Meeting Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn in Silicon Valley

….I think it does, so I asked Jeff!

Jeff Weiner  gave wonderful insights into his daily practice of compassionate management as the CEO of LinkedIn. (See previous post and full report to download). He described an extraordinary culture in this organisation that is the business engine of connectivity for 277 million professionals who are members across the world. It is something which he is passionate about and he has personally championed it throughout his own life, family and entire business team.

The whole organisation is very much values led with compassion at the heart. I think that is rather unusual so I was keen to find out whether having this value which is so very much regarded as being a feminine trait had in any way impacted on the company’s ability to attract more female employees … and … whether the culture that has been created as a result has supported a greater number of women executives staying and rising through the ranks to the highest levels. (Read more about his philosophy … I found it fascinating so I transcribed it on a separate post with specific details of how to make compassionate management work. It’s dynamite).

Jeff was in conversation with Soren Gordhamer during Wisdom 2.0 week. 45 minutes in to the one hour presentation he opened up the floor for Q&A. I was lucky enough to ask a question in the crowded auditorium.

Gina: Thank you Jeff, I enjoyed your presentation. You  have obviously created a special culture by having compassion at the core with you leading this ……. I work in the area of women’s leadership and research why women leave organisations. Speaking about the UK we have a low number of women on boards, a low number of women who are leaders in government and organisations. They say they leave because of the challenge of the culture, the lack of caring and compassion and the macho nature of the business. They choose to leave and set up their own enterprise and so therefore remove themselves from the pipeline for being in a leadership position at the top. My question to you is: have you seen, with the way your culture has evolved with compassion at the core, that it has in any way invited more women to apply and …. whether this culture has enabled more women to rise to the top of your organisation?

JW: I never would have thought about that strong correlation between the two so explicitly. We are very fortunate to have in our executive ranks a very high percentage of women, they are there not because we said let’s manage compassionately and attract more women to this organisation. They are there because we hire the best and they are the best at what they do. The fact that managing compassionately would attract women who might otherwise feel uncomfortable ….  if that enables us to hire such talent then fantastic! It’s not something that we thought about explicitly from the gender perspective … we are thinking about our values full stop. And we want people irrespective of gender who feel that they can relate to our values and be a part of our company.

Gina: So many women find that when there is a mis-alignment of values they have to leave. Where caring and compassion, which has been proven to make companies more successful, is missing  … women choose to leave because of a strong values conflict.  I do feel a culture of compassion attracts more women, and it’s great that you say you have more women rising to the top.

JW: Thank you saying that. I had not consciously related in that way but going forward I think I will be a lot more aware of that dynamic.