Upon the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg this past week, it seems as though the world stopped turning when the news emerged. Physically, Ginsburg was a noteworthy justice— Americans may remember her as barely five feet tall and weighing merely 100 lbs. Perhaps, more Americans can recall her falling asleep during President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union. Her small size juxtaposes her towering legacy.
Ginsburg’s nickname, the “Notorious RBG”, was a result of her uncompromising efforts establishing a precedence of equality for women throughout the United States. Ginsburg consistently ignored extrinsic factors serving as obstacles in front of her goals.
During a Feb 6 speech at Stanford University, Ginsburg shared the advice that was most useful to her both in her work and personal life. She preached on the importance of selective hearing and the art of being “deaf” in certain situations; in fact, Ginsburg’s life accomplishments illuminate her dedication to following this piece of advice.
Imagine if Justice Ginsburg had listened to opposition forces throughout her career. As one of two women in her Harvard Law School class, she faced more hurdles than many of her colleagues simply because of her sex. Her mark on American life and society can also be contributed to her work at the ACLU; arguing and winning five landmark cases in front of the Supreme Court cannot be accomplished by conforming to the status quo. Achieving the highest honor in the American judicial system could not be feasible by listening to those who said she could not.
However, it seems as though much of corporate America is not taking Justice Ginsburg’s advice. C-suite leadership is consistently pushed and pulled by external forces; an equitable society is not accomplished through caving in to outside pressures. Corporate leadership needs to learn from Justice Ginsburg’s legacy; it is vital to stand up for inclusivity and diverse opinions, even though it may not be the most popular option.
Diversity allows people to understand differing points of view created through individual experience. Ginsburg ignored external pressures countless times when trailblazing the path towards gender equality.
It is important to learn from Justice Ginsburg’s pioneering efforts. Her “selective hearing” allowed her to focus towards her goals because she knew what was right, though it may not have been the most attractive to others. If leaders embrace the advice of Justice Ginsburg with the goal of an equitable private sector, it will be possible to forge tangible tactics to combat modern racism and misogyny.