In 2010, Facebook's COO, Sheryl Sandberg, gave an inspiring TEDTalk about women in the workforce. After receiving an overwhelming response, she was inspired to write her book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Sandberg crafted this read with a variety of personal stories of both struggle and success, along with research to drive more awareness to gender differences. While this book may seem as if it "leans" toward a predominantly female audience, it certainly centers on our workforce as a whole - men, women, executives, entry-level professionals, and all in between.
"What I appreciate most of Sandberg's book is that what she is reinforcing applies to all races, gender, backgrounds and differences altogether: that leaning in is about bringing your authentic self to work every day and that takes courage and self-confidence, as well as the ability to pick yourself back up when it doesn't work…to not stop leaning in the first or second time it doesn't work. The ability to learn, to adapt, to adjust. Those are the most important qualities to grow as a leader," Vice President of HR Commercial Strategy, Christine Geissler said.
Lean In challenges us to divert the conversation from what women can't do to what they can. Women, now more than ever, are receiving more college degrees, graduate degrees, and are entering the workforce at every career level. But in most industries, women comprise not even 20 percent of the top jobs. Sandberg addresses many issues in her book that speak to why this percentage is so low and how we can steer more women onto the leadership track.
When Sandberg's book became a bestseller, a top pick for most book clubs, and a hot topic of conversation amongst working women, it sparked a 'Lean In' movement to proactively support women in three significant ways: (1) community (2) education (3) circles. Nestlé has joined the Lean In Initiative to help women achieve their professional and personal goals. Part of this initiative includes the development of Circles, or small groups, that meet on a monthly basis to encourage each other in an open space of confidentiality and trust.
"I am so fortunate to work for an organization that has allowed me to lean in every day - to have my voice heard, to not be afraid to lead. In my role in Human Resources, I see it as a gift to be able to help others lean in through coaching and mentoring those behaviors. It's about supporting ambition and helping to take the fear out of 'leaning' into something," Geissler said.
At Nestlé Purina, 30 percent of our company's leaders (associates at the director level and above) are women. However, we are an organization that encourages our entire associate body, not just women, to find the will to lead.
Whether you're male or female, and regardless of what career level you are, consider Lean In as your next read.