As a former partner, VP, senior partner and managing director in a male-dominated industry, Michelle Bogan knows what it's like to walk into work and be the only woman in the room. That's why she founded EQUITY FOR WOMEN in 2018. EQUITY FOR WOMEN helps companies achieve measurable, self-sustaining gains in gender parity. And she's just getting started.
We asked Bogan about the challenges she overcame to become senior partner (and eventually entrepreneur extraordinaire). Then, she shared the importance of male allies in her journey, where she looks to for professional support and how she balances motherhood with her demanding professional life.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Michelle Bogan
Founder & CEO, EQUITY FOR WOMEN
Dallas/Forth Worth, Texas
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I have been in retail and consulting for more than 25 years. I worked my way from the most entry level as a temp to be a Partner, VP, Senior Partner and Managing Director — running the majority of the U.S. business at one of my former employers as the only woman on the leadership team. I have run up against every kind of gender bias and stereotype, fought against it, been held back because of it, led others through it and driven major change to eliminate it. I founded EQUITY FOR WOMEN in 2018 to help companies drive major, sustainable change in gender equity to be able to develop and retain outstanding women leaders.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
When I was a partner in my former consulting firm, there was a period of time when the only other woman partner retired so I was the only woman. I was also on the leadership team. I leveraged my seniority to advocate for an outstanding woman who was on maternity leave to be considered for partner and she got the role. I was so thrilled for her and for the firm.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
I very unexpectedly became a single mom when my children were 3 years old and 3 months old and I was about to finish maternity leave. It was a chaotic and sad time, and I needed to go back to work to support my family. I ended up having to leave my job, find a new one and relocate. In the midst of the chaos, I had a lot of people support and advocate for me. I ended up in a great work situation with an amazing new boss who is now a dear friend.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?
In my entire career I have never reported to a woman, and have had very few women more senior than me. I have, however, had some amazing male bosses who are terrific mentors, advocates and allies. Their partnership has taught me a lot about how men and women can work together to advance gender parity and equity in the workplace. Dave Fagin is my hands-down, best boss ever. He helped me grow professionally and personally, and is a tremendous developer of people.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Yoga, photography, travel and fun with my kiddos and friends.
If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
Nelson Mandela. His vision, patience, empathy and ability to connect with people are incredibly inspiring.
What is your favorite movie?
Out of Africa
What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
Anything by David Sedaris.
What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
A luxury trip around the world.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Believe in yourself. It is so easy for your first reaction to feedback or a slight to be the assumption that you did something wrong. Try to step back and understand if you have something new to learn, or if the environment just is not a good place for you to grow and thrive.
Why do you love where you work?
I love my job because I get to help companies do great things for women.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.