It took the New York Stock Exchange 226 years to appoint a woman president, but there is no time like the present to celebrate a major shift in the movement toward equilibrium on Wall Street. Stacy Cunningham, the incoming president of the NYSE, started as an intern in 1994 and worked the trading floor in almost every aspect to the highest office of the largest stock exchange in the world.
This accomplishment is more than just "shattering the glass ceiling"; it is a sign of a major change on Wall Street. Cunningham's appointment is a sign of new generation of leaders who are ready for fresh, new perspectives in corporate boardrooms. Besides, the table always had enough room, however, the gatekeepers remained the same, by only appointing from within their own circles.
According to CNBC, women hold just 4.6 percent of CEO positions in S&P 500 companies. Of the Fortune 500 companies, 12 don't have a single female board member. Cunningham added during a recent interview that very few women work in finance and technology, which is changing, but slowly.
Stacey Cunningham's journey is historic and a valuable lesson about the embracing inclusion. There are five major takeaways about how inclusion and fresh perspectives can change the value of your business and leadership structure.
Your team should resemble the world we live in.
It may seem a bit remedial, but 226 years ago, women were not allowed to vote and considered "property." Today, the roles are changing to include various perspectives from people of every belief, gender and background. Your company will experience massive growth when your customers can see themselves in your leadership structure, rather than the repetitive process of appointing from within.
Inclusion should never be a reactive approach to a problem.
As the daughter of a former Wall Street executive, I am aware of many of the reactionary practices that are more of an apology, than a universal system of change within an exclusive business culture. As we have witnessed, within recent the past decade, inclusion as a reactionary measure is bad for business, which can be a public relations nightmare. Wall Street is beginning to see the value of inclusion, even with these small steps.
I am an active investor and follow the market consistently, however, I barely remember the last president of the NYSE. However, Cunningham's full day of press appearances marked a new and fresh level of excitement of watching the trading floor. A renewed level of enthusiasm and excitement attracts new customer and clients, who will become intrigued by the change(s).
In fact, leaders complicate the simplicity of change. The NYSE is learning to embrace the world as it appears today, rather than the world that only exists in their boardroom. Numerous women's organizations, including mine, are celebrating the change with Stacey Cunningham as well as the NYSE for their willingness to embrace new values. Established leaders are slowly, but surely, coming to the realization that their inclusion polices need to be visual, not just verbal.
Inclusion increases revenue.
Although the NYSE does not have an immediate revenue shortage, remember fresh perspectives attract new buyers. Inclusion brings awareness to change, and invites new prospects who may have overlooked the model. For example, Stacey Cunningham's new role may attract more women and millennials to consider investing in the stock market, who may have overlooked the NYSE in the past. Her willingness to teach others about the value of long-term investing may create more interest in attracting women to tour the facility and gain a sense of accessing the c-suite in the financial sector.