Who's Failing Whom?

 In a Forbes.com article, titled " Why Business Schools are Failing Women," Selena Rezvani and Sandie Taylor explain that most business schools do a poor job recruiting and addressing the needs of women. With this I wholeheartedly agree.

But within the article that I came across very disturbing information. They write, here are common questions that women ask:
"--Can I be liked and respected?
--How do I project a firm, credible presence so that I'm taken seriously?
--Can I have the job of my dreams and a family?
--How feminine can I be in this largely male environment?
--What's the best way to maneuver through a male-female power struggle?
--How can I be sure this is a gender issue for that matter?"
While these are important questions, at least if we believe what we read in women-oriented media, they do not get to the heart of women's career success. So, I'd like to offer quick (and slightly irreverent) answers and then get on to more meaty questions.

"--Can I be liked and respected? Yes
--How do I project a firm, credible presence so that I'm taken seriously? See below.
--Can I have the job of my dreams and a family? Yes, reference most of the F500 women CEOs.
--How feminine can I be in this largely male environment? Well, you can't show too much cleavage.
--What's the best way to maneuver through a male-female power struggle? Strategically.
--How can I be sure this is a gender issue for that matter?" Do you see the same thing happening to men?
4 Questions for Career Success
Answering these questions might quell concerns, but they will not help women advance. Instead, here are 4 questions that any woman could ask in order to create a career that soars™:
  1. How can I develop and demonstrate the business, strategic and financial acumen that will advance my career?
  2. How do I build and nurture the right strategic networks of people inside and outside the organization?
  3. What are the worldviews of successful leaders and how can I cultivate mine?
  4. How do the answers to these questions change as I move up?
These are certainly not the only questions that will help advance careers, but these questions will serve women at every career stage from grad school to the C-suite and onto corporate boards. You'll find more questions along with answers and tips in No Ceiling, No Walls.

More from Forbes
In the past, I've covered this in our Lead ON! newsletter, but thought it worth posting here as well. From Carol Hymowitz' blog.
"Just 28% of some 800 companies that McKinsey surveyed for its 2009 Women Matter study cited “achieving leadership diversity” among their top 10 priorities and 40% of the companies surveyed said “it wasn’t a priority at all,” Barsh said.
The study also found that women and men have very different views about what’s needed to achieve gender parity in leadership ranks. Some 70% of the female leaders who were surveyed said they thought women needed to hold at least 30% of senior posts in business, government and elsewhere to be taken seriously and to influence decision making. But a majority of male leaders surveyed didn’t think having a critical mass of women in senior roles mattered. (Barsh agreed with the women’s perspective.)
Moreover, many companies “mistakenly think if they offer women flexible work schedules (so they can more easily balance childrearing and jobs) they’ve done enough,” said Barsh. But companies also need to analyze and improve how they developing, paying and retaining women."
And Davia Temin covered the Harvard Kennedy School's Women and Public Policy program, and co-sponsored by the Council of Women World Leaders and the World Economic Forum (Davos). She lists these findings:

  • "The more complex the issue, the more diversity improves the correct outcomes of decision-making.
  • Quotas do work! In India, where there are gender quotas for female chief councilors in the villages, strong evidence shows that "villagers who have never been required to have a female leader prefer male leaders and perceive female leaders as less effective than their male counterparts," even when performance is identical, according to MIT professor Esther Duflo. But "exposure to a female leader ... weakens stereotypes about gender roles ... and eliminates the negative bias in how female leaders' effectiveness is perceived among male villagers. ...
  • There is a strong correlation around the world between gender inequity and poverty: The greater the gender inequity, the greater the poverty.
The overwhelming conclusion of the conference was that the time is uniquely right--the time is now--to make significant impact through a combination of hard data and measurement, case studies and advocacy. Closing the gender gap is, as Bohnet stated, not only a human rights issue, it is a verifiable business imperative for our society's well-being."
To find out what's happening at the Kennedy School go here.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

2 Steps Back and 1 Step Forward

Since last month when I signed Vision 2020's Declaration of Equality (please go and sign it here: http://www.drexel.edu/vision2020/get_involved/declaration/ ) the Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act because the entire republican block including Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins voted against it. That's the 2 steps back.

Now, for the 1 step forward - this week as reported in the Iowa Independent,
"U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called for testimony on a more than 30-year-old United Nation’s treaty — one that was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 but has never been brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate for an up-or-down vote. The treaty, known as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, has been called an international bill of rights for women and has been ratified by all but seven countries. In addition to the U.S., other hold-out countries include Sudan, Iran, Somalia and three small Pacific Island nations.

“CEDAW is about giving women all over the world the chance to enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that American women have struggled long and hard to achieve,” explained Durbin, who led the CEDAW hearing as part of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and Law. “These are fundamentally American freedoms — the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — and CEDAW is a fundamentally American treaty. Women have been waiting for 30 years. It’s long past time for the U.S. to ratify this treaty and we should do so without further delay.”
Unfortunately, instead of highlighting the very real challenges that are faced daily by women in the U.S., Durbin instead closed his call with this:

“The U.S. does not need to ratify CEDAW to protect the rights of American women and girls,” concluded Durbin. “While more progress is needed, women have fought long and hard for equal rights in the U.S. and have won many victories along the way. … American women have rights and freedoms that far exceed those required under CEDAW — and ratifying the treaty would not change current U.S. law in any way. The United States ought to ratify the treaty to ensure our dedication to the protection of human rights around the world isn’t questioned.”
And, if that's the perspective needed to get the U.S. to ratify thereby separating itself from the Sudan, Iran and Somalia on this issue, so be it, but Michelle Chen aptly points out in a Huff Post editorial that ratification could cause headaches for our legislators on two provisions of Article 11:
"(d) The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work;
(e) The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave"
If you care about legal protection for the gains we've made and further action on the family-friendly policies that study after study says are important for women's continued gains in the workplace, consider a call to your senator on this issue.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Personal Brand > Professional Brand > Leadership Brand

This morning I commented on the ForbesWoman LinkedIn group to a discussion on personal branding. The question was, "are businesswomen avoiding the spotlight, not as focused on Personal Branding as men?" Here's my response:
"My research confirms that women are less likely to seek the spotlight and develop a professional brand by displaying expertise in many arenas. For example, in several gender-neutral LinkedIn groups on leadership, the comments are overwhelmingly offered by men. Another, a review a few years ago of HBR articles showed that nearly all were written by men.

That being said, I wouldn't say that women are not as focused on our Personal brands. We are mis-focused. Here's why: most messages we receive about personal branding are over-focused on personal style: attire, fitness, accessories. This mis-focus on style is coupled with women's humility and distaste for or discomfort with self-promotion. As a result we often don't look for or take advantage of opportunities to establish professional competence and leadership credibility."
This was a timely question. Yesterday I presented to the WISE group at New York Life. One of the most important pieces of advice I offered was that there is a difference between your personal, professional and leadership brands. This is a distinction rarely made, but absolutely essential for women who are working to create careers that soar or businesses that succeed.

If you'd like to learn more about the distinction and how to make it work for you, please email info@LeadingWomen.biz.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Aung San Suu Kyi Free

In the chapter in No Ceiling, No Walls where I discuss the importance of living your values I highlight Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi because she has steadfastly held to and her commitment to non-violence and action for democracy.

I'm delighted to report that after 7 and a half years under house arrest,  she has been released by the military junta in control of the government of Burma/Myanmar.
"If we work in unity, we will achieve our goal. We have a lot of things to do," she told the well-wishers, who quickly swelled to as many as 5,000. Speaking briefly in Burmese, she said they would see each other again Sunday at the headquarters of her political party."
You will find a short photo history about her here.

I bow to and honor her inspiring example. Seeing the admiration of the throngs for whom she is a symbol makes me teary.
Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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A Smorgasbord of News from Around the Country...and Globe

News from our Kiwi Friends...

In its Census of Women's Participation, published today, the Human Rights Commission outlines where women are losing past gains, and is particularly critical of private companies.
"The corporate sector remains an embarrassment for New Zealand in terms of diversity of governance, at a time when women are increasingly consumers, customers, clients, employers, employees and investors," the report says.
It is perplexing that boardroom doors are shut to women at a time when global business requires transformation."
 And from the U.K.
"According to Beverley Skeggs, professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, the gender pay gap between graduates is not improving. ' are much less likely to get equivalent jobs, they are less likely to be promoted as quickly so there is absolutely phenomenal gender inequality in our society that hasn't been addressed," she remarked."
Exec Women Fired More...Choose Departures More
I tried to read the original report, but the best I could do was find an article in Time that had some meat about it and the Oregon State Universtity news release.
"Women executives  are more likely to be asked to leave than men (2.9% versus 0.9 %), plus more likely to leave on their own accord (4.3% versus 2.8 %), says the study, which was conducted analyzing Standard & Poor's information on 1,500 firms, and was published in October's issue of Economic Inquiry. "The evidence suggests that women are being drawn out and forced out at higher rates. However, we don't see too much evidence of a systematic pattern in the types of firms that are forcing or having women drawn out," says lead author John Becker-Blease, an assistant professor of finance at Oregon State University. 'So, in a sense, it seems the playing field is uniformly tilted against women across firms.'"

Here's an interesting related statistic:  
Globally, senior male executives (75 percent of them) usually have a stay-at-home partner, while 74 percent of senior women executives have a partner who works full time.

Encountering Gender Fatigue
I've thought a lot about this as I've worked with F500 corporations this year. I see, especially in young women and many men in leadership, a belief that gender is no longer an issue in advancement decisions. This in spite of ample evidence to the contrary. HR execs who report statements such as, "she wouldn't want that position because she has a family" (so she's not even offered an opportunity to consider it) or who report that out of 40 or more managers viewed as high potential successors for executive positions none are women. And so I was pleased to come across the term "gender fatigue" in this Washington Post article by Selena Razvani.
"Others see gender discrimination as the reason why we're not experiencing change. Elisabeth Kelan, a scholar on gender in organizations, notes the shifting appearance of this workplace inequity. "The nature of gender discrimination has changed, moving from being blatant to being more subtle. The latter is much harder to detect and act upon. This does not mean that blatant gender discrimination has gone away―but subtle forms of gender discrimination are very common experiences in the workplace today, yet rarely expressed as such."
The phenomenon Kelan describes is called "gender fatigue," a state where people, as a default, tend to perceive their workplaces as gender neutral. Gender discrimination is seen as happening elsewhere or as incidents of the past that would not happen today. Most people don't want to believe that they work in and support a discriminatory workplace (or that they themselves discriminate), so they justify and rationalize that the discrimination doesn't exist.
I contend that the bystander effect is also at play. The more people there are in a given situation, the more we diffuse responsibility and assume "someone else will handle it." Many people know that gender inclusion is an issue, but think it's someone else's job or that another person is tackling it. Building on this observation, Bain & Company, along with Harvard Business Review, conducted a survey early this year that highlighted the levels of interest in parity work. They found that more than 70 percent of employees believe gender parity programs are failing. However, 84 percent of women surveyed believe that gender parity should be a strategic imperative for their company; while only 48 percent of men agree."
That's a lot of food for thought!

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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Keeping an Eye on Progress

This week, the Calvert Group, a socially responsible mutual fund, released a study of the Corporate Diversity Practices of the S&P 100 companies and the findings are mixed. While some of the companies -  are doing very well, others fall short.
"We are very concerned about the fact that women and minorities continue to be underrepresented at the highest levels of management," says Calvert Group President and CEO Barbara J. Krumsiek of the study. "Without a pipeline of female and minority executives in highly paid, highly responsible positions, it will be very difficult to achieve board diversity, which is critical to strong governance and good management."
We congratulate the companies that scored 80% or higher - including several of our clients: Johnson & Johnson, Campbell Soup, AT&T, Pfizer, PepsiCo, CVS Caremark and Bank of America. It's an honor to be working with these innovative companies.

And we encourage those scoring lower to continue their efforts to create cultures that enable diverse talent to rise to the top.

On another note:

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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