I have a friend who owns a tech firm. He’s the best kind of super nerd – an engineer, a nice person, and a smart business guy. He’s also surrounded by women in his top ranks. Though he said he didn’t consciously shoot to create that (he just hired the best candidates), he’s since realized women make the best managers because they are collaborative, empathetic, and able to coax good work out of people under them. A couple days later, he sent me this Business Insider article and said, “See? Kip Tindell, The Container Store’s (TCS) CEO, agrees with me.”
In 2014, Tindell wrote the book Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives. In it, he listed several key principles as the underpinnings of TCS’s business culture which has produced happy, loyal employees and satisfied customers. According to Tindell, the following three ideas remain top of mind with him and guide his decision-making: 1. women make the best executives, 2. business is personal, and 3. companies have a moral obligation to their employees.
Kip Tindell: …Intellectual intelligence is really important, but what’s more important in a leader is high emotional intelligence. That’s why I think women make better executives than men. …I’m glad to see the feminization of American business. Emotional intelligence is the key to being really successful. People who have it keep their egos in check; they’re comfortable with surrounding themselves with people better than them. They’re high on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They aren’t hungry or insecure. They’re calm and have self-awareness.
BI: How many women executives do you have at The Container Store?
KT: Roughly 70% of the top leadership positions at our company are held by women.
BI: That’s a reversal of the gender breakdown at most major companies. Was that an intentional choice?
KT: We were just looking for the best leaders. Obviously, we have nothing against men. It’s just that the skillset — communication, empathy, emotional intelligence, understanding what we stand for (Conscious Capitalism, servant leadership), and being like our target customer — really fits the bill with women. When we did our board, though, we did seek out women because we wanted the board to reflect company management.
KT: “If you’re lucky enough to be an employer, you have a moral obligation to create a great work environment. If people work for a company that treats them with respect, they go home and treat their families better.”
I think that last statement is hugely important, and I know for a fact that he and TCS have managed to do just that because I have a personal connection to this story. Like Tindell, I went to the University of Texas at Austin, and my college roommate went to work for TCS shortly after graduation. She never left because she thought their culture was nurturing, supportive, and amazing.
Tragically, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after giving birth to her second son, and didn’t have much time left. The company went above and beyond to care of her, and when she died many of her colleagues attended her celebration of life ceremony. The company also contributed significantly to a memorial created in her honor at a children’s hospital. All that Tindell writes is very true, and I am grateful for what they did for her and her family.
I think the take away is that this kind of business culture exemplifies the best of what most companies and workers want. Businesses that create it often end up with loyal, satisfied employees, who in turn consistently demonstrate higher productivity and treat customers well, and that typically translates into higher profits. Everyone wins. But don’t just take my word for it, according to Tindell and my tech friend, an essential ingredient includes having more women at the top steering the ship. So, WE will keep doing what we do because I’m convinced this is how we all get to a happier, more successful workforce.