Deborah Rosado Shaw

SVP & Global Diversity & Engagement Officer, Pepsico Inc.

In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?

With all the different issues one could focus on, how do you balance your efforts in pursuit of gender equality? Is it a global approach or a specific issue that you are passionate about?

I will answer by sharing what we are doing at PepsiCo and why we are doing it. There are countless studies showing that women and girls reinvest up to 90% of their income back into their families. That multiplier effect is among the reasons why, at PepsiCo, we focus our efforts on women’s economic participation to fight poverty and to build more viable communities. This focus lives within our Performance with Purpose 2025 Agenda (PwP), created by our Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. And, among PwP’s commitments include the a global women’s initiative that I spearhead, which aims to invest $100 million to help 12.5 million women and girls achieve success. While this is a specific issue, we recognize the watershed effect of this effort and the broader global implications it will have.

If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?

Without a doubt, I would love to trade places with Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor. To serve on the nation’s highest court is one of the most powerful ways to be an architect of the country’s future and–in many ways–the world’s future. And, as a Hispanic woman at this moment in history, she has profound perspectives that are not only beneficial to the Court, but necessary.

Why do you think women's reproductive rights are under attack? Globally it seems women's health and security are under such attack; from religion, to cultural attitudes, to lax government protection, women are more vulnerable than ever. What policies would you propose that he US government pursue (or change) to alter this.

Are you involved in politics at the local or national level? No Why or why not?

Just over two years ago, I was appointed to the National Women’s Business Council, which is a non-partisan advisory council to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. I also sit on the World Bank Group Diversity Council, which advises on diversity and inclusion. Societal action is really about personal action. It’s about each of us, one-by-one, having our voice and being willing to use it about the things that matter and what we care about.

What issues in the workplace contribute most to the gender pay gap: accessibility? unconscious biast (including questions about previous salary requirements)? economic? reproductive? or some other nefarious reason. Why do you think these are still challenges we face?

Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block in the work place and what you did about it?

Do you think that asking previous salary requirements in job interviews contributes to the pay gap between women and men? NY State recently outlawed this practice. Should we push for a nationwide ban?

Have you seen any changes in the political landscape for women over the past few years? If so, what are they?

Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?

Among the most defining moments in my life was when I received a full scholarship to Wellesley College at the age of 16. The six hour ride from New York City to Massachusetts was a universe away from my tough inner-city beginnings. I came from a world where the streets were filled with poverty, drug dealers, and violence. Because of the vision and generosity of many persons who I will never know, I was able to embark on a journey that would forever change me and what I knew as possible for my own life.

Do you believe that open access to porn (including violent video games, social media etc.) contributes to gender inequality and violence against women?

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“It’s not all up to you.” I learned early on that I didn’t have to be the heroine of my own life. In fact, that if I relied on my strength alone, I could only play small. And, I became well aware that playing small isn’t safe, it’s actually a threat to our happiness, our sense of fulfillment, our very purpose for being here. So, I never do anything solo. I rely on an amazing coach, trusted advisors, brilliant colleagues, great friends, and my loving family–together making sure my purpose of contributing to others is fully realized.

There are many studies that support the idea that a female presence in the board room increases the bottom line and leads to healthier work environments. What can we do to continue to support and enhance the growth and presence of women in high profile positions.

Men will make the difference. To fully achieve gender parity, we need men and women working toward the same goals. While throughout my career I have had the support of extraordinary women, my success is in great part due to the many men who took a stand for what I could bring to the equation–often advancing my name before I was fully proven or tested. They took a chance and coupled it with valuable coaching and tough feedback that helped me grow and deliver outstanding results. With both genders fully understanding and supporting the inclusion and engagement of women, we will create a stronger and better future for us all.

Whom do you most admire? Why?

Both my parents were born in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I have always admired the strong and resilient women that came before me, their willingness to imagine and fight for a bigger and brighter future, not for themselves, but for the grandchildren and great grandchildren they might not ever get to know. These women have anchored and supported me even when I hadn’t realized it. Today, I see their spirit fully alive in the women fighting to save their families and communities in the wake of a catastrophic hurricane. Their tenacity and courage inspires me and calls me to action.

What is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?

It’s hard to name only one, but I can give you two! The first is Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time, by Susan Scott. Nothing is more important than giving voice to your experience and using it to advance ideas and opportunities at home, at work, and in the world. The second would be Time and the Art of Living, by Robert Grudin. My youngest brother has had two kidney transplants and each day fights for the privilege to be alive. This book has expanded my experience of time and capacity to savor it fully.

What is your favorite place on earth? Why?

My favorite spot is always being in my husband’s arms. Nothing equals what it means to be in the space of his love and strength. He provides me such powerful support for who I am and what I am committed to in life.

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