Giselle Cheminand, is the President and CEO of GCI Worldwide Corporation, who’s belief that men should play a bigger role in helping women become CEO is changing the way local companies are hiring, promoting top female talent and helping them excel once they’ve reached c-suite level.
She has coached and consulted Executives from Fortune 100, Fortune 500, and global companies, serving clients such as MassMutual, FedEx, Tenet Healthcare Corporation, Cisco Systems, Walgreens, Embraer, Banco do Brasil, among many others. She has trained numerous blue-chip corporations nationally and internationally. She has carved a niche in the business world, working with corporations, executives and entrepreneurs, coaching them to enhance their leadership skills, make a difference, develop their talents, advance their careers and tap into.
-LFB: Based on your experience, how do you think men can help women succeed in business?
-GC: The first thing men need to do to help women to succeed in business is to be open to recognize that women have a lot of value to bring to the table, that the partnership between men and women is a valuable asset for both. Research shows that gender diverse companies exhibit higher profitability. For example, a study conducted by Catalyst, revealed that US companies with three or more women on their boards, delivered a higher return on sales, return on invested capital, and return on equity compared to companies with zero women on their boards.
Once men realize this fact, they need to be open to develop women to move up to higher leadership roles, mentor women, sponsor them, invest in coaching to develop their potential and offer them higher level positions when they have opportunities to do so. When you are not in a position to make a decision to invite a woman to a higher–level position but are in the position to advocate for that woman to influence the decision, it is very important to use your power to act. In a male dominated work environment, a man that can use his voice to support a woman to take a leadership position is making a huge impact.
Can you give us a real life example?
Sure, Richard Fein, Chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. is an example. He named long-time cruise line executive Lisa Lutoff-Perlo as their new President & CEO for Celebrity Cruises, their company’s Luxury Brand. In his own words “Besides being the best person for the job, the fact is that often times a woman has to work harder and be better than the male counterparts to move up the ladder of whatever endeavor she is working on,” Fain says. “In order to be equal they have to try harder. I was looking for the best person for the job and it had to be Lisa.”
Richard recognized she was a powerhouse and was equipped to lead a very complex company and gave her the opportunity to ascend, by naming her the first female CEO of a publicly-traded cruise line company. The results? Only two years after she became the President & CEO of Celebrity Cruises, the brand got record financial performance, highest guest feedback scores and employee engagement in their history, under Lisa’s leadership. He just had to recognize her value and allow her to shine by giving her the opportunity.
What are the keys that you teach to business woman to advance their endeavors?
There is a lot for women to learn when it comes to ascending to higher level positions, especially CEO, Chairwoman of the Board, and other C-level assignments. Let’s not forget political careers and entrepreneurship too, which are other important roles played by leaders in our society. But for starters the ability to have a bigger vision for themselves is a major component for women leaders that aspire development. Many get stuck right there, thinking either they are not ready, they don’t have the capabilities or resources, or they don’t know how to even get to the path. Some don’t feel deserving, and sometimes all of this is unconscious. They have real justifiable reasons why they are not getting a bigger vision for themselves. All the justifications sound plausible and realistic, but many times, not true.
Once a higher and clear vision is established, women need to establish a new identity for themselves. Whatever we think, feel, and believe about ourselves brought us here, if we need to go higher, we need to develop new ways of thinking, feeling, and believing about who we are and who we want to become. That is actually a critical point. Without the vision and an up-leveled identity we tend to come back to our comfort zone and that may be deadly for a career that requires consistently overcoming of challenges, which is really the life of a high–level leader.
Next is being able to breakthrough inner barriers, that again, many times are unconscious but hold us back from taking the actions we must take to advance our path. Fears and learned failing patterns may haunt us our whole life if we don’t confront them and overcome them for once and for all.
Once we have worked with leaders on gaining a higher vision, up-leveling their identity, breaking through inner barriers we help them to put together a results–driven plan. Anyone wanting to ascend will need to be strategic about their path, resources, and actions they will take, so they can succeed. As a reminder, hope is not a strategy, a plan and consistent results– driven actions are. Once that is all conquered the next key is execution. So many people make plans, but being able to follow-through with that plan and achieve the goal, is a whole new conversation. It’s easy to quit when challenges and old habits creep in. Most women don’t understand the importance of having mentors, sponsors and an executive coach to pave the way and better, to accelerate it. That is one of the majorpitfalls women have; we have not learned how to ask.
In the whole process of helping leaders to learn how to gain more confidence and ask for help and support, we help them to generate tremendous growth and progress in their careers and lives.Usually as women, we have learned how to nurture and to help others, but we don’t give ourselves thepermission to have others helping us.I know many will deny this idea, but in most cases, it is not conscious to us how we do it. Women are very powerful, the job we do in our company is to help them to become aware of their power, unleash it and have a successful and strategic plan designed with them, along with support so they can thrive.
What are the character traits that we need to have in order to succeed in a male dominant business environment?
I would say that being honest with ourselves is the first one. Be true to who you are, understand what works for you and what doesn’t, respect your boundaries, expect others to respect your boundaries too, know that you can be a woman leader, you don’t need to be a man so you can lead like one or be by his side or take his place. You have value, accept this truth, recognize your value and make a difference on your terms, with your unique identity. Being your authentic and true self in the world is being honest with yourself and consequently with others.
Be integrous, persistent, determinated, committed, confident, faithful, positive, have a sense of humor, don’t take things too seriously,allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from themquickly, becaring, loving, and have the ability to reinvent yourself over and over are crucial traits I think you must have, not only to thrive on a male dominated world, but to be a thriving leader.