As fall arrived, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, showed up before the House Judiciary Committee in the panel’s first official impeachment hearing. Lewandowski took a seat, as well as the oath to tell the whole truth, and then refused to answer questions.
Attorney General William Barr gave a similar performance last spring when he stonewalled a Senate Judiciary hearing on the Mueller Report. And, more recently, former White House Counsel Don McGahn, former personnel security director Carl Kline, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, have all ignored subpoenas (which are, by definition, mandatory) for essential documents or testimony related to the controversies swirling around our current administration.
Contrast those men with the following women: Fiona Hill, Marie Yovanovitch, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Every elected official, man or woman, takes the oath of office, agreeing to uphold the Constitution and protect our nation and all of its citizens from threats foreign and domestic. The truth of the matter is that Hill, Yovanovitch, and Pelosi are shining examples of what it means to be a true patriot — proof positive, once again, how women are the ones standing up, braving ridicule and harassment, to respond to the call of duty.
Hill, a foreign affairs specialist who served as Trump's top Russia analyst, recently found herself on Capitol Hill testifying in a closed-door session for nearly 10 hours before special committees of Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry. The White House tried to limit Hill’s testimony, but she had been issued a subpoena by Congress and, being the law-abiding citizen she is, she showed up. Hill answered all of the questions posed to her — as legally required.
Likewise for Yovanovitch, a career member of the foreign service who served in ambassadorships under three presidents. She also recently gave a closed-door testimony before various House committees, asserting that she was abruptly removed from her position at the president’s insistence because she was not on board with using the Ukrainian government for Trump’s own political gain. The president tried banning Yovanovitch, too, from testifying, but she defied his orders and answered all questions asked to her for over nine hours.
And then there’s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi and a congressional delegation recently took a brief trip to Afghanistan where they met with the Afghan president and discussed Syria and Middle East peace, along with security, governing, and economic development. The trip came following Trump’s one-of-a kind brand of foreign policy which saw him hastily pull U.S. troops out of Syria, abandoning Kurdish allies in the region. The move sparked outrage within his own party, but Trump, the first person in history to never make a single error of any kind, continued to defend his deadly decision and even recently declared, “big success on the Turkey/Syria border.” But we all have eyes. We see that Speaker Pelosi and the delegation made an essential, good-faith trip that the president should have made.
As women move forward to uphold their commitments to the country and the Constitution, it’s a reminder of the positive changes we can clearly see carrying over into the work sector when it comes to women on the executive level. According to Forbes, firms with at least three female board members see median productivity of 1.2% above competitors. Why? Better decision-making comes when you have more diverse teams — and that includes gender diversity. The Harvard Business Review says departments with gender and racial diversity do a better job of reexamining facts, processing information, being innovative, and remaining objective. If the various departments in your company aren’t clicking on all cylinders and functioning at a high level, check to see how many of them are a mixed bag. And start with the boardroom. Good examples start at the top.
Back to Pelosi for a moment. As part of her statement about their talks with the Afghan president, she says, "We underscored that the women of Afghanistan must be at the table for reconciliation talks." Pelosi is correct. The women of Afghanistan must have a voice for their people to achieve a stable and prosperous future.
The same is true of women in corporate America. As companies look to expand their businesses while cutting costs; as they forge ahead into a new decade while wanting to stay true to their core values, they need progressive voices to help make the crucial decisions that chart their course into 2020 and beyond. Women are demonstrating, in unblinking fashion, they have the vision, the strength, the wisdom, and the fortitude to make a real and meaningful difference.
Sheila Ronning, founder and CEO of Women In The Boardroom – an organization founded with the goal of bridging the gender gap in the boardroom – is a recognized expert on boardroom diversity and leadership. Follow her on Twitter (Twitter @RonningSheila).
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