Our co-founders, Ellen Keithline Byrne, Denise D’Agostino, and Karen Kirchner, share their insights, highlighting the transformations witnessed and envision the future of women’s leadership development.
“Looking back on these six years building Her New Standard, I’m filled with immense pride for our achievements, particularly the consistent positive outcomes that have led to transformed lives,” Denise reflects. “We are not only focused on individual development but also on shifting organizational cultures. We are making a measurable impact.”
Karen is moved by the more than 600 women who have participated in Her New Standard’s women’s leadership development programs and the commonalities they have observed. “These women are high achievers, professionals of exceptional intelligence and capability who have achieved great success in their careers. Yet, there remains a common thread of imposter syndrome and self-doubt that gets in the way of fully embracing their authority.”
Ellen emphasizes, “we learned the power of creating a safe, nurturing community where professional women can share their challenges, identify strengths, and step out of their comfort zones to own their voices.”
The power of community cannot be overstated. Participants find immense value in connecting in a psychologically safe space with women leaders from different roles and companies who share similar challenges. Through these connections, they gain insights into different ways to overcome hurdles and find inspiration to take action.
In looking ahead to the future of women’s leadership development:
- Karen envisions coaching becoming more accessible at all career stages, leading to women getting more feedback and support, asking for opportunities and advancing more quickly.
- Denise foresees more company-wide conversations that engage senior leaders and prioritize topics like sponsorship and allyship, aiming to change systems and achieve gender parity.
- Ellen acknowledges the power of companies setting clear and achievable gender equity goals and holding managers accountable for reaching them.
The path to gender equity in leadership remains an ongoing challenge for companies, and while initiatives like launching women’s ERGs are important, they alone cannot encompass the entire solution. True progress necessitates leadership that actively listens to employees, creates safe spaces for honest conversations, and then acts on feedback.
“We know that change must encompass every facet of the organizational system. White men, who have historically held leadership positions, are key in creating environments for real change,” Ellen asserts. Thought leaders like David Smith and Brad Johnson, authors of “Good Guys,” are providing practical ways for men to help achieve gender equity at work.
Denise underscores the pivotal role of managers in the development of talent. They hold the power to engage, retain, and make team members feel valued. True transformation requires more managers who invest time and a genuine interest in their teams, listening, learning, and empowering women to pursue senior leadership roles.
“Although the pace of women’s advancement to the C-level is too slow and still has a long way to go, we are trending in the right direction,” Karen notes. “I’m looking forward to a future when a newly appointed CEO who is a woman of color is so commonplace that it hardly warrants recognition. Until that time, we have to celebrate every bit of forward momentum and know that women’s representation at the most senior levels is paramount to those who are advancing up the pipeline.”
These reflections and aspirations underscore Her New Standard’s mission and the progress achieved over six years. It’s a celebration of transformed lives and an ongoing commitment to empower women and reshape organizational cultures. As we anticipate the future, the insights from Ellen, Denise, and Karen inspire us to continue challenging the status quo, advancing gender parity, and ensuring women’s voices are heard at every level of leadership. Together, we commemorate this milestone and eagerly embrace the journey ahead, knowing the best is yet to come.