Women are continuing to take their rightful position as leaders in what has notoriously been a male-dominated business industry. Although we are still underrepresented in the boardroom and at the proverbial table, there has been a spike of female presence in spaces that once looked like a boys-only club.
“At this stage in my life, I want to help others. Winning never gets old, but in a lot of ways I don’t want much more for myself, I want to focus on how I give to others, particularly entrepreneurs.” — Venus Williams
American Express is one company that is working hard to change the narrative and empower women to be more ambitious in the workplace.
This week during the Global Women’s Conference in Miami, American Express announced that they are launching a new initiative called, “The Ambition Project.” The multinational financial services corporation enlisted athlete and successful businesswoman, Venus Williams to discuss the initiative, the importance of women in business and the balance between work and life outside of work.
“There are going to be a lot of moments where you feel like you can’t, but you have to train your mind to feel like you can.” — Venus Williams
The Ambition Project has been in the making for two years now, this is when the AMEX executive committee (six of whom are women) learned that only a third of the company’s senior associates had ever described themselves as ambitious. This discovery led to the question of how to help their female colleagues achieve their ambitions.
By introducing components like round table discussions, networking events and internal newsletters, AMEX has experienced tremendous results and has created an ambitious culture. Amex’s hope is that this “ambitious culture” will influence other leaders to nurture their female colleagues’ ambitions.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Venus to chat about The Ambition Project and her own ambitions.
“I was taught ambition and I’m happy to have had that guidance but of course having a natural love for what you do helps you to be ambitious. Having all of that created an opportunity for me to just go for it. This is why I always recommend doing something that you love,” Venus revealed to HelloBeautiful in a private chat.
The prized athlete signed on to be a spokesperson for AMEX’s initiative because it’s important.
“Sometimes women are not encouraged to be as ambitious as men. Women need to support. They need someone to have their backs and tell them, hey you can do this, which is exactly what AMEX is doing. It’s amazing to have a company like American Express behind this because they can really move the needle and create a new normal that really makes a mark for people. I am excited that this is happening and that American Express is taking a special interest in women and helping them in realizing that their ambitions can change the world.”
Venus acknowledges that women face many barriers when it comes to breaking through the glass ceiling. “When you think about the strides that women have made just in the last 30 years, it has been huge,” she added. “Sometimes we need that nudge. Sometimes we need that vote of confidence. Sometimes we need that support and that’s why this initiative is so important.”
Venus believes in leading by example, which empowers her to go hard in every aspect of her life. “I think that by doing your best, you inspire other people, doing something positive in your own life can inspire others to do the same. Every day, I try to do my best for myself so that everyone can see what they can be too.”