This story incorrectly cites Lisa Cochrane as having a conversation with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Her conversation was actually with Allstate's CEO, Tom Wilson.
Has Sheryl Sandberg's bestseller "Lean In" influenced women in marketing? A panel of high-powered players women yesterday said it has helped elevate a conversation they've been having for years. BBDO Managing Director Kirsten Flanik may have said it best when she quoted Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola's Senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capability: "It's not about work/life balance, but rather work/life integration." Here are three takeaways from the panel:
Measuring is important
Lisa Cochrane, senior VP-marketing at Allstate Insurance Co., relayed a conversation she had with Allstate's CEO, Tom Wilson, earlier that day, in which he had inquired about borrowing her copy of "Lean In." He expressed the need to expand female employment in the workplace and went on to claim that he shouldn't be "gender neutral" when hiring, but rather "gender biased" towards women. Ms.Cochrane noted that "40% of leaders at Allstate are women. Measuring is important."
Open Dialogue Is Key
Linda Boff, exec director-global brand marketing at GE, recalled a meeting she had called with several female co-workers. In it, they discussed their own "Lean In" moments and related thoughts. Later, a senior male executive in the company approached her, asking to be involved in these conversations if possible. "Women speaking to women is wonderful," said Ms. Boff, but women engaging men in this dialogue takes it a step further.
The Value of Mentorship
When Carolyn Everson, VP-Facebook global marketing solutions, inquired about mid-level female employees who tend to disperse, Kim Kadlec, worldwide VP-global marketing at Johnson & Johnson, made a "Lean In"-like observation. "The leap from 'doer' to 'leader' is really hard," she said. Many women will start off at doers and "do an excellent job of it, all-the-while checking things off a list, but leadership is a whole new ballgame." It requires a mentor to provide guidance and context, she said. The doer may not know the importance of taking certain new actions, simply because it will not have occurred to her. The mentor can provide a new perspective.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly cited Lisa Cochrane as having a conversation with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Her conversation was actually with Allstate's CEO, Tom Wilson.