Sharing wisdom is one of the most powerful ways to stir people — and to stir them into action. As we comb the web each week in search to items to post to our social media, we often discover great quotes. We think of them as Food for Thought Leaders.

I want to share the past year’s collection with you. In it you’ll hear the voices of the people ranging from CEOs to authors, actors, researchers, philosophers, and filmmakers to a 15-year-old English schoolboy writing to his local newspaper.

May their words affirm, inspire, and energize our ongoing mission to create full gender partnership between women and men in our businesses, our communities, and our homes.  Happy New Year to you all!

“How many women had to hit that glass (ceiling) before the first crack appeared? How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? …So that when it was my turn to run, and I finally hit that ceiling, it just exploded into dust… Making it through to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman’s footprints.”

– Award-winning executive producer Shonda Rhimes


“Men can serve as role models by finding any opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and speak up for women’s advancement. We also need men to call out the everyday sexism that too many continue to practice, in words, in use of violence, in objectifying women and girls. And we need to put our voices behind policies to end discrimination against women in our workplaces and our governments.”

– Gary Barker, Founder & Director, Promundo


As a middle-aged man, I never felt feminism had anything to do with me. It was the woman’s battle for equality. Whilst I may have agreed with their ethos and end goals it was, and always would be their fight. It was only when listening to Emma Watson’s amazing speech to the UN that I realized how wrong I was. Inequality is every bit my problem. Every bit my responsibility. And as the father of two boys, probably more so.

– Mark Bryce


“If technology isn’t shaped by people with diverse views—at the coding level—our tech products won’t serve the greater good…When you don’t have any diversity, you end up creating products that serve the population that’s most like you. How many more Snapchats do we need? What we need are apps that are going to solve world hunger, medical issues, and environmental problems.”

– Robin Hauser Reynolds, creator of CODE: Debugging The Gender Gap


“We have a choice in the way we invest. We can take advantage of opportunities or we can ignore them. We can be part of the solution, or part of the problem. When it comes to advancing gender equality and women’s leadership, it’s time for investors to become part of the solution.”

– Joe Keefe, President and CEO, Pax World Funds


“Some men feel threatened by the idea of feminism. This comes, I think, from the insecurity triggered by how boys are brought up, how their sense of self-worth is diminished if they are not ‘naturally’ in charge as men. We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle [their] humanity… We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.”

–Acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


“The fact that there even needs to be a ‘Women in Hollywood’ event is a little bit sad. I mean, the ‘men in Hollywood’ event is every day – it’s called Hollywood. Fifty-one percent of the population should not have to have to schedule a special event to celebrate the fact that in an art that tells the story of what it means to be human and alive, we get to play a part.”

–Actor Jennifer Garner, speaking at Elle’s Women in Hollywood awards


“Male (and female) CEOs must reinforce the proposition that an enterprise known for its diversity will attract the widest pool of excellent candidates, and the absence of that reputation cuts you off from great talent. Beyond that, it becomes the obligation of the CEO, in partnership with H.R., to enforce that principle, and non-compliant executives charged with hiring are pointedly reminded of their obligations.”

– David Stern, Commissioner Emeritus of the NBA


“If we want equality, it will take more effort than paying women the same as men, or giving women equal opportunities. We must all make an active decision to change our language. We must stop pressuring each other to fit stereotypes which more often than not leave us feeling repressed and unable to express ourselves. We must not let gender define us.”

–English schoolboy Ed Holtom, 15, in a letter published in The Sunday Telegraph about the U.N.’s #HeForShe campaign


“Companies, managers and women all feel frustrated. Many have been on this gender journey for decades, and have not achieved satisfying results. Companies are still dominated by male leaders and most people – both men and women – don’t really understand why… [We need] a new way forward. One that focuses on leaders, not women. And that builds the management skills to deliver better gender balance. That’s where enhanced business performance and competitive edge will lie in 21st century global markets.”

-Avivah Wittenberg-Cox


“If companies don’t hold themselves accountable, the public will, as talented women choose to work elsewhere and consumers choose to work with companies that reflect a diverse and changing world. A focus on results will ensure companies’ efforts to promote women are not just a trend, but a transformation.”

–Joelle K. Jay, Ph. D., author of The Inner Edge


“Even very small amounts of unconscious bias can result in dramatic differences in the numbers of women reaching the top. Until biases are made visible and we find creative ways to neutralize them, unconscious bias will trump conscious values, resulting in well-meaning people inadvertently perpetuating the status quo.”

–Janet Crawford,  creator of The Women & Innovation Lab


“The gender gap in leadership persists because most people — including the very men and women who have the authority and influence to do something about it — do not believe that they can do anything about it.”

– Lynn Roseberry and Johan Roos, authors of Bridging The Gender Gap


“We are, I’m convinced, as a nation and as a Commonwealth, in the midst of one of the great global competitive environments in world history. If we’re going to win – and I like to win – we need all the players on the field, and we need them to be ready and capable of competing. That means you’ve got to take account of all the talent. [Our country] has been struggling to make opportunity real for all Americans for most of our history. And real equality for women is a remaining frontier.”

–Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts


“In most industries, discriminating on the basis of gender, race, or age would be considered illegal. Yet in the tech industry, venture capitalists routinely show off about their “pattern recognition” capabilities. They say they can recognize a successful entrepreneur, engineer, or business executive when they see one. The pattern always resembles Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or them: a nerdy male. Women, blacks, and Latinos are at a disadvantage.”

– Vivek Wadhwa of Stanford, Duke and Singularity University, writing in The Washington Post


#BecauseIAmAMan other men can’t keep me from speaking up for gender equality.

#BecauseIAmAMan I raise my daughter to demand respect from men and boys.

#BecauseIAmAMan I ask questions instead of making assumptions.

#BecauseIAmAMan I confront men who disrespect women and girls

To read more – and add your own statement, visit @MARCmovement, a project of MARC, Men Advocating Real Change.


“To accelerate change, we need to stop treating gender as if it were just a woman’s burden. If organizations want to minimize gender disparities, they need to enable women and men to make behavioral changes. And perhaps most important, organizations must enlist both women and men to work together as allies in changing the organizational norms and structures that perpetuate gender gaps.”


“Only 20% of the [tech] workforce is female, and we think it’s our responsibility not only to encourage a change… but also to bring a diverse perspective throughout everything we do, because we always get better from it. Anytime you have a monotone culture, nothing shifts and nothing changes. You end up building for an audience that can risk being detached from the rest of the world and how the world is moving.”

–Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Square


“Women now outnumber men in managerial and professional jobs, yet many leave even blue-chip employers because they do not feel valued, their companies do not offer flexible-employment policies, or their work is not intellectually challenging. Rather than leave the workforce, most resurface at companies that offer more progressive policies.”

–Wayne F. Cascio,  management professor, consultant and author


“I was talking to a technology company, and the CEO had just been given the results of a focus group with their top-performing women — super, super smart women engineers — and the women were saying, ‘I don’t feel comfortable in this culture. I don’t feel I belong here.’ He said to me, ‘Can’t they just stop the drama?’ And I said, ‘This is exactly the classic male model mindset: you are putting the onus on them to fix themselves so they can fit into your paradigm.’ ”

–Barbara Annis, co-author of Gender Intelligence


“A growing number of courageous male leaders are working very hard to balance their companies – because they ferociously believe it will enhance their businesses…The smartest among them know that gender balance is more about getting male leaders, and men in general, to push for balance than it is about getting women to change their own behavior. ”

–Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, HBR Blog


“There are many board-ready women available for your board. Actively seek the best board candidates and you will succeed in finding the best… Diverse points of view lead to better decisions. As General George Patton said, ‘If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.’ Step out of your comfort zone to seek diversity, and you will succeed in finding diversity.”

– Eve Ellis, Huff Post Business blog


“Today, two and a half billion people are connected to the Internet. There are more cell phone users than toothbrush users. You look at how intrinsic information technology is to all aspects of society and all aspects of modern life. Would you want any demographic group to be left out of shaping something that is so important to our future?”

– David Culler, chair of UC Berkeley’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department


“The data show how important diversity is to the success of teams and decision making… We see this as vitally important for innovation, for competitiveness and for business success. Advancing women isn’t a corporate social responsibility imperative, it’s a competitive imperative.”

– Mark Bregman, CTO, Neustar


“Alongside efforts to expand the opportunities for women and urge them to take those opportunities, it is time to focus on the ways society shapes and values male behavior. We should allow and encourage men to care just as much as we allow and encourage women to compete.”

–Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New American Foundation


“If people think alike, then no matter how smart they are, they most likely will get stuck at the same locally optimal solutions. Finding new and better solutions, innovating, requires thinking differently. That’s why diversity powers innovation.”

– Scott Page, The Difference, Princeton University Press


“Hiring managers think salary is a litmus test of how good a candidate is… Yet, with women typically earning just 77 cents on the dollar to men, should not the use of salary history to determine pay be considered discriminatory? I say YES. I say the time has come to remove salary history from the job application, just as we have removed…religion, marital status, and age to put all candidates on equal footing.”

– Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations LLC


“How can women speed up the process of penetrating this male-dominated [tech] industry? To start, it shouldn’t be just women trying to solve the problem. The economy is creating far more computing jobs than U.S. schools are creating computer science graduates. Discouraging half the population from these jobs isn’t just a problem for women, then, but for the entire U.S. economy.”

– Paige Schaefer, writing in NerdScholar


“The actions I take on behalf of women [are] not simply because it is the right thing to do, but I firmly believe it builds competitive advantage when we can access the entire work force, get diverse perspectives, and continually put the consumer at the center of everything we do. But the most important reason is my daughter. I want her to live to her full potential.”

–Pete Dulcamara VP, Corporate Research & Engineering, Kimberly-Clark


“When it comes to change, the focus has largely been on developing women so that they can advance in a traditional, male-dominated leadership culture. We think it’s time for a new leadership culture. Less rigid and more flexible. Less authoritative and more collaborative. More authentic and less … uptight. Women need it. The Millennial generation wants it. The times demand it.”

–Joan Toth, President and CEO, Network of Executive Women


“Leaders must have a long-term vision. They must think bigger and persuade other people that they want to be part of this something bigger. They must also have a sense, operationally, of how to get it all done. And then they must have the wisdom and patience to step back and let others do it. All of the above is true if you are a man. And all of the above is true if you are a woman.”

–Janet Napolitano is president of the University of California


“Good people are not those who lack flaws, the brave are not those who feel no fear, and the generous are not those who never feel selfish. Extraordinary people are not extraordinary because they are invulnerable to unconscious biases. They are extraordinary because they choose to do something about it.”

–Shankar Vedantam, author of  The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds
Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives


“When women are excluded and marginalized, we all suffer. We miss out on their experience, their knowledge, their skills, their talents, but when women and girls have the chance to participate fully alongside men and boys in making peace, in growing the economy, in political life, in every facet of existence, then we all benefit.”

–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

“Attracting the best talent is still the most important factor in business success…  Companies that have improved their representation of women are attractive employers to all the talent available…. For those that have not improved, you have to wonder how long they can be successful if they are only hiring from half of the talent available. This issue is not about equity or fairness, it’s about winning.”

–  Thomas Falk, Chair & CEO, Kimberly-Clark


“The fact is that battling gender inequality isn’t about men vs. women. It’s about people against prejudice… For some men, hearing feminist arguments from their male peers can be an incredibly powerful way of getting the message across – so we need those allies out there spreading the word. … This is not a women’s issue, but a human rights issue.”

–Laura Bates, writing in The Guardian


“We have had a policy for some time that if a board slate does not contain any women, we withhold support and don’t vote for it. We then write a letter to the nominating committee explaining our policy and why we think this issue is important. The evidence is mounting that investing in women makes good business sense. I think the burden should shift—and the question should be why not invest in women?”

–Joe Keefe, CEO, PAX World Mutual Funds


“If we continue to see diversity and [gender] parity as HR problems, rather than as integral to the future success of our businesses, we’ll never crack the code. The way to broaden the composition of the C-suite, the boardroom, and the female leadership pipeline is to have those who already have a seat at the table personally committed to making it happen.”

–Steve Almond, Board Chairman, Deloitte


“This must be the century in which women take their rightful place, in which hundreds of years of marginalization are forcefully and finally overturned and extinguished, in which girls are born not into a world of narrow hopes and lesser protections, but into a world of equal treatment and boundless opportunity,”

–British Foreign Secretary William Hague


“There is only one stakeholder that can create lasting gender balance in an organization: its leadership. And it isn’t just the CEO who needs to commit to change; the entire C-suite must recognize that it has to train and personally lead thousands of employees to produce the management skills they need to work effectively across genders.

– Avivah Wittenberg-Cox


“An efficiency lens opens a new perspective on gender diversity: it is no longer only about constraints but also about (missed) opportunities; not only about rights but also about returns; not only about sameness but also about difference, benefitting from women’s and men’s comparative advantages that make everyone better off.

– Harvard’s Kennedy School: Women and Public Policy Program


“Of the 35% of employers struggling with talent shortages globally, only 24% are seeking to recruit from alternative talent sources and only 2% of these are actively recruiting women.”

– ManpowerGroup’s 2013 Talent Shortage Survey


“The World Economic Forum at Davos… has more than 2000 delegates, and only one in seven is female. …This year, the agenda focuses on income inequality, then on the other pressing global risks. Nowhere, it seems, is the risk of not doing enough to include women in the processes of income generation, decision making and responsibility for better societies.”

–Diana Medlund, on


“One third of global CEOs polled recently said a shortage of talent had prevented their business from innovating effectively. Using only half the deck of talent available to them does not make business sense when a company’s talent pool is a vital component of its success.”

 — Sibylle Rupprecht, Executive Director, Cataylst Europe


“Why is it that men can’t be recognized for being outstanding advocates for women? You don’t need to be gay to be a great advocate for the LGBT community… I think people are realizing that we’re not two separate tribes, we’re all in this together, and that men have a responsibility to be advocates for women, women advocates for men and boys.”

— Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California