Last week, Inspiring Capital had the privilege to participate in the 21st Annual Columbia Women in Business Conference in a motivating panel entitled CSR: Balancing Shareholder Interests and the Public Good. Our very own Yael Silverstein spoke alongside some very inspirational women, Heidi Burkhart President of Dane PCG, Katie Hunt Director of Values and Impact Etsy, and Andrea Flynn Vice-President of the M.A.C Aids Fund. After spending the week lamenting over the lack of diversity among women in leadership roles, I really needed this conference to remind me how many of us are out there fighting the dismal statistics.
I’ve mentioned before how nothing excites me more than being surrounded by smart women. Spending all day learning, discussing, laughing and thinking with so many of them reminded me of the incredible potential our generation has to effect real and sustainable change. Yes, the numbers of women, specifically of color, are deplorably low but I have a feeling my generation could finally shatter the remaining pesky glass ceilings.
Since the conference was meant to highlight the accomplishments of women in business, I wanted to feature four inspiring quotes from some of the female leaders from the conference.
1. It’s possible to like and be good at many things. - Ann Glover, ING
Ann Glover is the Chief Marketing Officer for ING U.S. She’s had an incredibly impressive yet atypical career path. Starting off as a teacher, she’s managed to gracefully transition from one interest to the next and become the marketing titan she is today. As someone who has about a million different interests and passions, this was a very comforting message to hear.
2. Step away from the term CSR because it creates a dichotomy in the company. - Katie Hunt, Etsy
Insightful response on how to reconcile the fact that corporate social responsibility, more times than not, is a marketing ploy. I agree that the term does create a division within the company. Social responsibility should be integrated in every aspect of the business model, not just siloed off to one department. Andrea Flynn from the M.A.C Aids Fund proved how to successfully incorporate social responsibility within a company by passionately explaining how M.A.C uses the Viva Glam lipstick to raise hundreds of millions to support innovative programs around the world that provide services to those affected with or by HIV/AIDS.
3. Balance is not in my vocabulary. Figure it out as you go along. - Ann Glover
Another great one from Ann Glover. With all the hype around leaning in, having it all and work/life balance, Ann Glover shared her personal experiences to demonstrate it’s not a black or white issue. Personally, I think we’ve spent too much time discussing this matter and agree with Ann that we should stop thinking so much and just figure it out as we go along.
4. Philanthropy is broken on both sides, for profit and nonprofit. - Yael Silverstein, Inspiring Capital
I feel like I should paint this on my wall to remind myself why I chose to work in such a challenging and sometimes frustrating field. Working for real and effective social change is hard. And it’s harder when the system you are working in just doesn’t work. I know that sounds rather abstract but Yael’s statement resonated with the room. We all knew what she meant. We all have had experiences on how and why both sides are broken. But we are trying to fix it.
- Ana Defillo