Monday, February 15, 2016

Carly Fiorina Is the Poster Child for Sexism In America

The Carly Fiorina I Knew And Loved back in 2007
Now that Carly Fiorina has suspended her quest for the White House, I am compelled to let y'all know that until she ran for president, I was a huge fan. As a woman and ferocious leader, I followed Ms. Fiorina's career as she ascended in the tech field as it coincided with my own corporate journey. I ate up any and all stories of women defying corporate norms and Carly certainly fit the bill. I even had the blessing and pleasure to meet her at the Willowcreek Association's Global Leadership Summit over the years as she had participated after being on the faculty for the first time in 2007.

The fact that a women this brilliant has never had another shot at CEO at a Fortune 500 company tells us all we need to know about sexism in America. Again, I do not want to talk at all about her run for the GOP nomination for president. I just want to talk about how she got one shot at CEO and that's it.

That would never happen to a man. Surely, men fail at leadership at some point in their careers. The difference is they don't usually have to pay for it the rest of their lives. Since her forced resignation from HP in 2005, she has yet been given another chance to lead. Sure, she's battled and won a fight with cancer, buried a child and run unsuccessfully for the US Senate and President but she has not been offered another chance to lead a company and I find that very telling.

You may argue, "she wasn't very good"  or "She ran that company in the ground" and my response is so what. Many men do the same and get lots of chances to redeem themselves in new environments with different tools. The fact that this woman who led one of our country's most successful tech companies during a tremendous time of change and innovation in the sector has never been tapped again tells us all we need to know about how Corporate America treats its smart, fierce women leaders. And I know this first hand after a 19 year career there before I started my business.

We have to do better. The real reason Carly Fiorina has been lost in politics the last few years is because Corporate America gave her the collective finger after the HP debacle and won't allow her to move on beyond her mistakes. And she made many. But she deserved another chance. Her peers got 'em.

And while I think her journey took her places politically I can never support, I will staunchly defend her business record and say that she is a picture of what needs to change in Corporate America.

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