Here’s a question about your vision: Is your company ready to capitalize on what women have to offer?
It’s necessary to keep an open mind and sometimes rethink our processes. That includes taking full advantage of all opportunities.
“What else is new?” you ask. Good question. It’s important to leverage the potential in human capital.
Two McKinsey consultants addressed one important aspect in a 2011 study: “Unlocking the full potential of women in the US economy.” Joanna Barsh is a director in McKinsey’s New York office and Lareina Yee is a principal in the San Francisco office.
It struck a chord with me, as I’ve written articles on related topics, including Why Women Are Better Prepared than Men for Management.
Many women are better prepared as managers because they have emotional intelligence — a desired characteristic for successful management.
Additionally, I’ve been prompted to ask Are You Successful In Keeping Female Talent?
So I agree American business has not fully leveraged its assets.
The problem is many businesspeople don’t inherently take notice and capitalize on under-utilized assets unless they’re personally affected.
I’ve said it many times – working moms have the toughest job of anybody, but they provide a bevy of important attributes.
Personally, it hits at home with me after being raised by a hardworking single mom.
So my antenna goes up whenever I see the potentiality of talent being ignored.
That goes for women in the macro economy.
“Indeed, the additional productive power of women entering the workforce from 1970 until today accounts for about a quarter of current GDP,” wrote Ms. Barsh. As the U.S. struggles to sustain historic GDP growth rates, it is critically important to bring more women into the workforce and fully deploy high-skill women to drive productivity improvement.”
Ms. Barsh listed the study’s objectives.
“McKinsey & Company undertook this research over the past three months to understand how women contribute to the U.S. economy; how their work benefits individual corporations; what prevents women from making greater contributions to their companies; and what approaches can help companies unlock the full potential of women,” she said.
“Despite the sincere efforts of major corporations, the proportion of women falls quickly as you look higher in the corporate hierarchy,” she asserted. Overall, this picture has not improved for years.”
That means, of course, there are missed opportunities despite all the progress in breaking down the glass-ceiling barriers.
So, according to the study, there’s a schism – women are increasingly ambitious as they leap from entry level jobs to mid-management. But again, the talent is being ignored.
Attitudes of entry-level women workers:
- 79 percent want a promotion to the next level
- 32 percent want a leadership role
- 16 percent has longtime career goals to become a leader
Aspirations of women in mid-management jobs:
- 83 percent want to be promoted
- 51 percent want a leadership role
- 31 percent has always dreamed of being a senior manager
The study indicates that women have multiple barriers:
- Lack of role models
- Exclusion from the informal networks
- Not having a sponsor in senior management
“Managers – male and female – continue to take viable female candidates out of the running, often on the assumption that the woman can’t handle certain jobs and also discharge family obligations,” wrote Ms. Barsh. “In our Centered Leadership research, we found that many women, too, hold limiting beliefs that stand in their own way – such as waiting to fill in more skills or just waiting to be asked.”
Ms. Barsh makes another good point: Culture change is needed.
“Our evidence points to the need for systemic, organizational change,” explained Ms. Barsh. ”Companies that aspire to achieve sustained diversity balance must choose to transform their cultures. Management needs a powerful reason to believe such as the potential competitive and economic advantage from retaining the best talent.”
Therefore, in view of the stagnant economic climate, let’s hope the right people agree. Further, a lot of companies would benefit from the 6 Steps to Implement a Cultural Change for Profits.
From the Coach’s Corner, as for advice to young women, here are 7 Tips for a Young Professional to Become a CEO. Be sure to take note of the column’s postscript about getting a mentor.
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”