Susan McGalla Leading Women Beyond the Glass Ceiling – No Hammer Needed

Statistics show businesses with gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform limited-diversity companies. However, according to a recent article, only a small percentage of top positions in S&P 500 companies are held by women. One woman who proves gender doesn’t have to be obstacle on the corporate ladder is Susan McGalla, the Vice President of Business Strategy and Creative Development for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Also the founder of P3 Executive Consulting, McGalla has led the way for women in several male-dominated companies – and, with the Steelers, whole industries. She graduated from Mount Union College before beginning her career at the Joseph Horne Company. In 1994, she joined American Eagle as a divisional merchandise buyer, rising through the ranks to head the flagship brand and later become president and CMO of the entire company where all previous executives were men.

At AEO, McGalla was responsible for P&L revenues of $3B, four brands and an e-commerce site. For the Steelers, she brought her marketing skills and technical expertise to the table by revamping the team’s online store. The Steelers’ Wear What We Wear campaign, which McGalla called “a new way of shopping” on, featured gear that the Steelers wear off the field, updated at each home game with new items.

Never one to back down from hard work, Susan believes the path forward for gender diversity in business is through executive sponsorships and corporate incentives to promote women in leadership positions. For herself, she credits her parents for her confidence in working with both men and women. McGalla was born and raised with her two brothers; her father was a local football coach who didn’t treat her any differently because she was a girl.

While it’s important for women to support each other in the workplace, McGalla’s approach is to head into any boardroom with confidence, even if you’re the only woman there. The data already shows that when companies foster gender diversity, they become even more successful. Susan’s story backs that up, and by sharing it, she is leading by example.