It is lonely at the top. That’s a fact borne out in my work with senior leaders. The higher up the organization you go, the fewer peers you have. The people giving you advice have their own agendas, not nefarious…
I was speaking with a coaching client this week who was describing new appointments in her firm. She had noticed that although a number of women had been given senior roles, most of the new jobs had gone to men and ALL of the women had been assigned to non P&L positions. In most companies people with responsibility for profit and loss have more power and prestige than colleagues in support functions.
In case anyone thinks things are improving, let me remind you that women still earn about 20 percent less than men for the same work*. The number of women leading Fortune 500 companies has actually dropped and in 2016 hovered at 4 percent**. And what seems like progress often isn’t. Longitudinal studies now show that when women start moving into professions in large numbers, the average pay in those professions starts to decline*. How depressing is that?
What can you do? You can point out the inequalities in your company whenever you can. You can ask to see data on pay for women and men in your company. And you can supoort other women. Female partners at a law firm, with whom I recently met, have started affirming other women when they make interventions in meetings by saying things like “That’s a good point” etc. They had noticed that men did this all the time but the women didn’t and often their points were being ignored only to be made later in the same meeting by a man and then applauded.
What can you do to bring the glass ceiling closer?
*Occupational Feminization and Pay: Assessing Causal Dynamics Using 1950–2000 U.S. Census Data, by Paula England, Asaf Levanon, Paul Allison, Oxford Journals Volume 88, Issue 2, pg 865-89
**Fortune Magazine, The Percentage of Female CEOs in the Fortune 500 Drops to 4% by Valentina Zarya June 6, 2016