Women, have made incredible inroads in the business world, and yet, there’s still a ways to go baby!
I ran smack-dab into a barrier to female equality when introduced as a pioneer in the field of gender-inclusive leadership for women. That lit-up a response—a negative one—in the heart of a well-respected C-suite leader.
Let’s address a couple of his opinions:
- “There’s no difference between men and women in business. Women shouldn’t have separate training.” You know I agree with him. I’m not a proponent of all programs being based entirely on gender. However, women often misread the rules of engagement in a business setting; and thus, unknowingly harm their careers. Divulging ways of empowering the fabulous feminine mind is fundamental for a company’s profitability as well as expanding women’s career trajectory. A Harvard Business School survey spotlights the gap as well as the need for reframing: although male and female graduates had similar levels of ambition, men were significantly more likely to have positions in senior management, direct reports, and profit-and-loss responsibility. Women need to know what in their attitudes and behaviors are potentially excluding them from power and influence—because it’s not their skills or lack of effort!
- “There are a lot of guys that don’t achieve the C-suite so why focus only on women?” Umm? Women hold 52 percent of all professional-level jobs, and yet they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, and 9 percent of Fortune 500 board seats. A LeanIn/McKinsey study verifies women and men say they want to be promoted in about equal numbers (75 percent and 78 percent respectively), but women are significantly less likely to make it to the next tier in their organization. Research reveals women are a whopping 15 percent less likely than men to get promoted! It is clear women need to know the secrets for them to assume their well-earned and rightful place in business.
Not all leaders wear blinders on this issue; however, combating such attitudes will aid in realizing women’s inclusiveness.
- Champions: Leverage your time to include connecting with men in the organization. Interestingly enough, research reveals such support levels the playing field for women. And then there is the issue that men are more likely to be mentored by senior executives whereas women are more likely to have junior executive mentors. So, look up in your organization—way up—when formulating your network efforts.
- Confidence: Inside you recognize you’re good, and yet somehow you think it is inappropriate to project it. You’d be wrong. For it is as women gain the courage to communicate their expertise and abilities they begin competing as equals for the brass ring at the highest ranks of the organization. To become more confident, women need to stop thinking so much and just act. Success relates as closely with demonstrating confidence as it does with your competency. It is up to you to make known how talented you are!
- Risk: Business is about calculated action, yet women are often more courageous when supporting others then they are when it comes to standing up for themselves. Then, you add today’s workplace chaos into the mix. For men, stress increases risk taking whereas it decreases it in women. Stop attempting perfection and instead leap into decisions when you estimate the odds are on your side.
Women, you are far more powerful than you can ever imagine. Stand tall. Trust that your feminine viewpoint is essential, be strategic and don’t back down!