Today we’re going to discuss what the future of work looks like and what that means for women with my guest, Alison Maitland. Alison is a business author, journalist and speaker who specializes in leadership, gender, and the changing world of work.
Alison Maitland, former Financial Times journalist, is co-author of the critically acclaimed book Future Work, published in November, and of the prize-winning Why Women Mean Business. She regularly writes articles and columns for the Financial Times, The Conference Board Review and other media. Alison also directs The Conference Board’s Council for Diversity in Business in Europe and is a Senior Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Management at Cass Business School, London. She speaks and moderates at many public conferences and corporate events. Based in the UK, her recent speaking engagements have taken her all over Europe and to North America. She has been widely interviewed by national and international media on gender and on the new world of work. Her websites are: www.alisonmaitland.com and www.whywomenmeanbusiness.com and www.futureworkbook.com
If you have an interest in advancing women’s leadership in the corporate sector or perhaps advancing your own career, you should read McKinsey’s latest report, Changing Companies Minds about Business.
This important report speaks to the fact that there has been little progress of women to senior leadership and board positions in corporate America despite what appear to be significant initiatives to do so.
What are we missing? Why despite a solid business case tying women’s leadership to improved bottom line performance are we still stuck? Is anyone listening?
There is still much to do to change the invisible barriers that still exist and according to the McKinsey report, it’s not an easy task to change the mind set of managers that block the way for women’s advancement. Much of this bias towards women still remains under the covers.
Some companies have been successful in changing their corporate culture. Companies such as Pitney Bowes, Time Warner and Shell have taken what McKinsey calls a “hard edged” approach with specific metrics and targets. These initiatives started and supported from the top are changing the work environment with clearly defined goals and accountability. The efforts of these companies demonstrate that to affect real change a consistent targeted approach is necessary.
What can we do? The McKinsey report recommends “making it personal”.
Make no mistake. As a senior executive, you are already influencing your company’s approach. If you’re not paying attention to the issue of women’s advancement, you’re ensuring that things won’t change.
Women need to support and sponsor other women to the top.
The report also cites the importance of building a business case about the positive impact women are having in your organization, “whether hard business results or indirect results, such as building better teams”.
Build a business case for yourself.
You can take responsibility for your own credibility and success by understanding what value you bring to the organization, your contribution to business results, and learning how to communicate this to key people within your organization.
Take the McKinsey example. Do you build better teams? What that means to the organization is these teams are more productive and directly affect net income by completing more projects each quarter. Or maybe, these teams are also loyal as well as productive and therefore, are less likely to resign. This means the company spends less on employee acquisition and training.
We all need to do our part to help advance women in the workplace if we want to affect change. We also need to take responsibility for our own advancement.
This fall, I am starting two new projects to help women advance their careers and successfully navigate the corporate environment. GPS Your Career Day and GPS Your Career Group are both designed to help you uncover and understand the value you bring to your organization as well as effectively communicate your value to key people.
GPS Your Career Day is an intense full day program and GPS Your Career Group is a 6 week group coaching program. Both are limited to 10 participants.
If you are interested in learning about one or both of these programs, please email me. I am in the process now of finalizing the plans for the launch.
Women are well positioned today to change workplace dynamics and use their strength and talent to assume more leadership positions. Thirty four percent (34%) of American women between the ages of 25 and 34 have bachelor degrees compared to 27% of men, and women have higher GPA’s and are more likely to receive higher graduate degrees.
We have what it takes to make significant changes, but we need to own our success to move forward. The reality is that currently women only hold 18% of top leadership positions. Yes, there is still gender bias as well as challenges balancing work and family for women who want to advance their careers. I believe it’s time, however, to change the focus from the obstacles to the opportunities. It’s time to take responsibility for our own advancement.
In 2010, McKinsey and Company published a report called “Women Matter 2010. Women at the Top of Corporations: Making it Happen.” As part of their research they asked 1500 executives across different industries what are the biggest barriers to increasing gender diversity within the top management of the company? Thirty eight percent (38%) of the women executives interviewed said they see the biggest factor as their hesitancy to promote themselves. In other words, the biggest factor was within their control to change!
It’s time to focus on what we can control; what we can do personally to own our own success and promote ourselves.
What does it take to own your success?
- Belief in yourself and an understanding of your value proposition.
- Taking credit and acknowledging your accomplishments.
- Speaking up and letting others know your opinion and thoughts.
- Advocating for yourself. Requesting sponsorship.
- Negotiating what’s fair and appropriate in salary and benefits.
- Letting go of language that minimizes and sabotages your credibility.
- Communicating your value to others.
- Being visible within your organization and community to showcase your skills and talent.
- Building and leveraging relationships that will assist you to reach your goal.
- Having a strategic and intentional focus to advance your career.
We need to own our success to be successful.
Take advantage of my FREE 7 Day Boot Camp on Promoting Yourself for Career Success. Sign up on my home page.Â Â or on the right sidebar!
There are many resources available now to women who seek to advance their careers and expand their networks. The Glass Hammer is an example of an excellent resource. This online community created by Nicki Gilmour, provides women with access to information for their professional development and to a network of like minded women in financial and professional services industries.
Today we’ll learn from Nick how she uses this online community format to promote her message of gender equality in the workplace.
We will also learn about her newest project; the launch of the site, www.evolvedemployer.com and how this new site will work to help employers attract and retain top talent.
Nicki Gilmour is the founder and publisher of www.theglasshammer.com and www.evolvedemployer.com and CEO of Evolved People Media.
Nicki is a highly experienced media professional with over 10 years as a game-changer in print and online publishing.Nicki became interested in diversity and how companies recruited, managed and retained top talent in her role as Managing Director of the financial job website, eFinancialCareers.com. Previously, she was a Sales Director at Financial News in London.
Theglasshammer.com launched in 2007 as an online community for women in financial and professional services. The aim of theglasshammer.com is to inform, inspire and empower women with useful content and to provide events to enhance networking opportunities. The sister site www.evolvedemployer.com is being launched in June 2010 as a site for business leaders to understand Corporate Social Responsibility better.
Nicki holds B.A. degrees, with honors, in business and economics from both Manchester Metropolitan University in England and Universidad de Murcia in Spain.
For those of you who follow my radio show, Head Over Heels: Womenâ€™s Business Radio (formerly Women Mean Business), you know that I am passionate about women advancing their careers and assuming more leadership positions. The weekly show, which is broadcast every Tuesday, 2-3pm EST on VoiceAmerica Business channel, features interviews with thought leaders and subject matter experts that provide valuable information for professional women to meet and overcome their challenges in the current business environment.
It is from this fabulous content that I have created my first ebook,Â Advancing Womenâ€™s Leadership. The book features my interviews with Marie Wilson, President and Founder of The White House Project, Alice Eagly, co-author of Through The Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders, and Alison Maitland, co-author of Why Women Mean Business.
This ebook is available to you FREE!
Here is an excerpt from the introduction of the book:
â€śThe subject of womenâ€™s leadership in America and around the globe has been the focus on many new conversations, news articles, and books. What is becoming very clear from recent research is that having more women in leadership positions is no longer a gender issue. It is now a business issue. Diversity on corporate boards and in executive suites contributes to profitability. Although there may still be some debate as to why this is so, the fact remains: research shows that when leadership positions are inclusive of both men and women, businesses thrive.
Women are certainly up to the task. Women are now the more educated sex and now have the credentials to assume leadership positions. Although the glass ceiling metaphor has become outdated, some barriers to women assuming leadership positions, some subtle and some perhaps not so subtle, still exist in American businesses today.â€ť
Click here to get your free ebook and send along your ideas for topics and guests for the ongoing show.
It’s time for women to lead in America and women need to make it happen. Women must hire women, promote women, vote for women. What holds women back from doing this? Why don’t we take our place at the head of the table? Today’s guest, Vicki Donlan, author of Her Turn: Why It’s Time for Women to Lead in America, will guide us through the evolution and progress women have made in leadership positions and offer some sound advice on how we, as women, can effect change.
Vicki Donlan is a business broker with VR Business Brokers in Hingham, MA and she is President of Vicki Donlan, an independent consulting firm assisting entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and develop an exit plan.
Vicki is the former publisher and founder of Womenâ€™s Business, a 25,000 controlled-circulation newspaper devoted to women in business in the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island region. The newspaper was founded in 1998, and sold to the Boston Herald in 2004.
Her first book HER TURN Why Itâ€™s Time for Women To Lead in America was published in September 2007. She is a regular guest discussing women in business on New England Cable Newsâ€™ Business Day and a well-known speaker.
Vicki was the first Executive Director of The Commonwealth Institute, co-founder and first Executive Director of the South Shore Womenâ€™s Business Network and founder of The Alliance of Womenâ€™s Business and Professional Organizations.
Recent research studies indicate a very strong correlation exists between corporate performance and gender balanced leadership; the more diverse the leadership team, the better financial performance of the organization.
Focus on the diversity of corporate boards has been viewed as an important step to a more gender balanced leadership. The intent of initiatives to increase female representation on boards followed the assumption that this would lead to the promotion of more female leaders within a company.
Now there is a new study – Womenomics 101, that focuses on the representation of women on the executive committee. This survey, done by 20-first, is designed to take a serious look at which companies are truly embracing gender balance.
The United States came up on top with 89% of companies having at least one women on their executive committee. However, when the study investigated further, they found that the women who are promoted to the executive committee are often in a support role like legal, HR, communications. Often these roles, do not have profit and loss responsibility.
According to Avivah Wittenberg-Cox of 20-first and co-author of Why Women Mean Business, “Companies that only manage to promote women into leadership through staff roles demonstrate that they have not yet worked out how to gender balance their leadership development systems and their talent pipelines”.
Wittenberg-Cox suggests that companies still don’t get it. They don’t get “womenomics”. It is mostly women who are purchasing their products and having more women in leadership positions is the key to understanding and tapping into this growing market.
Listen to my interview this Tuesday, December 15th 2-3pm EDT, with Why Women Mean Business co-author Alison Maitland as we discuss the next economic revolution: womenomics.
Listen live or download mp3.
What do you accomplish when you put a group of professional women together in a room? a valid question and now a controversial topic of discussion.
Professional women’s networks have recently come under fire for perpetuating the ideology that women need to be “fixed” in order to be successful in the workplace. These professional groups were for the most part originally formed for women to network and listen to senior women for mentorship and role modelling.
Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, co-author of Why Women Mean Business”, was recently quoted as saying, “We have to stop bringing groups of women together to talk about what we know is going wrong.” “We have to convince our companies to stop fixing women.”
Separating women for personal development does not seem to fit with the current line of thinking that “women’s” issues are now business issues and that advancing women’s leadership is of great benefit to an organization. If that is so, what is the best approach for supporting women’s leadership initiatives?
Many women believe that the support from a women’s network is vital to their success, but maybe the overall purpose of these groups is more about sharing and strategizing to change the overall company culture than it is to “fix” women.
Professional women’s groups offer wonderful opportunities for collaboration and support from other women. This remains important. However, in order to shift company cultures, perhaps these networks should also collaborate with mixed gender groups both internally and externaly.
Women’s groups can take the lead on shifting the attitudes and beliefs of companies by shifting their own agenda from how difficult it is to be a woman to creating better opportunities for talent management.
What are your thoughts?
Clap your hands! Stomp your feet! Well, apparently not too many women are clapping and stomping these days. Recently, there have been many articles and reports on how women’s happiness has declined in the last few decades. Quite honestly, it’s depressing just to read these articles.
Many theories have been tossed around; some related to the failure of feminism. These theories suggest that the more a woman’s sphere of existence expands and diversifies, the more sheÂ has to be unhappy about. In other words, increased opportunities for women raise the level of expectations and these expectations are not fulfilled causing unhappiness. I don’t see how feminism has failed. What I do see is how society has fallen short of supporting women.
What has become apparent with the release of Maria Shriver’s report, “A Women’s Nation Changes Everything”, is that women have not made significant progress in many key areas. For instance, women still earn 73 cents to every man’s dollar. Women pay more for health insurance. Old gender stereotypes do still exist to some degree and this forces women into lower paying professions. And most importantly, no matter how many hours women work, we still do most of the care-taking and housekeeping at home.
Is this all changing? Yes. In fact, many more men are now sharing the load at home. But until there is more progress toward gender equality, I don’t think you will see many women jumping up and down with joy.
Please send me your comments. I would love to hear from you about this issue.
In 1986, an article in The Wall Street Journal by Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt first introduced the term Glass Ceiling. TheÂ illustration that accompanied the article showed a woman in a business suit pushing up against a glass barrier. After that article, the term Glass Ceiling caught on quickly as the metaphor for an impenetrable blockade that women face when seeking leadership positions that have previously been occupied by men.
Since then, there has been considerable progress in the number of women in managerial roles, but little progress in executive leadership. Catalysts’ research in 2005 found that women occupy 16 percent of executive positions in Fortune 500 companies, up from 9 percent ten years earlier.
The reasons for the lack of more significant progress are varied and this remains a complicated issue that has been and continues to be the subject of much discussion. The term Glass Ceiling is no longer an accurate descriptor as many women have successfully risen to the top; have shattered the barrier and attained executive and board level positions in organizations.
I believe there is much to learn from the women who have achieved executive status. Their stories need to be evaluated not only on their unique skill sets, but also the cultural environment of their company at the time of their promotion or appointment. Every success story has a special lesson.
Now and again, there is a prominent success story that grabs our attention and this week it was the appointment of Diane Sawyer as the second woman solo-anchor of a network evening news broadcast. There will now be two women solo-anchors (Katie Couric being the first) on the networks’ flagship programs.
Connie Chung is quoted as saying:
This signifies that the age of dinosaur behavior in the news industry is over. The network-news flagship program has been the last vestige of the dark ages. The anchor has always been traditionally a male – a white male.
So yes. There is progress. Women are reaching top positions. When we see the progress, we need to not only celebrate each success, but we should also seek to learn what we can about each woman’s journey to help us in our own quest to climb the ladder.