Women in Leadership at a Crossroads

By Andres Tapia – Chief Diversity Officer, Hewitt Associates

What’s required in order to achieve breakthrough change in the advancement of women leaders? And what are the implications for corporations if women are to make the desired gains?

The white paper linked to below discusses several ways in which corporations need to rethink their current paradigms if women are to be able to shatter the glass ceiling:

  • Rethink what strong leadership and strong management looks like;
  • Rethink the value of tenure;
  • Rethink compensation models;
  • Rethink whether competencies developed outside the workplace are not transferable inside the workplace;
  • Rethink how unspoken rules around alternative work arrangements maybe detrimental to women’s advancement; and
  • Rethink the women’s issue as one that also includes women of color.

Full Twelve Page Report/Study


2 thoughts on “Women in Leadership at a Crossroads

  1. To Andres Tapia:

    Thank you. Thank you for this well-written paper. I will be passing it along and referencing it often.

    The phrase “diversity strategies hard-wired to the business strategies,” is simple, elegant, and a needed shift in thinking from diversity as “politically correct” to strategic advantage. Example: A manufacturer of dental equipment failed to make their products small enough to fit in the hands of women, resulting in loss of business. If they had looked at the demographics they would have realized the number of women graduating from dental schools was rising rapidly. Or better yet, if they had women in leadership roles and listened to their voices, the data would have been right in the room.

    Women and Economic Health
    Regarding women and national wealth: Nick Kristoff (Pulitzer Prize winning NY Times Reported and co-author of Half the Sky) speaks about how women vs. men in developing countries spend their dollars. Women tend to invest in feeding and educated their families. Men tend to invest in momentary pleasures.

    Best Practices
    Spot on. Best practices are important but will not create a giant step forward. They are at best a copy cat of what is happening today, and that is clearly not enough. The Rule of 3 is a NEXT practice. The minority voice is often not heard until 3 or more are in the room. So ensuring there are 3 women on top leadership teams where critical decisions are made is an important step.

    Pledging to pay it forward
    As women advance they have a dual commitment. The first is to do well on all measures important to the company. The second is to change those measures and the culture. For more on the changes women could create to criteria for success see my response as it appeared in Harvard Business Review http://www.germaneconsulting.com/why-so-few-women-ceos.

    Corporations as Agents of Change
    I joined the world of business because in the U.S. for-profit corporations are one of the most powerful levers for social change either by intent or by default. We all work and we are all affected by the values that are played out in the workplace. I had the good fortune of working for the former Digital Equipment Corporation whose work on Diversity has yet to be matched, in my humble opinion. Change spread to the communities, including school systems, where DEC employees lived.

    Workplaces have the power to transform society.

    Thanks again for this very rich and well written piece.

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