It’s a tough climb to the c-suite — especially for women. Women make up only 4.6% of CEOs in S&P 500 companies, according to 2015 numbers from advocacy group Catalyst. Women accounted for only 3.3% of CEOs in the top 100 companies in Silicon Valley in 2014, according to numbers from Fenwick. It’s not as though these companies have a small pool of women to choose from. In fact, women make up 45% of the labor force in S&P 500 companies. But that percentage dwindles on each step of the corporate ladder, meaning that there are fewer female candidates in the pipeline when it comes time to name a new manager, board member, or executive. And that’s ultimately bad business for companies.
One Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that an even gender split increased a company’s revenue by 41%, and a Catalyst study found that companies with more women on their boards performed better when it came to sales, equity, and invested capital. In short: more women at the top can lead to better business. READ MORE: 5 ways women can help women succeed in the workplace | Mashable
Are men and women different? While almost every executive I have ever met, anywhere in the world, says yes, most diversity policies are designed as if the answer were no.
Last week, the Global Head of Diversity of a leading professional services firm told me that she “didn’t want to be treated differently.” That, I answered, is why most professional services firms are still hovering well below the 20% female partner level. As long as men and women are treated exactly the same by organizations, most women will continue to be shut out of senior roles.
And yet for the past 30 years, managers have been taught to do just this: treat men and women exactly the same. That is considered the progressive thing to do. Any suggestion of difference was, and often still is, labelled a bias or a stereotype, especially by many women, eager to demonstrate that they are one of the guys, or the in-group. READ MORE: To Hold Women Back, Keep Treating Them Like Men | HBR.
There is no shortage of advice for professional women on how to succeed and lead in the workplace. Women are constantly told to lean in, take charge and be confident, and that gender equality will follow.
But what if the bias against a female boss is so deeply ingrained in some of her male charges, that they find her leadership role threatening and begin advocating for their own self-interest more aggressively?