Women’s Leadership: What’s in It for Men?

Matt Laszlo, Clorox Chief Customer OfficerThe Network of Executive Women‘s NEW Leader magazine’s latest issue focuses on why men should champion gender diversity in the workplace, and includes Matt Laszlo, Clorox’s Chief Customer Officer.

Here we offer a companion Q&A that goes a bit deeper with Matt into why he supports women’s leadership and creating a culture of inclusion.

Q: Why do you support women’s leadership?

I’ve observed that companies with gender-diverse leadership retain their talent more effectively. Plus, the positive reputation earned by a company that supports women’s leadership also serves as a powerful recruiting tool. As it relates to business decisions, I’ve seen multiple studies that conclude decisions made by a more gender-diverse leadership group are better for the business.

Q: Why are women in the retail/CPG industry still underdeveloped, undermentored and undersponsored as leaders?

Overall, I choose not to believe there is a poor intention behind the lack of development. And that choice is due to my reverence for how complex and difficult it is to transform a company’s culture. Enabling and sustaining the development of women as leaders within organizations is done by creating a culture that champions that pursuit always. Without that cultural transformation, anything else that is done is an isolated tactic that, while in the right spirit, is unlikely to be sustainable.

Q: What caused you, personally, to recognize the need for gender equity in leadership roles and become a champion for women in the workplace?

My ‘a-ha’ moment came long before my professional career. My mother decided when I was 10 years old to change careers and become an attorney. I watched her deal with the challenges of a male-dominated workplace, and those struggles formed my resolve to one day lead in a different way.

Women's Leadership at Clorox

Women’s leadership at Clorox in FY15.

Q: How can male leaders model behaviors and policies that create a better and more supportive environment for women, so that advancing women to senior roles becomes the “norm”?

Creating and maintaining a culture of inclusion is a critical everyday step. Nobody advances to a senior role overnight, so to enable more women to attain such roles, the workplace culture must consistently demonstrate to women that it is worth the wait — the opportunity is truly there.

Q: What’s your advice to women who want to advance to leadership roles?

Consistently demonstrate a willingness to take on more than what’s expected of each role, and look for opportunities to take thoughtful risks. And embrace conflict, as often better ideas can result from conflicting viewpoints.

Women's Leadership NEW Leader magazine.

Read “Women’s Leadership: What’s in It for Men” in the latest issue of NEW Leader magazine.