The state of gender equality among senior executive and in boardrooms is abysmal and “leaning in” isn’t enough to fix it, HSN CEO Mindy Grossman told a group of 300 retail and CPG executives recently.
Grossman was a featured speaker at the annual Network of Executive Women (NEW) Executive Leaders Forum in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., last week. According to Grossman, woman “can lean in for the next 30 years and it will not be enough unless we hold boards and CEOs accountable."
“Lean in,” was a reference to a book of the same name by Facebook’s top executive Sheryl Sandberg. "As senior executives. I feel we have a responsibility to create change and to put ourselves out there and to show that the status quo is not acceptable."
According to Grossman, only 15% board members and less than 5% of CEOs in the Fortune 1000 are women.
"If 85% of company leaders are men, change will happen only if there is bold leadership willing to create change and say that it is unacceptable not to,” Grossman said. "Quantitative research proves companies that are diverse are more sustainable and more profitable. Diversity drives innovation. The more diversity of thought, race, gender and culture, the more dialogue will be at the table."
At HSN, a $3.2 billion enterprise, Grossman said the board is 40% female as is 60% of the executive team.
Today, Grossman thinks about the example she is setting for her daughter and the legacy she is leaving beyond the boardroom. As a senior executive "with a platform, network and voice," she said, "if I’m not using it for something positive what has all that risk been for? I’m a huge believer that a lot of the problems we have in the world — in our local communities, national communities and global communities – could be solved by the education and empowerment of women."