Recently I had the great honor to be the keynote speaker at the MLive 2022 Women’s Summit in Detroit, MI. It was a wonderful experience and a true joy to be surrounded by a room full of bright, energized women entrepreneurs eager to learn and achieve and break down barriers in their lives, both professionally and personally. The title of my talk was "Leading Forward," because I feel that is so important today — encouraging women leaders, particularly women in business, to boldly pursue the best that they can be. You can watch and listen to my address here.
I am thrilled and honored that my book, Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business, was recently given the bronze award for Best Women in Business Book by Axiom Business Book Awards. (My first book, On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights, also won Axiom's bronze award.) Presented in 23 business categories, these prestigious and competitive awards serve as the premier list to help readers discover new and innovative works, says Axiom. Previous medalists include Nobel laureate Robert Shiller, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin. So I'm in good company.
11,000 business books are published each year. Why was mine honored?
All the press are celebrating the agreement by The United States Soccer Federation to align the Women's and Men's Soccer teams' pay and distribution of prize monies. It is time, isn't it?
The Federation has reached landmark collective-bargaining agreements with its men's and women's national teams. The terms create pay parity, aligning the men's and women's teams’ pay and creating a unique mechanism to share the prize money coming from their respective World Cup competitions. This deal recognizes that regardless of sex, people are people, and they should be paid for performance, not for gender.
Corporations have largely remained silent since the leak of a draft opinion suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The potential loss of what's been a constitutional right for nearly half a century has divided the country and created an uproar nationwide. However, major companies, with some exceptions, have yet to issue any statements on the matter. In some cases, major institutions have even declined comment. -Fox Business
When asked by Fox Business to comment on the current social upheaval surrounding the potential loss of abortion rights for its article, "How corporate leaders should address Roe v. Wade, according to experts," my response was this: "During times of crisis and change, corporate executives face the most important tests of their skills as thoughtful, influential leaders. However, facing the impending challenge of Roe v. Wade, they have few options, as their organizations and their clients are closely watching their responses."
If I had to choose a catchphrase for the world of work today, it would be a mashup of Back To The Future and The Fast And The Furious. It's not hard to see that the changes of tomorrow are coming fast (in many cases, they're already here), disrupting everything we thought we knew. For both employers and employees, the pandemic was the catalytic moment that transformed where and how we work, but the trends were there beforehand. I was recently interviewed on this topic by Authority magazine for its interview series, “Preparing For The Future Of Work,” and I shared my observations and predictions about the trends I'm seeing out in the field. I discuss many of them below, and you can read the entire interview here.
Photo courtsey of Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Last week my wife Andi Simon wrote a blog about a pioneering early entry in the women’s rights movement, Christine Grant, who took a leadership position during the early days of Title IX. In 1973, she became the athletic director of women’s sports at the University of Iowa, one of the first women in the country to hold this title. (In those days, there were two athletic directors: one for male athletes and one for female.)
The partners of Simon Associates Management Consultants are committed to helping young entrepreneurs, and particularly women entrepreneurs, take their ideas and turn them into successful business ventures. As part of our effort, in 2018 we started the Simon Initiative for Entrepreneurship through the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Washington University in St Louis.
Photo courtesy of Jake Pollock/NY Times
In soccer. In football. In basketball. Now in ski patrols. More and more, women today are breaking barriers and smashing glass ceilings in fields that traditionally have been men-only, not just in sports but across all disciplines: business, politics, medicine, law, tech...the list goes on.
Which causes me to ask the question: Is one of the reasons women are finally making strides in male-controlled fields and changing the status quo the fact that men themselves are changing too? The February 11, 2021 New York Times article, "A Surge of Women in Ski Patrols, Once Nearly All Men," speaks to this point. It describes how "as the number of women in ski patrols has increased, so has acceptance that the service, a network of volunteer and professional organizations nationwide dominated by men for decades, is finally catching up to the times."
Photo courtesy of Julio Cortez/Associated Press
In the NFL, women are finally breaking through
In the February 4th issue of The New York Times, there was an article entitled, “These Women Were N.F.L. ‘Firsts.’ They’re Eager for Company.” It discusses the many “firsts” in the NFL from team CEO (Amy Trask of the Oakland Raiders) to coaches (Maral Javadifar, an assistant strength and conditioning coach, and Lori Locust, a defensive-line assistant, both for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) to referee (Sarah Thomas who officiated Sunday’s Super Bowl) to the front office (Callie Brownson, chief of staff for the Cleveland Browns). And yet for all the shattering of glass ceilings, these groundbreaking women long for the day that being females in previously male-only roles in the NFL will be no big deal. Said Amy Task, who in 1997 became the Oakland Raiders chief executive and the first woman of that rank in the NFL, “What is really going to excite me is when this is no longer aberrational or when this is no longer something that’s noteworthy.”
Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
Last week there was big news concerning the NFL’s Super Bowl. Sarah Thomas — the first woman to officiate a major college football game, the first to officiate a bowl game, the first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium, the first full-time female official in NFL history and the first to officiate an NFL playoff game — has been named to the referee crew for the 2021 Super Bowl, having officiated NFL games since 2015. Talk about a glass ceiling being smashed! This puts a woman squarely in the arena of what has traditionally been a men-only sport.
As Thomas told Steve Wyche of NFL NFL Total Access, “If you grade out at the top of your game, and that’s what I want to do, every game I want to be at the top of my game, if that puts me #1 to work a Super Bowl, I want to earn it and I want to be there.”
Thomas has definitely earned it and definitely deserves to be there. For women officials everywhere, it’s about time!