During a 30-year career at DuPont that included traveling globally and living overseas, Sharon Kelly Hake had noticed a common thread when talking to women leaders.
“Women did not feel valued and they struggled to find their voice. These women were smart, experienced, and credentialed, yet they did not believe their ideas or contributions were valued. So, I began to think about what I could do differently to help women discover their value, find their voice and implement their ideas successfully,” Hake said.
Justifying your existence
She also remembered growing up as one of seven children, with each being asked by their father at the dinner table – “Children, what did you do today to justify your existence?”
Hake took the plunge and left DuPont to start Great Dames in the depths of the 2009 recession.
“My colleagues were surprised that I was leaving a great job at DuPont at a very difficult time during the recession. But we decided it was actually a very good time to launch Great Dames because so many women were looking for ways to transition their careers and find new opportunities. We attracted many women who wanted to make a change and find more purposeful work,” Hake remembered.
Key elements of Great Dames include its fall powerful conversations series, a competitive event with the winner having the most powerful idea getting $25,000 in cash and services, and peer groups that meet regularly.
“We know that women thrive when they are surrounded by other supportive women, so we designed a community that fostered supportive relationships based on trust,” Hake says. “We have so many stories of powerful outcomes that arose from a Great Dames relationship. Dames help each other discover their power and purpose; they listen and help clarify each other’s ideas; they hold each other accountable; they forge meaningful friendships that matter.”https://delawarebusinessnow.com/2019/03/great-dames-tying-to-gather-a-common-thread-as-group-marks-10th-anniversary/