Susan McGalla Blazes a Path for Women in Leadership

Susan McGalla has helped blaze a path for women who want to be leaders. McGalla grew up with two brothers. Her father was a football coach. Her dad and brothers gave her zero breaks for being a girl. She had to compete, and she’s been competing ever since.

McGalla started out at American Eagle Outfitters. At the time she hired on, all executives were men. By the time McGalla exited the company she was president. Susan McGalla subsequently founded P3 Consulting. McGalla currently works for the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL franchise. She is Vice President of Business Strategy and Creative Development for the Steelers and helped drive the Wear what we wear campaign.

However, McGalla’s success is still not the norm. Among all senior executive positions, women hold only 25%. Women’s leadership networks and women’s leadership initiatives abound, but the glass ceiling remains. If such networking and leadership initiatives were the answer, there would be more cracks in the glass ceiling. There are not. Something more is needed. There is a solution that can help end gender discrimination, executive sponsorship.

In executive sponsorship, a woman seeking to break through the glass ceiling pairs with a high-level executive who acts as her sponsor. The sponsor may be someone the woman seeks out, although a company-wide policy of promoting such sponsorships is probably better.

Executive sponsors would lobby for the assignment of women executives to essential projects, and then provide them the mentorship to execute the project successfully. Of course, some businesses are promoting such sponsorships. The key to making the executive sponsorship perform better is to incentivize those sponsors. When corporations reward executives for sponsoring women executives, change will occur.

Studies show that gender-diverse companies perform better than non-diverse organizations. Susan McGalla is leading the effort to increase awareness of that fact. Find out more about Susan McGalla: