Lynne Abraham Challenges Women to Seek CEO Roles
Lynne Abraham‘s mayoral campaign may have faltered, but her message to women is clear: Go for it.
In her concession speech, Abraham said more women “ought to get the gumption and grit” to run for political office or seek out CEO and CFO roles at companies. She should know, she’s just the second woman in Philadelphia’s 334 year history to run for mayor and faced off against five men in debate after debate.
Shortly after her speech, I sat down with Abraham to discuss women’s roles in the future of Philadelphia business. She said shooting for the stars is a must.
BizPhilly: What message are you hoping to send to women in Philadelphia?
Abraham: Women are moving into the C-suite, they’re moving into entrepreneurial efforts but we have to encourage more women to run for office and seek leadership positions in businesses.
BizPhilly: Do you see a tide turning for business women in Philadelphia?
Abraham: I think a lot of work needs to be done. More women are going to be young entrepreneurs in the tech business. The real question for me is whether women are going to be considered as full partners in business and industry. We already know that women don’t get equal pay for equal work. No disrespect, but we’re the ones who shoulder all the burdens of the family.
BizPhilly: But that’s changing too. Men are learning how to cook and clean.
Abraham: More and more, men are being partners with their significant others and taking up the responsibilities of child rearing.
BizPhilly: I feel a “but” coming.
Abraham: But if you look at the corporate boards, if you look at the power structures, it’s still heavily weighted to men. There are three notable exceptions. Angela Merkel [chancellor of Germany], Christine Lagarde [managing director of the International Monetary Fund], and Janet Yellen [chair of the Federal Reserve]. If you look at gatherings of governments, major countries are almost exclusively represented by males. I think that Hillary Clinton, if she’s successful, may turn the tide.
It’s important for women to step into the ring. That’s why I’m happy I ran for mayor. Why not? I’m capable.
BizPhilly: What Can Women in Philly Do to Get to the Next Level?
Abraham: I want women to find the best sponsors. I don’t want women to have just mentors. A mentor is a person who will take you under his or her wing and show you how to do your job. A sponsor is someone who will introduce you to the power structure.