Is Failing Key to Women Finding Success?

The authors of <em>Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose</em> shared their insights with Maria Shriver

According to a 2014 report by the World Economic Forum, global gender parity won’t be achieved in the workplace for 80 more years—that’s another four generations from now. This finding (and what can be done to speed up the reaching of this milestone) served as a jumping-off point for Wednesday’s Town Hall Los Angeles talk, which was part of the “Architects of Change” conversation series, and moderated by Maria Shriver, founder of Shriver Media and the former first lady of California.

The speakers on yesterday’s panel, Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Kim Azzarelli, are authors of the new book Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose (which happens to include a forward by powerful woman Hillary Clinton). At City Club Los Angeles, both shared insights from their research and personal experiences. Here are a few takeaways:

Studies Could Save the World (or at Least Make It More Fair)
Both Azzarelli and Verveer emphasized that the data show that gender equality is not just a moral imperative, but also a smart business decision.

“It is when one is armed with the strong data case that you move the needle and get the attention of—mostly male still—decision-makers who understand that they can be part of something that is the right thing to do, but also the strategic, smart, effective thing to do.” (Kim Azzarelli)

Role Models Are Real
“I think modeling is really important. If we never see people in these positions, you sort of say to yourself, “Oh, it’s not possible.” Those who break new ground really do model for everybody else.” (Ambassador Melanne Verveer)

Women Need to Embrace the F Word: Failure
Azzarelli shared an anecdote about how the founder of Girls Who Code began hosting “failure parties” to encourage risk-taking. She said this sort of behavior is essential for success.

“One of the biggest issues [for women] is not being able to ask for things and being comfortable with the word no. Because if you’re afraid of getting rejected, you never really ask for what you really want. We as women tend to have been trained to think about being perfect and not taking risks [but] you can’t succeed if you’re not willing to fail.” (Kim Azzarelli)