Published March 8, 2019

Be Notorious: What We Can All Learn from RBG on International Women’s Day

Today, on International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate all the amazing women I have met and benefitted from in my life. I am fortunate to have been surrounded by strong women from my first breath – I grew up in a house with four female forces, my mother and two sisters (bless my very patient father). I played high school sports with talented ladies that still cheer each other along on Facebook. As an adult I have a tight group of loyal friends who run their businesses and home life like bosses, all the while lifting each other up. I get to work alongside six hardworking, smart ladies here at FBR, and the number of women I have met through franchising are too many to count.

This past weekend I finally found time to watch “RBG,” the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary. It is clear her efforts and approach to creating real change in our country led to me and my friends being able to pursue careers, be mothers, and keep setting and crushing whatever goals we set. Here’s what I picked up from her approach to work and life that we could all learn from:

1. Focus on the long game. RBG set a goal of gender equality in her early career. Her strategy was use the law to challenge specific discriminatory practices to build momentum, rather than trying to end discrimination with one argument. She found short battles to fight and win, relying on patience, and sound reasoning to move the cause forward.

2. Inclusivity. In the cases Ginsburg chose, she represented both women and men. Her intention was to point out that gender discrimination is harmful to both men and women. Making sure we hear feedback from all stakeholders before making rules and policies can help everyone feel included and represented equally.

3. Dissent! If you don’t agree with the public, or popular opinion, speak up! Ruth’s willingness to share her opposition and point of view, and refusal to step down from the Supreme Court, have raised her pop culture status, earning her the nickname of “The Notorious R.B.G.” Today we see opposing views on every political and social issue and the rhetoric has gotten nasty and negative. Focusing on how to present your opinions in an intelligent, fiery way, can go a lot further than name calling, finger pointing or shutting down and not participating at all.

While we have a record 127 women in Congress in 2019 (there were only 65 in 2000), there are still only 24 of Fortune 500 companies led by women (which is down from 32 last year). I don’t advocate hiring women in these positions just because they are women. I am hoping more women apply for these big jobs, and that companies consider them equal to their male counterparts. We would be lucky to see more women in leadership positions because of what they bring to their companies and teams: Different perspectives and approaches to issues, a culture inclusive of all team members, and hopefully, the foresight to focus on the long game.

If you are looking for a way to celebrate International Women’s Day, the “RBG” documentary is definitely worth checking out.

Celebrate the women in your franchise system! Register now for our annual awards recognizing the Top Franchises for Women or contact us to learn more about our research.

Related Content: Women in Franchising Research Insights

Explore women as a driving force behind the growth of franchising. Through data and expert advice, learn how harnessing female leadership, knowledge and creativity can lead to stronger, more profitable franchise systems. [FREE PDF FOR DOWNLOAD!]

About the Author: Michelle Rowan

Michelle is the president of FBR, the former Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Women’s Franchise Committee. and a Certified Franchise Executive. She is the recipient of the 2022 Crystal Compass Award, has facilitated CEO Performance Groups and Executive Networking Groups and is also a mentor of UNH college students. When she is not at work she is usually reading, playing outside, or hanging out with her husband and daughter.
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