With straight-talk, solid statistics and a light touch, Dr. Judy Giordan - author, speaker and champion of women and their careers discussed strengths and weaknesses of women as a group and areas where she thought companies could step up. Her presentation “Personal and Business Growth and Development – Powered by Innovation” was delivered to 450 Ingersoll Rand listeners in a company-wide webinar on March 14.
Dr. Giordan’s talk was part of the Ingersoll Rand Women’s Network Employee Resource Group’s events in recognition of Women’s History Month in March. In the global spirit, Women’s Network Chairperson Tracy Kemp, vice president Information Technology for Residential Solutions, kicked off the meeting, which was held in the company’s Davidson, N.C., headquarters, from Carmel, Ind., while listeners tuned in from company meeting rooms and their homes all around the world.
Statistics Tell the Story
Early in her half-hour talk, Dr. Giordan cited statistics that reinforced the business case for diversity. For example, she said, “Fortune 500 firms with the best records of putting women at the top are 18 to 69 percent more profitable.”
She didn’t sugarcoat the statistics that were not quite so easy on the ear. For example, she said that of all the proposals submitted for angel investing, according to a University of NH study, only 9 percent are from women compared to 92 percent from men. However, the women’s requests were granted at the same rate as were the men’s. “What is our problem, ladies?” she asked. “Why don’t we show up?”
Based on data from an NSF funded study, Project Enhance, the single strongest factor in success is confidence. “Stop beating yourselves up,” she told her audience. “Remember, what you are making (at Ingersoll Rand) helps billions of people feel good about themselves every day.”
She encouraged women to “identify, propose and develop a business strategy aligned with business goals,” but also acknowledged that “Women can’t do it alone; companies must take action. The challenge is taking action and accepting that the time to act, decisively and with confidence, to promote women, create balance and corporate value, while enhancing reputation, is now.”
A Lively Q&A Session Follows Talk
After her talk, Dr. Giordan took questions from the audience. She commented on a listener’s concerns about how to grow personally and help the business in a large company such as Ingersoll Rand (“Percolate up through the Women’s Network.”); a recent Wall Street Journal article “The Tyranny of the Queen Bee” that maintained that powerful women weren’t mentoring others (“sensationalism gets the headlines!”); and about confidence being perceived as “bossiness.” (“This is where women can help other women.”)
In a career that has spanned 30 years, Dr. Giordan, who holds a Ph. D. in Chemistry, has served in executive positions at some of the world’s top brands. She is the recipient of the 2010 Francis Garvin-John Olin Medal of the American Chemical Society, which is one of the industry’s highest honors. Her current activities include serving as a Partner in ecosVC, a venture development and funder; and she is co-founder of the Chemical Angel Network, which helps fund and mentor early stage chemical companies.
The Women’s Network is the first of the company’s employee resource groups, which are being created to foster a progressive, diverse and inclusive culture. The group now includes 13 Chapters worldwide.