It’s time for the next cohort of women to make our special ‘Women Resetting the World’ feature.
This time around, we’ve chosen women from across the globe, who have made a major impact in business, and are continuing to use their skills to redefine what it means to be a successful business leader. Some of these women are household names, while some have been quietly plugging away, changing the landscape of the business world.
Gretchen Carlson became a household name when she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News media empire’s chairman and CEO Roger Ailes four years ago. Since then, Carlson has used her platform to lobby organisations and companies to adapt their policies to better support female victims of sexual misconduct. She founded non-profit Lift Our Voices which is dedicated to eradicating NDAs for toxic workplace issues and mandatory arbitration clauses.
Dr Tererai Trent
Dr Tererai Trent was once deemed Oprah’s “all time favourite guest” and it’s not hard to see why. As an internationally recognised voice for quality education and women’s empowerment, Trent founded Tererai Trent International; a foundation with the mission to lead development and growth of a better education system backed by engaged businesses.
Claire Vallée made history this year when her vegan restaurant, Origine Non Animale became the first ever to gain a Michelin star. Writing on her restaurant’s official website, Vallée says of her vegansim, “It was like a brutal awakening. A whole new cuisine I wasn’t aware of offered itself to me. An ethical cuisine, respectful of life and of the planet.”
Sonia Syngal, CEO of Gap Inc, took over the reigns at the retailer just before the pandemic hit, and has led the company through unchartered waters. Born in India, Syngal is one of just a few female CEOs in the Fortune 500 and the highest ranking Indian-American female CEO. Prior to leading Gap, she was the chief executive of Old Navy, where she saw it become the first Fortune 500 company to disclose and validate its equal pay practices.
MacKenzie Scott has donated more than $US4.1 billion ($5.6 billion) over the past four months to 384 organisations across the US that provide essential support to people suffering the worst effects of the current economic crisis triggered by the pandemic. “This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” she said. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.
The media magnate launched Thrive Global last year, with the view to help the world’s leading enterprises and their people build healthy habits and navigate challenging periods with less stress and greater resilience. She described the ‘mental load’ experienced by so many as the biggest pain point for employers but one that needn’t be the case. “We have to make sure that women are not left behind by the pandemic, and that we don’t allow all the gains that women have made in recent years to be lost,” she told Women’s Agenda. Emma Walmsley the CEO of British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Walmsley has led a partnership with genetics startup 23andMe, to “focus on [the] research and development of innovative new medicines and potential cures, using human genetics as the basis for discovery.” As well as this, she oversaw GSK’s acquisition of cancer drug specialist Tesaro for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Beauty entrepreneur Kate Morris co-founded Adore Beauty from her garage 20 years ago, when she was 21 years old. Late last year, the online beauty business was listed on the ASX, becoming the largest listing by a female co-founder ever. There’s so much to love about Morris’ e-commerce powerhouse, including the fact that many first-time female investors in Australia chose to take the plunge and buy Adore shares when it debuted on the ASX. Watch this space in 2021.
Lucy Liu is the co-founder and president of Airwallex, the Aussie fintech company that hit unicorn status in record time, scoring a $1 billion valuation in its first three and a half years. A leading woman in the startup space, Liu is responsible for Airwallex’s branding and operations. Under her leadership, the company has grown rapidly, securing investments from the likes of Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar.
Whitney Wolfe Herd
Whitney Wolfe Herd is the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire and the youngest woman in the United States to take a company public, after the dating app she founded, Bumble, made its Wall Street debut. Bumble puts the power into the hands of the women who use the dating app, requiring them to make the first move after a match. Bumble’s board of executives is made up of over 70 per cent women – a figure that sits way above the average of most boardrooms.
Philanthropist and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates has used her profile and privilege to draw attention to the plight of women and marginalised people during the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, she called on governments to put start thinking about childcare as “essential infrastructure” as they rebuild economies, and to put women at the centre of the pandemic response.
Pippa Lamb, a partner at early-stage investment fund Sweet Capital, is a firm supporter of diverse female founders. The British-born angel investor grew up in a family of political refugees, who fled communist China. She now focuses on connecting creatives with entrepreneurs, and creating more diversity in venture capital and tech. “We need more diverse representation in every area of the start-up ecosystem,” she said recently.