Arianna Huffington’s ex-husband is a Texan, but she doesn’t hold it against us. She has two “half-Texan, half-Greek daughters”, she loves to travel and is a passionate advocate for women in business.

She’s also the founder of the Huffington Post, a Pulitzer prize-winner, an international best-selling author of 15 books and has been named to TIME magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people as well as Forbes Most Powerful Women in Media and Entertainment.

Recently in Plano as a guest speaker for a luncheon hosted by the Collin County Business Alliance (CCBA) at Capital One, Arianna Huffington had some interesting things to say on women in business.

Arianna Huffington on women in business

There is a problem
Every year, we look at the latest annual statistics on women in leadership and the numbers aren’t budging. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results—we need to look at what’s the problem here.”

Women are at a disadvantage
“In workplaces that are fueled by burnout, women are at a disadvantage for two reasons: 1. Women still carry the brunt of responsibilities at home. 2. Women internalize stress differently; women in stressful jobs have a 40% greater risk of heart disease and 60% greater risk of diabetes.

Unconscious bias is real
“In workplaces fueled by burnout, mens unconscious biases of sexism come out. It’s not just sexual harrasment, it’s bad behaviour and at some point women just leave. And, they don’t just leave that work place—they leave all workplaces. They stop working.” 

Read more: Toyota GVP Julia Wada on collaborative leadership

Women’s needs are not being met
“We need to encourage women to thrive. If you go to an office and they have room for a ping pong table but they don’t have room for a woman who’s just given birth to pump milk, there’s a problem. It happens a lot.” 

“If you go to an office and they have room for a ping pong table but they don’t have room for a woman to pump milk, there’s a problem.”

Women need to stand up for themselves
“I was talking to a young woman in London who had graduated from Oxford and was working at Mackenzie Investments. She told me how three months into her job she went to her boss and said, ‘I hope you’re happy with my performance, I work hard, but I just want to let you know that I’m not on email over the weekend. If you need me, this is my cell and you can reach me.’ Basically, she told them: Don’t ask me to do something at the weekend that I can do on Monday.

You’re exected to be always on, but she had the guts to say this is how I’m at my best and three months later, her boss called her into her office and said, ‘You have been identified as a leader in this company.’ I think it takes guts for women to say that and we need to encourage them.”

Self-care and a healthy work-life balance is something else Arianna Huffington is passionate about—for men and women. “It’s important for successful people to talk about what they’re doing to recharge themselves,” she says. “We need to change the misconception that you have to be on all the time to succeed.” It’s a concept she focuses on in her most recent book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder 

“When God created Heaven and Earth she took 6 days, and then she took the seventh day off.” 

If there’s one thing I learnt from Arianna Huffington it’s that I need a break. I think we probably all do.

Read more: Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere on leadership

About the Collin County Business Alliance

Formed in 2011, the CCBA is comprised of business leaders who believe that we have the responsibility to take action now to shape our vibrant community, or we put our future success at risk. By acting as a catalyst to address key issues such as water, education, and transportation today, CCBA will ensure that our already successful county has an even brighter future. Envisioning tomorrow, inspiring action today.

Rebecca Silvestri

Rebecca Silvestri is the vice president of Sales & Marketing. She is also the wife of Philip Silvestri, publisher of Local Profile. In a previous life, Rebecca was a math teacher in London and the...