Are Daughters the Secret Weapon in Creating Inclusive Leaders?

Father and daughter diversityA few months ago, I spoke with three male panelists at an event hosted by a major bank, on gender diversity in the City. After our panel, one of the fellow speakers came up to me and said with an almost furtive look: “I know what you mean about women changing the workplace. My daughter Sasha is doing her A-levels and she is amazing. She is such a hard worker. If anything, it’s actually my son, Scott who I’m worried about! Scott rarely comes out of his room and grunts at us all, but I can tell Sasha will go places.’

‘It’s hard to think of yourself as a brand, especially when I have four daughters who kick my butt early in the morning every day before I go to work’ – Harvey Weinstein

His was not the first comment of this kind I’ve heard. The good news is his willingness to take part on the panel to a largely female audience, talking about diversity – may have indeed been unknowingly affected by his love and admiration of Sasha. A surprising new study has revealed how the mere presence of female family members — even infants — can be enough to nudge men into becoming more empathetic and generous leaders.

In a study done on Fatherhood and Management, researchers tracked the wages male chief executives at more than 10,000 Danish companies paid their employees over a period of ten years. On average, after becoming fathers, the executives paid about $100 less in annual compensation per employee. However, the changes in pay depended on the gender of the new-born child! Data consistently showed that wages were reduced when a boy was born, but not when it was a daughter.

To explain the empathy this study demonstrates, but also fathers of older daughters often demonstrate, the researchers Andrew Oswald at the University of Warwick and Nattavudh Powdthavee, then at the University of York argue: ‘A father takes on some of the preferences of his female offspring,” For male chief executives, this daughter-driven empathy spike may account for more generous impulses toward employees that temper the temptation toward wage cuts.

An article in The New York Times on ‘Why Men Need Women’ commented, “Daughters apparently soften fathers and evoke more care-taking tendencies. The speculation is that as we brush our daughters’ hair and take them to dance classes, we become gentler, more empathetic and more other-oriented.” Repeated studies have shown that women in the role of mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and colleagues have a profoundly positive influence on the men around them.

Do you think male leaders with daughters are more likely to ‘get’ diversity?

Are Your Job Descriptions a Barrier for Senior Women?

Job descriptions a barrier for senior women?We regularly hear from our corporate clients that not enough women apply for senior roles. Many organisations attribute this to fallacious factors – lack of ambition or not being ’tough enough’ for a senior position. In our experience working with global companies, we find too frequently, it is not the women, but the organisation’s policy and work culture that disadvantages women.

This gender bias is very subtle and often missed by the women themselves. While women may indeed blame their own ‘lack of ambition’ or disinterest in reaching the top, unconscious bias still creates these rationales. Unconscious bias by it’s very nature is unconscious, and so does not require an intent to exclude. Nor does it necessarily produce direct, immediate harm to any individual. Rather, it creates a context — akin to “something in the water” — in which women fail to thrive or reach their full potential. For example, let’s look at how this plays out in the recruitment of senior roles. In an article on Second Generation Bias in the Harvard Business Review, one male leader described how historical hiring processes encouraged one type of candidate; over-confident men to apply. His organisation had to make a concerted effort to review the job criteria for leadership roles – looking for bias:

One male leader said to me, ” We write the job descriptions- the list of capabilities- for our ideal candidates. We know that the men will nominate themselves even if they don’t meet all the requirements; the women would hold back. Now we look for the capabilities that are needed in the role, not some unrealistic ideal. We have hired more women in these roles, and our quality has not suffered in the least.”

The hidden costs of gender bias is high. High turnover, difficulty attracting women to the company, and a lack of diversity to match that of customers are just some of the disadvantages. If women are not applying to your top jobs, begin by assessing your hiring processes, starting with job descriptions, rather than blaming women themselves for a ‘lack of ambition’.

How to redefine an existing role to be flexible working: Create a Team Roadmap

Planning for flexible workingToo frequently we see clients object at making certain roles flexible with the argument: ‘But Tim’s always been in the office’ or ‘I don’t think Sarah’s team would know how to cope if she wasn’t always around’. Sorry, but ‘we’ve always done it this way’ is no longer an excuse forward thinking organisations can use when thinking about staffing. Planning for flexible working is only going to increase as Sara Hill, CEO of Capability Jane found when they looked in depth at the issue:

  • 79% of women stated that working from home for all or part of their role would be desirable.
  • 64% wanted flexible working.
  • 60% wanted to work part time (3 days a week).

It’s time for a team approach to establish a plan for the change towards flexible working. A proactive leader will gather the affected team together and get them to assess:

  • the role of the individual.
  • area of responsibility and the effect a change will have on the team.
  • how to combat the challenges or stumbling blocks.

If managers focus on these basic fundamental points they can create a flexible, tangible working map to act as guidance for assessing and establishing flexible roles within an organisation. The roadmap and process can even be used for other employees. Sara Hill believes it’s vital to document the set up process; listing facts that make it work and the obstacles that hindered the implementation of flexible working. This document can act as a benchmark for policy to use within the company as a whole.

Why more successful start-ups are led by women

successful start upIn working with successful career women, we often work with entrepreneurs. In fact, in some of the recent executive leadership coaching workshops I have conducted; almost half the attendees were entrepreneurs, an inconceivable ratio even 10 years ago. We see women’s entrepreneurship as a direct response to feeling overlooked and frustrated in the corporate sector. The problem for their former employers is that when middle and senior management women leave, they take hard-earned knowledge, contacts and ambition with them. Now research shows that when they do go, their new businesses are the real winners.

In fact, a survey late last year by Dow Jones VentureSource, on female executives in start ups found new companies have a better chance of going public, operating profitably or being sold for a net gain if they have women founders or board members. After analysing more than 15 years of venture-backed company data in the United States, the survey discovered the overall median proportion of female executives is 7.1% at successful companies and 3.1% at unsuccessful companies. Also, for start-ups with five or more females, 61% were successful and only 39% failed. This clearly demonstrates the value having more females can potentially bring to a management team.

In an article on Modern start-ups are suited to women, Luke Johnson wrote in the Financial Times, “Diversity in general makes organisations more resilient. Many businesses fall apart thanks to testosterone-fuelled disputes and founders overreaching thanks to rushes of hubris that tend to afflict men more often. Women are well-placed to curb such excess, and keep a project on course with more thoughtful management policies.”

Apart from the benefits they bring start-ups, women also gain from running the show. In other research, women cite flexibility as one of the key reasons they set up on their own. Women can also be more risk-averse than their male counterparts and less willing to sacrifice family life for the business. Neither of these traits are a negative: over-ambition and burnout are prime causes of bankruptcy and commercial failure.

At Female Breadwinners, we wholeheartedly applaud and are proud to be part of this new shift. Diversity of leadership styles brings better overall management and sustainable growth to start-ups, which is great news for both men and women.

No Money for Pay Rises? Increase Engagement without Increasing Wages

Our sister company, The InclusIQ Institute, wanted to share their popular article with us. We see successful leaders who keep employees happy by giving them regular raises and promotions. However, as monetary reward is only a small part of why people work, we are impressed by leaders who are able to motivate teams even during the lean periods – when raises are impossible to give.

Here are the factors they focus on:

  1. Consistent Values: We can’t visit the lobby of a corporate client without seeing a banner proudly proclaiming their values. However, in sessions, the employees confide core values are abandoned during tough times. Leadership values seemed to apply in good times, but dwindle or even disappear during times of stress. Employees put in more if company values are followed at all times – even if it calls for tough decisions.
  2. Long Term Focus: Ace teams see the tough periods; belt-tightening and cash flow issues as a temporary problem. Their leaders maintain focus on long-term objectives. Employees don’t mind going through difficult times when they believe there is a brighter future ahead.
  3. Continuous Communication: As a Forbes article on ‘Seven Ways To Increase Employee Satisfaction Without Giving A Raise‘ comments: “People tend to communicate less during bad times, when in actuality, they need to communicate even more.” During tough times, good teams increase communication and share important information. Apart from any good news, it is also important to share the reality of the current situation with team members. No one likes being condescended to; they can handle the truth.
  4. Opportunities for Development: Successful teams use slower times to learn new skills and build new capabilities. Leaders should not cut training and development as encouraging employees to take up stretch roles boosts employee satisfaction and inspire loyalty.

Good leaders know that if you can’t walk your talk – why should anyone else? How have you seen strong teams cope well during a down period?

10 Worst Apps Aimed at Women

10 Worst apps aimed at womenIsabelle Kerr, an undergraduate at Bristol, rooted out the most patronising apps that are currently or were on the market for a female audience. According to the worldview of these 10 terrible apps, women are jealous, manipulative, possessive, insecure and vain. Don’t developers know women make more than half of all technology purchases? Demonising half your potential audience is never good business sense.

The worst range from those that allow you to secretly track your boyfriend’s movements to those that slim down every selfie you post. In her article in the Telegraph on 10 Worst Apps Aimed At Women, Kerr talks about apps with a warped perspective on relationships. ‘Boyfriend Trainer’ lets you physically abuse your virtual boyfriend and ‘Sugar Sugar’ helps ‘beautiful women’ find a wealthy date. ‘Period Tracker’ and ‘Contraction Calculator’ sound as if they could potentially be useful but are poorly executed with developers creating creepy ‘tampon-catching’ games whereby you dodge blood droplets falling from the sky. ‘Yuck’ is the only appropriate response there.

Those that capitalise on women’s supposed superficiality include ‘Zips’ which asks ‘all the single ladies’ to virtually unzip the jeans of an animated man. ‘Drinking Mirror’ morphs your photograph to reveal how you will age based on the amount of alcohol you consume. It increasingly bloats, reddens and wrinkles your face as you ‘party away the night’.

These apps fall flat on entertainment and patronise both men and women. We at Female Breadwinners believe technology can be inherently gender-neutral. These apps are a pretty dismal reflection of the negative way society, and many games developers in particular, view women.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...