New research reveals women are primed for the C-suite; is the corporate world ready?
TORONTO, April 28, 2014 /CNW/ - There is a new and positive mindset among executive women in business today and in their approach to their careers. Heavily steeped in authenticity and self-confidence, these unprecedented attitudes and convictions in their leadership style and capabilities are paving the way for a renewed look at the constitution of the C-suite. This has also convinced a leading expert on gender intelligence to make a historic call for a move towards co-gender leadership. But is the corporate world ready?
Conducted in partnership between Women of Influence Inc. and Thomson Reuters, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, the in-depth survey, Women Leaders Breaking Through in Their Careers, examines how senior executive women from across North America define their leadership skills and maturity, their level of satisfaction in their careers, the challenges they experience in their careers and the actions they are taking to progress. Ultimately, the aim of the research is to accelerate the advancement of women by exposing potential remedies and establishing a course of action.
"We've been conducting Gender Intelligence surveys for over 27 years and never before have we witnessed such assurance among executive women," said Barbara Annis, gender intelligence expert and founder and CEO, Barbara Annis & Associates. "What we are seeing today demonstrates why we need to re-think our outdated views on C-suite leadership and consider the benefits of moving towards a platform that would alter the future of business by combining the talent and skills innate to both genders; that being the appointment of co-gender leaders."
Executive women are more confident than ever, out-rank men in critical leadership skills
In today's corporate world, little to no consideration is given to how to use the inherent qualities and skillsets of both genders in a complementary manner. In many areas, women's leadership skills actually rank higher than men's. For instance, research has shown that women executives outshine their male counterparts when it comes to building solid relationships and fostering a collaborative work environment.
Add to that a new sense of authenticity to leadership, where women say they no longer feel they need to act like men to succeed (84 per cent), and the results are women who are poised to take on leadership at the C-suite. In fact, 84 per cent of women surveyed in senior executive roles scored high in self-confidence, having high self-respect, and confidently expressing what they think and feel, a positive feat considering they continue to have to steer through the unwritten rules of a culture that favours the "old boys club."
"With their ambition and proven passion for their work, it's inevitable that the presence of women in the C-suite will increase over the next five to ten years," said Patsy Doerr, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility at Thomson Reuters. "Companies that foster a culture of inclusion and invite diversity of thinking will, ultimately, reap the benefits, have a competitive advantage and will be best prepared for the future of business."
Thomson Reuters is an example of an organization that understands this equation and is deeply committed to promoting a culture of diversity. Its business success depends largely on the talents of its people, and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace is a competitive advantage that helps Thomson Reuters drive innovation and bolsters the company's reputation as an employer of choice.
When it comes to networking and self-promotion, men are still doing it better
Despite the progression, there are certain skills from men that women can adopt to help them secure that corner office - particularly as it pertains to the art of networking and advocating for oneself. Women, for instance, are known for making connections in a way that men don't, with the goal of establishing long-lasting relationships. Whereas men network with the mindset, "who can help me get what I want." A significant block for women seeking advancement is that they often forget this essential part of networking.
Of the five themes examined in the survey - career advancement, self-initiation, leadership maturity, big picture, and leadership responsibility - women executives scored their ability to advance their careers the lowest (74 per cent). According to those surveyed, the greatest challenge lies in finding new opportunities to navigate the system (77 per cent) and effectively negotiating the chain of command (80 per cent).
Three in 10 senior executive women also scored themselves low in the areas of self-initiation while three-quarters of those surveyed claimed poor negotiation skills. A major challenge for women, and an issue that has been raised repeatedly as a barrier to moving up the ladder, is their inability to self-promote and draw attention to their accomplishments (76 per cent).
"If women want to move up in the workplace they need to stop downplaying their abilities," explained Carolyn Lawrence, president and CEO, Women of Influence Inc. "To illustrate, look at how men approach job interviews with an offensive strategy, ready to make their achievements known, while women tend to focus more on their experiences, crediting team collaboration for successes. Who would you hire at a senior level; someone who has shown they have the qualities, skills and proven results needed for the role, or someone who can tackle the job, but only with the help of others?"
Despite struggling within male-dominated cultures, women do not see themselves as victims
While more than half of those surveyed reported having struggled with male-influenced cultures and business practices, particularly when seeking to be recognized and valued for their difference-thinking, none of the women viewed themselves as victims of the system. Rather, they remain focused on devising solutions to help them successfully navigate the male-dominated culture.
"Rather than making excuses, women executives are taking their future into their own hands and seeking solutions to eliminate the barriers on their path to the top of the corporate ladder," said Lawrence, "They know who they are and are more committed than ever to making valuable contributions in the corporate world."
Contrary to popular belief, women are not opting out for work-life balance
Another popular misconception is that women are abandoning the pursuit of senior roles - or opting out - to attain an ideal work-life balance, in particular executive women with young families. Yet when surveyed, very few cited work-life balance as their greatest barrier to moving up the ladder (20 per cent). Those that did refer to this as a barrier were also very solution-oriented in their responses, revealing that they are much more empowered to take control over their own lives.
Other key findings:
- Executive women are driven by the big picture: These women leaders are determined to achieve their vision and guide their actions by that vision (84 per cent)
- Cultivating relationships is essential to achieve their vision: To realize their vision, women build trusting relationships, and are aware of their impact on others and seek to understand before making conclusions (85 per cent)
- Diversity is the top ranking leadership responsibility for women: When asked to rank leadership responsibilities, those surveyed scored diversity the most important factor of this category (89 per cent). This includes valuing diversity initiatives, hiring diverse people, and promoting on ability. The second most important responsibility is being performance focused (88 per cent), setting high standards, holding people accountable and motivating performance and finally, cultivating change (85 per cent) by encouraging people to embrace change and by linking change to purpose
- Hard work makes women invisible: When women get noticed for how hard they work, one of two things usually occurs; they become indispensable (reducing their chances to be transitioned into a bigger role) or they become invisible. The key is to know the difference between managerial and mid-level responsibilities and to showcase successes.
To review the full findings of the survey, a copy of Women Leaders Breaking Through in Their Careers can be downloaded at womenofinfluence.ca/advancementwhitepaper, including a video that features Carolyn Lawrence, Barbara Annis and Patsy Doerr discussing new solutions to promote gender equality in the C-suite.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
The Gender Intelligence Diagnostic, developed by Infotool, Inc., is a powerful, custom-designed diagnostic survey instrument used by Barbara Annis & Associates that depicts the candid attitudes of women and men at work. On behalf of Women of Influence and Thomson Reuters in November 2013, an in-depth survey of 326 senior executive women across North America was conducted. Using a 100-point scale, the women in the survey were asked to rate the degree to which they agree or disagree with 84 statements along the five themes of Career Advancement, Self-Initiation, Leadership Maturity, Big Picture, and Leadership Responsibility. They were then asked three open-ended questions to understand, in their own words, their perception of self and success, the challenges to their career, and the tools they feel they need to succeed.
ABOUT WOMEN OF INFLUENCE
Women of Influence is North America's leading organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women. Celebrating its flagship 20th year in 2014, Women of Influence continues to offer a menu of solutions through corporate consulting on Gender Intelligence, executive leadership courses, events, and content — both online and through a quarterly magazine. Renowned events include the Deloitte Women of Influence Luncheon Series and the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. Women of Influence has a community and reach of over 120,000 in eight cities across North America including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa, Montreal, New York City and Washington, DC. For more information, please visit womenofinfluence.ca.
ABOUT BARBARA ANNIS AND ASSOCIATES
For twenty-seven years, Barbara Annis & Associates Inc. has advocated the value and practice of Gender Intelligence in Fortune 500 companies and numerous organizations worldwide. Their insights and achievements have pioneered a transformational shift in cultural attitudes across the globe on the importance of gender unity to organizational success. See more at www.baainc.com.
ABOUT THOMSON REUTERS
Thomson Reuters is the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, intellectual property and science and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization. Thomson Reuters shares are listed on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges (symbol: TRI). For more information, go to thomsonreuters.com.
Image with caption: "Women of Influence (CNW Group/Women of Influence)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140428_C5353_PHOTO_EN_39683.jpg
Image with caption: "Barbara Annis & Associates Inc. (CNW Group/Women of Influence)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140428_C5353_PHOTO_EN_39680.jpg
Image with caption: "Thomson Reuters (CNW Group/Women of Influence)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140428_C5353_PHOTO_EN_39682.jpg
Image with caption: "Carolyn Lawrence, president and CEO, Women of Influence (CNW Group/Women of Influence)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140428_C5353_PHOTO_EN_39681.jpg
SOURCE: Women of Influence
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