Susan was enjoying her day…until she got a call to meet with her company’s CEO.
In the early 70s, I began my career at Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (now CIGNA). This was before the The Women’s Dress for Success Book was a published. As a matter of fact personnel departments were still debating whether women could wear pants to work!
When I looked around CG’s corporate headquarters, I noticed that most of the jobs were filled by women, but very few were in supervisory or management positions.So, being a naive college grad, I did what any self-respecting new hire would do, I wrote a memo to the CEO, Henry Roberts, explaining the problem. And one day I got a call that went something like this.
Me: Hi, this is Susan Colantuono
Patty: Hello Susan, this is Patty Brulotte in Mr. Roberts office. Mr. Roberts would like to see you now.
Me: Ah, Patty, this isn’t really a good day for me to meet with Mr. Roberts. Could I come another time?
Patty: Susan, when Mr. Roberts wants to see you, you see him.
Me: Okay Patty, I’ll be right up.
So why was I so hesitant? Well, to say the least, I wasn’t what we at Leading Women describe as business-ready™. Here’s is a photo of what I was wearing that day. It wasn’t bad enough that I was wearing a sun dress. I was also bra-less…and humiliated.
But the meeting wasn’t a total disaster. Connecticut General went on to launch one of the first and most successful women’s initiatives in the country. At the time I wrote to Henry Roberts, 66% of the workforce were women, 9% were supervisors and 3% were officers. Three years after we launched our women’s initiative, we had more than doubled the representation of women to 23% supervisors and 7.5% of officers. So, even though this story had a happy ending don’t do as I did…do as we at Leading Women advise – and always be business-ready™.
Susan Colantuono is the CEO and Founder of Leading Women.