"Women are the next emerging market, and supporting them is good for business." - Beth Brooke, Ernst & Young
Women are the untapped resource of the next decade.When Sheryl Sandberg stepped on the TED stage and called on us to Lean In, she wasn't only speaking from a woman's perspective, but was also making a strategic investment in her organization. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg is in competition for top talent, and that means you! Women are a population of relatively untapped resources.
The economic potential of the growing 1 billion women in the workforce is being called the "Third Billion", comparing it to the economic potential of China's and India's populations (Ernst & Young, 2012).
Facebook and Ernst & Young aren't alone in their pitch for the top female talent. Intel, Unilever, Ikea, PepsiCo and Burberry are just a few of many who have made headway in empowering and engaging top female talent, by going beyond lip-service, and transforming diversity and inclusiveness into tangible actions.
Creating a pool of talented women starts early, evidenced by Google's Made With Code for girls initiative, which aims at motivating future female programs, Qualcomm's QCamp For Girls, which has girls pre-6th grade building circuits, coding, designing apps, and making robotic hats and LED jewelry boxes and Girls Who Code whose programs work to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.
"Empowering women, engaging women is an economic input, which drives profitability." - Erika Kapp, Cornerstone Capital Group Founder & CEO
You, us, women are the majority of new talent. We are loyal and hard working employees. We are consumers. We have more buying power than ever before. We are entrepreneurs and are filling supply chains. We are becoming the best clients of tomorrow.
We are the next emerging market.
Empowering and engaging women to reach their potential is on the forefront of the agenda in every forward-thinking organization out there (see PwC's Gender Agenda, Ernst & Young's Commitment to Women's Leadership, and the War for Women Talent in Emerging Markets).
What does this mean for you?
You are in the driver's seat! And fortunately there are a number of employer's out there, ready to invest in you.
Here's what to look for in a prospective employer:
You are a talented, career-focused woman. And organizations out there know it. Now go get 'em!
To your success,
This has got to be, hands down, the single most asked question when we introduce our training programme.
Why do you run specific leadership programs from women only?
And if it isn’t asked directly, this question is hovering there like an unspoken taboo. Yes, we agree women are good for business, and yes, we understand that a diverse workforce will only benefit the company.
So, shouldn’t our focus be on hiring more skilled women, and training both women and men to work together from that point onward? Aren’t leadership skills including communication effectiveness, engaging others, conflict resolution and negotiating skills needed for both men and women?
Yes they are, but they’re not enough. Women are still facing challenges on a daily basis that men do not have to deal with.
Let’s take the example of Alice.
Alice is an experienced partner at an investment firm who recently had a baby. Having returned from maternity leave, she was told by her boss that she had been spared the “time consuming” project that would require travel from home. In her eyes, this was a prestigious project that she would have loved to have been involved in, and she would have made arrangements to minimize the impact on her new baby. She was highly disappointed that her ‘kind’ boss had not even asked if she wanted this opportunity. In cases like these, there was no bad intent. The boss genuinely felt he was doing her a favour, and this is how we see bias still at play on a daily basis.
And this does not only apply to the male bosses out there. Take the example of Mary, a senior consultant at an engineering firm who had been asked to attend a professional sales pitch by two competing service providers, just to be put off by the way one of the female presenter was dressed. Having recently learned how unconscious bias can show up at work she knew better than to be distracted by her appearance. Sadly she also suspected that if the same person would have presented to her a few months earlier she would have given the job to her competitor even though her actual pitch was better.
This wouldn’t happen in your company? And definitely not to you? Why not put it to the test and complete the Gender Bias test from the Social Phsycology network. You might be astounded by the result.
To your success,
Johanna Nesbitt & Manuela Damant
In educated, progressive societies around the world, we tell our children that boys and girls are equally smart and capable and we know this to be true. We have policies on non-discrimination for gender, race, and sexual orientation.
We are firm in our beliefs that women and men are both capable of being tremendous leaders, equally capable of running businesses and leading academic institutions. Yet very few women are sitting in these top positions, and we wonder why? Are women not trying? Surely not. So then, are we unconsciously keeping them down? As it turns out, yes we are.
The results show:
It starts early and has long-term effects
Maybe the most surprising fact is how early the gender bias begins. In a recent study of elementary school teachers, girls outscored boys in exams when graded anonymously, but boys outscored the girls when graded by teachers who knew their names.
The study, which took place in Israel, spanned 10 years worth of data, following three sets of students from 6-12th grade.
As reported in the NY Times 'The effect was not the same for tests on other subjects, like English and Hebrew. The researchers concluded that in math and science, the teachers overestimated the boys’ abilities and underestimated the girls’, and that this had long-term effects on students’ attitudes toward the subjects.”
They also tracked the advanced math and science courses that students chose to take in high school. After controlling for other factors that might affect their choices, they concluded that "the girls who had been discouraged by their elementary school teachers were much less likely than the boys to take advanced courses".
In my next blog piece we'll look into 'it's unconscious'.
To your success,