Gender issues

Consultancy & Training, Gender issues, Philosophy, Stability, Stakeholder Management

If change managers helped with.. babies


No Comments

We have change managers in business all the time. But in life we are somewhat lacking. If we had a change manager when a baby came into our lives – what would that look like?

I met a colleague this week. He won’t mind me saying this. He has looked better.

I took a small amount of pleasure in thinking about the last time we met. I had big bags under my eyes that time. Now those indicators of night time nonsense seem to have leapt across the room – right into his.

He is well versed in this by now though. I think it’s his 4th. He knows that this moment in time is fleeting. Amazingly, he seems to be enjoying the fact that he and his wife now have to play “whose bed is it anyway?” as his kids run amok at 4am.

So I have randomly googled a change management guru this evening to help us all in this tricky dilemma. In doing so, I have found 5 key themes that good change management call for. I then ask, “why, when we spend millions of pounds/ dollars in our work lives on investing in getting people to swallow the pill, do we not learn how to take the pill ourselves, during one of the most disruptive times of our lives?”

Let’s take each point in turn shall we? I take my change management steer from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_87.htm

  1. Sponsorship: Ensuring there is active sponsorship for the change at a senior executive level within the organisation, and engaging this sponsorship to achieve the desired results.

Okay.. hopefully you were both in on this. If one of you wasn’t in on it all I can say is oops and good luck!

2. Buy-in: Gaining buy-in for the changes from those involved and affected, directly or indirectly.

This is a wide one. All stakeholders. Well, that’s a long list. You know why? Because once you have a baby almost the whole world will be involved. I remember taking my first born out for a stroll in August (in the UK) and being told by a well-meaning middle aged lady to “be sure to put on a hat now”. Hmmm it was 70 degrees but even strangers have opinions on these things. Again, let’s hope both parties were involved in the decision. “Mistakes” might be hard to handle at this point as I’m sure each person blames the other for the “changes affecting them directly or indirectly”. Oh dear. Take cover. Mother-in-law/ Mothers are also very important at this point. Ignore them at your peril.

3. Involvement: Involving the right people in the design and implementation of changes, to make sure the right changes are made.

From decorating the nursery to what to feed ’em. Again, your stakeholder list will be very, very long. Involving everyone in these decisions is exhausting but better than the alternative. If you involve NO-ONE? They will laugh at your smugly as you struggle to attach the buggy on Sainsbury’s car park. Ask everyone for their opinion. Then ignore them all.

4. Impact: Assessing and addressing how the changes will affect people.

Oh dear. I really messed up here on my communications plan. My main aim was to set expectations early. My 4 year old found out about the impending cuckoo at about 6 month’s from blast off. BIG MISTAKE. Never tell people about a change too early. Often they don’t know enough and it bugs them. She bugged me for all that time because she just wanted to know what sharing me was like but I couldn’t really tell her. As a result she turned into the female version of The Omen until finally she realised what she was dealing with.

5. Communication: Telling everyone who’s affected about the changes.

Here is the question of WHEN to tell people. I am of the opinion that the 3 month rule is a stupid one. Mainly because anyone that knows me well, also knows I’m pregnant the first time I say “I’m not drinking tonight.” That aside, the 3 month rule leads any long suffering puker to have to suffer in silence. For the first 3 months what they really want to do is get as much sympathy as possible as they deal with (what feels like) the worst hangover they ever had in their life. One that no carbohydrates in the world can make better. Any men still listening to this.. you are having to deal with the worst individual you ever lived with and nothing you can do can ever be good enough unless you too are puking at the same rate. Don’t get drunk to try to achieve this. At least don’t be around when you do this. It doesn’t help.

6. Readiness: Getting people ready to adapt to the changes, by ensuring they have the right information, training and help.

So there are a number of people to get ready for this change that you are about to embark upon. Sorry.. let me rephrase.. A change that will happen to you. But the two people who are never made ready are the parents. Dads are not put into an SAS style, sleep deprivation setting that prepares them for just 4hrs sleep a night. They aren’t taught how to follow this up with a 4hr conference call across 4 time zones with people who think the words “plucking the low hanging fruit” are acceptable phrases in polite society.

And mum..

The new mum is not prepared for the biggest change of her working life. She was pregnant yesterday but at least she was still a teacher/lawyer/CEO/banker/entrepreneur/social work/ nurse/ doctor/ business analyst/ scientist/ blogger.

Now she isn’t pregnant anymore. But she isn’t the above anymore either. Instead she is a cleaner, cook, nursery teacher, swimming instructor, bottom wiper, nose wiper, poo sniffer, expert stain remover and her partner in crime is the worse deputy that ever lived. He hasn’t been on any bloody courses either!

But they are also both overwhelmed, amazed, blown away and happy beyond words. Love will sweep them up and take them on a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. No matter what. They will be

But if anyone had painted this particular picture for them – they wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy it. A paradise promised by a brochure is not half as sweet as the one we just happen upon.

Now, my major stakeholder is calling me. Best get off to see what she wants..

Entrepreneurship, Gender issues, Leadership, Philosophy, Product Management

Why there are only 2 women listed in HBR’s top 100 CEOs this month


No Comments

Someone once told me that politics and business don’t mix.

I agree. Hence, I am going to be as objective as possible in this post.

I read the November 2016 edition of HBR with interest and have to admit that it took about 10 minutes for me to clock that the faces on pages 46 and 47 in “The best performing CEO’s” list were overwhelmingly, predominantly male.

Debra Calfaro tops number 43 and Marillyn Hewson number 51. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other groups missing too. Alaypal Banga is at number 64. A lone ranger by the looks of it.

So the world’s top companies are mainly run by White Men over the age of 45. I guess there are no surprises there. But the question I am really interested in, is why.. when women make up around 50% of the world’s potential workforce are they only making up 2% of the top CEO list?

One potential answer might be that there just aren’t as many women at work.

But that just isn’t true!

If we look at the worldwide female workforce there has been a decline since 2005. But it was already pretty high. Women’s worldwide participation went from 52% in 2005 to 50.2% in 2012.http://bit.ly/2i1eptj

So why has it declined so dramatically?

The US has an interesting history on this..

“Women’s labor force participation was driving the overall upward trend in labor force participation through 2000, so the plateau and then decline in women’s participation in the ensuring years is an important factor for explaining the national trend. ..In 1990, the United States had the sixth-highest female labor force participation rate amongst 22 high-income OECD countries. By 2010, its rank had fallen to 17th. Why have other high-income countries continued their climb while the United States has stalled? Research by economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn suggests that the absence of family-friendly policies such as paid parental leave in the United States is responsible for nearly a third of the U.S. decline relative to other OECD economies. As other developed countries have enacted and expanded family-friendly policies, the United States remains the lone developed nation with no paid parental leave.” http://bit.ly/2gDjCKi

43% of CEO’s on the list are from the United States. So, there are 43 slots available to women there. But guess what? Women take up 2 of them.

The only two female slots for top HBR CEOs are occupied by women from the USA.

The USA. Where they also suffer a larger than average struggle to juggle family and career.

So the plot thickens.

I am no statistician and the sample is small, so I will not try to deduce anything from these numbers. All I can give is my thoughts on the matter.

Maybe we can find the answer by looking at the lives of these two women.. http://nyti.ms/2gNlAUY. Debra Calfaro was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Her father was an entrepreneur out of necessity. She has taken a company on the edge of bankruptcy from $217 million in equity and $1.1 billion in debt in 2000 to $5.9 billion in equity and $3.5 billion in debt today. No mean feat.

I bet you are thinking she has no kids.

She has two.

Marillyn Hewson has much in common with Debra Calfaro. http://bit.ly/2hTQAri

Although born to a middle class family, her father died when she was young, “She was born in the middle-class family as the eldest of three daughters and two sons. Her father’s death at her early age burdened the little girl with the responsibility to take care of her younger sisters and assist her single mother in every possible way.”

She has two children.

These women haven’t sacrificed their roles as mothers to get where they are. However, another thing they have in common, is gumption. Both women have been used to fighting adversity from an early age and they aren’t scared of hard work either.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the men on the list didn’t work hard. They had competition too. I’m sure when they had kids they had sleepless nights and a tough time.

But the numbers are intriguing don’t you think?

So what IS the reason for this statistical anomaly? Why did the only women that made it into the top 100, make it, despite the unsupportive family policies of their environment?

There are no obvious answers but it could be one of the following:

  1. Although the USA has unsupportive public family policy, it also harbours a culture of inclusion and ambition. Hence, there is always a place for one or two heroes (or heroines) to make it. Note that Alaypal Banga (no. 64) is based in the US too although he was born in India.
  2. The unsupportive policies of the US mean that women cannot afford to throw themselves whole-heartedly into stay at home motherhood as they do in Europe (having 1yr off on maternity leave for example). They also don’t get a chance to get a taste for it. Perversely, I would argue that the unsupportive family policies of the USA actually put women on a par with men rather than work against them simply because they have less choices than their counterparts in Europe. In for a nickel in for a dollar.

These are just theories I have. I am happy to hear arguments against them.

Interestingly, another HBR article has found that women CEO’s tend to be insiders more often than their male counterparts. (i.e. Working their way up rather than across)..

“The consistent theme in the data is that steady focus wins the day. The median long stint for these women CEOs is 23 years spent at a single company in one stretch before becoming the CEO. To understand whether this was the norm, we pulled a random sample of their male Fortune 500 CEO counterparts. For the men in the sample, the median long stint is 15 years. This means that for women, the long climb is over 50% longer than for their male peers. Moreover, 71% of the female CEOs were promoted as long-term insiders versus only 48% of the male CEOs. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for hopscotch early in women’s careers.” http://bit.ly/1smI4dD

This still leaves us with the question at the start of this article..

“Why are there only 2 women listed in HBR’s top 100 CEOs this month?”

A summary of the facts so far..

  1. Only 2% of the top CEO’s as chosen by the Harvard Business Review are female.
  2. Neither made the top 40.
  3. The ones that did make it into the top 60 both had children. Perhaps disproving the motherhood theories?
  4. Both women live, work and were born in the United States. Perhaps suggesting a unique environment in the USA.
  5. Both women faced early life challenges which one could argue single them out as ‘survivors’ in tough circumstances.
  6. There are no women represented from any other country despite the highly supportive family policies of places such as Europe.
  7. Female CEOs have to stay at a company 50% longer than their male counterparts to end up as CEO.

Potential reasons for the 2% outcome..

  1. HBR are sexist in their selection? (note they have been specific about the criteria so I doubt this)
  2. Are women just simply bad at being CEOs?
  3. Is the CEO role better suited to the male psyche?
  4. Are women too busy having children to work up to the level of CEO?
  5. Do women neglect to apply for the role of CEO for some reason?
  6. Is the CEO role too tough for women?
  7. Are women treated unfairly when applying for the CEO position?
  8. Do women generally shun the CEO role due to personal preference?
  9. Is the CEO role incompatible with family commitments?
  10. Do pro-family policies contribute to a lower participation of females at top levels of business?
  11. A bit of everything above?

Answers on a post card please..

About the author

Steph is CEO and Founder of www.magicmilestones.com. She is interested in the economics of female participation in the workplace. Steph has had a positive experience throughout her career but believes that women face unique challenges in their careers. This is not necessarily a problem to be solved but a problem to be understood.