What draws us to the companies we admire? That’s going to vary, of course, depending on what you value above all else. What’s the one thing that impresses you the most in an organization? Quick—what’s your answer? Pure profit margin? Brand reach? Maybe the company you have in mind is well-renowned for its dedication to corporate social responsibility. Or maybe the business that comes to mind is a little more under the radar, and you’ve just happened to notice its subtle but impressive approach to operations.
Every one of you could have a different response. So I asked female entrepreneurs to share their thoughts with me, too. Which companies do they admire, why are they so impressive and what can we take away from their stories?
Complete honesty in customer interactions
Samantha Brandon, Founder and Online Entrepreneur, Samantha Brandon LLC:
I really envy Big Little Feelings. The company is run by two women who give mothers the tools they need to understand how to parent the big emotions of the toddler years. What stands this company out from the rest is how its customer engagement is centered around transparency and brutal honesty. Instead of filtered photos and half-truths that leave the customers feeling inadequate as individuals, you feel heard and understood. That customer experience transcends all other models and is a business I hope to one day emulate.
Building spaces for women
Kiara McKinney; Founder and CEO, Boost Public Relations:
Bumble. The company does an incredible job at being female-forward through its safety features and remains committed to creating a safe space for women online. I admire the way it’s trailblazing and bold all while advocating for and protecting women. From the outside, it appears that the company reflects this throughout its culture as well.
Product innovation in a near-crisis
Rachel Blank, Founder and CEO, Allara:
The luxury clothing brand Gucci inspires me. In the 1940s, there was a shortage of foreign supplies, so they experimented with bamboo purse handles. That decision flung them into success in 1947, as the accessory gained extreme popularity and became a signature look. I find their creative adaptability during tough times to be very impressive.
Making a difference in the world
Yvette Estime, Co-owner, Dirty Celebrity:
As a member of the fashion industry, women designers make up just about 20 percent of brands. We lost a lot in the past including the untimely death of Kate Spade and the purchase of Betsey Johnson. So, the company that catches my eye is always a female-run brand that stands the test of time and creates on its own terms: Vivienne Westwood.
With only one investor and over 50 years in business, she has created a lasting brand. Not only that, her philosophy of “less” is what the industry needs right now. Her “buy-less and choose-well” ideal showcases that one does not need to overproduce to turn a profit. It focuses on quality rather than abundance.
Next, her work with the Environmental Justice Foundation is admirable. Anyone can make a t-shirt and donate proceeds, but she’s gone a step further by working with the agency to fight climate change. She’s producing less and becoming an advocate for those losing their homes because of climate change.
Look to another’s values to guide your own
Gauri Manglik, CEO and Co-founder, Instrumentl:
I admire companies that have a strong sense of purpose and values. To me, these are the companies that are making a positive impact on the world and are truly committed to making a difference. One company that I admire is Patagonia. I love their mission to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
I also appreciate their commitment to transparency and sustainability. They are constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries to reduce their environmental impact. I aspire to be like Patagonia one day—a company that is making a positive difference in the world and inspiring others to do the same.
Building successful a company can start with what you need
Ornella Grosz, Founder, Wildrax:
One of the companies that I admire is Spanx. It’s because the story resonates with mine. Sara Blakely’s idea began with a necessity. She set out to create a footless pantyhose to wear underneath a pair of white pants. She started with humble beginnings and bootstrapped her startup capital. Her operation strategy has only grown since she got her first manufacturer to have a change of heart to make her footless pantyhose and her first department store buyer. What Kleenex is to tissues, Spanx is to shapewear.
Anti-bias and inclusivity begin with the right process
Anjela Mangrum, President, Mangrum Career Solutions:
As the head of a medium-sized and steadily growing recruiting firm, I’m always finding out more about the hiring tactics of larger companies. From my research, Slack has stood out with its exemplary hiring process that focuses on diversity and inclusion. It’s created a praiseworthy candidate experience that benefits applicants from all backgrounds, from using inclusive language in job descriptions to structuring consistent interview questions regarding specific skills and traits. The company also substituted whiteboard interviews, often stressful for applicants from underrepresented backgrounds, with blind code reviews. This enables fair judgment and eliminates stereotype threats. Besides their DEI hiring initiatives, I’m impressed by whatever I’ve heard about the culture there and the overall collaborative atmosphere that has made Slack the renowned tech giant it is today.
Read The Most Admired Global Leadership Trait Is… for more on this topic.