Credit: GotCredit Flickr

Credit: GotCredit Flickr

I am the President and CEO of Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), a global licensing and content solutions organization and the leading commercial document delivery provider. I started working at CCC in 1989 as a clerk.  I’ve experienced what it takes to grow into a leader.  On the journey, I had the opportunity to own my first revenue line in my 20’s.  I had three children, received my MBA and found pockets of time to focus on local non-profit low-income housing work.  In my time as CEO, CCC’s revenue has grown over $135M.  I believe women who came before me in this industry carved a path which I was fortunate enough to walk on, and it is my responsibility to broaden that path for the next generation of women coming up in the industry.

In academic publishing, women make up 63% of the workforce and men 36%, according to Digital Science and Fordham University Business School’s 2015 Scholarly Publishing Demographic survey.  Yet while women tend to gravitate to editorial, production and marketing roles, men are more apt to head for revenue-generating, attention-getting positions in technology (24% vs 12% women), new ventures (25% vs. 18% women), and management (50%, vs. 44 % women). If more women move into positions with responsibility for revenue, however, I believe we can accelerate the pace of change.

So how can more women advance?

  1. Move into positions where you can own revenue. When I made a comment about this at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair—as the only woman on the CEO Roundtable panel—it seemed to resonate with the audience. It’s common sense: To grow in their careers, women need explicit and implicit power and revenue and power are closely aligned. Positions with P&L responsibility, sales, and business development are great places to launch to the next level.  For leaders looking for diversity: You are already surrounded by women and men who will compose the majority of your organization’s future leadership.
  2. Don’t make excuses for living your life. A woman might say, “Oh, I’m sorry! I have to duck out of the office to pick up my kid, so I’ll be late to the meeting.” A man, on the other hand, is more likely to put it this way: “I’m tied up until 10 AM, so I’ll see you at the meeting when I get there.” In other words, men are less likely to make excuses when they have outside commitments. It has been said that men are like Teflon; nothing sticks to them. Women are more like Velcro, taking on the burdens of others and inadvertently setting themselves back.

Don’t be Velcro.

  1. Get a mentor—and be one. Mentoring happens in different ways; it doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out, time-intensive relationship. You can get or give an enormous amount of value from having one lunch with a colleague. That’s really all it takes. I believe it’s up to both men and women to mentor. In fact, my first mentor at CCC was former CEO Joe Alen. So look around and identify who might benefit from your experience, and who might help guide you – and as mentioned above, look for mentors who own revenue.

Even in progressive states like Massachusetts, headquarters of CCC, the gap between men and women in the corner office remains sizable: A study by Nichols College’s Institute for Women in Leadership found that in my home state, women represent just 3%, 15% and 12%, respectively, of corporate CEOs, board members, and executive officers.

Women can take the helm of an organization—and they should. According to Nichols College President Susan West Engelkemery, who talked about the study in the Boston Business Journal recently

“…financial performance improves and…innovation increases when women play a major role in decision making.”

Diversifying leadership in academic and scholarly publishing is critical to the future success of our industry. To innovate, we need to infuse the industry with new leaders, new ideas, new technologies, and new directions.  Our industry needs to attract the talent of tomorrow.  Companies who can attract young men and women are organizations that will successfully create business models to cater to the future needs of scientists and researchers.  When emerging graduates and academic talent look to the job market, they will expect their new employer to look like their campus – populated with prominent men and women – and publishing companies with diverse leadership will have a competitive advantage in talent acquisition.

Tracey Armstrong 5x7_300dpi_CTracey L. Armstrong is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Copyright Clearance Center, bringing more than 20 years of experience in rights management with CCC to the industry. Leading the organization through a period of phenomenal change and challenge, Tracey has helped transform CCC’s licensing solutions to meet the needs of today’s digital publishing world. Tracey works with publishers, authors, universities, businesses and industry associations around the world, addressing copyright concerns and establishing new alliances. In addition, she frequently speaks at industry conferences and events as a thought leader on digital copyright licensing issues. Tracey holds an MBA from Northeastern University and serves on the Board of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO).