The Ellevate Impact Survey is an annual survey of the members of the Ellevate community. You are reading "Section 3: Thought Leadership," for more information on other sections of the survey you can navigate here:

  1. Results from Women Employees
  2. Results from Business Owners
  3. Thought Leadership
  4. Board Leadership
  5. Diversity & Inclusion

Thought Leadership

Whether you're a business owner, a corporate executive or someone looking for the next big thing, you need to make a name for yourself.

In one of our recent weekly polls, we asked the Ellevate community what they think is the most important element for building their personal brand: more than 40% said it’s framing yourself as a thought leader. How do you do that? Almost 40% of our community said the most important thing in order to frame yourself as a thought leader is authenticity, followed by sharing smart ideas (30%) and producing content consistently (17%).

Thought leaders are experts who explore new trends and lend their voices to broader conversations, helping to shape industries, practices and disrupt the status quo. They are the leaders people trust and whose opinion they value. And Ellevate members have found their place within this group.

[Related: 5 Ways To Position Yourself As An Industry Authority]

43% of Ellevate members were published or quoted as thought leaders in 2015 (versus 32% in 2014).


Publishing Content

Business owners are more likely to publish content and be cited as thought leaders than people who work at other organizations. Almost half of business owners who responded to this survey have published a book or thought leadership piece, or been quoted as experts in their fields, in 2015, in comparison to only 18% of women who work in corporations, nonprofits, and the public sector. It’s likely that the use of written content helps business owners solidify their legitimacy and build their brand. It also serves as a way to increase exposure for their business and develop client leads.

[Related: Why Knowing and Honing your Personal Brand Matters]

The likelihood of publishing content also varies by the job function of the individual. Women in media and communications and consulting roles are more likely to put their expertise to good use and build their brand through content: 50% and 47% of women in these fields respectively were published in 2015. Women in sales and finance, in contrast, do not focus on the written word as a tool for branding.

Public Speaking

There has been a lot of talk about all-male panels and lack of female thought leaders and presenters. There is no reason why women shouldn’t be front and center as speakers. In fact, in 2015, 33% of Ellevate members were featured as speakers. Business owners (women who are entrepreneurs or self-employed) were the most likely to speak in public, with almost half of them having one or more speaking engagement in 2015. Although women who work at corporations, nonprofits and in the public sector still have a low (25%) participation as speakers, they are more likely to use the stage as a way to showcase their expertise and their personal brand than the written word.

[Related: Five Things Successful Presenters Do]

Finally, women in research and consulting are the most likely to take to the public stage: 54% and 50% of them respectively were featured speakers in 2015. Similar to publishing content, people in sales are some of the least likely to be featured speakers (which, we believe, is a missed opportunity given the amount of insights they could share on topics like negotiations.) Here’s to hoping more and more women share their hard-earned knowledge and expertise and speak up.

[Related: Don't Just Lean In, Speak Up]


About the Ellevate Impact Survey:

The annual Ellevate Impact Survey is a compilation of the accomplishments of the Ellevate community. Every year, we survey hundreds of professional women who are leading the charge in their fields or making their way up the ranks. We do this for several reasons:

  1. We believe women are an awesome force and we want to prove it.
  2. We want to put to rest the idea that women aren’t ambitious and don’t want to get to the top.
  3. We want to provide inspiration to all professional women out there who want to get ahead in their careers.
  4. We want to show how industries, stages in your careers, and job functions, affect your career development and career priorities.

And yes, we want to brag about the fantastic women in our Network.

Read what women who work in companies, nonprofits, or the public sector and business owners had to say.