Susan McGalla of Pittsburgh proves that companies without a glass ceiling to block the rise of female executives to the C-Suite are 15% more likely to outcompete against their competition than companies that recognize only the talent of their male employees. This is true even in the masculine realm of professional football. McGalla is now Vice President of Business Strategy and Creative Development for the Pittsburgh Steelers. She helped the “Wear What We Wear” campaign that greatly increased the sale of Steelers apparel and gear to fans.
McGalla is used to proving herself. She grew up the only girl in the family, with two brothers and a football coach father. She didn’t expect any consideration for her gender, and received none. She had to work for everything she wanted.
Getting football fans to buy Steelers jerseys is not McGalla’s first venture into a masculine-oriented subniche of the apparel industry. When she started out with American Eagle Outfitters, every executive was a man. Although the company had nothing to do with fashion, she wound up president.
After leaving American Eagle, she spent time as a consultant in the retail industry, then took over Wet Seal and Arden B to rehabilitate those two brands. As the founder of P3 Executive Consulting, McGalla worked with the financial industry to find and place analysts and investment fund managers.
However, many women in business are still not fully recognized and allowed to fulfill their potential. They need executive sponsorship opportunities. In this process, the sponsoring executive would make sure women with great executive promise work on important assignments or lead critical projects. Women committed to their careers in business must locate high level executives who can make these decisions. Every rising young executive needs someone near the top of the organization in a position to support them when necessary.
These sponsoring executives, male and female, need motivation to invest in the careers of women in their organization. It’s a tradition for older executives to mentor the most promising younger male executives. Few men rise far in the ranks of a corporation without the backing of such a mentor.