Can Social CEOs be Women?

September 20, 2014

Can Social CEOs be Women?

We were one of the first to focus on Social CEOs. And we will continue to do so. I believe that being social is one way for CEOs and CXOs to build better corporate reputations and communicate with all stakeholders. This morning I ran across a terribly interesting piece in the HuffingtonPost by Andrea Learned on the gender disparity in the social CEO space (no surprise, more men than women by far).  According to her point of view, social media provides an easy opportunity for women to have their voices heard and build influence. So what’s the problem? Why have women CEOs and execs allowed male CEOs to take the lead? If women are leaning in, why are they not leaning into social media?  Learned says:

“Especially in the business-to-business arena, social media engagement is how relationships are built, collaboration is seeded, and recognition for big thinking is gained. In other words, it helps agents, publishers and all those looking for emerging thinkers, speakers and authors to find you.”

“By default and tradition, men alone have narrated business. But, that story has grown stale. ‘Going social’ has huge potential for helping women leaders elevate their own voices, add fresh thinking to important conversations, and build trusted community with an impact that makes a world of business difference.”

Since I post a lot about thought leadership in addition to social media, Learned made me stop in my tracks. She makes incredibly valid points about women not taking advantage of a medium that they’d excel in and give them a step up. Are women CEOs worried that using social media would place them too much in the spotlight and under even more scrutiny? Do they worry that stakeholders will think they are showboating and not attending to business?

Why haven’t we written more about this I asked myself? In nearly all of our studies, there just have been too few female CEOs to say anything definitive or statistically relevant.  We are constantly confronted with too small sample sizes compared to male CEOs and I have no doubt that the few studies out there on Social CEOs run into the same problem. And unfortunately, it’s been like that too many years now. But Learned is right in saying that women have it in their power to jump onboard and get their voices and thoughts heard and nothing should hold them back. Why cede the ground to male CEOs and continue the trend? Why not seize the narrative and go social with it.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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