Culture Beyond Equality

Culture Beyond Equality

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act marked a significant milestone in advancing equal pay for all workers. Seven years later, the median wage of a woman working full-time year-round in the United States remains only 79 percent of a man’s median earnings. And while this marks an improvement (back in 2008, the ratio was approximately 75 percent), it’s also a clear indicator that there is more work to be done. President Obama’s announcement of additional measures to close the gap will bring much-needed focus and attention on work that needs to be done. In particular, I am excited to learn that the White House is to host a summit on “The United State of Women” on May 23rd. For many years, I have championed a focus on women leaders, gender diversity and the way that leveraging female talent can drive innovation and profitability. I firmly believe that while equality is important, it is just one element in a broader mix of initiatives that needs to be addressed in parallel. Equality is not just the right thing for people, it’s the right thing for business, innovation, and profitability. Recent research by Silvia Anne Hewlett reveals a remarkable correlation between inclusive leadership, innovative output, and market growth – what she calls a “speak up culture”. We find that at publicly traded companies with two-dimensional diversity—where the senior leadership team has both inherent diversity in terms of gender, age, and race,and an acquired appreciation for difference based on experience and learning—employees are 70% more likely than those at non-diverse publicly traded companies to report having captured a new market in the last...
Do Women in Leadership Offer More Opportunities for their Female Employees?

Do Women in Leadership Offer More Opportunities for their Female Employees?

Corporate America has worked hard for the past several decades to try to solve the problem of wage inequality between the genders. It is commonly known that women earn only about 75% of the income that men in similar roles with similar experience earn. This injustice pushed many companies to pursue more women in leadership positions. The hope was that as more women moved into leadership positions in companies, the wage gap would naturally narrow, because surely women managers would treat their female employees fairly. Unfortunately, a new study performed at the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business shows that this is not the case. According to the Fast Company article, Why Isn’t Having More Women in Leadership Budging the Gender Wage Gap? by Lydia Dishman, women who have female managers actually have a slightly lower wage than women with male managers. The study found that women who switched from a male manager to a female manager could expect a pay decrease of about 1.4%. While this is a small percentage, it is a move in the wrong direction for women’s pay overall. Plus the distinction became greater if the female employee was low-performing. Low-performing female employees could expect to make 30% less than an equally low-performing male employee who switched from a male manager to a female manager. The theory is that women who have risen to the top of corporations have had to work really hard to earn their place. These women have a competitive drive and some of them aren’t interested in making it any easier for the women that will come after them....
Four Steps to Encourage Young Women into Tech Careers

Four Steps to Encourage Young Women into Tech Careers

Study after study has shown that diversity in the workplace has significant impacts on an organization’s employee morale, productivity and profitability. Yet, at the same time, we continue to see upstream challenges to the participation of women in those industries responsible for driving innovation in the economy. Just look at the percentage of women employees in tech companies –  women make up no more than 20% of the tech workforce at Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter. With this in mind, in early 2014, Google undertook a study of their own. The aim was to identify the factors that influenced young women in their choice of computer science degrees. The results were encouraging – and, I must admit, quite surprising. The study distinguished between uncontrollable and controllable factors. Analysis of the uncontrollable factors – such as ethnicity, early exposure to computers, natural aptitude and so on – revealed that they play a very limited role in influencing young women in their choice of technology study. It is the controllable factors – that largely determine decision-making – and this means that these factors can be acted upon and amplified. There are four factors that can be influenced and there are four steps we can take to encourage young women into technology careers. These are: Social encouragement Self perception Academic exposure Career perception Nina Nets It Out: Controllable factors can be influenced – which represents an opportunity but also a challenge. Without systematic approaches, we will continue to see computer science – and by extension – innovation, suffer. By addressing this problem programmatically we can have a massive impact on...
Putting a STEM in STEM for Women

Putting a STEM in STEM for Women

We often look at the world of tech startups through rose colored glasses. After all, these companies are the future IBMs, Oracles and SAPs – long-lived, large scale organizations that have generated not just large returns for shareholders, but massive value for customers, employees and partners. Yet despite their obvious focus on future value building and innovation, startup tech companies have a startlingly poor record when it comes to hiring women. Ann Hoang from STEMINIST explains: Women make up less than 40 percent of the workforce at Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter, and no more than one-fifth of the technical workforce at those companies. Blair Hanley Frank takes this further, citing “a 2011 study found that 15 percent of women who graduated with an engineering degree did not go on to work in engineering, while another 20 percent entered the engineering workforce and then summarily left for another industry.” Clearly there are not just factors that prevent women from taking up STEM related roles – there are also factors that drive them elsewhere once they have them. Lynne Y Williams refers to this phenomenon as IT’s vanishing women. “A 2004 study by the National Center for Women & IT revealed that a large number of women who already occupy upper-level IT-related positions are leaving the industry at a startling rate, with “56% of technical women leav[ing] at the ‘mid-level’ point” (Ashcraft & Blithe, 2010) of their careers, a rate almost double that of equivalent male colleagues.” Williams calls out the “hostile, macho culture” in the IT workplace along with isolation, lack of opportunity and support from and...
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...
From 50% to 5% – the Shrinking Role of Women in the C-Suite

From 50% to 5% – the Shrinking Role of Women in the C-Suite

As the economy starts to emerge from this period of slow growth, leaders are looking for opportunities to make up ground. For some, this is about technology driving innovation – investing in new ideas, wearable computers or even robots. For others, opportunities for growth will come from leveraging data – or what we already know about our customers, suppliers and products. But there is a much larger opportunity for leaders and it – or should I say – she – is staring you right in the face. As I have discussed previously, there is a strong and clear correlation between having women on the board of a corporation and out-performing your competition. Yet, as shown in this infographic, while women have strong representation in management, professional and related roles – claiming 52% – only a paltry 5% of women are reported as CEOs on the Fortune 1000. That’s 50 out of 1000. And the percentage of women leading tech startups is even lower – only 3%. If we want growth – and clearly we do – it’s time for boards, and for leaders across the spectrum – to begin rethinking what is needed to be successful. At a time when the economy is looking for growth, business leaders should be looking to unleash potential. And it strikes me that shifting the dial on women executives is one of the lowest risks open to organizations of all size, shape and focus. I’m not saying 20%. Or even 10%. But what would it take for us to move from 5% to 6% during 2014? Just 10 additional women CEOs in the...