I had the honor of kicking off Women’s History Month and our efforts to support International Women’s Day’s #PressForProgress campaign by moderating a special conversation between two CEOs – Ketchum’s CEO Barri Rafferty and Geetha Murali, the CEO of our pro bono partner Room to Read, an organization that believes that world change starts with educating children. Both of these women happened to start their new roles in January and both are running organizations during rapidly changing and unpredictable times.
As you’ll see in the video below, Barri and Geetha discuss how they are pressing for progress in the boardroom, classroom and beyond. Conversation topics ranged from the effect of being exposed to dramatically different cultural norms to the disheartening reality that 130 million girls still lack access to education.
One of my favorite moments from the discussion was each CEO’s choice of a superpower to press for progress. Barri chose the power to erase bias from people’s consciousness: “If we could eliminate bias in society and if everything was viewed through an equal lens, I think we’d see a very different world.” Geetha chose the ability to travel across time like Marty McFly “so you could really show people what the future could look like if you made decisions differently now.”
I also enjoyed Barri’s comments expanding on how to be an energizing leader and Geetha’s thoughts related to diversity and the importance of Room to Read’s practice reflecting its purpose.
Barri: When people come into my office, do they leave with more energy, less energy or about the same? And if you can make sure that when people come into a meeting with you that they leave with more energy, that their ideas are growing, that they’re thinking differently.
Geetha: It’s important to me that our practice reflects our purpose as an organization. So having a culture that values diversity… ensuring that the voices from various parts of the organization are heard and that both gender balance and diversity are reflected in the decisions we make and how we support our teams as we move ahead.
As the senior leader overseeing our CSR efforts at Ketchum, I was thrilled to be a part of this powerful conversation and hope you are inspired by it as much as I was.