Originally published in the San Jose Mercury Times on July 27, 2017
What if we told you that we have the key to better government? Government that is more efficient, responsive, productive and civil? Would you be willing to invest? Would you be willing to get involved?
This isn’t a carnival show. We do have the answer. Get more women into the over 500,000 elected offices in this country. It is that simple.
Decades of research proves that the presence of women as political leaders means a positive impact on legislative culture, policy, efficiency and civility — something we could really use these days.
And women are eager to lead. In the seven months since the election, She Should Run’s Incubator Program, built to inspire and support women to act on their own political leadership potential, has had a 1,700 percent increase in the number of women sign up. Organizations across the nation that encourage, support, train and elect women, all experienced an incredible surge of interest.
We also know that when women run, they win at the same rate as men. So better government — more responsive and civil government, is within our grasp.
The interest is there but with the United States ranked 101st in the world in women’s political representation, we need powerful partners to achieve the government that we deserve.
Business is doing better than government at elevating women to positions of influence. Some companies are seeing that more diversity brings innovative solutions to complex challenges, while others act on research that says companies with more women result in higher profits. Regardless of the motivation, we know that gender diversity inside companies leads to more innovation, more efficiency, and more profits.
Thankfully, a few companies have recognized those benefits both in business and government and are investing in strategies to encourage more women to shape policy and serve in elected office.
The first steps were taken this past March with the creation of the California Leadership Collaborative, with support from PG&E right here in the Bay Area. The purpose of this project was new and strategic – to get business and political women together to collectively develop new approaches to encourage companies to get more women elected to public office.
This included helping women’s political organizations make a business case about their work.
But we can’t stop there. The insights and partnerships from the California Leadership Collaborative must serve as a catalyst to business and political sectors around the country to work together to value and support women leaders (from all political parties) in elected office.
Because, just like business, when women are at the table, they get things done.
For the United States to have the most efficient and effective government possible, corporate America needs to step up and support women candidates at all levels and through a variety of organizations.
We challenge the corporate leaders in this country to invest in the future of our government. Join us for the California Leadership Collaborative. Support women’s organizations. Encourage your employees to get involved. Invest in a future of more efficient, more civil and more productive government.
We ask them to take a successful business strategy and help us apply it to government — because more women in office means better government and better government is good for business. Now that’s what we call a business case for investment.
Jessica N. Grounds is the co-founder of Mine the Gap, a consulting and advocacy firm specializing in developing gender strategy for companies and organizations. Erin Loos Cutraro is the CEO and co-founder of She Should Run, a nonpartisan, national organization aiming to get 250,000 women running for office by 2030. They wrote this for The Mercury News.