Take a chance. Make a change. Innovate. These were some of the messages I took away from the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston recently. The conference boasted over 18 speakers from industry-leading organizations, including Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company; and Rana Foroohar, Time Magazine’s assistant managing editor for business and economic coverage. One of the most anticipated speakers was former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Keeping with the theme of the conference “Jumping the Curve,” Clinton shared how she had to make changes when she made the decision to run for senator and president of the United States. Both positions required her to take chances that would place her, and her family, in the spotlight. Her life, her beliefs, and her decisions would be open to criticism.
Clinton shared three key points that are important to incorporate into both professional and personal situations, especially when dealing with criticism.
- Treat others as you want to be treated.
- Take criticism seriously not personally – critics sometimes say things you need to hear that a friend may not say.
- Don’t let criticism get you down – believe you are the right person, have a sense of purpose and the experience will be worth it even if the results are different than what you had hoped for.
Clinton also addressed how women continue to struggle for key positions in leadership roles, stressing that woman are critical to the success of the economy. She acknowledged that she’s been fortunate to work with strong, driven women in positions of power across the globe. Yet, in the United States there’s still a need for women to be recognized and compensated appropriately. She shared some startling facts about women in corporate America:
- Women in the United States hold less than 12 percent of positions on boards, with only 5 percent of them on Fortune 500 companies.
- Women still only receive 77 percent of pay compared to men in similar roles.
Regardless of your profession, keep challenging yourself, dare to compete. There are always lessons to be learned, just continue supporting other women, be active in public service, and find a common ground so you are in a win-win situation.