The Role of Visible Role Models in Closing the Gender Gap

Last month, I joined the UN Foundation, UN Women, the GEDI Institute, and a group of policymakers, corporate leaders and NGOs in Washington, D.C. for a discussion on closing the opportunity gap for women, and we all agreed that the time is now to bring this issue to the forefront.  The key take away from that conversation was that we need to focus on sustainable actions. Earlier this month, we did just that by bringing women entrepreneurs and digital media innovators together in San Francisco to discuss how to achieve growth and help one another scale.

My biggest takeaway from our discussion: We need successful women entrepreneurs to serve as role models that inspire others. As outlined in our Gender GEDI Index, many women don’t know a woman entrepreneur nor have role models they can relate to which can inhibit their confidence around starting a business.

This is where digital and social media platforms become doubly important. Beyond building networks, when we actively share stories of women leaders, across technology, business, government and philanthropy, we inspire the next generation of women to become entrepreneurs, inventors, CEOs and leaders.

Founder of Women 2.0, Shaherose Charania, pointed out that 80 percent of the news is about people, but only 12 percent of those stories focus on women. Media innovators like Jesse Draper, creator and host of The Valley Girl Show, are changing this by committing to having 50 percent women founders and CEOs as guests. And we can do even more to amplify these inspiring stories across personal networks and on broad-reaching platforms.

Additionally, many of the entrepreneurs at the table noted that having access to networks is imperative to find resources, including funding and support, for the long term. Five years ago, we founded #DWEN to do just that – help women entrepreneurs with access to capital, networks, knowledge and technology.

But it’s not just about women helping women. Men play a critical role in creating opportunities for more women leaders.  Following our discussion in San Francisco around how men increasing their involvement with women’s networks is paramount to change, I was thrilled to see UN Women and Emma Watson – herself a great example of a visible role model – launch the #HeForShe campaign to mobilize one billion men and boys as advocates and agents of change in ending the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls. At Dell, we have a group of men who are engaged in a new program aimed at galvanizing solutions that will create lasting benefit for women in IT – a traditionally male-dominated sector.  They are part of the MARC initiative – Men Advocating Real Change – a community that is currently being incubated by Catalyst, an organization Dell supports that advocates for greater opportunity for women in the workplace.

These developments inspire me to keep the dialogue going and leverage Dell’s global footprint and influence to shine a light on women role models via Dell’s news site, TechPageOne, our @DellInnovators and #DWEN Twitter following and in our LinkedIn group, as well as through our global women entrepreneur networking events and the research we sponsor. Please follow us to join the conversation and help amplify the stories of the incredible women trailblazers!

(Left side, front-to-back: Emily Murase, executive director, San Francisco Department on the Status of Women; Eurie Kim, principal, Forerunner Ventures; Karen Quintos, CMO, Dell; Shaherose Charania, founder and CEO, Women 2.0; Jane D’Alessandro, EVP of business development and strategy & general counsel, Backplane; Pree Walia, head of partnerships, Women 2.0; Right side, front-to-back:  Kimberlie Cerrone, co-founder and CEO, Tiatros; Kat Gordon, founder, The 3% Conference and Maternal Instinct; Elizabeth Gore, entrepreneur-in-residence, UN Foundation, Jesse Draper, creator and host, The Valley Girl Show; Sarah Granger, author, The Digital Mystique; Sumaya Kazi, founder and CEO, Sumazi; Jane Sloane, VP of programs, The Global Fund for Women; Diane Kegley, CMO, RichRelevance; Not pictured: Blair Palmer, Lab Lead, UNICEF Innovation)

Karen Quintos

About the Author: Karen Quintos

Karen Quintos is Dell’s first Chief Customer Officer (CCO), leading a global organization devoted to customer advocacy. Under Karen’s leadership, the CCO organization defines and develops Dell’s customer experience strategy and programs, with the goals of maximizing customer satisfaction, acquisition, retention and profitability. Karen is also responsible for Dell’s strategy and programs for Corporate Social Responsibility, Diversity & Inclusion and Entrepreneurship — business imperatives she is passionate about and that matter to our customers and team members around the world. Previously at Dell, Karen served as senior vice president and Chief Marketing Officer; vice president of Public Sector Marketing and North America Commercial; and she also held executive roles in services, support and supply chain management. Karen joined Dell in 2000 from Citigroup, where she was vice president of Global Operations and Technology. She spent 12 years with Merck in marketing, operations and supply chain leadership positions. Karen earned a master’s degree in marketing and international business from New York University, and a Bachelor of Science in supply chain management from Pennsylvania State University. She is on the board of Lennox International and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She is also on the board of Penn State's Smeal College of Business, and a 2014 recipient of its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award. Karen was listed among the most influential CMOs in the world by Forbes, and named 'Mother of the Year' by Working Mother magazine. She resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three children.