I was looking over a list of the 50 most powerful women in business, as identified by Fortune in 2013, and was struck by how few of them were on Twitter. Out of the 50 women listed, I could only find eleven that use Twitter. My gut tells me that the missing 39 powerful women are simply less powerful than they could be because they lack a prominent social media presence.
Some of you (well, some who don’t read Social Media Today) may think that Twitter is a distraction from the exercise of true power. They may think that social media is all hype and blather. And yet, nearly every Member of Congress is on Twitter, the vast majority of reporters are on Twitter and the number of people who have used Twitter to create influence where they had none before is undoubtedly huge.
Why should these women be on Twitter? You’ve all likely read my thoughts on getting the leaders of progressive organizations on Twitter. We crave the inspiration generated when our best and brightest leaders actually lead the conversation. And, perhaps more than anything, we need the inspiration of our most powerful women.
Sadly, women remain challenged in the workplace. They earn less than their male counterparts, they all too often hit glass ceilings that keep promotions out of reach and they struggle to “have it all” while being told that they cannot. And women are clearly under-represented in the C-suite. That is why we need to hear from women who have made it to the top.
Girls need to hear what successful business-women have to say so they can be inspired to aspire to those levels. For them, powerful women on Twitter are more accessible role-models. For boys becoming men, being regularly exposed to the ideas of powerful business women prepare them to be respectful of women in the workplace. They will be hard pressed to embrace stereotypes that perpetuate a sense of inequality between the sexes when they are as likely to read the brilliance of great women business leaders as great men in business. And for the rest of us adults, we will be able to learn from the best leaders available, not just the loudest and malest.
For our society to fully emerge as a place where women are as respected and successful as men in all aspects of life, where they get the pay, promotions and influence they deserve, we have to change our cultural norms once and for all. For my money, more familiarity with successful women and the great work they do is a crucial ingredient to that continued emergence. So I say to women business leaders… get on Twitter. Share your insights. Lead us as you lead your companies.
Social Advocacy & Politics is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today by Alan Rosenblatt that explores the intersection of politics and social media. Look for the next installment next Tuesday morning.