How to recruit and cultivate gifted female leaders

When I was younger, my mom would never let me watch movies like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White because the princess would always need to be kissed to be saved. I was actually quite frustrated by this as a child. I didn’t understand why we tirelessly watched Mulan, even though it was and still is one of my favorites, because it didn’t involve “the pretty dresses” that the others did. As I have gotten older, I have realized that my mom had much bigger wishes for me – wishes for me to grow up to be a fearless and independent leader like Mulan.

This memory often crosses my mind, especially when I walk through the doors of a woman-owned firm like Obsidian Public Relations, where I see the evident success of a strong and effective leader who values teamwork to make magic happen.

Today, more than ever, women are starting up their own businesses. So the big question is: how can firms – especially those led by women – recruit and cultivate gifted female leaders?

Here’s what I’ve learned since starting my internship at Obsidian:

Create an office culture that actively preaches collaboration, not competition.

This reminds me of the song “Better Together” by Jack Johnson because we are!

Take the time to have teachable moments.

Here at OPR, we are always intentional about making sure that our partners are learning, growing and enjoying their work. We have an open-door policy because reflecting on things that could have been done better makes us grow as a firm, especially in our field of expertise – PR.

Encourage camaraderie inside and outside of the office.

There is such a unique culture at OPR. We enjoy each other’s company, and we love doing things together! Some of our favorite things to do as a group are having potlucks at the office, grabbing lunch from the food trucks downtown and throwing happy hour parties!

Treat each other like equals.

Obviously there will always be different levels of experience and expertise in a firm, but at OPR, we are also a team. Every individual is capable of being a forward-thinking innovator and driver of change. For example, Obsidian’s owner, Courtney, will often email us asking for insights and ideas to help close deals with potential clients.

Speaking of women-owned businesses, we have the honor of representing several successful firms in the Memphis area: Tioga Environmental Consultants, ServiceMaster by Stratos and Sue Layman Designs. Cheers to girl power!

Jenna Mehmed is one of Obsidian’s Level 1 summer interns. She is a University of Memphis PR student graduating May of 2018. Learn a little more about Jenna here.