Tag Archives: Forbes

Still Defining “Power” Like a Man: On Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women 2012

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Money. Influence. Impact. These are the metrics that oriented Forbes’ choices of the “Ranking The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women 2012.”

According to Oxford Dictionary, power is the ability to “act in a particular way,” and “influence the behavior of others.” Therefore, it is not surprising that most of the women on the list were politicians, high ranking business women and celebrities. It’s also not surprising that Forbes decided to choose money, media, and impact to measure the most widely used definition of power.

I must admit, I think a list like this might be useful in our world as it holds women up to the same “standards” as men. At the same time, I get this strange feeling that we’re missing an essential part of the picture: What really makes a woman “powerful”?

I see a woman’s power in her ability to empathize and harness her energy effectively. I believe a woman’s power has less to do with external action and influence than her ability for inner transformation.

Interestingly, the definition for power from a physics perspective is: “energy that is produced by mechanical, electrical, or other means and used to operate a device.” Upon reading this definition, I immediately thought about the time I spent in rural villages in India where the women worked relentlessly from 5am until 11pm to milk the buffalo, tend the crops, take care of the children, cook for the family…It was an endless well of energy that operated the “device” of her body, her family, her entire community.

Not to mention that in ancient native cultures, a woman’s power was related to her miraculous ability to give birth. But I have a feeling that power wasn’t on Forbes’ radar (and I’m not sure many feminists would be happy if it were).

On more concrete terms, what about a woman’s material generosity – her ability to spread wealth in her community? Isn’t this essentially the idea behind the successful social media campaign “The Girl Effect”? Investing in women is particularly smart because she is more likely to invest it in her family and community.

Although most of the women on the Forbes list engage in philanthropic activities (most notably, Melinda Gates who ranked #4), “money earned” was included as a metric, while “money donated” or “money circulated” were not. Impact was defined as: “the extent of their reach across industries, cultures and countries, the number of spheres of influence and people they affect and how actively they wield that power.”

For many years, we argued that power was not only in realm of man – but woman too. But I think we are still defining a woman’s power the way a man might define his own power. I realize this statement may be controversial; please keep in mind that it is my opinion. I think we need to find out what makes a us really powerful from our perspective on our own power.

These were thoughts I wanted to entertain with you all. Thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts.

~Maria

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Looking to Get Ahead? Tips for Working Women in Social Enterprise

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Many of my latest posts have highlighted specific organizations or women who are making big impacts in the world through creative solutions. These stories are meant to be inspiring and expose readers to the array of projects out there that are headed by women. However, I recently stumbled across an article by Forbes highlighting some tips for women in the social enterprise space. It was written by Laura Calandrella, a woman who offers incubation, coaching and leadership development to women who are aspiring social entrepreneurs. So what are you waiting for? Take that seemingly crazy idea of yours and get out there and make a difference!

  • Collaborate with competitors: According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics there is one non-profit for every 200 people in the US, not including the for-profit ventures out there. Thus, competition cannot be the only thing that drives innovation. Get rid of the “hero complex” and collaborate with others to build capacity.
  • Get over the “social entrepreneur” label: Social entrepreneurs are still business people, they just have a stronger commitment to creating social outcomes than the average business. However, the label “social entrepreneur” won’t mean much to your investors or customers, so focus on the social value you bring, giving you an edge in terms of competition.
  • Hire more women for leadership positions: Strong evidence has shown that women in leadership positions engender more trust and financially outperform their male counterparts.
  • Invest in personal development: Early stage ventures often fail because they don’t focus on team or personal development and instead on market knowledge and technical skills. It’s important to create a leadership culture and invest in coaching, developing learning communities and taking the time to engage in discussions about meaningful issues in your business.

Read the Forbes article here

-Brittany