Aug 23, 2023 - Business

Tampa hosts women executives from NASA, eBay, Microsoft for leadership summit

Illustration of only queen chess pieces lined up.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Powerful women from around the world will gather in Tampa on Thursday, hoping to bring others into their ranks.

What's happening: Women in leadership roles at Microsoft, NASA, eBay, L'Oréal, LabCorp and Mayo Clinic are among the panelists and speakers at the Women on Their Way (WOTW) Summit.

  • The conference at the Jewish Community Center is the yearly pinnacle of Women on Their Way, a leadership development program that seeks to empower more women to enter corporate leadership roles.

Why it matters: Diverse teams are more innovative and are more likely to have higher revenue growth rates, according to research from McKinsey and Company.

  • "Not only is (diverse hiring) just the right thing to do but there are very good business reasons," WOTW founder Audrey McGuckin told Axios.

State of play: More women hold the top jobs in corporate America, but it's still rare to find them in the upper ranks. As of this year, women hold 10.4% of Fortune 500 CEO jobs, an 18% rise from last year.

Yes, but: Closing the workplace gender gap starts with getting women into leadership positions at every level, not just CEOs, McGuckin said.

  • Companies often have a "leaky pipeline" between director and vice president levels, she said. "That's the toughest place for women to make the transition," she added, citing company cultures, career setbacks due to pregnancy and menopause, and fewer job opportunities towards the top of the corporate ladder.

Zoom in: Several speakers will address those issues at Thursday's summit. Mayo Clinic department of medicine chair Stephanie Faubion will speak on "leading authentically and co-existing with menopause." L'Oréal's chief human resources officer Stephanie Kramer will cover "an empowered approach to pregnancy and work."

  • The daylong event is $295 for individual registration. It's expected to draw several hundred attendees.

Flashback: After 25 years as chief talent officer for manufacturing company Jabil, McGuckin left to start her own organization focused on leadership inequality and diversity.

  • The McGuckin Group, which she started in St. Petersburg in 2017, does executive coaching, development programs and seminars for individuals and companies. The company created the WOTW program in 2021 and held its first summit last year.

Of note: Selene will be moderating a panel at the summit of L'Oréal leaders including vice president Beth Cord, assistant vice president Jenni Hinkle and vice president of accounting Julie Conrad.


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