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How Men & Women See the Workplace Differently

By Nikki Waller*

Men and women work side by side, tackling the same business problems, sitting through the same meetings and walking the same hallways.

But a new study on working women suggests that the common ground ends there. Men and women experience very different workplaces, ones in which the odds for advancement vary widely and corporate careers come in two flavors: his and hers.

Data show that men win more promotions, more challenging assignments and more access to top leaders than women do. Men are more likely than women to feel confident they are en route to an executive role, and feel more strongly that their employer rewards merit.

Women, meanwhile, perceive a steeper trek to the top. Less than half feel that promotions are awarded fairly or that the best opportunities go to the most-deserving employees. A significant share of women say that gender has been a factor in missed raises and promotions. Even more believe that their gender will make it harder for them to advance in the future—a sentiment most strongly felt by women at senior levels.

These are the conclusions of a major new study of working women conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. In one of the largest studies to date on this topic, researchers during the first half of this year gathered data on promotions, attrition and career outcomes at 132 global companies, and they surveyed 34,000 men and women at those companies on their experiences at work.

The disparity begins at entry level, where men are 30% more likely than women to be promoted to management roles. It continues throughout careers, as men move up the ladder in larger numbers and make up the lion’s share of outside hires. Though their numbers are growing slowly, women hold less than a quarter of senior leadership positions and less than one-fifth of C-suite roles.

The Pipeline Problem

In today's workforce, women make up 46% of the entry-level group — but only a handful (if any) make it to the C-Suite.

Not surprisingly, a large share of women feel invisible at work, compared with male colleagues. From ordinary meetings to executive offices and boardrooms, many more women than men feel that they don’t get credit for their ideas, or that their contributions aren’t recognized—slights felt even more acutely by women of color. Away from the office, meanwhile, women bear a disproportionately greater share of home and family duties than their husbands—arrangements that may lead them to curb ambitions for higher roles.

Companies are getting creative with solutions, from Twitter Inc.’s hiring of coaches for men and women before, during and after parental leave, to American Express Co.’s efforts to connect more promising women managers with executive leaders.

Nonetheless, the results of the study suggest that leaders have much work to do before men and women both feel fairly treated. And managers need to consider the implications of a workplace in which the traditional routes to the top seem to be working, in a great many cases, for one gender only.

Both male and female managers say it's hard to give tough feedback to women. Perhaps they should learn from legendary UConn coach Geno Auriemma. He speaks to WSJ's Shelby Holliday.

The sexes do see eye to eye in one area: Most employers aren't doing enough to effect real change. Though most employees believe their CEO supports diversity, just 45% think their company is doing the work that is necessary to achieve gender parity. Even fewer report ever having witnessed a manager challenging gender-based language or behavior, or a leader being held accountable for making—or not making—diverse hires. About half of employees say they personally are committed to advancing gender diversity, with higher numbers of senior employees calling it a priority.

How can it be that two people in the same meeting might have such divergent experiences of work? And what can companies do about it?

TEST OF COMMITMENT

One obvious reason is reflected in the numbers. At most companies, according to the McKinsey and Lean In study, women and men are represented roughly equally at the entry level, and they lobby for promotions at the same rate. But women are less likely to get those promotions. They also receive fewer challenging “stretch” assignments, less training and fewer development opportunities than men.

SAP SE is one of the few companies to set a firm target for increasing the presence of women managers. The global software giant, with 80,000 employees, has mandated that women hold 25% of all manager roles by the end of 2017; so far, its world-wide management ranks are 24.1% female, while roughly 30% of management roles in the U.S. and Canada are held by women.

Jenny Dearborn, chief learning officer at SAP, considers a big part of her mission to be equipping female employees with the skills they need to reach the management ranks. Hanging above her desk in Palo Alto, Calif., is an email from her boss, CEO Bill McDermott, which says he wants the global software company to be the world’s best workplace for professional women.

For years, SAP employees attended one-day gender-awareness training sessions, in which there were presentations on brain chemistry and the science of gender dynamics. “Sort of a ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus’ thing,” Ms. Dearborn recalls.

Employees rated the training highly. But, she says, the sessions failed to address the factors holding women back at SAP—including few connections to senior executives and influential sponsors. Succession plans included few women, and the same was true for shortlists that human-resources leaders assembled when big roles came open.

Who Gets Promoted

“It wasn’t about ‘Did we have awareness of brain chemistry?’ ” Ms. Dearborn says. “It was really about visibility, not whether [women] were competent or qualified or whether they had experience.”

Ms. Dearborn replaced the popular training session with a new program designed to help women make themselves more visible at the company. The initiative, the Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program, or LEAP, gathers high-performing women whom managers have identified as promotion-ready. About 400 women a year participate in the 12-month virtual course. They meet online monthly to hear guest speakers. They receive homework and action assignments, such as making on-camera presentations. And by the end of the course, the women are expected to have expanded their networks and increased their appetites for taking risks.

The results so far are encouraging, SAP says. Of the first cohort, 23% of graduates became first-level managers, and 11% of existing managers have moved into director roles, according to the company. Many graduates have developed relationships with senior leaders who eventually become sponsors.

SAP leaders at quarterly business reviews must present dashboards with both business results and people metrics, such as the share of women managers in their division. Leaders are called out in meetings when their numbers fall short, and a “SWAT team” now makes sure that open jobs attract robust, diverse groups of candidates, Ms. Dearborn says, adding that many managers must explain why a woman isn’t on the shortlist.

At Procter & Gamble Co., women hold 45% of management roles, a byproduct of the company’s promote-from-within philosophy and its career planning for both women and men. Famed for its market research, the company keeps equally meticulous track of the number of years it takes men and women to attain promotions, their performance ratings and their compensation.

“We’re P&G, we measure everything,” says Carolyn Tastad, head of the company’s North American division.

Detailed career-development plans for each employee identify which types of experience he or she needs, along with what their next job at the company could be, and sometimes their next two jobs. Employees post résumés to an internal database to show company managers not only what skills they are building but also whether they are willing to go abroad in the next few years or take a different type of assignment. At monthly “talent council” meetings for each business unit, employee career paths and résumés are reviewed, says Tracey Grabowski, vice president of human resources for North America.

When doling out assignments that could accelerate a career, HR leaders urge managers to ask a simple question: “Why not?” If managers are considering two men for a stretch assignment during a merger integration, Ms. Grabowski says, they are urged to ask, “Why not a woman?” and to discuss specific candidates. Overall, attrition rates aren’t significantly different for men and women, Ms. Grabowski says.

Interaction, access, visibility

In addition to setting targets and looking hard at promotion policies, some companies and leaders are focused on the more subtle interactions in the workplace. The McKinsey and Lean In researchers found, for example, that while both men and women recognize that face time with leaders and informal feedback are important to getting ahead, men get more such feedback and more chances to interact with top leadership.

Some big businesses have rolled out executive-shadow programs for women to help give them more access to top leadership and visibility within the company. These efforts are so rare that the Society for Human Resource Management didn’t include the practice in its latest annual employee-benefits survey. Companies that have launched shadow programs for women since 2010 include Adobe Systems Inc., Amex and Cisco Systems Inc.

Adobe’s program pairs participants with executives in the U.S., India, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. At Amex, meanwhile, 30 high-potential U.S. women will have shadowed senior executives by the end of 2016, the program’s second year.

One of those senior Amex executives is Controller and Executive Vice President Linda Zukauckas, 54, who manages more than 1,500 staffers in 35 countries. The shadow program at Amex aims to dispel myths about what senior women must do to succeed, the executive says.

Access to Top Leaders

More men than women say they interact with senior leaders about their work at least once a week.

Ms. Zukauckas was shadowed in July by Allison Beer, an Amex vice president and 35-year-old mother of toddler twin boys. Ms. Beer oversees 70 employees in two countries who manage travel partnerships with corporate customers. “I am focused on doing more with less time in all aspects of my life,’’ she says.

Ms. Beer was impressed by how Ms. Zukauckas efficiently juggled tasks. On the day the two spent together, they attended six meetings mainly focused on corporate second-quarter earnings. Ms. Beer says she also was impressed by the way Ms. Zukauckas requires her lieutenants to submit meeting materials the day before—an approach Ms. Beer intends to adopt.

Further imitating the controller, Ms. Beer vows to be more rigid “about blocking time throughout the day to catch up on work.’’

There was a visual indication of how much the younger woman wants to emulate the high-level officer. At an August debriefing about their shadowing experience, they faced each other at a round table on the 30th floor of Amex’s Manhattan headquarters. Ms. Beer wore a black dress and thick gold necklace—just like her temporary mentor.

While shadowing executives can help build relationships and visibility, that experience alone is not enough to make a difference in a career. Indeed, the lesson that some are learning is careers aren’t like self-driving cars; it makes sense to take the wheel.

As a rising talent at Google, now Alphabet Inc., Stacy Brown-Philpot says her manager told her she would get promoted if she accomplished certain objectives. Ms. Brown-Philpot did so, then found out she wasn’t being promoted; when she asked why, she was told that other people were in line first, and that she would be promoted in the next cycle.

“I felt I deserved the opportunity,” says Ms. Brown-Philpot, now 40 and the CEO of TaskRabbit, a website that matches freelance labor with short-term tasks. So, rather than simply accept her boss’s decision that she should wait, Ms. Brown-Philpot sought out vice presidents two and three levels above her and asked whether her performance merited the promotion she wanted. Those managers agreed that she was ready, and she took that feedback back to her boss. Ms. Brown-Philpot was then promoted to director. It was a big step, and a reminder of “how important it was for me to take care of my career,” she says.

Meetings and negotiations often present opportunities for greater visibility and interaction. These are also occasions at which many men expect women to take a back seat. Some leaders urge women to break free of the expectations that they will be cooperative and wait their turn.

Cindy Gallop, founder and former chairwoman of the U.S. branch of advertising firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty, says she learned to be “very forceful” in meetings during her 30-year career. “If someone cuts me off, I just keep talking and ask them to wait until I’ve finished,” she says. Ms. Gallop is an equally outspoken negotiator who advises other women to “name the highest salary you can without bursting into laughter.”

HOME & WORK

Outside the office, women log plenty of hours on the second shift—the family and home obligations that await after work. Some leaders are modeling ways to share the load with partners and outside help, and big companies have begun coaching working mothers—and fathers—to find a better split.

Ms. Brown-Philpot, a mother of two, says she and her husband, a solutions architect, manage a 50/50 balance in sharing the responsibilities of family life.

They are an exception. According to the Lean In and McKinsey research, women in senior management are seven times as likely as men to bear the majority of home duties.

When asked why, women most commonly responded that they are better at those tasks, and that their partners expected them to do so. Yet when women do more than half of the housework, ambition appears to take a back seat. Just 34% of those women said they aspired to be a top executive.

“Practically speaking, if you’re doing more at home, you can’t do more at work,” says Alison Wood Brooks, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied how men and women’s life goals differ.

Imbalance at Home

The imbalance at home often starts during maternity leave, when women who take on a greater share of home and family duties continue with those same tasks after returning to work. The balance improves when both partners take parental leave, says Karen Rubin, Talking Talent’s managing director for North America.

“One of the surefire ways for an individual to feel overwhelmed and burned out is to take on an overwhelming share of housework and child-care responsibilities in addition to their regular job,” Ms. Rubin notes.

She has observed that corporate women often reach a turning point about a year after returning from maternity leave. By then, they have mastered the work-family juggle, but let networking and other career advancers fall by the wayside. Feeling sidelined at work and stretched at home, many choose a fresh start elsewhere.

Some companies are focusing on that juncture, and hiring coaches to find ways for those women—and their managers—to keep their careers on track. “When you’re feeling challenged and interested at work,” says Ms. Rubin, “you’re more likely to stay at a company and advance at that company.”

*The Author: Ms. Waller is The Wall Street Journal’s Bureau Chief for Management Coverage in New York.

http://graphics.wsj.com/how-men-and-women-see-the-workplace-differently/

Извор: WUNRN – 11.12.2016

 

 

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