Blog

January 29, 2014As excitement about the winter Olympics (and, in the US, the Super Bowl) builds, I’ve been considering what it means to be a champion. What does it take for a good athlete to become great and go for the gold? How does a team go from winning a few games to winning the Super Bowl?

I believe this year’s Catalyst Award-winning initiatives offer some important clues. These programs weren’t just designed to help women; they were designed to develop talent and build winning teams.

Kimberly-Clark’s Unleash Your Power: Strengthening the Business With Women Leaders is a global, enterprise-wide initiative to address the company’s need to look, think, and behave like the people who use and buy its products. It highlights the important role women play in the workplace and marketplace, with the understanding that diversity and inclusion lead to stronger and better results.

Lockheed Martin’s Women Accelerating Tomorrow comprises a variety of programs, processes, and tools that support women’s advancement as part of a broad strategic effort to attract, develop, and retain diverse talent. Lockheed Martin recognizes that attracting, engaging and leveraging a wider range of talent gives it a competitive edge.

What can we learn from these exceptional initiatives?

  • Being good isn’t enough; the truly great dig deeper and push harder than anybody else.

  • Teams that draw from all available talent play better, stronger, and smarter.

  • Good teams need players with diverse skill sets—to score a medal, an Olympic hockey team needs more than a great goalie, and you can’t win the Super Bowl with a star quarterback alone. Similarly, you can’t transform workplaces without strengthening your pipeline of talent and making women’s advancement part of organizational culture.

Women today are better educated than at any other time in history. We have more business experience and stronger leadership skills than ever before. So what must change in corporate culture to enable us to achieve our full potential?

More than anything, we need opportunities to succeed. Companies like Kimberly-Clark and Lockheed Martin know this—and, thanks in large part to CEOs whose leadership shows that they “get it,” they’re putting their best people on the field, regardless of gender.

When women’s talents are recognized and developed, they win—and so do their companies, coworkers, partners, families, and communities.