Promoting Dynamic Women in Leadership – Robbin Jorgensen, Women Igniting Change

On today’s show ASBN’s Jim Fitzpatrick speaks with Robbin Jorgensen, founder and CEO of Women Igniting Change, a forward-thinking organization committed to fully leveraging the strategic potential of women leaders.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: 

Jim Fitzpatrick: Welcome to The Atlanta Small Business Show. We’re glad you could join us today.

Robbin Jorgensen: My pleasure.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, so tell us a little bit about your background?

Robbin Jorgensen: My background, 25 years in corporate America. I come from the media sales and marketing arena up in New York. I was with the Hearst Corporation.

Robbin Jorgensen: Yeah, so I rose through the ranks and had a sales team of 64 people underneath me,

Robbin Jorgensen: Loved my sales team, but it felt like the higher I climbed, the more of me I lost. When I was losing myself as I was climbing that corporate ladder, someone said to me, “Why don’t you hire an executive coach?” At the time I had no idea what that was, so I did hire a coach and it was so transformative that I looked at her one day and I said, “You do this for a living and you get paid what I get paid to do this for a living. How do you do that?”

Robbin Jorgensen: So that kind of started the jogging of maybe I’m meant to go do something else. Then I moved down here to Atlanta seven and a half years ago, took a huge leap of faith, prayed the net was there and jumped of the cliff and started Women Igniting Change.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Tell me what does Women Igniting Change do for their clients.

Robbin Jorgensen: Yeah, so we have two segments to the organization. So one, we are a global strategic consulting company and we work with mostly Fortune 500s, some mid-market organizations all around helping them create comprehensive women’s leadership strategies in their organization. Then the second piece of the organization is we work with global policy makers and government leaders in developing countries …

Robbin Jorgensen: … helping them craft strategy around women’s leadership.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Phenomenal. So when companies come to you they lay down their problems. What are their problems and why are they hiring you?

Robbin Jorgensen: Well, there’s several. If it’s Fortune 500 organization, a lot of times they’re not able to quantify the ROI of their women’s leadership initiatives. They’re doing it but they’re not able to tie it back to the business case, and that’s something that we’re extremely passionate about because otherwise it’s just a really nice idea. You’ve got to tie it back to the metrics, why you’re doing it and show the true value of the investment, so that’s one.

Robbin Jorgensen: Another I would say is when they’ve got amazing women leaders but they’re not really sure how to leverage the talents of those women leaders. So we go in and offer different programming to make sure that those women leaders are ready to scale to the senior level.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I read an article in Fortune and the writer said women aren’t doing enough for women in hiring either the position that they took and such. Do you find that to be the case?

Robbin Jorgensen: Yeah. That also depends on the age of the senior level executive because if they’re older there’s a misconception that I had to fight to get to where I am, so you need to struggle to get there as well, so that’s one. The other one is that as you rise through the ranks, right now there is only so many slots in our mind for women, so if there’s only one or two slots up here, I need to fend for myself. I can’t pull you up because you may surpass me and you may take that slot and that’s mine.

Robbin Jorgensen: So that’s another misconception that we have sadly.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. So for some of the smaller businesses that are watching us right now, in light of this, should there be training? If I have a company and I’ve got 15 associates, should I be holding different types of training …

Robbin Jorgensen: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: … on this very topic?

Robbin Jorgensen: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: What should we be focused on in that training?

Robbin Jorgensen: Well, you can start with unconscious bias training. We do that training for organizations. So we start with just the male leaders in the room and then in the afternoon we blend it and we have amazing rich dialogue with male and female leaders. We use the Harvard Implicit Association Test, which is an incredible tool to really show you oh, I’m really blind in these particular areas.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Really? Yeah.

Robbin Jorgensen: I’ve taken it and bombed the gender portion.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Really?

Robbin Jorgensen: That’s what I do. We all have those unconscious biases, so that would definitely be somewhere to start.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. It’s something that the Me Too Movement, obviously we talked about it earlier, but it has I think woken up a lot of people to this new normal that we’re in to say, “Wait a minute.”

Robbin Jorgensen: It is a new normal. Some of the positives of the Me Too Movement is it’s kind of peeling back that curtain that was over this potential sexual harassment in the workplace topic for years. I think women are feeling more emboldened to come forward and share their stories, and that’s all good.

Jim Fitzpatrick: What advice do you have for the females that are watching today that either own their own company or are co-founders or are in C-suites with other companies? What’s your advice to them? How do they deal in a situation like that if in the event they don’t have an advocate in the room?

Robbin Jorgensen: Right. Stay the course.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Stay the course. Don’t panic.

Robbin Jorgensen: Stay the course. Don’t panic and you know who you are. Own that. Own it. Even if you get pushback in that room, which you very well may, stay the course and own who you are in that space.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. It’s more important at the end of the day than anything else, isn’t it?

Robbin Jorgensen: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Well, I want to thank you so much for joining us on the ASBN Show. We appreciate it very much.

Robbin Jorgensen: My pleasure.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Hopefully we’re going to have you back as a regular because this is …

Robbin Jorgensen: I would love that.

Jim Fitzpatrick: … always a top or a topic that we need to talk more about in business for sure, so thank you.

Robbin Jorgensen: Yeah, and I love talking about it so I’d be happy to.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s great. Awesome. Thank you so much.

Robbin Jorgensen: Terrific. Thank you.

Atlanta Small Business Network, part of JBF Business Media.

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