Don’t Be Fooled: Junior and Senior Women Execs Should Stick Together

December 21, 2011  |  

There are few businesswomen that make it to the top of the nation’s largest corporations and even fewer women of color at the top. Often times these women fight hard to make a name for themselves but find when they decide to step down, their legacy is lost in the media write up of their failures. Writer and Gen Y Consultant Erica Dhawan cautions young women entering the corporate world to think twice before judging their women mentors. The media’s criticism of these powerful women often ignores the contributions these women have made to a company.

Take for instance Erin Callan, the former chief financial officer at Lehman Brothers right before its fall from the economic crisis. She was promoted too late to be able to save the firm and was publically criticized and ridiculed for her poor performance during her six months in the CFO position.

What the media failed to mention was her hard work and loyalty to the company since 1995, and how she was able to rise quickly to the top while still making time to talk with junior women at the firm to advise them on their career paths.

Then there was Sallie Krawcheck, the former Bank of America exec who supposedly “died like a man” according to Business Insider. Krawcheck had been supposedly forced out of Bank of America but her strong will and assertiveness on Wall Street throughout her career had been forgotten.

Carol Bartz was instrumental in doubling Yahoo’s operational income and margins, but was instead remembered for cursing in the workplace.

When these top businesswomen fall, young women often look down upon them and shake their heads, forgetting how hard these women worked.

Dhawan reminds young women that, “being a woman leader is about speaking and embodying what you believe, not just accommodating to an organization’s culture or pursuing media rewards.”

Have any women executives and leaders helped you along your professional journey? What can you learn from their legacy?

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