment.
“What I’ve learned is that every moment counts. Leave work at work and home at home. Always trust your instincts.”
Newton, who serves on a variety of Greensboro boards and organizations, including the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress said, “It’s not as important to get credit for what you’ve done but to give credit to what others do. Notice what people do and give credit for even the smallest things.”
Newton, who started in the corporate world in 1968, said she has witnessed gender and racial bias.
“I’ve witnessed bias against others because of their ethnicity and because of their gender. Women have to keep telling themselves I’m just as good
as anyone else in this room and my voice is just as important. We should recognize our progress with diversity in the workplace, but never stop working for a more inclusive society.”
Brady’s experience in education spans more than a decade and she became the 10th chancellor of UNCG in August 2008. Brady noted that age bias is a very real thing. She said while attending a program that groomed candidates for a college president position, she was told she was “too old” to have a
successful career as a college president, but she did not let it stop her.
“Balance is essential in maintaining a sense of perspective. You have to have the ability to listen and empathize with the people around you,” said Brady.
Roth shared a similar experience where she said her job skills have been underestimated because of her young age. The women all agreed that a glass ceiling in the workplace definitely exists, but it is how you deal with it that matters.
A former executive vice president of American Express and a consultant, Clark said, “Adversity is ever present but it’s how you deal with it. I don’t allow it to define me. I walk in the opposite way of negativity. There’s not always an unbreakable ceiling. We have to look for ways to empower ourselves and other women.”
Roth reiterated that it is important to show that there is a reason you were hired for that position. “The glass ceiling certainly exists in the politics world. Frequently I find myself as the only woman in the room, but I can’t carry those things with me.”
Harris noted that women have to support each other and encourage diversity.
Clark said, “Embrace new realities we face in the workplace. We’ve got to embrace new normals. Interview slates have to be diverse. Interview women, hire them, and take a chance. She added, “We all stand on the shoulders of giants. Sponsor a
woman, mentor her or just speak positive of her when the moment calls for it.”
The next HR Group diversity event is scheduled for April 2013, focusing on diversity in public safety.
For more info visit www.thehrgroupinc.net.