Women Leaders: “Better the Balance, Better the World”
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, “Better the Balance, Better the World”, carried a message about the value of inclusivity, implied that we can all benefit from having different perspectives at the table, and emphasized the contributions from diverse backgrounds and experiences to all aspects of our lives. This theme was significant to me as an African-American woman straddling the celebration of Black History Month and Women’s History Month because it highlights the contributions that diversity brings to the social, economic, cultural, and political fabric of this nation.
As one of the few women to have led a transit agency, I have been provided the foundation to pay forward through mentoring others by participating in the Eno and APTA workforce development programs. Recently I was appointed to the Eno Center for Transportation and MV Transportation Board of Directors. In addition, I was already serving on the APTA and WTS International Boards. All of these Boards make decisions that impact constituents, communities and infrastructure in the public space, which align with my interest in improving access, equity, mobility and public transportation. These positions offer an opportunity to serve in a decision-making capacity, to influence policy, advance the industry, support women and minorities, as well as provide better transportation services to communities.
Minorities and women have traditionally been under-represented in Board of Director and CEO positions in the transportation industry. We know that diversity at those levels has proven to be beneficial. With regard to Boards, several studies have been conducted about the impact to financial and organizational health from having women at the Board table. Diversity and inclusion has enhanced and enriched the discussions at the table and the decisions that have been made. The studies have indicated that good decision-making requires the ability to hear and consider different points of view, which comes from people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.
I have been privileged to work with organizations that embrace diversity and inclusion. Eno as an organization leads by example with women directors. In my role on Eno’s Board, as well as with the other boards, I am not just representing a company, I am a role model for women and minorities in the industry. The diverse composition of this board sends a clear message that this organization values diversity of thought and experience. The voice of women and minorities are included on the staffs and at the Board table.
Women offer the skills and experience that most organizations and boards need, including knowledge, operational experience, and functional expertise. There is a huge pool of talent in the transportation. Let’s tap it. We can benefit from utilizing all the resources to advance the industry. “Better the Balance, Better the World”—we can all contribute to parity by supporting, sponsoring and mentoring. That is the path to diversity and inclusivity in transportation.