Editor’s Note: This blog was written and submitted by Vision 2020 South Carolina Delegate Margaret Seidler.
While Charleston, South Carolina, has been judged to be the Number One city to visit in the world, our community is far behind in giving women equal access and opportunity to leadership positions. The upcoming March 1st Women in Business Conference, a collaboration between the Center for Women and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce (CMC), brings over 400 women together to learn how to become a “player” in the male-dominated leadership ranks of this thriving community.
While history draws people here and is one of our biggest assets, that longing to hold onto the past is part of what keep women and men locked into traditional roles. Jennet Robinson Alterman is a childhood friend of mine who, now 48 years later, is the Executive Director of the Center for Women. Eight years ago, Jennet and I went in unison to the head of the local CMC about the importance of focusing on women in business as a growth strategy for the nation’s oldest chamber. The culmination of that first meeting is the partnership of hosting this exciting annual event.
The day’s conference speakers are strong and diverse including our featured morning keynote, Carla A. Harris, Managing Director in the Institutional Advisory Group at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.
Beginning with that partnership, CMC has recently made it a priority to involve women in leadership positions. Currently, 24% of the Board of Directors is made up of women as is its Executive Committee which also includes one seat specifically-designated for a woman representative. Additionally, a woman is slated to chair the CMC in 2015. She is only the third woman in the Chamber’s 240-year history! Also, this year’s Annual Dinner Gala of 600 business leaders featured a nationally-known woman speaker whose focus is in the economic development research arena.
Our local strategy brings together women and men business leaders to get the best of our differences. McKinsey & Company’s studies, Women Matter and Women Matter 2, show an undeniable increase in organization performance. This positive difference, known as the Rule of Three, occurs when a minimum of three women are present on a senior leadership team or board of directors.
I get to take the stage as the afternoon keynote to talk about the national goals of Vision 2020 and how we can “Secure Our Future” based on the findings in McKinsey Studies.
To learn more about the conference, visit: http://www.charlestonchamber.net/calendar