October 12, 2011
LAST WEEK’S PIECE in the New York Times about the dearth of women in corporate executive positions should be retitled, “Despite Decades of Favoritism and Reparations for Male Success, Women Still Have Not Reached the Top.” Here is the article by Phyllis Korkki with my remarks inserted.
FOR WOMEN, PARITY IS STILL A SUBTLY STEEP CLIMB
— By Phyllis Korkki
ISN’T it just a matter of time before women reach parity with men in the upper ranks of the corporate world?
[IT WAS NEVER JUST A MATTER OF TIME.]
After all, women in the United States now collect nearly 60 percent of four-year degrees and they make up nearly half the American work force.
[COLLEGE DEGREES DON’T CHANGE HUMAN NATURE. MEN ARE MORE COMPETITIVE THAN WOMEN, MORE SUITED TO THE STRESS OF LEADERSHIP AND SIGNIFICANTLY SMARTER AT THE HIGHER LEVELS OF APTITUDE. THEY ALSO MAKE BETTER EXECUTIVES BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT OR NEED TO BE AS INTIMATELY INVOLVED WITH CHIILD CARE. ALSO, THOUGH WOMEN MAKE UP NEARLY HALF THE WORKFORCE, MANY MORE OF THEM WORK PART-TIME AND PREFER TO WORK PART-TIME THAN MEN. THE DREAM OF A “FLEXIBLE” JOB IS CHERISHED BY EVEN MANY OF THE MOST AMBITIOUS WOMEN. MANY JOBS, HOWEVER, DO NOT LEND THEMSELVES TO “FLEXIBILITY.”]
But despite headline-grabbing news like the recent naming of Meg Whitman as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, a look at the numbers shows that progress at the very top has stalled.
[YOU MEAN, “DESPITE HEADLINES THAT HAVE BEEN SOUNDING THIS THEME OF WOMEN BEING HELD BACK FOR YEARS, I AM WRITING ABOUT IT AGAIN.”]
Last year, women held about 14 percent of senior executive positions at Fortune 500 companies, according to the nonprofit group Catalyst, which focuses on women in the workplace. That number has barely budged since 2005, after 10 years of slow but steady increases.
[THAT’S BECAUSE NORMAL WOMEN DON’T WANT TO BE TOP CORPORATE EXECUTIVES.]
So what’s the holdup? [SEE ABOVE.] Ilene H. Lang, president and chief executive of Catalyst, says one factor can be traced to an “entrenched sexism” that is no less harmful for being largely unconscious.
“I don’t want to blame this on men,” Ms. Lang said. [YES, SHE DOES. SHE’S JUST ABOUT TO BLAME MEN.]
Rather she cites “social norms that are so gendered and so stereotyped that even though we think we’ve gone past them, we really haven’t.” [IN FACT, THE PREVAILING NORMS AND STEREOTYPES FAVOR WOMEN AND SAY THAT THEY CAN DO AND BE ANYTHING THEY WANT AND SHOULD BE HELPED DOING IT.]
She describes a corporate environment that offers much more latitude to men and where the bar is much higher for women. [AHH, IT IS MEN’S FAULT.] In her view, men tend to be promoted based on their promise, whereas women need to prove themselves multiple times. [EMPLOYERS HURT THEMSELVES WHEN THEY DON’T PROMOTE OR REWARD TALENTED AND PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYEES. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY MOTIVATE BUSINESSES TO DEFY THEIR OWN INTERESTS IN THIS WAY? THEY MUST HATE WOMEN MORE THAN THEY WANT TO SUCCEED. BUT WHY DO THEY HATE WOMEN? THEY JUST DO.]
She maintains that unintentional bias is built into performance review systems. Words like “aggressive” may be used to describe ideal candidates — a label that a man can wear much more comfortably than a woman.[IT’S NOT A LABEL MEN WEAR. THEY ARE MORE AGGRESSIVE.]
Companies must make a commitment to women’s advancement by holding managers accountable for promoting women and actively measuring their progress, Ms. Lang says, adding that “there’s a big difference between awareness and action.” [COMPANIES ALREADY HOLD MANAGERS ACCOUNTABLE ON PAIN OF FIRING IF THEY DON’T PROMOTE WOMEN. COMPANIES MAY BE SUED FOR SEX DISCRIMINATION IF THEY DON’T PROMOTE WOMEN AND STAND TO LOSE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.]
Not that there hasn’t been some progress. A rich source of female talent exists just below top management, says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy, a research organization. [SYLVIA ANN HEWLETT IS ALSO A FOR-PROFIT CONSULTANT WHO MAKES MONEY HELPNG COMPANIES AVOID SEX DISCRIMINATION SUITS. THE NEW YORK TIMES, WHICH ALSO NEEDS TO AVOID SEX DISCRIMINATION SUITS, CONTRIBUTES MONEY TO THE CENTER FOR WORK-LIFE POLICY AND KORKKI FAILS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THIS CONFLICT OF INTEREST.] But women have become stuck in this layer because they tend to lack a sponsor at the top to advocate for them, she says. [MOST PEOPLE – MEN AND WOMEN – DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY HAVE A SPONSOR AT THE TOP. SPONSORSHIP IS LARGELY A RESULT OF THE EMBATTLED SEARCH FOR SPONSORSHIP. MEN WANT TO REACH THE TOP. THEY SEEK SPONSORSHIP, WHICH IS HARD WORK.]
Sponsors are different from mentors, who lend friendly advice and allow workers to share their quandaries and challenges. Sponsors make a direct bet on the promotion of their protégés, putting their own careers on the line by doing so. That can be risky, so such relationships demand a high level of trust.
”Women tend to be overmentored and undersponsored,” says Ms. Hewlett, who has done research to find out why. [MS. HEWLETT’S “RESEARCH” MAGICALLY CONFIRMS HER SUPPOSITIONS ALL THE TIME.] One reason is that women are more uncomfortable using their work friendships to land a deal or to join a team, she says. [GOOD FOR THEM. LET’S HOPE THEY STAY THAT WAY.] For men, those kinds of interactions tend to be second nature.
Another tripwire is more insidious because it is awkward to discuss. [INSIDIOUS? PROVIDE PROOF OF A CONSPIRACY.] Most of the people in senior management are men, but many are very reluctant to take on women as protégées because of the sexual dynamics, Ms. Hewlett says. [AND THEY MAY ALSO FEAR SEXUAL HARRASSSMENT SUITS.] They fear that gossip will spread if they are seen regularly with a junior female colleague. [THAT’S BECAUSE GOSSIP WILL SPREAD.]
Companies must face this uncomfortable reality head-on, she says. [HOW ABOUT ENCOURAGING MEN TO BE EXECUTIVES AND REMOVING ALL BUT THE MOST HARD-WORKING, UNMARRIED, CHILDLESS WOMEN FROM TOP CORPORATE POSITIONS? THAT WILL CONFRONT THE PROBLEM HEAD-ON. IF YOU NEED TO CONSIDER THIS IN EXPLICITLY PRO-FEMALE TERMS, REMEMBER WOMEN BENEFIT MATERIALLY FROM THE SUCCESS OF MEN.] They need to make sponsorship a transparent and integral part of the culture, so that when a male senior executive is seen with a lower-level manager, it will be assumed that he’s a sponsor. [HA! HA! “HONEY, I’M JUST HER SPONSOR.” OR IF A MAN IS SUED FOR SEXUAL HARRASSMENT, COULD HE SAY, “I WAS ONLY TRYING TO SPONSOR HER?’]
“When women have a sponsor they really do move up,” Ms. Hewlett says, “but you can’t just be a wallflower and wait for someone to pick you.” [YES, YOU MUST NOT WAIT. YOU MUST BE THE BENEFICIARY OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MEN AND FOR WOMEN.] Actively working to find a sponsor is good practice for a higher leadership position, she adds, because it is all about “leveraging the power relationships in your life.” [NO, IT’S ALL ABOUT MS. HEWLETT CONVINCING COMPANIES TO BUY HER SERVICES.]
SELF-PROMOTION is another crucial skill for those intent on moving up, but women are more likely to consider such behavior unseemly, says Peggy Klaus, an executive coach and leadership expert in Berkeley, Calif. [IMAGINE A WOMAN TODAY WHO IS NOT SELF-PROMOTING. SHE SHOULD BE THROWN IN PRISON, A TRAITOR TO HER SEX.] With men, “it’s expected that you’re going to showboat a little,” she says. [AND FEMINISTS ARE JUST SO DARNED DEMURE.]
Women tend to put their heads down, do great work and praise others in their department while modestly omitting their own contributions, Ms. Klaus says. “Then they get really angry,” she says, “when they get passed over for the bonus and the promotion.” [AND THEN THEY SUE, WINNING BIG GOBS OF MONEY FOR DOING NOTHING.]
As Ms. Hewlett put it, “Women have this extraordinary faith in the meritocracy,” and this can carry them through at lower levels. But they need more if they are going to push through to the very top. [AMAZING. WOMEN ARE STILL NOT PUSHY ENOUGH.]
— Comments —
I cannot reveal my public agency because I don’t have equal First Amendment protections as regular citizens do. But around 20 years ago, Clinton had recently slimed his way into office. A high executive position became open because an executive (an elderly, brilliant but diehard smoker) died. Everyone had been calling his second-in-command for at least 10 years because he knew it all. He is around 68 now and still with us!! Well a female political appointee was put in charge of the entity (a huge public law firm). So the decision as to the replacement was obviously going to be sex-based. So we all hoped D, a wonderful man, would be selected. My boss or I could pick up the phone and call him, and he always knew the answer. It took them 6-9 months to select him. He was the clear selectee from the get-go, but glass ceilings must be broken so say liberals.
So when he visited my office for an in-town conference less than a year later, I told him, “D, we were all pulling for you.” He just smiled.
When I worked for two, well known Fortune 500 companies, women were ALWAYS promoted ahead of men – always! In fact, when I worked at one company, a fellow, female coworker told me that, unless I had breasts and a vagina, one could forget about being promoted. All positions of authority except the division president were occupied by women.
As for my brother, after he left his company’s NJ office (if I said the name of the company, everyone would know it), he went to a regional office in the Upper Midwest. That regional office was headed by a woman, and it performed, shall we say, in a suboptimal manner. When compared to one of the company’s western offices, an office serving a similar area in terms of demographics, the western office had three times the revenues. Even so, my brother’s female boss was allowed to stay on in her post for years before getting called on the carpet at the company’s HQ. Had his boss been a man, he’d have been tossed out much earlier; he wouldn’t have gotten a pass for being female.
Oh, and lest I forget, there’s Scott Adams, who worked at Southwestern Bell before starting the ‘Dilbert’ comic strip. While working, he’d gotten an MBA and did other things necessary for promotion. When the promotion that SHOULD have been his went to a woman, Adams’ boss told him that they had to promote a woman, because they’d gotten static from local feminists and media outlets about being ‘sexist’.
Those are my thoughts. Based on my experiences and those of my brother, women are not only given every opportunity to succeed; they’re not only given preference in promotion and hiring decisions; they’re given more leeway when put in charge of things. They’re given more than enough opportunity to succeed! They’re given more than most men will ever get. Who does Phyllis Korkki think she’s kidding?! My brother’s female boss was allowed to remain in her post YEARS longer than a man with comparable results would have.
Posted by Laura Wood in Uncategorized