Six Reasons Why We Need More Women in Government

Decades of research show that women make a difference in elected office. Women do govern differently, yet we are losing representation in the United States. Claire Cain Miller, writing for the New York Times, reports these results of the November 2016 election:

  • The number of female governors dropped from six to five.
  • The number of women in Congress stayed the same at 104, or 19 percent of the seats in the House and Senate. One seat was gained in the Senate and one lost in the House.
  • Thirteen states will send no women to the new 115th Congress.
Why does this matter? Miller summarizes a large body of data that shows six reasons why we need more women in government:
  1. Women are more collaborative and bipartisan than men. Miller reminds us of the time in 2013 when Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, joined with several other Senate women representing both parties to create a plan to reopen the government after a Senate-led shutdown. Research shows that women build coalitions and reach consensus more quickly because they interrupt less, listen more, pay attention to nonverbal cues, tend to be less partisan, and use democratic leadership styles instead of the autocratic styles favored by many men.
  2. Women push for more policies meant to support women, children, social welfare, and national security. Women in Congress pushed to get health-care coverage for women included when the Affordable Care Act was being passed, pushed for the enforcement of sexual harassment prevention and adjudication rules in the military, fought to get women included in medical trials, and fought for the inclusion of child-care vouchers in welfare reform.
  3. Women sponsor and cosponsor more bills. Women actually do get bills passed at the same rate as men, except when the bills affect women, health, education, and social welfare issues. In these cases, bills sponsored by women are more likely to die in committee because Congressional committees have few women chairs and fewer women’s voices.
  4. Women bring 9 percent more federal money home to their districts.
  5. Women are significantly more likely than men to sponsor bills in areas of civil rights, health, and education. Men sponsor more bills in agriculture, energy, and macroeconomics.
  6. A higher share of female legislators correlates with less military spending and decreased use of force in foreign policy. Researchers at Texas A&M University report this based on data from twenty-two established democracies gathered between 1970 and 2000. The exception is when women are in executive positions, where they seem to be more hawkish, possibly to overcome stereotypes about women being weak.
Women bring different skills and priorities to governance. Without significant numbers of women in power, though, our voices are not heard, nor are our issues prioritized, passed, and funded. I recently wrote about this as a similar challenge in the arena of public affairs. Women have been running for office in larger numbers in recent elections without making much progress in increasing our representation. We continue to need more women to run for public office. Government desperately needs our leadership style, our ability to collaborate and build coalitions, and our focus on issues of importance to women. I urge you to contact Emily’s List or your national political party to find out how to run for office in the next election. We all need you.   The image in this post is courtesy of Senator Stabenow  (CC BY-SA 2.0)]]>

The Long March to Break the Highest Glass Ceiling: The Next Step Taken

Women in the United States struggled many years to win the right to vote, and we still have not been able to win the presidency. At least fifty-two other countries in the world have had a female head of state—some countries multiple times—but we have not. Hillary Clinton’s recent run was not successful, but she took us one more step along a very long journey for women in the United States. Gail Collins of the New York Times reminds us that when women implored the men writing the US Constitution to include women’s rights, the men laughed and ignored the request. It took almost another 150 years for women to win the right to vote in 1920. Once the struggle to win the vote got underway in earnest, it took fifty-two years of nonstop campaigning to win, and the campaigns were often met with violence, arrests, and mockery. We won the vote, but we still have not gotten the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed, which would put American women into the Constitution. I marched in the streets for the ERA and cried when it failed to pass. I am still waiting. Collins notes that even after winning the vote in 1920, women did not vote as a bloc; they voted more like their husbands, “on the basis of ethnicity, economic class, and geographic location,” a pattern that was also reflected by white women voters in this election. Collins points out that, unlike in the Civil Rights Movement, “where black Americans had grown up as a separate group, victims of endless injustice and brutality,” and fought together against the white majority (and are still fighting), white women were not a separate enslaved group. Collins explains that while white women had precious few rights themselves, “they were living in the bedrooms and parlors of the male authority figures. . . . When they rebelled, they were laughed at.” As we just saw in the 2016 election, women are still not a voting bloc. In fact, Susan Chiara explains that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump. Joan C. Williams, writing in the Harvard Business Review, notes that although a majority of married women, college-educated women, minority women, and unmarried women voted for Hillary, “WWC [white working-class] women voted for Trump over Clinton by a whopping 28-point margin—62% to 34%. If they’d split 50-50, she would have won. Class trumps gender,” and it probably always has. Chiara cites Nancy Isenberg, author of the book White Trash, as saying, “class shapes gender identity.” Chiara notes that racial fears and perceived competition with African Americans and immigrants for good jobs and opportunities are a higher concern for WWC women than is sexism. This may illuminate why the release of the Access Hollywood tapes with sexist remarks by Trump about women did not turn many WWC women voters away from Trump. The fact that Hillary Clinton ran for president as the first-ever female nominee of a major political party is a step along the road for US women. Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisholm were the first women to try for the nomination of the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively, but they did not win their party’s nomination. Now Hillary Clinton has broken that barrier. She did not win, but Sarah Lyall describes the profound moment for many women on Election Day when, carrying with them mementos of long-dead grandmothers and mothers, they finally got to vote for a woman for president! Women proudly marched to the polls in groups wearing white to symbolize the suffragists, in pantsuits or wearing “Nasty Woman” t-shirts. Groups of women put flowers on the grave of Susan B. Anthony, who fought for suffrage but died before women’s right to vote became law. Mothers drove daughters past the childhood home of Hillary Rodham Clinton in Illinois to point it out to them. Hillary Clinton did not win, but she took us the next step along the path. Thank you, Hillary.   Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire © 2016 by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0  ]]>

Gretchen Carlson, Formerly of Fox News: How to Stop Sexual Harassment

Gretchen Carlson went public about the sexual harassment she endured from Roger Ailes as an employee of Fox News and got Roger Ailes fired. Carlson did not agree to stay silent when offered a settlement as part of a nondisclosure agreement, and she got fired. It took courage to go public, and, subsequently, many women have come forward to tell their previously undisclosed stories of sexual harassment. In her article in the New York Times, Carlson notes that, according to the National Women’s Law Center, “almost half of all women have been sexually harassed at work. And those are the ones who have been brave enough to reveal it.” In a previous article, I explain why sexual harassment is still so prevalent in the workplace. Carlson has committed herself to taking action to create workplaces free of sexual harassment for our daughters––places where offensive comments about women will not be dismissed as “locker room talk” and sexual assault will not be tolerated. She explains that while women need to feel able to come forward and say, “This is not OK,” creating harassment-free work environments will require more than women speaking up after the fact. She offers the following suggestions:

  • Companies should not be allowed to force newly hired employees to sign contracts that require secret arbitration of all discrimination disputes, including sexual harassment claims. Carlson explains that secrecy silences women and leaves harassers free from accountability. In addition, arbitration rarely favors the accuser and cannot be appealed. Carlson plans to testify before Congress to help fight forced arbitration, and we all need to weigh in with our representatives to support legislation to stop forced arbitration contracts.
  • We should reassess whether human resources (HR) departments are the right places for victims to lodge their complaints. As demonstrated by Carson’s case at Fox News, HR and corporate legal departments are often loyal to the company executives who hire them and see their job as protecting the company by covering up the misdeeds of executives to prevent lawsuits. In fact, when I was consulting to companies in the 1990s and early 2000s about how to set up policies and procedures that would create harassment-free environments for employees, a best practice was to have an outside ombudsman, often an employment law firm, on retainer to represent the interests of the employees. After this time, arbitration clauses were added to employment contracts and this route to safety for employees was closed off.
  • We should reassess sexual harassment training given by companies. I agree with Carlson that such training is often a corporate façade that creates the illusion of compliance with antiharassment laws. While Carlson suggests that harassment training should be assessed for effectiveness, I maintain that training without effective reporting procedures that bring perpetrators to justice can never be effective. In other words, don’t blame the training. Employees always know when “no tolerance” statements are insincere or not backed up by procedures with teeth to protect them.
  • We should be conscious and intentional about raising both boys and girls to show respect to each other at school and at home.
  • Men should hire more women into positions of power and stop enabling harassers. Carlson states that men and women need to work together: “This is not only a women’s issue. It’s a societal issue.”
Gretchen Carlson lost her job when she took on Roger Ailes. We all need to endorse her efforts to end sexual harassment and support her on her path to whatever is next in her career. Good luck, Gretchen, and thank you!   Image: “Black and White, City, Man, People”]]>

What Is Misogyny? A New Word with an Old Meaning

Image courtesy of[/caption] I have been designing and facilitating women’s leadership-development programs for more than twenty-five years, and I always include a segment on misogyny.  I begin by asking for participants to raise their hands if they have heard the term misogyny before—usually no one has, until this year.  This fall, when I asked the question, almost every woman in the audience raised her hand and knew the definition:  having or showing a hatred or distrust of women.  The women in my most recent program were from the whole spectrum of political ideologies, but this year’s election campaign elevated both the term misogyny (which is not really a new word but had almost disappeared from use) and awareness of the behaviors associated with it to the level of national discourse.  Misogyny has always been with us, but we often didn’t see it, had become numb to it, or did not have a name for it.  This election campaign brought misogynistic attitudes and behaviors to the surface and out in the open. It’s also possible that some misogynistic behaviors are increasing because of the campaign rhetoric.  As an example, Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times reports that in September of this year, six women, each walking separately in midtown Manhattan in the early evening hours, were approached by young men who tried to light them on fire. Only females were targeted in these attacks.  Bellafante suggests that Donald Trump’s campaign inflicted damage on our culture by bringing to the surface male rage.  It has always been there, somewhat hidden, but may have been unleashed.  She reports that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, discovered during the past four years a “dark world of woman hatred” in online forums that denigrate and condemn women as liars, cheaters, whores and social cancers” and advocate their imprisonment and collective rape.  Remember the phrases liar and lock her up during the campaign?  These phrases were not created by Donald Trump just for Hillary Clinton.  The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that for “the radical right in recent years, misogyny has become an increasingly common means of articulating broader discontent.” This is quite a serious matter.  Here are some other examples of misogyny in the United States today:

  • One in five women and one in seventy-one men in the United States have been raped.
  • Every day in the United States, more than three women are murdered by husbands or boyfriends.
  • Many universities in the United States are under pressure for sheltering athletes and coaches accused of rape and of disbelieving their accusers. For example, in the Stanford rape case involving swimmer Brock Turner, the university sheltered him, and his father defended him by explaining that he should not be punished because he was “only having a little fun” when he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman on campus. Turner was eventually convicted after a large public outcry forced his arrest.
  • A survey last year of twenty-seven college campuses by the Association of American Universities found that 23 percent of women responding reported experiencing sexual assault since enrolling in their university. Harvard found sexual assault to be widespread on campus with 31 percent of the class of 2015 reporting some form of it.
  • Because of misogyny, it is difficult for women to be elected to high offices, such as president of the United States or secretary general of the United Nations. There has never been a woman in either role.  After seven strong and qualified women were recently rejected as the next leader of the United Nations in favor of one more man, one female diplomat explained, “Misogyny is baked into this system.”
Let’s be clear.  It is not only men who can enact misogynistic attitudes and behaviors.  Women often internalize misogyny and hold other women to harsher standards, undermine the success of other women, and generally withhold their support of women leaders. What’s to be done?  I think the women of the 2012 Harvard soccer team who were the focus of a “scouting report” by the 2012 men’s soccer team that exhibited misogynistic practices of objectifying the women said it best in their Harvard Crimson article:
‘Locker room talk’ is not an excuse because this is not limited to athletic teams. The whole world is a locker room.  The actions and the words of the 2012 men’s soccer team have deeply hurt us.  They were careless, disgusting, and appalling.  As women of Harvard Soccer and of the world, we want to take this experience as an opportunity to encourage our fellow women to band together in combatting this [misogynistic] type of behavior because we are a team and we are stronger when we are united.  To the men of Harvard soccer and to the men of the world, we invite you to join us, because ultimately we are all members of the same team.  We are human beings and we should be treated with dignity.  We want your help in combatting this.  We need your help in preventing this.”

Why Women’s Voices Are Needed in Public Affairs but Are Missing

Does watching Mika Brzezinski get constantly interrupted by Joe Scarborough every morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe make you as angry as it makes me? And, yes, I do know that Scarborough interrupts all of his guests, but Brzezinski is his coanchor and often the only woman at the political round-table discussions hosted by the show. I often find watching how she is interrupted, talked over, and disregarded so upsetting that I have to turn the show off. She is smart and has a lot to say, but she is continually not allowed to make her points. Unfortunately, as I wrote in a previous article about research on women getting interrupted in business settings, this happens everywhere. Now new research, described by Marie Tessier of the New York Times, addresses the consequences of women’s voices being underrepresented in public affairs due to more frequent negative interruptions in meetings and harsh feedback online. When women don’t feel that their opinions are valued, they become less willing to share them. Tessier notes that researchers report that women’s voices are underrepresented in many public affairs settings like school board meetings, town meetings, rural community meetings, and online news sites. The researchers found that “women take up just a quarter to a third of discussion time where policy is discussed and decisions made, except when they are in the majority.” This includes online discussions of public affairs where “women’s voices are outnumbered three to one in news comments, according to data from the University of Sydney and Stanford University.” What are the possible consequences of women’s voices being underrepresented in public affairs? Tessier suggests these outcomes:

  • Democratic institutions may not accurately reflect the will of the people.
  • Issues of particular concern to women, such as care for children, older people, and people with disabilities, may not become funding priorities.
  • In Congress, the police, or the military, where women are underrepresented, there is a greater danger of policy decisions being skewed against survivors of sexual assault, against prosecution of sexual assault offenders, or against gender pay equity.
Strategies to increase the representation of women’s voices include the following:
  • Increase the number of women on school boards and in meetings. Women are interrupted and disregarded less often when they are in the majority.
  • Increase the number of women in leadership. Women speak more when a woman is leading.
  • Build networks, teams, and alliances to get ideas heard.
  • Institute a “no interruption” rule in meetings and rules to ensure equal floor time for women.
I have written more about ways to help women get their voices heard. What has worked for you?   Image: “Men and Women at a Town Hall Meeting” By: CDC/Dawn Arlotta  ]]>

Gender Shrapnel: A New Book on Gender-Based Discrimination

gender-shrapnelGender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace, a new book by Washington and Lee University professor Ellen Mayock, is focused on academia but offers understanding of and solutions to gender-based discrimination in all types of organizations. Mayock’s core concept of “shrapnel” is especially intriguing. She explains that “shrapnel” describes the regular insults and slights that build up over time and inflict real damage. While the meaning of the term “shrapnel” is similar in this context to the term “microaggressions,” frequently used in dialogues about the impact of racism, I find shrapnel to be more accurate in describing the potential seriousness of the injuries inflicted by subtle discrimination. Whether it refers to gender or race or is used to describe other group-level discrimination, it is an equally useful concept. In the context of gender, Mayock explains that discrimination occurs when gender-based norms in society that “follow a patriarchal flow are replicated in the workplace.” According to Mayock, this can take the form of men feeling marginalized for showing emotion at work or taking family leave, of women struggling to be heard and get credit for their good ideas, and of trans women and men being ostracized and insulted. Mayock offers strategies like training sessions aimed at understanding gender and intersectional dynamics and the importance of sending consistent institutional messages about rectifying gender-based discrimination. It is not enough to write into an organizational value statement that discrimination is not tolerated. One example of an organization sending a strong institutional message about gender-based discrimination occurred recently when the first female president of Harvard University, Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, canceled the entire season of the winning men’s soccer team. Foust acted in response to the male team’s longstanding practice of keeping numbered ratings of the body parts of members of the female soccer team on a spreadsheet. The president sent a strong message that sexual objectification of women, which conditions and reinforces “rape culture” in our society, will not be tolerated at Harvard. It seems to have taken a female university president to send this strong message at a major university. I highly recommend Mayock’s book to anyone who wants to understand and stop gender shrapnel in his or her organization. What instances of gender shrapnel have you witnessed or experienced at your workplace? How was it addressed?   Photo: “Shrapnel” by Todd Huffman License:]]>

Sexual Harassment and Assault: A Costly Tax for Women

I am the survivor of both sexual assault and rape, and I understand all too well the high cost, or tax, that women pay for being treated as sexual objects.  I experienced sexual assault as a child, an adolescent, a young woman, and a middle-aged woman. I have never talked about most of these experiences, but I believe that women now need to speak out to make it clear that disrespecting women is a real problem, not just “locker room talk.”  Sexual assault and violence are serious problems all over the world and not small problems in our country.  Amanda Taub of the New York Times reports the following:

  • One in four women in the United States have been sexually assaulted.
  • One in five women in the United States are victims of rape or attempted rape.
The cost to women who experience sexual assault and harassment in its many forms—many of which were clearly described in the Access Hollywood tape that recorded Donald J. Trump boasting of grabbing, groping, kissing, leering, and committing other violations of the personal boundaries of women without their consent—occurs on many levels.  The cost can be emotional trauma that can be permanently damaging to one’s confidence and self-image, not to mention the pain and humiliation of rape.  I particularly resonate with Taub’s description of the impact of sexual assault on women as an “opportunity tax.” Women are taught early in life that they are responsible for avoiding sexual assault and that it is their fault if it happens to them. Taub cites social scientist Professor Leong, who explains the opportunity tax: “Whereas men can freely seize opportunities, women must pause and weigh the costs of” meeting alone with a professor, going out to dinner with a male client, networking after hours with colleagues at a conference, meeting alone with a potential investor, or going on a business trip with a male boss. Because of sexual harassment and assault, many women quit jobs, leave professions, or step back to avoid risk, thereby damaging their careers and limiting their life choices. A lot of women have come forward to tell their stories since Trump’s words and tone in the Access Hollywood recording struck a chord with many of us. We are outraged by the dismissal of his remarks as “locker room talk.”  Jonathan Miller sums up Trump’s statements well, writing that they reflect a “rape culture” in our larger society.  He explains that talking about objectification of women’s bodies results in the cultural conditioning of men and boys to feel entitled to treat women as sex objects. This is also described by Sam Polk as “bro talk.” Yes, Trump’s comments struck a nerve.  Kelly Oxford posted a tweet sharing her experience of sexual assault on Friday night when the Access Hollywood tape was released, and by Monday morning twenty-seven million people around the world shared first-person accounts or visited her Twitter page.  Shortly before the Access Hollywood tape came to light, I published an article on why sexual harassment happens, and received more than two hundred stories and comments and over 10,000 viewings from readers all over the world on LinkedIn.  The following are a few of those comments from my readers:
  • I work in silence. It’s not nice bosses that have the upper hand over employees. Female Housekeeper
  • I was in a position in which a high ranking male would look at various parts of my body in a very lewd manner. When I filed a complaint, it became his word against mine and nothing was done.  I was asked to transfer to another location. Female Technician
  • I think a lot of sexual harassment begins at home. Dad belittles Mom, Mom tries to keep a straight face because the kids are watching.  Daughter grows up and gets married to a man much like Dad.  This carries over into the daughter’s work life—trapped, not knowing which way to turn, ignoring degrading remarks in order to put food on the table. Female Author and Business Owner
  • One college professor grabbed my backside while at a business club event. Another offered to give me a better grade if I “went out” with him. I took the lower grade.  Things like this happen more frequently than reported. Female Technical Professional
  • This is still a huge problem. I recently wrote about my own experiences with sexual harassment by an executive and admitted my own fear of speaking out because I worried it might damage my reputation. Female Entrepreneur
  • In India, a deeply rooted culture of patriarchy plus inherent misogyny form a dangerous basis of judging the seriousness of any sexual harassment complaint made at the workplace. Female Financial Advisor in India
It is not easy to speak out when demeaning and traumatizing things happen to you.  It helps when we can share our stories and know we are not alone.  We must come out of the shadows with our stories and support each other.  Together we can pressure our society to stop perpetuating a rape culture and to end this opportunity tax for women. Please share your story here, if you have one to tell.   Photo: Daniel Kruczynski License:  ]]>

Women in China: Still Waiting for Equality

I have the good fortune to travel to mainland China two or three times a year. As a practicing organization development consultant and trainer for more than thirty years, it is a thrill for me to share my knowledge and experience in China by teaching leadership and consulting skills workshops to Chinese professionals. I have been fascinated with China ever since I taught English there in the 1980s when the country was newly opened to Western tourism and commerce after being closed to the West for decades. I continue to marvel at the changes that the Chinese have accomplished since my first visit over thirty years ago. I have seen the country evolve from a backward Third World country to a First World global power. But, to my surprise, one thing that has not changed is discrimination against women in society and the workplace. In the 1980s my female Chinese students peppered me with questions about the Western Women’s Liberation Movement. They explained and complained that even though Mao taught that “women hold up half the sky,” women were not really equal in China. In fact, they explained, while women were expected to pursue careers and compete with men in the marketplace, women were also expected to assume sole responsibility for performing housework, raising children, and caring for elderly parents. The women were frustrated in the 1980s and wanted me to tell them how to start a women’s liberation movement in China. Now, fast-forward to today, and I regret to report that the women in my workshops in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou still complain that women are expected to do it all while working—with little or no involvement from their male spouses. In addition, they face stereotypes and social norms that create other barriers for them. Helen Gao, writing for the New York Times, sheds light on present-day discrimination faced by Chinese women as follows:

  1. Social norms prescribe that the husband should provide the majority of the money for buying a home upon marriage and should also be the sole holder of the title. Gao reports that “a 2012 study found that 70 percent of brides or their families contributed to the purchase of a home, yet a woman’s name appeared on only 30 percent of the deeds.” The divorce rate in China has doubled in recent years, and Chinese women have no right to property if their name is not on the title.
  2. Widespread pregnancy discrimination exists in the workplace in China for women with no children or one child. The lifting of the one-child policy by the government, now allowing couples to have two children, means that women with none or one child have a hard time finding a job. Employers do not want to hire someone who might get pregnant.
  3. The aging of the Chinese population also creates added responsibility for women. With few services provided by the government and no siblings to help with aging parents because of the one-child policy, Goa explains that “wives are often expected to care for their own parents as well as their husbands’,” while working full time.
  4. Unmarried women are stigmatized and often have difficulty finding a job. Because they are unmarried, even if they are divorced, especially if they are thirty or older, they are considered to have “severe personality flaws” or “psychological issues” that make them undesirable hires. The social pressure to be normal by being married and having at least one child is enormous for women.
While some limited public discussion of these issues has begun on social media, and some women are meeting privately in “lean-in” circles, Gao reports that a recent public protest over sexual harassment on public transportation by women’s rights activists was met with “a ruthless state crackdown.” It is still quite dangerous for women to hold public protests to speak out about women’s issues. The women I meet in my workshops are strong and frustrated about the load they must carry and the barriers they face. Perhaps one day they will be able to get their voices heard. Let’s hope it will be soon.   Photo Credit: By Steve Evans from Citizen of the World – China, CC BY 2.0,    ]]>

Women Competing with Women: How to Make Competition Fun and Energizing

As a consultant and coach for more than thirty years, I have heard too many painful stories from female clients about feeling unsupported and even undermined by other women at work. When I decided to research this dynamic for my book, New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together, I found that these feelings and experiences happen for a reason: organizations actually set up women to feel competitive with one another. This happens when women see very few other women in senior leadership positions. As one of my research participants explained: You’re playing a game with men because there are so few women at the top. Because there are few slots for women, you see the successful women as your competition. You don’t really see the whole pie or all the people out there as your competition. Belinda MJ Brown, writing for Forbes, suggests that the recent Olympic Games offer women in corporations another way to think about competition as a win-win scenario rather than a win-lose, or zero-sum-game, scenario. She reminds us of the recent Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and Simone Biles who, while competing with each other for Olympic Gold, were also able to cheer each other on to outperform their own previous performances. This reminds me of my own experience as a lap swimmer. I always swim faster and more effortlessly when someone who is my equal, or even a little stronger, is swimming in the lane next to me—even if it is a stranger. I draw energy from him or her and push myself a little harder in the presence of another athlete—even when no one is trying to win. Brown suggests the same can be true for women at work. If we can find fun and regeneration in competing with one another instead of against one another, we can find energy and enjoyment in encouraging one another to do our best and celebrate one another’s accomplishments. Brown suggests that we can shift our mind-sets about competing with other women to win-win by taking these steps:

  1. Become aware of the structural way organizations set up women in a win-lose mind-set against each other when there are few women in senior leadership positions.
  2. Notice your own thoughts and beliefs about competition with or against yourself or other women.
  3. Connect with and focus on your own strengths, instead of comparing yourself to others. Channel your energy into growing and leveraging your strengths.
  4. Support other women in a caring and genuine way, and openly celebrate their successes.
  5. Talk with other women about the benefits of encouraging one another to do their best. Agree to support and celebrate one another.
Try these win-win mind-sets and let me know in the comments section if you notice any changes in your energy and relationships at work. I believe that even with “so few women at the top,” supporting one another and competing with instead of against one another can result not only in our own individual successes but in changes in the cultures of our organizations, thus resulting in more women at the top. Photo Credit: Business Forward at]]>

A Road Map to Gender Equity: Women in the Workplace 2016 Report

A new study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey finds little progress in advancement for women in the largest companies. This study of 132 companies employing 4.6 million people includes a review of the pipeline data of the companies, a survey of HR practices, and surveys of 34,000 employees about attitudes on gender, job satisfaction, ambition, and work-life issues.

Key Findings: The Current State

First, let’s take a look at key findings from the study:
  • Women remain underrepresented at every level. For every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted. This disparity begins early and grows larger with only 20 percent of SVP roles held by women, which results in very few women in line to become CEO.
  • Women of color face many more challenges with access to opportunity, including sponsorship, than do white women.
  • Women negotiate for promotions and raises as often as men but receive more negative feedback than men when they do.
  • Women ask for feedback as often as men but are less likely to receive it and get less access to senior leaders and sponsorship.

A Road Map to Gender Equity

The LeanIn.Org/McKinsey report offers a practical road map for how leaders can speed the rate of progress in achieving gender equity and inclusion:
  1. Communicate a compelling business case using data and stories about why gender diversity is good for the company. Senior leaders need to talk openly about the value of gender diversity and model their commitment to gender equity. Transparency through disclosure of gender metrics to employees will also demonstrate leadership’s seriousness about the issue.
  2. Ensure that hiring, promotions, and reviews are fair. This is challenging because of unconscious bias. Numerous studies show that women receive harsher and more personal judgments in reviews than men. Practices such as requiring diverse slates of candidates for internal and external hires, conducting blind resume reviews, applying clear and consistent criteria for performance reviews, and carrying out third party reviews of performance feedback to ensure fairness are all actions that can increase gender (and other) diversity.
  3. Invest in management and employee training in awareness of implicit bias for hiring and performance reviews. Managers also need training in recognizing and challenging inappropriate gender-based language and behavior and recognizing and offsetting the double-binds that women often face in the workplace—such as receiving negative feedback when asking for raises or promotions.
  4. Focus on accountability and results. I have often seen companies espouse a commitment to valuing gender diversity but refuse to hold senior leaders accountable for performance against gender metrics. Almost without fail, no change occurs when there is no accountability for senior leaders. It is also important to track salary differences by gender and to set targets so that progress can be measured.
Numerous studies show the benefits of gender diversity, but statistics from studies or one-time training sessions won’t bring about change unless the leaders of organizations invest in changing the cultures—including changes in attitudes, awareness of implicit bias, and changes in policies and procedures—of their organizations. The road map above shows the way forward for leaders. What successes have you seen and what worked? Please share your stories.   Photo Credit: Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at  ]]>