Geraldine Laybourne, founder of Oxygen Media, currently sits on Symantecís Board of Directors. Here she shares her perspective onÖ
The diversity of thought: Companies need both male and female perspectives on their Board of Directors and in various departments to be successful. When I started my career, there were no studies on what women bring to business. That reality is changing. A recent Catalyst study, for example, found that companies with three or more women on the Board of Directors outperformed their competition.
Women serving on corporate boards: Women havenít been inside the board room for very long. In some ways, I think that inexperience works to our advantage. Women will ask common sense questions that a long-standing board member might not. Women add a fresh perspective to the conversation.
Unfortunately, we are still a long way from having adequate female representation on corporate boards in the United States. I think the economic crisis will raise a lot of questions about how we got here in the first place.
Advising women in the corporate world: The closer we are to our customers, the better we understand their needs, and the better we will do our jobs. For that reason, I encourage women to develop relationships across the industry. Learn why suppliers want products to perform a certain way. Volunteer to be part of industry committees. Be open-minded, listen well, voice your opinions, process information quickly, and put in the effort.
Having friends in business helps get work done. Symantecís SWAN program is a terrific outlet for that. That kind of camaraderie is really important in business. Itís a way of networking and building powerful relationships.
What makes a company a great place for women to work: Great companies have cultures that reward performance and not just hours spent on the job. I have seen companies where loyalty is defined as putting in 14 hour days and coming in on Saturdays. Human beings need time off and reasonable expectations.
It is also important to realize that compensation is not the only motivator. Employees want to feel like they are making a difference. They want to understand how their role fits into the bigger picture.