Women Face Challenges in Organizational Life
This is the second of a four-part series on Women's Issues in the Workplace. The first blog dealt with Women in the Workforce. In this blog I deal with the Glass Ceiling that can impede a woman's progress in an organization. The battle to break through the glass ceiling into the boardroom leaves many women negative, worn down and disillusioned that they are not being used to their full potential.
The study of 6,000 managers by consultancy ISR indicates that 1/4 of women in senior jobs did not feel adequately involved in decision making. Many did not feel safe expressing their opinion and not encouraged to give their best. Women tended to be more positive about organizational issues but once they reached senior management this outlook turned 180 degrees and they tended to become more critical. It is not completely clear what is behind this change but ISR suggested organizations were not encouraging their female senior managers to fulfill their potential and were under-using their skills. In these circumstances, it was harder for talented senior women to break the glass ceiling breeding discontent and frustration.
The leadership of an organization was the single most important factor in motivating both men and women. People with positive views on leadership were motivated and more likely to fulfill their full potential, and more senior women than men expressed concerns in this key area.
Three out of 10 senior female managers, twice the number of male senior managers, did not think their company was well managed as a whole. Female managers were twice as likely to say they didn't have confidence in decisions made by senior management and that the management style of their company did not encourage people to give their best.
To have a stronger sense of personal commitment to their organization, top level female managers need to be included in decision making, have confidence in the organization's leadership and feel safe to speak up. Women often perceive they are being held back because of discrimination and/or the outdated notion that women will, in time, quit to raise a family. Personally, I believe female managers' critical view of senior management also results from a stronger work ethic than their male counterparts. I see this occurring every day in the classroom at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Women are more focused on their objectives and have greater expectations for themselves.
A recent study by the U.S. Department of Labor reported the following statistics:
- Of the 122 million women age 16 years and over in the U.S., 72 million, or 59.2 percent, were labor force participants—working or looking for work.
- Women comprised 46.8 percent of the total U.S. labor force and are projected to account for 46.9 percent of the labor force in 2018.
- Women are projected to account for 51.2 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018.
- The largest percentage of employed women (40 percent) worked in management, professional, and related occupations; 32 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 21 percent in service occupations; 5 percent in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and 1 percent in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.
There can be no doubt of the importance of women in the workplace. My main advice to senior managers is to take women seriously and respect their views. Three out of 10 senior female managers, twice the number of of male senior managers, did not think their company was well managed as a whole. Female managers were twice as likely to say they didn't have confidence in decisions made by senior management and that the management style of their company did not encourage people to give their best.
Entrepreneur Kathy Ireland founded the design and marketing firm, Kathy Ireland Worldwide, in 1993. The mission statement of her company is “…finding solutions for families, especially busy moms.” Forbes.com named Kathy Ireland one of the 20 Best-Branded Women on Twitter. Forbes Magazine reports that Kathy Ireland Worldwide grosses over 1.4 billion dollars annually in retail sales. In 2011, License Global Magazine named Kathy Ireland Worldwide #28 most powerfully licensed brand globally.
A true model for working women, Kathy Ireland is a wife, mother to three children, Sunday school teacher and chief designer and CEO of Kathy Ireland Worldwide. She has written six books. So, women can have it all but it's a tough road ahead.
Blog posted by Steven Mintz aka Ethics Sage on August 1, 2011