International Women’s Day 2016 – With the Talking Cranes Perspective
On March 8 every year, we celebrate International Women's Day. This year, the focus is on #PledgeForParity.
All over the world, women continue to contribute to the social, economic, cultural and political progress of society. But progress towards gender parity has slowed in many places. And why does it matter? Because gender parity is linked to economic prosperity. Women’s advancement and leadership is central to business performance and economic growth. Profitability, ROI and innovation all increase when women are represented in senior leadership.
At Talking Cranes, we decided to go to our community around the world for their perspective on the following question:
What can be done to increase the # of women in leadership roles in the corporate and entrepreneurial world? Is it a pipeline issue? Is it a gender bias issue? What are the challenges and what can we do today to move the needle in the right direction?
Lauren Rachel Weinstein
Stanford Graduate School of Business and Founder, Resonate Coaching
We can communicate powerfully about the incredible women in leadership roles today. We can share their stories and their triumphs. We can give hope and inspiration to future and aspiring women leaders.
We also need to create greater awareness for the remarkable research that exists today regarding women's exceptional gifts and strengths. For example, research highlighted in the NYT piece "Are Women Better Decision Makers?" found that women bring unique strengths to decision-making and are likely to outperform men in certain high stress situations. Other research cited in the HBR article "What Makes a Team Smarter?" found the answer to this question, which is more women. Researchers found "If a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises...[in fact] the more women, the better.”
Both men and women need to be made acutely aware of the powerful and unique gifts that women bring to the business world, so that women can play to their strengths, and men, companies and, by extension, humanity can benefit from them.
Healthcare Entrepreneur, Founder – PatientsEngage, Singapore
Women should take on more revenue generating roles. Take on new responsibilities that help you grow your skills and your circle of influence.
The key challenge for women is mid career. There are greater work life conflicts and often career stagnation starts to come in. Its important to stay the course and not quit the workforce. Equally don't be afraid to make strategic career moves and push for newer, bigger roles.
Keep learning and stay current
And finally don't try to be the super woman
Executive Director, Chhayya Community Development Corporation, NY
I should win the Nobel peace prize if I was able to solve that issue. One thing I will say that it’s happening better in the private sector than in the non-profit sector.
The CEO’s in the corporate sector who have families, children and are willing, by definition can afford a lot more support than somebody like me.
I might be working just as many hours and just as hard and just as passionately, as the CEO of Pepsi Cola, but I don’t have an assistant, I don’t have the financial means, so something always gives.
More often than not for women’s leadership, as a woman starts getting further and further up the career ladder, they are forced to make choices between their careers and their families. And I’m in that position because I have a young family, I always have to make those choices – prioritize one over the other – it’s a constant struggle.
So there is a lot to be said about how our society is set up to support or not support families. I think it’s not about ‘a woman’s issue’ it is a family issue. It’s about a civilization, a society and what it values inherently. That’s the question – do you value family? And if you value family why don’t you give family leave vacation? Why aren’t there more resources? More women go into social services. And if more women are making social services bottom heavy and are not in the leadership pipeline, you have to question that. Because we have not created the environment where women don’t have to make those choices. Even men – I’m sure if you ask them I’m sure they would like to have the extra income and not be the sole provider.
But the environment is such that you can’t juggle both. So I think it’s a societal problem that we need to solve if we want women in leadership positions.
VP of Marketing, SafeBreach, CA
Isn't it shocking that we keep having these conversations without making much progress?
The issue with women in leadership roles is an issue of pipeline. We need more women in operational roles with responsibilities for P& L. This includes the C-suite but also executive grooming roles like middle management. To do this effectively, we need commitment from the CEO and board to create corporate mentorship programs. We need commitment from hiring committees to identify a solid list of female candidates for these roles. More importantly, because studies have shown that companies with women in leadership roles are reaping greater financial rewards, progress should be measured regularly just like any other financial metric.
Executive Coach & Independent Business Consultant, Bangalore
The expectations from women, as leaders, from Boards, their immediate bosses, peers and subordinates is much more than from men. They are expected to navigate a tightrope between being authoritarian (cowboy) and being able to steer the conversation so that others come to the conclusion that they may have already have come to. In other words being able to manage deftly, intelligently and with a smile on the face.
How can we move the needle in the right direction?
By ensuring that we have this aspect on our radars always as we reviews our business and other operations. How many women do we recruit,
select, promote, put into tough assignments ( like GI Jane, eh ? ) and give them developmental assignments.
Also being aware of what is happening in the eco system around us and making sure that the "good word" spreads. For example,
"Of the 200 funded start-ups in India in the last two years,
1. 51% start-ups have women at senior management level (either VP, Director or CXO)
- 24% lead HR
- 17% lead Sales/BD
- 15% lead Marketing
- 11% lead Operations
- 7% lead Finance
2. Most Gender Diverse start-ups from a leadership perspective (having at least 4 women in senior management) - Zomato, InMobi, Myntra, Jombay, Policy Bazaar, Buttercups
3. 20% of start-ups have women as founders or co-founders"......Quote from Mohit Gundecha, CEO of Jombay.com
In summary this is not a gender bias issue. I think we have come a long way to have recognized that women have a rightful place amidst us in decision making roles. It is simply our expectation from them is more. Maybe that is seen as a "bias" an "unreasonable" one at that.
Vinita Sud Belani
Artistic Director, Founder at EnActe Arts, CA
Call me optimistic but I think the needle is moving in the right direction already.
Educational opportunities are rife in the developed world but not the developing or underdeveloped - that is clearly an area that needs attention.
In developed markets it's a pipeline issue, coming not so much from gender bias in selection, though that is certainly a factor, but from linearly constructed corporate working environments, not designed to take into account the spacial life of a woman. Given the right education and opportunity the single most poplar reason for women quitting the workspace at the peak of their performing years is to bring up kids. At empty nesting or slightly earlier, they then start small, successful but contained businesses that allow them flexibility and a work life balance.
Two factors need to be addressed - Support for the family infrastructure in the general corporate workspace and a lot more investment in women-led businesses - women are 3 times more likely to hire women and create spacial work environments. Paternity leave should be added to maternity leave, staggered work hours should be possible, and a lot more attention needs to be given to offering support for the family infrastructure so both parents or a single parent can work free of guilt and pressure.