In the United States, women make up 50.8 percent of the population, and represent 47 percent of the general workforce and 52.5 percent of the college-educated workforce.  In 40 percent of U.S. families, women are the primary or sole breadwinner.  U.S. women earn more bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees than men do.

Women control 70 percent of household spending, which equates to $12 trillion in developed countries around the world.  Women make 80 percent of health-care decisions in the United States, and women account for 60 percent of Thorne’s customers worldwide.

Yet, despite all of this, U.S. women hold a mere 21 percent of senior leadership positions in companies, which lags behind the world average of 24 percent, and pales in comparison to China, where women hold 51 percent of company leadership positions.  And this is notwithstanding that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25 percent more likely to out-perform their peer organizations on profitability.

In a workforce, industry, and customer base led by women, Thorne’s female leadership stands out. 

Women in leadership roles across Thorne Innovation Labs is 35.8 percent, far above both the U.S. and global average.  Thorne Research employs 11 women at the director level and above in our dietary supplement operations alone.  This Take-5 Daily post is for all of us.

In writing this post, I had the pleasure of engaging with these female leaders at Thorne – to get a better idea of their experiences, stories, struggles, and dreams.  We have a female powerhouse of hearts, minds, and drive at the top of the organizational heap who keeps Thorne in the position of setting the industry standard year after year.

This group of 11 fabulous females has completed 68 years of post-high school education, and an incredible total of 74 years of Thorne service in seven different operating departments.  Of those 68 years of education, two of the degrees were pursued through pregnancy and three of them were earned while single parenting.

Currently, in addition to managing daily departmental operations, leading work teams, helping keep our community healthy, and generally being amazing, we care for a total of 10 children, 12 fur babies, and apparently about 100 houseplants – the latter of which are mostly owned by one person.  Balancing home, family, relationships, and work expectations is a career of its own.  We face numerous daily challenges at professional and personal levels. 

When speaking with my fellow members of Thorne’s female leadership, their number one concern is maintaining a healthy work-life balance.  This is not the easiest thing to do when you are crushing it at the corporate level all day long.

Stress, deadlines, and expectations (many of them self-imposed) can bleed over into dinner with loved ones or vacuuming the living room. We do our best to find time outside of work to recharge, refresh, and re-focus with exercise, sports, meditation, cooking, and some consumption of wine.  In moderation, of course…

Other challenges that were expressed include balancing company needs while maintaining poise and appropriate customer relations, balancing internal company expectations with the needs of external partners, keeping up-to-date on previously acquired skills while trying to learn new ones, and keeping up with the ever-changing issues and risks for employees, as well as the company.  And, during the period of COVID-19, the feeling of isolation from teammates, managing employees spread over distances, and developing team member skills while home-schooling children all create additional challenges.

Some truly amazing conversations also took place regarding the challenge of balancing a social norm of being the perceived “leader” and traditionally stereotyped roles associated with women.  Behaviors associated with leadership require empathy, organization, and ingenuity, but drive, efficiency, and assertiveness are also essential qualities of a good leader. 

It’s not always easy to be a highly driven, strong, and assertive female without being labeled or misread as aggressive, intolerant, or some other dreaded categorization.  Whether this is an actuality, or an internal perception, it constantly lingers in our minds, and creates another delicate tightrope to walk, while also toeing the line.  Ever tried dragging a wagon across a fallen branch? Now do it in pumps…

Despite challenges, perceptions, and obstacles, we fierce females have accomplished so much, and still find the time to reach for more. 

We are leaders, mothers, spouses, innovators, caretakers, and damned interesting women.  We have endeavored a 206-mile bicycle ride from Seattle to Portland, met a spouse at a NASA competition, and been scuba diving around the globe.  We enjoy cutting loose with laser tag, superhero movies, and Broadway shows. 

We’ve put our family through the process of eating hundreds of jars of canned food before moving across the country for Thorne – which consequently caused a life-long disdain for green beans. We turn teenage pregnancy into a doctorate degree.  We play six musical instruments, are famous crazy cat ladies, and re-plan entire weddings delayed by COVID.  We dream of having children (or maybe more of them), a golden retriever, and to own a spa in our retirement. 

We put years of commitment, hard work, and love into all that we do, including our careers.  We plan to continue supporting our families, teammates, customers, and community to maintain health, wellness, and happiness.  We are the women of Thorne leadership.