The ‘Sisterhood’ Isn’t Working For All Women in Business—Yet
The evolution of women leaders has been a journey—from the stereotype of the ‘dragon lady’ of yore, to the ‘sisterhood’. But the sisterhood now needs to evolve and become more intersectional—encompassing race, gender and sexuality—in a post #Metoo world, panelists at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., argued on Tuesday.
Kristin Lemkau, Chief Marketing Officer, JPMorgan acknowledged, “The sisterhood is a great thing, but we haven’t done a great job of bringing everyone along. The sisterhood fails if we don’t bring along women of color with us. We need to sit and talk together and do that.” That conversation, according to Dina Powell McCormick, a partner at Goldman Sachs, starts with recognizing and acknowledging the issue of the lack of intersectionality and being honest about where the failings are. She says data on diversity needs to be top of mind for leadership teams in companies and must be consistently questioned.
But data doesn’t always painted a clear picture of failings, according to Rachel Holt, Uber’s Head of New Mobility. She cited the fact that the data did not show a huge attrition problem at Uber in 2017, and that in some ways masked the myriad issues female employees were facing at the company.
Post #Metoo, there is now a clear need for conversations that rely on far more than just data. Dialogues about intersectional diversity must be ongoing with both women and men, said Opal Perry, Chief Information Officer at Hertz Global Holdings, with a push toward looking beyond personal biases. Women on the panel did cite some encouraging developments: for instance, ‘vulnerability’ is now considered an acceptable trait for a leader to display. And more mentoring is helping expose younger workers to diverse women in positions of power.
The choice now, is whether the post #MeToo moment is one just for women, or an opportunity to be a lasting moment, for the good of everyone in the workplace.
More must-read stories from Fortune’s MPW Summit:
—How a corporate board can engage on company culture
—Female directors agree a “blunt instrument is necessary” to get women on boards
—How to avoid the biggest ‘decision trap’ in business
—Peloton’s CFO has “so much sympathy” for WeWork
—Corporate pivots are often disruptive. They don’t have to be
Keep up with the world’s most powerful women with Fortune’s Broadsheet newsletter.