Over the past four decades of my career, the landscape of women in business has undergone a profound transformation. We entered the business world in unprecedented numbers, our roles evolving to where we wield power in ways that differ significantly from our male counterparts. Our inclusive and collaborative approach to power and leadership is reflective of the discrimination, inequities, and limited access to professional leadership roles women have experienced time and time again.
We needn’t look any further than the borders of Washington, D.C., to see great women leading movements, shaping our nation, and inspiring change. This month, I was honored to be among 169 women recognized by the Washingtonian magazine as one of the most powerful women shaping government, business, the arts, education, law, media, and nonprofits. As this list grows in size year after year, I’m reminded of the hallmarks of our story – tenacity, resilience, and an endless fight to better not only ourselves but our fellow women.
From being excluded from the boardroom to becoming influential leaders and entrepreneurs in our own right, women have embraced emotional intelligence, communication skills, and inclusivity as valuable tools for leadership. Research shows that diverse teams, which include women in decision-making roles, are more innovative and effective. We have recognized this and leveraged our unique perspectives to drive positive change in the business and political world.
This year marks 50 years since the tireless advocacy of tennis great Billie Jean King resulted in the passage of Title IX and the U.S. Open becoming the first sporting event to offer equal prize money to female and male competitors. I watched as Billie Jean stood next to our former First Lady Michelle Obama at this year’s U.S. Open Tournament and said, “While we celebrate today, our work is far from done.” Echoing Coretta Scott King, Billie Jean then said, “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it, and you win it in every generation.”
As we celebrate our victories in the workplace and society more broadly, our efforts are far from over. We must work as hard today as we did 50 years ago to ensure that every woman entering the workforce understands her potential to achieve is limitless. Our commitment extends to breaking down barriers for underrepresented groups, including women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Much like Billie Jean King and her fellow female tennis players, who risked being banned from the sport to campaign for equality, we must be willing to take risks. Our journey toward true inclusivity and gender equality demands unwavering dedication.
Congratulations to my fellow Most Powerful Women in Washington. Your contributions to our city and nation are invaluable. As we cast our gaze toward the future, I hope that we can work together to ensure this list continues to grow and encompass an even broader spectrum of voices and backgrounds.