On Anne's Mind

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#MeToo and Speaking Truth to Power

September 26, 2018

Just because I never told you, does that mean it never happened?

Just because I knew I was lucky that I had escaped something worse and realized there was nothing the police or anyone else could have (or would have) done about it, does that mean I should have reported it anyway? 

To whom should I have reported the conductor on an overnight train in Italy who found me sleeping all alone in a compartment and climbed on top of me?

The neighborhood boy who tried to convince a nine-year old to go into a garage with him so he could "see me." The high school date who locked me in his car and tried to tear my clothes off before I could escape?  The stranger in Hollywood who followed me out of a restaurant on a dark night? Or the admired athlete I thought was a friend on a night I tried to forget and never told anyone about. Not my friends, not my husband and certainly not the police. What good would it have done?  Dozens would have lined up to defend the athlete's outstanding character as someone who would "never do such a thing." Oh, but he did. 

We are about to witness ANOTHER courageous woman, risking the disintegration of her entire life, with nothing to gain and everything to lose, about to end her decades of silence, stepping onto the global stage to tell her truth about the character of a man who is on the verge of a lifetime appointment with the power to affect the lives of millions of other girls and women. We've been here before. How many more times will it take before the outcome changes? 

So many others have written so much and so well about the historic "she accused/he denied" U.S. Senate Judiciary hearings coming up this Thursday that I felt I had nothing to add.  I'm sure you know where I stand.

But this moment is too important to stay silent. What Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is about to do takes spiritual and moral courage.  She is reluctantly breaking her three decades of silence because there is so much at stake -- for all of us.  If faced with the same situation, I hope I would have the spiritual and moral courage to do the same. When Dr. Blasey Ford is testifying, I will stop whatever I am doing to stand in silence so I can send her all of the "Eve Energy" my lifeblood can spare -- to give her the courage to raise her voice and tell her truth.

Let Our Wallets Do the Talking

March 3, 2018

I'm thrilled with the news that a group of powerful, activist women just bought the Weinstein Company -- with plans to compensate Weinstein's victims, save employee jobs and create a new Hollywood Production Company, with a primarily female Board of Directors, committed to producing cool films with great women roles. Power On, Sisters.  Here's the story!  

Female Rabbi's Perspective on Eve as Spiritual Mother of Me Too Movement

March 3, 2018

Rabbi Tamara Kolton is an inspiring spiritual leader and thinker.  I am privileged to know her and to call her my friend.  We both live just outside of Detroit and about an hour's drive from Michigan State University -- home of predator doctor Larry Nassar who sexually assaulted young gymnasts for decades.  Their #METOO outrage that led to him finally being stopped and sent to prison for life, inspired Rabbi Kolton to write this commentary on why she sees Eve as the "Spiritual Mother" of the #MeToo movement. You'll either find it fascinating or infuriating. Click here to discover her powerful perspective. 

Insightful Voices on What's Next After #METOO Cultural Explosion

December 31, 2017

The New York Times recently gathered seven wise women for an insightful, roundtable discussion of the challenges and complexity of moving forward in the wake of the Silence Breakers and #METOO explosions of 2017.  One year of outing predators is just the beginning. How do we turn this moment of cultural reckoning into a positive turn on our evolutinary wheel?  Lots of thoughtful insight in this fascinating discussion about Work, Fairness, Sex and Ambition. 

Best Women's Writing on 2017 Issues

December 27, 2017

Huffington Post has compiled a fabulous collection of the most compelling commentaries written by women writers in 2017. For the next few weeks, I'm going to regularly share these outstanding voices with you. Many of the pieces are related to one of the biggest stories of the year: the #METOO explosion.   Here's "Y'All Don't Deserve Black Women," by Ashley Nkadi and first published in THE ROOT. 

What's Next After #METOO?

December 27, 2017

As one disturbing #MeToo story after another plays out before our national consciousness, I’ve started wondering what the best of our men are thinking. Our brothers, husbands, sons and trusted friends. Perhaps the reason so few males realize how frequently females experience or escape from unwanted sexual attention, harassment or assault is because we don’t tell them. Here are my thoughts on how we can move past "outing predators" and venting and forward to healthier gender dyanamics.  

What's Next After #MeToo?

December 23, 2017

December 23, 2017 -- Auburn Hills, Michigan USA

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers:

As one disturbing #MeToo story after another plays out before our national consciousness, I’ve started wondering what the best of our men are thinking. Our brothers, husbands, sons and trusted friends. Fathers, too, if you are lucky enough to still have yours.

None of the stories – not even the obscenest, nor the abundance of them – has surprised me. What has given me pause, though, is the reaction of so many well-intentioned, wonderful men who have said, “I had no idea how pervasive this is!" 

Women are all too aware of the menacing, gender iceberg that is always lurking just beneath the surface of our daily lives. Nearly all of us have been scraped by its sharp edges. Most have been at least cut or even sliced deeply. The unluckiest haven’t lived to share their stories.

In millions of deeply ingrained ways, every culture teaches females and males different stories about who we are, our place in the world and how to navigate it safely. Little boys are encouraged to learn to protect themselves from likely aggression from other males. Because most females don’t have the physical strength to out-muscle nearly any male we will encounter, girls are taught from an early age to stay out of harm’s way.

The most likely harm we must always be on guard against is from unwanted male attention. Attention that always has the potential to turn sexual. And, if we don’t cooperate, dangerous.

I've been puzzled that not one of the  most beloved men in my life has thought (or dared?) to ask, “Anne, have you ever experienced sexual harassment, or worse?” The only person who did was a radio host who was stunned by my on-air answer

Men Don't Ask. Perhaps the reason so few males realize how frequently females experience or escape from unwanted sexual attention, harassment or assault is because we don’t tell them. So, I decided to write a letter to the closest men in my life. By the time I finished, it was five, typed pages, but too painful to share.  

As I opened my memory file-drawer, scenes I’d forgotten came flooding back. They are never really forgotten, of course. Each one leaves its mark, impacting how we move through the world. And, hopefully, how we are listening now to the deluge of wounded women who are finally sharing their stories and confronting their predators.   

My earliest memory is from age 11 when a teenage boy, a stranger, tried to drag me into a neighbor’s dark garage. I knew I was in danger and ran. I never saw that boy again, but I met many of his cohorts over the years. Some were merely hanging out of cars yelling vulgarities at me, or grabbing at their crotches and hissing something obscene in my ear as we passed on the street.

Others caught me in the dark, at a moment when I made the mistake of simply being alone -- or trusting someone I thought was a friend.

And then there’s the mocking disrespect, the disdain, the sexual innuendo that all violate a woman's sense of personal safety. As a lone, female sports reporter interviewing athletes in locker rooms, I regularly absorbed gender hostility. That was considered the price of entry for women of my generation who dared to tackle all-male work environments, imposing ourselves where we were not wanted. In every decade of my life, I have been routinely reminded -- even by men who claimed to love me --  that physically over-powering me was always an option. 

But here's the saddest part of all this: there's nothing special or unusual about my experiences. Nearly every woman I know, who has lived long enough, can match me story for story. 

Dysfunctional, gender dynamics have wreaked havoc from Congressional hallways and network newsrooms to Hollywood casting couches and auto industry plant floors. Blue collar women at Ford Motor Company have endured decades of apalling harassment. And yet, it goes on and on. 

Time magazine got it right. The courageous Silence Breakers of 2017, who begn this national cleansing with the January Women's March on Washington, DC., brought this simmering outrage to a full boil with a steady drumbeat of stunning revelations about powerful men. Roger Ailes. Bill O'Reilly. Harvey Weinstein. Charlie Rose. Louis C.K. Matt Lauer. Roy Moore. John Conyers. Al Franken. Our Comander-in-Chief.

What's Next? Now that the lid has finally blown off our Pandora's box of decades (no, centuries) of gender injustice, the only thing that really matters is, What happens next? Will this moment of national reckoning lead to a forward turn on our evolutionary wheel, or will it be a mere passing blip on our cultural radar? Here are my top three forward steps:     

1) Millennials Will Lead. It is young women – millennials who thought the gender wars were behind us and are stunned at what older women have been tolerating – who are leading on this issue. 

Katie Couric tolerated Matt Lauer "pinching her on the butt" for years. Taylor Swift outed and sued the DJ who tried the same with her. Meryl Streep once called Harvey Weinstein “God” on Oscar night and claimed she didn’t know about his abuse of young actresses. Rose McGowan defied the Weinstein empire and publicly accused him of rape. The U.S. Congress established its own taxpayer-funded slush fund to handle these situations – and paid out $17 million over the last 20 years to cover them up. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other women members of Congress led the demand for “zero tolerance” that toppled Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers.

2) Male Confusion is Unacceptable. This is not about flirting or extra-marital affairs.  The #METOO movement is about the pervasive male trespassing on women's bodies and psychological safety. Vice President Pence's solution of never having lunch or dinner with a woman without his wife is insulting to men who can control their sexual appetites.

3) Start With Our Kids. We must innoculate our girls to be prepared for the gender harassment virus they will inevitably face. They shouldn't be too shocked to protect themselves when it happens. And it's time to turn our attention to the gender norms our culture imposes on boys. We've spent decades teaching girls to be strong women. It's time to teach our boys the power of being sweet men.   

True leaders step up and lead at the right moment, which is nearly always long before it’s easy. We are at a moment in time when women’s evolutionary march toward equality is drawing us close to a critical mass of influence. We are finding the courage to raise our voices -- collectively. The non-apology apologies rain on deaf ears.  There is no turning back.

To my Sisters everywhere I plead, "Keep raising your voices." Begin by telling your stories to other women. Then share them with men who love you. Don’t wait for them to ask. Most don't know how. Or, perhaps they are afraid of what our answers will be. 

To my Brothers everywhere I ask, "Are you listening?"

The truth will set us free.  Have a peaceful holiday! Anne 

Bullying Boys and Bystander Enablers

October 13, 2017

 

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers,

 

Are you as shell-shocked as I am by the barrage of cultural and physical bullying dominating America's mindset?  The dysfunctional, nasty and even criminal behavior is so pervasive, with fresh examples coming so fast that I barely have time to soak in the implications of one before I'm stunned by the next. Las Vegas. Harvey Weinstein. Roger Ailes. "Don't you dare 'take a knee.'" Women's health is against my religion! Charlottesville. "Fire her!" I look at major news stories in a cultural context. Not as isolated events, but as connected threads and bellwethers of the society we are weaving. I'm distraught about the direction my country is heading. Bullying, backlash, fear and male power seem to be unchecked, while millions of bystanders lacking courage or moral fiber quietly enable the dysfunction. Where are our leaders?  

 

Here a few of my thoughts on current examples of America in cultural crisis. 

  

Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Scandal. Are you surprised? I'm not. Disgusted, yes. And furious that powerful men continue to prey on young women. Whether it's Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas, John F. Kennedy or sexual trafficking, domestic violence and child marriage, this has been going on for centuries.  Do I think that this scandal is a sea change? I doubt it. Instead, I see the present reaction to the Weinstein, Ailes and Cosby sexual assault scandals as very similar to our behavior following mass shootings, such as the recent massacre in Las Vegas. Big stories grab the headlines and our national attention for a few weeks, at most. But nothing will change. We'll continue allowing citizens to stockpile weapons of war, and boards of directors will continue protecting sexual assaulters who are good for the bottom line. Not until dismayed Americans DEMAND change and stop looking the other way, ignoring the rumors, doubting the victims and accepting "boys will be boys/locker room behavior," will anything change, except for one predator finally getting caught.  Sadly, our iceberg of sexual assult and hostile work environments for women is as large as the national arsenal of American citizens. 

 

Take-A-Knee --  I see Colin Kaepernick as a leader. A patriot willing to risk his career to help our nation live up to our ideals of equality. Becoming the "more perfect union" our founding fathers and mothers imagined and fought for, doesn't just happen. It takes courageous leadership.  Not just in the beginning, but always.  Athletes, beginning with other NFL players and growing to include the WNBA, high school students and entertainers who have followed Kaepernick's lead to protest police violence that disproportionately affects African Americans are not disrespecting our flag or our troops. They are taking responsibility as active citizens. Challenging, perhaps shaming us to live up to our purported values. Disrespect for our "united nation" is not taking a knee during a song. It is flying a Confederate flag, insulting a United States senator who was a prisoner of war, groping female citizens at will, tempting World War III. 

 

Quarterback Cam Newton Insults Female Sports Reporter -- I was not the least bit surprised to hear Panther QB Cam Newton's insulting response to an excellent question from NFL beat reporter  Jourdan Rodrigue. "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton said, chuckling. "It's funny." No it's not funny. But the good news is that none of the other male sportswriters in the room enjoyed his joke. They met his comment with stoney silence. Then, multiple male journalists around the country wrote commentaries criticizing Newton's neanderthal behavior. Dannon Yogurt dropped him as a product spokesman.  It's not just in the world of sports where females have endured unwelcoming (and much worse!) work environments. It is only when male colleagues get "in the game" with us as vocal, active allies that our culture will truly overcome sexual harassment, misogyny and both conscious and unconscious bias. Thank you guys! 

 

Suspension of ESPN Host Jemele Hill -- Because I was one of the first female TV sportsbroadcasters in this country and helped open sports locker rooms to female reporters (1978-1984), I want ESPN host Jemele Hill to succeed. That's why I initially thought she made a mistake in calling President Trump a "white supremacist" on Twitter.  A "personal twitter feed' for a public figure is an oxymoron. There is no such thing. I thought she crossed the line between sports commenting and political commenting. But she persisted in speaking up about national issues that concerned her. Now, ESPN has suspended her for two weeks.  Raising your voice during times of crisis when too many others are silent, takes courage. So, instead of criticizing Hill, I'm wondering why a sports commentator or NFL athletes should be held to different standards than our President -- who has called for the firing of both Hill and kneeling NFL players. Keep raising your voice, Jemele.  We need you -- not only covering sports, but speaking your truth as a woman of color refusing to be silent about racism.  

 

Bernie Sanders Opening Speaker for Women's March Conference --  I don't get this. If your slogan is, "It's Our Time to Lead," why would you not model your own motto? Of course men are essential allies in the fight for women's equality. When Susan B. Anthony opened the very first National Conference of American women in Seneca Falls, NY in 1948, Frederick Douglas and other men were with her. But Anthony and other suffragists led the convention. Bernie Sanders is one reason why the historic opportunity to elect the first woman president slipped away; perhaps for my lifetime. So, I won't be at the Women's Conference to hear him speak, although it is being held this month here in Detroit. Instead, I'll be in Houston at the World Leadership Conference of the International Women's Forum. And guess who we'll be inducting into the IWF Global Hall of Fame? Hillary Clinton, a leader who has done more to advance women and girls all over the world than Bernie Sanders has ever thought about.  

 

Battle of the Sexes. Finally, if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and go see Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone as the legendary Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as self-described "male chauvanist" Bobby Riggs.  It's great! And take a few Millenials with you (my 24-year-old son, Kevin, loved it.) Hopefully, the movie will inspire them to pick up the torch of women's equality. Millenials are my greatest hope for once again hearing women Roar. 

 

Raise your Voice!  Anne 

The Anticipated Roar That Dissolved To A Whisper

November 15, 2016

November 15, 2016 -- Auburn Hills, Michigan USA 

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers: 

I have been in a state of shock, grief, horror and growing despair over our U.S. presidential election for the past week. Thank you to so many of you who have been in touch out of personal concern for  me, as well as over the implications for the entire global family of a Trump presidency. I've been trying to process my many, complex feelings.

I worked hard throughout this long, presidential campaign, hosting a Clinton campaign staffer in my home for months, helping to register voters and  knocking hundreds of doors.  I even dressed as a Suffragette for Halloween.

My first reaction was that of millions here in the United States and throughout the world: STUNNED SHOCK. Initially, it was nearly impossible for me to believe that American voters would put a rookie without a pilot's license at the controls of our national 747.  But they did. 

My shock was followed by GRIEF. I felt as if someone I loved deeply had died suddenly and unexpectedly. Instead of preparing myself for a possible loss, I was naively anticipating over-the-moon joy. Bearing bottles of champagne, close friends gathered with me to watch one of the most respected leaders in the world, a person who has been on the front lines of the global fight for the rights and empowerment of women and girls my entire life, help our nation take an historic and gigantic step forward for womankind and human rights. But that was not to be.

The day after the election, I received these beautiful flowers from a dear friend who was with me on election night. I burst into tears when I read the card with Helen Reddy's memorable words: "You can bend but never break me, for you'll only serve to make me more determined to achieve my final goal." 

The HORROR I feel began with the realization that my nation, which was founded with a system of checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of federal government, will have no BALANCE for at least the next two years. The Republican Party, with its conservative agenda that has had controlling women's rights at the top of its agenda for decades, will now control the U.S. presidency, both Houses of Congress, and nominations for the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as federal judgeships.  My horror has only continued to grow as I have heard the names of people Donald Trump is choosing and considering for positions of power and influence in his Administration. Mike Pence, vice president. Steven, Bannon, chief strategistRudolf Giuliani. Chris Christie. Sarah Palin. Newt Gingrich, Betsy DeVos and Dr. Ben Carson (possible Cabinet appointments). 

But it is my DESPAIR that has cut the deepest, because it is about everything I have stood for, believed in and worked towards for my entire adult life. There are two pieces to my depair.

The first is about one of the fundamental lessons of this historic election. If Hillary Rodham Clinton had been elected, which she actually was by the POPULAR VOTE, the story heard 'round the world would have been: "USA Takes Gigantic Step Foward Toward Gender Equality, Electing First Female President." But that's not what happened.


So, notwithstanding all of the other forces at work in this historic election, the fact that voters backed away from what would have been an historic and gigantic step forward for women is still a huge part of the story, and carries a brutal lesson. 

As I told WJR radio when they called me on election night, "The choice of a vulgar and frighteningly unprepared man to become president over one of the most qualified leaders ever to run for president of the United States is a stunning metaphor and powerful evidence that it just doesn't matter how QUALIFIED a woman is for leadership. Women as well as men are still willing to settle for a mediocre, offensive male leader over a woman they "just don't like." My deepest pain over this election result is one that millions of women share. We've had to come face-to-face with the stunning realization that even "dancing backwards and in high heels" isn't enough. Regardless of a woman's superior education, experience, track record, accomplishments, brainpower and work ethic, credentials will NEVER BE ENOUGH. As comedian Joy Behar profoundly put it, "I've learned from this election that a man can get away with ANYTHING, and a woman can get away with NOTHING." 

The other part of my despair has been about SISTERHOOD. I've come to believe that Hillary Clinton's biggest mistake in this election has been my mistake for decades. The idea that female human beings share a sense of sisterhood solidarity with collective clout that can be leveraged to help lift girls and women throughout the world was a fundamental building block of Clinton's campaign. It has also been one of my core values. "Every woman for herself is a losing strategy," is one of my mantras. 

Is Sisterhood a myth? I'm struggling with that. Hillary won women's votes overall (54%), thanks to the support of African American (94%) and Hispanic (68%) women. But I cannot fathom how or why white women -- who chose Trump over Clinton (53% to 43%) --  could turn their backs on a stunningly accomplished female leader who has been on the front lines of championing their economic opportunities and legal rights for over forty years.

In the 2008 presidential election, 96% of African American voters supported Barack Obama. If women had supported Hillary Clinton in numbers anywhere close to that, she would have been elected by a landslide. I'm having to come to terms with the fact millions of "my American sisters" were willing to accept an abundance of t-shirts reading "Trump That Bitch," yard signs advocating "Hillary for Prison" and even video evidence of Donald Trump's fondness for "pussy grabbing," while walking away from an unprecedented opportunity to make HER-STORY with powerful, positive implications for half of the human race.

As the Atlantic magazine wrote, "what women should strive for, how they should be treated, and even what they should havwe the right to do, are far from uncontested ideas in American society." 

I'm working to regain my joy and put my shoulder back to the evolutinary wheel pushing uphill for the human rights arc of history, with the help of friends and my fantastic son, Kevin, who took me out to dinner and a Marvel movie (Dr. Strange - it's great!) to get me out of my funk!

What's next? I have a plane ticket to be in Washington, DC in January for what I thought would be an Inauguration for the history books. I'm still going, but it will be to raise my voice and walk shoulder-to-shoulder with my like-minded Sisters and Brothers as part of the "Million Women March" at the Lincoln Memorial on January 21, 2017.  That, too, will be one for the history books.  

My only hope is to live long enough to hear women's whispering rise to a mighty roar. 

Sleepless in Motown, Anne 

 

Hear Us Roar!

October 16, 2016

Months of hateful language against multiple minority groups, as well as the proliferation of anti-Hillary signs and t-shirts proclaiming: "Lock her up!" or "Trump that Bitch!", were bad enough. But it was the explosive release of video evidence of Donald Trump in sexual predator mode that opened a cultural Pandora's box of gender pain, denial and outrage in America.  

I have my own litany of deep emotional bruises and scars from male interactions I've tried to forget. I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't. So, how am I dealing with all of this? I've often found myself humming Helen Reddy's powerful 1971 anthem. 

"I am woman, hear me roar. In numbers too big to ignore. And I know too much to go back and pretend." 

Wise Women Words

I've been soothed in the last 10 days by four powerful women who have raised their voices in outrage and shared their wisdom on how to keep reaching toward the light. They've given me hope that this painful labor is giving birth to another leap foward in human evolution. Women are on the rise throughout the world. And there is no turning back. 

"Cause I've heard it all before. And I've been down there on the floor. No one's ever going to keep me down again." 


Michelle Obama: "Enough is Enough."
In a speech for the ages, America's most respected public figure gave voice to women and girls everywhere who are all-too-familiar with the fear and pain of gender disrespect, humiliation and violation. If you have not heard her words, please listen. They will go down in herstory as a defining moment and a call heard round the world for women and men who respect and love them to stand up and roar, enough is enough! 

"Oh yes, I am wise. But it's wisdom born of pain. Yes, I've paid the price, but look how much I've gained."


Gloria Steinem:
"Go Toward Freedom."
Just a few days ago, I was lucky enough to spend an evening with Gloria Steinem on the campus of Michigan State University. What did Gloria say about what feels like a culturally dangerous time in America? 

She responded with the metaphor of domestic violence, telling the audience: "The most dangerous time for victims in abusive relationships is when they try to escape. That's when they are most likely to be killed or suffer the worst beatings. It takes great courage for victims to make the leap toward freedom." Steinem told us she is not surprised by the stunning, gender-specific backlash against the first woman to seriously challenge the male monopoly on the most powerful leaadership position in the world. "We have arrived at a moment in history where the female half of the human race is reaching a tipping point of escaping from thousands of years of subjugation in culturally-abusive relationships. No wonder it feels so dangerous,"Steinem, now 82, told us. "Take care of each other and keep pushing for equality for all. It is our only path to freedom." 

 "You can bend but never break me. 'Cause it only serves to make me. More determined to achieve my final goal. And I come back even stronger. Not a novice any longer. 'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul." 

Phumzile Mlambo-Nqcuka & Kah Walla:  "Why Are American Women So Quiet?" My third source of inspiration comes from two courageous African leaders I was with at the recent World Leadership Conference of the International Women's Forum. Over 900 women from 40 nations gathered in Chicago.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, was inducted into the IWF Hall of Fame at the conference. Kah Walla, a political leader from Cameroon who has been imprisoned multiple times for challenging and running for president against her nation's 32-year dictator president, was the closing keynote speaker. Both used their moments on stage to express their dismay and challenge American women to flex their collective clout.

"Why," Walla asked the stunned audience, "have American women been so quiet as one of the most respected leaders in the world -- who happens to be a woman -- has been repeatedly demeaned and insulted on the global stage?" 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka put it this way: "Don't Americans realize that Hillary Clinton's election would not just be a breakthought for the U.S., it would be a world changer!" 

At moments like this, I ask myself, "What would Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro and Coretta Scott King do if they were with us today? I have no doubt they would say, What are you waiting for? The moment is at hand. The world is watching and waiting." 

 "If I have to, I can do anything! I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman!" 

Let them hear you Roar!  

 

 

On the Eve of Significant Leadership Change

April 20, 2016

I know. I know. I've heard from quite a few of you who have been wondering why it has been several months since I was last in touch. The answer is in this photo. Her name is La Brava (spanish for brave female), and she was my Christmas present to myself. Brava is now five months old, house-trained and beginning to calm down a bit. So, I can finally begin turning my attention to more than simply integrating the "new baby" into my household.  

The other reason for my blog silence is that I haven't felt that I had anything new to say or compelling enough to share with all of you. My lens on the world is that of a journalist. I'm always looking for "the story." What's new? Where are the cultural edges? Based on USA news coverage for the last few months, you'd think there was nothing else happening in the world other than the incessant verbal abuse that Republican and Democratic presidential "wanna-bes" have been hurling at each other. All I can say about the present state of the U.S. presidential campaign is simply this: "I can hardly wait to see the TV debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump!"

Finaally Some News Worth Mentioning: We're On the Eve of Significant Change. The cultural tide carrying talented, skilled women leaders to positions of significant power and global influence is about to come in. I've sensed for some time that a gigantic wave of change was beginning to surge. Because the old narratives about women and leadership are as worn-out and as irrelevant as those 1980's "dress for success" female bow-ties.

You know the platitudes: Needing to fill the talent pipelines. Fixing women to fit in to Neanderthal work cultures and master male behaviors. Walking the tightrope between being too passive or perceived as a bitch. And, of course, being realistic about work/life balance. Men can be both high-achievers and good parents;women, however, must choose. We could sense that times have been "a changin'." But finally, there's evidence that enough women (an emergent critical mass) have achieved executive leadership positions to be successfully leading transformational change. 

The Everest Project is an unprecedented study of how women are successfully leading change and innovation in corporate America. Its first report, "Eve of Change: Redefining Corporate America," has just been released. I was alerted to this ground-breaking research by personal friends at EY (formerly Ernst & Young), one of the study's sponsors. Everest Project Co-Founders and study authors Pamela Carlton and Lily Tang call the compelling insights revealed by their findings, "A call to action to CEOs, senior executives and all women executives (1) to examine opportunities for leading change and creating cultures of innovation and (2) to fully support women executives who in many respects are leading the way." Here is how Carlton and Tang summarize several of their Key Findings.  

Finding 1: Women Lead Transformational Change. Women executives who are effectively leading -- aka "Everest Women" -- are actually transforming companies, through not only their own behavior as role models, but also as catalysts for collective behavior change in corporate America.

Finding 2: Women Embrace Smart Risk. "Contrary to popular belief," the authors report, "women often take significant risk on behalf of their organizations." In my book, POWERING UP!I call this leadership skill the ability to Drink at Dangerous Waters. It includes everthing from having the courage to voice a contrarian opinion, even when you are the only woman in the room, to being willing to throw assumptions about "how we've always done things" out the window.  

Finding 3: Humility is the New Power Tool. But be careful, Carlton and Tang advise. "Confidence and credibility are prerequisites for leading with humility, which is all about the delicate balancing act between signaling leadership presence without being perceived as too agreessive or arrogant." The gender tightrope that women leaders must walk is a little wider thesse days, but navigating it well still takes skill. 

Finding 4: Collaboration is Not Consensus. Everest Women take the view from ten thousand feet across the organization, communicate well, are open to new ideas and encourage healthy debate. But they also understand that it eventually falls to take the critical step forward.   

Finding 5: Difference is More. I wrote an entire chapter in POWERING UP! about the leadership skill I call "Womaninity," to explain why leading as a woman is no longer a weakness to be overcome; it is a strength to be leveraged. Everest Report authors Carlton and Tang agree. "Because of their difference, women are multidimensionally competent," they report. "Women who have figured out how to use their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and cultural background as part of their leadership toolkit, bring far more to the table for their corporations and teams." 

This is fascinating and actionable insight. I urge you to download the report, read it and share it.

I'm Celebrating:

  • Roberta Gibb's 50th anniversary as the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon.  
  • Harriet Tubman about to replace former slave owner Andrew Jackon on the $20 bill. 

I'm Watching:

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advocating for male engagement in gender parity at this year's Davos World Economic Forum 
  • Confirmation -- HBO's excellent new movie on the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas showdown that held our nation spellbound 25 years ago and deepened our understanding of sexual harassment. 

I'm Reading:  

  

Next month, I'm travelling to Tel Aviv to participate in my 12th global conference of the International Women's Forum, one of the preeminent networks of women leaders from every continent. As the newly elected president of the Michigan IWF chapter, this will be the first time that I will participate in the President's Council sessions, as well. The content is always cutting edge and this year's theme is, "Seek, Solve, Soar." I promise to take great notes and to share the most compelling insights and stories  . . . SOON! 

Spring Greetings from Motown - a city beginning to rise again.  Anne 

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Tells Women, "It is Time to Stop Being Politely Angry."

March 12, 2012

When Liberian leader Leymah Gbowee, winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, speaks people listen.  And wait till you hear the challenge she issued to the women gathered at the 2012 Women in the World Summit last week in New York.  

I was there for every riveting moment.  Here's the column I just wrote about the event for Forbeswoman.  

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