Visibility is Destiny for Women in Business 

NEW YORK, DECEMBER 4, 2013 – Top U.S. women business leaders,  whether they are CEOs or hold other senior positions, are proactively engaging external audiences and are also being acknowledged for their roles as effective leaders, according to Weber Shandwick’s ongoing study on how the most powerful women in business are engaging. A full 60 percent of women who speak at executive conferences also have a seat on today’s boards, demonstrating a direct “speak and sit” correlation.

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Weber Shandwick examines the engagement activities of the world’s top executives each year to determine how these leaders position themselves in the eyes of their key stakeholders. For this year’s study, the firm examined speaking engagements, board memberships and honors of the most powerful women in business, based on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women (MPW) U.S. list.


The majority of women (72 percent) on this list spoke at one or more conferences in 2012, and, on average, had 2.1 speaking engagements during the year. While the same number of most powerful women spoke at conferences in 2011 and 2012, each spoke at nearly one fewer conference on average in 2012. This suggests that these executives continue to recognize the value of conference visibility, but they are more selectively choosing their speaking engagements.


The leading speaking forums in 2012 for these most powerful women included Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit*, The Wall Street Journal’s Women in the Economy, MIT Sloan Women in Management, Catalyst Awards Dinner, Fortune Brainstorm TECH and the World Economic Forum in Davos. A categorization of all of the conferences found that, by far, these women spoke at more industry-focused events than other event types. (*Not every woman who makes Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business list has a speaking role at its annual conference.)


Speaking Engagement Type Number Spoken at by Most Powerful Women in Past Year
(1) Industry 30
(2) Women’s Leadership 15
(3) Policy 9
(4) Regional 8
(5) Academic 7
(6) Diversity/Talent 6
(6) CEO/C-Suite 6
(8) Philanthropic 5


“These top female executives are engaging beyond events revolved around women’s leadership. By a two to one ratio, they are speaking at industry events relative to women’s leadership events. Policy-oriented events are also among women’s speaking engagements. Their broad visibility across the conference circuit shows that these women recognize the value these forums have in establishing prominence in the business environment,” said Micho Spring, chair of Weber Shandwick’s Global Corporate practice.


Weber Shandwick’s research also shows that these executives are being acknowledged for their roles as leaders. On average, these female business leaders sat on 2.6 boards, the most prevalent type being industry/professional. Six in 10 women received an award or a place on a rankings or “best of” list. Of the honors bestowed upon the most powerful women in business, most (72 percent) were rankings compared to awards.

Conferences, rankings and awards are essential for company storytelling. Women business leaders are leveraging these tools to communicate their companies’ messages and reinforce their company brands

Carol Ballock

Executive vice president at Weber Shandwick

For greater detail, please refer to the infographic.


For more information, please contact Carol Ballock at 212.445.8124 or You can also visit


About the Research

Weber Shandwick began with the U.S. list of the 2012 Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business. For each of the 50 women on the list, Weber Shandwick examined their 2012 speaking engagements, rankings or “best of” honors, and board memberships. The audit was conducted by evaluating each MPW’s biography on her company website and researching media coverage earned using Factiva. Weber Shandwick supplemented this research with a general online search.


About Weber Shandwick 

Weber Shandwick is a leading global public relations firm with offices in 81 countries. The firm’s diverse team of thinkers, strategists, analysts, producers, designers, developers and campaign activators has won the most prestigious awards in the world for innovative approaches and impactful work, including five 2013 Cannes Lions. Weber Shandwick was also named PR Week’s International Consultancy of the Year and The Holmes Report’s Best Healthcare Consultancy in the World in 2013, in addition to earning numerous best place to work accolades. The firm deploys deep expertise across sectors and specialty areas, including consumer marketing, corporate reputation, healthcare, technology, public affairs, financial services, corporate social responsibility, financial communications and crisis management, using proprietary social, digital and analytics methodologies. Weber Shandwick is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). For more information, visit