Why is it we find four accomplished women on stage at the same time fascinating? Would we be so enthralled if it were four men? How many in the ballroom would be offended if it were all men? Will we ever get past the point of a gender focus to one on talent and expertise?

When the IABC Program Advisory Committee embarked on creating a panel of senior-level businesswomen for the IABC World Conference, I was interested in what might be different about their perspectives. As a woman, I think I bring an often-unusual take my male colleagues and clients sometimes struggle to follow. I hope it’s a valuable perspective to the business.

The panel is made up of these four impressive leaders:

  • Nancy Higgins, Chief Ethics Officer, Bechtel
  • River Ho Rathore, CHRO, Sinar Mas
  • Colleen Moorehead, Chief Client Officer, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt
  • Fumbi Chima, CIO, Burberry

Each woman has built a career and reputation in her discipline over time. Each comes from a different part of the business; this alone means they’ll each have different approaches and views of leadership and employee engagement.

Women in the future workplace

Part of the inspiration for this panel was the section in keynoter Geoff Colvin’s book Humans are Underrated about women being terrific at the very skills that are so important in the future workplace: communication, empathy, collaboration. What does that mean for women currently in business, and what might it mean for communication?

So, it’s with great anticipation that I prepare for the C-suite panel in New Orleans. Some of the questions I’d like to ask include:

  • What do women bring to business that is different from men?
  • How effective are women at innovating? Why?
  • If women excel at future workplace skills, and a majority of communicators are women, what might that mean for the future of communication as a profession?
  • What setbacks or challenges shaped you as a leader?
  • How are you mentoring and encouraging other women in business?

If you could sit down with these four great women, what would you ask them? Of course, you’ll be able to join us and ask your own questions. Can’t make the conference? Share your ideas here and we’ll try to get to as many of your topics as possible. After the session, I’ll blog about the discussion.

Even better would be to join us in New Orleans. Get registered today!