Driving school

Houston Women Leaders on Driving a More Diverse Workforce, Drawing Inspiration

Registering for a previous Rise to the Top event

Every year, International Women’s Day encourages collective action for gender parity and equality. McKinsey & Co.’s latest report reveals that while women are better represented in the talent pool than they were five years ago, they continue to lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to promotions early, creating a barrier to higher level positions over time. . For women of color, these promotions are even harder to come by.

The Partnership’s annual Rise to the Top event on March 10 aims to celebrate women’s achievements, but also address some of the challenges local women continue to face, in line with this year’s theme #BreakTheBias.

Ahead of this week’s event, we spoke with several female leaders of an increasingly diverse workforce, what inspires them, and how the Partnership supports them in their work.

Willingness to “get uncomfortable”

Qiara Suggs, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of TDECU Credit Union, said she saw more and more women rising to the top of the financial sector, and in particular the credit union sector, stimulated by emphasizing diversity and investing in talent at all levels. .

“It’s critical that we embrace future talent by helping them talk about their passion,” Suggs said. “I strongly believe that you should enjoy your purpose and build a career that matches your passion and purpose. I intentionally mentor, coach and counsel those who seek help because it is important to share personal experiences which help overcome self-doubt and things like impostor syndrome to build confidence.

Perry Homes CEO Kathy Britton said she was eager to see more women entering the construction industry. In companies like hers that focus on promotion from within, more women entering the organization will ultimately lead to even more female representation at the top.

“As a leader, I’m driven by what we can accomplish when we rally the strength of our team around our mission,” Britton said. “Working collaboratively across the company toward the same goals is a source of satisfaction and pride.”

Suggs said her career has been changed by a “village of trust” of individuals who believe in her and boost her self-confidence. “I’m aware of surrounding myself with individuals who uplift me and encourage me to be better than I am today,” Suggs said.

Continued success often means stopping to appreciate what’s already been accomplished and figuring out what’s next without risking burnout. Suggs said she was proud of what she had accomplished in a career spanning more than two decades, from helping hospitals grow to creating DEI strategy and structure. for a large healthcare company. Again, it was her village of individuals that encouraged her to act when she felt complacent. “Regularly, I encountered friends, mentors and executive coaches who gave me honest feedback, encouraged me to ‘make me feel bad’ and reminded me of the efforts and lessons learned that led to my Current state.”

Britton said today’s women leaders have a responsibility to support and educate the next generation of women while helping them understand their potential. In her role as the founder of the Perry Homes Foundation, Britton said she seeks philanthropic opportunities that can directly represent young women through education and other programs.

Leaving from Houston

While Houston businesses have made significant progress in recent years toward gender inclusion, recent data shows that women remain underrepresented in leadership positions. The goal of events like Rise to the Top and the larger International Women’s Day is to encourage meaningful work to address disparity.

Houston is attractive to a wide range of businesses because of its diverse talent, and organizations like the Partnership help channel growth for even better results, Suggs said. “The opportunity to network and represent my organization [at the Partnership] in a unique way attracts me. These are invaluable times when networking becomes the best way to learn and apply the lessons of others in various industries. »

“Although we are the fourth largest city, it can still feel like a small community,” Britton said. “Having been a Houstonian all my life, I can say that our residents genuinely care about one another and will always come together to help one another in times of disaster or tragedy.” Plus, she says, Houston is known for her philanthropy and generosity in a way that really makes a difference.

“I’m excited to see how Houston will benefit from its continued growth,” Britton said. “With more people and businesses settling in our area, we will continue to see revitalization and expansion. As a community, we can prosper and grow together.

See the perspective of other Houston women leaders. Click here to register for Rise to the Top on March 10 and learn more about the Partnership for Women Leaders business resource groups: Executive Women’s Partnership and Women’s Business Alliance.