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LOGAN — For Sheri Dew, who has served in several top leadership positions in her extensive career, it's really simple why it's crucial to have women represented at the table: better decisions are made.
That's what Dew, the executive vice president of Deseret Management Corporation and chief executive officer of the Deseret Book Company, told the hundreds of people who tuned in Friday for her discussion with the Utah Women and Leadership Project. She shared advice for women interested in leadership roles and spoke of her own years of experience in management roles.
"We always got better answers if there were both men and women in the room," Dew said. "Bottom line. I have a deep belief about that."
As a young adult, Dew said she lacked confidence and felt inadequate at times. But when a bishop at her church gave her a leadership role, things started to change and she saw herself gain confidence — something she now describes as a pivotal moment in her development.
Dew shared insights into her career, telling listeners it wasn't always perfect and she has struggled with shyness and imposter syndrome for most of her life. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dew said spirituality has always been important to her and she often turns to God for help.
"I've spent a lot of time on my knees pleading for help, pleading for insight and inspiration and strength and courage," she said.
As a longtime business executive, Dew said one of the most important things she learned from her experience is the responsibility of those in power to find mentoring moments. She recalled a time when a woman she looked up to once took a brief moment to mentor her and how that short conversation has often come up in her thoughts when she is seeking guidance.
Things have never been easy for women in the workforce, but the last year will go down in history as being one of the worst, data shows. Research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 recession, for a variety of reasons: fewer women are employed in careers that allow them to telecommute and industries that have higher concentrations of women have been battered due to the pandemic. The phenomenon has been dubbed the Pink Collar Recession.
Founder and Director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project Susan Madsen is currently in the process of conducting research to better understand how the pandemic and the recession have impacted Utah women specifically. Employed and unemployed women in Utah can participate in a survey here.
While things have definitely been tough for many, Dew said it's also been a good example of circumstances driving positive change.
"We've all learned a lot of things and found out we actually have more resilience than we thought," Dew said. "We are more enterprising than we thought. We're more resourceful than we thought. We're more innovative than we thought because we've had to figure out new ways to get things done."
Editor's Note: Deseret Digital Media, Inc., the operator of KSL.com, is a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.