The American workplace is experiencing a whiplash about issues surrounding women. Emotions run high as we watch messages that range from support to nasty accusations, and shake our heads over public missteps like the one Tony Robbins just made. We wonder about drastic corporate moves like the mysterious departure of two C-Level Executives at Nike.
But let’s get the focus back to what this is all about: EQUALITY. It means women want to be treated equally to men. What women want is simple and logical, and the data supports that women are good for business. Still, it appears that many organizations are challenged with figuring out how to find and hire women.
Women can lead, says the data
When we strip emotion and politics away from our opinions and just review the data, we find some answers as to how to find and hire women. At entry level up to management level, men and women are represented at roughly 50-50%. After management level is when the gender disparity begins. As I have said many times before, “women must get dumber as we advance” because only 2% of us make it to CEO level. According to a 2017 study by the World Economic Forum on the Gender Gap, it will take the American workplace 170 years to reach equality at our current pace. Seriously, 170 years. A snail’s pace is enviable!
Women improve financial results
Research from McKinsey says, “The United States could add up to $4.3 trillion in annual GDP in 2025 if women attain full gender equality. In a new report, The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in the United States, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that every US state and city can add at least 5 percent to their GDP in that period by advancing the economic potential of women. Half of US states have the potential to add more than 10 percent, and the country’s 50 largest cities can increase GDP by 6 to 13 percent.”
The data confirms what we already know: women are smart, we are qualified, and our contributions move the needle. In The Women’s Code we are very clear about what women need to succeed—and it has nothing to do with what men have. What women want is to be allowed our own unique perspective and way of doing things. We are the Ying to the men’s Yang, we bring the other side, we close the infinity sign.
Why can’t we find and hire enough women?
Most organizations still don’t understand the difference between “same” and “equal.” My conversations with highly-qualified women, many of whom hold MBAs and Ph.D.s, demonstrate one of the main reasons we can’t find enough women. Sadly, it’s because women are still discriminated against for the most ridiculous of all reasons: having children.
The dilemma with women’s resumes
Working men are generally employed without a substantial break between jobs. Their resumes are neatly stacked. And when there is a choice to be made, the data shows that many women give her man’s career priority over her own. Here are some insights into why couples move for his career but not hers.
The dilemma for women is that we want to support our husbands in their careers, while trying to figure out the best time for us to have children. We negotiate this intensely emotional internal battle between taking time off to raise small children, or letting our precious babies go to day care while we continue along our career trajectories. Ideally, we would like to do both. But, it’s a heavy load; it’s double duty.
Because women have the unique privilege of giving birth, women (with the support of our men) want to ensure our kids are well taken care of. Many of us opt to take off six months, a year, or several years to ensure our babies get a good start. This shouldn’t be shocking or revolutionary. In fact, many men and women agree that it’s a good thing to do.
The gap year roars its ugly face
While the woman chose to put her career on pause to take care of their family, the man continued to advance. In most cases, he earns more and more money through a few promotions, and at home he is firmly established as the bread winner.
After years of childrearing, many women are enthusiastic to return to the workforce. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm is often short lived. Why? Because no matter where we were in our careers before kids, we soon discover we are no longer hirable.
I recently had a conversation with a woman who has a Ph.D. and is highly qualified in scientific research. She shared with me some of the demoralizing comments she had to listen to. She’s suddenly told that she’s not qualified to do what she did before. She is questioned as to why there is a gap in her resume. And apparently, having children is not a valid excuse. Giving up her job to move for her husband’s isn’t one either. But wouldn’t you agree that the transition into a new city would be the most practical time to start their family, instead of starting a new job and then doing it?
A Ph.D. holder who had a six-figure salary three years ago is now unable to get the most basic job. It has destroyed her self-esteem and confidence, and left her yearning to regain her independence. In her experience, head hunter after head hunter and hundreds of idiotic comments later, we arrive at the shocking fact: women are not men.
To find and hire women, the key is to realize what is typical for a man is unrealistic for a woman. Rather, it would behoove us to understand what is typical or EQUAL for a woman. Men can’t give birth, only women do that. Can we please stop punishing women for making sure that men can get social security when they retire?
It’s stupid and demoralizing to assume that women forget their business skills in the time they are serving their families. This mindset is gender discrimination at its finest.
If you want to find and hire more women, change this policy. You will be surprised at the many more qualified candidates to choose from.
At her lowest point, Beate Chelette was $135,000 in debt, a single mother, and forced to leave her home. Only 18 months later, she sold her image licensing business to Bill Gates in a multimillion dollar deal. Chelette is a nationally known ‘gender decoder’ who has appeared in over 60 radio shows, respected speaker, career coach, consummate creative entrepreneur, and author of Happy Woman Happy World. Beate is also the founder of The Women’s Code, a unique guide to women leadership and personal and career success that offers a new code of conduct for today’s business, private, and digital worlds. Determined to build a community of women supporting each other, she took her life-changing formula documented it all in a book Brian Tracy calls “an amazing handbook for every woman who wants health, happiness, love and success!”
Through her corporate initiative “Why Acting Like a Girl Is Good For Business” she helps companies with gender diversification training, and to develop and retain women.
If you’d like to book Beate as a speaker on New Leadership Balance or Creative Entrepreneurship for your next event please connect with me.