Susan's Blog

Blog Home | Blog ArchivesSubscribe to the Full Partner Blog Subscribe

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Christine Lagarde

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Forbes says she's the fifth most powerful woman in the world. She's the head of the International Monetary Fund, but what makes her powerful is her fearlessness. When asked how she copes with failure, Christine Lagarde's words to CNN were: "Oh get over it. Get over it and move on."

Despite any setbacks she may have faced, Lagarde is consider by many to be a woman of firsts. She was the first female finance minster of France. She was the first woman to chair the global law firm Baker and McKenzie. For the last four years she has been the first woman to lead the IMF.

She's also using her voice to push for equality laws. Speaking to economies in the developing world, she told them that they can boost their GDPs by up to 30 percent by allowing women into the workforce. Lagarde discusses in a recent article on the IMF's blog that a new study revealed that 90 percent of countries worldwide have some form of legal restriction that bars women from the workplace, from getting loans, or from owning property. Yet 40 percent of the global workforce is women. Only 21 percent of women in the Middle East and North Africa work outside the home.

For Lagarde, a mother of two, this number isn't nearly high enough. She said that changing laws that keep women from participating in the economy is the first step. She provided a percentage of increase that various countrys' GDPs would increase by by including women equally in the workfource: +9 percent for Japan, +12 percent in the United Arab Emirates and +34 percent in Egypt. Even here in the U.S. we could increase our own GDP by 5 percent if we made it easier for women to participate in the economy.

The next step, according to Lagarde, is to give attention to childcare and maternity leave benefits, as those elements play a large role in women working outside the home. She said that the U.S. is one of the few developed countries that offers no guaranteed maternity leave. This needs to change.

"In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active. In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy," she wrote in a recent blog. Lagarde's words continue to spread, and I want to celebrate her this week for her efforts to insight the change we sorely need in the global workforce.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: MJ Day

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Not only are MJ Day's credentials impressive, but as the assistant managing editor of Sports Illustrated she's impacting the designs of swimsuits for women. Day is considered one of the most innovative and unique editors to date, according to a recent Huffington Post article, and is in charge of "all content creation for the franchies across print digital and video platforms from the ground up."

Day has worked at Sports Illustrated for more than 15 years, and has been involved in some of their most groundbreaking shoots. Within her industry she is looked to for setting season trends and best-sellers. She's a true example of a woman who climbed up the rankes, starting as an editorial assistant in 1998, to be at the helm today.

In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, she credits seeing her mother being passionate about her own career as an experience that led her to be the leader she is today: "I learned from her example," she said, "I looked up to her and her success and saw that if you work hard, you can be good at what you do and have a fulfilling career and a family."

She said that she believes balance is the biggest issue for women in the workplace. In the interview she opened up about her struggles with not letting her job consume her entire life, especially working a 12-hour day. She's also a mother of a four-month-old and a nine-year-old. To try to find balance, she says that when she spends time with her family she gives "200%" to that time. In this way Day exemplifies a great lesson - wherever you are, be all there.

When it comes to offering advices to other women looking to more forward in their careers, she said: "Be humble enough to see the advantages working from the bottom up. In a time where a select few come blazing into the scene out of nowhere, the long term benefits of understanding and experiencing the psychologies, the objectives and the pitfalls of this tricky industry is worth it. It makes you more valuable, it makes you smarter, savvier...Don't be too proud to schlep and want to prove yourself. You won't be doing it forever."

Female leaders she admires and finds inspiration from includes Jule Campbell, the first editor of the Swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, and notes that "there are so many women doing great things out there in every way."

This week, as we celebrate MJ, make an effort to do great things in your own way, and give all of yourself to your area of focus to help attain balance. Thanks, MJ, for your inspirational words and example.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Cathy Engelbert

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Monday was a historical day for women professionals, and for Deloitte, a well-known professional services firm who have really focused on developing women for leadership positions. They named Cathy Engelbert their next CEO, making her the first female U.S. CEO of a "Big Four" firm.

Engelbert formerly served as chairman and CEO of Deloitte's audit subsidiary, and there's no question that she'll transition well into her new role. When asked about her historical new job title, Engelbert said: "It is a proud moment and a milestone. To the extend that I can be a role model for diverse leaders at Deloitte, I love it. This is a tangible demonstration of our commitment at Deloitte to the advancement of women."

She added: "I have gotten so many email today from our women - and men- who really believe that we have an inclusive culture as proven through my election."

When companies make it a priority to develop women for leadership positions, look what happens! Women and minorities account for around 66 percent of Deloitte's new hires.

Engelbert is optimistic about the future for women in leadership: "There are more women in the C-Suite and in the boardroom... [but] we are not where we need to be and we have a lot of work to do."

In giving advice to other women, Engelbert said the best advice she received is to build experience, and cultivate a range of experiences, because that strengthens a leader. She credit taking risks and taking on new opportunities and responsibilities as the reason she is a CEO today. In her words: "Don't stand still."

I hope that as you move forward in your career you don't stand still - we can work together to make sure that there are more women CEOs on the horizon!

Click here for the full text
Strive For Your Success #LikeAGirl

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


We never say "act like a boy" and when we say "act like a girl" it's often meant as a negative. Sort of a whimsy. So when the "Like A Girl" Super Bowl ad ran it was pretty bold - maybe even a game changer for women and girls.

It was interesting to see a 'women's' company (Procter & Gamble's Always) with an ad running during the Super Bowl in the first place. Even with all of the women viewers, feminine hygiene isn't something that is often talked about. The ad claimed a prime 60-second time slot.

The "Like A Girl" campaign began last summer, and the commercial kicks off with boys showing what it means to them to do various activities "like a girl," such as running, catching, fighting, and more, having the boys act it out. Then girls are asked to do the same.

The difference was striking.

The girls, at an age not yet tainted with peer and societal pressure, did their demonstrations with strength and poise, showing us the potential of an elevated self-esteem attainable for young girls.

Fama Francisco, vice president of Global Always, analyzed data with her colleagues that showed that self-esteem amongst girls drops significantly when they hit puberty: "That deep consumer insight and understanding made us really step back and think, 'What are the things that really contribute to that and how can we make a difference,'" she said to The Huffington Post.

"When you have a message that really addresses such an important and a real issue and it's done in a way that is very consistent with who we are as a brand," Francisco continued, "I think consumers want to engage with that."

Now we have a phrase that is talked about both out loud and even on the internet with the hashtag #LikeAGirl.

I hope the campaign brings perspective, insight and change. And I hope you go forward and strive for success #LikeAGirl!


Your coach,


Click here for the full text
What 2015 Holds For Me, And For Women In Business: A Letter From Susan Butler

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


I’ve been writing lately about how we need to change the dynamic for women in the workplace.

If we want to make real change, we need to aim for the stars. We must make a commitment to do it, like we did with the Moon Shot program in the 1960s and like entrepreneurs are doing with commercial space travel today. We must do what it takes to ‘make it happen!’

As women, we need to be more proactive – and confident in our workplaces. We need to start or participate in mentoring and coaching programs. We need to check any natural timidness at the door, and be aggressive and confident in our abilities—in meetings, in our relationships, in our work.

And –if we are going to make corporate America better for women, we need to get the current group of top executivesMEN – on board to help.

With men in the CEO’s office in 475 of the Fortune 500 companies, and men still holding the vast majority of corporate director seats, we simply can’t make change without bringing men along.

To do this, I believe, we need to make sure current corporate leaders understand the well-known value of having more women in top leadership positions. More women in leadership roles means more diversity in decision-making. It makes companies more appealing to a broader population. And as study after study has shown, more women in leadership positions make for better financial returns for companies.

We need to make 2015 a year that men get more involved in gender equality issues.

What does 2015 hold for me?

I will continue writing and speaking about gender equality in the workplace and in society.

I will continue to work with Drexel University‘s Vision 2020 organization and the Thirty Percent Coalition organization to bring about change to equality for women.

I will continue to help younger women plan their futures through coaching and mentoring.


So what does the rest of 2015 hold for you?

Won't you join me in helping change the world for women?


This blog post includes an excerpt from Susan's newsletter. If you're interested in receiving more content like this, you can sign up here.

Click here for the full text
8 Ways to make an Impact At Meetings

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


If you want to move ahead in your company or organization, participating in meetings is a part of life.

Women are typically at a disadvantage in meetings, as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton professor Adam Grant point out so accurately in a recent New York Times piece.

Women tend to shy away from speaking up at meetings. When they do, they’re often interrupted, or their ideas are hijacked by men, Sandberg and Grant point out.

The key to changing this dynamic is preparation.

So how do you prepare for a meeting - or do you?

Here are some simple steps:

Before the meeting

Understand the purpose of the meeting and why you are there. What information do you have that will contribute to the discussion and the outcome of the meeting?

Familiarize yourself with who will be at the meeting. Before you sit down with them, have an understanding of their roles. If you don’t know all the participants, try to meet them in advance.

At the meeting

Be sure to “sit at the table.” Make yourself known! Introduce yourself, and be a good listener.

Contribute. You may have a good idea that hasn’t been mentioned. Or your may want to expand on someone else’s comments. If you need to, interrupt –politely – where appropriate.


After the meeting

Brief your team on the meeting, if appropriate. The information may be helpful to the work they are doing. Or it may just be beneficial in conversations they have with others who were at the meeting.

Reflect on what you learned. How will the outcome of this meeting impact your work? What will you do to be better prepared next time?

If you had been running this meeting, what would you have done differently? If significant, share with the meeting’s organizer.

Solidify your next steps. What follow-up do you need to do?

Success for you may be impacted by how you handle yourself in meetings. Remember you were invited for a reason. Your success will be impacted based on how you handle yourself at meetings – ask for feedback or coaching about how you’re doing.

Be prepared. Be confident. Contribute. And succeed.

Read more at my blog on Huffington Post.

Click here for the full text
A New Year Message From Susan Butler: Set Your Own GPS For 2015

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Wishing all of you a happy New Year!

This is a new year for each of us, and an opportunity for each of us to begin shaping the year we want for ourselves.

Ask yourself: by December 31, 2015, what do you what to have achieved? As the CEO of You, Inc. what is your strategy?

As I am writing this to each of you, I am sitting here wondering what I want to achieve. As you can tell, I am a bit late in developing my own strategy.

I think about the following goals:

  • To continue to bring about ‘shared-leadership’ into more organizations, which brings more women - at least 30% - into senior leadership roles.
  • To determine how I help younger women (the millennials) to be better prepared for their future.
  • Perhaps there is a new book on the horizon.
  • And, most importantly, to reach out to my family, friends, relatives, and people I don’t even know, to help them achieve who they want to be.
  • To love and be loved.

To reach these goals, I know I need to stay on course in the months ahead. This is the time, at the start of a year, to set that course; to program my GPS; to begin the next leg of my journey with the end in mind.

It is important for each of us to be responsible for who we are and who we want to be.

I encourage you to take some time to set your own GPS for 2015. And there’s no better time to do that than in these early days of this new year.


All the best in preparing your GPS and starting your journey into 2015!


Your coach,


Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Roz Brewer

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


She spoke at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit last week, she's the CEO of Sam's Club, and she knows firsthand that women and minorities face a lot of inequity in the workplace - and she's not afraid to talk about it. Roz Brewer's greatest asset is more than just her $57.2 billion (annual) wholesale club business, it's also her voice.

During her speech at the Next Gen Summit, Brewer said that, despite being the CEO of a company that is a unit of WalMart, she still has to describe what she does because they assume that because she is both African American and a woman she couldn't have such a high profile corporate job. They don't know that Sam's Club, viewed on its own even without WalMart, would be the 8th largest retailer in the U.S.

"It's a reality - there are still so many inequities in the workplace," Brewer said, "I see it everyday. They're happening in companies... I get tested every day."

Brewer has held her CEO title since 2012, and spoke out about how women regularly have to face larger hurdles than men in the same position. When asked what the best way for aspiring female executives to make their way up the ladder is, she said "not to act like men." She added, "I've never in my career emulated a man."

And why should she? Brewer found success by striving to oversee a business that is clearly reliable, clearly identifiable, well-known, and has a clear profit and loss statement consistently.

In speaking with CNN correspondent Poppy Harlow, she said: "I want to see more women run a P&L. You're at the decision table."

In addition, Brewer also spoke out in a call to action to other female executives, who she said could do more to mentor up-and-coming women in a company's ranks. She herself was a mentor for Tracey Lloyd, a veteran who took a job at Walmart after a tour in Iraq. The two speak everyday, and Lloyd is now a market manager.

So this week I want to celebrate Roz, not just for her accomplishments, but also for using her voice and compelling other women to mentor each other and become their own inspiration for what kind of career they want others to emulate.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page ( or Twitter (@SusanBButler). I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Tory Burch

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Not only is Tory Burch a succesfull business woman and fashion designer, but she's been getting the spotlight recently for her philanthropy as well. She's also the founder of her own foundation, the Tory Burch Foundation, which paired up with Bank of America to create the Elizabeth Street Capital. The initiative aims at helping women entrepreneurs gain access to affordable loans, mentoring support and networking opportunities.

Burch went from one fashion boutique to 125 freestanding stores globally. As an entrepreneur she has strived and succeeded, and I want to recognize her for taking the next big step - mentoring the women entrepreneurs in her wake by mentoring and connecting them, creating a network of women who can work together and help to bring the equality we need in the workforce.

An important part of the Elizabeth Street Capital Initiative is the person to person aspect. There will be special mentoring and networking events hosted by the Tory Burch Foundation and Bank of America that will connect successful entrepreneurs and business leaders with local women who are looking for guidance on their entrepreneurial journey, and to form a community they can rely on.

Building on a spirit of collaboration, which I think we can all applaud and learn from, Tory Burch and Bank of America are also partnering with Community Development Financial Institution to help women entrepreneurs receive equal access to afforable loans to encouarge and enhance economic growth and development.

That's important because most entrepreneurs who are just starting out often don't qualify for traditional bank loans. This is especially true for female entrepreneurs, who have been cited in many studies as more likely to struggle than their male counterparts in accessing capital.

Burch's rise to entrepreneurial stardom sent a message out to banks, said Anne Finucane, global chief strategy and marketing officer at Bank of America, who said that "despite [the bank's] expansive small business program, successful founders like Burch who should be granted loans could still be slipping through the cracks."

I want to celebrate Burch this week for this initiative, which exemplifies partnership, collaboration, equality, and support for a large network of women. Elizabeth Street refers to the location of Burch's first boutique, her launching pad that grew her business into a global brand with stores all around the world. Women who come together and participate in this initiative can help grow their own "Elizabeth Streets," their launching pads that can help them grow and succeed. Thanks, Tory, for helping other women!



Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page ( or Twitter (@SusanBButler). I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Click here for the full text
Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Caterina Fake

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Handfuls of studies and online articles from prominent thoughtleaders and influencers have been echoing the lack of women in technology and the sciences. One woman who is challenging this dilemma, and working toward change, is Caterina Fake. She's an entrepreneur hiring women engineers and showing Silicon Valley, and the world, that women can make a difference.

Fake is the co-founder of Flickr, a photo sharing site that is now owned by Yahoo, and online recommendation technology Hunch. In 2011 she launched Findery, a social discovery app that attracted many prospective female employees. The app has raised nearly $10 million in funding, and includes seven women employees out of 13 total full-time staffers. Men only outnumber women by one on the software engineering side, specifically.

This past May, Google released the demographic makeup of its workforce, prompting other companies like Yahoo, Twitter, and Facebook to do the same. The results revealed that women made up no more than 17 percent of each company's workforce.

But that doesn't deter Fake: "It's all about women knowing women, and deliberately recruiting women," Fake told Fortune, "Any women that you can bring on at the get-go almost guarantees that you'll have more women at your company. At Findery, we have the good fortune of starting with a lot of women, having a woman founder, having a very women-friendly culture - and a general natural outcome of those things is that you have an inordinate number of women applying for jobs both in engineering and other areas."

She also told Fortune that the network effect is critical in hiring women. When it comes to maintaining a healthy gender balance at her company, she credited two principles only: make workforce diversity a priority, and give minority employees the opportunity to meet leaders at tech companies that they have not met before.

As I discuss in both Women Count and Become The CEO of You, Inc, women supporting and mentoring other women is one step we can take to gain equality for women in the workforce today - and, as Fake has shown, if we make it a priority we can start to increase the numbers and make a change. Thank you, Catherina, for being a shining example of what we can do to help women succeed!


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page ( or Twitter (@SusanBButler). I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Click here for the full text
Women Count White Border
$24.95, Hardcover
256 Pages
September 2010
Purdue University Press

Sign Up For Susan's Newsletter!
Keep up with Susan's best advice for becoming a leader and making change happen in your life. Each issue contains recommended reading, along with Susan's latest tips for developing leadership skills. Archive »



copyright © 2011 Susan Butler

Powered by FullPartner