Closing the Gap-Statistics, Perceptions and Futures for Women in the Workplace

Closing the Gap-Statistics, Perceptions and Futures for Women in the Workplace

Gender equality in the workplace has been a topic that I have followed with great interest for some time. Looking around the world, we can now see many women who have smashed through the glass ceiling to be recognized as leaders on a world stage. Just think of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, and Janet Yellen, Governor of the Federal Reserve to name a few. But its not just at the top echelons of global leadership where women are having an impact. Young working women these days are making more money relative to men of the same age than occurred in previous generations. Pew Research Center data shows that in 2012, young women earned 93% of the average hourly wage of men, whereas in 1980 it was closer to 65%. And yet, despite the obvious and quantifiable gains that have been made over the last 20-30 years, the statistics only tell part of the story. There is still a significant proportion of the population that believe that society favours men over women. Pew Research reports that this figure has closed around 20 points in the last 20 years – down to 45%. Again, a significant improvement. But let’s dwell on this perception for a moment. More than four in ten people believe that men are favoured in society. When we delve into the Pew statistics a little more deeply, we find something else that is worryingly related. The fantastic gains that have been made by women over the last two or three decades has not translated to an increased sense...

Are Hackers Our Future Heroes?

There is no doubt that we are facing challenging times. Within many workplaces we are losing experienced workers as they are either retrenched or retire, replacing them, if at all, with the sea of less experienced Generation Y. This is part of a structural realignment that has been underway now for some years, with many Western countries facing the situation where population is both shrinking and aging: Think of 20-somethings as a single work force, the best educated there is. In Japan, that work force will shrink by one-fifth in the next decade — a considerable loss of knowledge and skills. At the other end of the age spectrum, state pensions systems face difficulties now, when there are four people of working age to each retired person. By 2030, Japan and Italy will have only two per retiree; by 2050, the ratio will be three to two. But as I have suggested previously, leaders need to work now to prepare their businesses for a different kind of future. We need to re-think the way that we manage the business of doing business – for economic crisis or not, the landscape in which many of us work will never be the same again. This means that, as leaders, we must now begin the hard work of orienting our organizations, our processes and our business cultures toward a new way of working that is more resilient and flexible – and one that builds learning into the very DNA of our operations. For while the “war for talent” goes through a recession-driven hiatus, this is not a permanent cease-fire. As the leading...

What Leaders Can Learn from Kids

In the past, I have written a series on “What Leaders Can Learn from …” entries focusing on leadership lessons gleaned from the lives of celebrities and athletes. In the course of our lives, we all are witness to the lives of such folks given the seemingly insatiable demand to know more and more about those that are famous. But, beyond just reading the paparazzi tabloids for the sensationalist stories, I try to glean lessons from experiences these people have, how they handle certain situations that arise in their lives, and what outcomes are reached by these actions. Along these lines, I just read an interesting piece written by Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies Ltd. discussing lessons that leaders can learn from children. For me, children surely do act in ways that we adults can learn from. For example, children, as is said, say the darndest things. In the context of leadership lessons, what this means is that we need to speak openly and truthfully. Simply put, we all benefit from this degree of openness in our communications. Such genuine, albeit sometimes difficult to hear, communication is what leads to better outcomes without leaving thoughts lingering in our minds that can cloud progress. So, be sure to follow a child’s lead and speak from the heart, without filtering or couching our language to avoid direct discourse. Next, like kids do incessantly, leaders must explore their curiosities in an effort to learn more, achieve more and gain greater understanding. In doing so, we must understand the risks involved – both of our actions and in our inactions. As I’ve...

Putting Success into Succession

One aspect of leadership that is often overlooked in the rush to achieve quarterly or year-end results is succession. The myopia that can affect even the most experienced leaders can have a significant impact not only on personal, divisional or even company-wide performance — I believe it has the potential to affect entire industries. Now, when I say “succession”, I am not just talking about filling roles that will be vacated over time. As leaders we must think broader than this. We must consider the future impact of new workers on our work environments. We need to consider change management, business process, HR — in fact, we need to re-think the way that we manage the business of doing business. And if this post by Ryan Healy is any indication, Generation Y are ready, and expecting, to help. Ryan sets out ten ways that Generation Y will change the workplace. And while there are some excellent points, my favorites include: We’ll redefine retirement — the suggestion is that a career will be made up of multiple, mini retirements that occur in sync with life changing events (think childbirth, middle age etc) — “When we hit 65, it will be the new 45.” We’ll find real mentors — Ryan suggests that the quality and pervasiveness of mentoring will improve. I too would like to see this expand particularly as it relates to women in the work place. Let’s face it, organizations are going to need as much innovation as possible. It is claimed that over the next five years approximately 62 million Baby Boomers will be retiring, being replaced by...