Yes, there is progress in seeing more women at leadership levels in business; but the pace remains glacial. We need to understand the reasons at the deepest level – so we can pick up the pace and capture the known benefits. I was invited to post a blog on the London School of Economics Business Review. I used the opportunity to express my thoughts on the root cause. I hope you’ll read it!
Arin Reeves uses the terms “Mansplaining,” “Manterrupting” and “Bropropriating” to describe ways in which men interrupt women. These phenomena have received lots of attention lately—by Sandberg and Grant in the NYT, Joann Lipman in the WSJ – and by me. Can awareness help assure that women are heard and get credit for their ideas? Fixing this can support the engagement and retention of women – and that is good for business results.
Joanne Lipman’s recent article in the WSJ provides a “guide” for men to women at work. She says that women get enough advice and provides some to men. Men should understand that women have a different way of speaking; they should not wait for women to raise their hands; they should not fear that a woman will cry and should give direct feedback. And they should recognize that women work hard for the credibility that comes automatically to them. Good advice!
I am quoted and used as an example in Arianna Huffington’s new book, Thrive – to make the point that women often get off the corporate ladder for reasons other than raising children. Women sometimes do not feel valued in a culture that models and more highly values masculine attributes. That can reduce engagement and enjoyment. Huffington’s mission is to change the workplace for women and men, to make it healthier and more sustainable. Women are perhaps the “canaries in the coal mine,” the first to signal that the workplace is toxic and must change.
There are three unconscious “mind-sets” that give rise to obstacles for women in business. They are the double bind, the comfort principle and unconscious images of leadership. We all have both masculine and feminine ways; we call that being “Frax”–a blend of the prototype of the masculine (Max) and the prototype of the feminine (Fran). Being “Frax-wise” is being “gender intelligent.” Frax-wise leaders are conscious of the mind-sets that create barriers and so work to lower them.