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Advice from Four Female Executives to the Future Women Business Leaders in DSM

Future Female Leaders of Greater Des Moines Advice

March 21, 2024

As we celebrate Women’s History Month throughout March, now is the ideal time to reflect on women’s role in leadership and how Greater Des Moines (DSM) companies can support future female employees moving into leadership roles within their organizations. According to McKinsey & Co., companies who track outcomes to improve women’s experience, support and reward managers who foster Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, take steps to tackle microaggressions, create flexibility and work to de-bias performance reviews, specifically when it comes to women of color, will see many benefits.

One Des Moines-based company making strides to show strong leadership locally is Principal (Des Moines headquarters). Read how Principal helps to advance financial inclusion for women globally! The company recently landed on Newsweek's list of America’s Greatest Workplaces for Women 2024, along with other DSM employers like Pella Windows & Doors (Pella headquarters), BH Management (Des Moines headquarters), Businesssolver (West Des Moines headquarters), Engineered Plastic Components (West Des Moines headquarters) and HR Green (Johnston headquarters).

Advice for Future Women in Leadership in Greater Des Moines

While these companies are to be commended for their great strides in improving opportunities for women in the workplace, there is still work to do. We asked local female leaders from around the region, and in a variety of industries, to advise the next generation of female leadership. Here’s what they had to say:

A piece of advice I would give to other female leaders is to be bold. Challenge yourself and others by taking risks, saying what you think with tact and being real. It’s comfortable to keep doing what you’ve always been doing and not ruffling feathers, but the reality is, to get things done, sometimes you have to rock the boat. You don’t have to be superhuman or extraordinary, you just have to light the fire. Taking those bold steps motivates others and creates change. – Miriam De Dios Woodward, Global CEO, ViClarity

As a female leader, I feel it is imperative to not only mentor and support my colleague sisters, but to actively sponsor them however I can. Perhaps that manifests as a professional reference, an award nomination, a Board seat recommendation or a speaking engagement invitation. Support through action is incredibly impactful — I have certainly benefitted from these gifts at various times in my professional career. As female leaders, we can move the needle for each other pretty quickly by intentionally and strategically working together in these ways. – Rachelle K. Keck, PhD, JD, President, Grand View University

As CEO/President of iJAG, I believe it is important to serve others and treat others with the same kindness I’ve received. My advice to other female leaders is to always be authentic and set personal and professional goals. Forge your path by continuously learning through listening, questioning, leading and engaging with others. Know that receiving the credit doesn’t matter, it is the outcome of achieving greatness for your business/organization or community. Embrace risk, learn from setbacks and advocate for yourself. Do not be afraid to share your values with superiors. Lastly, stay humble, always respect your team and have passion, and it will not feel like work. – Wendy Mihm-Herold, PhD, President & CEO, Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG)

As you climb your career ladder and get a seat at the decision-making table, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo to achieve a more inclusive workplace for women and other underrepresented people in the workplace. Doing so will help your organization thrive — and everyone, including yourself, within it. Help other women succeed. Be intentional about sharing what you have learned in your career trajectory with young female leaders. By normalizing these conversations, we can collectively identify strategies to overcome personal and systemic challenges in the workplace and beyond. - Claudia Schabel, President & CEO, Schabel Solutions

Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Inclusion Awards also recognize employers strengthening Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts in their organizations and are awarded during the annual Inclusion Summit.

Stacey Robles

Stacey Robles is the Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Program Manager for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.