LOS ANGELES (SEPT. 17, 2018) — More than 400 professional women from across Southern California gathered Saturday for the 2018 Women’s Leadership Conference, presented by the Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Emerging and established leaders came to gain actionable insights from pacesetters in their fields and communities — including how to provide unwavering stability amidst ever-changing landscapes, and why self-care is such a vital tool for sustained, influential leadership.
A theme of “Responding to the Call: Leading in Times of Change,” drove workshops, conversations and panels on topics such as the ROI of gender-balanced leadership, how to tackle implicit bias in the workforce, and the power of storytelling for social change. Speakers came from industries as varied as media, finance, government, healthcare, nonprofits, education and wellness.
“My hope is that, together, we amplify each other’s voices and lift one another up to solve the persistent gender inequities of our time,” said Emerald Archer, PhD, director of the Center for the Advancement of Women. “Whether you are an executive at a Fortune 500 company or a first-year student here at Mount Saint Mary’s, understanding how to manage, effectively lead, and thrive in a world where news cycles change by the hour is essential.”
The conference was bookended by discussions on the importance of self-care and resiliency in order to be more effective, long-term leaders. Dr. Susanne Bennett, DC, delivered the opening keynote on ultimate wellness for high-performing women, offering attendees advice on how to avoid falling victim to “superwoman syndrome,” and paying the price with their health.
“Self-care is the new healthcare,” Bennett said, noting the importance of sleep and physical activity, as well as the increased need for self-care among those with large workloads, such as caregivers and CEOs.
The closing keynote featured a powerhouse panel discussing the connection between self-care and effective leadership. The conversation featured moderator Joy Donnell, CEO of Parajin Media and editor-in-chief of Vanichi Magazine; Amy Denoon, CEO of Beach House PR; Jess Weiner, CEO of Talk to Jess; and Maggie Q, an actor, model and activist.
“Women are expected to give more than they can and live off the fumes of their martyrdom,” said Maggie Q. “It can’t be that way. Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s necessary.”
Other key advice from conference speakers:
“The real work is work. The work to empower, to educate, to enlighten, to grow, to heal. That’s work. So, I worry that with social media we have shortcut our image of what success looks like. We have a lot of tired, exhausted, burned-out women trying to be all things to all people, without figuring out what they want to be for themselves.”
—Jess Weiner, CEO, Talk to Jess, a cultural think tank and strategy firm
“At some point, you’re going to have to perform triage on your passions so you have the energy and time to truly make a difference. You can care about a lot of things, but you cannot be a passionate activist for every single thing every day.”
—Elisa Camahort Page, author and consultant; co-founder of BlogHer
“The return on invested capital for companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the lowest by 66 percent. The return on equity is similar, at 53 percent more for companies with the highest percentages of women board directors. Overall, women are 51 percent of the U.S. population. So, why do we act like the minority? We keep asking for things that we shouldn’t have to ask for.”
—Beate Chelette, founder of The Women’s Code; programming chair, National Association of Women Business Owners-Los Angeles
“Have you heard of the motherhood penalty? Women earn 4% less, on average, for each child they have — and 10% less when they reach the senior ranks in their field. Dads, though, receive a fatherhood bonus. Men, on average, make 6% more for each child they have.”
—Bettina Bush, editor, Working Mother magazine
“Negotiating is an information-gathering process.”
—Ching Valdezco, director, Exec/Comm
“What do you know more about than most people you know? What can you do that will solve people’s problems or enhance their lives? What are you passionate about? Position yourself as a thought leader in your field and you will always have a seat at the decision-making table.”
—Sabrina K. Garba, founder and CEO, Glass Ladder Group
“Here’s the good news today: Your career is in your hands.”
—Diane Reichenberger, VP, global strategy for consumer products and promotional partnerships, Mattel
This annual Women’s Leadership Conference is one of several professional development events hosted each year by the Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University — a hub for the promotion of gender equity through research, advocacy and leadership development. The Center recently launched “The Women's Professional Conference Experience & Impact Study,” which seeks to understand women's experiences at professional conferences and how these learning and development events impact women's career trajectories. This is expected to be the largest and most diverse original research of its kind in the United States. The first stage of the study includes a national survey, which is open to all professional women.
About Mount Saint Mary’s University
Mount Saint Mary’s is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. The University is known nationally for its research on gender equity, its innovative health and science programs, and its commitment to community service. As a leading liberal arts institution, Mount Saint Mary’s provides year-round, flexible and online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Weekend, evening and graduate programs are offered to both women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active, global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world. msmu.edu
About the Center for the Advancement of Women
The Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University is a hub for gender equity research, advocacy and leadership development. Its vision is to find solutions to persistent gender inequities and work with partners to eradicate those inequities in our lifetime. That goal includes eliminating obstacles that women face in the workplace, in their communities, in the media and beyond to make a positive difference in the lives of women and girls in California and our nation. The Center also creates public programming, research guides and training opportunities to engage more partners in its work. msmu.edu/CAW