The Real Reason Why Women Don’t Make it to the C-Suite

Gender Equity

My work with female leaders over the last eight years has revealed that the advancement of women in the workplace is no simple issue. I’ve interviewed more than a hundred female executives, held workshops for more than a thousand, and individually coached many more. These women are based all over the world and have diverse cultural backgrounds.

When I’ve seen women step back from their jobs, go part-time, and even say they’re happy to be where they are, I always question it. Bonnie Marcus, author of The Politics of Promotion, conducted a study, Lost Leaders in the Pipeline (with co-author Lisa Mainiero) that found women do have strong ambition. In fact, in her survey of 615 professional women, 74 percent self-identified as very/extremely ambitious.

Yet, Bonnie says, “Their ambition is not nurtured in the workplace and diminishes mid-career after five to ten years. The assumption has always been that women lack ambition or leave for family reasons, but that’s not necessarily the case. Research shows that more women would remain in the workforce if they had programs and support that enabled them to be successful over the course of their careers. ”

To read my conversation with Bonnie about what companies can do to improve the numbers of women in the C-Suite, please click here to read the entire article!

Gender Equity

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Five Friday Highlights: The Power of Shared Experiences

Gender Equity

There’s something really powerful about … shared experiences. People might be skeptical about their ability to change if they’re by themselves, but a group will convince them to suspend disbelief. A community creates belief.- Charles Duhigg

Today’s highlight selections all tie back, in one way or another to shared experiences. From Sheryl Sandberg’s revelations after becoming a part of the single parent community, to women who still are subject to unwanted touching at their employers, it is shared experiences which catalyze action. It is my hope these actions create a richer, more equitable world for everyone.

Acting on shared experiences can result in a richer, more equitable world for everyone! {TWEET THIS}

Sheryl Sandberg released a Mother’s Day message on Facebook about how her interpretation of “Leaning In” has changed over the past year, after her husband passed away and she became a single mother. In addition to sharing the evolution of her personal viewpoint, she says, “We need to rethink our public and corporate workforce policies and broaden our understanding of what a family is and looks like.” I agree!

Sheryl Sandberg’s change of viewpoint was brought about by a change in her life circumstances. After her spouse’s death, her pool of “shared experience” had broadened. Shared experience, writes Georgene Huang, founder of Fairygodboss in Forbes, matters. Read more in Your Gender Matters at Work and That’s a Good Thing.

Some industries move more quickly toward gender parity than others, and Sydney Ember shares in The New York Times how advertising is not blazing a trail. In For Women in Advertising, It’s Still a “Mad Men” World, Ember writes “…in interviews with more than a dozen women, mostly executives, who work in advertising, many said they found it hard to believe how much their particular business still remained a white man’s world.”

Who is going to make a measured, mature contribution to the hard work of rethinking public and corporate workforce policies referred to by Sheryl Sandberg? I have to think the people willing and capable of doing that will exhibit the characteristics discussed in 7 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence is One of the Fastest-Growing Job Skills from Fast Company. Like the article states regarding the emotionally intelligent, “…with the rates of change and pressures in the workplace rising, they’ll become even more sought after than ever.”

I believe those emotionally intelligent people can make a difference in the changes that will help bring about more fairness and, in all honesty, more profits! In Why Inclusive Hiring Practices Help Bottom-Line Earnings for Savvy Companies from Sharp Heels, guest contributor Heather Ready provided examples such as, “…investments in companies with at least one female founder performed 63% better than … investments in all-male teams, according to a report released last year.”

Success in business is not, of course, all about monetary profit However, I don’t see why we can’t do both: be richly diverse and rich in the conventional sense. Who wants to help me try? Email me here with your ideas!

Image Credit: 123rf/gajus

Five Friday Highlights: Gender, Candor, and Keeping Your Word

Gender Equity

This week, I am sharing recent posts which deal with executives who demonstrate progress in the right direction toward eliminating discrimination in the workplace and some who are quite the opposite. Whether it is parental leave issues, age discrimination, or other ways in which bias can play out, we have to talk about it in order to effect change. A few of today’s posts suggest how to do that.

Although it is exciting to see that Melissa Harris’s employer made arrangements for a consultant to cover her duties during her maternity leave so that she could be assured that the work would get handled and she would retain her job security, it is even more refreshing to read how he kept his word about the arrangement. Such a fundamental quality, yet one that is lacking in many corporate environments today. Read the full story in Executives on maternity leave: Help has arrived by Jane Hirt with Melissa Harris.

Sometimes the simple act of keeping your word is profound progress toward #genderparity. {TWEET THIS}

I don’t know if Melissa Harris’s boss had a women’s cultural coach like Bonnie Marcus discusses via Forbes in The Real Reason Male CEOs Commit to Diversity, but he clearly “gets it” on the topic of actively engaging with what a female in his workforce needs to continue making a professional contribution.

In contrast to Melissa Harris’s experience, Dan Lyons writes that his supervisor at HubSpot didn’t have any commitment to fairness in the workforce, at least where age is concerned. In When It Comes to Age Bias, Tech Companies Don’t Even Bother to Lie, Lyons shared the HubSpot CEO’s statement to the New York Times that “age imbalance was not something he wanted to remedy, but in fact something he had actively cultivated.”

Like Kimball Scott, in Thoughts on Gender and Radical Candor, I am positive change is not going to happen without significant shifts in how we communicate with one another in the workplace (and especially in the C-Suite). This lengthy read is worth your time. Scott explores why progress slows to a crawl or even reverts when people “fail to care personally and challenge directly.”

In my travels around the world, I have met thousands of people, each of whom has a personal success definition. Sallie Krawcheck’s My Metric for Success? It’s All About Impact posed the success question in a unique way. She has a dual goal of helping women advance in business and working to close the gender investing gap. It is her statement about why she had to try that most resonates with me, though, and I believe applies to all of us trying to make business more equitable for women:

And why me? Because shame on me if I don’t go after this. ~ Sally Krawchek

What difference can you make in gender parity? Have you personally faced an inequity at work? Was it resolved satisfactorily or in a way that prohibited your productivity? Email me by clicking here to let me know!

Image Credit: Fotolia christianchan

Five Friday Highlights: Powerful Women and Leaning in Together

“Women are good for business” is the lead sentence in one of today’s highlighted articles. Of course they are! However, the path for powerful women (i.e., ALL women) to contribute their talents, energies, and intellect can still be rocky. This week, a look at the role of creativity in STEM education, and then a look at how creativity is being applied to open doors for women. To close things out, a post with thoughts on balance once the doors have been opened and the women are fully exerting their power in the workplace. What happens at home?

Much of my work is in technical industries, so I encounter women who utilize STEM skills routinely as part of their work. I agree with The Importance of Adding an “A” for Art + Design to the Famous Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Acronym in Sharp Heels. Young women (and men!) who are receiving a STEM-centric education still need to have their creativity nurtured and encouraged. As the article’s closing line states, “you can’t have science that truly means something to the mass of humanity if it lacks art, or art without some aspect of science.”

I was fascinated to read in Empowering Women Veteran Entrepreneurs from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that the number of veteran women-owned businesses in the U.S. has increased by nearly 300% since 2007! The SBA’s efforts on behalf of women veteran entrepreneurs includes resources such as loan programs, technical assistance, and V-WISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship), a three-phase program which “enables women veterans to find their passion and learn business-savvy skills to turn ideas or businesses into growth ventures.”

Why isn’t there more female participation in the workforce? asks Want Double-Digit Growth? Hire Women from Fortune Magazine. As the piece outlines, a report from Citi’s Global Perspectives and Solutions reveals two reasons: policies and the outcome of these restrictive policies. Take the time to read the report; its insights are thought-provoking.

“This new era of women’s leadership development is no longer about struggle but rather about focus and balance” claims Louise A. Korver for Talent Management in Best Practices for a Different Kind of Women’s Leadership. Of the seventeen suggested best practices, two that stand out to me are “focus on career development” and “get women on boards.” Which of the seventeen do you think would have the most impact? (Tweet me at @melissa_lamson1 to let me know!)

Even once we women put together the intelligence, strategy, and communication skills to contribute our substantial assets to the world, we still have “home.” After all that Leaning In, how do we create an equitable distribution of time and energy to those who matter most? As the people quoted in Mark Zuckerberg Posts Baby Picture to Encourage  Active, Loving Fathers from Mashable, perhaps the Lean In equation needs an addition: TOGETHER. Read the #LeanInTogether quotes from high-powered businesspeople and tell me what you think!

Once women are fully exerting their power at work, how can families #LeanInTogether at home? {TWEET THIS}

Image Credit: Fotolia Sergey Nivens