Author Archives: Vivian Blade

Women Play Catch-Up Their Entire Careers

In my coaching practice, I run across a number of female professionals who are frustrated with their career progression. They feel like they’ve been committed to the company, working endless hours and doing what it takes to get the job done and then some.  A big part of the problem is, they feel like they’re trying to push through this journey on their own.

In fact, it’s not just a feeling. Studies on the progress of professional women show this to be true for so many. A recent study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company on Women in the Workplace* was conducted among 34,000 employees, and 132 companies which employ more than 4.6 million people. This study concluded that:  “Women get less access to the people and opportunities that advance careers and are disadvantaged in many of their daily interactions.”

Leadership Pipeline Narrows for Women

The study found that, and I quote, “Women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to manager—so far fewer end up on the path to leadership—and are less likely to be hired into more senior positions. Women also get less access to the people, input, and opportunities that accelerate careers. As a result, the higher you look in companies, the fewer women you see.”*

The data is evident. The stories are sobering.

* LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company 2016 Women in the Workplace Report

Women Often Are Playing Catch-Up Their Entire Careers

Stephanie was promoted to a senior professional level position, and was on her way up the ladder to an executive level position.  She was the only female at that level in this department.  Her boss realized that her salary was well below that of her male peers, even though the career paths had been similar and responsibilities in this role were the same. She was oblivious to the situation. Luckily, she had a boss who was not satisfied with the disparity. He advocated for her salary to be brought to an equitable level, ensuring she was compensated fairly for her work.

Stephanie is one of the lucky ones. Many women are playing catch up across their entire careers.

Women Are Missing Critical Relationships

Professional women are missing critical relationships, such as mentors, coaches, advocates and sponsors, to enable success in their careers.  There’s a lack of awareness among professionals that they need these important relationships, so they fail to seek them out. Companies also don’t realize or appreciate the importance of these relationships and don’t provide a supporting environment for these relationships to occur.

Companies Feel the Impact

Why does this matter?

The impact to companies falls right to the bottom line from a number of challenges that result:

  • Attrition – professionals don’t feel supported and, especially if they’re diverse, don’t see themselves with future opportunities, as they see few leaders or others moving up that look like them. Millennials have lower levels of patience when career opportunities are not apparent and are likely to move on, leaving gaps in your potential pipeline.
  • Business results are lackluster because of ill-prepared leaders.
  • Lack of inclusion because the primarily visible talent are the ones that look like the leaders already at the top. Humans’ natural tendency is to gravitate to people with similarities.
  • The impact for professionals results in frustration from lack of opportunities, causing them to more actively look outside. They fail to reach their full potential or feel that the talents and commitment to the company are truly valued. Lack of advancement means loss of income potential over their lifetime, which has significant personal implications.

Navigating the Corporate Environment

Career success and talent development takes a team approach beyond the traditional manager/employee relationships. The corporate environment is complex, with formal and informal processes and networks, and plenty of office politics. You need people in your network to help you navigate this environment.

Download our free guide Getting the most from your mentor and get help to avoid the mistakes women make in navigating the corporate environment.

8 steps to survive being a “stayer”…

Your employer has announced layoffs and extended early retirement to a number of employees. You’re among the employees who are not leaving and, at least for now, will remain employed. We often consider the colleagues who are staying the lucky ones, yet, don’t realize that this is an emotional and challenging time for them, too. This really hit home recently as my husband’s coworkers were dealing with the restructuring at his company. Some of my friends are going through this transition in other companies as we speak. 

Are you one of the ‘stayers’? Having a job is a privilege.

But, how do you manage the emotional roller coaster you’re on?

How does this situation impact your career now and in the future?

These eight steps will help you minimize your stress and successfully navigate through this unsettling and unpredictable transition. 

Appreciate your peers. 
Help express the value of their contributions to your team and the company. Your expression of their value may be more important than that of your team’s boss or other leaders, because you work side-by-side each day. 

Work through your own emotions. You may feel guilty. You may feel deep concern for those leaving. You’re unsettled about what may happen next…what may happen to you. What’s it going to be like when your coworkers are gone?  Recognize your emotions. Give yourself space to grieve. But, don’t stay at this low point. See the “glass half full”.
 
Listen as those who are leaving work through their own emotions. Be empathetic. Stay away from rumors, negativity and blaming. 

Influence the redistribution of work given to you. The workload has to be shouldered by the remaining team. Make the reorganization process easier on your boss by expressing your interest in responsibilities where your skills align, or where you’d like to enhance your experience.  Be honest with your leader about your bandwidth and ask about priorities to ensure expectations are understood. 

Seek new opportunities that may become open to you. Some gaps now exist in key responsibilities. Leverage sponsor and ally relationships to position yourself for consideration. 
 
Rebuild your network. Some of your allies and sponsors may now be gone. Stay in touch with these individuals to maintain connections. Reach out to form new and strengthen existing relationships with internal stakeholders over time. Don’t wait until you need something to make contact. 

Be prepared for what may lie ahead. Proactively consider possible contingencies in case you are impacted at some point. However, don’t jump ship too soon. The grass is not always greener elsewhere. Things may turn out better than expected if you stay put. Weigh your options carefully. 

Be ready to move on with the new environment with grace. The business is moving on around you. Decide that you’ll worry less about the things you can’t control. Maintain a positive spirit and be a catalyst toward a bright future. 

And if you need help to survive being a stayer download our free guide Getting the most from your mentor.