Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where Are The Next Power Women?

Everybody agrees to the logic of broadly pronounced claim that “Only Companies who have the best talent win”. However, in reality only very rarely a woman is upweighted alongside with her promoted male boss. Only very rarely a woman succeeds another woman into the board rooms of the corporate world. Does that imply scarcity of talent among women? Definitely not.

In the present knowledge economy that struggles with waves of economical crisis open discussion about women in leadership is relevant more than ever before. As the job market shrinks - we see downwards trend in Central Europe in No. of executive women in the top positions - women are perceived as highly risky to hire.

A woman is by nature different – being more creative, more people involving, more interested in results rather than in hierarchies. Women in high positions are – thanks to their small No. – still much more visible and exposed in media. An unintentional shining media star may put the other folks in the shadow and change the senior management team “club rules” that is seldom desired.

The male bosses would have to enter new waters and put their own reputation at stake in front of their male pals that is rather rare. It has a lot to do with corporate cultures that have as a norm masculine leadership styles and non-inclusive informal networks of men who support each other especially during the crisis times.

And women themselves too often do not help to solve the issue. Women are mistakenly assuming that they can make it through the hard work alone and not through networking and the social side of the corporate ladder. They do not realize that their more direct leadership style limits their putting up with the corporate agenda. Or they give up the battle too soon, accepting the “glass ceiling” status quo that can be as well a result of not having enough confidence while not seeing enough role models around. Or finally they do not see the value in combining forces, mentoring and helping each other up.

There are already few women role models who have made it to the top themselves and since then they are trying to push also other women up– like Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook or Arianna Huffington from The Huffington Post. Their initiatives (e.g. building women circles or opening new channel for Women in Tech) give courage to other women to make it happen as well.

It certainly does not mean that every woman leader has the desire to jump at the top or has the skills and capabilities to succeed there, however once we accept as a society, that women have a tougher time as they move through the higher ranks than they do at the more junior levels, there will have to be a discussion about what we ALL are ready to do about it. How can each of us make a difference - having in mind that natural evolution of the mankind toward greatness and balance is far better than emposed quotes from the EU Commission.

Should the initial question be rather rephrased into: „Where are the male leaders with guts to hire the next power female executives?

The unique value women bring to leadership positions,  bullet point list from Magus Consulting
  • “…. Companies with three or more women in senior management functions score more highly on average (on nine dimensions of company excellence). It is notable that performance increases significantly once a certain critical mass is attained, namely, at least three women on management committees for an average membership of 10 people. “  (Women Matter, McKinsey 2007)
  • “Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors attained significantly higher financial performance, on average, than those with the lowest representation of women board directors.” (Catalyst, October 2007)
  • “A selected group of companies with a high representation of diverse board seats (especially gender diversity) exceeded the average returns of the Dow Jones and NASDAQ Indices over a 5 year period.” (Virtcom Consulting)
  • “An extensive 19-year study of 215 Fortune 500 firms shows a strong correlation between a strong record of promoting women into the executive suite and high profitability. Three measures of profitability were used to demonstrate that the 25 Fortune 500 firms with the best record of promoting women to high positions are between 18 and 69 percent more profitable than the median Fortune 500 firms in their industries.” (European Project on Equal Pay and summarized by researcher Dr. Roy Adler  in Miller McCune).
Note:  The EU commission has ambitious objective to increase women's presence on corporate boards to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020, up from 12%. The EU Employment and Social Policy Council urged national-level action by 2020 to  "promote the equal participation of women and men in decision-making at all levels and in all fields ."  From the eyes of the year 2011 the goal seems unrealistic to achieve….

2011 World´s Most Powerful Women According To Forbes 

More On How Sheryl Sandberg Helps Other Women Up 

Why Women Have Barriers To Help Each Other Up? 


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