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....
Women Who Lead

Women Who Lead

We hear a lot of talk about gender inequality at all levels. From the board room to the call center and everywhere in-between, we seem to have a problem. This is particularly in the technology field where qualified women are abandoning the industry in record numbers. In 2014, “big tech” got together to analyze the situation, releasing a report that showed that men outnumbered women 4:1 – or more – in their technical sectors. And we’re not talking “old skool” tech companies here – we are talking Google, Apple and Facebook. Collectively we are facing a huge challenge. Not only do we face the challenge of attracting women into the science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM), once they are there, we have trouble retaining them. It’s an issue of culture. As I have suggested previously, we need to put a STEM in STEM for Women. Laura Sherbin, director of research at the Center for Talent Innovation sums it up: It’s a really frustrating thing. The pipeline may not improve much unless women can look ahead and see it’s a valuable investment. But the news is not all bad. Monique Thorpe has created a website that showcases and celebrates the real worlds of women. There are already dozens of interviews of business owners, innovators, artists and activists. In fact, they come from all walks of life. Some of these women are early career. Some are executives. Some are following their own paths. Earlier this month I was featured as one of the women who lead. But there are plenty more. Take a few minutes to read the stories of...
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...
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...
Finalists Announced for the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Finalists Announced for the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Each year, the Stevie Awards are held to honor and recognize the achievements and positive contributions of business people and organizations around the world. Awards are made in a range of categories from Sales and Customer Service to Women in Business. This year, they celebrate their 10th anniversary. Back in 2008, I was awarded a Stevie Award as Best Executive in a Services Business (over 2500 employees). It was a surprising and humbling experience. But it also firmly aligned with my personal goals – to encourage, motivate and empower women to chase their dreams. The 2013 Stevie Awards finalists have now been selected. They have been assessed by a panel of over 150 judges across a range of business categories from product, media and marketing through to entrepreneurship and company/enterprise and non-profit groupings. I am excited to see so many women being recognized for their contribution and achievement. Be sure to take a good look through the list. The winners will be announced at the 10th annual awards dinner on Friday, November 8 in New York. Tickets are now on sale. In the meantime, over on the Stevie Awards blog, they have pulled together a potted history of past winners. Under the theme “where are they now,” you can get a snapshot of the recent histories of business leaders like Marla Letizia, COO at Big Traffic LLC, Madolyn Johnson, CEO of Signature HomeStyles, Sandy Forster, CEO of WildlyWealthy.com, Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace; and yes, me too. Image: Aural Asia via...