Who Runs the World? Three Inspirational Women in Business
In recent years, feminist discourse on the role of women in business has become much more visible. No longer is it a conversation we’re afraid to have, but one that is gaining traction across many different industries.
While real progress has been made, however, we’re still not where we’d like to be. Women remain criminally underrepresented in STEM sectors, and while more of us are gaining graduate business degrees, we’re still not on an equal footing when it comes to the real-world corporate sphere.
Worst of all, the gender pay gap remains stubbornly entrenched in our society, with salary variances between men and women only widening as we age. This means that while we might typically earn three percent less pre-degree, by the time we reach ranks of seniority, female employees are looking at being paid 28 percent less than our male counterparts.
That’s not to say we should simply accept our lot, and in fact, there are many inspirational women who are doing their utmost to bring about real change. Here are three of the most inspiring, who are breaking barriers and paving the way for all of the other ambitious young women following at their heels.
When it comes to business woman quotes, most of them could have been written with Indra Nooyi in mind. The very epitome of Coco Chanel’s famous statement, that “success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable”, Nooyi is a classic example of a minority female defying expectations and making her mark in a traditionally male-dominated sector.
Having previously acted as the CEO for PepsiCo – an arguably impressive feat in and of itself – Nooyi was appointed to Amazon’s board of directors in 2018. This made headlines at the time as her hiring raised the percentage of women at the company’s top table to 45, representing an industry high.
Described by Forbes as having encouraged the public to have more open and honest conversations about the difficulties faced by women in business, such as the pressures of balancing work and family, Nooyi is undoubtedly a feminist icon for the ages.
If you’ve ever booked flights or hotel rooms online, you’ll have inevitably stumbled across Booking.com, one of the biggest names in the internet travel sector. The company is incalculably successful, so it’s no surprise that it has the highest-paid CEO in the industry. What’s slightly less par for the course is the fact she’s female.
Dutch businesswoman Gillian Tans heads up the organization, and under her tenure, the company has thrived. Taking its employee count to 10,000, she’s in command of 174 offices across the globe, and has expanded Booking.com’s customer base to encompass over 224 countries.
Just as inspirational, Tans is committed to increasing female representation within the tech industry more widely. Frequently speaking on the unequal weighting between men and women, she’s continually fighting for change, both within her own sector and with regard to leadership roles more generally.
French entrepreneur Isabelle Kocher is another incredible woman. As the only female to head a CAC 40 company, she currently acts as the CEO of the world’s biggest non-state-owned energy initiative, ENGIE.
Making it her mission to tackle climate issues head-on, Kocher has single-handedly moved her company away from fossil fuels and toward 100 percent renewable energy sources, even completing her mission ahead of the schedule she set.
Holding progressive views on environmental issues, Kocher is fully committed to being a power for good, proving not only that women can succeed in business, but also encouraging us to re-evaluate our approaches to personal accountability.
In addition, she’s recently set a series of ambitious aims in-house, including targets that endeavor to see at least 35 percent of the company’s most prominent roles filled by female employees.
With so many wonderful women to inspire and energize us, change for the better is inevitable. Will you be a part of the exciting new world we’re building?