IBM on Redefining Competition: Insights from the Global C-suite Study – The CEO Perspective

CEOs say we are at a watershed moment. Technological advances are creating massive upheavals, with industries converging and new ecosystems emerging as never before. So how are the trailblazers guiding their organizations through this turmoil?

In the first installment of our latest C-suite Study, we interviewed 5,247 top executives to find out what they think the future will bring and how they’re positioning their organizations to prosper in the “age of disruption.” This report probes more deeply into the perspectives of the 818 CEOs who contributed to our research. We’ve also focused on what the CEOs of the world’s most successful enterprises in this study do differently.

Click here to read more.

If you would like more information or would like a presentation to your company, please contact Kathy Pavlik at


Harvard Business Review: If There’s Only One Woman in Your Candidate Pool, There’s Statistically No Chance She’ll Be Hired

By: Stefanie K. Johnson, David R. Hekman and Elsa T. Chan

There are more CEOs of large U.S. companies who are named David (4.5%) than there are CEOs who are women (4.1%) — and David isn’t even the most common first name among CEOs. (That would be John, at 5.3%.)

Despite the ever-growing business case for diversity, roughly 85% of board members and executives are white men. This doesn’t mean that companies haven’t tried to change. Many have started investing hundreds of millions of dollars on diversity initiatives each year. But the biggest challenge seems to be figuring out how to overcome unconscious biases that get in the way of these well-intentioned programs. We recently conducted research that suggests a potential solution.

It’s well known that people have a bias in favor of preserving the status quo; change is uncomfortable. So because 95% of CEOs are white men, the status quo bias can lead board members to unconsciously prefer to hire more white men for leadership roles.

We conducted three studies to examine what happens when you change the status quo among finalists for a job position. In our first study, using an experimental setting, we had 144 undergraduate students review qualifications of three job candidates who made up a finalist pool of applicants. The candidates had the same credentials — the only difference among them was their race. We manipulated this by using names that sound stereotypically black (Dion Smith and Darnell Jones) or white (Connor Van Wagoner and David Jones), and we used a job that has some ambiguity about the racial status quo (athletic director).

Participants indicated the extent to which they agreed that each candidate was the best for the job. Half of them evaluated a finalist pool that had two white candidates and one black candidate, and the other half evaluated a finalist pool that had two black candidates and one white candidate. We found that when a majority of the finalists were white (demonstrating the status quo), participants tended to recommend hiring a white candidate. But when a majority of finalists were black, participants tended to recommend hiring a black candidate (F = 3.96, η2p = .03; p < .05).

Our second study, of 200 undergraduate students, was similar but focused on gender instead of race — and we found a similar result. We manipulated gender through the names of men and women, and we used the job of nurse manager. In this case, we expected that the status quo would be to hire women, so we looked at the effect of having two men in the pool. We found that when two of the three finalists were men, participants tended to recommend hiring a man, and when two of the three finalists were women, participants tended to recommend hiring a woman (F = 4.42, η2p = .03; p < .05).

The results from these studies were what we had predicted: When there were two minorities or women in the pool of finalists, the status quo changed, resulting in a woman or minority becoming the favored candidate.

To read more click here.

Enterprising Women: Awards That Give the Growing Power of Women Businesses the Attention It Deserves

“Ask Marsha” by Marsha Firestone, Ph.D.

Each year, we receive hundreds of applicants vying for the distinction of being named one of the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies™. The widely anticipated list generates significant media coverage all over the world. While applicants do not have to be WPO members, all eligible companies are ranked according to a sales growth formula that combines percentage and absolute growth. To be qualified for the ranking, businesses are required to be privately held, woman-owned or led, and must generate annual revenue of at least $500,000.

We launched the 50 Fastest in 2007 to focus much-needed attention on the vital role that women-owned/led companies have in boosting the economy and absolute growth. Looking back at 2015, one of the most memorable achievements was the opportunity to write a book based on some of these extraordinary women, The Women Presidents’ Organization 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies™ Guide to Growth, Sponsored by American Express.

This generous support from American Express enabled us to share fifteen highly personal and inspirational stories of accomplished entrepreneurs, their tribulations and triumphs. We wanted the inside scoop, from the bumps they encountered along the way to what it felt like when they first realized all the hard work and sacrifice was worth it.

These particularly impressive women address the five areas that change the most when a business scales:


  • Lacy Starling, President, Legion Logistics
  • Nina Vaca, Chairman and CEO, Pinnacle Group
  • Shelly Sun, CEO, BrightStar Care


  • Mary Kariotis, President and CEO, Merrimak Capital Company
  • Rebecca Thomley, President and CEO, Orion Associates/Morning Star Financial Services
  • Pamela O’Rourke, President and CEO, ICON Information Consultants, LP

Human Resources

  • June Ressler, President and CEO, Cenergy International Services
  • Sonia N. Hines, President, H&S Resources Corporation
  • Leslie A. Firtell, Esq., CEO, Tower Legal Solutions


  • Shazi Visram, Founder and CEO, Happy Family
  • Shari Spiro, CEO, Ad Magic Games
  • Cindy Monroe, Founder and CEO, Thirty-One Gifts


  • Phyllis Newhouse, President and CEO, Xtreme Solutions, Inc.
  • Denise Wilson, President and CEO, Desert Jet
  • Kara Trott, CEO, Quantum Health


To read more click here.

BMO, Carleton University & The Beacon Agency Release Industry-Leading Report on Risk Appetite of Female Entrepreneurs

Report Findings to Support Implementation of Specialized Programs within the Bank

A new independent study released in partnership among BMO Financial Group, Carleton University and The Beacon Agency has found that women entrepreneurs in Canada have difficulty securing funding from financial institutions because they are mistakenly perceived as risk averse and unable to generate the same economic growth as men.

BMO sponsored the study to get a better understanding of its female clients, improve customer experience and reiterate the bank’s commitment to conducting business in ways that resonate with this group at a time when female start-ups are emerging and are outpacing those led by men. For example:

  • The number of self-employed women with an incorporated business has increased by 15 per cent since 2007;
  • Over two thirds (68 per cent) of female owned companies reported capturing a larger share of their existing market through innovation; and,
  • Businesses with majority female ownership report the highest instance of average yearly revenue growth of more than 20 percent

Key Findings from the Report
A Force to Reckon With: WOMEN, ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND RISK, offers the most comprehensive review to date of Canadian female entrepreneurs, and is based on twoyears of research and interviews with more than 100 entrepreneurs across the country. Key findings include:

  • Women entrepreneurs make decisions that require risk to grow and build their businesses.
  • Women entrepreneurs tend to take a relationship and longer term approach to business and a holistic approach to calculating risk-based decisions.
  • Women entrepreneurs are misinterpreted as risk averse, although their businesses are not under-performing in comparison to their male counterparts.
  • Women entrepreneurs are eager for information that can assist in making sound decisions
    around risk, and are not afraid of seeking it out in different forms to grow their business.
  • Women entrepreneurs are more likely to be funded personally, rather than assuming debt from a financial institution.

In addition to the current partnerships that BMO has with business organizations that support female entrepreneurs, BMO has made two billion dollars in credit available to women entrepreneurs.

To view the full report, please click here. Join the conversation and get additional timely updates, related articles and insights by following @BMO and @BMOmedia on Twitter, using the hashtag #BMOforWomen.


Chicago Business Journal: Meet Alison Gutterman

The Chicago Business Journal named 50 honorees for its 2016 class of Women of Influence honorees. The program recognizes women business leaders in the Chicago area who innovate, succeed and “pay it forward.” In the days ahead, we’ll be giving readers a chance to hear directly from these women.

Alison Gutterman, president, Jelmar, LLC.


Tell us about your family: I’m the single mother of two amazing kids, Michaela, 9 and Eli, 6. I adopted both children. My daughter is from Guatemala and my son was born in Houston, Texas. I love that I am part of a multicultural family, with both a daughter of Latina decent and an African American son.

Where were you born? St. Louis, Missouri.

The one word that describes you: Passionate. If I am truly interested in a cause, product or idea, you will be able to tell by how enthusiastically I communicate my thoughts to others.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I had a few jobs in high school – working at the local library (an unusual one since I can be a bit of a chatter box), but the first one that really taught me skills that I would later on use was at a retail chain. I learned how important customer service is to a company and its success. That lesson helped me tremendously when my first responsibility at Jelmar was to read customer service letters and answer customer calls. To this day, we still have a great deal of personal interaction with the people who use our products.

What is your proudest career accomplishment? When I joined Jelmar, I worried my colleagues would dismiss me as just the boss’ kid. My dad made me earn every promotion and every privilege I received in my career, just as everyone else at the company. If anything, I had to work harder than everyone else to prove myself. So once I finally did, and my dad felt comfortable enough to step back and award me with his role, the achievement was that much more significant.

Click here to read the full interview.

HUFFPOST Business: Evolving Your Brand? Look Inwards.

Huffpost Janet.jpg

No brand is static. Even if key elements, such as a logo, remain familiar over the course of decades—think of the iconic Nike swoosh, which has been around since the early 1970s—it must still change, even subtly, in order to stay fresh and grow.

Change the Context and Everything Changes

Instead of changing your logo, consider changing its visual environment and context, i.e., how the brand is used:
• Look at the palette and see if it can be expanded; add or change the colors
• Modernize the use of white space in the elements around the logo
• Take a fresh look at the images/photography
• Refresh your messaging so it is more relevant to the moment

With less investment of time and money, and with fewer political issues and emotion (such as stress), you can refresh your brand while keeping the recognized, familiar logo in which you’ve invested so much.

Click here to read more.

*Article contributed by WPO member Janet Odgis, President and Creative Director of  Odgis + Co a NYC woman-owned branding firm.

Redefining Boundaries: Can you see the competition coming?

IBM blue

What makes the world’s top executives cringe? “The ‘Uber syndrome’ – where a competitor with a completely different business model enters your industry and flattens you,” said one executive. As the CIO of a U.S. transportation firm, this is someone who knows just how much momentum an eighteen-wheeler builds up when it’s barreling along the freeway. But many other business leaders also fear a new rival could turn their companies into roadkill.

So how are C-suite executives (CxOs) tackling the threat of competition from companies in other sectors or with very different business models? Our latest study explores what they think the future holds, how they’re identifying new trends and how they’re positioning their organizations to prosper in the “age of disruption.”

Click here to read more.

WPO would like to thank Kathy Pavlik at IBM for sharing this great content. If you would like more information or would like a presentation to your company, please contact Kathy  at