Skip to main content

Houston Female Leaders on Driving a More Diverse Workforce, Drawing Inspiration

Published Mar 07, 2022 by A.J. Mistretta

Rise to the Top networking

Every year, International Women’s Day drives collective action toward gender parity and equality. The latest report from McKinsey & Co. finds that while women are better represented in the talent pipeline than they were five years ago, they continue to fall behind their male counterparts when it comes to early promotions, creating a barrier to higher level positions over time. For women of color, those promotions are even more difficult to attain. 

The Partnership’s annual Rise to the Top event on March 10, aims to celebrate female achievement but also address some of the difficulties local women continue to face in keeping with this year’s theme #BreakTheBias. 

Ahead of this week’s event, we spoke with several female leaders about an increasingly diverse workforce, what inspires them, and how the Partnership helps in their work.  

Willingness to ‘Get Uncomfortable’ 

Qiara Suggs, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at TDECU credit union, said she’s seeing more women rise to the top of the financial sector, and specifically the credit union industry, buoyed by a focus on diversity and investment in talent at all levels. 

“It’s critical that we embrace future talent by helping them talk through their passion,” Suggs said. “I am a firm believer that you have to appreciate your purpose and build a career that aligns with your passion and purpose. I intentionally mentor, coach and advise those who request support because it’s important to share personal experiences that help overcome self-doubt and things such as imposter syndrome to build confidence.” 

Perry Homes CEO Kathy Britton said she’s eager to see more women enter the construction industry. At companies like hers that focus promoting from within, more women entering the organization will in time lead to even more female representation at the top. 

“As a leader, I am driven by what we can accomplish when we rally the strength of our team around our mission” Britton said. “Working collaboratively across the company toward the same goals is a source of satisfaction and pride.”

Suggs said her career has been altered by a “trusted village” of individuals who believe in her and reinforce her belief in herself. “I am conscious of surrounding myself with individuals who uplift me and encourage me to be better than I am today,” Suggs said. 

Continued achievement often means stopping to appreciate what’s already accomplished and determining what’s next without risking burnout. Suggs said she’s proud of what she’s achieved over a more than two-decade career, from helping hospitals expand to creating a DEI strategy and structure for a major healthcare company. Again, it was her village of individuals who encouraged her to act when she felt complacent. “Consistently, I experienced friends, mentors and executive coaches who would give me honest feedback, encourage me to ‘get uncomfortable’ and remind me of the effort and lessons learned that have led to my current state.” 

Britton said today’s female leaders have a responsibility to support and educate the next generation of women while helping them understand their potential. In her role as the founder of the Perry Homes Foundation, Britton said she seeks out philanthropic opportunities that can directly image young women through education and other programs. 

Leading from Houston 

While Houston companies have taken significant steps forward in recent years on gender inclusivity, recent data shows women remain underrepresented in senior leadership roles. The goal of events like Rise to the Top and the larger International Women’s Day is to encourage meaningful work to address the disparity. 

Houston is attractive to a broad base of companies because of its talent diversity, and organizations like the Partnership help channel growth for even greater outcomes, Suggs said. “The opportunity to network and represent my organization [at the Partnership] in a unique manner is appealing to me. These are priceless moments where networking becomes the greatest way to learn and apply lessons from others across various industries.” 

“While we are the fourth largest city, it can still feel like a small community,” said Britton. “Having been a Houstonian my entire life, I can say that our residents sincerely care about one another and will always come together to help each other during disaster or tragedy.” What’s more, she said, Houston is renowned for its philanthropy and generosity in ways that truly make a difference.  

“I’m excited to see how Houston will benefit from its continued growth,” Britton said. “With more people and businesses moving to our area, we will continue to see revitalization and expansion. As a community, we can thrive and grow together.” 

View perspective from other Houston female leaders. Click here to register for Rise to the Top on March 10 and learn more about the Partnership’s business resource groups for female leaders: Executive Women’s Partnership and Women’s Business Alliance

Related News

Membership

New Partnership Members in November

12/5/22
The Greater Houston Partnership welcomed 11 new member companies in the month of November. The Partnership works to connect companies with resources, information and networking opportunities to help increase business while also providing a platform to influence the direction of the region. New members joining in the month of November include: Alitek Solutions: Their solutions improve business processes, increase efficiency and reduce risk through better management of information. Website. Capstan Tax: Capstan Tax Strategies delivers engineering-driven specialty tax solutions that maximize the valuable tax benefits of real estate holdings. By complementing and collaborating with accounting firms, they arm commercial real estate owners, executives, and tenants with the data and analysis required to accelerate depreciation, maximize deductions, and capture tax credits. Website. GHD: GHD is a global network of multi-disciplinary professionals providing clients with integrated solutions through engineering, environmental, design and construction expertise. Their future-focused, innovative approaches connect and support communities around the world, building resiliency and sustainability for generations to come. Website. Kanin Energy: Kanin Energy is an innovative development company that focuses on third-party financed industrial emissions projects. Website. Maxim At Home: Maxim at Home works to redefine independence and empower communities through awareness and compassionate support. Their movement strives to break the stigma of receiving help at home and fight social isolation. Website. NEWMARK: NEWMARK is a world leader in commercial real estate, seamlessly powering every phase of the property life cycle. Website. Perficient: Perficient helps their customers imagine, create, engineer and run digital solutions that transform how they connect with their customers and grow their business. Website. Rocky Lai & Associates: Rocky Lai & Associates is a boutique real estate investment firm that specializes in the acquisition, development, management, and financing of real estate projects. Website. San Fermin Paellas & Churrascos Catering Services: San Fermin Paellas & Churrascos Catering Services works to make their customers' events successful by bringing the best quality food and service. Website. Sesh Coworking: Sesh Coworking provides women and genderqueer people with a workspace that nurtures personal and professional growth, supports their natural lifestyle and working habits, and fosters community through collaboration, learning, and advocacy. Website. Whitley Penn: Whitley Penn takes a holistic approach to hiring, with a focus on talent and integrity. Beyond traditional tax, audit, consulting and litigation work, their team specializes in many different service areas including business valuation, wealth management, strategic consulting, financial and retirement planning, transaction advisory, and risk advisory. Website. Click here to see the Partnership's Membership Directory. To learn more about membership with the Greater Houston Partnership click here, or contact membership@houston.org.
Read More
Membership

New Partnership Members in October

11/3/22
The Greater Houston Partnership welcomed 24 new member companies in the month of October. The Partnership works to connect companies with resources, information and networking opportunities to help increase business while also providing a platform to influence the direction of the region. New members joining in the month of October include: A Perfect Fit: A Perfect Fit works to help its customers find the best Assisted Living and Memory Care communities. Website. Advario: Advario is in the storage industry, with a focused growth strategy on chemicals, gas and new energy. Website. American Cancer Center: American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem through research, education, advocacy and services. Website. Barrett-Jackson Auction Company: Barrett-Jackson Auction is an American collector car auction company. Website. Comfort Systems USA South Central: Comfort Systems USA is Houston's trusted HVAC partner for building services and mechanical construction solutions for some of the community's most important customers and buildings. Website. Commercial Resource Installation (CRI): Commercial Resource Installation, a prominent installation company headquartered in Houston, TX, offers comprehensive and exceptional solutions to transform commercial workspaces to create a constructive workspace. Website. Continuum Solutions: Talent acquisition firm, Continuum Solutions, focuses on finding the right fit for their client's IT, development or leadership team. Website.  Digital Transformation Leaders: Digital Transformation Leaders helps leaders and their businesses leverage the digital opportunity through strategic business and technology innovations; to create a sustainable future, innovate, optimize ROI, transform their businesses, scale and succeed. Website. Education Alliances: Education Alliances works to prepare students for higher education by connecting them to career pathways and focusing on occupational skill development. Website. Equinor US: Equinor is an international energy company committed to long-term value creation in a low-carbon future. Its purpose is to turn natural resources into energy for people and progress for society. Website. EVA Airways Corp: EVA Airways Corp provides cargo, freight and airline transportation. Website. First Bight Ventures: First Bight is the first venture capital firm solely dedicated to investing and developing early-stage synthetic biology companies to overcome their Industrialization challenges to reach their first milestones for commercialization. Website. Global Supplier, LLC: Global Supplier, LLC is a newly formed woman-owned supply chain. Global Supplier, a logistic client-centric supply chain that fills customer demands through the most efficient use of resources including distribution capacity, inventory, and labor. Website. Gray Reed: Gray Reed offers a wide range of legal services including business litigation, corporate transactions, oil & gas, tax planning and litigation, real estate, healthcare, trusts and estates, employment law, family law, intellectual property, and bankruptcy. Website. Intuitive Machines: Intuitive Machines is currently completing its lunar program which will provide lunar surface access, lunar orbit delivery, and communications at lunar distance. Website. Kids' Meals, Inc.: Kids' Meals has been making and delivering free, healthy meals directly to the homes of hungry children. Website. LSA Global: LSA Global is a consulting and training firm that helps high growth companies get there by powerfully aligning culture and talent to strategy. Website.  Nalco Water: Nalco Water is a supplier of water, energy and air improvement solutions and services. Website. Port of Texas City, Texas: For more than a century, the Port of Texas City/ Texas City Terminal Railway Company, has served as the gateway to economic progress for the Galveston County, the State of Texas and the Nation. Website. Raise Your Hand Texas: Raise Your Hand Texas supports public policy solutions that invest in students, encourage innovation and autonomy, and improve college and workforce readiness. Website. SeedAI: SeedAI is a nonprofit that works to build collaboration between leaders across the private sector, government, academia, and civil society to support community-driven AI investments, focusing on people who have been historically marginalized and overlooked. Website.  The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Inc.: The Bridge is a comprehensive crisis center empowering individuals impacted by sexual and domestic violence, human trafficking, and child abuse. Through a continuum of care from prevention, intervention, and advocacy support, it upholds the safety, justice, and autonomy of all victims and survivors of violence. Website. Veryable Inc: Veryable Inc connects businesses to workers through its online marketplace, enabling a real-time approach to production. Veryable also gives workers more options, and gives flexibility and control to leaders on the shop floor. Vgn Bae Studios: Vgn Bae Studios is a digital media (recording, photography, videography) studio. Website.  Click here to see the Partnership's Membership Directory. To learn more about membership with the Greater Houston Partnership click here, or contact membership@houston.org.
Read More

Related Events