Anne Chow

Lead Director, FranklinCovey, fmr CEO, AT&T Business

The #1 need is greater male allyship – both in breadth and in depth – with louder voices and influence in decision making. We’re doing a solid job, but women alone cannot help advance women. Incremental change is insufficient. Representation is important and the pipeline must be grown while also removing systemic barriers holding women back from visibility and gaining traction equitably in their careers for high profile, power positions.

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

Confident and humble, vulnerable and courageous, empathetic and compassionate, focused and fierce – a Power Woman harnesses all of these attributes with purposeful influence to drive outcomes with significant impact; especially when others cannot.

What benefits and advantages does a company with positive gender equality have over a male dominated workplace?

Organizations that promote and display positive gender equality and equity benefit from stronger levels of inclusion and cultures of belonging. This yields greater levels of innovation, collaboration, communication, and trust. In this environment, authenticity is more fully embraced which helps individuals grow to their full potential, enabling the entire team to learn from each other, grow while collectively drive high performance.

Is there one particular issue in your life you are passionate about? Something that overides all of your objectivity?

I am passionate about inclusion and truly believe that inclusive leadership is the way forward for us to make progress in virtually all facets of society – in every community worldwide. We have an opportunity – and an obligation – to more effectively harness our unique differences while coming together on common ground for the greater good – whether it be socially, economically, technologically, politically or environmentally.

What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take toward empowering women and gender equality? (e.g., affirmative action)? What can we do to continue to support and enhance the growth and presence of women in high profile positions?

The #1 need is greater male allyship – both in breadth and in depth – with louder voices and influence in decision making. We’re doing a solid job, but women alone cannot help advance women. Incremental change is insufficient. Representation is important and the pipeline must be grown while also removing systemic barriers holding women back from visibility and gaining traction equitably in their careers for high profile, power positions. This will require firm metrics so those in power can be held accountable for improvement as well as systemic changes in policies, practices, and processes. What is needed is a breakthrough which can only happen with the force multiplying effect of more allies – everywhere.

Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block due to your gender?

Early on in my career I had a role with a global scope where I was often the team lead. As part of my role, negotiations with external suppliers and potential partners in various countries was required. Time after time, I would be confronted by a particular individual – a male – who felt that I was not equipped to lead the negotiation. So, every chance he had, he worked against me as we would prepare – and at times, he would even undermine me while we were in the actual negotiation. It took an incredible amount of restraint and finesse to work through this situation to arrive at good outcomes and not let his gender bias negatively affect my (and the teams) performance.

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

In some ways asking for previous salary requirements in job interviews could contribute to the gender pay gap if it is in an industry that is plagued by significant pay gaps. I’m not convinced that a nationwide ban is the answer – I’d rather see companies doing their part by being held accountable for annual benchmarking to market as well as annual internal compensation audits to ensure that pay is equitable across all demographics.

Should the USA reduce its role on the world stage?

The role of the US throughout its history on the world stage has been vital to progress around the globe. Whether it be in the area of technological innovation in areas such as computing and machinery or its advancement in chemical products or military prowess, the US plays an important role on the world stage as a given. With nearly a quarter the worlds GDP, I believe that the US must lead in the areas of economic and societal growth, sustainability, and innovation. However, we must more intentionally commit to and deliver long term investment internally within our own country – in critical areas such as the economy, environment, our infrastructure and education system while bringing all Americans together while an emphasis on the present and the future – not the past. In the words of John Dickinson, “United we stand. Divided we fall.”

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

I do not believe that there was one defining moment leading me to where where I am today. I do believe that it has been a series of moments – the ups and especially the downs – that have taught me that there are only two outcomes, success and learning. Personal and professional experiences intertwined, especially that of becoming a (girl) mom and being a working mom, have heavily shaped my world view.

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

Of course! However, while representation has improved, it remains insufficient given the fact that women represent 50% of the population. The political landscape has emboldened voices of all kinds which has been both helpful and detrimental, and the importance of media especially social media in shaping popular views has played a role that has made it challenging for women to be seen and heard as they really are. We must continue to work through these biases and noise to separate fact from fiction and push ahead in our quest for equity.

Is “Education, education and education” one of the top three responsibilities of a civilized society? If not, why not? If so, why is it prohibitively expensive? Also, who should decide on the curriculum?

Education is absolutely one of the top three responsibilities of a civilized society. However, the sector has yet to be transformed for the modern world. Education can be derived through numerous means, and technological developments have enabled much lower cost options as have the proliferation of various edtech platforms, working to make education much more accessible. Additionally, we must reframe the bias which exists about degree-based programs as education can also come in other forms such as trades, certifications, and skills development. Those who develop and decide on core curriculum should be reflective of the communities they serve demographically and otherwise – I believe a multi generational diverse coalition of people is required to do so as well.

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

Lizzo. Why? Because she has broken barriers, and continues to – and she is helping to transform what being a fierce, fabulous female is. She is unabashedly herself – full of talent, influence, skills, experiences, business savvy, energy and focus.

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

Best advice, which I happened to receive early on in my career, was that staffing is the #1 key to success. How I interpreted that and have thus applied it throughout my career is – that the right people, especially those whom you choose to surround yourself with – are the key to success.

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

How Will You Measure Your Life? By Clayton Christensen

What do you most value in your friends?

I most value integrity/character, honesty, humor, loyalty, and compassion.

Which trait do you most uncomfortable in yourself? In others?

My most uncomfortable trait is likely my directness. There are times when a less direct touch could be more effective, but the “Jersey girl” in me comes out. In others, I find pessimism to be extremely frustrating and uncomfortable.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

For me, beauty is the most overrated virtue. Why? Because “beauty” is completely subjective and is often be filled with bias. This affects women much more significantly than men, and given the evolution of history, we must be much more aggressive at opening our aperture for what actually constitutes “beauty”.

Additionally, if it is in fact a virtue, I also view tolerance to be overrated. Tolerance is insufficient. It does not enable us to come together for the betterment of humanity and society as a whole. We should strive for more than tolerance – we must pursue learning, understanding, empathy, and compassion.

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