success in business

We Need Male Allies to Help Us Get Ahead

Male AlliesFor gender parity to succeed, we need male allies at every level of government, in the workplace, and the communities we call home. The main argument for achieving women’s parity is that you only get half the results when you engage half of the population. So doesn’t it make sense, that the same is true in working for parity itself? It should be obvious that we’ll get there faster if we all work together, but the system that rewards sexism in the workplace and our communities is strong and works against us to keep the status quo itself working against closing the wage gap, assuming our fair share of leadership positions and achieving full equality.  We must engage men (the other half of the population) in new ways, make them feel like they belong and help them understand their own benefits from women’s advancement, and shift their perspective of how they can help us get ahead.
Men often don’t see the disparities, despite the fact that they have a larger stake in women’s equality than in the past. Many men today count on the financial contribution their wives make to the family economy, and they were likely raised by women who worked. They also want their daughters to succeed and will express outrage when the women in their lives encounter discrimination or barriers at work. But that personal perspective needs to be widened to a world view for them to truly understand the value of gender parity.

Include Men In Gender Equity Discussions

To help our male counterparts become more aware and include them in discussions around gender equity in the workplace, Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that some women’s conferences and employee resource groups are changing their approach by creating events aimed at men, and inviting them to attend. Their approach is based on evidence which shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress – compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.
Do the math, an organization has a 66% greater chance of succeeding if men are “deliberately engaged.” That’s huge. In fact, this discrepancy illustrates that if we don’t work with men, significant progress is doubtful, and gender inclusion programs will likely fail.
The evidence for parity just keeps multiplying. Take for example the pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) projects that the U.S. economy would generate additional income of more than $512 billion if women received equal pay. And if that doesn’t get your attention, a recent McKinsey study showed that stricter workplace gender equity practices could add $12 trillion the global GDP by 2025 (seven short years from now) with stronger workplace gender equity practices. $12 trillion dollars definitely makes the case for working together to change the status quo. That extra money isn’t just for women. Everyone benefits. Men too.We, yes women and men, need to recognize and acknowledge the gender inequality problem so that we can work together to correct it. Equal pay for equal work is a unifying goal that benefits all of us.

Male Allies Also Subjected to Backlash

However, including men in our efforts to close the gap isn’t as simple as inviting them to a gender-equity event. As HBR reports, these efforts often reveal reluctance, if not palpable anxiety among targeted men. While some research has shown that white men face no penalty for promoting diversity, other studies suggest that there can be a cost to acting as an ally. In fact, men who display willingness to be an ally and behave as mentors, collaborators and other ways identified as feminine work-styles, they can be subjected to the same backlashes as women. It’s called “the wimp penalty.” The HBR reporters sum it up, “Sexism is a system, and while it’s a system that privileges men, it also polices male behavior.”
Diversity and inclusion doesn’t just happen, and while we may have a group of men willing to stand with us, the impact of that system can keep men in their place, just as much as women. Awareness can give us the tools we need to work around it and get men to help us claim our fair share. However, not all male allies are created equally. Diversity consultant Jennifer Brown frames allyship on a continuum ranging from apathetic (no understanding of the issues) to aware (knows basic concepts) to active (well-informed, sharing and seeking diversity) to advocate (committed, routinely and proactively championing inclusion).

Our Male Allies Matter

We need to let our allies know, at all phases of the continuum, how much they matter. HBR reports that gender parity efforts are most effective when men believe they have an important role to play, that their partnership is valued, and that transformation of the workplace is something they can share in. Feeling accepted boosts male allies’ internal motivation to participate and further strengthens gender alliance efforts.
Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. It’s in all our best interests to make our companies as productive and profitable as we can. That’s why we all need to work together to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to working together to change the system to one that supports more balanced diverse management and workforce.

Anger in the Workplace IS Acceptable – For Women and Men

Anger in the WorkplaceSerena Williams recently made headlines after losing in the U.S. Open final match to Naomi Osaka. The news wasn’t based on how Williams played the game, but instead focused on a heated debate she had with an umpire that led to her getting slapped with a $17,000 fine. The entire interaction sparked a much larger discussion about the consequences of women showing anger and emotion. Why are women consistently penalized for expressing traits that their male counterparts exhibit regularly? While Williams’ anger may seem symbolic of women’s larger rage, it is important to look at how double standards like this recent incident play out in the workplace, and how that impacts women from every walk of life.
Research has consistently found that there are big differences between the ways that men and women are treated for expressing emotions, and particularly anger. Men who express anger at work are perceived as higher status. Women who express anger at work, however, are perceived as lower status and less competent, and are also paid lower wages.

Beyond The Stereotypes

Media and literature frequently reflect, and perpetuate, the belief that boys and men are angrier than girls and women — and that their anger is righteous and violent. That perception may be why men seem to get a free pass on exhibiting that anger at work. However, studies have also repeatedly shown that women report feeling anger more frequently and in more sustained ways than their male counterparts. In early 2016, a survey conducted by Esquire and NBC found that women reported consistently higher rates of anger. Another, conducted by Elle magazine two years later, revealed the same pattern.
We all know that women are angry right now, and #MeToo, #TimesUp and the Women’s March are some of the ways that women’s long-simmering frustrations are boiling over. However, this anger is nothing new. Natalie Gil points out in Refinery 29, “We’ve always been angry – we’re underpaid, overworked at home and in the workplace, thwarted from reaching our potential and diminished.” It’s important to note that it doesn’t take a cataclysmic event to express anger in the workplace, it can be something simple and even routine, and something that may not warrant a second glance if a man were to point it out.
The fact is, anger is a universal human emotion, and given that we are angry, like our male counterparts, the big question is, how can women overcome the negative consequences of expressing anger? And how can we work together to create a workplace that allows women and men to express emotion, and not be penalized unfairly?

Navigating Anger in the Workplace

Perhaps the best way to create a workplace that works for all of us is to bring awareness to the fact that we all get angry and take steps to learn, individually and collectively, how to channel that angerappropriately. For example, if you’re angry at a situation, call that situation out, and discuss it with co-workers, don’t rain your anger down on those around you. We can also discuss, and perhaps even put policies in place, that allow men and women to express their anger in healthy, direct, non-aggressive and non-toxic ways. All explanation and justification is a waste of time. Once the anger has been felt, expressed and owned, impacted employees can look at the lessons our anger might teach us. Anger is usually an indication that you need to set a boundary, stop doing something that is no longer of service, change direction, face what is not being faced, or to just say no.
Anger can be a great motivator, and we can use that to address the issues surrounding emotion in the workplace. While women have plenty of reasons to be angry and frustrated, it is important to keep in mind that we weaken our ability to make change if we allow ourselves to be derailed by our differences. If we can work together, women and men, to look at this situation, remove gender stereotypes, and have an honest and open dialog, we CAN change the workplace, and create an environment that works for all of us.

Who Are You, As An Individual?

Author, Speaker, Coach

Elizabeth Suarez

Who are you is the first question coach and author Elizabeth Suarez asks her clients. She said that women almost always answer in terms of who they are married to, or who their children are. Elizabeth said the key is you can’t have what you want until you decide who you are as an individual. Yes, you have relationships with those other people, but who you are, what your interests are and how you feel about your family all combine to unleash your negotiation potential for yourself.
Elizabeth praised her mother for not giving up after her father died. Her mother was a tremendous negotiator for everyone else, but not for herself. Elizabeth worked her way up the corporate ladder in the days when she was told to keep her place and put in her time. She was told when she reached a certain level, people would listen to her ideas. Today’s world is changing and she feels that we all have the right and responsibility to contribute, but first you have to figure out who you are.

Key to Getting Everything

Elizabeth’s new book, The Art of Getting Everything, looks at our personal talents and traits as “net worth.” We all have it, but we must assess it honestly and identify how we contribute to the greater good in our careers and elsewhere in life. She compared it to navigating the New York subway, which is necessary to survive and get around in NYC. There are three major lines in life that may intersect anywhere:

  • Your career
  • Your family
  • Your interests

The foundation of getting everything is figuring out how to navigate the intersections. Elizabeth encourages her clients to get outside of their bubble and network with others to get help negotiating these intersections. In this interview, she used the example of someone who is expecting a baby and was just asked to be the CEO of a major company branch. This woman doubted her ability to do it all when she remembered meeting another woman who had twins while launching a new international division that moved several million dollars in revenue.  Elizabeth advised us to learn from other people’s stories, to reach out and listen to those stories and share ours as much as possible. You never know when you need that valuable lesson or that intersection of abilities to help you through a difficult time. It’s important to remember that you can have it all, but maybe not all at the same time.

Put Your Own Face Mask on First

Since Elizabeth spends a lot of time flying, she used the instructions from the flight attendant as the most crucial bit of career advice. Take care of yourself and the rest will fall into place. Start by doing this one thing for yourself–listen to this podcast. Then go to Elizabeth’s website and download the free “Negotiation Unleashed” Workbook to think through the key pieces to your net worth. Buy her book, and get started developing your skills in a new art form, The Art of Getting Everything.

Equally Distributing the Office Housework

Who makes the coffee in the morning at the office? Orders box lunches for a team meeting? Takes notes at said meeting? Collects money for a co-worker’s birthday party or signatures for a “Get Well” card? Is it you? Or another woman in your office? If you, or a female coworker, find yourselves doing a lot of thankless, busy tasks around the office because no one else will, it’s time to stop.

Too many women who get stuck taking the responsibility of covering household duties at home, take these self-imposed responsibilities right into the office. It’s important to point out that taking these tasks on will not necessarily ingratiate you to upper management. In fact, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote in a New York Times essay that when a woman takes on these chores, she is not seen as a better employee. However, an NYU study found that when men performed some of the same work-related tasks, they were rated 14% more favorably than their female counterparts.
Sandberg and Grant point out that without “housekeeping” at the office, the machine of a company doesn’t run as well. They write, “When a woman declines to help a colleague, people like her less and her career suffers. But when a man says no, he faces no backlash. A man who doesn’t help is ‘busy’; a woman is ‘selfish.’”

Yes, it’s a fact. Becoming the office homemaker can keep you stuck right where you are. Researchers Linda Babcock, Maria P. Recalde, Lise Vesterlund, and Laurie Weingart, recently reported in the Harvard Business Review that while women tend to volunteer for “non-promotable” tasks more often than men, they are also more frequently asked to take such tasks on. Their findings were based on their recent study, exploring how men and women accepted or volunteered for jobs with “low promotability.”

The simple definition of low promotability is any piece of work that won’t generate anything for you, but which still needs to be done by someone. These include tasks like organizing the office holiday party, agreeing to train new employees, or helping to clean out the supply closet. There’s obviously a wide array of what these sorts of things could be depending on your industry, but a task with low promotability is basically anything that improves your work environment without necessarily leading to more money or a better work review.

This can have serious consequences when it comes to promotion and advancement, and negatively impact gender balanced leadership. If women are disproportionately stuck with menial tasks that have little visibility or impact, they’re much less likely to gain the attention or responsibilities they need to advance. Even if you’re better at a task or more willing to do it, stop and think, are you allowing your biases about yourself and others keep you from advancing as you’d like. Educate yourself about what your industry and your company values as promotable qualities and choose to develop and show your capabilities at doing those instead.

Studies of industry and academia have also shown systematic gender differences in how work is allocated, continuing to show how women spend more time than men on non-promotable tasks. These differences may explain why, despite the advancements that women continue to make, we find vastly different trajectories to leadership positions.

Changing this dynamic and the division of non-promotable tasks has to become a top priority for organizations of all sizes. With most of these tasks automatically falling to women it serves as an example of both external and internalized sexism. Sure, a woman can just say “No” or call out the bias as it occurs. However, it might be more effective to shed some light on the big picture for the department or companywide. By doing so, suggestions on how to address the issue can come from women and men in all positions, and hopefully, move the organization towards change. Whether putting tasks on rotation, setting up a sign-up board with no repercussions, or fully engaging men in the company, once a system is in place, the tasks will not continue to be so disproportionately distributed.

When we identify things that are broken in the workplace and work together to fix them, we get closer to parity. Study after study has proven that today’s businesses gain when women join the top levels of the organization. Let’s commit to doing everything we can to help them get there. And let’s start today.

5 Ways Men Can Help Women Advance

With so few women in the C-suite and upper management, many women say their best mentors and allies have been men. New research shows that their mentorship can help, and the prospects for female CEOs are greatly improved by an assist from the outgoing CEO. The authors of the research studied every large company CEO succession between 1989 and 2009 in which a woman was named to the top spot and found that women CEOs do well when they are promoted from within, following a long period of grooming by their predecessors, who are mostly male.

Leigh Buchanan writes in Inc. Magazine that the actions of the predecessor CEO have an impact on women leaders for two reasons, “First, the predecessor has an unmatched opportunity to mentor and sponsor female high-potentials. Second, the predecessor sets the context for a woman’s elevation.” This grooming and support is the ultimate vote of confidence and not only serves to downplay concerns, but also demonstrates the company’s willingness to embrace an inclusive culture.

Actions like that aren’t limited to the top levels. In fact, a recent Catalyst report, Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know, states, “Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. From potential business success to growth for both women and men, everyone benefits when men are brought in as partners in creating a gender-inclusive workplace.”

Why should men want to step up and help us succeed? Well, today men have a bigger stake in women’s equality than in the past. They count on the financial contribution their wives make to the family economy, and they were likely raised by women who worked. They also want their daughters to succeed and will express outrage when the women in their lives encounter discrimination or barriers at work.

The actions that men can take to help women advance at every level start with looking at how women are treated, and help them better be seen, heard and recognized. Men can help women:

Be Heard – if a woman is interrupted, interject, ask them to finish, and further contribute to the conversation.
Lead – give them chances to lead projects or manage others.
Take Credit – make sure credit is given where credit is due, and don’t let women push their accomplishments to the side, or let someone else claim it.
Combat Bias – whether it’s blatant sexism or unintentional bias, when you notice an injustice, call it out.
Advance – recognize the competence, legitimacy, and status of female colleagues, look for ways to mentor or sponsor them, and help them advance.

Women have a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that in our work towards equality and advancement at all levels, especially when we have the help of our male counterparts. And men do not have to give something up for women to gain visibility at work. In fact, many of them will benefit. We all know that the data is showing that today’s businesses gain when women join the top levels of the organization. It’s in all our best interests to make our companies as productive and profitable as we can. That’s why we all need to work together to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to a more balanced diverse management and workforce.

Closing the Pay Gap

Women are making their voices heard in 2018 and sharing their stories with #MeToo and #TimesUp. They are taking to the streets around the world and mobilizing to vote their values in the U.S. midterm elections in November. With all of this forward momentum, women are on track to effect serious change, and some indicators show that closing the gender pay gap could also become one of this year’s accomplishments.
On the world stage, Iceland takes the lead, becoming the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women for doing the same job. The new rules stipulate that all companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies. Employers will face fines if they are found to be in violation. The current gender pay gap in Iceland is about 14% to 18%, which the government reportedly plans to eradicate by 2022.
In the U.S. the private sector and many state agencies are starting to step up. Amazon is aligning its policies with those of Google, Facebook, and Cisco, who are now legally banned from asking prospective hires in California about their salary histories, thanks to a new law that took effect on January 1. The law currently applies only to employees in California, but most of the companies have proactively applied the law to all of their U.S. hires. Massachusetts, Oregon, Philadelphia, New York City, and San Francisco have passed similar laws over the past couple of years as well. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy just signed an executive order banning state agencies—though not private companies—from asking about salary histories. (The rule takes effect on Feb. 1). New York, Delaware, New Orleans, Pittsburg, and Albany already have similar laws in effect.
This is good news for women, because the goal of removing salary history from the application process is to make compensation more equitable. When an employer knows how much an applicant is currently making, it’s easier to figure out the lowest possible offer he or she is likely to accept. While it’s technically illegal to pay women less than a man for doing the same job, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that it’s perfectly fine if the reason for paying a woman less is a low pay rate at her last job.
Eliminating this question from the equation is a definite step towards closing the pay gap. Andrea Johnson, senior counsel for state policy at the National Women’s Law Center, says the salary history question “forces women to carry pay discrimination with them from job to job.”
Citigroup is also taking steps, announcing in January that it will raise pay for women and minorities to close the gap with men and whites. The bank’s head of human resources, Michael Murray, said Citigroup Inc. conducted a survey in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, and is dedicated to pay equity to attract top talent.
All of these are important steps towards closing the pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s state-by-state research found that a girl born in the United States in 2017 has a life expectancy of 87 years. At the current pace of change, when that girl turns 65 in 2082 a wage gap will still remain in 13 states.
However, that’s only if we continue down our current path, so as my Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt writes, let’s not. “Changing policy can help and every nation should follow Iceland’s lead, but we also have to change the culture by knowing our value and insisting upon getting paid fairly for it. All that programming that taught us not to ask for certain things, really just taught us to value ourselves less than we value others. The remedy – the one and only thing that ultimately can close the pay gap – is right under our noses, in our mouths and informed by our hearts: the courage to speak up.”
The fact we are still discussing the gender pay gap and celebrating these small, and not so small steps, is both good and bad. Good in the sense that it is creating top-of-mind awareness, and bad that it is still an issue at all. Women have momentum right now, and as we work towards equality in all sectors, equal pay needs to be a priority. We need to point out the injustices, ask for what we want, make our case for why we deserve equal pay, and settle for nothing less.

Ways to Enhance Your Leadership by Making Your Voice Heard

To really change the status quo, women need to make their voices heard. Across the country, women are tackling that goal on a large scale (say by running for office), or by voicing their opinions in the workplace and in community organizations. Whatever the venue, speaking out is key, especially if you want to advance. Interestingly, a new study has found it isn’t just what you say that helps you get ahead, but how you say it.
Research has found that speaking up with information intended to help your group has a ton of benefits. It can improve performance, help come up with creative solutions, and address (and even avoid) issues that might hold your group back. And by speaking up, research suggests that not only will you help your group get ahead, it can help you emerge as a leader.
In efforts to better understand the power of using your voice, researchers Elizabeth McClean, Kyle Emich, Sean R. Martin, and Todd Woodruff found themselves wondering which matters more: who speaks up, or how they do it? In a search for those answers, the group recently undertook two separate studies, and their results were eye-opening.
Sean R. Martin writes in Harvard Business Review that they found those who speak up can gain the respect and esteem of their peers, and this increase in status made people more likely to emerge as leaders of their groups. However, these effects happened only for some people and only when they spoke up in certain ways.
“Specifically, speaking up with promotive voice (providing ideas for improving the group) was significantly related to gaining status among one’s peers and emerging as a leader. However, speaking up with prohibitive voice (pointing out problems or issues that may be harming the team and should be stopped) was not,” Martin writes. “We further found that the gender of the person speaking up was an important consideration: The status bump and leader emergence that resulted from speaking up with ideas only happened for men, not for women.”
Their findings echo research that shows that people respond differently when men and women engage in similar behaviors, which suggests that women who speak up and share ideas may not see the same benefits as men. Proving yet again that there is a definite strategy behind effectively making your voice heard.
“This research is not intended to suggest that people — men or women — should speak up only with [promotive] ideas and avoid bringing up problems,” Martin writes. “After all, for teams to function, innovate, and learn, it is critically important to … to spot the things that be might holding a team back from even better outcomes.”
This research highlights the need for us to understand the different ways men and women speak. Men are very direct, use and expect one-word responses, women want the story behind the answer. Relationship building and collaboration lie behind women’s communication, while men communicate to get the job done.
My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt cites the work of Simon Sinek, who points out the benefit of explaining why before making a suggestion. For example, by first stating, “I have an idea for improving our overall productivity as a group,” before making their proposal, both women and men found their audiences responded better to their ideas.

My co-author Claire Damken Brown, Ph.D. is a gender communication expert and urges women to make their voices heard to build their credibility as leaders. If they do it correctly, the results can be beneficial, but it can be difficult to the get credit.  Our ideas are our intellectual capital, and in Leading Women, she relates how she felt when someone “stole” her idea in a meeting. She actually thought this just happened in textbooks, so she was stunned when it happened to her. To address the issue, she recommends that you:

  • Bring attention back to yourself
  • Buddy up with someone in advance and have them bring the attention back to you
  • Seek help from the meeting facilitator.

Whether in the workplace or in the community, it’s up to all of us to recognize what makes us effective communicators, learn from our differences, and create a supportive, collaborative environment where women and men have equal floor time. As women, we can’t unlock our full potential in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we gain recognition for our ideas and build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.

One Way to Achieve Gender Diversity in The Workplace

It’s no surprise that Women in the Workplace 2017, a report from McKinsey and LeanIn.org., found that women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for 30 years and counting. There is definitely a need to do more, and most organizations realize this, which accounts for the fact that company commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high for the third year in a row.
Women in the Workplace researchers write that, “One of the most powerful reasons for the lack of progress is a simple one: we have blind spots when it comes to diversity, and we can’t solve problems that we don’t understand clearly. Many employees think women are well represented in leadership when they see only a few. And because they’ve become comfortable with the status quo, they don’t feel any urgency for change. Further, many men don’t fully grasp the barriers that hold women back at work. As a result, they are less committed to gender diversity, and we can’t get there without them.”
While the workforce may be waking up to the fact that talented women can contribute at least as much as men in the organization, progress is still slow. In fact, Women in Workplace researchers even speculate that progress has stalled.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of Lean In, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that despite companies’ growing commitment to gender diversity, “It’s hard to solve a problem we don’t fully see or understand—and when it comes to gender in the workplace, too often we miss the scope and scale of the issue.”
Sandberg concludes that businesses can’t “afford to leave talent on the sidelines,” but that we “won’t unlock the full potential of the workplace until we see how far from equality we really are.”
Rather than focusing on who, and who isn’t, in the C-suite, Women in the Workplace researchers first examined the corporate pipeline, starting from entry-level professional positions. Their findings show that fewer women than men are hired at the entry level, despite women representing 57 percent of recent college graduates. Researchers also found that inequality starts with the very first round of promotions. In fact, the biggest gender gap occurs at the first step up to manager. From the very beginning of their careers, entry-level women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male peers. This entry-level gender disparity has a dramatic effect on the pipeline as a whole. If entry-level women were promoted at the same rate as their male peers, the number of women at the senior vice president and C-suite levels would more than double
This is where we can start to raise awareness and focus our energies. Why are women underrepresented? Look at a company’s hiring practices and first round of promotions. To make advancement available to more women we actually need to get more women in the pipeline, and not just seeking the jobs, but looking for advancement opportunities from the very beginning. We need to make the workplace welcoming for both genders in order to make this happen. As Kelly Stickel, CEO & Founder of Remondista writes at GirlTalk HQ, “The companies that identify the value of the female workforce will win. The ones that cultivate an environment that is inclusive of the female leader, will win bigger. Why is it important to make everyone feel welcome? When people feel welcome they perform better, more ideas come to the surface, leaving you with more options for solutions.”
We need to do more than simply nod at inclusivity and representation; we need to actually change hiring practices and look closely at the workplace culture. The ability to collaborate and welcome every individual, male and female, is crucial for success in the global economy. We need women from all walks of life to apply for the jobs, put in for the promotions, and take the lead to engage this untapped resource of feminine leadership.

We Need More Women in Leadership

The world needs more women in leadership. The problems we face today – from our local communities to the workplace, and the global stage – require diverse leaders who have a variety of skill sets. Women bring the additional skills needed, as well as a different perspective to drive effective solutions. In short, female leaders change the game, and in many cases, change the way the world does business.
Perhaps one of the best snapshots of where we are, and how far we have to go, is the Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey and LeanIn.org. This year’s report, which was just released, has results from 222 companies that completed a survey of human resource practices and shared pipeline data for their total combined workforce of more than 12 million people. More than 70,000 employees also completed a survey about their experiences regarding gender, opportunity, career, and work-life issues.
The report’s findings illustrate the well-known obstacles to womens’ leadership that have been identified in previous reports – slow career advancement, fewer raises and promotions, and more obstacles for women of color. In spite of the fact that women make up 50% of the workforce, have higher education levels than men, are often the primary breadwinners in their families. Also study after study demonstrates that having more women in the workplace can lead to significantly higher productivity and efficiency. So what is the hold up?
First of all, for many it is a matter of perspective, and requires shedding light on the facts to shift perception. According to Women in the Workplace, “When it comes to how women and men see the state of women and gender diversity efforts, there are striking differences. Men are more likely to think the workplace is equitable; women see a workplace that is less fair and offers less support. Men think their companies are doing a pretty good job supporting diversity; women see more room for improvement. Given the persistent lag in women’s advancement, women have the more accurate view.”
We also need to raise the bar. Women in the Workplace finds that, “Nearly 50 percent of men think women are well represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders is a woman. A much smaller but still significant number of women agree: a third think women are well represented when they see one in ten in leadership.”
We also need to give women the support they need, not only in their day-to-day work, but on the road to advancement. Women in the Workplace finds that women are less likely to receive advice from managers and senior leaders on how to advance, and employees who do are more likely to say they’ve been promoted in the last two years. Similarly, women are less likely to interact regularly with senior leaders, yet employees who do so are more likely to aspire to be top executives.
We can’t unlock the full potential of women in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we see how far from equality we really are. That means it is up to all of us to raise awareness of the true status of women in leadership, and celebrate each woman’s accomplishments. By recognizing that we do indeed need more women in leadership, and working together to help women gain confidence and the skills they need to overcome barriers and reach their goals, we truly can change the world into one of 50/50 parity, where both genders value each contribution and shed the concept of living in a male-dominated culture.

Nice Girls Finish Frazzled

We can probably all agree that we want our daughters to be “nice” above just about anything else. While it’s a given that kids need to be taught to be friendly and have basic manners, many young girls are expected to prioritize niceness over expressing unhappiness or distaste. That pressure to please doesn’t let up for women entering the workforce. In fact, a new study to be published in Human Resource Management Journal finds that for a woman to be considered confident and influential at work, she not only must be viewed as competent, she must also be liked. For men, being liked ― defined in the study as exhibiting pro-social traits, like kindness and helpfulness ― did not matter.
One of the paper’s authors, Natalia Karelaia, an associate professor of decision sciences at Insead Business School in Fontainebleau, France, told HuffPost, “They have to be good performers and show some conformity to gender stereotypes to be successful at work. This means that women literally have to work harder ― and do more ― to get ahead.”
A recent Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership finds most Americans find women to be indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and innovation. In fact, many of those surveyed think women are actually stronger than men in the key areas of compassion and organization. However, women continue to feel the pressure to focus not only on the job, but on how they can be nice, approachable, and all things warm and fuzzy while doing it.
Marianne Cooper, lead researcher for Sheryl Sandberg’s, Lean In, wrote that, “High-achieving women experience social backlash because their very success – and specifically the behaviors that created that success – violates our expectations of how women are supposed to behave. Since we taught our girls to be nice above all else, grown women are expected to be nice, warm, friendly and nurturing. So, if a woman acts assertively, if she pushes her team to perform, if she exhibits decisive leadership, she is deviating from the social script that dictates how she ‘should’ behave. By violating beliefs about what women are like, successful women elicit pushback from others for being insufficiently feminine and too masculine.”
While this new study shows that niceness may help women in the workplace, the burden of carrying the extra pressure to always be nice can also hurt them. Leading Women co-author Lois Frankel, PhD, writes that it can make it harder for women to assume leadership roles and do it effectively. Frankel explains, “When they do, they often try to make everyone happy (which is impossible), delay decision-making by trying to get everyone’s buy in, hesitate to take necessary risks for fear of offending the powers that be, and communicate in ways that undermine their confidence and credibility. Ironically, each of these behaviors could work to the advantage of women – if only they would balance them with new behaviors that contribute to more effective leadership. In other words, stepping fully away from the nice girl messages learned in childhood, and into adulthood, is all it would take for any woman to be a phenomenal leader for this age.”
Frankel shares eight great tips to help women step into leadership in Leading Women, including tips on how to get in the risk game, ways to think strategically while acting tactically, ways to resist perfectionism, and how to consciously build your leadership brand. Simply implementing two or three strategies can create a dramatic shifts in how you feel about yourself, how others perceive you, and the impact that you make at work and in your community.
In order to strike a balance and lead authentically, we need to recognize the full potential of women, and throw antiquated, stereotypical views out the window. We need to embrace our power, take our seat at the table, and lead with our experience and abilities first, personalities second. It is time to level the playing field, achieve full equality and change the world.
 
 

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