Fostering Women’s Leadership Starts With Your Friends

It turns out the advice is true – breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Last week I joined 650 leaders for breakfast at a meeting of The Boston Club, a community of women executives promoting the advancement of women to significant and visible leadership roles. The Boston Club began as a small but dedicated group that started nearly 40 years ago. It has now grown to an organization of almost 700 members spanning a broad array of industries and professions, as well as business owners and entrepreneurs who connect both as a “club and a cause.” The meeting I attended began at 7:15 on a Friday morning, and you would be surprised how many people enjoy starting the day with a healthy discussion about women’s leadership.

I was fortunate enough to sit next to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who gave the keynote address to the packed room. Governor Baker, who has direct experience as a Chief Executive Officer in the private sector, encouraged everyone to continue efforts to bring more women into leadership positions. He challenged those who continually question women’s “readiness” to be leaders and cited the valuable asset that women have had for years – our professional networks – as key to advancing the cause.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker addresses members of The Boston Club
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker addresses members of The Boston Club

The governor advised us to “make new friends” who will help us transform the representation of women in leadership positions. Governor Baker described his own journey to increase the number of women in leadership positions in state government (where everything really is political) and how he has learned to ignore differences such as party affiliations to bring in the best candidate, wherever she may be.

My next breakfast will feature coffee for 10,000. I’m lucky enough to be attending the Massachusetts Conference for Women, which is held every year in Boston but draws attendees from all over the world. The talent and power in the room is impressive, and it gives me added confidence to know that the advocates for women’s leadership are continuing to grow and strengthen. Conference speakers include thought leaders from corporations, television, fashion, politics and academia, just to name a few.

Wherever in the world you are reading this, I hope you will join me in one of my 2016 resolutions: to make new friends, and renew connections with long-standing ones. The Massachusetts Conference for Women is just one opportunity to expand your network, and there are many others throughout the world. Attend one in your area and add your voice and vision to the mix. The impact we can have on women’s leadership is profound, and we can all share in the results of a fully inclusive workplace that we build and sustain together.

About the Author: Erin McSweeney

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