Redefining Power at the Forbes Women’s Summit 2017

In 1917 the first issue of Forbes Magazine featured a column called “Unique Department: Women in Business,” which highlighted how women contributed to the American economy. A century later, hundreds of women gathered at the Forbes Women’s Summit in New York City, demonstrating that women’s contributions to global prosperity haven’t slowed — and aren’t about to anytime soon.

The theme of this year’s summit was “Navigating a New Tomorrow,” and the agenda encouraged women to redefine power. Like SAP, Forbes believes that in order to drive meaningful change, leaders must align their passion and power with a higher purpose. Our purpose at SAP is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives — and here are a few tips from the summit to help each of us live that purpose every day:

1. Be powerful.

In today’s world, power isn’t defined by traditional measures like job title and age. Today, power is defined by engagement and impact, said Moira Forbes, Executive Vice President of Forbes Media & President of ForbesWoman. As women, we must harness power to drive change for ourselves, each other, and the world — even as we may face a more obstacles than our male counterparts.

As women, we must harness power to drive change for ourselves, each other, and the world.

To be engaged and make an impact professionally, you must be passionate about what you do. Find something you’re naturally good at and figure out how to make a living doing it, advised Judge Judy Sheindlin. Become indispensable, and make sure everyone around you knows it. Now that’s power.

Moderator Rebecca Jarvis, ABC News, drives a discussion about creating inclusive cultures with Carolyn Everson, VP Global Marketing Solutions at Facbeook, Jacqueline Lyanga, Director of AFI Fest, Christine Gasper, Sr. Director of HR at Audi of America, and Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle

2. Be disruptive.

Turn frustration into opportunity, and solve problems that fill gaps. That’s what both Nadia Boujarwah, Co-Founder and CEO of Dia&Co, and Lauren Schulte, Founder and CEO of The Flex Company, did when they discovered gaps in what female products were available in the market. Innovation comes from learning, said Marley Davis, Founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks — who saw a gap in the books featuring characters like her. She addressed the problem by collecting 9,000 books in an online resource guide, writing a book, and becoming an advocate for diversity in literature — all by the age of 12.

But remember — being disruptive requires strong communication, especially when you are disrupting within an established framework.

“You can rewrite the rules but you need to explain why.” — Suzanne Kounkel, US Customer Marketing Leader, Deloitte Consulting.

3. Have conversations.

Finally, talk about it. To drive forward your purpose and create change, you need to create the opportunity for conversations, said actress and activist Kerry Washington. And sometimes topics that are the most uncomfortable to talk about are those that affect our lives the most, such as female reproductive rights, domestic violence, and LGBTQ issues. When you work through the discomfort, you can reach understanding, compromise, and a better outcome for all.

And it’s important that we amplify these conversations. Producer and activist Natalie Warne told a story of how her mother ensured she have strong black female role models, citing the mantra “you can’t be what you can’t see.” The Forbes Women’s Summit featured innovative game changers, powerful business leaders, and potential role models for girls and women of all ages — though only a privileged few were in the room to hear their wisdom. Lessons from events like these must be shared so that more women can see — and be — powerful, purposeful women who drive meaningful change.

SAP was a sponsor of the 2017 Forbes Women’s Summit.

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