Melissa Greenwell, author of Money On The Table
Melissa Greenwell is executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Finish Line Inc., a national retailer, and author of Money on the Table: How to Increase Profits Through Gender-Balanced Leadership. This new book is designed to offer a step-by-step and cost-effective guidance companies seeking to achieve gender balance among their executive ranks.
Q: What inspired you to write this book and how long did it take you to write it?
Melissa Greenwell: I was inspired by the many up-and-coming female leaders who approached me for advice and mentoring over the years. I’ve seen so many of them leave organizations for various reasons, including reasons that can be addressed. I thought it was time we stopped simply calling out the problem but talked about ways to address the lack of females in leadership. The project took about two years. It may have taken less if I’d been focused on it full-time, but I’m also fully engaged in my own corporate career.
Q: Why, at this late date, do women still remain underrepresented in the higher levels of corporate leadership?
Melissa Greenwell: Because women are still taking themselves out of many corporate environments at a stage in their career that is pivotal. They’ve invested in education and companies have invested in their training and development. They face decisions to either step up or step out. Women find they want or need a more flexible work environment or a culture where other female leaders are already present, and they believe they will be supported. Many go to organizations that provide that environment and many leave to start their own businesses.
Q: Do you see more opportunities for women to become their own boss via entrepreneurship rather than climb the corporate ladder within established companies?
Melissa Greenwell: Absolutely. In part this is true because more companies are doing business with smaller companies that are not top heavy in management levels and overhead. This provides opportunity for entrepreneurs starting boutique firms and providing new technology. I know many women who have started their own businesses and are working with small and large companies alike. The women I interviewed for the book took the leap and never looked back. If more women get comfortable with taking risks, I believe we will see greater numbers of new businesses started by women.
Q: Why do you believe gender representation is a separate issue from diversity?
Melissa Greenwell: I believe the challenge of having gender diversity in leadership is different because women are not a minority in any part of the world. Women make up 50 percent of the population. It shouldn't be so challenging to get more than fifteen percent of them into leadership roles in our companies.
Melissa Greenwell is online at http://melissa-greenwell.com/